Pop Culture Is Not a Culture After All
This is the greatest tragedy of all in the church’s careless appropriation of popular culture: that popular culture is not really a culture after all. Historically, cultures have been mechanisms of restraint. Cultural institutions, traditions, and artifacts developed as means of encouraging members of a society to respect its taboos, to obey its laws, and to become the sort of person whose character served the common good by conforming to a view of the good that the society held in common. In theological terms, cultures are thus instruments of common grace that keep people from doing every damned thing (theologically speaking) that they want to. Cultures were also deliberately inter-generational; cultural artifacts were ways of handing down to the coming generation the commitments and beliefs of the passing generation.
But…since Freud, cultures (and specific cultural institutions) have increasingly been seen as instruments of liberation rather than restraint. Since repression is a bad thing, the commonweal can be served (ironically) only if there is no notion of the common good that cultural institutions enforce. Empowering people to be all that they can be, to express all that they feel, and to obtain all that they desire is now seen to be the proper function of cultural institutions.