From the Pastor
Once upon a time, I applied to a masters degree program that focused completely on popular culture (yes, that’s a real thing) because I thought I might want to be a history teacher. I got into the program, I’ll have you know, but I didn’t go; I went to divinity school and became a minister instead. This was, ultimately, the right decision—among many other reasons, I am not nearly cool enough to be a student of pop culture all the time.
I’ve always been fascinated, though, by the things that captivate our imagination as a culture: superheroes or boy wizards, cosmic time travelers or enchanted kingdoms, real-life crime dramas or novels that dig deep into the psyche of human relationships. The books we read, the movies we watch, the characters we love or love to hate, all those things we pay attention to and spend our time and money on… Like it or not, we’re all shaped by popular culture and it can teach us something about who we are and who we want to be, or maybe who we don’t want to be.
One of the podcasts I listen to regularly is called Pop Culture Happy Hour. It’s a roundtable discussion in which several wise and witty people talk about popular movies, television, and books. I listen almost every week, because even if I haven’t read or seen whatever they’re talking about, I always learn something new, and it almost always relates to something else I’m thinking about. That’s the way of life, I think—the worlds we live in are not disconnected; our faith, our families, our work, our entertainment, it’s all intertwined.
We’ll be talking about all those connections in our new worship series, Finding Faith in the Everyday. Each week we’ll chose a pop culture “artifact”—an artifact is a found object that helps us understand something about the culture in which it is found—to be the inspiration for a conversation about faith, scripture, and life in the world. The first Sunday, on August 7, we’ll take a look at Harry Potter, focusing on the first book and movie, but drawing from themes that run throughout the series. (I promise there won’t be spoilers from the new book released last weekend; I haven’t gotten my hands on that yet.) For the rest of the month—actually, through September 4—we’ll look at other things currently occupying our cultural brain space: the recent movie Zootopia, the Olympics starting this weekend in Rio, the TV series Dr. Who (hey, if you’re a Dr. Who fan, I’d love to hear from you. What’s your favorite episode? Why?), and finally, good old Charlie Brown.
Each week—also inspired by the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, which always ends with a segment called “What’s making you happy?”—we’ll invite someone to answer the question: “What’s bringing you joy this week?” If you’ve got a story or a testimony about something bringing you joy that you’d be willing to share in worship, let me know.
Looking forward to reading, watching, and worshiping with you,
P.S. It’s good to be back with you after my summer break. Many thanks again to Melissa Guthrie, our elders and other leaders, and all our guest preachers, for filling in while I was away.