Every year when December 31 arrives, there’s a collective lament over the velocity of time. The complaints appear a bit louder on this pandemic period, since lots of the standard markers that assist us preserve time have been postponed from one season to the subsequent or cancelled fully. Once more. Though many popular culture markers have fallen prey, creators have continued to supply their works, sustaining us with glimmers of hope and home windows into different dimensions.
Our writers have pointed to those artifacts all through 2021 with inventive choices of their very own. Under are the highest 15 most-read articles of the yr, that are only a sampling of the numerous, many glorious items printed.
This assortment highlights how we at Christ and Pop Tradition search “to edify the Church, glorify God, and witness to the world by encouraging and modeling a biblical presence inside tradition.” In case you are new right here, these articles will present a wonderful introduction for our strategy to cultural commentary. In case you’ve been studying all year long, see in case your favourite article made the checklist, and thanks for studying alongside in 2021! And in the event you’ve benefited from our work, your present will maintain our efforts within the yr to return.
How did we get right here?” “This isn’t America!” “I didn’t assume it might be this unhealthy.” You’ve in all probability both stated or heard loads of folks saying these items in your group after the assault on our nation’s Capitol Constructing on January 6. Within the African American group, the tone is far totally different, nonetheless: “We tried to inform y’all.” Black America—made up of people like my 82-year-old African American grandmother who skilled firsthand segregated life in America and might spot wildly misleading and damaging tropes a mile away—noticed this coming from over 4 centuries in the past.
In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens exhibits the affordable trajectory of a self-centered, individualistic life. Initially of the novel, Scrooge is the last word in individualism, and it’s not a fairly image. Marley’s go to exhibits Scrooge’s afterlife if he doesn’t change his methods. The Ghosts of Christmas Previous, Current, and Future present Scrooge his present mortal trajectory. Of their mercy, they’ve woken Scrooge to the dire state of affairs he’s in and that his lifetime of egocentric, rampant individualism contributes on to the distress of others. Nevertheless! The Ghost of Christmas Future has morphed till Scrooge finds himself holding a bedpost.
Ted Lasso gave Nate Shelley every thing he may have ever hoped for or dreamed of.
That’s why it was so laborious to see Nate take a extra villainous flip in season two. We need Nate to be good! He’s an underdog, and he’s lovable, and he ought to be so, so grateful to Ted, shouldn’t he? However simply because an individual has been saved by somebody doesn’t imply they may really feel indebted to them eternally—in actual fact, typically that expectation results in emotions of resentment and inadequacy. Nate’s character trajectory from underdog to the one who betrays Ted and the group on the finish of this season will not be solely predictable, it’s lifelike. Nate is a well-drawn image of the servant within the parable—he’s an instance of how simply because an individual has been given a lot mercy doesn’t imply they may flip round and present mercy to others in return.
Growing up within the 80s I used to be informed traditions just like the abbreviation “Xmas” took “Christ” out of Christmas, Santa was a distraction from child Jesus, and Christmas timber have been pagan symbols from hell. However I’ve discovered some traditions should be questioned. Fatman, the 2020 Christmas movie, tells the story of a non-traditional Chris Cringle performed by Mel Gibson. A militarized Santa is nothing new (i.e., Scrooged, The Santa Clause, Physician Who “Final Christmas”), however this story helps us admire the pursuit for reality and everlasting significance that usually imbue our Christmas traditions.
After I attain the top of my understanding with sure doctrines or passages of Scripture, I think about them as pop songs.
If a true cloud of witnesses turns into robust to discern, I shut my eyes and conjure Mavis Staples, her voice mingling with the creaky charms of The Band, telling me to “take a load off” and solid my cares on anyone higher. John Coltrane’s saxophone—like limbs waking—and guaranteed, chant-like vocals manifest the sound of excellent love driving out worry in a method nothing else can.
And after I battle to wrap my arms round glory, I flip to the delight of Las Vegas, The Killers. Brandon Flowers’s voice, and the swelling sounds which encompass it, provides the ineffable an opportunity to make its case proper right here, proper now.
Each character in Cobra Kai is privately hungry for mercy. Johnny embodies the phrase “harm folks harm folks.” Rejected by his self-obsessed and wealth-obsessed step-dad, Johnny discovered a protected haven within the Cobra Kai dojo. However when he misplaced to LaRusso, his sensei turned on him. No mercy, particularly for losers. Taking that philosophy into maturity solely harm him additional. His worst worry is being a loser, however this worry stymies his private progress. He struggles to express regret and barely admits a wrongdoing. In a single humorous scene, a girlfriend asks why he has a lot animosity towards Daniel. By way of a collection of flashbacks from The Karate Child, he recounts solely the hits he took from Daniel. He conveniently overlooks the methods he bullied Daniel, inflicting him each bodily and emotional ache. In Johnny’s thoughts, he’s merely the sufferer of the occasions in Karate Child: a misplaced title, a misplaced sensei, a misplaced girlfriend, a kick to the face. His obsession with successful, being proper, and being cool render him out of contact with actuality. So, he teaches his college students the philosophy that made him “a winner,” though it was the philosophy that ruined his life: don’t present mercy, though mercy is the one factor he most longs for—a second probability.
What makes the 1995 field workplace hit Whereas You Had been Sleeping totally different from different rom coms? And why is it on my annual Christmas film checklist? It’s not simply Sandra Bullock’s light girl-next-door awkwardness, huge sweaters, and perpetual unhealthy hair days to which she’s oblivious (although I love her for the unhealthy hair!). It’s not solely due to the scene which weaves 4 incoherent conversations into one pleasant household dinner (“These mashed potatoes are SO creamy!”). It’s not even Invoice Pullman’s Attractive Dad grin and basic rationalization of “leaning”: “Hugging entails arms and arms. Leaning is complete our bodies shifting in… like this. It’s about wanting… and accepting… Leeeeaning.”
Nicely—I’ve been desirous about what you’ve stated previously about cults, conspiracy theories—that form of factor.
And after I noticed what occurred on the U.S. Capitol on the sixth, I began worrying possibly I’d been barking up the incorrect tree.
Like, what if the election wasn’t stolen?
Yeah, that’s doable.
And possibly there isn’t a world cabal of Satanist pedophiles ready for Trump to unmask them.
Yeah, see, that one all the time did appear a tad farfetched.
It saddens me that even a profitable, celebrated younger girl can really feel that her solely true value is in her accomplishments. It saddens me, but it surely doesn’t shock me. We reside in a world that hammers that message into us in all types of how, each blatant and refined. It’s no shock that Rachael Denhollander—the previous gymnast who fought to take down the physician who abused each her and Biles—titled her memoir What Is a Woman Value? She knew all too nicely that the game she cherished was full of people that may and would make a younger girl really feel nugatory.
And tragically, many people reside in a church that does the very same factor.
In case you have been born someday between the fifties and the eighties, you realize the trope nicely: the hero trudges confidently by the wilderness, whip in hand, smirk on face, able to tackle no matter nature throws at him. Then, with out warning, the very floor provides method beneath his ft! He reaches for a department, a vine, something—but it surely’s no use! He’s being sucked down, down, into the earth. In a matter of minutes he’ll have disappeared and his quest will all be for naught.
It is likely to be protected to say that episode 8 of WandaVision, titled “Beforehand On,” broke the web in the easiest way doable. Lengthy earlier than I bought an opportunity to take a seat down and watch it, I noticed that line tweeted again and again. You already know the one:
“However what’s grief, if not love persevering?”
Individuals who don’t even like superhero leisure, not to mention the MCU, have been quoting all of it week, pastors tweeting about working it into their Sunday sermons. It has been hailed as C. S. Lewis-esque, folks have used it as a catalyst to cathart throughout their Twitter feeds, it has turn into an expression of delayed grief from a pandemic yr.
Blasphemous isn’t shy about its inspirations, filled with artwork and imagery drawn from Golden-Age Spanish Catholicism. Guiding a capirote-capped character generally known as the “Penitent One” by the nightmare land of Cvstodia, gamers discover decrepit cathedrals and dispatch insane victims of an all-powerful divine drive. Enjoying by Blasphemous is like digitally revisiting the Prado—plus some wild platforming mechanics and brutal execution animations.
Previous to January 6, I hoped I’d seen the worst that Trumpism needed to provide, however then the President of america instigated a violent rebellion on our Capitol. And it wasn’t simply any rebellion; it was a Christian rebellion. All of the trauma and betrayal of the final 4 years swept over me as I watched the occasions unfold, however I used to be additionally gripped with disappointment, as a result of for all my emotions of disgrace over what folks bearing the title of Christ have completed to this nation, I nonetheless consider there’s a correctly ordered solution to love America as a Christian. I stay a patriot, however I reject nationalism in all its kinds—most particularly Christian nationalism. This battle between patriotism and nationalism, between Christian and nationwide id, is much from distinctive to our present second, and it’s one common folks of all sorts have needed to wrestle with all through historical past.
It’s well-known that Plummer groused for years about The Sound of Music, to the purpose of giving it a fairly unflattering nickname. An actor with an extended and storied profession, together with loads of Shakespearean roles, he resented being mainly recognized with what he thought-about, at finest, a sentimental youngsters’s musical. Nonetheless, the passing of time, a rewatch or two, and an ongoing friendship with co-star Julie Andrews softened Plummer sufficiently that in later years he might be seen gamely placing in appearances at solid reunions and anniversary specials, like a gruff grandfather coaxed into indulging a persistent household.
Reminded of all this by Plummer’s obituaries and tributes, I began questioning why precisely he had taken the Sound of Music function within the first place. I used to be each amused and touched after I discovered.
Given such a major and public instance of sexual absurdity, one can perceive the stance of the American evangelical church during the last a number of a long time. Warning of such brazen godlessness, evangelicals devoted themselves to selling “purity tradition,” a motion comprised of various practices and artifacts—from books that promote courtship (Josh Harris’s I Kissed Relationship Goodbye) to purity rings and purity pledges—whose main purpose was selling sexual abstinence earlier than marriage. As Rachel Pleasure Welcher describes it in her lately launched ebook, Speaking Again to Purity Tradition: Rediscovering Trustworthy Christian Sexuality, purity tradition was “an earnest response to the age-old drawback of immorality and the trendy disaster of STDs and teenage being pregnant” (9–10). And so profitable was this motion that it outgrew evangelical boundaries, permitting evangelicals to champion abstinence by federally funded applications like Silver Ring Factor and enlist mainstream celebrities like Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, and Selena Gomez within the trigger. The one catch is that purity tradition hasn’t precisely delivered on its guarantees, leaving in its wake damaged pledges, sexual confusion, and leaders (from Josh Harris to all the names listed above) repudiating it.
Insightful cultural evaluation from Christ and Pop Tradition is simply doable by your beneficiant help. Think about turning into a member for as little as $5 monthly. You’ll get free stuff every month, full entry to our digital Christ and Pop Tradition Journal (together with all again points), entrance to our unique members-only group on Fb—and also you’ll assist us preserve the lights on. Be part of now.