07 March 2014

Dale Coulter Returns Serve

Several weeks ago I posted twice (here and here) about a much longer post by Regent School of Divinity colleague Dale Coulter titled "Evangelicals, Pop Culture and Mass Culture" on the First Things blog. While generally agreeing with the thrust of Dale's post (a point I did not--but should have--made), I expressed disagreement with what I took to be two aspects of his argument (or, perhaps, his asides).

In any event, however one characterizes my posts, Dale contended that I seriously misunderstood his argument. You can read his full-length reply here. I won't reply further except to say that I agree with Dale's observation that "blog posts [are] ... more ad hoc explorations of various ideas and themes in relationship to issues being discussed." Thus, they "do not represent a fully-developed position on this issues."

Well, there is one other point from Dale's reply that I want to highlight; it's his suggestion that my pessimism about the relentless march of secularism appears may not be well-founded. I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet so I may be wrong. Here's what Coulter says,
Pryor suggests that secularization will ultimately win, even in the Global South. I am not so sure that this is correct even with respect to North America. It is a prognostication about the future, and there are many proposals going around about how to read the rise of the so-called “nones” data. I will say that I have found it interesting that in his study Congregations in America, Mark Chaves has suggested that the most important way congregations connect to their world is through a congregational culture of worship, religious education, and the arts. ... Chaves is pointing toward a fusion of folk culture and Christianity in and through the impact local congregational culture has on the immediate context. A way to resist secularization?
If Coulter is correct, then perhaps it is the case that "mass culture has not overtaken the revivalist tradition." I must confess that I'm skeptical about any good news about "nones" and  doubtful about the long-term resistance to the marching "borg" of mass culture secularism but hasten to add that I would be more than happy to be wrong.

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