Engaging the Culture

I haven’t read many books on engaging the culture in some time. All of the sudden all of these new titles sprang up and grabbed my attention and I couldn’t get enough of them! Here are a few I’ve “discovered” that I think have real worth and value in today’s day and age.

Opie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is written by Dr. Walt Mueller who is the founder and president of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding. Do you have children? You’ll want to read this book! Published by Standard Publishing, Dr. Mueller proves that he is not anti-Hollywood but rather he is pro-parental involvement in children’s lives. Walt Mueller doesn’t believe in playing ostrich or behaving like a turtle and ducking into your shell. Rather, he would have parents watch the movies their children are watching (or want to watch), listening to the music and talking about those things with their kids. He would not say that the culture is something that is to be avoided. Rather, he would say that the culture is something that we need to address head on with our kids, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses therein. (Yes, there are strengths and yes, there are most definitely weaknesses!)

Instead of saying that modern day society has strayed from Opie, essentially doing away with innocence, Mueller would say that Opie, in fact, never really existed. He would be quick to point out that sin has always existed and that we’ve always suffered from the bad habit of not dealing with it in a timely and/or efficient manner. Mueller talks in this book about how the culture really effects our children and how we see that effect playing out in terms of high profile sports celebrities (almost always making excuses for their behavior) and school shootings. No, this is not a doomsday book. It is a practical book encouraging parents of children to listen to the messages being promoted in movies and in music and seeing that those messages can and will have a direct effect on our children’s lives. It will have an effect on our grandchildren’s lives. The messages we promote will travel on down through time in various ways. Should we have hope or fear in the fact that movies and music exist that are causing problems for us and our families? No, neither. Rather we just need to become better equipped both to hear the message and react – appropriately – to it! This book is really very encouraging and motivational and I highly recommend it as a balanced read, filled with lots of good advice and some good thinking!

For a more hard hitting book (mostly aimed at Christians) which talks about the value and importance of movie watching – you’ll be interested in The Message Behind the Movie (Moody Publishers). Author Douglas M. Beaumont has no apologies to offer for his movie watching habits. (I’m kinda laughing as I type that sentence.) Beaumont addresses the Christian who thinks that certain movies are to be avoided (for either ratings or content). He argues that movies are the modern way of story telling and that we ought to engage with them instead of dismissing them out of hand. In other words, he was writing a hard-hitting book to ME, telling me why I should let go of some of my prejudices, if you will, towards certain films. He argues that good films are stories that accurately portray good and evil and follow a good story telling format. He’s right in all of this.

That said, I really don’t agree with his conclusion that any movie is a potentially good story! You know why I liked this book? Because I did NOT agree with his conclusion and I didn’t appreciate his approach towards accepting certain movies. He listed some that he loved that I absolutely despise for moral reasons. But! He wrote this book in such a way as to challenge my thoughts. I really struggled with this book and I conclude that it’s a really good argument that is worth hearing. I am really conservative when it comes to movies (and books) and I don’t mind saying so. I’m quick to dismiss movies that I think are too explicit. I can’t get around images and story lines to GET to the message. Beaumont can and he argues that Christians should “get over it” to some degree so that they can engage with society in an effective and friendly manner. He has valid points and he makes a good argument. A really good and solid argument.

I like The Message Behind the Movie and I would love to see Christians, in particular, reading it because I think it creates a challenge and you will have to think through why you do what you do and why you believe what you believe. It’s a worthy challenge and a good one. I would read it again and think about what he has to say again. I don’t agree for now but I do acknowledge that he makes a strong and hearty point!

I’ve read a few others books recently on culture as well (Culture Making and Hollywood Worldviews) which I invite you to preview on my own site, Reading to Know.

Click here to read my “sister” post: Hollywood Worldviews.

Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.


  1. says

    Interesting thoughts! I love the Opie book’s concept. That’s what I’ve tried to do with Amanda. It’s amazing what issues can come up via TV and movies (and let’s not forget books!), that Amanda and I might not otherwise have the chance to discuss.

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