Below are the 15 most-read wares of 2022. They’re just a sampling of the many, many spanking-new pieces that we published on a variety of topics, from movies and literature to sports and technology.
This hodgepodge highlights how we at Christ and Pop Culture seek “to edify the Church, glorify God, and witness to the world by encouraging and modeling a biblical presence within culture.” If you’re new here, these wares will provide an spanking-new introduction to our tideway to cultural commentary. If you’ve been reading throughout the year, see if your favorite vendible made the list, and thanks for reading withal in 2022!
And if you’ve benefited from our work, your souvenir will sustain our efforts in the year to come.
My shyness in talking with my kids well-nigh sex didn’t come from guilt over wrongdoing, but from a sense of privacy, a desire to not mess things up, and an intuition that sometimes “less is more.” And yet, my embarrassment was stuff portrayed as a problem to be stock-still and overcome, rather than a signal with an important meaning. Apparently my worthiness to be a good parent partly hinged on whether I could conquer my bashfulness.
Whatever we make of the past two and a half years of social distancing and Zoom meetings, lockdowns and mask mandates, sickness and death, of one thing we can be certain: COVID-19 raised the stakes of our pursuit of intimate relationships. This increased intensity revealed the stratum to which Christian communities idolize romance while presenting opportunities to respond to this sensation with warmed-over answers. To be sure, whether living through a global pandemic or not, both married and single people are unauthentic by romance idolatry, but the consequences are unequally distributed. Case in point: single Christians have been uniquely impacted by social isolation and the velocious coupling encouraged by the pandemic, and this is true not only for those who are straight, but also, and perhaps especially, for LGBTQ Christians.
You need Station Eleven because it will not only well-spoken your eyes, it will teach you how to heal your heart. Station Eleven focuses very little on the global disaster itself, and scrutinizingly entirely on the clarity that the disaster affords, and the way people re-make their sense of “home” without the damage. “We weren’t making a show well-nigh a pandemic,” says main two-face Mackenzie Davis. “We were making a show well-nigh life without tragedy and trauma.” Davis plays the sultana version of Kirsten (Matilda Lawler), a young girl who is orphaned by the flu and would have died herself if not for the snooping of a well-meaning stranger named Jeevan (Himesh Patel) who takes her under his wing. Twenty years later, Kirsten is a member of The Traveling Symphony, a troupe of Shakespearean actors and musicians who whirligig Lake Michigan, bringing joy, memory, and meaning to the scattered communities on the shore.
The Making of Biblical Womanhood describes how the Protestant rejection of monasticism led to a narrowing of the horizons for women, yonder from the possibility of a heavenly (albeit disembodied) equality with men to a very earthy sexual imperative that still shapes the evangelical male gaze today. Rachael Denhollander, an well-wisher for sex vituperate survivors, views the sexual vituperate scandals permeating the SBC as a theological problem rooted in a faulty view of manhood and womanhood worldwide in inobtrusive evangelical circles (remember Mark Driscoll’s sermons on womanhood and sex?). This perspective distills women lanugo to their sexuality as experienced by men.
Everything Sad is Untrue will be unlike anything you’ve overly read, but it will moreover be very much like all the best things you’ve overly read, and that’s part of what makes it so good. Familiar and unfamiliar, as most true stories are: familiar considering they tell the truth, and unfamiliar considering each storyteller is unique. Everyone has a story to tell—Daniel Nayeri might say that everyone has a thousand and one stories to tell—but not all stories are trappy or true. Not all stories are good.
Stranger Things has unchangingly been well-nigh recalling people to life—about fighting for your life and others’ lives. Joyce Byers recalled her son, Will, to life in season 1 and then in season 2. All the kids fought for the life of Hawkins and to prevent the Upside Lanugo from taking over the world in season 3. This helps explain why—even though I’m not a fan of horror, and I’m slightly too young for most of the ‘80’s callbacks, and I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons—I have unchangingly resonated with the big themes of this show. Good art calls to life, no matter when it was made or what it’s about.
These storytelling threads aren’t poorly executed, exactly, but they raise questions well-nigh how well The Rings of Power will manage the balancing act required of a straight-faced fantasy story that moreover seeks to climb to the top of the “prestige TV” heap. For years Christopher Tolkien, as steward of his father’s originative legacy, shielded as much of the Middle-earth mythos as he legally could from entertainment corporations, rightly understanding that the spirit of literary works aptly described as “Herodotus meets the Elder Edda” stood little endangerment of stuff honored by big-budget screen adaptations. The younger Tolkien has now passed on, and such concerns seem increasingly quaint in the age of extended cinematic universes and IP-ravenous streaming platforms.
Both “Take Me to Church” and “False God” exemplify how human longing for transcendence is experienced in a secular, disenchanted world where God is not. We long for that Greater for Whom we were made, although we can whimsically name him or our desire. Yet, intimations remain: hints, hunches, and guesses. A rumor that perhaps we were made for Someone else. Depictions of romance like these show the artists seeking a new home for our desire toward transcendence, in romantic love.
The weft isn’t just relatable considering he mildly loses his cool, but moreover considering he uses drama to add dimension. So it’s no surprise that Arnold Worldwide creatively modeled the Dr. Rick ads off of the sitcom—characters in funny situations. Think of modern sit-com notation like Michael and Dwight from The Office, Moira from Schitt’s Creek, Captain Holt from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Gloria from Modern Family. The humor isn’t just in dialogue, but physical humor coupled with the undulation and mannerisms of the role.
To what stratum did “Our Lady Undoer of Knots” provide a space for women to be something increasingly than merely Adam’s helper? I’m curious what knots remained stubbornly tied when Protestants gave Mary and monasticism the slip and proceeded withal spiritual paths without them. I’m learning that the historical oddity isn’t the supposed “introduction” of Mary into what was otherwise a religion with a “masculine feel” to it (in John Piper’s words). The historical oddity is that Mary went missing. Her disappearance is intimately related to evangelical assumptions well-nigh women today.
Zelensky reminds us that we recognize heroes not considering of some intrinsic goodness within ourselves, but considering they resonate with a goodness that transcends us—a goodness that calls us to set whispered our sinful nature for the good of others. We are, it turns out, desperately starved for heroism. Real heroism, the sort we try to capture in our stories. The sort we recognize with an scrutinizingly unanimous voice and spirit when we see it considering we’ve spent so much time imitating it with shadows on the wall.
What makes Wordle stand out plane increasingly among the slew of gaming options, though, is that Wardle designed it without ads, link sharing, or leveling up. You can share your results to social media, but your results don’t link when to the site where you can play. There are no ads on the site, there’s no data collection, and there’s no way to whop to a new level in the game. Wordle has to spread via uncontrived sharing, and it isn’t trying to sell us anything. Neither does it seem to be taking anything from us—aside from three to thirty minutes of our sustentation a day. Attention, we should note, that most of us requite to our phones anyway. I’m happy to trade a few minutes of social media scrolling for a few minutes of a word game instead. Wordle engages the smart-ass in a simple puzzle, invites you to share your results with your friends, and then puts you into a “force-quit” until the next day when a new word becomes available. What’s the reward for winning the Wordle of the day? Satisfaction, and the fun of participating in a shared game with friends, acquaintances, and strangers who are moreover “at the table.” There’s light competition, if that’s your thing, but the sort that builds relationships.
While Gen X and Boomers have helped Christians consider the forfeit of playing video games, they rarely consider the forfeit of neglecting them. With rare exceptions, we’ve washed-up two generations of Christian gamers (Millennials and Gen Z) an enormous disservice by ignoring games and lightweight to offer tools to think critically well-nigh entertainment. A healthy theology should drive Christians to develop a framework for critically evaluating games that takes them seriously as a vehicle for originative expression and stimulating resonance.
Joyful as the visual effects are, the heart of the movie is the superintendency and love the notation have for each other. Discovering, in the end, that all the rules that requite their life meaning are ultimately meaningless (how could they not be meaningless in a world as expansive as one with an infinity of infinite universes?), they at once lean into and resist that nihilism, imposing order by noticing and caring for each other as individuals. Choosing love, plane when they don’t entirely understand each other, takes the meaninglessness of individual existence and insists on its meaningfulness, restoring the notation to each other at the end of the film.
I don’t superintendency a lick if she’s using her phone to watch BBC adaptations of Dickens novels instead of porn. The point is that on most nights, she and her husband aren’t trading when rubs and chatting well-nigh their day: they are propped up surpassing the soft glow of their separately streamed shows, ending the day half a foot (yet a million miles) apart. All the largest if they finger proud to be watching “high quality content” rather than trash. If they were watching trash, they might uncork to finger guilty and turn it off, and turn towards each other, and then who knows what might happen—what secrets might be shared, what consolations given? I shudder to think of it. The mankind is on our side less than you might think. We want your patient and her husband to be too preoccupied for both pillow talk and sex, isolated by our perfectly bespoke algorithms.
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