Third Blog’s the Charm

Four score and seven years ago (or so it seems), I staked my claim on a small corner of cyberspace. The actual date when I began my blog? January 16, 2006. The actual title of the blog? Well, Four Scores and Seven Films Ago. This title captured my love of three elements: instrumental film scores, movies, and American history (with an obvious nod to Abraham Lincoln). The aesthetic of the blog reflected its title, with an intentionally dated, parchment-paper look.

Seven years later, in January of 2013, I gave the blog a serious facelift. The generic blogging URL was replaced with a custom domain name, and the original title replaced with the shorter, and more ambiguous, Happier Far. (I lifted this phase from a gospel moment in Paradise Lost, the epic poem by John Milton.) The new blog title fit the theological bent of my writings at the time. The new template also reflected a more modern aesthetic.

Of course, over seven more years have passed (just over eight, actually), and the blog is not what it once was. Straight-up theological posts have largely been replaced by explorations of theologically-informed cultural commentary. And since I’m on something of a seven-year cycle, the time has come for another upgrade.

As such, the blog has been further revised to reflect its growing focus on pop culture. The name is simple: Unpop Culture. This new blog title expresses my desire to contribute to the public discussion of pop culture in a way that glorifies God and serves my neighbor. Such an approach will, of necessity, be countercultural—and sometimes unpopular. Some of my posts have gone (and will go) against the flow of popular culture as a whole. Some of my posts have gone (and will go) against the flow of more narrow subcultures—sometimes even certain Christian subcultures.

It should also be noted that this new blog title does not represent an antagonistic stance toward pop culture in general. A pursuit of, or engagement with, popular culture is not inherently unspiritual, or a waste of time, or bad for your soul. There are aspects of popular culture to critique and reject, and others to praise and embrace.

As I have written elsewhere, “if extreme and indiscriminate indulgence in pop culture is unhealthy (and it is, and it must be addressed), so is the extreme and indiscriminate opposition to all pop culture. We can’t be just wise as serpents or innocent as doves; we need to be both.”

In any and every case, Christians are to think God’s thoughts after him. The promotion of these thoughts can often upend the cultural status quo. The Apostle Paul is one extreme example of this phenomenon: his band of merry men was accused of having turned the world upside down (see Acts 17:6)—not because that’s what his stated purpose was, but because the proclamation of God’s ways inherently runs counter to many of humanity’s ways. And human nature isn’t naturally fond of being countered.

The further we embrace God’s will and ways, the further it can heal and disrupt our culture. With time and grace, we can come to see that we were the ones with the upside-down perspective, and God’s ways prove to be right-side up. The gospel and its multifaceted implications for all of life is countercultural, not so that our culture can be destroyed, but rather restored.

In other words, the redemptive force of the gospel is designed, in part, not to raze culture making and culture engagement to the ground, but to raise it to the heavens. That can come alternately from constructive criticism and enthusiastic encouragement. This little corner of cyberspace will continue to be a mixture of both. It is my hope that the content published here will challenge, convict, and encourage you, to the glory of the God who is making all things—including culture itself—new.