Ancient Faith. Pop Faith.

Silly me. I still pursue my relationship with God the old fashioned way. Today I read the Bible, as I do most days, including texts in 2 Kings, Psalms, Proverbs, Jeremiah and 1 Corinthians. I meditated. I prayed. Then I read my papers and was regaled with articles telling me my spiritual quest can now take a modern path.

First an article about Oprah told me that in one poll 33% of people said Oprah has had a “more profound effect on their spiritual lives than their clergyperson.” As a matter of fact Jamie Foxx told Oprah when we get to heaven we’ll find out Oprah IS God! “She’s a really hip and materialistic Mother Teresa. Oprah has emerged as a symbolic figurehead of spirituality,” says,? Kathryn Loftona, professor at Reed College in Portland, Ore.

Then I read about Hollywood’s newfound interest in religion. “Lost” is about spiritual seeking–“We’re seeing more religion in mass entertainment because it has become so topical. Given all the conflict in the world based on religion, I think there’s a real hunger for that kind of dialogue said director, J.J. Abrams. And the best news–Hollywood can make more money by adding religion as the “fifth viewing quadrant!”

The Chicago Tribune quoted me and others who think the Da Vinci hysteria is a “tad bit” overblown and I received some more anti-Da Vinci Code movie stuff from religious activists today. But I also received reassurances from Ron Howard and Tom Hanks.

Ron said he is ignoring the hullabaloo, “I just have to stay with my creative convictions. At some point, you have to just get past the special-interest groups and do what you’re there to do, which is make a movie.”

Tom said, “We always knew there would be a segment of society that would not want this movie to be shown. But the story we tell is loaded with all sorts of hooey and fun kind of scavenger-hunt-type nonsense. If you are going to take any sort of movie at face value, particularly a huge-budget motion picture like this, you’d be making a very big mistake. It’s a damn good story and a lot of fun… all it is, is dialogue. That never hurts.”

So then the Hollywood insiders are saying Da Vinci is “just a movie” based on a book that is a good read but is ” loaded with all sorts of hooey and fun kind of scavenger-hunt-type nonsense.”

Here’s the deal. As William Inge said, ” Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.” Which means what?

1) Humans are searching spiritually.
2) Our popular culture is reflecting that search and is especially good at raising questions.
3) Answers and good ones are harder to find in the popular culture because it is but a reflection of one very confused age, characterized by a generally superficial popular culture and an age of “pop religion” bearing many marks of the broader culture.
4) So for me–I’ll pursue a deeper faith the good old fashioned ways, pay attention to culture as the storyteller of the age, and join the band of those who wish to pursue God deeply and make a constructive contribution to culture as a loving, transforming presence. This timeless faith and calling will outlast fickle culture and the religion-lite that apes it.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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