Conclusion

The purpose of this chapter has been to isolate some theological tools that can be used to discern religious elements within culture:

• ultimate concern;

• ontological and moral faith;

• revelation and ecstasy;

• religious symbols;

As far as tools go, it is a beginner's set. Still, much can be done with the theological concepts divulged so far, including those covered earlier in the book (the typology of faith and broken faith), and a few more that will be introduced in the pages ahead. Undertaking an analysis of popular culture by combining these tools with those gleaned from cultural studies (e.g., hegemony, style, bricolage, memes, simulacra, etc.) should provide some surprising results, perhaps a few revelations, regarding the theological longings and apprehensions struggling for expression in current popular culture.

To assist in sorting out the analysis that follows, the cultural materials to be examined will be organized loosely along the lines of a traditional "systematic theology," with sections on God, human nature, sin, salvation, and eschatology. This is an ancient method for engaging in theological reflection in Christianity, although its use with the symbols, myths, and apprehensions of the holy in popular culture is a bit unorthodox. The goal is to discover what sorts of things popular culture, drawing entirely upon its own resources, has to say on these theological topics.67

A Theology of Popular Culture

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