Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pop Culture and UU's I

Tandy Rogers asks in her UU Growth blog "how do UU's engage with pop culture"? Her post is unintentionally funny because the UU's she queried could only think of pop culture in terms of TED talks and other high brow phenomena. Are TED talks pop culture? maybe, sort of.

She points out that when we do turn up in popular culture it's often as a joke. UU's are popularly portrayed as the nerds of religion. We are the one's who pray "to whom it may concern", and set up a committee or a panel discussion at the drop of a hat (no wonder we love TED talks!).  Not necessarily so bad -- but not so sexy either.

So what about UU's and pop culture? Well it's love and hate baby -- just as it is for all religions in America.  

On the love side, we want to warm our hands on the flame of pop culture. Here we UU's are,160,000 strong, and a tweet by Justin Bieber gets read by millions, possibly billions. Justin, can't you just give us a little of that action? It isn't just the numbers either, it's the attention, the interest, the immediacy of pop culture. Although what we watch on our many screens can be crude, it draws us together into a shared experience and gives us a common language. Not usually deep, its like the weather, something we all know and can react to.

But the hate side is pretty strong also. UU's are not so different from their far right brethren in that we go to church partly to get away from the degrading influence of popular culture. We are counter to that culture and proud of it. Pop culture is consumer culture. It asks us to buy and want things we don't need. For the most part pop culture isn't TED, it's a wide swath of the good, bad and degrading. It's strong, seductive, and we are looking for a way to tame it, protect our children from it, and get our lives back.

So how should UU's engage with popular culture -- and especially to spread the word about our faith tradition?

That will be Part II

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