Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pop Culture and UU's III

So how should UU's connect with pop culture?

For a start, individual UU's can connect with pop culture anyway they want. A commenter on yesterday's post wrote that it sounded like I thought all UU's are disconnected from pop culture. I know that is not true. However, Tandy Roger's original post was more about how can UU congregations or UU's as a movement connect with pop culture and still honor their values.

Pop culture is vital, and connecting but it can also be crass and distracting. It really isn't just one thing.

Here is where we could use pop culture to increase our vitality as a movement:

Social Media: So many people are on social media that no UU church should be ignoring it. They should all have facebook pages, and probably twitter accounts (I don't have one yet and have never tweeted, so I am not saying these things in a holier than thou way. It is truly hard to keep up with our culture!).

Technology: worship services should be exploratory in how to use multimedia and the web. Again, hard to do. Ministers need to know what is legal in using clips from the internet and also have technology that works when they need it. Nothing is worse than waiting for a projector to go, or a computer to connect. I have read about services where there is interactive back and forth between people on their smart phones and the minister. I can imagine doing something something like that, especially around a second service because not everyone would like it. Technology is not exactly pop culture, except I notice at Thanksgiving how much my family talks about technology, things they have watched on the web, etc. I notice it then because my parents never got a computer or a fancy cell phone and I see their faces look bored and/or confused as we chatter about this important aspect of our lives.

Sermon topics: This is the easiest way to connect to pop culture. Bring it into the sermon, and especially have it in the title. Recently my minister did a sermon on Star Wars. Fun! but even better would be a sermon on something playing right now like Skyfall or the Life of Pi. Do up Zombies. Or something to do with gaming (hard again, how many minister's play video games, and then how many of the older people in the pew, would know what you were talking about and yet, everyone under a certain age, especially guys, play games and play them a lot.)

Music: Another easy one, and one my own congregation is good at. One thing my congregation still needs to watch is the generation gap. Most of the pop music we use is classic pop.

Local Pop Culture and DIY: Portland has its own something I call "local pop culture". It kind of brings the whole DIY movement into pop culture. So there are singalongs to, say, The Sound of Music and something I really want to see, live productions of classic Star Trek episodes that are put on in the summer in the parks. DIY is congruent with our values and we could be doing more to foster it. This just seems like a fruitful area where UU congregations could be involved in pop culture. The scale is right for congregational involvement, but I am not sure how to do it.

Comic Books: I would love to see comic books on Emerson and Thoreau!! and my favorite swashbuckling hero of the transcendentalist movement, Theodore Parker! Didn't he get excited once and bring a gun to an abolitionist rally? There are all kinds of hero's and heroines we could do them on. We could also do comic books on theology, really everything! All we need to do is write them -- get them inked and colored -- how fun would that be.

How to discern around pop culture: People want help interpreting their lives. We need to give them a nuanced message around how to manage technology and pop culture. Part of connecting with it is limiting it and knowing what to think of it. I think that is a very important part of the UU message.  

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