Into the Book

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When I was young, I dreamed of being something amazing when I grew up. I dreamed of being a super-powered crime-fighter, a ship-captain sailing the seven seas, even a teacher educating students on complicated subjects (because that would mean I was actually good at maths). As I grew older, my goals shifted to other things, finally settling to become a writer. Yet, for whatever reason, one thing that I never considered being was a prophet.

Why would I want to wear dirty clothes and eat nothing but locusts? (Because, that’s of course what prophets do) Sure, I wanted to be a voice for God, but not if that was the requirement. But is that the only way God speaks to people? Could God, perhaps, be using a different medium of communication than burning bushes in our current culture? Paul Asay seems to think so.

Here’s the crux of Asay’s argument: stories have become God’s new means of speaking to the current culture. That’s not to say that God no longer uses people to prophetically speak to nations, but culture is not very likely to listen to Prophets calling them to repent (Amos, anyone?). They will, however, watch a film that suggests we may have become mindless, brain-seeking monsters. This is the beauty of stories: it has the ability to reveal important truths turning off the listeners by hitting them over the head with a Bible. But do the stories of today actually reveal Christian truths? Can Asay really say that Marvel movies or AMC are the Prophets of this generation?

Turns out, he can. Asay works for a Christian review site called Plugged In, which reviews all sorts of Pop Culture. As a result, Asay has watched lots of movies and TV. He takes the time to break down the themes of various films and TV shows, revealing exactly how those stories point back to God. Asay does this with many different genres: superhero, dystopian, he even demonstrates how monster movies can point out that we need to trust in something greater than ourselves (using the 2014 Godzilla movie as an example).

Asay manages to pull spiritual themes from a variety of stories, while still acknowledging that just because it has good themes does not mean it is for everyone. He states quite clearly that not everyone will like these stories, or even feel comfortable watching them. And that’s fine. Everyone should watch what they feel comfortable watching, while still realizing that they should be searching for themes in the films they do watch.

Asay clearly knows his stuff and a does a good job of showing readers how God speaks through stories. This was one of the main reasons I got the book and it definitely delivers. I must admit, I do wish it could have gone a bit deeper into the idea of Popular Culture as the new prophet, but that really wasn’t what Asay was trying to do. He was simply introducing the idea of God speaking through Pop Culture and proving his point by showing the themes present. And he does it effectively. If you are looking for an introduction to understanding Pop Culture through a Christian lens, this is definitely the book for you. May you find it profitable.

Jesse

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Published on 31 October, 2015. Last updated on

3 Comments

  1. Andrew Joyce

    Excellent review, Jesse! I’m curious as to whether or not Asay equates movies and such with a new prophecy. After all, the testimony of the Bible is complete and full. Now, if all he’s arguing is that Christian themes are often present in stories, even secular ones, then I’m all for that (Mike Cosper in The Stories we Tell has a similar theme). Since Christianity is the first and greatest story, other storytellers can’t escape those truths even if they tried.

    Curious of your thoughts on which way Asay leans. 🙂
    Andrew

  2. Jesse Rice

    Thanks, Andrew. I don’t think Asay is trying to say that films are adding to Biblical Canon. Rather, I think he’s arguing with a more broad usage of prophet: someone or something through which God speaks. In days past, God spoke through prophets, and still does, but Asay argues that nowadays people are more likely to listen to stories and God has ‘adapted’ to speak in a way people will listen to.
    Jesse

  3. Andrew Joyce

    Gotcha. I still think prophet might have dangerous connotations, but I get where his point lies. Thanks!

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Into the Book was born out of a crazy idea of a blog that'd provide book reviews for teens. There aren't very many book review websites out there exposing awesome, high-quality Christian literature, and there are even fewer that target teenagers. Since 2009, we've been providing high-quality book reviews to the world through our blog. Into the Book has grown around reviews since then, but it remains our oldest project.

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