According to many political punditsLeft, Right, and Centerthe era of battles over expanding opportunities and rightsbe they civil, equal, or otheris nearly over. Over the horizon looms an even greater conflict, one that some people consider to be the struggle for the soul of America. Popularly this upcoming armageddon is being called the "Culture Wars."
The William Bennetts of American culture consistently laud efforts to regain "what America was," to take America back. They identify a number of cultural values that are at the core of what "made America great." And they long for the reinstitution of these values, thought-systems, and customs.
But all too often this assessment masks xenophobia and is a vehicle for backlash against perceived gains by "them." If we are "getting America back," after all, we are getting it back from someone. And those unnamed somebodies are usually ethnic minorities and women who are thought to be protected in some special way, to have an easier ride.
In our high-tech, image-driven society, much of the battle is waged in the markets of pop culture. This is one reason it becomes important to re-examine the question of the relationship between radical Christian discipleship and popular culture. Even nonviolent activists must be ready for war, cultural or otherwise.
Of course, being reactive to external pressures is not the only reason to keep track of cultural reality. It also is important to consider the beauty in our lives and our own creative contributions to our world. Art points out the beauty we might otherwise miss, as well as the injustices we might otherwise dismiss. At least good art does.