All You Want To Know About The Bible In Pop Culture: Finding Our Creator In Superheroes, Prince Charming, And Other Modern Marvels, by Kevin Harvey
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
At the heart of this book there is an identity crisis. The author has written a breezy and lighthearted book, only about 150 pages in the main text, filled with lots of sidebars, humorous jokes, silly quizzes about the Bible and pop culture, and appendices filled with crossword puzzles and word searches. Parts of this book are similar to what one would expect to see in the sort of books that are focused on the reading interest of preteen boys and girls. That said, the author explicitly seeks to appeal to a scholarly audience and also has a very serious point to make about the need for Christian evangelism to recognize the godly longings in the heart of our admittedly imperfect and flawed contemporary popular culture. Both of these levels exist simultaneously in the book, in such a way that is likely to wholeheartedly please neither those who want a light read about Justin Beiber and the Avengers nor those who want to read a straightforward examination of the need for Christians to stop viewing popular culture as the enemy and view it the same way Paul did the Greek culture he used to build a bridge between heathen philosophy and poetry and Christianity unless those readers are content to enjoy the book on both levels.
In terms of organization, this book is very straightforward. Chapters of the book, with witty and clever titles, examine the often disguised Christian content of superhero movies, imperfect biblical adaptations, the Lego Movie, Lost, reality television, and music. Other chapters show the good and bad of various portrayals of Christians in popular culture from Saved! to the Big Bang Theory and a catchall chapter that includes further disguised biblical references in popular culture. There is a lengthy appendix of puzzles and games that seeks to provide some level of biblical familiarity to the audience as well. The author does not hide his agenda to influence Christians to treat popular culture as a bridge rather than as an enemy, and this view is not likely to please all of its readers. Yet an open agenda is better than any secret one would have been.
So, how does one view this book? It has an important point, and one that deserves to be taken seriously, that we as Christians have forfeited a lot of cultural influence by being too quick to pounce on inevitable imperfections than to recognize that shared godly longings can be a bridge to greater understanding and love and compassion. That said, so much of this book is written at a lighthearted level, and is written about ephemeral aspects of popular culture that it is unlikely that this book will endure, as it is written about passing aspects of culture that are likely to become obsolete very quickly. Once the fads discussed in this book fade away, it seems unlikely that many readers will bother to dig deeper into the book when its once pleasant surface appearance has been the source of derision or confusion as tastes change and new fads take the temporary hold on our culture’s consciousness. Even then, though, no matter what form or content those fads take, there will be some bridge to biblical culture for those who are sensitive and alert, and that alone makes this book of considerable value for those who view it deeper than at the surface level.