What a joy it is to hold a culture in high esteem. American popular culture though has some deficiencies. Carl Bernstein (b. 1944), an investigative journalist of the Washington Post, wrote, “The lowest form of popular culture – lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives – has overrun real journalism.” People find these shortcomings in the sensationalism, tabloids, pop music, and erroneous displays in some forms of artistic culture.
All however isn’t lost. But it takes acceptance of the Christian faith, for cultural peddlers to live according to what’s right, in pursuing stories that uplift us. Strange as it may seem, people in our media’s audience buy into what is presented to them. Even Christians fall victims to ubiquitous displays of cultural distortions. Some say, “Everyone is watching salacious material, so why can’t I? It gives me pleasure.” Little do they realize they are falling victims to this sinful fare.
Music in Our Lives
Cultural appreciation goes way back to the Egyptians, Greeks, Italian Renaissance, and Reformation. In the West Europeans are loved for their classical tradition. Masters like Beethoven, Handel, and Mozart are held in high esteem. We delight in fast automobiles, highways, airplanes, airports, nuclear power, and weapon systems. In the pop music Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Billy Joel, the Beatles, and Supremes captured our consciousness. Music of different genres, e.g., rock ‘n’ roll, country & western, Christian, and jazz are alive and well.
Billy Joel (b. 1949), a pianist and singer-songwriter said, “I think music itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we are from, everyone loves music.” Music appeals to people in unique ways. We may disagree with the quality of some genres. What’s known is that with hymns, and songs praise God is exalted. Some have been converted through hymns like “Amazing Grace,” “Bread of Life, Hope of the World,” “Holy God, You Raise Up Prophets,” “Song of the Body of Christ,” and “We Shall Overcome.”
The American Dream
Most immigrants land on our shores with hopes of achieving the American dream. When we reflect on this dream we think of worldly and material benefits. This may mean acquiring our own home, finding a good job, having a loving family, a station wagon, or, sports car, and being able to live in the suburbs. This dream looks somewhat differently to every immigrant.
Some might see living a life in Jesus Christ not as a top priority. If this is it will surely be a blessing for them. Walt Disney (1901–1966), an entrepreneur and film producer thought, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Undoubtedly, since a Christian’s life means living, loving, and serving their fellowmen, it’s wise to embrace such values. These attributes are essential in shaping uniquely and a precious American dream.
Conduct in America
To improve American popular culture people have to live up to higher moral standards. H. L. Mencken (1880–1956), a journalist and satirist wrote, “I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.” Let us consider Mencken’s perspective as a way of life, for his tenets are empowering. It’s always wise to know the reasons for doing what we do, rather than be ignorant. American immigrants, and non-immigrants alike, ought to pursue a good education, for education a liberating force. Knowledge has amazing benefits in building up our American culture - not any sort of knowledge, but one based on Christian values.