Ted Turnau (PhD in Apologetics from Westminster) is a college lecturer who teaches Cultural Studies and Religion in Prague, Czech Republic. He’s married with three children. He recently wrote a book titled Popologetics: Popular Culture in Christian Perspective. I appreciate his approach to popular culture. Instead of Christians enjoying popular culture uncritically or rejecting popular culture altogether, Turnau offers a more biblical approach. This is an excerpt of an interview I did with Turnau last year:
What do you say to pastors and Christians who think your approach to popular culture is too hard for Christian children, teenagers, and adults to understand?
Well, that may certainly be true about children, especially small children who have a hard time thinking abstractly. That’s why they have parents: to guide them, to explain stuff. And I really do believe that a clever and wise parent should have no problem talking to their kids about the spiritual dynamics of popular culture in a way that is age-appropriate. One of my seminary professors said that if you couldn’t explain a concept to a 3-year-old, you didn’t really understand it yourself. I think that’s basically true.
I think teens will have a much easier time with it, if they have had an upbringing where they are challenged to think deeply and consistently in terms of a Christian worldview. That’s a big “if.” A lot of people use the term, but don’t really get it. That’s why I spend so much time on it in the book. But if they have been, if they’ve got a good grasp on the basic concepts of a Christian worldview (creation, fall, redemption, revelation, and all the rest), then there is a lot of fertile territory to discuss with them, a lot of fascinating and fruitful discussions to be had. I remember as a youth pastor in a Korean church when I was in seminary. For our summer Sunday School curriculum, I asked the kids to bring in their CDs, and I’d take them home and listen, and choose some songs to discuss. We were listening to Madonna, Nine Inch Nails, MC Hammer, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and others. And the kids were astounded. It was a really liberating experience for them. They were just awe-struck that an adult cared enough to talk about what was already deeply meaningful to them.
As for adults, I can only say that I tried my best to make my approach simple enough to be accessible to the intelligent layman. You shouldn’t need a seminary or graduate degree to get this. However, I know that it can be tricky at parts. I teach a seminary class on this stuff, and I see intelligent young men and women get it wrong in different ways. But it’s like any skill – it becomes sharper with time and practice. And if you feel like you get stuck or didn’t understand something, I understand that the author is still alive. Feel free to send me questions over Twitter (@TedTurnau).