Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Kenotic Theology of the Cross and Popular Culture

In popular culture, religion is generally marked by supernatural special effects and a dualistic worldview. A theology of the cross challenges such simplistic portrayals, offering a more viable and hopeful theological response to human suffering and the ambiguity of life.

Below is an excerpt worth pondering and offering many valuable insights written by Ernest L. Simmons from his article titled "Theology of the Cross and Popular Culture", which can be read in its entirety here.

For many people today, especially the young, popular culture is culture, and theology, to remain true to its calling, must take cultural expressions seriously. The question then becomes, does the theology of the cross have anything to say to popular cultural portrayals of religion? It is the contention of this essay that it does, precisely through employing the concepts of kenosis (self-emptying) and hiddenness to address the suffering of humankind. A constructive response is possible that takes seriously the persuasive power of mass media for popular culture but also provides an alternative vision for the treatment of suffering. A kenotic theology of the cross can embrace suffering in a way meaningful and expressible to contemporary popular cultural expression. It can challenge the need in popular culture to dismiss, deny, or avoid suffering and the ambiguity suffering represents. A kenotic theology of the cross can do this, not only by way of critique of present cultural portrayals, but also by offering a viable alternative approach to understanding suffering and ambiguity. The challenge, then, is not simply to ignore these creative efforts but to engage them in a constructive manner that affirms as well as critiques - indeed, to engage popular culture theologically.