‘Engaging’ and ‘exciting’ are among a few ways to describe a new spiritual formation opportunity, Christianity in Culture. This opportunity has the highest attendance level of the “Friday 4” SFOs, averaging out to 125 students each week. Christianity in Culture allows those in attendance to interact with one another and have their viewpoints heard.
“I enjoy Christianity in Culture because it’s a good change of pace compared to the other SFOs and classes where it seems like spiritual discipline and culture conflict with each other, but this is a good way to see that they overlap,” said Andrew Hill, junior psychology major. “It’s also refreshing to know sometimes that there’s a lot of pressure from Christian culture that isn’t right. This helps make a great distinction.”
Christianity in Culture is held in the Stewart Room. Students pack the place until there are no seats left, and people stand in the back.
Everyone sits in silence, waiting. Then Rachel and Corey Hunka, Edy Hererra, and James Talbert, Malone alumni, take the stage. They introduce the topic they will be talking about, and then the students take over.
One of this opportunity’s most prominent features is the provision of a platform for a multiplicity of voices to be heard around ideas in current culture.
“There’s a couple of different goals,” said Linda Leon, director of spiritual formation. “The first is to have all who attend develop a deeper understanding of the gospel by the end of the semester. So, it’s a progressive sharing of the gospel through the semester.
“The second goal is culture awareness. They get that by first celebrating the elements of culture. Like, what is culture? Not just culture as in popular culture but culture as in our racial heritage. So, celebrating those elements of culture that are good and in line with God’s will.”
This opportunity seeks to find good in things that Christianity has traditionally labeled as ‘bad,’ as well as identifying what a healthy Christian response to current culture might look like.
“We want to use the things in culture, pop culture, and see the good in them to understand who God is and learn his truth,” Leon said. “There are things in pop culture that are negative and broken, sinful even. We challenge those things with Scripture. We’re not going to run from things in culture that are hard to talk about or that are broken; we are going to engage them.
“We don’t want culture to just wash over us and take it in without discernment. We look at it and ask, what is the truth in that? If all truth is God’s truth, what is the truth in culture? Let’s take a look and celebrate the good and challenge the not so good.”
This SFO has specifically touched on music of all kinds this semester, from country to hip-hop, rap, and others. Every discussion returns to the search for truth within culture. However, the topics vary each week. Music is not always the subject of the gatherings. The group has also talked about ideas of success, stories, and belonging.
Christianity in Culture is well-facilitated, student-driven, and thoughtfully executed. It is an opportunity to learn about Christian purpose that is worth checking out.
Haydon Dotson is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.