Plugged In

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Of course there is the obligatory chapter facing the question ‘is it okay for Christians to watch Game of Thrones, or insert any other controversial topic?’, but Daniel Strange takes four chapters to get there, because Plugged In is about a lot more than that. If you were to look at that title heading on its own you would expect a set of regulations to follow, which is nothing to do with what this book is about!

It is the subtitle of this book which got me interested; “Plugged In: Connecting your faith with what you watch, read and play”. In the opening few pages Daniel says that we have no-choice but to engage with culture -

‘Whether we like it or not, engaging with culture is inevitable because created humans are cultural beings… you also belong to a culture - and that’s an undeniable part of who you are.’

Plugged In isn’t a book about sticking your head in the sand, or running away to a monastery to disconnect and disengage from popular culture, but instead to engage well, and in a thought-through way, all the time thinking how we point to Jesus in it.

The 200 page paperback takes you through a framework to put on “the x-ray vision goggles of the Bible” to look at the culture we’re in to help us connect with it, and to confront it with the gospel. Dan Strange takes us to Acts 17, where Paul is pulled up in Athens to explain his ‘new’ philosophies, and then breaks down Paul’s speech into four steps that we can use as we seek to show Christ.

  1. First by entering into their world, and listening to the story that is being presented.
  2. Then to explore the worldview that is being put across, spotting what is replacing God in there.
  3. Thirdly exposing the idols that hide behind the ideas.
  4. Finally, pointing people to Jesus in evangelism, showing how the gospel fulfills in a way that an idol never could.

Daniel Strange is an academic, so you might expect this book to have lots of long words, heavy footnoting, and sitting in the abstract. But it isn’t! Having laid down the theory, we’re then taken through worked examples from the 2018 World Cup through to zombie films and bird watching. Each example taking us through these steps how to apply them, and in them we’re still shown how we can enjoy them not just step back from culture.

It is work though! Dan doesn’t hold off that engaging with culture well will take time to think through, to explore the background of where it comes from, to think and work out how to connect and confront. But the payoff in seeing the beauty of the gospel in comparison as we hold it out to the world that we live in is worth it!

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