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Reconciling with the Popular Arts
November 11-12, 2005
Grantham , PA
The Faith and Popular Culture conference is a forum for discussing a thoughtful, critical, and discerning approach to engaging popular culture. Many people offer the popular arts no respect by treating it as mere entertainment, uncritically consuming whatever can sustain their attention. The opposite approach, one that attempts to shut out the world of popular culture, is equally lacking in respect for the truth, the beauty, and the good that can be found in popular film and music. The Church today practices and preaches various forms of both of these unhelpful approaches to popular art, demonstrating that the relationship between the Church and popular art is very broken. The speakers, authors, scholars, critics, and performers invited to this conference will help us explore a third way, an approach that respects the popular arts, is willing to criticize the artistically inferior and celebrate the excellent.
The keynote sessions will be delivered by Steve Turner (see below), who will lay a philosophic and Biblical framework for why Christians should care about the popular arts. Workshops will be presented by people who can articulate how this philosophy is applied practically within various genres of popular art. In addition to the plenary and workshop sessions articulating the importance of a thoughtful approach to popular art, the conference will include a film screening, a theatre production, and live concerts which will model the kind of engagement advocated for by the presenters.
The keynote speaker for the conference is Steve Turner. Turner is a poet, biographer, and journalist. He has written biographies of Johnny Cash, Marvin Gaye, Eric Clapton, U2, Jack Kerouac, as well as the song "Amazing Grace." He has also written a book entitled "Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts." Bono has called him, "A tough-minded poet with an ear for the psalms, an eye for the miracles in the mundane, and an understanding for how despair can break the ground for joy to take root." Turner lives in London.
We want to do more than talk about engaging popular culture during the conference; we want to give the opportunity to practice thoughtful engagement. Two concerts are planned as part of the conference.
Friday, November 11
8:00pm Concert - John Francis, Sarah Masen, Sam Ashworth and Matt Slocum (Brubaker Auditorium)
Saturday, November 12
8:00pm Concert - Jeff Tweedy (Brubaker Auditorium)
Tickets to both concerts are included in the registration costs for the conference.
Another opportunity to practice thoughtful engagement is by attending the Friday night performance of Theatre Messiah's production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle at 8:00pm. Because this overlaps with the Friday night concert, conference attenders must choose to attend one or the other. Tickets to The Caucasian Chalk Circle are not included in the cost of registration. Tickets can be purchased separately by calling the Messiah College ticket office at 717-691-6036.
Messiah College students are invited to enther the Faith and Popular Culture essay contest by submitting essays based on the theme of the conference by October 28. The winner will receive $250, recognition at the conference, and have their essay published in the Minnemingo Review, the literary magazine of Messiah College. For more details, click here.