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All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  301 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Where did popular culture come from? Why is it the way it is? How does it influence Americans in general and Christians in particular? Ken Myers provides fascinating answers to these questions. He sees pop culture as a culture of diversion, preventing people from asking questions about their origin and destiny and about the meaning of life. Two aspects stand out--a quest f ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 1st 1989 by Crossway Books
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Joel Arnold
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes (1989) is another evangelical cultural critique somewhat along the lines of Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns or The Closing of the American Mind. Kenneth Myers laments the church's lost influence within the culture as well as the broader disintegration of morals and intellectual depth in American culture. He attributes this to two major factors: rock music and television. His argument essentially runs:

-Our culture is headed downward and Christians have just acc
Peter N.
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was very different from what I expected. The pragamatist that I am, I expected an practical dissection of popular culture. Instead what I got was a more philosophical exploration of the origins and effects of popular culture. Of course, the book is dated in it's illustrations. References to Miami Vice, Alf, and the Ramones are in the book. But the central ideas are not dated.

Several items of note: His chapter on the restlessness of pop culture was excellent and even more timely now th
Brian Collins
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book could be summed up in this phrase: Christians must evaluate culture not only by its content but also by the sensibilities that it fosters. Though simply stated, this is a profound insight. It changes the question that Christians should be asking about their daily activities. The question is not merely, “is this permissible?” but “is this good and wise?” Watching a television show is permissible. But is watching one or two every night wise? What sensibilities are fostered by that habit? ...more
Chris Griffith
Although originally published in 1989 before the days of Email, Facebook, YouTube, etc. the principles found in this well-written book are still just as relevant today as they were 25, 30, or even 50 years ago. Myers taught me an important lesson in this book and he learned in from C.S. Lewis' An Experiment in Criticism. There are two different ways to approach art, 1. as a user. 2. as a receiver. "Users" are mindless consumers and use art to amuse themselves. In other words, it is background ch ...more
Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
This is the best and most practical book on Christianity and culture that I've read. Myers takes a practical, biblically informed perspective on culture--particularly popular culture. He differentiates high culture, folk culture, and popular culture and argues that Christians may partake in pop culture provided "you are not dominated by the sensibility of popular culture, as long as you are not captivated by its idols." To me this seems like a sensible and wise pronouncement.

He also adds Paul's
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Ken Myers encourages us to find other forms of entertainment and cultural habits besides our daily diet of "immediate gratification" (also called pop culture). This book helped me understand what popular culture is, how it came about, and why I don't want to be steeped nor have my children steeped in it. I particularly liked the comparison between high culture, traditional culture and poplular culture. Mr. Myers is an intellectual, and there are some passages that require some heavy thinking, bu ...more
Megan Lane
Oct 25, 2016 rated it liked it
If I was rating on mere enjoyment of the book, it would be two stars. However, I have to give credit for it being thought-provoking and generally pushing me to want to make better choices in my listening, watching, and reading. Although, taking that out of it instead of being annoyed by it took a conscious effort.
If that makes sense.
Anyway, I can't say I recommend it, but I do appreciate the heart of it. Read, watch, and listen to things that will bring you closer to God and the person He's call
Dianne Oliver
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Extremely good information. I only wish I had read this long ago, and now I wish it were updated to help untangle the current situation in social media, internet, gaming, etc. As a child of tv, parent, and victim of the new media in church mentality this book overwhelms one with regret, frankly. I think a look back over the decades to see how pop culture has evolved and the insipid way it affects all aspects of our thinking is wise. It is good to remain aware and to be reminded of the value of p ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is engaging and exciting to read at first, and then as it goes on I realize how much I have given in to the idols of popular culture. By the end of it I am very wary of my own taste in the cultural artefacts I consume all too quickly without reflecting on what idol I might be worshiping.

I wish I had read this book third years ago. Better late than never, though, right?
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
The best, most interesting parts are basically paraphrases of CS Lewis' "An Experiment in Criticism." I'd recommend just reading "An Experiment in Criticism," which is an easy-to-read and inspiring book.
Upon a second read through, my suspicions have been confirmed: Ken Myers is one of my heroes.
Oct 19, 2016 rated it liked it
2.5 stars. Probably because my mind has been desensitized by culture to just appreciate entertainment and things that are not deep. ;) :p
But this book was deep and, well, boring.
Dan Montgomery
On the fence between 2 and 3 stars. There are a number of high points, but it has some real valleys too. The 2012 introduction is rich (mostly because of its Peter Leithart quotes). His basic premise that pop culture is based on immediacy and therefore is inherently stifling to deep Christian growth needs to be heard. Unfortunately, he needs a new editor. The flow of the book didn’t work. Some minor points received major attention and the main point often got buried.

Also, the High/Folk/Pop cult
Justin Dillehay
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After reading about this book for 15 years, I finally read it. I'm glad I did. I'm also glad I read it when I did. Had I read it when I was younger, I would have dismissed it as elitist. Read it with an open mind.
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent critique of pop culture. A must read for every Christian concerned about the influence of pop culture (and for those not concerned).
Jacob Van Sickle
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Still chewing on this one. Might come back and give it 5 stars. Thought provoking to say the least.
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was written in 1989, my dad read it in 2003, and now I've read it in 2017 - almost 30 years from the original date of publication. This is important to keep in mind when reading the book; the Internet has now probably taken the place of many of the author's critiques of television, and television in and of itself is probably less of an issue or addiction than it was a couple decades ago because people are used to it.

Myers has strong critiques for the 1960's and states that the problem
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, culture
Absolutely enlightening!

The sweeping concern of this book is the impact the negative sensibilities that popular culture instills in those that adhere to it. Myers shows that the old adage "The medium is the message" is in many ways true. One of the most astounding things Myers says is that if all the content of popular culture was to be thoroughly Christian in its content it would still be very dangerous for Christians. This is because the sensibilities that popular culture encourages are sensib
Oct 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
There aren't many books like this one.
I don't mean to say, however, that there aren't other books on popular culture (there sure are), nor even that there aren't other books on pop culture from a Christian perspective (there are). But many "Christian" treatments on this difficult subject swing to opposite ends of the pendulum. One extreme condemns popular culture altogether, although its driving motive to encourage holiness among God's people is laudable. The other extreme is basically accepting
Jeff McCormack
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
I first heard of this book in early 2000s, buying it not to much later than that. I now wish I had read it back then instead of waiting all these years. Had I done so I suspect my childrearing over these years since may have indeed been drastically different.

The early second of the book contain a lot of the history of pop culture, and while quite interesting, it was the latter half of the book that was most captivating to me.

Born in the mid-60s, raised through the 70s with TV, and becoming hoo
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Bittersweet-- I was fascinated by the subject and greatly appreciated the clarity and cogency of the reasoning, but find it extremely painful to know firsthand examples of names and situations which exemplify the negative issues raised in the book.

Amazing concepts:
"The cultivation of a Christian worldview is not a matter of defining the 'bottom line.' It involves reflecting on the nature of things, on the place they have in the larger scheme of creation and redemption, in human nature and histo
Sally Ewan
Jan 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This was the kind of book that I needed to read a chapter and think about it before I read the next chapter. So I really appreciated the final chapter where the author reviewed his main points and tied things up neatly. This is my second time through this book, and I enjoyed it even more this time. I have recently lamented the fact that our society is moving away from literacy toward visuals. Simply saying that aloud makes me sound like a cranky old person, so I appreciated Myers' explanation as ...more
Mystie Winckler
Jan 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
Own. I read this during Cindy Rollins' ( book club. It was fun to discuss it with other ladies, though I didn't make it through blogging each chapter. I have a better working definition of popular culture, a more defined sense that I want to cultivate for myself and my children better tastes, and yet I appreciated that the author did not out-of-hand condemn pop culture nor being involved in it. He advocated for being aware and deliberate. Personally, I enjoy our relatively "mo ...more
E. Marvin
Jun 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Kenneth A. Myers is a prophet. Let me clarify: in the world of writers, Myers has a profoundly clear message. In today's society, that is enough to make him a prophet. Yet, his ideas are more potent than a clear message. He saliently argues that quality ideas and "high" culture matter. This one fact makes Myers prophetic. Yet, he is no minor prophet. His prophesying is of the ilk of Neil Postman, Allan Bloom, and more recently, Susan Jacoby. This book is no easy read. And, since we are talking a ...more
Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
While appearing a bit dated due to no references to the internet and focusing more on television, this book crystallizes many thoughts I have had over the years about culture, and helped me understand how these things have affected me.

Myers makes a distinction between high culture, traditional/folk culture, and pop (or mass) culture.

Rather than being a "Christians should not partake" type of book, this book examines more closely the roots of these kinds of culture and the effect of each on the
Peter B.
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture
While I may disagree with a few points made in the book (like in the last couple pages of chapter 3), this is one of the best books on culture I have read yet. It is a little dated (written in 1989) so it doesn't deal with the internet and more recent "advancements" in pop culture, but much of what he said can apply to those things as well. Much more could be said on the subject, especially on what a good culture looks like positively, leaving room for other books to be written. I appreciate the ...more
M. J.
Jan 17, 2016 added it
Shelves: apologetics
Provides a very theoretical exploration of the origins and impact of Popular Culture. Written in 1989, the book shows it's age with references to VCR's, Cassette Tapes, and the Cosby Show. The author now produces an audio journal called Mars Hill, which is "committed to assisting Christians who desire to move from thoughtless consumption of contemporary culture to a vantage point of thoughtful engagement."
Tim Woody
Jul 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Myers really gives a good go at trying to explain the different forms of culture and how we as Christians should think about it. I walked away with the feeling of how immense a task it is to define something as broad as culture. At the same time he gives some good practical advice on how we should be engaging cultural artifacts (things in the world) with thoughtfulness instead of blindly absorbing them.
Jul 03, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's not that I disagree with Myers (much...). His writing is mostly quotations from other (excellent!) sources, padded with his own commentary, which ranges from not-terribly-insightful at best to dramatically inaccurate at worst. He completely misquotes both Montaigne and Tolkien, which made me distrustful of the rest of his analyses.
Don't bother.
Matt Carpenter
Feb 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent introduction to popular culture in the U.S. and how it came to be the dominant form of culture (over against tradtional and high culture) since the revolution of the 1960's. A very informative book. It is slightly dated, with no reference to the internet. But the points he makes transcend the date of the book.
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He is the director of Mars Hill Audio, an organization devoted to helping Christians think wisely about modern culture through a variety of audio resources. He was a producer and editor for National Public Radio and is the author of All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland and of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He is married and has ...more
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“Culture has very much to do with the human spirit. What we find beautiful or entertaining or moving is rooted in our spiritual life. ” 5 likes
“In observing the Sabbath, man was culturally structuring his time in accordance with a holy pattern. This was part of his cultural commision, along with the task of being an architect of space by tending the Garden. Space and time were thus consecrated by man's original culture.” 3 likes
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