Over the last couple weeks, people have been sending in some fascinating examples of the interplay between faith in pop culture. Before I share with you some of the coolest "Faith Pop" that's been sent in, be sure to share your own sightings with the hash-tag #FaithGoesPop. Here's a quick sampling of recent glimpses into the intersection of religion and popular culture:
- On Pinterest, Tina Johnson shared with me her son's mini-water bottle from Nestle sporting a skull on the back. At first, she was a bit freaked, but then she looked it up. She figured out that the skull was a calavera, or sugar skull, associated with El Dia de los Muertos -- "the Day of the Dead" -- and was part of a Halloween series put out by Nestle. "Calavera" is the Spanish word for skull, but calaveras in the context of the Day of the Dead bear extra significance. You see them all around Mexico -- in poetry and graffiti murals, on shirts and jewelry, in ancient Mexica (Aztec) carvings and modern sculpture on the city streets. They crop up particularly in Autumn as many Mexicans prep for the Day of the Dead celebrations around November 1. According to one celebrant I talked to, "Calaveras remind us to celebrate life, to appreciate that even death is sacred, is alive. 'La Muerte' is inevitable, it is a right of passage, it is a place and moment to be experienced now and in the future. The dead are never gone and we should never neglect them. The inevitable, our fate or whatever you call it, cannot be avoided, it must be embraced and danced with. It can even be sweet." Hence the sugar in the skull. Hence the
- On Facebook, Sarah "Moxy"Moczygemba shared her sighting of the "Bible Bar." While you may've seen Ezekiel 4:9 bread or cereal, or even TestaMINTS (audible groan), have you ever dug into a "Bible Bar" and enjoyed the seven foods of Deuteronomy 8:8? Are you a sinner like me and have no idea what foods are mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:8? Don't even know where Deuteronomy is? Have no fear, I'm here to help. In leading his people to the "promised land" out of slavery in Egypt and wandering in the desert God instructs the people through Moses to keep his commandments. His promise is that he will take them to, "a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey." (Deut. 8:8) Wowzers! You mean you've got wheat, barley, wine, figs, pomegranate, olives, and honey in that "Bible Bar" of yours? Stop being such a diva, drop the Snickers, and give me a bit of scrumptious Promised Land goodness. Thanks for sharing the sighting Moxy!
- Also on Facebook, Daniel “The Truth” DeHoyos took a picture of his notes for a new Bible study series he is doing with his youth group called, "God and Cinema." He pulled out some interesting "meta-themes" to discuss. What would you add?
- Speaking of movies, Brian Clark responded to my request about sharing your favorite angel and demon sightings in movies, books, or other pop culture. He mentioned Frank Peretti's "awesome written description" in This Present Darkness in which, "Ashton is just a typical small town. But when a skeptical reporter and a pastor begin to compare notes, they suddenly find themselves fighting a hideous plot to subjugate the townspeople -- and eventually the entire human race....a fascinating glimpse into the unseen world of spiritual warfare where angels of good and evil battle." Great spotting Brian!
- Via Twitter, Jonathan Brandenburg sent me notice of the "fastest selling Playmobil toy of all time" -- Martin Luther. Wait....wha?! Yep, you heard that right. The old 16th-century rebel monk and Protestant reformer not only posted 95 theses, but posted huge first-quarter sales figures for Playmobil who, according to Newsweek, is just as shocked as everyone else. The toy looks pretty sweet, you know if you're a total Reformation nerd...or Lutheran. Newsweek describes it, "The plastic toy, complete with a quill, German-language bible and cheery grin, was produced for the German and Nuremberg tourist boards and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, as Germany gears up to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017." That 500th anniversary is a pretty big deal and might be a magisterial reason for Lutheran nerd-dom to rise up to purchase toys, go on Luther tours, and sport "Luther is my homeboy" hats like nobody's business. Forget Pope Francis it's time for the "Luther effect," let's purchase and protest like it was 1517.
- Finally, Sandy Richards sent me a note about sighting the "Buddha Lounge" -- a swanky little dive bar on San Francisco's Chinatown's main thoroughfare -- in the latest edition of Sunset magazine. This isn't the only Buddha bar sighting as of late. Recently, I was in Ft. Lauderdale Florida enjoying some "Maple Bacon Coffee Porter" (yes, heavenly) at the Funky Buddha Brewery. It seems the sage of samsara is now the patron saint of suds for many.
As you can readily see #FaithGoesPop can be discovered anywhere and everywhere. From coffee shops to Chinatowns, from grocery stores to Toys 'R' Us there's "faith pop" waiting to be discovered. So go forth, find it, and send it to me via the #FaithGoesPop hash-tag.
Until next time, peace out faith goes pop-ers, I'm going to go have a Buddha beer...or two.