Everyday Theology

How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends

series: Cultural Exegesis

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About

"[A] very worthwhile publication that should be welcomed by scholar and thoughtful layman alike. . . . This book is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to gain the skills in reading and interpreting culture. Almost as a windfall, it also provides valuable insights into particular texts and trends."--Ray Lubeck, Cultural Encounters

 

Generally speaking, students, theologians, pastors, and church leaders are well-trained in the task of biblical exegesis. Where many fall short, however, is in the area of cultural exegesis--reading and interpreting the texts and trends produced by our culture, which can have a profound influence on the way we understand the world and practice our faith. Anyone interested in the intersection of Christianity and culture needs to be able to do "everyday theology," that is, to think theologically about our cultural environment and pass it through the grid of Scripture, in order to respond faithfully as Christian disciples.

Everyday Theology is the first volume in the new Cultural Exegesis series. With an emphasis on both methodology and case study, it is well-suited for seminary classroom use. A significant introduction by Vanhoozer lays out the hermeneutical method for engaging with culture. This is followed by a series of essays that engage cultural texts and trends, from the music of Eminem to the grocery store checkout lane to the phenomenon of Internet blogs. A concluding chapter walks the reader step-by-step through the interpretation process with an additional case study.

About the Series: The Cultural Exegesis series provides methodological and foundational studies that address the way to engage culture theologically. Each volume works within a specific cultural discipline, illustrating and embodying the theory behind cultural engagement. By providing the appropriate tools, these books equip the reader to engage and interpret the surrounding culture responsibly.


Endorsements

"Kevin Vanhoozer, Charles Anderson, and Michael Sleasman bring together a bright team of culture readers, who help us see common things in uncommon ways and describe them with uncommon yet useful terms. They are pioneers, I hope, of a new era among faithful people in constructive, discerning, and loving engagement rather than reactive, superficial, and judgmental antagonism toward our culture."--Brian McLaren, author/activist (brianmclaren.net)

"There is now a proliferation of books on religion and popular culture but very few books on theology and popular culture. This book seeks to remedy that and offers a rationale for why and how Christians should 'read' popular culture. Kevin Vanhoozer's approach strikes a wise balance between interpreting popular culture with open good will for where God might really be speaking and a biblically formed suspicion for the cunning manufacture of idols. The selection of cultural artifacts examined in part 2 is wide ranging, quirky, and inspired."--Kelton Cobb, professor of theology and ethics, Hartford Seminary

"I am one of those Christians who have theological questions about Eminem, MySpace, grocery stores, and the like. So I am very pleased that we now have this book of stimulating and important reflections on such matters. These authors demonstrate how to think theologically about popular culture."--Richard J. Mouw, president and professor of Christian philosophy, Fuller Seminary


The Authors

  1. Kevin J. Vanhoozer

    Kevin J. Vanhoozer

    Kevin J. Vanhoozer (PhD, University of Cambridge), one of the world's top theologians, is research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He previously taught at Wheaton College and the University of...

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  2. Charles A. Anderson

    Charles A. Anderson

    Charles A. Anderson is a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge.

    Continue reading about Charles A. Anderson

  3. Michael J. Sleasman

    Michael J. Sleasman

    Michael J. Sleasman (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is managing director and research scholar for the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity and affiliate professor of bioethics at Trinity Graduate School.

    Continue reading about Michael J. Sleasman

Reviews

"All of us know which TV shows or movies we like, but few go deep enough to study and analyze the cultural creations that surround us. Vanhoozer provides the tools we need and follows up with 10 case studies on everything from grocery shopping to funerals. . . . [His] 46-page summary of 'everyday theology' is brilliant."--Steve Rabey, YouthWorker Journal

"This will be a useful book for church leaders in understanding the changing culture in which we live and learning to engage that culture with a biblical worldview."--PreachingNow
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"Using a biblical filter, a hefty hermeneutic, and a gracious attitude, Everyday Theology is a life preserver for the Christian soul inundated by pop culture. . . . A useful, well-written, and timely work that seeks to provide Christians with a heightened sense of cultural literacy. Everyday Theology will equip its readers with the skills for understanding the intimate relationship between culture, theology, and the Christian life. The method employed here gives the reader a sophisticated matrix that draws on different disciplines and properly orders them according to their respective merit. The method also attends to the wider milieu in which the text or trend emerged. This book is a lively, engaging, and accessible description of interpreting culture that is sorely needed today."--Timothy J. Yoder, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"In the introductory chapter, Vanhoozer . . . provides erudite and compelling reasons Christians should read culture 'theologically.'. . . The bulk of the book is comprised of case studies on how to interpret cultural texts and trends. . . . The authors do a good job of putting Vanhoozer's methods into practice, pulling out numerous other insights. . . . As one of deconstruction's heirs, 'cultural studies' needs to be approached with both prudence and a good dose of common sense. In Everyday Theology Vanhoozer seems to have done exactly that, gleaning the best of what the discipline has to offer while at the same time grounding his analysis in the unchanging revelation of the Scriptures."--Micah Mattix, American Theological Inquiry

"Vanhoozer calls us all to become theological interpreters of everyday culture, becoming everyday theologians. . . . The subsequent chapters, which are examples of how one does everyday theology, go a long way in demonstrating how this all works. They are accessible and interesting, even clever in choice of object for analysis. . . . The book is a worthy addition to Baker Academic's series on cultural exegesis."--Richard Stern, Homiletic

"The book starts with an essay by Vanhoozer detailing both his reasons that we require theological reflection and a methodology for reflecting theologically on the world around us. . . . The rest of the book presents several essays that utilize this methodology to reflect critically on various cultural texts and trends. Although each essay is informative in its own right, the real purpose of these essays is to show how to utilize the methodology with specific texts. Each stands as an interesting essay in itself, but also shows how to apply the methodology to various textual types. . . . This book will probably be most useful . . . as a basic text for theological reflection classes in undergraduate or seminary programs, or for anyone who wants to bring the Gospel to the various cultures that surround them."--David Kirk, Trinity Seminary Review

"Everyday Theology is practical and useful, with sidebars, suggested readings, and a glossary of methodological terms. . . . If we're going to live our lives in the way Christ has commanded, we need to be willing to examine the texts and trends we engage in everyday. Vanhoozer's book is well worth reading as it provides a useful method for Christians to approach this task."--Jon Mair, Mennonite Brethren Herald

"Vanhoozer's method . . . is rich with philosophical and theological insight. His breadth of knowledge across multiple disciplines is impressive and substantial. . . . A number of essays written by Vanhoozer's students use his method for cultural exegesis. . . . I found these parts to be interesting, lucid, and informative. They more than adequately present his method of cultural exegesis and apply it in a very user-friendly way. . . . The content is not only useful for training in cultural exegesis, but it also contains insight ready-made for the pastor in the field. There will be more than a few sermon series derived from this work. . . . There is an attempt in every chapter to bring Scripture and theology to bear on issues of everyday life. This would seem to be a major aid to those practitioners attempting to cross the divide between the biblical and cultural context, and it is a welcome addition to the field of practical theology. . . . I would recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding how culture and theology should interact."--Michael McDowell, Criswell Theological Review

"From the prolific pen of Kevin Vanhoozer . . . comes yet another very worthwhile publication that should be welcomed by scholar and thoughtful layman alike. . . . The examples selected exhibit a remarkable and sometimes surprising diversity of facets of our contemporary culture. . . . This book is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to gain the skills in reading and interpreting culture. Almost as a windfall, it also provides valuable insights into particular texts and trends. As one who is already a fan of Vanhoozer's works, this book further confirms him to me as a voice to which every theologian of contemporary culture must attend."--Ray Lubeck, Cultural Encounters

"The book's great strength is that it delivers what the cover promises: an unpretentious, clear and useable resource, of use to clergy, lay leaders and students alike. Any of the essays could provide an interesting starting point for study groups in churches and student chaplaincies. There are good recommendations for further reading, and in text boxes in different chapters Vanhoozer provides more detailed introductions to some of these works. The themes selected for the nine central essays were well chosen. They cover over a wide range of texts and trends, all of which have a discernible impact on the life of a great many parishioners. It was good to see critical reflection on trends within the Church as well as outside it. . . . The great strength of this homiletic style is its strong focus on practical application."--Angus Ritchie, Theology

"Vanhoozer and coeditors seek to read everyday life in the lens of Scripture. . . . Moreover, the book is an encouraging sign of change in the evangelical stance toward Western culture, from assuming a basically Christian society in which isolated errors can be corrected, toward a missional stance where a framework of beliefs set in a life must be engaged and contrasted, not only cognitively but by whole lives."--Ted Newell, Themelios

"[An] excellent book. . . . The great contribution of this collection of essays is that it explains and illustrates a set of methods by which to interpret the world of the audience. . . . This book is highly recommended for pastors, students, evangelists, Sunday school teachers, and other church leaders. Being an effective communicator of the Word of God requires interpretation of both the Word and the world, both the Scriptures and the audience. This book is an effective, practical, and user-friendly introduction to an important task."--Glenn R. Kreider, Bibliotheca Sacra

"[Vanhoozer] has established himself as a leading thinker in the realm of hermeneutics. . . . The book retains a consistency . . . because all the contributors were taught by the editor and very much retain his style. There are also very helpful editorial commentaries through the text which link the various essays together. Vanhoozer provides an excellent introductory, methodological chapter which explains what 'everyday theology' is all about. . . . The 'texts' to which [Vanhoozer's] approach is applied are extremely diverse. . . . Each subject receives careful and generous interpretation and then the authors seek to draw out how such diverse 'texts' intersect with classic theological themes. The sheer variety of material that is considered make[s] this an entertaining read. There is much material here for the preacher. . . . The chapters which seek to interpret cultural trends are equally relevant to the preacher. . . . Each chapter is both engaging and serious. I thoroughly recommend this book."--Mark Hargreaves, Anvil

"This volume fills a void in the field of hermeneutics. . . . Many works cover the interpretation of Scripture, and many cover culture, but few cover the area where Scripture interprets culture. . . . This volume is primarily written to Christians everywhere, and would be useful as an introductory textbook in college or seminary, a supplemental textbook in a hermeneutics course, or as a plan for a discussion group or a church group. This volume could also be used for discipleship of believers at any academic level."--James Sedlacek, Stone-Campbell Journal

"The book is designed to both teach and illustrate how one 'makes Christian sense' of everyday life. This is accomplished by a length introductory essay followed by a number of case studies in which the methodology introduced is illustrated. The concept of the book is well executed. . . . The concept that the book seeks to articulate and illustrate is important, fascinating, and timely. There has always been a need for pastors to be able to exegete both the Bible and the culture. But the need has never been greater than it is today. Vanhoozer has provided a tool for those who want to be 'cultural agents' in the world. I for one found the book's central idea compelling and deeply motivating."--Joel Willitts, Euangelion Biblioblog

"This is a profitable book for the present day theologian. It offers practical examples on how a present day theologian should incorporate his or her theological constructions with the everyday life of the people. It is however clear that everyday theology is . . . a theological practice that every believer (be he or she an academic theologian or not) should get involved in. . . . The trajectory followed in the book is quite useful for people committed to brewing theology within the context of the everyday person. I like how the book engages issues of both local American and international concern."--Michael Muoki Wambua, Expository Times

"Everyday theology is not a theological discipline but rather the theological practice of every believer. Christians should read the Bible as well as their cultural 'texts' and trends so that they can understand how their culture is influencing their own faith and those around them. . . . I appreciate how the book engages issues of both local American and international concern. This makes more room to ask how to do theology that connects with everyone. . . . By becoming more culturally literate, the Church will be able to advance her mission in the world effectively."--Michael Muoki Wambua, Pneuma Review

"Usually students, theologians, and pastors are well-trained in the task of biblical exegesis, but they struggle to understand culture. . . . By providing appropriate tools and methodology, [the Cultural Exegesis] series seeks to equip the reader to engage and interpret the surrounding culture responsibly. . . . The essays are diverse and appealing. I adored this volume. Vanhoozer's essay alone is worth the price, and I also appreciate the sidebars throughout the texts that contain editorial comments that unite the individual essays to the overall theme. . . . [This book] merit[s] reading, for [it] address[es] a burgeoning area of theological inquiry: cultural exegesis and hermeneutics."--Bradford McCall, Mission Studies

"Vanhoozer provides a helpful and accessible discussion on what constitutes culture and how it might be viewed in light of theological claims and other modes of interpretation. . . . The selection of themes is fascinating and effectively asks readers to have 'ears to hear' and 'eyes to see' what is going on in the world around them. . . . [The text] invites you to think about your own everyday world and contemplate how you might then construct a thick theological interpretation. The penultimate section is devoted to interpreting cultural trends. . . . Everyday Theology is . . . a good read . . . both in terms of its method and its examples and case studies."--Clive Pearson, Journal of Reformed Theology