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Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends (Cultural Exegesis) Paperback – March 1, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

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." This innovative volume will help readers think theologically about our cultural environment and respond faithfully as Christian disciples.

"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

"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

About the Author

Kevin J. Vanhoozer (PhD, University of Cambridge) is research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author or editor of many books, including the award-winning Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible.

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

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.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cultural Exegesis
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; annotated edition edition (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801031672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801031670
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jonathan K. Dodson on October 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
On the upside, the first chapter of Everyday Theology is worth the whole book; the rest of the chapters are a collection of Vanhoozer's cultural hermeneutic applied by students from his Cultural Hermeneutics course at Trinity Seminary. Vanhoozer turns his hermeneutical and linguistic savvy (cf. Is There Meaning in This Text?) to developing a framework for interpreting culture. He notes that the are cultural texts (products, forms, stuff) and cultural trends (intangible effects of cultural texts), both of which must be carefully interpreted if we are to redemptively engage our cultures.

Drawing on Mortimer Adler, he proposes that we understand the world in, behind, and in front of a cultural text. Strong echoes of Marshal McLuhan are present throughout.

On the downside, Vanhoozer imports too much lingusitic terminology for everyday readers (locutionary, perlocutionary, illocutionary) to communicate his framework, which could be presented with more accessible language. He also notes the importance of using the creation-fall-redemption storyline in interpreting cultural text and trends, but does not deliver on how or why this is important. Though far from "everyday" in places, overall he presents a cultural hermeneutic that is compelling and intriguing.
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Back in the late 60s it was common for even fundamentalists to use the popular music of the era as a vehicle for communicating the Gospel. Anyone here remember the Scott Ross Show? That was an exciting era. In this book Kevin & Co. present us with a practical (observable and not simply academic) framework for doing this same thing again. (Why this excites me so much is that it was this very behavior that came along with the Jesus Movement -- spell that R-E-V-I-V-A-L.) But I digress.

"Everyday Theology is not an encyclopedia of contemporary culture, nor is it a full-blown textbook of cultural hermeneutics. What it provides instead is a model for 'reading' culture theologically as well as a number of illustrative examples." (p. 10)

What will you gain from this book? First, if you're like many who've been out of touch with society in general, you'll get a snapshot of some important current attitudes and activities. If you're thoroughly in touch then this book will help you step back and look objectively at what's going on in culture today.

In this interpreation I was especially encouraged by Chapter 6 (by Michael Sleasman), Swords, Sandals, and Saviors: Visions of Hope in Ridley Scott's Gladiator. Mr. Sleasman does not try to make something Messianic (equivalent to Christ) out of the movie but shows how it conveys a somewhat messianic message, an evidence of the worlds hope and hopelessness.

Recommendation: Get the book. It's worth every penny you spend, and more. Have it available to all the leaders in your church. Couple the book with Harry and Mary for an invaluable package to help you understand culture and trends, and plan your public and interpersonal responses accordingly. For the cause of the Gospel.
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Format: Paperback
"Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends" by Kevin J. Vanhoozer is the study of the doctrines of the Scripture as they were developed within succeeding eras or within individual authors' literature, all during the framework of biblical chronology. A significant introduction by Vanhoozer lays out the hermeneutical method for engaging with culture. In this book, the art and science of interpreting cultures are the set of rules, guidelines, or principles for interpreting cultural texts and trends. "Everyday Theology" is a how-to-book, how to read cultural texts, and interpret trend. It sets forth the principles for understanding cultural hermeneutics along with how and why Christians should read culture. The book is not an encyclopedia of contemporary culture, nor is it a full-blown textbook of cultural hermeneutics. With an emphasis on both methodology and case study, it is well suited for seminary classroom use. What it provides is a model for reading culture theological. Vanhoozer points that all Christians can and should achieve some degree of cultural literacy, that is, the ability to read or interpret the world through the lens of the Bible and Christian faith.

The book begins with how to use everyday theology as a practical task of living each day as faithful disciples of Christ Jesus. The practical task of everyday theology follows a series of essays that engages cultural texts and trends, from the music of Eminem to the grocery store checkout lane to the phenomenon of internet blogs. The purpose of the book is to teach Christians to get the theological lay of the cultural land. Vanhoozer wants Christians to find an understanding of what is going on in ordinary situations and why.
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I am an instructional designer for Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. One of our VPs recommended this book to me as an excellent example of using case studies to explain biblical principles. While not all the stories in here where interesting to me, enough were interesting - even profound - that I would recommend this book. What a wonderful way to make theology relevant to the modern student's context!
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