Guidelines for Interpreting Culture
Cinema & New Media Arts | On Aug 29, 2012
Kevin Vanhoozer, Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends
- Try to comprehend a cultural text on its own terms (grasp its communicative intent) before you “interpret” it (explore its broader social, political, sexual, or religious significance).
- Attend to what a cultural text is doing as well as saying by clarifying its illocutionary act (e.g., stating a belief, displaying a world).
- Consider the world behind (e.g., medieval, modern), of (i.e., the world displayed by the cultural text), andin front of (i.e., its proposal for your world) the cultural text.
- Determine what “powers” are served by particular cultural texts or trends by discovering whose material interests are served (e.g., follow the money!).
- Seek the “world hypothesis” and/or “root metaphor” implied by a cultural text.
- Be comprehensive in your interpretation of a cultural text; find corroborative evidence that makes the best sense of the whole as well as the parts.
- Give “thick” descriptions of the cultural text that are nonreductive and sensitive to the various levels of communicative action.
- Articulate the way of being human to which a cultural text directly or indirectly bears witness and gives commendation.
- Discern what faith a cultural text directly or indirectly expresses. To what convictions about God, the world, and ourselves does a cultural text and/or trend commit us?
- Locate the cultural text in the biblical creation-fall-redemption schema and make sure that biblical rather than cultural texts have the lead role in shaping your imagination and hence your interpretative framework for your experience.