Pop Culture Wars: Religion and the Role of Entertainment in American Life

This book grew out of my research and course material in film studies. Entertainment has long been a source of controversy in American life. On the one hand, American popular culture is enormously desired, captivating audiences around the world. On the other hand, more and more critics blame it for the breakdown of morals and even civilization itself. Surely Christian and other religious citizens have something to contribute to what is, after all, a discussion of morality. But too often their contributions have been ill-informed, unreflective and reactionary. In this groundbreaking book, William Romanowski brings something desperately needed to the discussion: an informed, systematic and challenging Christian perspective. Comprehensive and historically revealing, Pop Culture Wars bids to accomplish nothing less than to reframe and render more constructive a crucial but angry cultural debate.

Endorsements and Reviews

"By taking a long historical look at the rise of entertainment in America, Romanowski brings a fresh perspective to the contemporary conflict between Christianity and culture. In a series of elegant sketches, Romanowski demonstrates the integral role that evangelical Christianity played in the development of popular culture from the arts of high culture in 19th-century America. According to Romanowski, a responsible evangelical Christian critique of popular culture must begin from a deep understanding of the history of the intimate bond the two institutions share. Painting in masterful strokes, Romanowski creates an stunning portrait of the interplay of religion and popular culture."
Publisher's Weekly Religion Bookline

...a remarkably balanced work, providing constructive criticism and a few hints as to how religious people might interpret the best and counter the worst in pop culture.
Martin E. Marty, The Christian Century

[Pop Culture Wars] will be a standard in the field, a fantastic book!
Richard Mouw, President, Fuller Theological Seminary

...a provocative analysis of the emergence of mass entertainment in America.... The Disney boycott has made Pop Culture Wars more timely than ever.
Christian Scholar's Review

...a lively, incisive analysis of the business and art of American popular culture.
The Christian Century

Pop Culture Wars is historically solid, biblically insightful and exciting to read. Romanowski gives a sharp Christian vision for understanding popular art and entertainment today without oversimplifying their seductive complexity.
Calvin Seerveld, Institute for Christian Studies (Toronto)

This is an important book. It provides a compelling and fascinating account of the historical development of popular culture in America and discusses the powerful impact of entertainment on society.
Libraries and Culture

A well-written history of film's and television's attempt to define itself in our culture. [Romanowski] presents an excellent argument for media literacy and voices a strong view that religious leaders should be embracing and developing the media as the "new literature" of our time.
Jack Shea, Catholics in Media Associates

Through an excellent social history of mainly 20th-century popular culture, [Romanowski] provides a critical analysis of contemporary media in the United States. His title picks up James Davison Hunterís concept of a struggle over the meaning of America and applies it to entertainment.
David Lyon, Third Way

A kind of Moses, Romanowski comes forth from his mountain-top office with an eleventh commandment: Understand your times and their media. It is a good suggestion. This book knowledgeably teaches us how.
Ray Browne, Journal of Popular Culture

Romanowski's analysis of pop culture in America won't persuade everyone, but it could orient and motivate Christians toward careful thought in the midst of our profound cultural confusion.
New Man Magazine

Romanowski has researched broadly across cultural history, bringing in examples of similar dynamics from other centuries as well as scholarly conclusions regarding every conceivable type of popular American culture.
Library Journal

[Pop Culture Wars]...explor[es] the difficult dimension of authentic Christian faith in late twentieth-century America.
Books & Culture

[Pop Culture Wars] is the proper, redemptive approach to take.
Christian Info News

If you're fascinated by the power, potential, and pervasiveness of the media--especially on today's teens--and want one source that will provide an indepth study of the social, historical, economic, religious and political aspects of radio, TV, theater, and movies, Pop Culture Wars is for you.
Youthworker Magazine

"William Romanowski has done our embattled society a remarkable favor by providing an impressively informed and passionately argued case for the immediate cessation of the culture wars. The energy exerted in verbal warfare should be redirected into critical and creative involvement with popular entertainment. He is to be commended for deconstructing the false polarization of "high" and "low" culture and for reconstructing the linkage of art with the mission of God in the world."
Scott Young, Co-Director, City of Angels Film Festival

Pop Culture Wars gets an unqualified recommendation.
Cornerstone Magazine

1996 Cornerstone Book Award (Arts and Culture Category)