Yes, the Culture Does Matter

Barb Wire

My new book, “The Glass Bridge,” the seventh in my “Bell Mountain” fantasy series, came out last week but it doesn’t look like I’m going to get the radio coverage I’d hoped for.

Why not? Well, everybody’s busy with current events, underinflated footballs and overinflated politicians. The reason I’m given, boiled down, is, “It’s only a novel, and we don’t cover novels. It’s just not that important.”

All right, one more novel—who cares? It’s “Young Adults” fiction, which makes it even less important—what does it matter, what the kids are reading? The fact that it’s a fantasy/adventure novel makes it less important still. That I’ve tried to create fiction with an indelibly Biblical worldview doesn’t register at all.

Do conservative, pro-family media types have any idea of just how much fantasy is out there, being gobbled up by young readers? There must be thousands of titles: I wouldn’t even try to guess how many. They’re all part of a much bigger popular culture and entertainment matrix, along with movies, TV shows, youtube, video games, toys, and more: a matrix from which God and His word have been excluded. How much of the average American’s life is spent in consuming this?

This is our pop culture, and we are eyeball-deep in it. We keep creating new media so that “entertainment” can come to us in more forms, from more directions.

But what are we consuming?

One novel, one movie, one action figure—one of anything is no big deal. But we are talking about thousands of hours of it, day in, day out, year after year.

It’s my business to know and understand fantasy. Young Adults fantasy fiction, taken as a whole, promotes a certain attitude and outlook. This worldview, with a few exceptions, is intensely pagan, averse to Christian morality, given to deep pessimism about the future, and also absurd.

Its total lack of originality, and its rigorous political correctness, breeds, in the name of “diversity,” a stifling conformity. At the same time, it speaks to the tension in young minds between the hunger for personal autonomy and a keen awareness that they aren’t ready to make it on their own. It seduces them with visions of super-powers, secret martial arts, or magic, by which the teens in the stories always get the better of adults.

It’s crazy—a mixture of radical autonomy, “Ye shall be as gods,” and radical conformity. You can do what you want, you can be anything you please. But make sure you always go along with the crowd.

It’s the same message we’re all getting from the wider popular culture. It’s just more blatant, the way it’s sold to teens.

What shapes our world is not the stuff that’s in the headlines, but the stuff that’s in our hearts and heads.

The culture matters. It matters more than the economy, the politics, the laws. Debauch the culture and you debauch the nation. The satanic Left has long understood this, and labored at it. The results should be obvious even to a libertarian. Take over the schools and universities, take over the movies and the books, and it really doesn’t matter who’s in the White House.

How many million teens have to read a best-selling YA fantasy featuring 11-year-old girls using witchcraft and “spiritual” bonds with “spirit animals” to get what they want, before someone in the conservative media can even imagine that this just might have more profound effects on the future of the nation than who’s going to be running in the Iowa primary?

What we plant is what we grow. Sitting passively and consuming a zillion hours of “entertainment” may not seem like planting anything. But it is.

Much, much more attention should be paid to what goes into our popular culture, because that’s what dictates what comes out.

Much more effort must go into planting wholesome seeds, to raise a better crop of people.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Lee Duigon
Lee Duigon, a contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, is a former newspaper reporter and editor, small businessman, teacher, and horror novelist. He has been married to his wife, Patricia, for 34 years. See his new fantasy/adventure novels, Bell Mountain and The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, available on

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