Parody and pastiche in the use of popular culture in the evangelistic practices of Korean churches
Lee, Min Hyoung
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Since the end of 20th century, Korean churches have awakened to the importance of culture, cultural products, and culture-making in discipling Christians and evangelizing non-Christians. In particular, popular culture has become very important for practicing evangelism in the context of Korean Christianity because pop culture is enjoyed by a large segment of the population and thus provides a natural bridge between Christians and non-Christians. This dissertation examines Korean churches’ pervasive mimetic use of popular cultural elements that Christians and non-Christians relish, such as movies, plays, and popular music styles. While Korean churches introduced these slightly modified materials from popular culture as “parodies,” I argue that they are instead pastiches, and I explore the extent to which these pastiches are able to play a role as significant, though problematic, evangelistic media in the context of Korean Christianity. Since this practice encompasses Christian evangelism, popular culture, and the relationship of those two by a particular artistic technique, I approach the study of evangelistic pastiches both theologically and aesthetically studying their practical, theological role within the church setting. The dissertation argues that pastiches are combinations of imitated images that do not contain any substantive messages. When it comes to utilizing pastiches in evangelistic practices, the interesting and entertaining, but ultimately hollow, messages distort faithful witness to the gospel by emptying it. I suggest that evangelistic pastiches are simulacra that only communicate a hyper-gospel. Parody, by contrast, is a creative production that makes of Christianity and popular culture a new, culturally hybrid form with the capacity for building a robust relationship between Christianity and popular culture. Parody can play a positive role in enriching Christian evangelism by providing a substantive means to witness to the kingdom of God by providing a Christian perspective on and critique of culture and its concerns. Parody creates a point of contact between Christians and non-Christians from which Christian evangelism can be initiated.
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