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Everything is spiritual: pop culture, media and spirituality

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The musical artist 2Pac wondered, “If heaven has a ghetto.” Marc Roberge of O.A.R. (Of A Revolution) insists that, “I don’t want to go to heaven if I can’t get in.” Bands like One Republic, The Script and Imagine Dragons sing about the redemptive power of pain and suffering. Those of us who remember the epic hair metal of the 1980s know that Bon Jovi is “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

Spirituality is everywhere, and it’s not just in popular music. It can be found in television shows like HBO’s “The Wire,” which challenges popular notions of good and evil. The popular ABC series, “Lost,” explored ideas about faith, mystery, and religion. In HBO’s “The Sopranos,” viewers were compelled to ponder questions of identity and destiny. It’s not just music and television that are latently spiritual.

The movie industry has been asking questions about beliefs, principles, values and religion before Bon Jovi was “Livin’ on a Prayer.” In the days of black and white, films like Frank Capra’s, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” explored questions about contentment and second chances; while, modern day masterpieces like Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” contrast different notions about God.

Media and popular culture reflect both who we are as a nation and help shape us as people, so it is no surprise that spirituality and religion play a major role in entertaining and challenging us. It could be said that media reflects, “The lived religion of mainstream America -- a practice based religion concerned with moral choices and personal growth rather than debates over faith and dogma.” It could also be said that if media is our lived religion, then celebrities are our living idols.

However, my aim is not to critique spirituality in popular media, rather to celebrate it. The covert spirituality in our music, TV shows and movies indicate that Americans are overtly spiritual people. In other words, you may not realize it, but if you listen to music, watch TV or go to the movies, you are a spiritual person asking spiritual questions. I celebrate that, and I hope you do too.

In addition to celebrating our spirituality, I would like to invite you to actively embrace your spirituality, discover the riches of faith and the strength of spiritual resilience.

How can you do that? Join the conversation that is already happening all around you, in your workplace, at home, in the dorm and at your place of worship. If 2Pac can ask the question, “Is there heaven for a G?” and finds a suitable answer--you can too. I would venture to say, we can together.

If you are interested in walking along the winding road of spirituality, please visit the Whiteman AFB Chapel Facebook page for the full listing of events, or contact U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. James McConnell or Staff Sgt. Ronald Murray III at the Chapel Annex at 660- 687-3652.