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rockdog

I don’t know. Probably nothing. I didn’t see it, and it looks terrible.

Can we please stop doing this kind of thing with every pop-culture excretion?

Some works of art are, well, works of art and more readily provoke theological, philosophical, and spiritual reflection.

Some works of art are mere frivolities, which can be simply enjoyed by Christians in moderation but don’t lend themselves easily to philosophical rumination except at the viewer’s most eisogetical of stretches. Still others of these frivolous fragments of pop-cultural detritus should simply be ignored, and an ever-growing number should be openly rejected and even repudiated.

But some works are so dumb, so vapid, so insipid that the contemporary Christian impulse to extract something of redemption from them actually reveals how dumb, vapid, and insipid highbrow evangelicals can be.

Let the reader understand.


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15 thoughts on “What Can The Church Learn From ‘Rock Dog’?”

  1. Dan Kassis says:

    Thank you. Jared. Wilson.

  2. Matt says:

    Thank you, Jared!

    P.S.
    How did that make it past the Editor??

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Common misconception about TGC blogging — we don’t have editorial filters. We are trusted to post freely, with the expectation of course that we won’t post anything that conflicts with orthodox Christianity, the founding principles of TGC, or a general ethos of good will to the church and the world. So none of us bloggers — or any of our site editors — know what we’re going to publish from one day to the next. There is no roundtable discussion; there is no cabal. ;-)

  3. Tiribulus says:

    Could I prevail upon the author to give an example of an animated work that does “readily provoke theological, philosophical, and spiritual reflection.” ?

    Is he saying there isn’t such a thing? Honest question.

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Tiribulus, good question. I think there are numerous examples of animated works that could provoke these kinds of ruminations. Here are a few, off the top of my head:
      The Iron Giant, Charlie Brown Christmas, The Secret of Kells, The Miracle Maker, a handful of Disney/Pixar flicks, and quite a few foreign animated features (the work of Hayao Miyazaki, for instance). Most animated films are little more than “cartoons,” of course, designed as fluff for distracting kids or for selling toys and Happy Meals. But there are some animated works out there that could be considered art functioning on multiple levels.

      1. Tiribulus says:

        Thank you sir. I appreciate your generous time and attention.

        I am wanting to get a fuller feel for your view as there seems to be somewhat of a range in this area. If I may trouble you a bit further.

        Do you see Christ figures and gospel parallels in works such as, say “Frozen” for instance?

        I will be up front in saying that I am highly critical of this view if you do, but will also say that the trajectory of your article is in my estimation, far better than most of what is seen here.

        1. Jared C. Wilson says:

          Tiribulus, the post is what it is. I don’t feel the need to parse the post any more than I feel the need to parse every movie. It is largely tongue-in-cheek, though reflective of a serious pet peeve I have about the Christian hipster-intellectualist tendency to “redeem” every piece of entertainment. Engaging beyond that is not really what I had in mind. It’s more of a joke-rant sort of post.

  4. Andy Chance says:

    What is Rock Dog? I assume it’s an animated film. But I have eight children, and I still have no idea.

    It must not have anything to do with Paw Patrol.

  5. Linn says:

    “Ignore” is a hard word for people who have to analyze every cultural hiccup.

  6. I both strongly agree and disagree.

    No, “the Church” can learn nothing from this. Stop over-spiritualizing everything.

    But YES, individual Christians can. If you are friends with people who like this story (or more likely others). Stories reveal both the depraved idols and legitimate hopes of our hearts. You can know a person by knowing what she/he likes. And thus you can truly engage this person: calling to repentance and the Gospel in word and deed — as an individual Christian and/or a local church who must evangelize.

    So do reject faux-elite popular culture “engagements.” But don’t dare also reject humans by sneering at their culture. In doing do you may reject not only the supposedly “worthless” thing, by also reject the supposedly “worthless” person.

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Making a joke about *Rock Dog* is “rejecting humans.” OK

      1. Clarification: wasn’t talking about your motive. I did not mean to sound like a troll there! :-) I also oppose the hipster-intellectual approach. My main thought was about some folks reading who missed the joke. One in particular shared the piece with a “yeah, all popular culture is frivolous and has little place on The Gospel Coalition!” response. Your remark about redemptive value in other films is very helpful and helps provide context, especially when hipster Christians keep doing their thing and “all popular culture is all worthless” folks also do theirs.

  7. Brent L says:

    Hey Jared,

    I love reading your stuff but I’m not quite feeling your disgruntlement here. I just looked at the trailer and Rock Dog doesn’t look any worse than some of the other animated crap out there. Don’t get me started on Kung Fu Panda. But maybe I’m just feeling dumb, vapid and insipid today :)

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Kung Fu Panda was great!
      Rock Dog looks like it was made for a student project on a Microsoft Surface.

  8. JustinR says:

    So is this a call for me to scrap my 4-week sermon series on “Finding Jesus in ‘Rock Dog'”? Or is this an encouragement to stretch it out to an 8-week series?

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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, director of The Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church, and author of more than ten books, including Gospel Wakefulness, The Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church. You can follow him on Twitter.

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