People & Happenings of 2020 by the CAPC Staff

ANDEach year, the Christ and Pop Culture team develops a list of the top 25 cultural artefacts from the past 12 months. The list covers everything from movies and TV to internet memes, notable events and people, music and games. But the last 12 months have been unusual, as you already know. The entertainment industry has slowed down. Gatherings are impossible. The news has revolved around a certain global monster.

Since nothing is the same, our team has decided to drop our usual ranking of 25 artifacts for the past year. Instead, every writer submitted 2020 articles that managed to get through the dark days and deliver some goodness. Stop by each day this week to see the pop culture category roundup of Movies, TV, Music & Podcasts, Books & Games, Events & People. Hopefully these provide some hope and some new artifacts to enjoy.

Church online

Early in the pandemic, I remember hearing someone joke that the main goal of every pastor’s first online sermon at home was to film their message in such a way that it doesn’t look like a hostage tape. It stuck with me because it perfectly encapsulated that feeling we all felt, especially from those early days: How do we do this?

It seems that no two churches have approached the issue in the same way. I’ve seen some services move exclusively to private facebook groups. Others held church services over Zoom, all the shenanigans of trying to make sure everyone was silenced while Becky, bless her heart, led us into her adjacent rendition of « Reckless Love. » Some of us watched live on YouTube while others recorded our songs and messages and posted them for later consumption.

We discussed communion. Are the items to be consumed at home? Should we forgo the sacrament altogether? And heaven help us, what about baptism? How do we squash or sprinkle people from six feet away?

I have many friends in the ministry. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t say that this hasn’t been one of the roughest and toughest seasons of ministry they’ve ever encountered. And in a weird way, there’s a sad beauty to it all, knowing that while we’re struggling to figure out how to do this thing that we know what we have to doat least we take comfort knowing that we are all struggling together.

And so here we are, late 2020 and early 2021, still a Church with broken wings, trying to figure out how we keep the faith, how we come together when the gathering can’t happen, doing our best to keep God in His promise that He builds His Church, not us.

—Matt Poppe

Barber shopA return to the barbershop

Among many things we he could not doing this year due to the pandemic has been going to barbers and salons to keep our beauty and hair care regiments up to date. Unless, of course, I called you Shelley Luther and you defied all local mandates that launched a failed political career. But that’s a completely different set of circumstances. For the rest of us, however, we’ve been left to mistreat and growing out (it, being our hair of course). Just check these photos of NBA star Jimmy Butler, the manifesto of unkempt hair in the « bubble » during the last stretch of the 2020 championship season. For African Americans especially, the many months of going without a haircut was an even more socially depressing feat.

For the black community, barbershops are usually more than just grooming places. Barbershops are safe spaces where we can find encouragement, places where we can freely discuss everything from economic and political happenings to sports, and we can get free advice on everything from car and home buying to relationship building. During the height of the pandemic, all of that was lost for a while, and it was definitely lost during a season of heightened social unrest over the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd.

When we were finally able to go back to the barbershop and share our stories and experiences with one another, it was just another reminder of the gift of community found in the barbershop. I think this video by Christian Hip Hop artist KB finally going back to the barbershop pretty much sums up those feelings.

—Timothy Thomas

SGNSome good news

Long before the 2020 cascade of tragedy, the idea that all news was bad news held true. People never tuned into the news to find out what Well things are happening in the world, but rather to find out what is pretty bad to make the daily headlines. Stories of hope, perseverance, or triumph might make headlines under the heading of a « special interest story » at the end of a broadcast, but wherever or however you hear your news, there was never any to encourage you to feel good about the world.

Nothing about the nature of mainstream news has changed in 2020—indeed, the news has only gotten worse as events unfold in America and around the world that have brought families, cities, and towns to their knees. But there were many people who rallied about the year’s hardships in a variety of inspiring ways, and because we live in the age of the internet (and the smartphone), many of the things people did last year to help the Helpless, Lifting the Weary, and Bringing Light to the Darkness have been recorded and posted online. Actor John Krasinski took notice and decided to use the first few weeks of the shutdown to collect these goodness stories to feature in a YouTube news program that he created and hosted from his home. He called the show Some good news.

Krasinski said he’d always wanted to create a show dedicated solely to good news, and when it ended up sheltering like the rest of America in March, it seemed like the best time to make it happen. Inviting people on Twitter to submit their stories of good things that happened during the Coronavirus shutdowns, Krasinki curated the presentations in weekly episodes. He showcased and lauded the best stories he could find, big and small, uplifting everyday people, bringing ordinary heroes into people’s living rooms (via YouTube) and giving back in meaningful and practical ways. He has used his celebrity privilege well. Some good news it didn’t work for as long as a lot of people wanted, in the end, but it was an early, important, beacon of hope in 2020. Hope is what a lot of people needed last year, and hope is that What Some good news provided.

—KB Hoyle

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