Eyes Wide Open by William D. Romanowski
Brazos Press, 2001.
Eyes Wide Open was written by William D. Romanowski the Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences at Calvin College. It was initially published in 2001 and was revised and expanded in 2007. As a Christ-follower seeking to engage culture and to make culture I have found that this little book is remarkably helpful. Romanowski’s style is engaging and accessible. He is writing from the Reformed perspective and is seeking to see Christians engage the world around them in such a way as to transform culture.
The book opens with a solid discussion of the state of Christian engagement within the culture. The first eye opening discussion is on the apparent double talk by the Christian world regarding popular culture. Out of one side of our mouths we decry the debasement of the culture around us and yet we consume pop culture as quickly as anyone else. Why is this? It’s because we are members of the culture within which we live and it is through the voice of pop culture that we find a road map for understanding the world around us. While this is not inherently bad we as believers must come to the place where we can evaluate and transform this road map to point people to Christ and the redemption that he offers.
From here we come to a discussion regarding the re-imagining of pop culture. This section points toward the competing and yet similar aspects of the vision of pop culture and the church. With the core question being: how do we reconcile this reality?
Next, Romanowski evaluates “Christian” art and points out that much of it is missing the point of pop art because it does not communicate to a fallen world. The closing chapters of the text give a framework for how a follower of Christ might be able to engage the arts and culture.
I think that Eyes Wide Open is must reading for any Christ-follower that is serious about engaging the culture. Along with gaining a vision for how the Church can engage the lost world Romanowski also provides in his Appendix a matrix that is helpful in discerning the good and bad of pop culture offerings. He also applies his matrix to the film, Titanic. In conclusion, I think this can be a useful tool for helping train this generation of believers to think about the culture and engage it, as opposed to them waiting to be told what to think.