The real America

In his 1994 introduction to his 1981 novel Hello, America, J. G. Ballard writes: “The United States has given birth to most of our century’s dreams, and to a good many of its nightmares. No other country has created such a potent vision of itself, and exported that vision so successfully to the rest of the world…. Whenever I visit the United States I often feel that the real ‘America’ lies not in the streets of Manhattan or Chicago, or the farm towns of the mid-west, but in the imaginary America created by Hollywood and the media landscape.”

The real America is the imaginary America which is presented in pop culture; this makes sense to me. And this raises a question for me: should religion accommodate to this imaginary America, as for example Rick Warren and his version of the prosperity gospel do? — or should religion take pains to point out that the “real America” is really an imaginary America? — or should religion ignore altogether the problems caused by the imaginary America being the real America? Or put more starkly: should religion resist pop culture, or embrace it?