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How Culturally Literate Are You?

  • Dr. James Emery White

    James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theologyand culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he…

  • 2015 Aug 31

I’ve seldom met a church leader who didn’t think themselves up on culture. This despite the plethora of culturally outdated approaches to ministry littering the landscape like discarded 8 track tape players.

So how about you?

Would you pass a cultural literacy test?

Let’s find out, courtesy of the latest edition of Wired magazine. Eight questions, four choices per question, answers at the end (but no peeking).

1.       What is Synbio?

A.  Where you put the really naughty stuff in your Facebook profile
B.  Tricking yeast into belching out stuff like morphine
C.  A new mobile game where you control ribosomes and Golgi apparatuses
D.  The name of Kanye and Kim’s forthcoming second child

2.       Who is Christopher Soghoian?

A.  The ACLU’s tech guru
B.  The left-hand fern on Zach Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns
C.  The target of an FBI investigation
D.  The birth name of Ronan the Accuser from Guardians of the Galaxy

3.       What is Cli-Fi?

A.  Syfy’s new spinoff network that features nothing but clip art
B.  “Click financing,” in which new-media employees get loans based on site traffic
C.  A nickname for Clint Fisticuffs, Andreessen Horowitz’s new bulldog mascot
D.  Climate-disaster fiction, a new genre that’s showing us our terrible future

4.       What or who is Thundercat?

A.  A new strain of ultra-powerful weed that’s testing the limits of legalization laws
B.  One of a team of alien cat-people from the planet Thunderchunk
C.  The genius who helped make Kendrick Lamar’s most recent album a masterpiece
D.  The right-hand fern on Zach Galifiankis’ Between Two Ferns

5.       What is an Oculus Rift?

A.  The ultimate stripper move in next year’s Magic Mike 3: Sniffin’ the Rift
B.  Rapper Riff Raff’s new lazy-eyed sidekick
C.  A gap between dark matter particles with the potential to swallow the universe
D.  The VR headset that is creating an entirely new lexicon of storytelling

6.       How will you drive your next BMW?

A.  Feed $20 bills directly into the steering column and bark at it like a valet
B.  Send brain waves via bespoke herringbone electrodes
C.  Wave and point wildly like a drunk air-traffic controller
D.  Just tell the driver where you want to go

7.       What is a blockchain?

A.  That hot new boy band with the hit song “Anonymously Yours”
B.  A superstrong alloy that enables lightning-fast construction of skyscrapers
C.  A crypto-authentication system that may be key to preventing digital fraud
D.  A secret cell of assassins on next season’s Game of Thrones

8.       What uses 13 tera-electronvolts?

A.  The Apple Watch
B.  The Ecto-1 from Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot
C.  The revamped Large Hadron Collider
D.  Elon Musk’s soon-to-be-unveiled Tesla Zamboni


1. B     2. A & C     3. D     4. C     5. D     6. C     7. C     8. C

Now, be honest.

How up on culture are you … really?

James Emery White


Robert Capps, “The Wired Quiz: How Culturally Literate Are You?,” Wired, September 2015, p. 108.

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.