Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open

Basic information

  • Author(s):
    • William D Romanowski
  • Published: February 1, 2007
  • Publisher: Brazos Press, a division of Baker Books
  • Page count: 256
  • ISBN: 9781587432019

Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open has been one of the most-used Christian college textbooks on popular culture. This revised and expanded second edition is now even more useful for students. It has been expanded to delve more deeply into how Christians can most profitably and critically hear, read, and view popular culture; it more clearly explains how popular culture is art; and it furthers the discussion on media sex and violence. All of the chapters have been updated with fresh examples from the world of film and popular music. Other helpful additions include documenting

Grounded in Christian principles, this accessible and engaging book offers an informed and fascinating approach to popular culture. Romanowski provides affectionate yet astute analysis of familiar, well-loved movies and television characters from Cinderella Man to Homer Simpson. He speaks with expertise on films from The Chronicles of Narnia to Crash and music from Mozart to U2, bringing sources as diverse as Shakespeare and Allan Bloom into the discussion.

Romanowski's confessional approach affirms a role for popular culture in faithful living. Practical, analytical approaches to content, meaning, and artistic style offer the tools to participate responsibly and imaginatively in popular cultural activities. An engaging read, this new edition introduces students and thoughtful readers to popular culture--one of the most influential forces in contemporary society.

Endorsements (rev. and exp. edition)

This revised and expaned edition of Eyes Wide Open, already a standard on the topic, widens and deepens the discourse on the popular entertainment arts. Readers will find in William Romanowski's imaginative and down-to-earth appraoch to popular art as art a manifesto of Christian involvement and a matrix assessment of sights and sounds that inescapably shape our everyday life.
Scott Young, Founder, City of Angels Film Festival


From aesthetic to religious experience, Eyes Wide Open is a winner.
--Midwest Book Review

Romanowski has written an important book for those seeking to understand the relationship between popular culture and God….This is one of the best books on this subject I have read over the last few years. This revised edition is strengthened and updated and I recommend you skip a few movies and give this a read.
--Jerry Holsopple, Third Way Café, Media Matters, Mennonite Media, <http://www.thirdway.com/MM/article.asp?Page=1949%7CEyes+Wide+Open>

...this new edition is worth noting as substantial expansion and improvement on the original while continuing to serve as a scholarly corrective to the simplistic, moralistic and ideolically driven critism that arises all too readily from evangelical circles....Romanowski also writes with a healthy sense of humility, and he spends too much time acknowledging and chalenging the blind spots of evangelicals to lapse into cheap sanctimony. In this respect, the value of Eyes Wide Open goes beyond that of a book by a Chrsitian scholar written for other Christians. For those who are either wary or curious about evangelicals, it is an accesible entry point to a side of the evangelical world that is often oversahdowed by the caustic rhetoric of the religious right."
--Journal of Media and Religion

Romanowski has produced a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate about how Christians can best understand and interact with popular art. This volume convincingly argues for an approach to art that takes seriously both the artist's prespective and a Christian worldview. Additionally, it is written in an accessible manner without oversimplifying the often complicated arguments that surround discussion of appropriate Christian cultural engagement. This volume is easily recommended for undergraduate level classes, as well as for church people struggling to understand how to think about popular art from a Christian perspective.
--Stone-Campbell Journal

Perceptive engagement with popular culture from Evangelicals in the academy is a fairly new phenomenon, and Eyes Wide Open is the best available. It is accessible enough for use in undergraduate classes. Students and teachers of any or no faith interested in the evangelical Christian perspective as it relates to pouplar culture would benefit from this text.
--Journal of Popular Culture

Endorsements (1st edition)

Eyes Wide Open
is a "must" book for every thinking Christian who is concerned with popular culture, but who is also concerned with the way Christians can "demonize" that culture.
--Steve Brown, President of KeyLife Network and professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando

Eyes Wide Open inspires us to be wholly human and wholly Christian—using our faith, our emotion and our brain to fully experience movies, music, television, art. Romanowski encourages us to worry less about "What would Jesus think of me watching this" and more to think like Jesus while watching. As a Christian in Hollywood, this book revitalized and legitimized my "calling" in the entertainment industry. We can produce entertainment that is aesthetically excellent and promotes a worldview based on God’s influence in our lives.
--Brenda Bos, Television Production Manager, Suddenly Susan, Nikki, George Lopez

This is a lively and much needed Christian perspective on the popular arts—helping the reader to move beyond a mindless acquiescence to popular culture on the one hand, and blanket condemnation on the other. The style is direct and accessible, giving it a natural appeal to a wide audience.
--Jeremy Begbie, Ridley Hall, Cambridge and University of St. Andrews

William Romanowski confronts the culture with his eyes wide open to the negative effects it can have upon us. He also informs us of ways we can increase our understanding of the world in which we live and thus be aided in the task of addressing our culture in a relevant way. His commentary on contemporary music and films will get the Christian reader to discern things that otherwise would go unnoticed in the world round about us.
--Tony Campolo, Professor of Sociology, Eastern College

Among those working at the intersection of faith and popular culture, Bill Romanowski uniquely blends the mind of the academic, the heart of a disciple of Jesus, and the ear of a dual listener who hears a conversation between faith and culture and helps interpret both. His matrix for analyzing popular artworks is especially useful. Eyes Wide Open is an essential resource for the emerging cadre of Christians who desire to engage culture effectively.
--Dick Staub, President, Center for Faith and Culture, CRS Productions

Eyes Wide Open is a wonderfully caring book. It seeks to meet a pressing, legitimate need of the church by answering the questions: How should a student/follower of Jesus think about culture? And, having thought, what does action look like? Romanowski is one of the kings of cultural analysis and critique. Every disciple of Jesus ought to avail themselves of his royal expertise.
--Charlie Peacock-Ashworth, Record Producer and Author of At The Crossroads: An Insider's Look at Contemporary Christian Music

I love the broader perspective of Eyes Wide Open, especially as a Christian working in the business. Particularly his observation regarding our naïve assumptions over or under spiritualizing the movie and television business. Bill keeps bringing us back and challenging us (me) as to how we can develop a grid to sift entertainment against our Christian worldview.
--Ralph Winter, Producer, Fantastic Four series, X-MEN series, Star Trek VI. Executive Producer Planet of the Apes

As a screenwriter working in Hollywood, I appreciate Bill Romanowski's thoughtful challenge to people of faith to move beyond mere moralizing and melodrama. He dares us to think critically, to create truthfully, and to respond authentically to our complex twenty-first-century culture."
--Craig Detweiler, Co-Director, Reel Spirituality, Fuller Theological Seminary

This is a work of a passionate imagination and incisive intellect. Romanowski proposes a crisp approach to criticism that salutes popular culture and commends religious faith. His cheerleading for varied expressions of popular culture are sobered by advancing a Christian criticism that is not mired in mobilized moralisms but is spiced with theological themes. The cineplex and the sanctuary will both be blessed by paying critical attention to this important book. I thank William Romanowski for assisting us in seeing the connections between Stanley Kubrick and the Christian worldview.
--Scott D. Young, Founder & Chair, City of Angels Film Festival

Romanowski has done it again. Thought provoking and true—a must read!
--Barry Landis, Chairman and CEO, Landis Entertainment & Media Partners, LLC

In the tradition of C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, William Romanowski has articulated a deep theological perspective on culture and the popular arts. He urges Christians to love music and the movies as God would have us love them--not as passive consumers, but as thoughtful critics who are wide awake and enthusiastically enjoying the whole of God's creation.
--Scott Derrickson, Screenwriter/Director, The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Reviews (1st edition)

Eyes Wide Open is a fascinating, easy-to-read guide for interpreting and evaluating popular culture as a Christian. Romanowski's practical, analytical approaches to movies, music and television programs provide tools for imaginatively and faithfully engaging the media that now saturates our lives.
--Christian Retailing

This book will raise as many questions as it seeks to answer, and as many hackles as it seeks to soothe....But if you have a passion for the arts and a strong intellectual bent, this book is a must read.

[Romanowski] uses a challenging classroom style, making some bold and often profound statements that invite us to rethink our relationship to mainstream pop art and the sometimes benign benefits we bestow on Christian alternatives.
--CCM Magazine

[Eyes Wide Open] provides a terrific overview of culture...This book is a fine introduction to popular culture.

...a thought-provoking examination of the Hollywood mythology that still permeates our culture and the cummulative effect of unrealistic approaches to complex problesm of life.
--Library Journal

Recommend this book to Christians who want to develop a deeper appreciation and discernment of popular media's influences.
--CBA Marketplace

...this book will be an encouragement to evangelicals looking for an alternative to moralistic criticism of popular culture.
--Publishers Weekly

[Eyes Wide Open] builds a case for engaging popular culture and evaluating it from a Christian perspective....Romanowski's main argument...holds true: Christians should think about what they ingest, expose entertainment's destructive messges, and hold up the positive aspects. Anyone seeking a cogent discussion on pop culture will love this book....
Group Magazine

...an easy-to-read, highly engaging guide for interpreting and evaluting popular culture from a Christian perspective and framework....Eyes Wide Open is informative, rewarding, insightful, and strongly recommnded reading for parents, pastors, teachers and teens.
Midwest Book Review

Romanowski offers easy-to-read analyses of pop culture, with the goal of encouraging Christians to understand our culture and help make it better.
--The Mennonite

For any Christian consumer of pop culture, this is fascinating book. After reading it, you may see your favorite film through new, more discerning eyes.

If you're a Christian artist, patron, critic, Eyes Wide Open is for you.

Romanowski's Eyes Wide Open is the one book that offers Christian readers a critical and constructive perspective on the popular arts and culture.
--Christian Week

For those Chrsitians who value popular culture as a resource for theological reflection, Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture is an important piece in the puzzle.
--Circuit Rider Reviews

Artists and all who are interested in discerning art Biblically will find much thought-provoking material in this very practical volume.
--Chalcedon Report

A fabulous book that picks up where Francis Schaeffer left off, taking the dialogue about Christians and culture into the 21st century. This is Roaring Lambs on steroids... A must read!
--The Discerning Reader

Romanowski's readable book is a wonderful analysis that offers hope and Christian response. He engages the movies, music and literature of our time with thoughtful Christian conviction rooted in a theology of culture.
--Reformation and Revival Journal

In a very readable and engaging discourse, Romanowski undertakes a mamoth task. His book engages current attitudes and misconceptions among Christian audiences toward popular arts and culture and attempts to challenge that audience to evaluate and participate at a critical level.
--Stone-Campbell Journal

Eyes Wide Open argues that popular culture is not to be appreciated for its subcutaneous religiosity but rather that popular culture is to be confronted and challenged by an informed faith-community...Romanowski provides a change of pace from the academic perspectives dominating this field of study and offers a unique point of view that merits attention.
--Religious Studies Review

Having benefitted greatly from the author's previous books...I read Romanowski's Eyes Wide Open with anticipation. I was not disappointed....There are so many things in this book that deserve to be read, study, and applied....Buy this book! Read it!
--Equip for Ministry

This is a smart, readable, even-handed book that provides a rationale and usable method for making us better, more savvy critics and consumers of pop culture....I enjoyed reading [it] and eflt as though my eyes had indeed been opened and my attitude as well. I felt equipped to be more analytical and less likely to be judgmental of popular art that I didn't like or understand.

Of the growing number of books on the market exploring popular culture from the perspective of Christian faith, [Eyes Wide Open] is the best.

This short book is 171 pages of useful wisdom....[Romanowski's] contribution would have to be among the most biblical and useful of the ever-advancing tide....Read it with profit and enjoy.
--The Reformed Theological Review

Romanowski is obviously a fan of popular culture. Unfortunately, there is little to recommend this book besides the author's enthusiasm.
--Tim Van Meter, Bethany Theological Seminary
(Note: You can't please everyone.)


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