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The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite Paperback – August 18, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The early Church apologist Tertullian asked the famous question, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" In other words, what does secular culture have to do with Christian culture? Cultural commentator and radio personality Staub poses a variation on this query for the 21st century: how will Christian culture influence popular culture? Staub's short answer is that Christians should not "Cocoon," "Combat," or "Conform" in relation to popular culture, but transform it by first understanding it. Staub has an extensive knowledge of popular culture and quotes rock songs, movies and other mainstream media in a style that is not forced or clumsy. His model of what a culturally savvy Christian should be is C.S. Lewis, who "enriched culture by countering culture, communicating within it, and also creating it." Lewis, according to Staub, was able to transform the written word because first and foremost, he was a good Christian. His work emerged from a solid faith in God, which Staub believes should be the goal of all Christians. Staub's analysis of popular culture can be simplistic at times, but his passion and talent as a writer make this an enjoyable read for Christians who struggle with how to be faithful in a secular world. (Apr. 20)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Dick Staub has written an engaging and provocative book needed in our times…His insightful critique of popular Christianity and his numerous quotes make it a good source for sermon material or a book discussion group. He provides us with ‘slow food’ for thought."
– The Rev. Canon Jonathon Jensen, The Living Church magazine (May 2009)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470344032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470344033
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #921,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dick Staub is an engaging, broadly informed listener who consumes a vast amount of information each day and then communicates his observations and insights as a broadcaster, writer and public speaker. He enjoys learning about people's ideas and the personal journey that shaped their views. While he is a man of far reaching interests and curiosities, Staub is particularly fascinated with America's creative, ideological and spiritual quest, which today is often unlinked from organized religion. He believes there is a vibrant ongoing conversation about ideas and beliefs going on in today's popular culture through movies, books, theatre and music. Part of his mission is to listen to and facilitate that cultural conversation.

"The Dick Staub Show" first appeared locally in Seattle at King Broadcasting (an NBC affiliate) in 1987 and in 1991 moved to Chicago as a nationally syndicated, afternoon drive, radio talk show. After years of interviewing the shapers of American culture - authors, filmmakers, musicians, trend-watchers, educators, business leaders, theologians, politicians and futurists - Dick Staub is emerging as one of today's most experienced and thoughtful observers of people, beliefs & ideas driving contemporary culture. His award winning signature interviews have resulted in numerous honors including the Cardinal's Award for excellence in broadcasting.

In May 2006 Dick launched the Seattle-based The Kindling's Muse an intelligent, imaginative, hospitable exploration of ideas that matter most in contemporary life as sparked through our personal journeys and through our shared cultural experience in art, movies, books, music and events. Inspired by CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien who met weekly in a pub for lively conversation with friends they called 'The Inklings,' The Kindling's Muse features a live audience and round-table of thoughtful creatives and gadflies discussing ideas, beliefs and values shaping life today. The Kindling's Muse originates from a variety of locations in the public square: Hales Ales Brewery & Pub' in the Fremont District, The Windrider Forum/Sundance film festival, Experience Music Project and the CS Lewis Centre. Listen at

Staub has served on the board of North Park University, Martin Marty's ecumenical Public Religion Project and Image Journal (A Journal of Art, Faith & Mystery). He is a frequent conference keynote speaker and has appeared on dozens of college and graduate school campuses in the US and abroad and is also an adjunct professor at Seattle Pacific University.

Staub graduated cum laud from Simpson University and Gordon-Conwell Seminary and his done additional graduate level coursework at Harvard Divinity School and University of Washington. His academic concentrations include Philosophy, Communications, Religion and Cultural History

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bill Muehlenberg VINE VOICE on September 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Dick Staub does not like what he sees. Nor should we. Much of the Western world is dominated by popular culture. And popular culture is overwhelmingly brainless, shallow, soulless and vacuous. If Paris Hilton and Big Brother are the best we can come up with, we are in very bad shape indeed.

But it gets worse. The real answer to the cultural and spiritual wasteland of modern culture is biblical Christianity. But much of what passes for Evangelicalism today is just as bad. It too is largely shallow, intellectually empty, culturally vapid and spiritually anorexic.

Culture-lite is more than matched by Christianity-lite. Indeed, the latter is largely a product of the former. Modern culture offers nothing of substance, whereas the church should. But too often the church is slavishly mimicking the latest cultural trends in the interests of being relevant. Thus it comes off just as anaemic and shallow.

Dick Staub argues that a needy world is certainly being short-changed by pop culture, but it is also being short-changed by much of Christianity these days. The paucity and poverty of contemporary Evangelicalism is made worse by knowledge of the fact that it was not always this way.

At one point Evangelical Christians were known for their intellectual, cultural and aesthetic complexity. Think of such massive figures as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, to name but a few. Evangelical Christianity used to be on the cutting edge of artistic, cultural and intellectual endeavours. But today we have largely lost that depth and richness.

Indeed, think of the rich contributions made by people of faith in the past: Dante, Dostoevsky, Rembrandt and Bach.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Scott Nolte on April 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I found Savvy Christian very timely and insightful, personally and professionally. Staub suffers no fools or foolishness when addressing "Christianity-Lite" trivializing of the Arts and giving more credence to marketing, popular culture and political power than the Gospel's call to meaningful, costly, even slow discipleship. For those of us who "consume" (my description, not Staub's) popular film, music, television, fiction, etc., he holds us accountable for being mindless sponges - just soaking up it all up with very little discretion or mindful discernment. But he doesn't do this in a mean-spirited or prudish manner - he wants us to be alert, informed and actively engaged in appreciating goodness and truth in the Arts and recognizing delusion and untruth when they creep in.

For the artist, Staub challenges us to be fully Christian, walk boldly into the cultural marketplace, to hear the groans and joys of our fellow humans, and never be fearful of following the call to write, sing, dance, paint and act. Faith has altered our DNA: Grace has made us Aliens. But we're also God's artistic Ambassadors giving glimpses of beauty, wonder, healing and truth to people buying knock-off joy and peace.

I recommend the book for artists and readers wanting to grapple with living in / amongst our cultural influences. I'd especially recommend it to parents and church leaders who are in a position to help kids and congregations develop appreciation and discerning skills regarding the Arts, rather than cultural exit strategies that create a reactionary, fearful and cocooned Christian. And bad "Christian" Art.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dr. John Laughlin on May 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I find this book hard to put down and must stop because my eyes tire. It is a well written, entertaining, informative overview of what has gone terribly wrong with so much modern Christianity with its focus on large mega churches, of a Church that tried to indfuence its culture and was eclipsed instead, of so many of us who are looking for a way out of Pop Christian culture and a way back to our roots as disciples of Jesus. Our feel good, God wants you to be rich, and lives of cheap grace leave us anchored to the shallow end of the ocean out waiting victims of the next spritual sunami.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. N. Hixon on June 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Staub's book is a mostly-homogeneous mixture of deliniating the important, but obvious, and offering a way for Christians to proceed, all in regards to the superficial, shallow pop culture that surrounds us all, Christian, irreligious, or otherwise. Staub's focus is evident in the book's subtitle; it is the phenomenon that he refers to as Christianity-Lite, i.e., the Christianity that he feels is becoming more and more prevelant in Western culture that reflects well just how shallow and superficial our popular culture has become. His call then goes forth to readers hoping to see the rise of what he calls the culturally savvy Christian, from here on, the csC. The book is divided into three sections exploring three aspects of this figure: they are savvy about culture, serious about faith, and skilled at relating the two.

The first three chapters examine our culture and Christianity qua Christianity and, finally, what our faith should reflect in contrast to what it often does reflect.
To some, these chapters may seem like one of the afore-mentioned obvious statements, however, for many they will come as a (much-needed) shock, and lay an important foundation for the work. He spends much time decrying the 'three reactions to culture' that many other authors also attribute to Christianity today--N. T. Wright in The Challenge of Jesus, for one--those being, essentially, the run away, wage war, and conform responses. There's particular attention paid to the Christian sub-culture that we find today.
The book's second division, emphasizing the csC's serious-ness regarding faith, with three chapters exploring God's deep, transforming, and loving presence.
These establish the stating-the-obvious category for me.
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