- Paperback: 284 pages
- Publisher: IVP Books (October 9, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0830837558
- ISBN-13: 978-0830837557
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 77 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling Paperback – October 9, 2013
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"Very readable and thought-provoking." (Byron Snapp, Calvary Herald, August 29, 2009)
"This book will clarify your thinking, inspire your production, and affirm your parenting." (David Balzer, Mennonite Brethren Herald, August 2009)
"Simply the best book that I've read recently. Not only is it brilliant, it's accessible. I cannot gush about this book enough. It really is that good." (Margaret Feinberg, Christian Retailing, July 6, 2009)
"Theologically rich and practically helpful, Culture Making is a significant contribution to the discussion of Christ and culture and a useful guide for those who want to make something of the world God has created." (Outreach, March/April 2009)
"Thoughtful and engaging. . . . Crouch's book does signal a hopeful development, which is that the evangelical pursuit of culture warfare was and is a dead end." (D. G. Hart, First Principles (www.firstprinciplesjournal.com), March 23, 2009)
"Crouch writes as one who cares what Christians do with their time in light of God's Kingdom coming." (On Mission Today, January 14, 2009)
"Culture Making is a fresh and relevant take on how Christians should relate to the wider culture. This book will serve to make us more effective interpreters of and contributors to the cultural landscape." (Eric O. Jacobsen, PRISM, January 2009)
"As an academic and a culture critic, I am not given to gushing over new publications. But Culture Making brought me pretty close to doing just such a non-scholarly thing! With so much coming out these days on religion and culture, one becomes a bit jaded about the possibility of something really fresh emerging. Well, this book is fresh, compelling, and engagingly written. More important, it goes deeply into its subject." (William Edgar, Themelios (thegospelcoalition.org), vol. 33, no. 3)
"Crouch's voice is intriguing and fresh--offering an alternative that escapes the many 'Jesus-stamped' merchandise items as an evangelical tool and implementing a fresh vision for creativity and engaging cultural lifestyles." (Worship Leader, November/December 2008)
"Good introduction to how Christians need to do more than fatalistically talk about the dangers of the world." (Marvin Olasky, WORLD Magazine, November 15/22, 2008)
About the Author
Andy Crouch (MDiv, Boston University School of Theology) is executive editor of Christianity Today and the author of books such as Culture Making and Playing God. Andy serves on the governing boards of Fuller Theological Seminary and Equitas Group, a philanthropic organization focused on ending child exploitation in Haiti and Southeast Asia. He is also a senior fellow of International Justice Missions Institute for Biblical Justice. His writing has appeared in Time, the Wall Street Journal and several editions of Best Christian Writing and Best Spiritual Writing. Crouch served as executive producer for the documentary films Where Faith and Culture Meet and Round Trip, as well as the multi-year project This Is Our City, which featured documentary video, reporting and essays about Christians seeking the flourishing of their cities. He also sits on the editorial board for Books & Culture and was editor-in-chief of re:generation quarterly. He also spent ten years as a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. A classically trained musician who draws on pop, folk, rock, jazz and gospel, Crouch has led musical worship for congregations of five to twenty thousand. He lives with his family in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
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1. Christ against culture: a withdrawal model of removing oneself from the culture into the community of the church
2. Christ of culture: an accommodationist model that recognizes God at work in the culture and looks for ways to affirm this
3. Christ above culture: a synthetic model that advocates supplementing and building on the good in the culture with Christ
4. Christ and culture in paradox: a dualistic model that views Christians as citizens of two different realms, one sacred and one secular
5. Christ transforming culture: a conversionist model that seeks to transform every part of culture with Christ
Various theological traditions have endorsed each of these. Andy Crouch moves beyond this paradigm by distinguishing "posture" from "gestures." He argues that we may adopt different "gestures" for different aspects of culture, such as condemning, critiquing, copying, and consuming. However, he insists that our dominant, default "posture" must be that of creating and cultivating culture, which is the thrust of the cultural mandate in Genesis 1. This is an important move from a reactive to a proactive stance toward culture that can rescue the floundering Church from both cultural captivity and cultural marginalization.
Crouch's treatment of vocation also endows ordinary work with new meaning, since work in all areas of life is necessary for the creation and cultivation of culture.
Crouch argues for the Cultural Mandate of Scripture, indicating that humanity even charged by God with the responsibility of creating culture. Some of the best parts of the book are in the chapter called The Garden and the City. Crouch explains that man was created in a garden (Genesis) but ends up in the city (Revelation). He further explains that the city represents the culmination of man's cultural creativity. Crouch shares a lot of ideas with Tim Keller (author of The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism) on this point.
Individually, most of us will never change culture on a grand scale. We may influence our family lives and workplaces but, he argues, this does not constitute culture in the fullest sense. On this point, Crouch steps in the direction of James Davison Hunter (author of To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World) who argues that so few people can actually change culture that we should, rather than trying to change culture, instead focus on a personal ministry of "faithful presence". While these two authors seem to agree on this point, I prefer Crouch because he is more encouraging to real people wondering about their place in the world.
Somewhat early in the book, Crouch argues that many Christians who say they want to transform cultures or worldviews subtly rewrite the problem they study into a fundamentally intellectual problem. Perhaps inevitably, people with strong analytical and philosophical gifts look at the evident problem of Christian disembodiment and propose not a profound program of embodiment but more thinking as the solution. And after we have done a lot more thinking, how exactly does the world change? Well, "then a miracle occurs." (Page 63) To "engage" the culture, Crouch says, becomes a near synonym for thinking about the culture (87).
I read several books the latter half of 2010 dealing with the broad issue of transforming cultures and worldviews, how to do this, and why some succeed and others fail in this regard (Transforming Worldviews: An Anthropological Understanding of How People Change, Paul Hiebert ; Communicating Christ Through Story and Song; Culture Shift: Culture Shift: Transforming Your Church from the Inside Out; Lewis, Cordeiro and Bird; Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues With Timeless Truth, R. Albert Mohler; The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died, John Philip Jenkins). These books were thought-provoking in places, but most fell somewhat short in the area of mistaking analysis and commentary for application. So I could see the imbalance Crouch was pointing out in the above paragraph. Problem is, for the next 130 pages of his book, I kept wondering if this was not precisely the same pit Crouch had fallen into. Recycling biblical history to focus on culture and culture building (the exclusive focus of part II but also portions of parts I and III) was interesting in places but far from making the time investment I was putting into the book pay off for me.
Thankfully, the latter half of the third section of the book on Calling - particularly the chapters on Community and Grace as well as the postscript, made the effort worth it. To summarize, some main points include:
1. All Culture Making is Local: This means no matter how complex and extensive the cultural systems we may consider, the only way to change them is by way of a small group of innovative and creative people and a series of concentric circles of people the optimum size of which Crouch suggests are in the neighborhood of 3: 12: 120. We are, after all, according to Crouch, hardwired for villages. (p. 240-244).
2. All Culture Making is a Product of Grace: The way to genuine cultural creativity starts with the recognition that we woke up this morning in our right mind, with the use and activity of our limbs- and that every other creative capacity we have has likewise arrived as a gift we did not earn and to which we were not entitled. And once we are awake and thankful, our most important cultural contributions will very likely come from doing whatever keeps us precisely in the center of delight and surprise." (p. 252)
Where do you experience grace-divine multiplication that far exceeds your efforts? Grace is no exemption from the disciplines: we are called to be painstaking cultivators before we can become creators. Indeed, the disciplines that undergird any effort at culture making are an essential path to grace. Disciplines are private and invisible, preparing our hearts to handle the pressures of our work becoming public and visible (257). There may be no greater value to the disciplines (practicing scales if you are musician, learning languages if you are linguist, learning the basics of math or science if you are mathematician or scientist) than to regularly bring us to these moments of disillusionment with ourselves. Grace is for the poor in spirit, and the disciplines bring us, no matter our ascribed power or actual wealth, to keen awareness of our fundamental poverty. 258
I'll look back at this book again as I seek to synthesize what I gleaned from it in comparison with some of the other books mentioned above. In spite of its shortcomings, I'd recommend it as the best I've come across on the topic so far.