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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)
"Culture Making is an enjoyable and fascinating book that helps demystify the idea of culture." (John Dunham, YouthWorker Journal, November/December 2008)
"This is a must-read book for those who are tired of talking and ready for action. The author sets the scene and tells the story of culture, then rapidly sweeps the reader into this story, finishing with a heart-stopping, imagination-grabbing challenge to go and make something of the world." (Alissa W., Book Bargains and Previews (bookbargainsandpreviews.com), September 2008)
"If people tell me that something is a must-read, I tend to be a bit skeptical. That said, I was pleasantly blown-away by Crouch's book. I loved the approach of talking about 'postures' and 'gestures' toward culture. One last thing to praise was the chaste humility of the book. All to say, Culture Making probably is one of those rare must-read books that comes along every so often. A book of rare learning, helpful and accessible synthesis, and godly humility, it might actually change the evangelical culture on how to make and engage culture. If so, all I can say is thanks be to God." (Sean Michael Lucas, seanmichaellucas.blogspot.com, September 18, 2008)
"With all the books on the market about the intersection of faith and culture, you have to wonder why we need another one. The answer is simple: it's unlikely that any other book out there accomplishes what Culture Making does, and certainly not in the way that Andy Crouch does. Substantial content, beautifully expressed. Highly recommended." (Marcia Ford, FaithfulReader.com, September 2008)
"Andy Crouch, long a culture influence through film, writing, music and service, points Christians to a new, deeper understanding of their calling in culture. Readers will be profoundly impacted by this book written by one of today's top voices on the subject." (Ann Byle, Grand Rapids Press, August 16, 2008)
"Those who have struggled with the sacred-secular dichotomy will find this book life-giving; every Christian interested in changing culture should read it." (Publishers Weekly starred review, May 26, 2008)
"Crouch works through the Bible's narrative arc to show the hand of God in the development of culture and makes the case that Christians must be producers, not just critics, of culture in order to create societal good." (Relevant, July/August 2008)
"Culture Making is one of the few books taking the discussion about Christianity and culture to a new level. It is a rare mix of the theoretical and the practical, its definitions are nuanced but not abstract, and it strikes all kinds of fine balances. I highly recommend it." (Tim Keller, pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City, author, The Reason for God)
"Good books are either brilliant or helpful, but the best books are both--and Andy Crouch has attained that rare combination of virtues in Culture Making. As a Christian, as a parent and as an organizational leader, I would like to make a difference in the world. Crouch not only helps me understand where that yearning comes from, but how to pursue it with passion, commitment, power and spiritual health. Culture Making is a joyful gift of intelligence and practical provocation for thoughtful Christians." (Gary Haugen, president, International Justice Mission, author of Good News About Injustice and Just Courage)
"A deep and thoughtful reminder that the resurrection of Jesus empowers us to cultivate the garden, to build in the ruins of our world, and to create within and around us cultures of life." (Kelly Monroe Kullberg, author of Finding God Beyond Harvard: The Quest for Veritas, and founder and director of Project Development, The Veritas Forum)
"Andy Crouch's book is thoughtful, stimulating and challenging." (Steve Turner, writer, poet and author of Conversations with Eric Clapton, U2: Rattle and Hum and Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts)
"In this marvelous book Andy Crouch makes the case for cultural discipleship by giving us an exciting overview of the drama of creation, fallenness and renewal. And along the way he offers much wisdom about the very real cultural realities that we face as twenty-first-century Christians." (Richard J. Mouw, president and professor of Christian philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary)
"This is not a good book, because it provokes and prods, incites and inspires. It takes you on an uncomfortable journey, defying the status quo and questioning accepted perspectives. It offers a fresh voice with trenchant thinking, forcing you to blow the dust off the mantle of your own settled proclivities. It resonates deeply within you, even on those points you may question. It addresses the heart of the challenge of our day. No, this is not a good book. It is a great one." (James Emery White, pastor, professor and author of Serious Times)
"Grappling with 'the culture' has become an obsession for contemporary Christians, but a misunderstanding of what cultures are and how they behave results in a great deal of frustration. Andy Crouch's Culture Making draws on both his broad experience and originality of insight to offer a bracing and clear-eyed view of the way forward." (Frederica Mathewes-Green, author and columnist, www.frederica.com)
"Culture Making is a book that's been needed for decades, but it arrives at just the right moment. People of faith--now poised to use their influence--have much to contribute to the common good as creators and advocates, not just as critics and judges. But that requires careful thought and clear insight, both of which are abundantly found in this profound and practical book. Andy Crouch has long had a knack for observing the culture around us and then showing us how we can make it better. With Culture Making, Crouch offers all that and more. Anyone who cares for the renewal of our culture must read this book!" (D. Michael Lindsay, author of Faith in the Halls of Power and assistant professor of sociology, Rice University)
"In Culture Making, Andy Crouch has given us a vision for creativity that is not reserved for the practitioners of high art, but that reveals the dignity of the most ordinary sorts of cultural creation. It is a transformative vision that inspires to action and--in the face of the almost inevitable failures--perseverance. In the end, cultural creativity is not a gift we own, exercise and grow anxious over, but one that we receive and nurture--and through which we come to know grace." (David Neff, editor-in-chief and vice president, Christianity Today Media Group)
"In this graceful, articulate volume Crouch challenges Christian common wisdom about creation and challenges as well our traditional understandings about the Revelation to John and how it articulates with the rest of Holy Writ. As refreshing as it is smart, Culture Making is a significant addition to contemporary Christian thought." (Phyllis Tickle, compiler of The Divine Hours and former religion editor, Publishers Weekly)
"As an artist and an advocate for artists, I am grateful for this book. Andy Crouch's edifying analysis of culture and the church and his timely call for us to be culture makers make this work invaluable in today's faith journey. This is a groundbreaking guidebook for all who are concerned about cultural issues and the church." (Makoto Fujimura, artist and founder, International Arts Movement)
"Andy Crouch's Culture Making models what it argues: that a kingdom imagination that takes our richly enculturated lives seriously shows grace to be real, immanent and compelling. Surely this vocation must be central to God's call!" (Mark Labberton, pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, and author of The Dangerous Act of Worship)
"American evangelicals in the last hundred years have found it easy to condemn culture, critique culture, copy culture and consume culture. It has been much harder for them to actively and imaginatively create culture. Andy Crouch is out to change that. I confess I doubt whether they can rise to the challenge. But I am persuaded by Crouch's case that the Christian calling requires it. Here is a voice worth taking very seriously." (Christian Smith, professor of sociology, University of Notre Dame)
"Are Christians to be countercultural? Or protect ourselves from 'the culture'? Or be 'in' culture but not 'of' it? In this bracing, super-smart book, Andy Crouch changes the terms of the conversation, calling Christians to make culture. I am hard-pressed to think of something that twenty-first-century American Christians need to read more." (Lauren F. Winner, assistant professor of Christian spirituality, Duke Divinity School, and author of Girl Meets God)
"A masterpiece!" (Byron Borger, owner, Hearts & Minds Bookstore [from the 2015 Jubilee program guide])
From the Author
Find out more at the Culture Making website. And join the Culture Making group on Facebook. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.
We need to transform the culture!
Let's redeem the culture!
We should resist the culture!
What do these phrases really mean?
What do we mean by "culture" when we talk about transforming it?
Is it our Christian calling to redeem "culture?"
Andy Crouch's new book Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (IVP, 2008) is a landmark work that will create a new culture of its own within evangelicalism. Crouch points out the areas where evangelical thinking about culture-making has been counterproductive, and he charts a new path - one that would have evangelicals understand culture in more tangible ways.
Crouch points out the fallacious ways in which we conceive of "culture." Christians too often think simplistically about "culture" - as if it were some nebulous, overarching thought system in our world. Crouch believes we are wrong to talk of "culture" in this way. Instead, we must start thinking of culture as specific cultural goods (29).
Culture is what human beings make of the world. And these things we make eventually affect the world we live in. We cannot withdraw or escape culture because it is what we were made to do (36).
Analyzing culture does not substitute for the creation of real cultural goods (64). "The only way to change culture is to create more of it," Crouch says (67).
Crouch sees much of evangelicalism's desire to "engage the culture" as well-intentioned but often misguided. We tend to take certain, appropriate gestures toward cultural artifacts and make them postures - our position towards all cultural artifacts. Crouch points out several ways that Christians relate to "culture:" (78-98)
Each of these may be appropriate positions to take toward certain cultural items. After all, there is nothing we can do with pornography except condemn it. There is also a place for strong critique of culture. Likewise, there are times when copying culture is appropriate. And of course, we can consume culture without any guilt at all when such action is glorifying to God.
But Crouch warns us against making these appropriate gestures into postures. When we turn gestures into postures, we assume a certain outlook regarding all culture. Crouch sets forth a different model. Instead of reacting to culture as it is, Christians should concentrate on creating and cultivating culture as we want it to be. We are to be artists and gardeners - creators and cultivators of cultural goods.
Crouch describes concrete ways that we can be creators of culture. He shows us how cultural artifacts change the culture. (There is a fascinating section on the difference between the river and the highway.)
Readers will discover that an emphasis on humility pervades the book. Crouch warns against thinking that we can change the world.
"Changing the world sounds grand, until you consider how poorly we do even at changing our own little lives... Indeed, I sometimes wonder if breathless rhetoric about changing the world is actually about changing the subject - from our own fitfully suppressed awareness that we did not ask to be brought into this world, have only vaguely succeeded at figuring it out, and will end our days in radical dependence on something or someone other than ourselves. Beware of world changers, they have not yet learned the true meaning of sin (200)."
Crouch bases his thoughts on culture-making within the creation narrative and the gospel story of redemption. He dodges the question of historicity of the creation accounts (120) by talking about the importance of the story, not just the historical details. (I find this evasion most peculiar, because he treats the biblical text as fully accurate throughout his book.)
Crouch is right to show that heaven too will have a culture. "Culture is the furniture of heaven. (170)" This leads us to the thought-provoking question about our cultural artifacts: Can we imagine this making it into the new Jerusalem?
Crouch critiques the emphasis that "worldview thinking" places upon analysis and thought. He believes we need less critics of cultural goods and more creators of cultural goods. But considering the fact that a great number of Christians simply consume culture without critically thinking about the messages of these goods convey, I believe we could use more creators and critics of cultural goods. It is true that too much analysis can keep us from purely "enjoying" art, but I'm not convinced that enjoyment and thinking critically are necessarily opposed to one another. I'm also concerned that some evangelicals might take these words from Culture Making as a free pass to watch or listen to whatever they want and to dismiss the idea of worldview-critique.
What I love most about Culture Making is the theme of hope. Crouch believes we can start creating culture in small spheres (our family, for example). He points out the importance of small groups (three, twelve, 120). Culture is not always made by the large crowd. We can all get busy fulfilling the creation mandate to create and cultivate.
Culture Making is filled with grace. We recognize that our ability to create or cultivate culture is rooted in God's grace. "Where are we called to create culture? At the intersection of grace and cross." (262)
"So do you want to make culture? Find a community, a small group who can lovingly fuel your dreams and puncture your illusions. Find friends and form a family who are willing to see grace at work in one another's lives, who can discern together which gifts and which crosses each has been called to bear. Find people who have a holy respect for power and a holy willingness to spend their power alongside the powerless. Find some partners in the wild and wonderful world beyond church doors. And then, together, make something of the world." (263)
Amen. Now, let's get busy!
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