"Culture is not a territory to be won or lost but a resource we are called to steward with care. Culture is a garden to be cultivated." Many bemoan the decay of culture. But we all have a responsibility to care for culture, to nurture it in ways that help people thrive. In Culture Care artist Makoto Fujimura issues a call to cultural stewardship, in which we become generative and feed our culture's soul with beauty, creativity, and generosity. We serve others as cultural custodians of the future. This is a book for artists, but artists come in many forms. Anyone with a calling to create―from visual artists, musicians, writers, and actors to entrepreneurs, pastors, and business professionals―will resonate with its message. This book is for anyone with a desire or an artistic gift to reach across boundaries with understanding, reconciliation, and healing. It is a book for anyone with a passion for the arts, for supporters of the arts, and for "creative catalysts" who understand how much the culture we all share affects human thriving today and shapes the generations to come. Culture Care includes a study guide for individual reflection or group discussion.
- Culture matters. Culture needs cultivation. Beauty is central to combating utilitarian theology.
Makoto Fujimura is a gift to the church. He is now on my must read list. I do not particularly need to be convinced of the basic argument in Culture Care, culture matters. But the framing of culture in similar terms to environmental care I think makes a lot of sense in helping the reader to understand that culture is neither static nor inherently good or bad.
Culture is cultivated and if we want a culture that reflects truth and beauty need to have Christians that understand truth and beauty creating to influence culture. Fujimura starts with the assumption that Christians should be interacting with culture and creating. He is not particularly interested in creating culture where Christian is used as an adjective (Christian music, Christian movies, etc.).
A Facebook friend of mine, who teaches communication theory, was answering a question yesterday about when the idea of ‘Christian’ as adjective started. She suggested it started initially in the mid 1940s, but really took hold in the 1960s (and I think becoming entrenched commercially in the 1980s.)
When I think of literary examples of good literature that reflects Christian concepts of truth and beauty, I tend to think of books that were pre-1960s. They were designed as literature, not as Christian literature. CS Lewis, Tolkien, Sayers were some of the last authors that emerged before the subculture trend of Christian creating emerged (and it is probably not incidental that my mind goes to British examples).
Fujimura is writing as one of the prime current examples of an artist that is creating art. It is well received in the art world as art, not as Christian art. I think his influence is being felt widely among Christians that are creators. Increasingly Christian creators are rejecting the Christian market, for both theological and commercial reasons.
I listened to this on audiobook because it was part of a christianaudio.com sale. But I will pick this up and read it again in print. Fujimura deserves to be read at least twice.
The basic ideas of Culture Care are not particularly revolutionary. But that does not make them any less important because those ideas are still deeply needed. Beauty needs to be part of a robust theology, not just because some people can be evangelized through art. But because beauty is part of how we were created to understand God. A theology that does not understand the importance of beauty probably has been overly contaminated with utilitarianism.
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