Andy Crouch unleashes a stirring manifesto calling Christians to be culture makers. For too long, Christians have had an insufficient view of culture and have waged misguided "culture wars." But we must reclaim the cultural mandate to be the creative cultivators that God designed us to be. Culture is what we make of the world, both in creating cultural artifacts as well as in making sense of the world around us. By making chairs and omelets, languages and laws, we participate in the good work of culture making.
Crouch unpacks the complexities of how culture works and gives us tools for cultivating and creating culture. He navigates the dynamics of cultural change and probes the role and efficacy of our various cultural gestures and postures. Keen biblical exposition demonstrates that creating culture is central to the whole scriptural narrative, the ministry of Jesus and the call to the church. He guards against naive assumptions about "changing the world," but points us to hopeful examples from church history and contemporary society of how culture is made and shaped. Ultimately, our culture making is done in partnership with God's own making and transforming of culture.
- I'd like it more concise
The book had some nice gems in it. It was similar to Malcolm Gladwell's books, but had less research studies described. I liked that it showed how God introduced Adam to the idea of making culture & cultivating it, showing that this is our job as humans. I liked how it described the types of approaches people take to culture: condemners, critiquers, copiers, consumers, and creators and cultivators. I like how it compared them, gave good examples and showed how it would be negative to have the posture of some of them. I like how it got into the primary differences Christians should have from the rest of the world, aiming to adapt culture to suit God's view rather than selfish gains.
Aside from those points, it felt long and drawn out. The first several chapters were over what culture is and is not. I felt like this should be material to shove into the introduction & I always skip introductions so I don't have to hear definitions or the layout of the book. There was a part in there where the author said, "I bet not many have ever wanted to take time to ponder the culture of the omlet" I thought, "agreed" and assumed the author would move on after saying a few words on how it's more complex than you might thing, but then he delved deep into the omlet and described all sorts of variances on its culture. Some people might find that fun. He saw it as a good example, but to me, It was a long drawn out point which I wish had been more concise. Therefore, while I like the points made in the book, I prefer a prompter presentation but I do appreciate all the insights the author shared.
I the reader did a fine job, but this was an audiobook I checked out from the library and I could have just left it to be returned unfinished if it weren't for my desire to finish what I start. I think it's worth listening to or reading, but it wasn't as drawing or engaging as many of the others I get from Christian audio and I didn't leave with much to work with, just an improved perspective.
- Essential reading for anyone in a creative field
It is common for me to recommend books that I am currently reading. After all they are in my head, I am thinking about them. I think everyone else should be thinking about them so I can talk about the ideas that are in them. But this is a book that I honestly think most Christian need to read.
Much of the Evangelical project of the last 50+ years has been about calling the world to God. And while I think the Evangelical church has been rightly moving toward a better sense of engagement with culture, I think that most Christians still think about culture too simplistically. Culture Making is a serious look at how culture impacts faith, how we as Christians can impact culture and the value of focusing efforts toward creation, not just in the church but for the whole world.
In many ways this book is about recoving a sense of vocation (although it does not use that term much.) For Crouch, we all have a role in culture and therefore our roles as Christians are to act as Christians in culture by using our God given talents. But what I like is that Crouch does not just say, “go and do.” He really examens the fact that none of us as individuals really have the ability to either predict where culture is going, how our creativity will be recieved or to actually make a long term change in culure. Even those at the highest levels of power have very limited effects on culture. In some way this fits in with my pastor’s take away line from his sermon last week, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” Crouch wants us to go out and do, whether large or small scale what we think that God has called us to. But he reminds us to go and do with others.
The call to be culture makers is not without its dangers. Crouch notes quite wisely that, “If our excitement about changing the world leads us to the grand illusion that we stand somehow outside the world, knowing what’s best for it…we have not yet come to the reality that the world has changed us far more than we will ever change it. Beware of world changers, they have not yet learned the reality of sin.” Crouch is not calling for utopiean visions, or political take overs. He is calling for great and small works that nudge culture to God. The utopiean visions will always be corrupted. That is part of the reality of sin and power.
In spite of the warnings and caveats, in the end I was inspired like few other books I have read recently. I will read this again. I think you should too.