Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling

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InterVarsity Press, Nov 24, 2013 - Religion - 242 pages
4 Reviews
2009 Christianity Today Book Award winner! Named one of Publishers Weekly's best books of 2008 (religion category) It is not enough to condemn culture. Nor is it sufficient merely to critique culture or to copy culture. Most of the time, we just consume culture. But the only way to change culture is to create culture. 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. A model of his premise, this landmark book is sure to be a rallying cry for a new generation of culturally creative Christians. Discover your calling and join the culture makers.

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Review: Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling

User Review  - Patti -

Culture Making is the best I've read on culture and Christian responsibility. He is a gentle but forceful critic of the church's current and past failures.This is a must-read book for those of us who ... Read full review

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Any Crouch’s ‘Culture Making’ is a must read for any Christian wishing to understand the culture around us and shape our culture for Christ. Crouch defines culture as “what we make of the world,” and we make sense of the world by creating cultural goods.
While he supports the desires of Christians who have engaged, listened to, learned about, affirmed and critiqued culture, Crouch also addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the various postures Christians have commonly adopted towards culture: Condemning culture, critiquing culture, consuming culture, and copying culture. These popular strategies by themselves fail to have effect on culture in any way. The only way to change culture is to first become culturally mature by learning, cultivating and becoming fluent in our culture and then create new and alternative cultural artefacts.
In chapter one Crouch provides five diagnostic questions for understanding and interpreting cultural artefacts and realizing their impact on culture. Every cultural artefact contains a whole set of assumptions about the culture from which they derive.
In chapter two Crouch explains that culture making is not a solitary affair but of “people (plural) making something of the world” and these artefacts which they create will have an effect on specific groups of people.
Chapter three shows how radical events which change cultures, such as revivals, do not occur in a vacuum and always have a significant lead up to the event. This understanding dispels the myth some Christians have of a silver bullet solution to radically transforming the world for Christ.
One of the particularly insightful expose’s Crouch offers is his assessment of the popular evangelical Christian stance of critiquing culture. He aptly explains how some Christians who have embraced the ‘critiquing culture’ strategy have fallen for the academic fallacy: that once you have comprehended, critiqued and analysed something that you have changed it. Crouch implies this assumption is present among authors whom he calls ‘worldview thinkers’, those who falsely believe that with enough study of worldviews, that somehow this will translate into an embodiment of the gospel and therefore cultural change. He further suggests that these analytical academic books do nothing more than gather dust in academic libraries, a bold statement about a category of which his own book could be classed.
Along with critiquing culture, chapters four and five discuss the shortcomings of the other three postures. Condemning culture, a posture typically adopted by Christian fundamentalists, will not do as it is very rare that someone will give up “some set of cultural goods just because someone condemns them,” and this posture does not equip Christians with how to live out the gospel.
Copying culture or imitative culture does little more than provide a secluded safe haven for Christians, meanwhile the culture at large remains unaffected.
Consuming culture is an ineffective strategy as very rarely do people consume their way into cultural transformation. Additionally, change through consumption requires that the chosen cultural artefacts are already available to be consumed.
Sometimes condemning, critiquing, consuming or copying culture are necessary gestures, therefore Christians need to first be fluent as cultural keepers and cultivators of the good and then create new and alternative cultural goods if we want to contribute to shaping culture.
Andy Crouch changes gear and essentially the books genre from anthropology in part one to theology in part two. He embarks on the journey of exploring the bible as a particular cultural artefact, beginning with creation and the garden in Genesis to the city of the New Jerusalem in Revelation. He explains how as image bearers we mirror God’s creative act: “cultivators and creators, ultimately contributing the cosmic purposes of the Cultivator and Creator of the natural world.”
After surveying some of the story of God’s relationship with

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Selected pages


Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16

Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Notes and Further Reading
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About the author (2013)

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 Mission s 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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