Posted by: michaelhanegan | October 25, 2008

Insights from Culture Making by Andy Crouch…

In the book Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch the relationship of Christianity and the church to the culture (Crouch by the way is critical of generalizations like “the culture” throughout this book). I am only about 1/3 of the way into the book but already have garnered some gems worth sharing.

Crouch gives five questions for “diagnosing culture”. Crouch is unwilling to allow “the culture” to be made only of abstract concepts and opinions. (He will make a distinction between worldview and culture as well.) He narrows his definition by making us examine “cultural artifacts” or tangible things that are created becuase of, through, and in response to the already established culture. The five questions are as follows:

  1. What does this cultural artifact assume about the way the world is?
  2. What does this cultural artifact assume about the way the world should be?
  3. What does this cultural artifact make possible?
  4. What does this cultural artifact made impossible (or at least very difficult)?
  5. What new forms of culture are created in response to this artifact?

In the following chapters of the opening section here are some of the statements that are made:

The only way to change culture is create more of it. (pg. 67)

Culture is what we make of the world–we start not with a blank slate but with all the richly encultured world that previous generations have handed to us. …

The more each of us knows about our cultural domain, the more likely we are to create something new and worthwhile. …

We cannot make culture without culture. And this means that creation begins with cultivation–taking care of the good things that culture has already handed to us. The first responsibility of culture makers is not to make something new but to become fluent in the cultural tradition to which we are responsible. Before we can be culture makers, we must be culture keepers. …

We can only create where we have learned to cultivate. ….

So underneath almost every act of culture making we find countless small acts of culture keeping. … Cultural creativity requires cultural maturity. … then they will be prepared to both conserve culture at its best and change it for the better by offering the world something new. (pgs. 73-77)

Is Crouch onto something here? (I would say so.)

In that case, what does it mean for the missional church to create new culture from in the midst of an existing culture? In what way does the church live within culture, create new culture from within their cultural context and still remain faithful to the gospel and their identity as the missionary people of God?

I’m hoping Crouch will give us some answers to questions like these. More on this as the book continues. In the mean time, make it a point to pick this book up. This will be an important title for a missional church that wishes to do more than critique or copy its culture but instead to improve it through being the instrument of God’s reconciliation in all things.

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Responses

  1. I’m a sucker for reinventing the wheel. I truly enjoy thinking of ways in which the church could (or should) lose itself in a newfound sense of purpose that hangs onto Traditions insomuch as they help the cause, and pitches all the ones that are merely vestigial.

    So this article is a jerk on the reigns to me, personally. I suppose some things we do which seemingly hold us back oughtn’t be pitched just yet. Perhaps they shouldn’t even be eyed with suspicion.

    I don’t know. Sounds like a honey-tongued attempt to just keep the old ways for their own sake, but maybe there’s something to it. I await further convincing.


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