Culture Making by Andy Crouch

Culture is sort of a bad word in churches today. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with the word culture, but the concept of culture is too scary for many Christians. Young boys and girls in Sunday school and youth group are constantly taught that the culture of society will destroy them. The cliché “in the world, but not of the world” derived from Jesus in John 17 is repeatedly presented to kids and summarized on stylish decals. Children are urged to run away from culture, abandoned it, focus only on Christ and heavenly things.

In theory, this is a good message. There are many things in this world that are damaging, and few things that are uplifting. This is where Culture Making comes in.

There are a few responses by Christians presented by celebrated author Andy Crouch. One, condemn culture: be a constant source of anger and opposition towards human culture. Two, critique culture: be an incessant judge on value of ideas and things. Third, copy culture: remove yourself from the present culture and create a parallel culture (i.e. Christian clothing companies, movie studios, etc.).

These three options have been very popular with Christians over the past few decades. As Christianity loses its monopoly on virtue in society, Christians have simply decide to condemn, critique, or copy the culture. However, culture is not some other worldly concept, it is simply a “what human beings make of the world.” Simply withdrawing from culture creates nothing, it only opens a vacuum for other culture creators.We must be cultivators of culture. We are not allowed to sit on the sidelines and belittle everything we see. We are humans and we are responsible for the culture around us.

Christians love to debate laws and politics yet we very rarely try to change the culture from the inside. Let’s spend less time debating governmental health care and more time opening our churches to the needy who just need a comfortable space to sleep and warm meal.

Crouch has a wonderful chapter about the split between celebrity and saint. Most of us will never be celebrities, but nothing is stopping us from being a saint. “So why are so many trying to become a celebrity and so few trying to be a saint?”

I really enjoyed this book. It felt a bit long winded, and it could have been shorter by fifty pages.