Culture Makers – Andy Crouch

3 07 2010

I really liked this book – I couldn’t put it down and just had to finish it. It’s not often I get that way with a book. When it comes to culture Crouch has a lot of insight. His central thesis is that you cannot simply condemn critique, copy or consumer culture, and still hold any hope of changing it. The only way culture changes are when you make more of it. Crouch uses the example of Dan Browns “Da Vinci Code” movie. Christians could picket the movie and protest but would simply appear small minded and put people off being Christian. We could write clever critiques of the movie but in reality who would listen to us apart from a small group of Christians? We could copy the movie, removing all the bits we don’t like – in effect Christianise it – but the movie would only appeal to a limited audience, namely conservative Christians. We could simply watch the movie and write it off as a good story leaving it at that, as most people would do. But we would be no different to our own culture. Instead, why don’t Christians just make better movies? You can only change culture by giving people real alternatives.   

Culture according to Crouch is what we make of the world, something deeply imbedded in us as creatures that bear the image of the God who creates. Indeed culture is so hardwired into us that our first response to sin was to make cultural goods – figs leaves for clothing. Crouch is wise and has wrestled deeply with our desire as Christians to “change the world”. He spends a lot of time clearing the playing field to make sure we’re all on the same page. One thing I really liked was that he was so balanced. Every time I reached the point where I had an objection he came right in and answered it. However the one blindside of the book is that it tends to be a bit individualistic – his 3:12:120 formula struck me as a bit trite. For all his talk of social networks Crouch didn’t seem to spend much time assessing their influence on creating culture. But that aside, if you’re looking for a good text on how Christians should engage with the Culture and what a Christian response to culture looks like then this book is definitely for you.

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