Thinking Through “Culture Making”

D. G. Hart has an online review of Andy Crouch’s book Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (InterVarsity Press, 2008; website). The review is titled, “In And Of the World: How Culture Is Transforming Born-Again Protestants,” and you can read it here. If you are the type of evangelical who likes the recent trend toward “culture-making” or engaging the culture, you should read this review.

Hart critically interacts with Crouch’s book, pointing out both benefits and concerns. Crouch’s helpfully encourages evangelical Protestants to develop postures of cultivation and creation in cultural endeavors because they cannot escape culture (the fundamentalist temptation) and they should not simply imitate culture (the Jesus Rock temptation). On the other hand, Hart is concerned that Crouch didn’t interact with Christian teaching (whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or particularly Augustinian) on the relationship between nature and grace, nor with the arguments concerning cult and culture from previous conservatives like Russell Kirk, T. S. Eliot, Christopher Dawson, and Eric Voegelin. These would be fruitful areas of examine in light of Crouch’s arguments.

Hart’s conclusion:

Crouch’s book does signal a hopeful development, which is that the evangelical pursuit of culture warfare was and is a dead end. Had evangelicals been reading the likes of Kirk or Dawson, though, they would have known that the ballot box and the White House were poor vehicles, even if sometimes necessary conditions, for a healthy culture. Less encouraging is the motive behind Crouch’s apparent fatigue with the culture war. He does not simply find the warrior mindset defective but seems to be mainly comfortable with the cultural goods available to middle-class, urban-friendly, suburban Americans. Evangelicals like Crouch have found a home in the modern world; they are no longer a-passing through.

Read the whole review.