The Exhilarating Duty of Making Culture

Christian Overman is a writer, speaker, and coach. He earned a B.A. from the University of Washington, an M.Ed. from Seattle Pacific University, and his D. Min. from Bakke Graduate University. Christian is a Colson Centurion and does coaching training through Creative Results Management.

We have appreciated Christian’s work for a long time and are happy to add him to our list of Ideas Shapers and to reproduce here his May 11 post at his blog, Worldview Matters.

I seem to be on a book endorsement roll, so I’ll keep the ball moving with an enthusiastic endorsement of Andy Crouch’s great book, Culture Making. 

This 2008 volume earned a “starred review” from Publishers Weekly: ”Those who have struggled with the sacred-secular dichotomy will find this book life-giving; every Christian interested in changing culture should read it.” You can see why I think Crouch’s book is so important.

The uniqueness of Crouch’s contribution toward ridding the Church of  SSD (the “sacred-secular divide”), is that he draws a distinction between transforming culture and makingculturemaintaining that the best way to transform culture to create new culture.

When we think of ”transformation,” we tend to think of “remodeling.” Of course, much of our culture needs “remodeling.” But Crouch suggests we come about this task from a different angle. “The only way to change culture,” says Crouch, “is to create more of it.”

He asserts that, “cultural change will only happen when something new displaces, to some extent, existing culture in a very tangible way.” Using the example of his own young family being subjected to his frequent cooking of homemade chili, Crouch argues that “our dinner-table culture will only change if someone offers us something sufficiently new and compelling to displace the current items on our menu.” Carrying this idea into broader applications beyond dinner-table culture, Crouch says, ”…if we seek to change culture, we will have to create something new, something that will persuade our neighbors to set aside some existing set of cultural goods for our new proposal.”

The ramifications of Crouch’s thesis are profound, and far-reaching. He maintains that “if all we do is condemn culture…we are very unlikely indeed to have any cultural effect, because human nature abhors a cultural vacuum. It is the very rare human being who will give up some set of cultural goods just because someone condemns them. They need something better, or their current set of cultural goods will have to do, as deficient as they may be.”

Tim Keller says Culture Making takes “the discussion about Christianity and culture to a new level.” I agree.

The book is just one of the excellent offerings in the Seattle Centurions curriculum. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, come join with others in the exhilarating duty of making culture. Applications close May 31. Click here to get going.

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One Response to The Exhilarating Duty of Making Culture

  1. We can’t replace icky stuff with nothing!

    Amen to this article.

    :-)

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