Welcome to Week One of The Rabbit Reads Book Group: Culture Making. This week, we’re looking at the Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2. If you haven’t read all of that yet, no worries! Feel free to jump into the conversation whenever you can.
Imagine for a moment that you’re an Earth human walking on Mars. What would you think on this alien world? You’re wandering around (not too far from whatever hypothetical spaceship you took there), encased in a suit of Earth materials, breathing Earth air. You might drag your boot through the red dust to leave a mark, test out the gravity, examine rocks. Maybe you thought you understood what you were getting into, but the foreign sky and landscape show all your studying from worlds away barely scratch the surface of what Mars is.
I kind of imagine this is what some of us Christians sound like when we talk about “The Culture:” standing in the middle of it, trying to make sense of what we see.
Some say our relationship to culture is like a fish swimming in water, surrounded and influenced, but not consciously aware. James K. A. Smith, in his book Desiring the Kingdom, talks about cultural liturgies, the habits and practices that shape our lives, and I think that might be a little closer to the truth.
I suspect if you’re a regular at The Rabbit Room, you share the impulse to think deeply about the things that shape us. We love to look at the world we wander through. We love to talk about culture from a Christ-centered perspective. We want to examine it, redeem it, influence it.
All of this is good and has its place, and that’s why we’re the people who would pick up a book with a title like Culture Making. But before we get too far in this conversation, a common language is helpful. So here we are at the beginning, where Crouch starts his argument by defining some terms.
It's beautiful, isn't it? We are the creations of a God that made something out of nothing—a universe stuffed with all manner of glory, from galaxies to electrons to the mysterious spaces between them. And our great impulse is to make something of this world.Jen Rose Yokel
“Culture is what we make of the world” becomes a defining refrain in this book. He goes on to say it’s “our relentless, restless human effort to take the world as it’s given to us and make something else.” (pg. 23)
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? We are the creations of a God that made something out of nothing — a universe stuffed with all manner of glory, from galaxies to electrons to the mysterious spaces between them. And our great impulse is to make something of this world.
Culture points to our impulse to take raw materials and make. Some of the things we create will remake the world: cities, interstates, the printing press, the Internet. Some will have a less grand impact—the quick dinners we throw together—but they are no small thing.
As you read this week, it might help to make notes on the terms Crouch lays out, like culture, cultural good (or artifact), and some broader concepts like multiculturalism and cultural spheres. We’re going to carry these terms with us as we explore Culture Making together in the next few weeks. For now, here’s a question to consider:
If it’s true that you don’t have to be a massive influencer or great artist to be a “culture maker,” consider this: how do you make something of the world? (Think about your relationships, family, work, play, etc.)
Please share your thoughts in the comments! And for more discussion questions, visit the Culture Making Book Group thread at The Rabbit Room Forum. And click here for the first post and introduction to this series.
Jen Rose Yokel is a poet, freelance writer, and spiritual director. Her words have appeared at She Reads Truth, CCM Magazine, and other publications, and she released her first poetry collection Ruins & Kingdoms in 2015. Originally from Central Florida, she now makes her home in Fall River, Massachusetts with her husband Chris, where you can find her enjoying used bookstores and good coffee.