Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power is in print! It can be ordered in hardcover from Hearts and Minds Books or directly from the publisher, InterVarsity Press, where you can also buy a DRM-free eBook version. The Kindle edition is available now for Amazon, and the hardcover should be in stock at Amazon by the end of September.
With Playing God, Andy Crouch explores the subject of power and its subtle activity in our relationships and institutions. Giving more than a warning against abuse, Crouch turns the notion of “playing God” on its head, celebrating power as the gift by which we join in God’s creative, redeeming work in the world.
“In deft moves of integrating sound biblical theology with astute observations about culture, Andy Crouch wades into the immense topic of power—the powers, institutional power, cultural power, racial power—to offer the alternative Christian perception of power, a power that can be reshaped by the gospel about Jesus Christ, refashioned by love and reoriented by a new community called the church. In this book worldly power is deconstructed and replaced with a new kind of gospel power.”
—Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary
“It’s likely that most readers of this book will both possess more power than they realize and feel uncomfortable with the amount of it that they know they’ve got. This book holds keys to liberation. It illuminates that power is, foundationally, good. It offers 3D pictures of what power is for (flourishing) and what its right use looks like (creative image-bearing that expands our own and others’ joyful ‘meaning-making’). Crouch’s Bible-saturated teaching frees us from guilt and guides us in the active, humble and, importantly, essential calling to steward our power, thus helping us avoid the equal dangers of abusing our power and neglecting it. Playing God is a wise, deeply insightful, imaginative work; by heeding its lessons, Christians will be far more fruitful in their efforts to advance Jesus’ kingdom in our broken world.”
—Amy L. Sherman, author of Kingdom Calling
“Perhaps no question with such urgent life-and-death consequences is more poorly understood among Christians in our era than the stewardship of power; but gloriously, in Playing God, Andy Crouch provides the clarity we need in this once-in-a-generation work of sweeping theological and sociological depth. It is fresh, rigorous, profoundly helpful and a delight to read.”
—Gary A. Haugen, president & CEO, International Justice Mission
These are the remarks I prepared for yesterday’s press conference sponsored by the Evangelical Immigration Table.
As a journalist, part of my job is to watch for change, and ask why that change is happening. There aren’t many changes more dramatic in American evangelicalism than the way its leaders have embraced the indispensable justice of immigration reform. How do you get to the point where more than 180 leaders and more than 10,000 people sign a statement of evangelical principles on immigration reform, and where 30,000 people sign up to be prayer partners in that effort?
I want to highlight three reasons for this remarkable consensus.
1) Evangelical Christians serve. They are involved in countless forms of service in cities and towns. And in those settings of service they directly experience the dignity and the needs of both documented and undocumented immigrants. And it’s both dignity and needs. This movement is not just driven by a sense of compassion for need, it is also driven by having been humbled by the dignity, commitment, and faith of immigrants.
2) Their churches and institutions have been enriched by generations of immigrants from every part of the world. A lot of pollsters like to break out the opinions of “white evangelicals.” But as you see from the group of leaders gathered here, one of the most remarkable features of evangelical Christianity in the United States is its ethnic diversity. [I venture to say that in any American city, if you look at churches founded in the last twenty years, the vast majority are evangelical or Pentecostal, and a great number are founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.] And the more you are a leader in this movement, the more you become aware of the strength of that diversity and how much of it comes from recently arrived residents and citizens.
3) They have read, and been converted by, the Bible. They have seen how directly Scripture addresses the responsibility of nations to welcome and protect the most vulnerable: widows, orphans, and ‘strangers.’ There’s a reason the Evangelical Immigration Table could put together a 40-day prayer challenge featuring biblical readings on immigration: There are 40 days worth of material in the Bible on immigrants and immigration. A just and humane system for recognizing and welcoming immigrants is a biblical non-negotiable for any nation that wants to reflect the heart of God.
One of my other jobs is to tell stories. For three years I’ve led a project called This Is Our City, telling stories about ways that Christians are seeking the flourishing of their cities. Last year we were in Phoenix, and we produced a documentary film about Ricardo, who came to this country with his family as a young boy. He became a star football player in high school, and was offered a football scholarship to college, and it was only as he filled out the forms for that scholarship that Ricardo realized not just that he could not receive the scholarship with his current legal status, but that there was no obvious pathway to ever be recognized as an American, a citizen of the country he loves and considers his own.
Ricardo’s story is a moving story. (You can view it at bit.ly/ricardoct.) But seven years ago my predecessors at CT told another moving story about another Christian who wanted to come to America, named Maria. The context was an editorial supporting immigration reform. That was 2006. It has been seven years. The stories are just as moving, the cause is just as just—it’s time for action. And that is what we are hoping for in 2013.
2010 will mark several significant milestones in the globalization of Christianity. It is the hundredth anniversary of the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, in many ways the high-water mark of Euro-American Protestant missions. It is also the year that the Lausanne Movement, whose initial congress in 1974 solidified the worldwide evangelical movement, holds its third Congress, this time in Cape Town, South Africa.
Lausanne’s Cape Town 2010 Congress will be dramatically different from either Edinburgh 1910 or Lausanne 1974. At Edinburgh there were no representatives at all of non-Western Christianity (Catholics and Eastern Orthodox churches were not present). Lausanne 1974 had an influential representation from what was then called the “Third World,” but they were decidedly in the minority. In Cape Town in 2010, the majority of the 4,500 delegates will be from the “majority world.” And the majority of those delegates will be paying their own way rather than relying on Western financial support. It’s a remarkable moment and worth celebrating.
Only a few hundred US citizens will be able to attend Cape Town 2010. For the rest of us, the Lausanne Movement is convening twelve conversations in twelve cities about major issues facing the global church. It’s an in-person version of the Global Conversation series I helped to launch at Christianity Today. I had the privilege of joining the conversation in Chicago in March, and on Wednesday 16 June I’ll be on the panel for the Orlando conversation. I’m not worthy to untie the sandals of my fellow panelists, who range from Catalyst director Brad Lomenick to Jesse Miranda from the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
You’ll have to be in Orlando to join that conversation, but tomorrow night (Thursday 10 June) the Global Conversation arrives at Saddleback Church in southern California, and it will be webcast live at 7 p.m. PDT. You can watch it here.
— Andy Crouch
This afternoon I had the great pleasure of interviewing Carey Wallace and Jill Lamar, two remarkably creative women with deep insight into creativity, faith, and the world of publishing. Carey’s first novel, The Blind Contessa’s New Machine, will be released by Viking Penguin this summer. Jill is a senior executive at Barnes & Noble who directs their Discover Great New Writers program.
We had a fabulous conversation about fiction, story, what helps artists create (hint: too much money is actually a bad idea), and how Christians can create excellent art of all kinds. Fortunately the conference call, sponsored by Wedgwood Circle, was recorded. If you care about art, writing, and faith, it’s absolutely worth an hour of your time. You can listen here (free registration is required). Enjoy. (I’m sure of one thing: by the end, you will want to read Carey’s new book when it comes out in July.)
I’m happy to announce a new contributor to the Culture Making Web site, filmmaker Nathan Clarke. My cultural collaboration with Nathan began with the series of documentary shorts collected in Where Faith and Culture Meet, when he was a senior producer with 2100 Productions.
Nathan has since established his own production company, Fourth Line Films, which not only has continued to collaborate with Christianity Today and me on projects like Round Trip and The Global Conversation, but also created a documentary short on local food for HDNet and produced a fun short film on hog wrestling in uttermost Wisconsin—which you can view in all its glory below. Suffice to say his interests are impressively varied, just like this site!
In 2010 Nathan and I are exploring new ways to create media and experiences that build on Culture Making and my new work on creative power. We’ll be posting some short videos this spring from recent speaking engagements, and Nathan will join Nate, Christy, and me in spotting and sharing cultural creativity worth celebrating. Welcome, Nathan!
The terrific folks at christianaudio have released an unabridged recording of Culture Making, read with exquisite professionalism by Sean Runnette. It’s available from the Christian Audio site in either downloadable or CD form, and the 9-CD set is also available at Amazon and other fine retailers.
Putting out an audio edition of a book like Culture Making is a real economic risk, so if you, like me, are happy to see the book available in this form, I encourage you to support christianaudio with a purchase of a copy (or two—pass one along to your favorite commuter, jogger, or [always in need of sermon inspiration] pastor).
Also, I’m very pleased that the Jesuit publishing house Sal Terrae has released the Spanish translation, Crear cultura: Recupar nuestra vocación creativa. Espero que este libro será útil para muchos en el mundo de habla español.
— Andy Crouch
The Culture Making Web site is almost exactly one year old, and today we begin what I hope will be a regular new feature of the site: introducing a guest editor who will stretch our cultural horizons in new directions. Christy Tennant is one of those alarmingly talented people you meet in New York, where she works at International Arts Movement and hosts a seriously entertaining and engaging podcast that has recently featured interviews with Billy Collins, Susan Isaacs, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and (as one untimely born) me.
Christy will be joining Nate and me for the next month—longer if we can persuade her to stay around—contributing her keen eye for cultural developments near and far, such as her first post, based on her personal experience with the Uyghur people of western China. As this picture of Christy dancing at a Uyghur wedding shows, her horizons of possibility are wide. Welcome, Christy!
On Monday night, 20 April, I’ll have the great pleasure of moderating a discussion on the state of preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary, part of the Lloyd John Ogilvie Preaching Summit for 2009. The panel is a stellar lineup of preachers from diverse generations, regions, cultures, and nations: Lloyd John Ogilvie, James Earl Massey, William Willimon, Renita Weems, Peter Storey, Ken Fong, Jana Childers, and Mark Labberton. If you are anywhere near Pasadena, California, that evening, I’d love to see you there.
Also, if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or (heaven forfend) tweet yourself, watch my Twitter updates later this week for some ways you may be able to participate in helping us explore the potential of social media to completely disrupt and undermine—er, I mean, um, create new participatory forms of engagement with—contemporary preaching.
I’ve done dozens and dozens of interviews since publishing Culture Making, and most of them have been quite enjoyable. But last week I spoke to Christy Tennant of International Arts Movement and had an exceptionally great time—probably the best interview yet. We covered a lot of ground—from the reasons that we can’t consume our way into cultural influence, to the ways artists can serve among the materially poor, to the burning question, “Video games or swing sets?” It was all marvelous and fun largely because Christy came with such great questions. Which makes me think that after listening to our podcast (available for direct download here [35MB MP3]), you may want to check out some of Christy’s other interviews, including Nicholas Wolterstorff, Steve Garber, Helen Sung, and Billy Collins, and her blog at conversantlife.com.
Another great interview was also posted this week by Graham Scharf, the co-founder of the innovative and helpful parenting site Tumblon. I’ve been pleased and surprised at how many people have picked up on the themes of family and parenting in Culture Making, and Graham had some great questions to take those ideas further. If you are a fan of Culture Making who is also a parent of young children, you will love and learn from Tumblon.
Finally, a cultural question to ponder: As good as some of my radio interviews have been, why is it that the very best ones have been podcasts—with a fraction of the listening audience?
Culture is changed when we create more culture. And for two and a half years, I’ve been working with some amazing friends and colleagues to change culture in a crucial area: the way the North American church does short-term mission trips overseas. The result is our brand new DVD Round Trip, a documentary film-based curriculum for short-term mission teams.
I’m incredibly proud of this project. I don’t think anyone has done this before: document not just an North American team going to Kenya, but a Kenyan short-term team coming to America. We got some of the best thinkers and teachers on the planet to give us deep insights into the best way to build lasting partnerships in short trips: Lisa Espineli Chinn, Tim Dearborn, David Livermore, Oscar Muriu, and Ruth Padilla DeBorst. We worked with two churches, Mavuno Downtown in Narobi and Chapel Hill Bible Church in North Carolina, who have learned deep lessons about partnership in mission, not least because of the leadership of a UNC professor named Jim Thomas who has founded an innovative nonprofit called Africa Rising.
Behind the scenes, I got to work again with Nate Clarke of Fourth Line Films and director of photography Jeffrey Pohorski (who both worked with me on Where Faith and Culture Meet), plus an amazing crew including a great Kenyan cameraman we met named Ken Oloo. And the soundtrack was produced by one of my musical heroes, Charlie Peacock. The Leadership Media Group at Christianity Today International created outstanding leaders’ and participants’ guides for short-term teams to use in the months before, and after, their trip.
If your Christian community is seeking to build deeper international partnerships, if you want short-term trips to be more than just “Christian tourism,” if you are curious about the promise and peril of the short-term trips that millions of Americans take each year—check out Round Trip, and spread the word!
Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling is the winner of Christianity Today’s 2009 Book Award for Christianity and Culture. The judges said, “An astonishing work that moves from sociological analysis to biblical theology (in story form) to their practical implications. Crouch’s main contribution is to show how Christians can and should do cultural analysis but not stop there: They should proceed boldly and deliberately to creating culture itself. This is a book for the whole church.”
Culture Making was also second on Leadership’s “Golden Canon” for 2008 for “The Leader’s Outer World” (“a wise and bold call to fully live out our creational mandate”) and one of Relevant’s ten best books of 2008 (“a thoughtful, extremely helpful reality-check”). Earlier Publisher’s Weekly named it one of the best religion books of 2008.
Wow. Thanks to all the editors, judges, and most importantly readers who have given Culture Making such an enthusiastic welcome. May it inspire many more cultural goods, including even better books!
Gratifying reviews of Culture Making continue to appear, and two recent ones are especially great to see. Karl Johnson, who directs the marvelous program at Chesterton House in Ithaca, New York, has posted an in-depth review, mostly positive but also including some judicious expansion on themes I treated too scantily in the book. Karl writes,
Culture Making is an exceptional book. It is a manifesto of sorts, challenging Christians to live differently in the 21st century than we have in the 20th. It is a clarion call to stop whining, to stop uncritically imitating and consuming, and above all to stop pretending that we are not part of the problems we perceive in “the Culture.” What would it take, he asks, for Christians to be known primarily as creators—“people who dare to think and do something that has never been thought or done before, something that makes the world more welcoming and thrilling and beautiful?” Great question! My hope and prayer is that this book might accomplish for a generation of young Christians what Walsh and Middleton’s Transforming Vision accomplished a quarter of a century ago—inspiring and motivating them to lead more faithful and culturally meaningful lives.
But even more unique and therefore valuable is today’s review of Culture Making by Guinness in Comment magazine from Cardus, who is (to judge by the accompanying photographs) a black Labrador of uncommon intelligence.
For all his enthusiasm, though, Guinness does make the strong case that the book falls short in one crucial respect:
Food is not just an adequate analogy for culture making; in fact, food is the highest form of culture making. If I were to ask you how you contributed to making culture, what response could possibly make me happier than if you said, “I prepare food”?
Fair enough. Many thanks to Karl and to Guinness (and whoever among his human pets helped to transcribe his review). Keep cultivating and creating!
In embarrassingly good company including books by Kathleen Norris, Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, Phyllis Tickle, and Gustav Niebuhr, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling has been named one of the best religion books of the year.
Though aren’t there still two months left? Well, in any case, it’s a great honor.
I will be speaking about Culture Making at several public events next week in Southern California. I’d love to see readers of the book there!
Monday, 20 October—7:00 p.m.
Azusa Pacific University’s Homecoming 2008
Los Angeles Pacific Banquet Room
A talk about the essential ingredients of cultural creativity. For more information contact the office of Andrea McAleenan, +1 626 815-5327.
Tuesday, 21 October—6:30 p.m.
InterVarsity San Diego Division
UCSD Institute for the Americas
Part of IVCF’s “Everyday World Changers” event—an informative and inspiring evening about the role campus ministries play in cultural renewal. RSVP required online.
Wednesday, 22 October—7:30 p.m.
Pacific Crossroads Church Office
10351 Santa Monica Blvd. in Westwood
Dessert, fun, and conversation about “Christianity, Culture, and the Current Credit Crisis” with friends including Merrill Lynch’s Mary King. RSVP by email to Mary.
Cathleen Falsani, religion columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, has a great column today about my book, my recent speaking appearance at Catalyst-a-pa-looza, and the idea of culture making. I was especially glad that she picked up on the idea of making culture in communities of 3, 12, and 120:
It’s an interesting notion. I started cataloguing the big creative projects I’ve worked on in my own life, and such as they are (I’ve not yet dreamed up a Google or something similar), they really do follow that pattern of 3:12:120.
Every one of us has a three in our lives. Look around you. They’re there.
Find them. And create something. Something small. Something huge. Something good.
Put it out there.
Make culture, rather than simply complaining or consuming it.
Become the poet who changes the world.
A group study guide to Culture Making is now available for download from www.culture-making.com/resources/cmstudyguide.pdf. It contains in-depth discussion questions for every chapter, written by two good friends and collaborators, Al Hsu (editor of the book for InterVarsity Press) and Nate Barksdale (co-curator of the Culture Making Web site).
All of us hope this study guide will be useful as you gather groups to “make something of the world.” Group leaders, please let us know what else could help you make the most of Culture Making!
I couldn’t be happier with Christianity Today’s cover section in the September issue—a level of coverage that came as a great surprise to me. (I work for CT’s parent company but have no direct editorial responsibility for the magazine.) They not only generously excerpted my book, but wrote five terrific short stories about exemplary “culture makers” I suggested: people who are cultivators and creators in very different places and spheres of culture.
If you’re a regular you’ve probably already read the chapter that CT excerpted, but you might enjoy this brief interview with Derek Keefe and David Neff’s opening editorial. David captures one of my goals for the book very well:
Since 1951, the Christian discussion of culture has been uncomfortably squeezed into five boxes created by H. Richard Niebuhr’s magisterial Christ and Culture. Generations of pastors and scholars have analyzed their church traditions using Niebuhr’s categories: Is my denomination an example of “Christ against culture”? What should it be? “Christ and culture in paradox”? As someone who found the Niebuhrian categories a frustrating dead end, I was delighted to find that Andy managed to write about culture from a Christian perspective for about 200 pages before turning briefly to Niebuhr. Culture Making subverts and reorients the whole discussion.
I surely hope David is right . . . let a new, better, and more creative conversation begin.
I am an unabashed admirer of Gideon Strauss of Canada’s Work Research Foundation, so it was an honor to learn that he was reviewing my book in Books & Culture. I especially commend to all future reviewers his decision to purchase ninety copies. :)
You can read the full review here—a few excerpts follow.
Andy Crouch’s very fine Culture Making will be joining the short list of books that I read again and again, and fervently recommend to others, for insights into how we are to live as Christians. On behalf of one of my employers I have placed an advance order at my favorite bookstore, Byron Borger’s Hearts & Minds, for ninety copies to share with my colleagues, and students in one of the undergraduate courses I teach will be reading Culture Making early in 2009.
Culture Making is rich in provocations—for example, in its re-telling over several chapters of the overarching story found in the Christian Bible and the implications drawn from this re-telling, or in its critique of H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, or in its definition of cultural power as “the ability to successfully propose a new cultural good.” . . .
We are repeatedly tempted to use whatever cultural power we possess to move ourselves ever closer to further sources of power, to secure our own comfort and control over the world around us. The discipline of service takes us in the opposite direction, beyond comfort and control, and alongside relatively powerless people. Using the biblical examples of the Exodus and the Resurrection, Crouch argues that the discipline of service does not primarily entail using our power on behalf of the powerless but rather calls us to use our power alongside those who are less powerful, placing us in a relationship of partnership rather than in a relationship of asymmetrical charity.
I had a great conversation a few days ago with Bethany Hoang of International Justice Mission, the human rights organization I describe in chapter 11 of Culture Making. Bethany is the director of the IJM Institute, an outstanding source of information and resources for church leaders seeking justice for the oppressed.
Bethany: If we can’t “change the world” . . . then when someone sincerely expresses “I want to see slavery end in my lifetime,” what guidance would you give?
Andy: It’s tricky. I don’t want to discourage that, but I would say a couple things. First, it is absolutely right to pray to the Lord of history that slavery be ended, because that is God’s will. We should be praying for Him to work in such a way that slavery is ended and all injustice is ended. That being said, I really think the most effective thing to do is probably not going to be a global abolition campaign. And here’s why: The causes and channels and conduits of what we label slavery are so different in different cultures that is very difficult to address that problem on that global level. And, not only are the causes of slavery diverse in different areas, also the remedies will also look different.
It’s a little too easy or it’s just misleading to say let’s end it in “the world,” because we’re really going to have to think about, “What does slavery look like in India?” And maybe when we look in South India it’ll be different from North India. And then its going to look really different again in Sudan, and that’s going to look very different from slavery that’s happening in Atlanta, and in New Jersey. So we’re going to have to pick a specific place in which to become culturally fluent, to try to understand the causes of injustice and what creative intervention might lead to change. That’s why IJM’s model is so good: it involves mobilizing people who are culturally adept, in the different countries where [IJM] works, because the legal systems are so different.
Wow, what can one say about a review like Marcia Ford’s except “thank you.” Here’s an excerpt from her review for FaithfulReader.com:
With all the books on the market about the intersection of faith and culture, you have to wonder why we need another one. The answer is simple: it’s unlikely that any other book out there accomplishes what CULTURE MAKING does, and certainly not in the way that Andy Crouch does. . . .
CULTURE MAKING will easily resonate with three groups of readers in particular: those who have a passion for impacting the culture, those who feel so insignificant that they don’t see how they could possibly “make” culture, and those who appreciate both meaty content and wonderful writing. Consider this: “There is a grace-filled power loose in the world that far outstrips our greatest human ambitions and can quiet our deepest human fears. We enter into the work of cultural creativity…as participants in the story of new creation that comes just when our power seems to have been extinguished. Culture making becomes…the astonished and grateful response of people who have been rescued from the worst that culture and nature can do.” Substantial content, beautifully expressed.
At the International Christian Retail Show I had the chance to sit down with Kelly Ewing of GodTube, the all-Christian-all-the-time online video powerhouse. (Which posture toward culture described in Culture Making does GodTube represent? As they say in college math textbooks, I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.) I enjoyed the interview very much, and we covered some interesting territory. It’s 15 minutes long, an eternity in online video time, but there’s some good stuff here. Thanks, Kelly and GodTube!
Will Hinton is an enterprising blogger and culture creator who calls himself “a conscientious objector in the culture war.” We talked late last week and he posted the audio interview this morning—it’s a wide-ranging and fun conversation.
Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling is officially released. It’s in print and on its way to distributors and bookstores.
It may be a few days before the book is ready to ship from vendors like Amazon, and in the meantime we want the word to spread. So we’ve posted three more chapters in PDF form, exactly as they appear in the book. You can download the PDF from
With this PDF, we have now released the first third of the book online. The second two thirds are even better. :)
I am incredibly grateful for your interest in and support of the message of Culture Making. You will be more helpful than you know if, in addition to downloading, reading, and pondering chapters 3 through 5 (which include, at no extra charge, a step-by-step recipe for chili that you will love even if your favorite five-year-old does not), you do one or more of the following:
1) Post a link to the PDF on your Facebook profile and tell your friends why you’re a fan of this book.
2) Write an entry on your blog letting people know that the excerpt is available and the book is on its way.
3) Send the PDF to your pastor or another Christian leader—encourage them to read just chapter 5 if they’re busy. This book is a call to change the way the church operates in culture, and in my experience pastors are finding the message liberating and encouraging. Many churches are planning to study the book together this coming year—you can be a part of helping your church do the same.
I am so grateful for the ways each of you is shaping your own cultural setting, and glad to be on this journey with you toward cultivating and creating more effectively, and more deeply shaped by the unlikely and lovely gospel, in the midst of the world.
Mark Petersen has written an informative, heartening review of Culture Making for the indispensable student magazine Comment. Thanks, Mark, for your careful reading! And for making me hungry for BBQ ribs!
The Baptist Standard, the weekly newspaper of almost everything Texan and Baptist, ran a good cover section on popular culture in its most recent interview, including a fairly long interview with me. Ken Camp, the author, was great to talk to.
Though the quote is accurate, I somewhat regret that I come across sounding more negative about culture-shaping in elite locations (Manhattan, Hollywood) than I feel. I’m all for Christians being in those places, and seeking to serve Christ there as with every other sphere and scale of culture. I just don’t think we should strive for “impact” at elite levels . . . the temptations are just too evident and manifold. Rather, as I say right up front in the introduction to Culture Making, it’s all about grace. If grace takes you to Manhattan, go—whether it’s Manhattan, New York, or Manhattan, Kansas. God is at work in both places.
The good folks who edit the religion book reviews at Publishers Weekly have to contend with an endless flood of books, a substantial number of which they review every other issue. It’s fair to say that the reviewers are generally, as Alex Ross writes of Arnold Schoenberg, “easily unimpressed.”
So it’s exciting to get word today that PW is giving Culture Making a starred review in their May 26 issue. They’re also running a great interview with me by Lori Smith (who was great fun to talk with). This is encouraging news!
From the review: “. . . a sweeping new theology of culture. Crouch blends academic research on the nature of culture with extensive theological study and years of experience as a cultural critic; his conclusions will be fresh and challenging for Christian readers. . . . Those who have struggled with the sacred-secular dichotomy will find this book life-giving; every Christian interested in changing culture should read it.”
The release of Culture Making is just over two months away. It will be really fun to have the book out there to start lots of conversations about how we can become cultivators and creators of culture, not just critics and consumers of it.
But you don’t have to wait until this summer to start reading the book and to start those conversations. InterVarsity Press has taken the unusual step of releasing, not just the introduction or the first few pages, but the first 40 pages of the book, online, in PDF form, for free. (Yes, they are awesome—and thanks to John Holland for originally suggesting this.) And in a few weeks we’ll release another three chapters.
You can download the PDF from
Read. Enjoy. But there’s one other thing I’d like to ask you to do. Find at least one way to share this PDF with others. Post about it on Facebook. Blog about it. Forward the link—or the whole PDF file—to your small group, your pastor, your six best friends. (Yes, you can do this completely legally—see the last page for the details on what you can and cannot do with this PDF.)
Then, if you don’t mind, post on the wall at the Culture Making Facebook page to tell the rest of us what you thought and what your friends thought of these opening pages.