The “Aha” Moment … Culture Making: Gestures and Postures

I’ve been reading Andy Crouch’s excellent book Culture Making, and was blown away by chapter five, “Gestures and Postures.” As I read it, something clicked into place in my brain. It made so much sense, but I had never thought of it in the way he presented it before.

Think about a physical gesture you might make, such as reaching up for something on a high shelf, or bending low to tie your shoe. Compare that to your posture, which is how you consistently stand, sit, walk. There is good posture and bad posture. Good posture both anchors and frees you so that you can respond in various ways to various circumstances. However, if you take a gesture, such as bending over to tie your shoe, and try to make it your regular posture, you’ll soon have a bad back and sore muscles. You’ll be limited in your movement.

What does this have to do with how we interact with culture? This was the “aha” moment for me.

Andy starts by looking at four different ways American Christians, in particular, interact with culture: condemning, critiquing, copying and consuming. The issue is that, while these are all appropriate “gestures” to make at various times when interacting with culture, we are creatures of habit, and over time these “gestures” often become our regular “postures.”

An example … it is perfectly appropriate to condemn the culture of international violence and lawlessness that sustains the global sex trade. The only Christian thing to do is reject it and work toward eradicating it as quickly and effectively as possible. This is a gesture of condemnation. But if we start looking at all types of culture with a suspicious and condemning eye, we have moved into a posture of condemnation. We’re like the person who decides they want to make bending over to tie their shoe their permanent posture. We soon lose our freedom of movement.

If then, neither condemning, critiquing, copying or consuming is meant to be our regular posture, what should be? Andy goes back to the very beginning of the human story in the book of Genesis to give us the answer.

… like our first parents, we are to be creators and cultivators. Or to put it more poetically, we are artists and gardeners.

The postures of the artist and the gardener have a lot in common.  Both begin with contemplation, paying close attention to what is already there …

And then, after contemplation, the artist and gardener both adopt a posture of purposeful work. They bring their creativity and effort to their calling. The gardener tends what has gone before, making the most of what is beautiful and weeding out what is distracting or useless. The artist can be more daring: she starts with a blank canvas or a solid piece of stone and gradually brings something out of it that was never there before … They are creaturely creators, tending and shaping the world that original Creator made.

This post is just a brief summary of this excellent chapter, but I hope it will whet your appetite to dig into the book yourself for more.

Andy Crouch quote photo

Share

Luther, Christian life, and the Word of God

On Christian Liberty - Martin Luther

I’ve started reading On Christian Liberty by Martin Luther in preparation for a class by Dr. Dan Siedell I’m auditing at Knox Seminary in March … God at Work: The Reformation & Vocation. I’m finding it hard to get past the first few pages because they are so rich, specifically as Luther talks about the inner and outer man (soul and flesh) and states, concerning the inner man, that “no external thing has any influence in producing Christian righteousness or freedom, or in producing unrighteousness or servitude.” He gives argument to prove this and concludes:

One thing, and only one thing, is necessary for Christian life, righteousness, and freedom. That one thing is the most holy Word of God, the gospel of Christ, as Christ says, John 11[:25], “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” …

Working at OneHope, a ministry whose mission is to reach children and youth with the Word of God, I was both encouraged and challenged by these words of Luther:

Let us then consider it certain and firmly established that the soul can do without anything except the Word of God and that where the Word of God is missing there is no help at all for the soul. If it has the Word of God it is rich and lacks nothing since it is the Word of life, truth, light, peace, righteousness, salvation, joy, liberty, wisdom, power, grace, glory, and of every incalculable blessing. This is why the prophet in the entire Psalm [119] and in many other places yearns and sighs for the Word of God and uses so many names to describe it.

On the other hand, there is no more terrible disaster with which the wrath of God can afflict men than a famine of the hearing of his Word, as he says in Amos [8:11]. Likewise there is no greater mercy than when he sends forth his Word, as we read in Psalm 107[:20]: “He sent forth his word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction.”

Luther describes the Word of God, drawing from Romans 1, as this:

The Word is the gospel of God concerning his Son, who was made flesh, suffered, rose from the dead, and was glorified through the Spirit who sanctifies. To preach Christ means to feed the soul, make it righteous, set it free, and save it, provided it believes the preaching. Faith alone is the saving and efficacious use of the Word of God … The Word of God cannot be received and cherished by any works whatever but only by faith.

Plenty of meat to ponder there, and that’s only a small portion from the first eight pages.:)

Share

25 Years of Image

Who and what inspires you to engage in art and faith? Image Journal is one of those avenues for me and they’re celebrating their 25th Anniversary. Check out this video and their special website to see what others are saying, and to share your own story.

And if you haven’t discovered Image yet, don’t wait any longer. Find out more here.

Share