I was able to attend a Q Ideas event last week, led by Andy Crouch, which touched on culture and Christianity in a way that especially resonates with what we do here at Think Christian. It offers a good opportunity to revisit what our project is all about, especially for those first-time visitors who join us each day.
Called Imagebearer, the two-day workshop explored what it means to be made in God’s image, especially as we engage in culture and work toward the flourishing of His creation. Citing the Genesis narrative, Crouch suggested that creation was made good by God, yet wasn’t declared “very good” by Him until He had arranged for its cultivation at the hands of man (the cultural mandate).
The thing about culture is that it’s rarely, purely flourishing.
As Crouch explained it, grapes are good, while wine is very good. Wine is God’s full intent for that small part of His creation. (How we may abuse it is another matter.) And so for Crouch, to be an image-bearer is “to explore and unfold and open up (the world’s) latent possibilities.” Indeed, if the next phase beyond very good is the restoration of God’s creation – what Crouch called “glory” – then the act of cultivating is actually the working towards “the full realization of creation.” In his first book, Crouch called this Culture Making.
All of this is why we here at TC are knee-deep in culture, even when it gets mucky. For the thing about culture is that it’s rarely, purely flourishing. More often it’s messy, with little flourishes of glory glimpsed here and there. You’ll find them in the comic rant of Louis C.K., which hilariously dissects our obsessions with cell phones and inadvertently acknowledges the longing for perfect relationship we can only find in God. It’s in the pageantry of New York City’s Fashion Week, which is rife with materialism yet also reminds us of the liturgical value of what we wear. It’s in the poetry of the late Seamus Heaney, which speaks of a “loss of faith” while also recognizing the Eucharist’s enduring “mystery.”