Discussing
What We’ll Lose with the Closing of Books & Culture

Ashley Hales

Ashley Hales
October 18, 2016

The demise of Books & Culture should be a wake-up call, a reminder that cultural critique is vital to loving the world.

JKana
October 18, 2016

I only subscribed to B&C for a year, but it was easily the most informed year of my intellectual life. My only complaint with it was that there was SO MUCH content that, like the New Yorker, I'd spend so much time reading others' engagement with literature that I never engaged with it myself. But that's part of the problem, too. We so often settle for others' soundbites about cultural artifacts without taking the time to sample and savor them for ourselves. And we consider ourselves "well read" when, in fact, we actually tend to read very narrowly.

Ashley Hales
October 19, 2016

In Reply to JKana (comment #29362)
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Yes, I think you're right about consumption. Yet, by also reading thoughtful criticism (even if we never get around to reading the book, seeing the painting, watching the movie), it still allows us some measure of interaction with the art in question. We're still richer for it even in small doses, I think.

Michael H
October 19, 2016

What do we do now?

We turn to Mockingbird and Think Christian and yes, go about our merry way. The magazine was an imprint of Christianity Today, and their articles and brand will likely live on in the digital world. I share your appreciation for good Christian cultural and artistic commentary and engagement (part of why I'm such a big fan of Cardus, a Canadian policy NPO, and their magazine Comment), but in this instance, it seems a bit of handwringing.

Josh Ortiz
October 19, 2016

In Reply to Michael H (comment #29369)
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Besides Mockingbird, Think Christian and Christ and Pop Culture, are there any other sources (print or digital) of thoughtful Christian cultural/artistic commentary that I should check out?

Ashley Hales
October 19, 2016

In Reply to Josh Ortiz (comment #29370)
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Hi Josh, great question. For me, I turn primarily to Image Journal and Englewood Review, in Christian circles. I know lots of folks also read Christian Century, Ruminate, and Curator, besides the one you mentioned.

Ashley Hales
October 19, 2016

In Reply to Michael H (comment #29369)
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I think a bit of handwringing is in order -- a moment to lament surely. CT is restructuring and tightening their output as well so it's not as if their pockets are deep (hence B&C closing). I do wonder though, what it means for the future of Christian criticism.

Ryan
October 19, 2016

I appreciate what you're saying about the loss of B&C, but how has no one mentioned First Things yet?

Ashley Hales
October 22, 2016

In Reply to ryan (comment #29375)
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Good addition -- and I think that Gregory Wolfe (editor of Image) mentioned that he thought going forward Christian publications will need to be increasingly ecumenical if they're going to survive.

Greg Watson
November 27, 2016

Try First Things. It was difficult to discern the target audience for Books and Culture. It was as if it couldn't quite decide to appeal to convinced evangelicals or those questioning their identity as evangelicals, and veering in a more mainline direction.

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