Congregations and Culture

Congregations and Culture

This resource list was developed to supplement this Center workshop led by Andy Crouch in 2012.

Borgmann, Albert. Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1984.
This is an inescapably dense and difficult book, but it is the magnum opus of an important Catholic philosopher who prophetically addresses one of the most crucial features of our cultural environment: the assumptions of a technological age about the good life and the good society. Anyone seeking to form disciples in the modern world needs to wrestle with Borgmann's diagnosis and surprisingly hopeful prescription.

Crouch, Andy. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
"The only way to change culture is to make more of it." This book is an introduction to thinking about culture as artifacts and goods, not just ideas or worldviews, and to recovering our calling as "cultivators" and "creators" rather than critics or consumers. This book emphasizes the significance of culture at small and
non-elite scales—like neighborhoods and the home—while it also calls for cultural creativity in every sphere and scale.

Hunter, James Davison. To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Hunter is resolutely focused on elite institutions, not culture's smaller scales, and the Christian failure to maintain a "faithful presence" within them, as well as the distractions of American Christian preoccupation with political power. This book is most helpful for those whose congregations include people with significant cultural power.

Mouw, Richard J. When the Kings Come Marching In:  Isaiah and the New Jerusalem. Revised edition. Grand Rapids,  MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002.
Mouw revisits the eschatological significance of culture, based on the witness of Isaiah and John the Revelator that culture will persist, suitably transformed, in the new creation, rather than being merely "worldly" and transient activities. Mouw offers especially helpful thoughts on the ultimate destiny of culture created by people who do not profess biblical faith, and cultural goods that seem to run at cross purposes to the Creator's intention.

Smith, James K. A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.
The most important thing culture does, Smith argues, is shape what and how we love. He analyzes the "cultural liturgies" that surround us in shopping malls and popular entertainment, and offers provocative suggestions of how Christian churches and educational institutions can offer alternative liturgies that shape better desires.