Lecture 10 – Christianity and Culture

Why do you design/dance/make music/act?

What are the significant parts of your personal story that explain why you want to be creative?

Is there a message in your performance or products?

What do you hope to achieve, or what kind of effect do you want to have, through your work?

Understanding Culture
Comes from the Latin cultura

Culture is what we make of the world  Culture is also what we make of the world in another sense – our interpretation of the world.

The two intertwine

Culture refers to everything we do voluntarily as opposed to involuntarily (i.e. instinct, reflex, etc.) – transcending nature. Does culture mean “high culture”? Everyone is a culture-maker to some degree – engineers, parents, poets...

Interstate highways as a form of culture

Lecture 10 – Christianity and Culture

Culture reshapes our perceptions of the world.

Artistic Culture is the realm where we objectify our spirit (our thoughts, values, beliefs)  Cultural products are meaningful – the way we design, the way we make music, the way we move, communicates something about our values, our concerns, and our self-understanding.

Why Christians need to learn to read artistic culture
Cultural literacy = the ability to understand the patterns and products of everyday life (including art)    I cannot love my neighbour unless I understand him and his cultural world. Our faith is affected by the world we live in (not just art – but language, buildings, technology). Our faith needs to be embodied in the world we live in.

Cultural Products by Artists
Cultural products are meaningful communicative acts. They say and do something. 

Cultural texts project worlds of meaning that invite us in and encourage us to make our home there.

Culture communicates

Culture orients

Lecture 10 – Christianity and Culture

Culture cultivates.

My point is describing culture as a process of spiritual formation is not to say that we are helpless and hapless victims but rather to call our attention to the fact that spiritual formation is happening to us and to our children all the time. Culture trains us in what philosophers call the transcendentals, honing our sense of what is true, good, and beautiful.....All television is educational television. The question is merely, “What is it teaching?” (Kevin Vanhoozer)

C.S. Lewis quote – Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.

Christian Cultural Critique and the task of Culture-Making
Christians must understand culture before they either exclude or embrace it.

Culture is cumulative

Culture is not optional 1. Hearing culture on its own terms – do unto others’ texts as you would have them do unto yours

2. Recognising General revelation, common grace and the imago dei “If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonour the Spirit of God” (John Calvin) 3. All Culture-making is inevitably tainted by sin  Part of what culture says is true, good, and beautiful. Other parts are false, bad and ugly

Lecture 10 – Christianity and Culture

Giving a full description of a cultural product
Thinking more broadly than just – what happens?   

The world behind

The world within

The world in front of o what are the effects of this piece of culture? o what kinds of persons do we become if we accept its invitation?

Using Speech-Act Theory to deepen our understanding
Locutions and Illocutions  Not just the words we say, but the function of those words

Being culturally influential
 Understand the culture you have been born into

How does one change culture? Some various Christian postures towards Culture Condemning Critiquing Copying – Imitating by taking out the bad bits Consuming – Just embracing it, albeit selectively

Lecture 10 – Christianity and Culture The problem - Human cultures have the strange property of always being full

Creativity as the only viable source of change.

Being a good creative requires both conservation of what is best and innovation

Good creative are the ones who are invited to critique.