Thursday, May 27, 2010

Confused about Culture

A partial book summary/review by Richard Beck (ACU) on "To Change the World". Really interesting ideas resonant at least with my own views on these issues. Some excerpts below.

"Christianity often sees itself as pitted against an increasingly godless and valueless culture. "To change the world," then, implies winning this cultural battle over "values.""

"[I]f the goal is to change the culture then what, exactly, is culture and how might you go about changing a culture? Because if you get this wrong (i.e., you misconstrue what culture is) then you end up picking ineffective and counterproductive strategies "to change the world." In fact, Hunter contends Christians have made this mistake."

"So how, exactly, are Christians ironically and tragically wrong about culture and cultural change?"

"First, the Christian view of culture has, by and large, focused on "values." American culture is decadent and in decline because of poor choices, immoral ideas, and a godless worldview."

"Second...the mechanism of cultural change seems clear: Change the values"

"[T]hese Christian efforts "to change the world" have had both ironic and tragic consequences."

"[T]he impoverished view of culture most Christians have leave them ill-equipped to see the "values" deeply embedded in the structures and institutions of their lives."

"[B]y ignoring the structural and historical aspects of culture, Christians have tended to believe that the "culture war" was about gay marriage, abortion, and teaching evolution to school children...According to Hunter, however, these efforts are doomed to failure."

"Further...[l]aws don't change culture. So the Christan focus on legislation is also misguided."..."The political "wins," thus, are often Pyrrhic."

"The conclusion? If Christians really want to change the culture they need to get a collective clue about what culture really is and how one might go about changing one. Otherwise, efforts "to change the world" are doomed before they even get started."

Read the whole article:

via Experimental Theology by Richard Beck on 5/27/10

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