“REAL ARTISTS SHIP”
“Culture making requires shared goods. Culture making is people (plural) making something of the world – it is never a solitary affair. Only artifacts that leave the solitude of their inventors’ studios and imaginations can move the horizons of possibility and become the raw material for more culture making. Until an artifact is shared, it is not culture.” Culture-Making by Andy Crouch
In the second chapter of Culture-making, Andy Crouch talks about cultural worlds and how they are created. It turns out that we ‘make culture’ by creating something and sharing it. The extent to which we make culture depends on the extent to which we share it. Whether we bake a pie or calculate mathematical equations with pi, whether we study the origin and impact of slums or slime, our work must be shared to expand the horizons of possibility.
For many years, I have written articles about struggles of living the gospel in my daily story. But until recently, I mostly kept them to myself. Why? Because I was afraid of many things – among them, miscommunication and criticism. I like to be liked, and everyone isn’t going to like me if I write some of the things I am thinking. Some people won’t agree with me, and they might write mean comments.
God has been speaking to my heart about my scrinchy self-protection (see you might not even like the fact that I just made up a word — ‘scrinchy’ – but I’ll bet you know what it meansJ). God has spoken fairly clearly, in Steve Jobs’ words, quoted by Crouch, “Real artists ship.” Not because writing and publishing makes me a ‘real artist.’ It’s not about me. It’s about God. It’s about bringing His glory by telling His story to the world. It can be through tying a three-year-old’s shoelace or typing a report for your boss. It can be by picking up a piece of trash on the road you run on or by picking blueberries with your preschoolers. The possibilities are endless. What little patch of culture will you impact today? Look for ways to create and communicate culture through all the world. Or, as Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all the nations.”
The Story of Culture
I’m reading Culture-Making by Andy Crouch, and in the first chapter alone, I have discovered so many important concepts on our calling and creation, I am eager to share them. So follow along for the next week or so, and see if you agree.
In Chapter One, Crouch discusses the meaning of culture, and of course, that discussion leads immediately to story. He tells about the Enuma Elish, one of the earliest creation myths. Of Babylonian origin some 3000 years before Christ, it tells a violent and chaotic story of how the earth was born (You’ll have to read either Crouch’s book or the myth itself to hear more of the story.) He goes on to contrast the creation story Genesis tells to many other myths circulating at that time: “The world [God creates] is not the product of accident or heavenly politics, but of a free, even relaxed, blessed Creator. However, this Creator also addresses the fundamental concern that lies underneat the Enuma Elish and other creation myths — the human sense that chaos is never far away. Genesis 1 is a sequence of acts of ordering, as the Creator gradually carves out a habitable environment.” (Crouch, Culture-making, Location 171-172, Kindle edition).
Now think about it. In our world, chaos has often been assumed to be the reigning ‘order’ of the day. As a mother of four, wife of one, friend to many, and speaker at retreats, I head into most days expecting the unexpected. As a glass-half-empty sort of personality, I also assume that unexpected will come in the form of chaos and deconstruction.
Crouch forces me to re-examine my lens, to remember that God created beauty and order, and that He has not stopped in this fallen world. Revelation 21-22 tell the end of our story, in which the sea, which stands for chaos, will be no more. (For a great study on this, visit Scotty Smith’s Facebook fan page.)
What about you? Do you need to stop as this day begins and ask yourself — when the ‘fall’ comes today in my life, how can I be a creator of beauty? How can I be a part of restoring peace with a relaxed order? How will that order be different from a demand for control that says, “Life will work according to my plan”?