Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What is Culture, that Thou Art Mindful of It?

Foundational questions and principles as solid as the Corinthian pillar pictured in this caricature are covered in the second chapter of Ken Myer's book, All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes.

The author wastes no time getting to meat (1 Cor 10:23-26) of the issue in the title alone.

The chapter's title is a play on Psalm 8:4 where David is lauding the majesty of God and wondering why an awesome creator would contemplate a lowly creature.

The implication is that we humans think so highly of ourselves and our possessions that we're not aware of our surroundings (culture) - popular or unpopular, high brow or low.

Perhaps it would be premature for me at this point to claim that I am mindful. I am aware. I am not indifferent.

After all I am reading about it. That means I care, right?


I cannot bear to contemplate such cultural icons as Michael Jackson or Madonna. Or listen to their music.

Thankfully though, neither do I identify with the fiddler in this caricature. But Myers does force me to examine my own outlook by presenting the cultural apologies of such fine thinkers as C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot, Fredrich Hayek, and Derek Kidner.

Easily the author assesses the nature of culture by examining its religious base, its relativism, and its context. He does not overlook that it should be measured by Biblical standards and that it cannot be socially engineered. This is valuable reference material.

I wonder though?

Did I accept his arguments too quickly?


But I know why.

By the grace of God He quickened my spirit and ignited my imagination: that realm of human experience that exists prior to that lower power which drives social critics.

Furthermore, I concur with Myers I need teachers and the fellowship of the saints , i.e. the local church because

applying Scripture to our individual experience is difficult for each of us,
often as much because we fail to understand the significance of our own
situations, the context in which we are applying it, because we fail to
understand the original, objective meaning of the text. pg 33

And so, I read and think (wisdom calls me to). I consider the rewarding task of taking dominion as described by my favorite apologist, Russell Kirk.

A culture is perennially in need of renewal.

A culture does not survive and prosper merely by being taken for granted;
active defense is always required, and imaginative growth, too.

Meet my contributions to the future of our culture.

GMVP = God's Most Valuable Players, nurtured in the admonition of the Lord to love and serve Him as strong leaders in the 21st century.

Veritable roses, don't ya think?

It's amazing how much cultivation roses take in order to bloom.


  1. I am proud to be your contribution to our culture--but I also have a healthy fear of being able to live up to my training and, more importantly, pass it on. At least I have a good example. :)

    Especially here in Chicago--a city rich with history and culture--there are a lot of things to examine and take away via the Christian perspective. But there is also an unhealthy dose of relativism (a word I am quoting from above) even in the Christian society of this city. Patrick always says something about a society being nothing without it's religion (ie "cult"): there is no culture without the cult. But what happens when the "cult" of Christianity loses touch with its foundational principles and begins mixing the misguided trends of humanity with the practices of the Church as prescribed in the Bible?

    The Latin word "cultus" means care, cultivation, worship....and this is what a majority of contemporary "Christian" churches (which ought to be the basis of Christian culture) lack. Veneration has been replaced with preference for comfort, a need for entertainment and 'feel-good vibes' in many of the churches we've visited here; cultivation of the Biblical principles of worship has been sowed with the politically-correct opinions of a humanistic society, reaping a distorted vision of what the church should be, and worse, preaching a damning message to the would-be faithful.

    All this goes to say, it is easier to see culture in some places than in others. I am confronted with it most in this city when I have visited local churches, and that is a sad thing to me. BUT, knowing and believing in the strong foundational principles with which I was raised has given me the background of a *better* culture that I strive to reflect in my daily life. And because culture also begins within the home, within the platonic family structure, I think this is one of the most important contributions any family can make to their culture: to live a life guided by Christian principles untainted by fleeting societal or worldly preferences.


  2. Dana,
    I know your girls went to a private school but from what I have seen of private schools, they breed a 'coolness' that usually includes an over interest in pop culture? Obviously you have avoided that pitfall and I am wondering how. My own rose while being a perfectly obedient daughter seems to be very in tune to the world. That is one thing that drives me to this topic. The last thing I want to do is smash her over the head. I also think my main line of defense is helping her develop her relationship with Christ and applying that to all areas.

    Finally, I thought this chapter was chockful of wonderful material and I am glad you mentioned our need of fellowship and church. Tim calls that opposite of that being disconnected from the head.

    George Grant's definition of culture is: religion externalized.

  3. Correct me if you know differently, Cindy, but Grant's definition of culture actually comes from Cornelius Van Til.

    Some day I will try and write a post about the distinctiveness I envisioned for our girls even in the face of private, Christian education.

    The headmistress of their school attributed it to the preaching they heard every week at our church.

    I think you would know that I dont think we have a perfect take on the situation, but am happy to share my experiences as the occasion arises.

    And I just want mothers and homemakers to understand how crucial their influence is. It bugs me that Gary Demar doesnt say enough about that.

    Usually, you know, I'll tell you my opinion whether asked or not :)

  4. A beautiful boquet of contributions! We hope to do so well with our bunch. We are still little here. Certain people who shall remain nameless seem to have lots of thorns these days. :)

    Okay. It's me.

    Anyhow, your daughter's comment reminded me of a verse I read last night:

    "If the foundations are destroyed,
    What can the righteous do?"
    (Psalm 11:3)

    The following verses don't really say God's people can do anything other than trust that our God is sovereign and He will eventually right the wrongs.

    My husband teaches a Christian worldview class at our church every year. In the end, when folks are asking him what they can do, he usually emphasizes the family and the need to build a God-fearing culture at home. People sometimes look so deflated after he says this, as if they were seeking some other greatness. A solid home isn't the only solution, of course, but that is where it all starts, which is probably why home is mentioned in the Biblical qualification for elders. The ability to build a good and faithful home culture speaks of the ability to build a faithful culture at the level of Church.

  5. I knew George cribbed it as he freely admits that he does frequently but I couldn't put my finger on the original. I used to go to a church that had a Van Til Conference every year but I didn't ever get to attend.

  6. >>>Did I accept his arguments too quickly?<<<

    Dana, when I first read this book I didn't know anything about Myers. Now I have heard him speak and asked him questions, along with my subscription to MHAJ which I love. So I brought to this second reading a feeling of being a kindred spirit with Mr Myers. Perhaps that has been a negative in my ability to discern.

    One other thing. You mentioned Christian Reconstruction and I wonder what your take is on that and how it applies to this discussion. I think if you would do that it would help me clear up some things. I do tend to think that the Internet has a deadly potential. Obviously the real death is in our own hearts not from outside. I also have a bit of theory about societal change. I don't think when things are getting worser and worser :) that we can be more than salt and light. I believe that real change arises out of ashes rather than true reform. I think that we put new forms in place waiting for the old forms to die. But that is just a theory.