Not a book for the comfortable, the faint of heart, or the disinterested, in this book Staub lays out the frailty of American Christianity and its well meaning, but often misguided attempts to make a difference in America.
“In this intellectually and aesthetically impoverished age of Christianity-Lite, it is heartening to remember that for centuries, Christians were known for their intellectual, artistic, and spiritual contributions to society. Bach, Mendelssohn, Dante, Dostoevsky, Newton, Pascal, and Rembrandt are but a few who personified the rich tradition of faith, producing the highest and best work, motivated by a desire to glorify God and offered in service of others for the enrichment of our common environment: culture. These were culturally savvy Christians-serious about the centrality of faith in their lives, savvy about both faith and culture, and skilled in relating the two.” pg ix
Staub does not accuse. He’s neither critical nor combative. He’s direct and truthful. The Tone of his writing suggests an urgency, a need for those who are serious about their faith in God through Christ to become culturally savvy and through culture, to make deep, positive, long-term differences.
He is, and in my mind rightfully so, deeply concerned about the general health and well-being of the Christian church in America, calling it Christianity-Lite; it’s “3,000 miles wide and two-inches deep”, and yet his intentions are, “not so much critical as corrective.” pg-43
[With this book] “I’d like us to examine together the cause-and-effect relationship between the quality and depth of our spiritual life and the richness of our cultural life. I’d like to explain my conclusion that today’s superficial spirituality is incapable of producing deep, rich culture. I’d also like to explore how a new generation of culturally savvy Christians-the old kind of Christian in the mold of Lewis and Tolkien, who today, will look like a new kind of Christian-can be the catalysts for transforming culture.” pg. xiii
Personally, I’m extremely encouraged for several reasons;
1) As an artist of faith, I am always exploring at how my art, whether performance or visual, can deepen and enrich our culture and, in the end, point to the cross of Christ.
2) As an artist of faith, I am deeply disturbed by the complete lack of any cohesive ethic of excellence in the offerings of so many artists of faith.
3) As a Christian in America I’m deeply disturbed by the hijacking of our faith by politicians, activists, and propagandists to forcibly change America’s values on the outside, while ignoring the inward transformation of the heart so central to the deeply effective Christian life.
4) Staub not only articulates what he sees as lacking, but offers sound counsel as to what each and every serious Christian can do to become culturally savvy, and make real, deep, peaceful differences in this nation we all love.
5) And finally, while all Christians in America can and should become culturally savvy, Staub reminds artists of faith in particular, that the art we’re endowed to create is an incredibly powerful tool for positive enrichment of our culture.
I encourage every thinking, concerned Christian to read it – all of it!
If you’re serious about your faith and this American culture we live in, I believe you’ll be engaged, and challenged to become a culturally savvy Christian.
He’s an author, commentator, and radio talk show host; for more about Dick Staub’s work, here are a number of his interviews from Christianity Today, and a YouTube video where he talks about The Culturally Savvy Christian.
Engage. Enlarge. Become.