There’s an insightful give and take in Trevin Wax’s blog interview with Bret McCracken over his new book Grey Matters. But what really caught my eye was a comment McCracken made about his last book Hipster Christianity.
Trevin: I have the nagging sense that the idea of “cultured Christianity” is just a high brow way of feeling good about being worldly. How can we ensure that our consumption of cultural goods is based in a desire to interpret and analyze these things from a Christian worldview (and thus become better creators), and not just a desire to distance ourselves from Lee the Legalist types?
Brett: That’s a fantastic point and excellent question. Part of what I was critiquing in Hipster Christianity was this sort of “cultured Christianity” that was primarily a reaction against the pop-evangelical subculture of Thomas Kinkade and Left Behind. Our rationale for engaging culture must be more than a reactionary thing where we are trying to prove that we aren’t one of those legalistic evangelicals.
They go on to explore the importance of developing a truly biblical theology of culture. It should embrace your use (or abstinence) from alcohol, the movies you walk out of, etc. It should be deeply considered and relationally sensitive. Most of all, it should be Christ-honoring. As McCracken quotes from Grey Matters:
There’s value in leaving some things unwatched, some music unlistened to, some beverages unconsumed. We mustn’t be afraid of saying no. We mustn’t worry about being labeled prudes, cultural philistines, or legalists. Rather, we must focus on being more thoughtful, discerning consumers, willing to go deeper in our engagement and appreciation of the gray areas of culture, while also knowing our own limits and keeping our compass pointed in the direction of holiness.