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Peter T Chattaway
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M. Leary wrote:

: Why do Christian authors and journalists so often say "the culture" rather than just "culture"?

For the same reason they talk about "the homosexual lifestyle", singular, rather than "homosexual lifestyles", plural.

NBooth wrote:

: But was he wearing the lederhosen ironically?

Heh heh heh.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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"How do Christians engage the culture..."

Why do Christian authors and journalists so often say "the culture" rather than just "culture"? Unless I unconsciously block it out, I only ever see the article used in Christian writing.

Because to say "Christians who engage culture" might just mean they engage in their own culture. "The culture" indicates the larger things. There are many cultures in Seattle, but you could also say that Seattle has a culture of its own, made up of that unique mix of prevalent biases and activities.

"Christians who engage cultures" sounds like we're saying something about yogurt.

It's a way of saying "Christians who don't secede from the world around them in separatist protest and fear."

I'm not terribly fond of the saying. I live with it every day at SPU, since the school's slogan is "Engaging the culture, changing the world."

To me it's just a way of saying "we are not distancing ourselves from what's going on all around us, we're participating, loving, investigating, and contributing to that vast, multi-faceted thing around us that, for lack of a more specific term, we will call 'the culture.'"

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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M. Leary wrote:

: Why do Christian authors and journalists so often say "the culture" rather than just "culture"?

For the same reason they talk about "the homosexual lifestyle", singular, rather than "homosexual lifestyles", plural.

I can't quite see that. In the case of "the" homosexual lifestyle, the article is particularizing. It distinguishes it from other lifestyles. In the case of "the" culture, the article seems to have the same syntactical force, but doesn't actually occur within the same grammatical structure. The particularizing article generally only make sense in English when part of a structure that contains a subsequent descriptive clause. E.g.: The culture of "x." The "y" culture. Speaking of "the culture" is odd in that the use of "the" can only really have either an emphatic or particularizing syntax here, but it is not clear what is being emphasized or distinguished. We are forced to import the necessary descriptive clause from the context of its usage. Thus, in these case I can only assume that when Christians speak of engaging "the culture," they are implying an us/them distinction that does not require a further descriptive clause. It is the culture as distinct from the church.

To me it's just a way of saying "we are not distancing ourselves from what's going on all around us, we're participating, loving, investigating, and contributing to that vast, multi-faceted thing around us that, for lack of a more specific term, we will call 'the culture.'"

Though the actual grammar of "the" in this case makes me think the opposite. If it really is vast and all around us, then it doesn't need a particularizing or emphatic article. It just is, and we are as immersed in it as everyone else. I am not wanting to make a big deal out of this, just thought I would toss it out there for further explanation. I should start crossing this little word out with a magic marker every time I see it used in this way. A little Banksy protest.

I have some misgivings about the utility of the term dominionist. But I feel pretty okay saying that Brett McCracken himself might well be a dominionist hipster.

Same here. It is odd to see it popping up with such frequency when it has a pretty defined meaning in terms of Reformed theological movements. But maybe that is changing? Maybe the neo-Reformed conversation has a dominionist tinge to it?

Edited by M. Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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I have some misgivings about the utility of the term dominionist. But I feel pretty okay saying that Brett McCracken himself might well be a dominionist hipster.

Same here. It is odd to see it popping up with such frequency when it has a pretty defined meaning in terms of Reformed theological movements. But maybe that is changing? Maybe the neo-Reformed conversation has a dominionist tinge to it?

I have no idea about Brett's political/theological persuasion, but it certainly bothers me to see the term "dominionism" being tossed around so blithely. I've read Rushdoony and Bahnsen, and, while I disagree with them, I do acknowledge that they've made a serious attempt to integrate a biblical worldview with earthly government. As it is used in the media, however, "dominionist" is the hip new shorthand for "nutcase," and it is used by people who, by and large, couldn't begin to parse the theological nuances of the dominionist argument. Whatever they are, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann are not dominionists, although they might have read some Francis Schaeffer a long time ago.

Edited by Andy Whitman
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Whatever they are, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann are not dominionists, although they might have read some Francis Schaeffer a long time ago.

And even Schaeffer is a far cry from Rushdooney. Calling Bachmann a dominionist is kind of like calling Jeremiah Wright a radical liberationist.

Edited by M. Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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M. Leary wrote:

: I can't quite see that. In the case of "the" homosexual lifestyle, the article is particularizing. It distinguishes it from other lifestyles.

But it does not distinguish one homosexual lifestyle from another. It presses them all together into a single "lifestyle" that is opposite from "our" lifestyle... just as "the culture" is treated as a monolithic entity that is, in some sense, opposite to "our" culture (or subculture).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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But it does not distinguish one homosexual lifestyle from another. It presses them all together into a single "lifestyle" that is opposite from "our" lifestyle... just as "the culture" is treated as a monolithic entity that is, in some sense, opposite to "our" culture (or subculture).

Yes, I think that implied particularizing (which is not declared through a supporting descriptive clause in "the culture") can be construed as bad theology. If we are to make distinctions, make clear ones. Otherwise, "the culture" may be interpreted as the relic of an us vs. them/church vs. culture grammar.

Yesterday, I began my campaign by defacing this book in a local seminary library:

5vp1kz.jpg

Edited by M. Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Whatever they are, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann are not dominionists, although they might have read some Francis Schaeffer a long time ago.

And the New Yorker takes on the Schaeffer issue.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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M. Leary wrote:

: And the New Yorker takes on the Schaeffer issue.

FWIW, Ross Douthat responded to this blog post over a week ago.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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A lot of bluster in Lizza, and Sullivan needs to drop the term "Christianist." This is yet another example of why I refrain from this kind of religious parallelomania.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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A lot of bluster in Lizza, and Sullivan needs to drop the term "Christianist." This is yet another example of why I refrain from this kind of religious parallelomania.

What, you don't agree with the right-thinking Andrew Sullivan? Maybe you're one of the "fanatics" he so opposes.

I stopped reading Sully years ago, and wouldn't have seen his latest had you not linked to it. Same ol', same ol'.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Yes, I am fanatical about the act of stopping, taking a deep breath, and remembering that people's religious convictions are part of complex biographical networks that will continually defy my ability to wrap them up in neat little "-ist" bows. Suicide bombers and abortion doctor killers and Wall Street invaders included.

So I also haven't read him for many moons.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Whatever they are, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann are not dominionists, although they might have read some Francis Schaeffer a long time ago.

And even Schaeffer is a far cry from Rushdooney. Calling Bachmann a dominionist is kind of like calling Jeremiah Wright a radical liberationist.

Rachel Tabachnick traces a particular strain of what she's calling "dominionism" to C. Peter Wagner and the "New Apostolic Reformation," which she claims has influenced Palin, Bachmann and Perry. As she describes it, the NAR is part of the Charismatic movement and doesn't seem to have direct connections with either Schaeffer or Rushdoony.

Edited by mrmando

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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Whatever they are, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann are not dominionists, although they might have read some Francis Schaeffer a long time ago.

And even Schaeffer is a far cry from Rushdooney. Calling Bachmann a dominionist is kind of like calling Jeremiah Wright a radical liberationist.

Rachel Tabachnick traces a particular strain of what she's calling "dominionism" to C. Peter Wagner and the "New Apostolic Reformation," which she claims has influenced Palin, Bachmann and Perry. As she describes it, the NAR is part of the Charismatic movement and doesn't seem to have direct connections with either Schaeffer or Rushdoony.

...and groups that arguably do have a connection--or, at least, sympathies--with one or both of those men are carefully distancing themselves from Wagner (via Warren Throckmorton):

The First and most concerning point is that the 7MD version does what critics of traditional dominion theology have falsely accused us of doing the whole time: planning to grab the reins of influence through whatever means necessary, usurp the seats of political power, and impose some tyrannical “theocracy” upon society from the top down with a “whether you like it or not, it’s for your own good” mentality.

And later:

Can you imagine John Hagee as Secretary of State?

This is exactly the threat—top-down threat, totalitarian threat, eschatological holocaust threat—that 7MD presents to us.

American Vision is not that; they are not us; we are not them.

I'm not sure how much that's worth, but there it is.

(On another note, I don't see why it's a problem calling what Wagner advocates Dominionism. After all, he's got a book called Dominion!; it's not like he's shy of advocating the concept or anything).

Edited by NBooth
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"How do Christians engage the culture..."

Why do Christian authors and journalists so often say "the culture" rather than just "culture"? Unless I unconsciously block it out, I only ever see the article used in Christian writing.

Is this a throwback to the initial Christianity Today era when Evangelicalism was emerging in response to a specific, monolithic alternative to conservative Christianity that was emerging in the 50s and 60s? So there was "the culture" out there that we needed to "engage"?

This question fascinates me, because it's something I've genuinely never thought about, even though I attend Seattle Pacific "Engaging the Culture, Changing the World" University. Why don't we assume that we are part of culture? That it's a fabric we're woven into as people? Or, as a Christian school (institution, what have you), are we necessarily separate from "the culture" that we are called to engage?

Weird.

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Wow, here's at least one SPU student who gets it. Yes, to whatever extent the culture is anti-Christian, or at least non-Christian ... to that extent, Christians by definition will stand apart from culture. "Engaging the culture" can mean a lot of things ... it can mean endeavoring to show how the products of our culture often reveal that the truths of God are "written on our hearts," whether we acknowledge them or not ... or it can mean speaking prophetically to culture in those instances where culture falls short of those truths ... or it can mean participating in culture in order to reveal those truths in our own way.

Of course, we can't really "engage" if we stand entirely apart from culture, unless by "engagement" all we really mean is hurling rocks over the wall.

One thing "Engaging the Culture, Changing the World" doesn't mean is for Christians to become indistinguishable from culture -- to engage with it "under every green tree," as the Old Testament puts it. From reading The Falcon I get the impression that a lot of SPU kids are seeking or practicing just that sort of engagement. I suppose it's possible, however, that The Falcon represents a minority point of view. Sometimes I hope that's the case.

Edited by mrmando

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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(On another note, I don't see why it's a problem calling what Wagner advocates Dominionism. After all, he's got a book called Dominion!; it's not like he's shy of advocating the concept or anything).

Maybe it's not a problem. I came across someone calling Bachmann "dominionist" while trying to connect her to Rushdoony, and I thought, "Wait a minute. Rushdoony would've said 'reconstructionist.'"

Edited by mrmando

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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(On another note, I don't see why it's a problem calling what Wagner advocates Dominionism. After all, he's got a book called Dominion!; it's not like he's shy of advocating the concept or anything).

Maybe it's not a problem. I came across someone calling Bachmann "dominionist" while trying to connect her to Rushdoony, and I thought, "Wait a minute. Rushdoony would've said 'reconstructionist.'"

True (although I do remember Rushdoony throwing around "dominion" quite a bit during his world history / American history lectures--oh, when I was in my mid-teens I thought Rushdoony had it going on).

On the other hand, I think a helpful distinction could be drawn between dominionism-as-an-ideology (in whatever form it takes) and whatever it is Bachmann is doing--in that one of them is a thought-out, systematic approach to interactions with culture, and the other is Michelle Bachmann.

Oh, look! Politics! To save myself from being entirely offtopic, here is a little video (courtesy of Jon Acuff):

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Saw this book at Borders today, two days before the store closes. I could've bought it for $3.20 but held off. If it's still there Friday, I might grab it.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Yesterday, I began my campaign by defacing this book in a local seminary library:

5vp1kz.jpg

Just asking, but in today's intellectual climate, shouldn't the defacing include: Defending The Faith. Engaging The Culture ? Can you slink back in there soon?

Edited by Rich Kennedy

"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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Saw this book at Borders today, two days before the store closes. I could've bought it for $3.20 but held off. If it's still there Friday, I might grab it.

Went back today for the everything's-a-dollar sale, but the book was gone.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

On a not entirely unrelated note, here's an article on NPR about "The Hipsterfication of America":

We are seeing the dawn of a new hipsterdom. The subculture has become an omniculture and its denizens can be found outside Nashville and in Grinnell, Iowa, and in Omaha, Neb. Visit the Little River Coffee Bar in Spartanburg, S.C., the Busted Lift in Dubuque, Iowa, or the Bikini Lounge in Phoenix.

And hipsterfication is happening at hyperspeed. "Hip used to have a lag time," the Times' [John] Leland explains. "Weirdos and creative people fled their intolerant small town for the city, where they could be anonymous and find other weirdos. Together they combined their knowledge — of style or wisdom, of outsider lore, black and white — to produce hip."

The expression of hipness, Leland says, "had to be private to be distinct, understood only by the inner circle."

Eventually the hip sensibility was adopted by bigger and bigger circles until it boomeranged back to the small towns, Leland says. "Now there's no lag time. Those syntheses and exchanges take place not in physical spaces but metaphorical ones — in cyberspace, in the marketplace, in the media. So stuff that looks like hip is everywhere."

I have Leland's history of "hip" around here somewhere. I should probably dig it out.

Edited by NBooth
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