After reading Andy Crouch’s Culture Making several years ago, I had this sinking feeling that Christians are way behind the eight ball regarding cultural engagement. “When it comes to cultural creativity,” Crouch writes, “innocence is not a virtue.” Innocence is a polite way to put it. In many sectors of the Church, “culture innocence” is better described as naiveté, if not downright ineptitude. Or as Crouch puts it,
Cultural creativity requires cultural maturity.
Which means that “cultural immaturity” is one of the greatest threats to meaningful, lasting Christian art. So when it comes to culture, Christians can’t afford a low IQ.
But nowadays, suggesting that the Church is “culturally unsavvy,” that Christians have replaced real art with kitsch, gets you charged with being a snob and an elitist.
So much for attempting to raise the Church’s cultural IQ.
The release of the film version of the DaVinci Code sent many Christians dithering. Protests and boycotts were organized. Nevertheless, there were some voices of reason. Like this article in the L.A. Times, entitled Vatican Officials Grappling with Da Vinci Code:
Father John Wauck, an American priest with the Opus Dei prelature, said “The Da Vinci Code” was laughable from start to finish, a comedy of errors that “defies serious reading.” But the impact of the story is something else altogether. Wauck believes that the popular appeal of the book underscores the failure of the organized church to adequately educate its followers…
“The cultural phenomenon is very important and must be taken seriously,” Wauck said. “It shows our ignorance over art, history, theology, scripture… and that’s not Dan Brown’s fault, that’s our fault, the fault of the church, of priests and parents who aren’t teaching the truth.” (Emphasis mine)
One of the reasons films and books like The DaVinci Code create such a big stir in the Church is because so many professing Christians are so ignorant and uninformed about their beliefs. Or as Wauck puts it “…the popular appeal of the book underscores the failure of the organized church to adequately educate its followers.”
From my experience, the average Bible-believing Christian is ill-prepared to defend his or her beliefs in the marketplace of ideas, we are not “adequately educated” to impact culture. Sadly, the American Church is ignorant about “art, history, theology, scripture… and that’s not Dan Brown’s fault, that’s our fault.”
Thus, even more difficult than raising the Church’s cultural IQ is convincing the average Christian they need to be more “culturally savvy.”