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The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

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In The Culturally Savvy Christian - his incisive critique of contemporary culture and religion - Dick Staub concludes that though it is influential, American popular culture is generally superficial (diversionary, mindless, and celebrity-driven) spiritually delusional (moralistic, therapeutic, and deistic) and soulless (sustained not by art, craft, and ideas, but by the ma In The Culturally Savvy Christian - his incisive critique of contemporary culture and religion - Dick Staub concludes that though it is influential, American popular culture is generally superficial (diversionary, mindless, and celebrity-driven) spiritually delusional (moralistic, therapeutic, and deistic) and soulless (sustained not by art, craft, and ideas, but by the mad pursuit of profit - propped up by marketing and technology). Similarly American Christianity has devolved into its own mindless, diversionary, and celebrity-driven superficiality. Because humans are created in God's image with spiritual, intellectual, creative, moral, and relational capacities, we long for more, yet the true seeker faces the lose-lose alternatives of a soul-numbing culture and a vacuous Christianity-lite. The renaissance we need in both faith and culture will originate in a deep spiritual renewal that restores God's image in us and creates a new breed of culturally savvy, thoughtful creatives who rekindle the spiritual, intellectual, and creative legacy of Christians as enrichers of culture.


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In The Culturally Savvy Christian - his incisive critique of contemporary culture and religion - Dick Staub concludes that though it is influential, American popular culture is generally superficial (diversionary, mindless, and celebrity-driven) spiritually delusional (moralistic, therapeutic, and deistic) and soulless (sustained not by art, craft, and ideas, but by the ma In The Culturally Savvy Christian - his incisive critique of contemporary culture and religion - Dick Staub concludes that though it is influential, American popular culture is generally superficial (diversionary, mindless, and celebrity-driven) spiritually delusional (moralistic, therapeutic, and deistic) and soulless (sustained not by art, craft, and ideas, but by the mad pursuit of profit - propped up by marketing and technology). Similarly American Christianity has devolved into its own mindless, diversionary, and celebrity-driven superficiality. Because humans are created in God's image with spiritual, intellectual, creative, moral, and relational capacities, we long for more, yet the true seeker faces the lose-lose alternatives of a soul-numbing culture and a vacuous Christianity-lite. The renaissance we need in both faith and culture will originate in a deep spiritual renewal that restores God's image in us and creates a new breed of culturally savvy, thoughtful creatives who rekindle the spiritual, intellectual, and creative legacy of Christians as enrichers of culture.

30 review for The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mark Oppenlander

    I am the choir to Dick Staub's preacher. And so the pitfall for me in reading a book like Staub's The Culturally Savvy Christian is complacency. I've heard Staub's arguments before and generally agree with most of what he has to say here. Thus, as I worked my way through this volume, I found myself growing impatient, looking for something new and original. But this is not necessarily a helpful attitude. Just because the material was not particularly new or challenging to me, doesn't mean it woul I am the choir to Dick Staub's preacher. And so the pitfall for me in reading a book like Staub's The Culturally Savvy Christian is complacency. I've heard Staub's arguments before and generally agree with most of what he has to say here. Thus, as I worked my way through this volume, I found myself growing impatient, looking for something new and original. But this is not necessarily a helpful attitude. Just because the material was not particularly new or challenging to me, doesn't mean it wouldn't be insightful or relevant to others, less versed in the topic. The basic argument of the book is that Christianity has become a pale shadow of its former self and that modern Christians (especially American evangelicals) no longer know how to engage productively with the culture around them. Staub lays out his manifesto in three parts, first describing the situation as it is - both in the church and culture - and then going back to the Bible and the history of the Christian faith itself to describe how Christians are called to be in a deep, transformative and loving relationship with God. This relationship becomes our grounding for engaging the world around us, a world that could benefit deeply from experiencing the love of its Creator. Staub rounds out the book with a section on how Christians can productively engage with a non-Christian (and sometimes anti-Christian) world by countering, communicating and cultivating culture in various ways. Again, none of this is particularly new to me. I've spent much of my life in a corner of the Christian sub-culture that takes Staub's points for granted. I've worked at faith-based organizations in the arts and higher education, hearing from modern voices like Andy Crouch, Scott Nolte, Gregory Wolfe, Dana Gioia, Jeffrey Overstreet and Makato Fujimura about the need for a renewed Christian imagination. My education involved reading Madeleine L'Engle, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers and others on the topic of faith and artistic expression, all of whom Staub quotes liberally. My familiarity with the material doesn't invalidate the premise, but I realized at some point that I was probably not the target audience for this book. The other thing that became apparent to me was that Staub is a more staunch adherent to a missionary form of evangelicalism than I am. There were several times when he drifted into language that emphasized sin, salvation and the Great Commission and as he did so, I realized that I am no longer comfortable with this emphasis. A re-telling of the Christian story that limits the narrative arc to just Fall and Redemption, while ignoring the Creation prequel or the Restoration epilogue is, to my way of thinking, incomplete and rather sterile. Not that I necessarily think that this is Staub's intent, but for my money, I would much rather spend the bulk of my time as a Christian figuring out how to live out the two commandments that Jesus emphasized (love God, love your neighbor) than in trying to "win others to Christ." I'm giving this book three stars, not because I had a three-star experience with it, but because I think it has a lot to offer for a different audience. For a young believer or for a Christian who is thinking about these ideas for the first time, I think this volume could be a good primer on the topic of Christian faith, arts and culture. I would recommend that a reader less well-versed in this topic pay particular attention to Staub's sources and, after completing this book, track back to some of those other writers for a deeper dive into this idea of the winsome, counter-cultural narrative of Jesus.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I completely agreed with the overall message of this book and how we need to use popular culture to understand the needs and wants of today's society in order to better minister to others. I liked how he stressed the need for creativity because God is a creative being and that creativity is a part of us being fully human. Creativity isn't often encouraged or valued. And, I have myself have stopped attending regular worship services over the years because of the "Christianity-Lite" that is being I completely agreed with the overall message of this book and how we need to use popular culture to understand the needs and wants of today's society in order to better minister to others. I liked how he stressed the need for creativity because God is a creative being and that creativity is a part of us being fully human. Creativity isn't often encouraged or valued. And, I have myself have stopped attending regular worship services over the years because of the "Christianity-Lite" that is being offered in most instances. The author was good though in saying that despite what we are being offered, we still have to find ways to be a part of a congregation for interaction and fellowship with other believers, so he even stepped on my toes a bit, which is a good thing. I got bored with all of the quotes from other people that were used at times (he might have tried to pull in too much "popular culture" to prove a point), but overall, I liked this one.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol Wilson

    I read this book a while back after my introduction to Dick Staub through a writers’ conference. Dick Staub writes with wisdom, curiosity and conviction about culture, creativity and the human influence with and without God. I love this book; many passages are marked. I am usually pretty easy going when I loan a book and don’t get it back, but I loaned this one out and then bugged the recipient several times until I got it back. It’s one that I want to reference anytime I feel discouraged about I read this book a while back after my introduction to Dick Staub through a writers’ conference. Dick Staub writes with wisdom, curiosity and conviction about culture, creativity and the human influence with and without God. I love this book; many passages are marked. I am usually pretty easy going when I loan a book and don’t get it back, but I loaned this one out and then bugged the recipient several times until I got it back. It’s one that I want to reference anytime I feel discouraged about my own creative influence.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Freeman

    1st Chapter was a bit slow. 2nd Chapter is excellent. Really does a good job looking at the issues of Culture. 3rd Chapter might be good for someone with a low understanding of theology but was simplistic and not necessarily helpful. I found the middle of the book a bit slow. However, I did walk away with many good thoughts. The end of the book builds a case for confronting culture by not following after the artistic and creativeness of current culture by rather by striking out to be excellent in bu 1st Chapter was a bit slow. 2nd Chapter is excellent. Really does a good job looking at the issues of Culture. 3rd Chapter might be good for someone with a low understanding of theology but was simplistic and not necessarily helpful. I found the middle of the book a bit slow. However, I did walk away with many good thoughts. The end of the book builds a case for confronting culture by not following after the artistic and creativeness of current culture by rather by striking out to be excellent in building artistic and creative culture that flows from deep well faith. This is good but seems to be considered better than recognizing the reflection of God in excellence in logic, math, science, analysis and other more objective areas of life as well. God is reflected in all of creation and intelligence. The reflection is surely marred in the fallen world but it is still there if we are looking. The reflection can be more clear as we walk by faith and nurture a vibrant relationship with God. But it will certainly be in all areas, Subjective art or Objective truth. The author is very loose in his view of christianity and value in unbelievers. He seems to have a miss-mash view of christianity that includes many religious views.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tony Bostic

    Overall I thought this was a very informative and challenging book. He lost me though at the very end when he was talking about Christians being artists. Don't get me wrong, there was nothing he said that I disagreed with, it is that I am not really the artistic kind so I was a little lost. I was really challenged to consider my own Christianity when he was describing today's Christian society in what he calls Christianity-lite. As he began describing the dumbing down in how we view things as Chr Overall I thought this was a very informative and challenging book. He lost me though at the very end when he was talking about Christians being artists. Don't get me wrong, there was nothing he said that I disagreed with, it is that I am not really the artistic kind so I was a little lost. I was really challenged to consider my own Christianity when he was describing today's Christian society in what he calls Christianity-lite. As he began describing the dumbing down in how we view things as Christian, it hit a chord with me that has been playing subconsciously in my own heart. And then, I was asked to help teach at our church and this book enabled me to challenge the congregation on what types of "Christian" media we are allowing to dictate our beliefs. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in obtaining a different view of the type of Christianity they are practicing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I found this book very inspiring. Based on the idea that we are caught between a popular culture attempting to build art without God and a religious culture that believes in a God disinterested in art, Dick Staub maintains that in order to make a difference in the arts/culture we must be serious about faith, savvy about culture and skilled at relating the two in order to fulfill our calling to be a loving transforming presence in the world. It is not enough to simply avoid the inappropriate, we I found this book very inspiring. Based on the idea that we are caught between a popular culture attempting to build art without God and a religious culture that believes in a God disinterested in art, Dick Staub maintains that in order to make a difference in the arts/culture we must be serious about faith, savvy about culture and skilled at relating the two in order to fulfill our calling to be a loving transforming presence in the world. It is not enough to simply avoid the inappropriate, we must actively work towards cultural renewal through the rediscovery of the essence of our faith and the power of the arts to build, teach and inspire! Right on!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    dick staub is smart. he knows the power of culture and why christ-followers need to pay attention to it, not ignore it or create a christian subculture. the problem, however, is that his answer to combatting the rise/demise of culture is someone else's idea. he steals the thunder from richard foster's spiritual disciplines and references all of them, like they are his own original idea. i get why the spiritual disciplines will change culture: transformation of a widespread population occurs when dick staub is smart. he knows the power of culture and why christ-followers need to pay attention to it, not ignore it or create a christian subculture. the problem, however, is that his answer to combatting the rise/demise of culture is someone else's idea. he steals the thunder from richard foster's spiritual disciplines and references all of them, like they are his own original idea. i get why the spiritual disciplines will change culture: transformation of a widespread population occurs when transformation happens, within, one person at a time. but i would rather just read richard foster and give him due credit for pointing out why the spiritual discipline matters.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sally Ewan

    The subtitle of this book sums it all up: "A Manifesto for deepening faith and enriching popular culture in an age of Christianity-Lite." My son in art school and I have had many interesting conversations about art and how most of what Christians produce is derivative and shallow. This book made a good case for reclaiming the arts and using them for God's glory, rather than isolating ourselves in our faith community.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Lot of really good discussion points in this book, but the author has an unfortunate tendency to beat each point to death. Several times. With a good editor this book might have made a really nice three-part magazine article or blog post... but at +200 pages the author comes off in many cases as part grumpy-old-man and part 60s throw-back trying to be cool with the kids.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Was really enjoying it before it had to go back to the library... interested to see where Dick Staub goes w/suggestions for moving forward following his incisive critique of the current state of affairs.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Clarivel.ann

    Read most of it in preparation for a workshop I taught on the subject of using cultural relevancy for relational ministry with youth. It was encouraging to find that my "material" was covered in this book. A good resource to have around, I think.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    the 1st half of the book is excellent. good for people turned off to christianity or people who are christians who need to stop turning people off to christianity. the 2nd half of the book...you'd be better off putting it down and picking up FOSTER'S book on DISCIPLINE or any C.S. Lewis stuff.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    A savvy look at how and why Christians should engage in dialogue over popular culture and be promoting the best in the fine arts.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Only about a chapter in, and then I started another book (bad Amy...). We'll see when I get back to this one. Recommended by Julie.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hank

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rob Denler

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Jost

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dustin Bagby

  22. 4 out of 5

    Luzcasa

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kent Kessler

  24. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Mitchell

  26. 5 out of 5

    Venus

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dave

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sincerae

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

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