In his book Culture Making, Andy Crouch writes that ” In cultural creativity, innocence is not a virtue.”
This is a constant challenge for modern Christians who want to make new culture, but refuse to immerse themselves enough in the existing cultures to understand them. Crouch’s point is the more nitty gritty details we know about our world the more powerful our creations will be.
One of my own biggest criticisms of Christian culture in America, and Crouch agrees, is the pitiful efforts at responding to Hollywood with culturally barren films. They are getting a little better through the years but they are still failing to enter the mainstream audience of our country. Rarely do such efforts by Christian groups seek to cultivate the existing parts of a culture, like movie making, with an eye to preserve what is already good. The art of good acting, for example, which takes thousands of hours to perfect. The beauty of a well shot scene developed through even more countless hours of understanding light, motion and sound. Or perhaps a kind of storytelling, often used to convey all sorts of messages with great success but passed off by a Christian director because it’s “secular”.
We often think that innocence is a virtue to be prized and protected, but we have mistaken righteousness for innocence, those are two different things. “Be holy” says the man who ate dinner with prostitutes, thieves, atheists and homosexuals. True righteousness is not what we make but what God makes of us. Innocence is ignorance. Some kinds of ignorance are good and healthy, such as that in the development of a young child. But if we are truly going to change culture, we must get our hands dirty. In trying to preserve what was never ours to determine, what is holiness and righteousness, we have neglected our role as keepers and makers of culture.
In this statue commemorating the child who was never born, I grieve the loss of generations of children who are lost because of our failure to engage culture in a way that captured their hearts with the beauty of goodness, the adventure of creating with the Creator, and the inspiration of true freedom.
Perhaps we should take a note from Mr. Wilde and decided to “draw”.