Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Evangelical Cultural Productivity

In James Davison Hunter book To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, Hunter explains about some of the liabilities that have held back effective evangelical cultural productivity:
First, the works that are produced are almost exclusively directed to the internal needs of the faithful. This insularity is quite striking. The Evangelical world is not only difficult for outsiders to understand (consider the caricatures that abound) but also nearly impossible for them to penetrate. Evangelicals, in other words, offer little by way of a common vocabulary of shared like informed by faith but not exclusive to it. Second, this cultural productivity all tends to operate closer to the margins than to the center of the broader field of cultural production…. Third cultural production in the Evangelical world is overwhelmingly oriented toward the popular. Very much like its retail politics, its music is popular music, its art tends to be popular (highly sentimentalized and commercialized) art, its theater is mega-church drama, its publishing is mainly mass-market book publishing with a heavy bent towards ‘how-to’ books, its magazines are mass-circulation monthlies, its television is either in the format of a worship service or the talk show, its recent forays into film are primarily into popular film, and much academic work is oriented towards translations – making the difficult accessible to the largest possible number. Where there are exceptions to the rule, overall, the populist orientation of Evangelical cultural production reflects the most kitschy expressions of consumerism and often the most crude forms of market instrumentalism.”

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