Andy Crouch reminds us of the limitations of our creative calling.
Andy Crouch is another Praxis Scholar who has profoundly shaped the thinking behind the Praxis Course.
In this talk, he expands on three ideas introduced by Jon Tyson in Session 1. First, he looks at the ambition to "change the world" that comes from our creative calling as God's image bearers. He goes deeper to explain four incomplete ways that Christians have responded to culture (condemn, critique, copy, consume). Then he confronts us with our limitations in creating change -- even within ourselves. Finally, he summarizes practices that help us to be involved in God's work in the world.
The key object of Session 2 is not to discourage or disempower participants, but to release them from the burden of feeling they must (or even can) change the world through the force of their will and ambition. Help the people in your group to see that any change they are able to make -- personal or cultural -- is simply an act of receiving and participating in God's grace.
Andy delivered this talk at Praxis Academy, an intensive one-week session on entrepreneurship for Christian college students.
This talk is split into three parts, each with its own set of questions.
1. Andy picks up on his idea, referenced by Jon in Session 1, about the four postures that fail to change the world: condemning, critiquing, copying, and consuming culture. We discussed ways we see others take these postures. In your own life, which of these postures do you tend toward, and why?
In his book Culture Making, Andy distinguishes between a gesture (something you may do temporarily in a specific situation) and a posture (something you do as a natural default). His point is that each one of these four may be the appropriate gesture for any given situation (for example, there are some expressions of culture that must be condemned outright), but that none of them are appropriate postures.
2. In the various domains of your life, what would it look like to take the posture Andy recommends instead—of a creator of culture?
Encourage participants to apply this question in both big and small ways. Some may want to speak in terms of a venture they are working in or imagining, and of course this is ideal for a discussion focused on entrepreneurship. However, you can also guide people to think of creation of culture in smaller, more accessible forms. This question can be applied to small communities and associations, churches, work projects, family dynamics, education, even gatherings. Finally, for people who don't think of themselves as creators, in his book Culture Making, Andy also talks about "cultivating" culture as a person tends a garden. This is closely related to creation and deals with maintaining, enriching, and repairing existing things like families, organizations, physical spaces, and so on.
3. Andy suggests that we should not aim to change the world. The more fundamental question, he argues, is how we become changed—how we become the kind of person who participates in what God is doing in the world. How would this challenge and/or alter your perspective on "changing the world" or on your approach to entrepreneurship?
4. Three suggestions are offered for "true transformation": Sabbath, gleaning, and community. Which of these do you find most difficult, and why?
You can also ask participants to talk about which is least difficult, if that helps to move the conversation forward.
Notice that what these three practices have in common is that they require us to accept and even celebrate limitations, which is very difficult for high capacity people to do.
5. In light of your own entrepreneurial ambitions, what might it look like to glean? Or as Andy puts it, what are you going to leave undone as an entrepreneur that will allow others to flourish, perhaps even more than you?
Gleaning is the least well-understood of these three practices, and you may need to be prepared to give more definition and examples of gleaning to flesh out Andy's excellent example about the Times article. These might include certain examples of delegation (when it has a purpose of creating more opportunity for the other person and not simply efficiency for the delegator!); promotion; recommendation; or partnerships.
James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, Essay III, Ch 6: "Toward a New City Commons"
Richard Mouw, When the Kings Come Marching In, "Introduction" and "Isaiah 60"
Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, Part I: Culture