Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Culture Making (and Keeping)

Inside his book Culture Making, Andy Crouch reflects on the notion of "cultivation" and the original creation account in the first couple chapters of the Bible. Crouch points out that the word "husband" comes from an Old Norse word for someone who loved on and cultivated the soil, "suggesting that the intimacy and responsibility of marriage was once made most clear by comparing it to the life of a farmer" (p. 75). Crouch points out that today less than 2 percent of the population in the United States today are farmers, whereas in 1900, 38 percent were and in 1860, 58 percent were. So in a postindustrial economy many of these agrarian images do not connect directly with us. Still, Crouch seeks to make the connection that "cultivation" in the world of culture is not too far off from that of cultivation in nature:

One who cultivates tries to create the most fertile conditions for good things to survive and thrive. Cultivating also requires weeding- sorting out what does and does not belong, what will bear fruit and what will choke it out. Cultivating natural things requires long and practiced familiarity with plants and their place; cultivating cultural things requires careful attention to the history of our culture and to the current threats and opportunities that surround it. Cultivation is conservation- ensuring that the world we leave behind, whether natural or cultural, contains at least as many possibilities and at least as much excellence as the one we inherited.... We can only create where we have learned to cultivate (cultivation being the work of conserving). Culture Making, pp. 75-6

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