Saturday, June 16, 2007

my culturally savvy christian blurb and some words on poetry

the june 15 issue of imageupdate includes the s.o.'s reviews of sandra scofield's the scene book and michael mott's the world of richard dadd.

in addition to noting that she's reviewing two books, not one, i'd like to emphasize that mott's book is poetry. indeed, i'm particularly impressed when a fellow non-poet like the s.o. can pull that off. yes, i was an english major; i have scanned and explicated my share of strange poems, and i do all right in the comprehension department, but reviewing the stuff is beyond me. i feel rather inadequate when it comes to comparing the quality of one poem to another. i suppose prose is just my thang.

why all this attention to imageupdate? well, i also contributed to the latest issue, and it went something like this:

The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite by Dick Staub
There’s a good chance that the writer and social commentator Dick Staub is a secret apologist for Image. His newest book, The Culturally Savvy Christian, closely parallels Image’s underlying mission: it vigorously challenges readers to discern rather than idly consume, and more importantly, to nourish the contemporary culture rather than becoming pop culture clones. As the past host of a syndicated radio program, Staub has mastered the art of pairing people with ideas and watching them take off. This talent makes The Culturally Savvy Christian a particularly intriguing read: Staub collects facts and voices from sociology, theology, and pop culture and fits them into an insightful conversation about the devolution of culture and evangelicalism. He contends that most Christians, even those who travel in exclusively Christian circles, have been wooed by the forces of marketing and technology and have thereby fallen into an unconscious illicit union with superficiality and sentimentality. Staub dubs this blind self-centeredness Christianity-Lite, and he believes that to avoid a quiet backslide into mediocrity, we must get serious with our faith, sink deeper into the Word, and react to the world with intelligence and creativity. Some Christians bemoan culture’s vulgarities and believe that deepening faith requires us to withdraw into cocoons of Christian isolation and churn out happy-feely Christian art, but Staub warns us that this is not the way of Christ. Instead, he explains that like CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and Dostoevsky, “Christian artists are not bound to create religious art, but they understand that their exploration of everyday human occurrences is gilded by their walk in faith.” The Culturally Savvy Christian encourages us to peer through the pop culture fog, dismiss the fluff, and reach for the life-changing, the thoughtful, and the meaningful.
let me know if you want any more feedback about the book. i'd give it a 10 out of 17.

despite staub's criticism of marketing, i think his book succumbs to two marketing ploys: (1) every five paragraphs or so, he has a new section. this makes the text easy to digest, but it's a cheap writing technique. (2) staub loves to watchwords. he picks adjectives that seem heavy and laden with meaning and then he uses them again and again.

still, although i skimmed the meaty middle of the book, the culturaly savvy christian certainly succeeds in its overaching goal. it is an insightful depiction of the emergence and cure for christianity-lite.