I’m continuing my interview with Dick Staub, author of The Culturally Savvy Christian and two other books. He is an award-winning broadcaster and speaker whose work focuses on understanding faith and culture and interpreting each to the other. He is the radio personality behind The Dick Staub Show, a nationally syndicated daily broadcast he hosted for fifteen years, and The Kindlings Muse podcast at www.thekindlings.com. His commentaries can be read regularly at www.dickstaub.com.
LeAnne: How can Christians be culturally savvy without becoming culturally saturated?
Dick: This is the 'in the world not of it' challenge. Ultimately we find our place in culture by going deeper in our faith. Only the person who is experiencing God's loving, transforming presence personally is in a place to offer the same to culture.
A person of deep faith will also take seriously our three roles in culture. We are countercultural like aliens, in that we should be different from the world around us. We communicate like ambassadors, learning the language of both faith and culture and interpreting each to the other. We are creators of culture like artists.
There is a paradox here. I find many Christians eager to transform the world, but not so willing to allow God to transform them. I'm learning that God isn't interested in transforming me so that I can transform the world; God wants to transform me so that I can become fully human. Transforming the world is the by-product, not the aim of being fully human, and it only occurs when transformed individuals seek and do God's will as Jesus did.
The key to cultural transformation is personal transformation and the key to personal transformation is the deep presence of God in the human life.
LM: Why are the arts and artists so important to transforming today's culture?
DS: The artist's first calling is to make good art to the glory of God. Loading them down with an agenda crosses the line from art to propaganda; a bad thing to do!
Artistic influence is a by product of art not its aim.
Having said that, I do think artists operate in a creative mode like God in Genesis 1, where the creator God sees potential and brings things into existence that were not there before. The artist is like a prophet in that when he or she sees something, they want to communicate the good, true and beautiful as they see it.
This truth telling is essential for anyone creating authentic art and inevitably carries the possibility of transformation. This is what journalist Malcolm Muggeridge meant when he said, "Only mystics, clowns and artists, in my experience, speak the truth, which, as Blake keeps insisting, is perceptive to the imagination rather than the mind. Our knowledge of Jesus Christ is far too serious a business to be left to theologians alone. From the Middle Ages these have monotonously neglected art and the imagination as guides to religious truth. I find myself in complete agreement with those who wish to reinstate the mystics, the clowns and artists alongside the scholars. To modify Wittgenstein; what we cannot imagine, we must confine to silence and unbelief."
More from Dick on Monday.