We live in a culture that, as Shauna Niequist recently pointed out, constantly invites us to evaluate, rate, and judge our experiences. And yet, paradoxically—and perhaps especially in Christian circles—we seem to be growing more sensitive over expressing criticism.
There are cards in every hotel room and on every restaurant table; e-mails from eBay and Etsy; opportunities for us to comment on every cat video and act of Congress. In the same cultural moment in which millions enjoy tuning into reality TV for Simon Cowell-like slap-downs, "critic" has become a bad word, connoting a figure like Anton Ego, the misanthropic food critic from Disney/Pixar's Ratatouille who takes perverse pleasure in eviscerating chefs' best culinary efforts.
At its best, though, criticism seeks to expand the reader or viewer's understanding of the primary work—whether a book, an album, a film, or a blog post. Good criticism is deeply considered and well-crafted. ...1