The search for the "common good" can be traced back for millennia. The idea of a "counterculture," at least by that name, goes back only to 1968. So this year's question for the Christian Vision Project—How can followers of Christ be a counterculture for the common good?—juxtaposes the ancient and the new. That same juxtaposition makes Frederica Mathewes-Green a perennially compelling voice. A veteran of the original counterculture who traveled through Hinduism before coming to faith in Christ, Mathewes-Green eventually found her spiritual home in Eastern Orthodoxy, the church in which her husband is now a pastor. In her prolific writing and speaking, she traverses the ground between movies and icons, consumer culture and spiritual disciplines. A longtime contributor to Christianity Today, she is a columnist for Beliefnet and a movie reviewer for National Review Online. Her most recent book is First Fruits of Prayer (Paraclete). Here she calls us away from preoccupation with the shifting winds of "the culture" toward a more central, and lasting, mission.

If you hang around with Christians, you find that the same topic keeps coming up in conversation: their worries about "the culture." Christians talk about sex and violence in popular entertainment. They talk about bias in news reporting. They talk about how their views are ignored or misrepresented. "The culture" appears to be an aggressive challenger to "the church," and Christians keep worrying what to do about it. You soon get the impression that Church Inc. and Culture Amalgamated are like two corporations confronting each other at a negotiating table. Over there sits Culture—huge, complex, and self-absorbed. It's powerful, dangerous, unpredictable, and ...

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