James Davison Hunter and I agree about much more than we disagree about, which is one reason my review in Books & Culture is so enthusiastic. To Change the World is a valuable and important book. However, CT's editors have asked me specifically to respond to Hunter's critique of my work, and I must say I find it quite perplexing, though one central criticism is surely fair.
Hunter devotes four pages to my book Culture Making, in a "coda" to his second chapter. He sums up his critique in three sentences (p. 31—I have placed them in italics in the following paragraphs).
"[Crouch's] perspective is individualistic—cultures are constituted by and changed through the actions of aggregated individuals." An entire chapter of my book deals with the need for networks (or to use the richer word I prefer, communities) to sustain and disseminate cultural change. The subtitle of my book is "Recovering Our Creative Calling," and I have often thought that I could have doubled its sales by adding a single letter—turning "our" into "your" and thus pandering to American self-help individualism. But this would have been incompatible with a central message of the book, sounded almost literally from the first page to the last: no one creates culture alone. Readers of Hunter's summary would never know how essential that idea is to Culture Making.
"Though an impersonal market finally determines the outcome, cultural change can be willed into being—through the investment and creation of cultural goods." I explicitly disavow the idea that we can will any sort of cultural change into being—in fact, I have an entire chapter called, "Why We Can't Change the World." That chapter includes a series of challenges to the idea ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more