Book Review: Culture Care, by Makoto Fujimura

Culture CareI’m proud to have been a part of the Kickstarter effort to launch Makoto Fujimura’s Culture Care. This is a much-needed work for artists of all kinds to encourage, facilitate, and bring about a beautiful, healthy, and generative culture. Though artists in the typical sense of the word will find it especially insightful and motivating, Fujimura here expands the definition of an artist to the creativity found within us all as image bearers of our creator, thereby necessarily including businessmen, janitors, and all walks of life as equal participants in the cultivation of culture’s soil.

Mako powerfully and explicitly states, “I am not a Christian artist. I am a Christian, yes, and an artist. I dare not treat the powerful presence of Christ in my life as an adjective” (65). We create because it’s who we are, and we glorify God in all we do. In a commercially driven society that creates a thing and then the soon-to-follow “Christian” version of the thing, we’re all too sucked into marketing in a sacred vs. secular divide. A painting does not need to contain a cross to be “Christian,” nor a song mention any part of the gospel to be called the same; in fact, we don’t even need this adjectival language! If it glorifies God, it is beautiful and that for which we strive in caring of and for culture through creativity and artistic expression. When left in the hands of commercialization, art becomes something else, a mere commodity that is cheapened on so many levels. When “gifted” to the world for the sake of others—for the sake of glorifying God—then artists (of all kinds) will do more than fill an order, get a check to pay a bill, or simply please a customer: they rightfully care for their culture.

Weaving scripture throughout the text, Mako does anything but ignore our rooting in Christ as the motivation for Culture Care (both as title and concept), but writes and argues in such a way that should be convincing and convicting for believers and nonbelievers alike in working toward better cultivation. Though nowhere stated as a goal and purpose of the work, I see many artists discovering a window into our creator, the author of their gifts and talents, through Culture Care. I highly recommend it for all formal artists, those desiring such, and those who simply want to better understand how they are or are not positively, creatively, and lastingly impacting their culture.

Thanks for this one, Mako. It’s pulling me back into my artistic roots, and with healthy motivation. Blessings to you and yours on the farm—keep digging and cultivating all types of soil.

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