Culture Care: Beauty in Exile

“Every single page [of the Bible] is filled with the creativity of God and creativity given as a gift to his broken people to exercise. It is literally a book about makingGod as an artist and creator, and we are mini-creators . . . partaking in the new creation that is coming and somehow tapping into that future reality now.”

+ Mako Fujimura, visual artist and director of the Culture Care Initiative at the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts, reflecting on the relationships among culture care, beauty, and suffering. A community of artists and theologians reflected on these themes at the Brehm Center’s second annual Culture Care Summit, and explore more below.

“Think about the metaphor of a garden when you think about culture care. . . . We are as gardeners who cultivate the soil; we tend to those plants so that they bear fruit. The vision of the Brehm Center is to provide a resource-rich ecosystem that allows for students and artists to understand their calling in the world. It’s for them to go out from here to the communities that they serve and bear fruit, thinking generatively about creating new things in those communities but also generationally, thinking about investing in the people in their community.”

+ Nate Risdon, former director of operations for the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts (pictured), elaborating on the Brehm Center’s vision for caring for culture.

On Being Generative (Culture Care by Mako) + We’re happy to offer a free download of the first chapter of Mako’s book Culture Care, and you can learn more about culture care and our worship, theology, and the arts curriculum here.



Reflecting on Silence and Beauty

“The people of God are simply meant to be culture carers. I think this is the outgrowth of what Jesus means when we are light and salt, that we bring light and salt to contexts that are in decay or in need of light in the midst of darkness. Those are culture-caring demonstrations, enactments, embodiments of what it is that we are really about.”

+ Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Seminary, reflecting on themes of culture care through the lens of exile in the Old Testament and today’s culture. Watch his full lecture or listen above.

“It’s so crucial to understand that God is on the side of the one who suffers and not the one who causes the suffering. . . . Jesus always responds with comfort, compassion, and healing. Sometimes art can be that solace, that channel of God’s grace, and sometimes words help as well. What we as Christians are called to do is bring that note of comfort and hope.”

+ Celebrated author Philip Yancey and Mako Fujimura discuss Shūsaku Endo’s novel Silence and reflect on the role of art to respond gracefully to cultural trauma and suffering around the world. Watch their full conversation or listen above.

+ Scott Cormode, director of innovation, lectures on culture care, the marketplace, and sharing stories of hope to encourage those entrusted to our care. Watch his full lecture or listen above.

Bearing Witness to Culture

Oscar Garcia Johnson at Culture Care (17)“Unfortunately, Western theology and Christianity in the Americas has left an imprint which we have come to name the colonial wound. That colonial wound is a sense of inferiority by de facto; the imago dei needs to be civilized, needs to be cloaked with the right moralsEurocentric Western morals. To become a Christian and to be fully human meant you must move from a barbarian into a civilized, modernized Western individual.”

+ Oscar García-Johnson, associate professor of theology and Latino/a studies, and Joey Tomassoni, artist and church planter, reflect on the complex overlap of European colonization and mission work and navigating the worlds of justice, faith, and art. Listen to more here.

“There’s a way of having a yielded presence, an incarnational presence, that is such an example to others. We know in terms of mirror neurons that when people watch others in an action, the brain imitates what they’re doing. Well, guess what? Suppose you’re watching somebody worshiping God. Therein is the power of this kind of presence; it leads us collectively to be more engaged in worship.”

+ Alexis Abernethy, professor of psychology, and Shann Ray, novelist and psychologist, reflect on forgiveness, worship, naming our suffering, and cultivating a yielding presence in the world. Listen to more here.

“I learned to listen to the struggles that needed to be told. . . . We are not the ones in exile right now; we are the ones tasked with listening to voices of exile, to bear witness with radical embodied intention.”

+ Caitlyn Ference-Saunders, speaking on the role of the arts to help foster deep listening in her Emerging Voice lecture, a series offered by students and alumni during the Culture Care Summit. Listen to these students bear witness to culture in their specific contexts below. Pictured above: members of the All-Seminary Chapel team lead attendees in worship (left to right: students Megan Moody, September Penn, Melba Mathew, and Director of Chapel Julie Tai).

Further Reading

The Earth Is God’s: A Theology of American Culture
William Dyrness (Wipf & Stock, 2004)

Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue
William Dyrness (Baker Academic, 2001)

Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering
Mako Fujimura (IVP Press, 2016)

Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for our Common Life
Mako Fujimura (International Arts Movement and the Fujimura Institute, 2015)

Refractions: Further Thoughts on Art and Faith
Mako Fujimura (NavPress, 2009)

On Becoming Generative: An Introduction to Culture Care
Mako Fujimura (International Arts Movement and the Fujimura Institute, 2013)

Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue
Robert Johnston (Baker Academic, 2006)

Available Classes

A Theology of Beauty – William Dyrness and David Taylor
Capstone Course – Maria Fee
Dante’s Comedy – William Dyrness
Theology and Culture – Barry Taylor
Theology and Film – Rob Johnston, Catherine Barsotti, and Kutter Callaway
Theology and Literature – Rob Johnston
Theology and Popular Music – Barry Taylor
Theology in Song – Roberta King
Theology, Worship, and the Arts – William Dyrness
Touchstone Course – Todd Johnson, Kutter Callaway
World Religions in Art and Symbol – Evelyne Reisacher
Worship and the Arts in Theological, Biblical, Historical, and Contextual Perspective – David Taylor