culture care – makoto fujimura

Who has time for beauty anymore? We have places to be, work to do, mouths to feed. Yet even in the rush of our busy lives, we need to feed our souls too.

Over the last few months, the Globe Creative Team has been reading Makoto Fujimura’s Culture Care, thinking about what it looks like to strive for human flourishing. Here are some reflections on what we read and discussed.

I Need More”

We all recognise that “Success for a large part of our culture is now judged by efficient production and mass consumption.”[1] Our worth is based on how much we do; our security is found in how much we have. But, as Nigel Goodwin says, we are human beings, not human doings. By considering only what we need to survive, rather than what will allow us to thrive, we’re missing out on Jesus’s invitation to experience life to the full.[2] Fujimura warns that, “When feeding our souls we dare not substitute surface attraction—that which is effortlessly appreciated and soon exhausted of virtue—for true beauty.” In doing so, we deny ourselves the opportunity to experience the reconciling power of the gospel in the whole of our lives.

Quick-fix solutions will never solve our longing for something more. Starkly, Fujimura points out that, “The church is no longer where the masses come to know the Creator of beauty.” How easily we fall into the trap of thinking beauty is a frivolous add-on to what we “need” to be doing, rather than an opportunity to experience the goodness of God.

A Culture of Generosity

Fujimura talks frequently about “generative thinking” – the creation of cultures “in which people and creativity thrive,” where beauty’s presence is known and felt, and where future generations continue to reap the benefits.

“Generative thinking is fueled by generosity because it so often must work against a mindset that has survival and utility in the foreground.” God’s gifts permeate every moment of our existence, but if we’re not stopping to make the time for gratitude, how can we expect to be generous – as individuals and as a church? “An encounter with generosity can remind us that life always overflows our attempts to reduce it to a commodity or a transaction – because it is a gift.” Beauty is an act of generosity—the giving of something good—that the church needs to receive and give.

Plantings of the Lord

“Do we need beauty in our lives? If we desire to be fully human, the answer is yes, absolutely. [But] even this question is ultimately utilitarian. We must shift from asking ‘What do we need?’ to ‘What do we long for?'” All of us long for beauty in our lives, a deeper satisfaction in the midst of busyness and frustration. Let us rejoice therefore in Jesus, who “bestows on [his people] a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.”[3] Let us be those who put God’s glory on display, who reveal the source of beauty to our dry and parched land.

[1] Fujimura, Makoto. Culture Care. InterVarsity Press, 2017. Kindle Edition. Unless otherwise noted, further quotes are taken from Culture Care.

[2] John 10:10

[3] Isaiah 61:3

this post was first published on the globe church blog, 29th january 2020.