Making good choices about technology is more than just using internet filters and limiting “screen time.” It’s about developing wisdom, character, and courage in the way we use digital media, rather than accepting technology’s promises of ease, instant gratification, and the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. And it’s definitely not just about the kids. We need to ask deeper questions: Who do we want to be as a family? How does our use of a particular technology move us closer or farther away from that goal? This book is for anyone who has felt their family relationships suffer or their time slip away amid technology’s distractions, and wants to reclaim real life in a world of devices. With original research from Barna Group.
A vision for family life and faith and character so compelling and inspiring that it made me weep, made me reconsider many aspects of our home, made me profoundly thankful for this beautiful and important book.
— Shauna Niequist, author of Present over Perfect and Bread & Wine
If you aren't sure how to put technology in its 'proper place' in your home, Andy will guide you and challenge your thinking.
— Mark Batterson, author of The Circle Maker; lead pastor, National Community Church
Andy's message and model have strengthened our commitment to use technology to unite—and not divide—our family.
— Kara Powell, executive director, Fuller Youth Institute; coauthor of Growing Young
Two common temptations lure us away from abundant living—withdrawing into safety or grasping for power. True flourishing travels down an unexpected path: being both strong and weak. We see this unlikely mixture in the best leaders—people who use their authority for the benefit of others, while also showing extraordinary willingness to face and embrace suffering. We see it in Jesus, who wielded tremendous power yet also exposed himself to hunger, ridicule, torture and death. Rather than being opposites, strength and weakness are actually meant to be combined in every human life and community. Only when they come together do we find the flourishing for which we were made.
This book is going to have a profound impact on our world. It's built on a clear, deep, life-changing insight that opens up vast possibilities for human flourishing. Classic, elegant and utterly illuminating.
— John Ortberg, senior pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, author of Soul Keeping
An intellectually insightful, socially relevant and prophetically passionate book that shows us how to multiply our power to create a world where people from every tribe and nation can flourish and reach their full God-given potential. I love it!
— Brenda Salter McNeil, Seattle Pacific University, author of Roadmap to Reconciliation
One of the most anticipated books among thoughtful and widely aware Christian readers. It certainly will be one of our Best Books of 2016.
— Byron Borger, Hearts and Minds Books
Like the electric current that runs, with the rarest of interruptions, through my home, power is a fundamental feature of life. And as with electricity, those who have the most unfettered access to power are the ones who are likely to think about it the least—unless and until it suddenly disappears or violently appears.
Playing God, p. 16
The Messiah wrapped in a servant’s grimy towel is not giving up power. He is restoring it to its original purpose, cleansed of its distortions—the power to love a lovely and loveless world to the uttermost. None of his power is reserved for carefully guarding privilege or meticulously accounting for status; every bit of it is poured into this one end.
Playing God, p. 166
Human beings are bodies. This is much truer than saying we ‘have’ bodies—as if we could do without them or leave them behind. We are also souls—unique and irreplaceable selves that exist in and beyond our physical nature. We don’t “have” souls any more than we “have” bodies. We are both, soul and body together, and the Christian faith, rooted in ancient Hebrew belief, teaches that they were always meant to go together and, thanks to the resurrection of the body, always will.
The Tech-Wise Family, p. 123
No one can turn hidden vulnerability into flourishing without friends. We will never be able to fully reveal our vulnerability to the wide world—but we will never survive it without companions willing to bear it with us.
Strong and Weak, p. 141
Precisely because our power is the result of genuine image bearing, . . . the human hunger for power is insatiable. . . . It is not wrong to want to “expand our territory” (in the words of the Old Testament figure named Jabez). But the more our territory expands, the more we must embrace the disciplines that make room on the margins for others to also exercise their calling to image bearing.
Playing God, p. 248
Power corrupts—as we’ve seen time and time again. People too often abuse their power and play god in the lives of others. Shady politicians, corrupt executives and ego-filled media stars have made us suspicious of those who wield influence and authority. They too often breed injustice by participating in what the Bible calls idolatry. Yet power is also the means by which we bring life, create possibilities, offer hope and make human flourishing possible. This is “playing god” as it is meant to be. If we are to do God’s work—fight injustice, bring peace, create beauty and allow the image of God to thrive in those around us—how are we to do these things if not by power?
Perhaps no question with such urgent life-and-death consequences is more poorly understood among Christians in our era than the stewardship of power; but gloriously, in Playing God, Andy Crouch provides the clarity we need in this once-in-a-generation work of sweeping theological and sociological depth. It is fresh, rigorous, profoundly helpful and a delight to read.
—Gary A. Haugen, President and CEO, International Justice Mission
Once again, Andy Crouch cuts to the heart of the matter by challenging us to take seriously the One whose image we bear. Playing God is a clear and compelling call for Christians to steward the kind of power that enables flourishing.
— Gabe Lyons, coauthor of UnChristian
Andy Crouch presents an essential treatise on one of the most important yet undiscussed topics for the promotion of justice in American Christianity--the issue of power. The work of God's justice in the world requires an understanding of the dynamics of power. Crouch shines the light of Scripture on what could be a divisive topic. Playing God should spark this long overdue conversation.
—Soong-Chan Rah, author of The Next Evangelicalism
It is not enough to condemn culture. Nor is it sufficient merely to critique culture or to copy culture. Most of the time, we just consume culture. But the only way to change culture is to create culture. For too long, Christians have had an insufficient view of culture and have waged misguided “culture wars.” But we must reclaim the cultural mandate to be the creative cultivators that God designed us to be. Culture is what we make of the world, both in creating cultural artifacts as well as in making sense of the world around us. By making chairs and omelets, languages and laws, we participate in the good work of culture making.
Are Christians to be countercultural? Or protect ourselves from 'the culture'? Or be 'in' culture but not 'of' it? In this bracing, super-smart book, Andy Crouch changes the terms of the conversation, calling Christians to make culture. I am hard-pressed to think of something that twenty-first-century American Christians need to read more.
—Lauren F. Winner, Duke Divinity School
"Then Andy Crouch wrote a book called Culture Making / And I knew I had to make a slight change"
I’m loving your book. Parts of it are making me jump out of my skin. Molting, I think it’s called.
—Alf, composer and musician living in New York City
If you’re a Christian, you don’t have “a calling.” You have three. Two of the three are fundamental and universal—that is, they aren’t optional and they aren’t individual, but they are by far the most important callings in your life. The good news (and hard news, actually) is they each come with a community who can help you fulfill them—in fact, without that community you won’t fulfill them at all. Your first fundamental calling is shared with every other human being: to bear the image of God. We are here to reflect the Creator into the creation, and to reflect the creation’s praise and lament back to the Creator. To bear the image is to exercise dominion, caring for and cultivating the good world and making it very good through our creative attention. Most human work falls under this heading, which is why Christians work gladly alongside neighbors who don’t share our faith, and also why almost all human work is perfectly appropriate for Christians. It requires no more justification than this: bearing the image by working fruitfully in the good world is what we were always meant to do.
It was not a great week. In three separate cases in my immediate circles, a person with significant power at the top of an organization, each one a subject of flattering major media exposure during their career, was confronted with allegations of sexual misconduct and related misdeeds. In one case, the person resigned from his role and board memberships, accompanied by a direct and remorseful confession. In the second, the person resigned, but not without posting a defiant denial of all allegations against her. In the third, the person likewise denied all allegations in the strongest terms—at one point with physical force, banging on a table—and, as I write, remains in his position. All three were, or at least had once been, seen as among the most exemplary Christian leaders of their generation, including by many who worked closely with them. While I wasn’t personally close to any of the three, I have experienced and benefited from their exceptional gifts in leadership and ministry, as have thousands or millions of others. I am not naming them here. If you are in their sphere of influence, you’ve already had the wind knocked out of you by the week’s revelations, and there is no need to redouble the trauma. If you are not, then the desire to know their names, though understandable and very human, is a prurience I will not indulge. And while I pray that such a tragic trifecta will not happen often in a single week, the truth is that I could have written this essay many times in the past few decades, and will have occasion to do so many times in the future. The names are actually not that important for my purposes—it is the system in which not just they, but we, are so deeply complicit.
Today is a good day. I’m joining Praxis full-time as a partner, leading our practice in theology and culture. My principal assignment will be to help strengthen the theological and cultural foundations of this remarkable community, which already embodies so many of the commitments that have been central to my own life and work. I met Josh Kwan and Dave Blanchard, Praxis’s co-founders, early in their story. The thesis of my first book is that the only way to change culture is to make more of it — Praxis was taking that challenge seriously by creating an accelerator program for Christian leaders of startup ventures in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.
Do you need to be part of an institution to flourish as a person and to make a real difference in the world? From the seemingly trivial (bowling leagues) to the most consequential (churches), institutions are shared human enterprises, bigger than any one person, that extend human culture both over space and through time. They aim to endure at least to the third generation (our children’s children), if not to the thousandth. They are, in the words of political scientist Hugh Heclo, “authoritative communities” that ask us to engage in a sustained common project, sometimes at significant cost to our own autonomy and self-determination. And for a good half century now, the ascendant answer to the question of whether we need institutions to flourish, at least in the dominant culture of North America, has been, “No, thanks, I’m good.”
Winston Churchill’s tribute to the architecture of the House of Commons—“We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us”—has endured as an aphorism because material culture, like buildings, so often slips into the background. Only when we’re compelled to pay attention—as happens when we experience the disorientation of cross-cultural travel or when, as in Churchill’s generation, we must rebuild buildings that had been suddenly destroyed after standing for centuries—do we really see the reflexive power of culture, the ways that human life is shaped by material things. But none of us can miss the most striking change in material culture in our lifetime. In a single decade we have dashed from a world with zero smartphones (if you don’t count the clunky pre-2007 ancestors of the iPhone) to a world with 2 billion of them. We’ve taken a kind of cross-cultural trip to a new world stuffed with glowing rectangles—and apparently, we’re traveling on a one-way ticket. We’re still getting over the jet lag, and the queasy discovery that although we bought these devices because of what they promised to do for us, they’re also doing something to us.
Jason Snell, former editor of MacWorld, is a very fine journalist who has been covering Apple for decades. A couple weeks ago, he posted his best guess of how Apple would announce a “Siri speaker” (an announcement that may well happen this coming Monday, 5 June). He called it “speculation, analysis, and a little bit of fan fiction all in one.” Snell does a good job of channeling the Apple-exec diction that’s become so familiar from a couple decades of keynotes: “an amazing new product … sound so rich that it can fill a room … eight beam-forming microphones and a powerful signal processor embedded into the new Apple H1 chip.” But the heart of his little essay is a treatment for a product video showing how the “Apple Home” would help a typical suburban family … well, help them do what exactly? Take a look—first at Snell’s treatment, presented without commentary, and then with some notes.
Evangelicals, of all people, should not be silent about Donald Trump’s blatant immorality.— Christianity Today, 10 October 2016
On “Thoughts and Prayers” After Another Mass Shooting Prayer—and lament—is the proper first response to tragedy. — Christianity Today, 3 December 2015
Finally, Beloved, Whatever. A commencement address at Houghton College in May 2015.
Small Screens, Big World Easter in Florence, the fiction of Mark Helprin, and a Lent without glowing rectangles. — andy-crouch.com, 8 April 2015
Abraham Kuyper Goes Pop A brilliant new film series pictures how to live out our salvation. — Christianity Today
Apple Watch: To Wear It Like a Man—or a God? According to Apple, this is technology that 'embraces individuality and inspires desire.' What could possibly go wrong? — Time Magazine online, 10 September 2014
Life Together, Again After Hobby Lobby, vibrant corporate life is needed more than ever. — Christianity Today, September 2014
The Uncanny Valley of Death Heroic medical procedures can leave us in a limbo between life and accepting what's beyond. — Time Magazine, 20 January 2014
The Real Problem With Mark Driscoll’s “Citation Errors” And it isn’t plagiarism. — Christianity Today, 10 December 2013
A World Without Jobs The gospel of a secular age. — Culture Making, 18 January 2011
Finally Real A birthday thank-you note. — Culture Making, 9 February 2010
The Pleasures and Perils of Fermentation Alcohol, shame, nakedness, and grace.
Being Culture Makers An interview with "StudentSoul." — StudentSoul.org, January 2007
Culture, Power, and Worship A conversation with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.
On the Journey to Greatness Jonah, Jeremiah, Jeff, and the impact of faithfulness.
Instant Messages Christian fiction in a virtual world. — Address to the Christy Awards banquet for Christian fiction, 9 July 2005
The Emergent Mystique The ‘emerging church’ movement has generated a lot of excitement but only a handful of congregations. Is it the wave of the future or a passing fancy? — Christianity Today, November 2004
Eating the Supper of the Lamb in a Cool Whip Society Albert Borgmann’s post-technological feast. — Books & Culture, January/February 2004
Roaring Lambs or Bleating Lions? — re:generation quarterly 6.4
For People Like Me The myth of generations. — re:generation quarterly, Fall 1999
Andy Crouch is partner for theology and culture at Praxis, an organization that works as a creative engine for redemptive entrepreneurship. His two most recent books—2017's The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place and 2016's Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing—build on the compelling vision of faith, culture, and the image of God laid out in his previous books Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power and Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling.
Andy serves on the governing boards of Fuller Theological Seminary and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. For more than ten years he was an editor and producer at Christianity Today, including serving as executive editor from 2012 to 2016. He served the John Templeton Foundation in 2017 as senior strategist for communication. His work and writing have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, and several editions of Best Christian Writing and Best Spiritual Writing—and, most importantly, received a shout-out in Lecrae's 2014 single "Non-Fiction."
From 1998 to 2003, Andy was the editor-in-chief of re:generation quarterly, a magazine for an emerging generation of culturally creative Christians. For ten years he was a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. He studied classics at Cornell University and received an M.Div. summa cum laude from Boston University School of Theology. A classically trained musician who draws on pop, folk, rock, jazz, and gospel, he has led musical worship for congregations of 5 to 20,000. He lives with his family in Pennsylvania.
For information on booking Andy to speak, please see this page.
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