Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 119

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE this section, such as the discussion of power that is present but often unrecognized by those who hold it. We are challenged to map our power, a task that cannot be accomplished alone: “None of us can map power for ourselves. We need one another to fill out maps, to point out the resources we have of which we are unaware, and to warn us when we are at risk of misusing something we don’t even know we have” (129). The following chapter (ch. 7) takes on the cynical notion that violence is the ultimate expression of power, instead proposing that for Christians true power is creation, ultimately revealed by the Resurrection, which shows us the new creation that overcomes violence at its worst (death). Here readers might be particularly interested in Crouch’s discussion of coercion, which has its place but is not ultimate. The chapter on privilege is one of the most important in the book, not only because of Crouch’s vivid description of his own encounters with his privilege (such as the one taking place in some airport that begins the chapter), but also because it is helpful for catalyzing much needed conversations among Christians about the way privilege works. He defines privilege as “the ongoing benefits of past successful exercises of power” and does not demonize it but challenges us to recognize it and know how it works (150). It can be dangerous because it is often invisible, but it is something to be stewarded rather than denied or rejected. As Jesus demonstrates by washing the feet of his disciples in John 13:1–17, privilege is something to be lavishly given away rather than hoarded. Part 3, chapters 9 through 11 followed by an exploration of the book of Philemon, discusses institutions in a positive light. While we are in a time where there is great mistrust of and cynicism about institutions, Crouch presents us with a view of institutions as gifts: “Institutions are at the heart of culture making, which means they are at the heart of human flourishing and the comprehensive flourishing of creation that we call shalom” (170). An institution, according to Crouch, has persistent collections of artifacts, arenas, rules, and roles, and it has been established across three generations; “institution,” so defined, refers to games such as football, to the practice of medicine, to education, and so on. While most of us may have a view of institutions defined by our experiences at the Department of Motor Vehicles or similar agencies, we are shown another way, one that directs our attention to the ways institutions facilitate flourishing that will go on for decades or even centuries beyond their initial construction by creative leaders. The subsequent chapter (ch. 10) acknowledges broken institutions, even those Crouch creatively labels “ zombie institutions,” which go on resisting the trajectory of flourishing (like the company Dunder Mifflin in The Office). The final chapter in this section highlights the work of the International Justice Mission, noting their aim to strengthen institutions that can fight evil in many desperate places around the world. Using the story of Joseph’s fall 114