Clive Staples Lewis was a celebrated Anglo-Irish novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, lay theologian and Christian apologist whose impact and influence lives on.

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ELSEWHERE: God’s Insidious, Unscrupulous, Relentless Cultural Warfare

October 13th, 2007 | Skip to comments

I am daily trying to be, to read, to think, more globally-minded—and that is not just in the “flat-world” sense of Thomas Friedman. Over the last ten years, in addition to reading and rereading C. S. Lewis, I have been immersed in the work of writers like Lamin Sanneh (Yale Divinity prof and West African in roots—try Whose Religion is Christianity?), the late Leslie Newbigin (try Lesslie Newbigin: Missionary Theologian: a Reader ), and Philip Jenkins (try The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in Global South). Are you reading them too–and do you think the artistic and theolgical communities you are engaging are aware of and fathoming this epoch-making shift to Asian, African, and South American portals for Christian epistemology, worship, poetics, and personal artistry?

It’s not just rehashing the age-old separatist issues the old 20th Century church wrestled with in North America (or the equally banal—to me—debate amongst Emerging/Emergent/Missional folks)–it’s the greater awareness that “while we were sleeping,” God has been quietly (and not so quietly) transforming culture “elsewhere.” And if I am ever privileged to address a self-styled Christian ‘transforming culture” audience, this would be my theme: “Elsewhere: God’s Insidious, Unscrupulous, Relentless Cultural Warfare That Continues Unabashed Without Our Permission and Without Our Pocketbooks.

Just as he used the Inklings, Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, in the decadent and fading West, God is raising up edgy, powerful, dangerous witnesses in all of world culture and every language and symbol system that will transform what we in the West think is or what it is to talk “about” art, music, dance, etc. So instead of continuously wringing our hands about what can or should be done within our ferociously insular mindsets and self-boundaried precincts of painfully predictable art, cinema, music, why not see what God’s doing “elsewhere” in Korea, Singapore, Tanzania, Ghana, Brazil, Mexico. Why do movies like Pan’s Labyrinth, Old Boy, and City of God get made “Elsewhere” while we are still making Shrek the Third, Superbad or, forgive me, even the next Prince Caspian?

God is Elsewhere. Shall we follow him, “outside the gate”? Or shall we stay home, within genre, safe and secure?

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1 Comment

  1. […] Where else can you stay on top of newly published books and journals about CSL and see them reviewed fairly and objectively? Frequent the CSL BLOG: Further Up & Further In: A C. S. Lewis Journal for its current and timely reflections on all things Lewisian, plus relevant and informative book and media reviews. The latest entry: God is ELSEWHERE: His Insidious, Unscrupulous, Relentless Cultural Warfare. […]

    Pingback by C.S. Lewis & The Inklings Resource Site » Blog Archive » “All that is not eternal is eternally out of date. . .” — 1 September 2007 @ 11:59 AM

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