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bloom! Encouraging girls on their journey towards Biblical womanhood.

spring 2009




on becoming a palace

&teens culturemaking with andy 10-11


meet the

XwxÇ fàÜ|Çz 6-8 dâtÜàxà Q&A with the miller sisters!

The Bulletin Board Mine eyes have sought beauty that is bereft of blemishes The soul starves over lack of light, after endless tempests We have only choked galleries formless, empty ecstasies that arrest the heart like a mockery of the Heaven our soul knows exists My grief persists— not for a stilled heart in a case of flesh but for thine sight in a City endless gazing on diamonds and sapphires rivers of silk and tears captive in bottles Burning envy, for I thirst for beauty utmost for sight of rapturous scars in a Lover's wrists. —Submitted by Amber Roberts, written on the occasion of her Grandmother’s death last September

this issue’s

away Book Give To enter to win a free copy of Trust: A Godly Woman’s Adornment by Lydia Brownback, send us an e-mail with your full name and put “book giveaway” in the subject line. You must be a subscriber to enter the contest. The deadline for entry is July 20, 2009. The winner will be chosen randomly.

—I Peter 2:9-10—

“To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic in our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be confirmed to Christ. William Blake tells us that our task in life is to learn to bear God’s ‘beams of love.’ How often we fashion cloaks of evasion— beam-proof shelters—in order to elude our eternal Lover. But when we pray, God slowly and graciously reveals to us our evasive actions and sets us free from them.”

—Richard Foster

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow. —I Corinthians 3:7

“Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.” —Elisabeth Elliot

y Smoothie! Banana Blueberr Ingredients: rries —1/3 cup bluebe a nan —1 small ba urt —4 ounces of yog bes cu ice —6

e including thre 09 graduates, 20 e th L . AL an an Adelm ngratulate ich, and Curr We want to co e! till, Joanna Su Du an step of your lif eg xt M ne n: e of our ow u enter into th yo as u yo of to each God’s blessings staff —the bloom!

“Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself.” —Leo Tolstoy No temptation has seized you except

es, banana, and Blend the blueberri nder. Add the ble a yogurt together in nding until ble ue tin con ice cubes and ly. drink immediate smooth. Pour and Serves 1.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. mercy

what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. —I Corinthians 10:13

Oh Soul, my soul! Why are you in despair? Why have you, Spirit, grown discouraged now? Do you forget the hands that formed with care, This body from which these tears and grief now flow? I thirst for you, O God, to come. Draw near! A wave, a hopelessness engulfs me now. I run to find some source of refuge from fear, But as I run the waves crash over my brow. I find that I am drowned in grace and peace, And now I shiver, drenched in heavenly love. Your arms enfold me, warm and comforting. You calm my anxious heart, and to my knees I fall, and from my lips no praise is enough. And this I found through pain: Your love is unfailing. —Submitted by Kayla Heimbaugh, based on Mary’s song

g{x BOOKSHELF— ::This Issue’s Recommended Reading:: The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Alan Jacobs

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller

A Little Primer on Humble Apologetics by James W. Sire

Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot

A Diary of Private Prayer: A Devotional Classic by John Baillie

author profile


g{x XwxÇ fàÜ|Çz dâtÜàxà

sister to sister with Sarah Tillman

4-5 6-8

andy crouch

Contents The Bulletin Board………………………………………………………………….…………………………………….page 2 Contents and Contact Information…………...……………………………………………………………………… 3 Sister to Sister: On Revision by Sarah Tillman………………………………………………………………………pages 4-5 The Eden String Quartet: Four Sisters Talk about Womanhood, Family, Serving and Their Music…………...pages 6-8 Author Profile: Andy Crouch………………………………………………………………………………………..pages 9-11 Need a subscription form? Go here. ………………………………………………………………………………… 11

O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago. —Isaiah 25:1— As for his failing you, never dream of it—hate the thought. The God who has been sufficient until now, should be trusted to the end. —Charles Spurgeon—

Staff :: :: photographers :: Emily Lupo Jennifer Goggans

:: co-editors :: Megan Dutill Joanna Suich

:: staff :: Curran Adelman Lara Bryant Amy Leonard Janine Noble Danielle Noble Heather Paulsen

:: editor :: Jessina Leonard

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. —Psalm 36:5—

——> check out our blog at

Our Purpose :: To encourage, inspire, and support girls on their journey towards a gospel-centered, world-altering, Biblical womanhood.

How to Contact Us :: E-mail: Address: PO Box 157 Matthews, NC 28106 We love to hear from our readers! Feel free to send us your suggestions, comments, questions, or article submissions.

by sarah tillm

“The older women…can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” —Titus 2:4-5—



s onically, it’ e lessons (ir my favorit of e e on th ’s It son on why d revision. Dear girls, writing an getting a les k they are a lesson on thesis in ts th en ts ud en st ud n supports a compositio deal: my st paragraph e an ch on ea hm rt es fo no fr omy whether or a kind of tw ng I taught ly consider this lesson This morni begrudging I consider ). ld te ou ri sh vo ey fa th r least t writing. d and why among thei as it is abou to proofrea lines tual growth important iri s it’ sp t ks ou in n along the ab teacher th h a lesson l answers ru ca uc pi m Ty as . ’s rs , it pe ange a But, really mas, or ch r revising pa a few com statement. rategies fo d st ad r I ei th be s as and “May with the cl e first time” ts to share out right th my studen es ng m ki co as ly by lesson draft. It on I begin my after a first y paper.” esses up m ge anything te a paan ch t n’ ising just m always wri ev “R e: on of “oh, I do you really this o, t “S ge . I ts rder es en ese statem medly re-o o.” Sometim ations of th s, to unasha word or tw ic ge pl pa im le e ho th e arks tw ts to realiz to slash ou commas m my studen age them rations of ur te od al co pr e en to ul e en isc I th ers, I lik from min g at all?” I ask. these answ y students t I’m drivin needed at When I get is to take m t to see wha al o changes ar N go st y e? ey m m , th ti t on y the first e day’s less at this poin per perfectl rs. Usually e end of th their pape visions. paste. By th of d is an es t th cu d en to life re an ith d being op e purpose passages w th an r of s pe ge pa le chan visions in a am more whole-sca g open to re ents. But I to radical, tween bein of my stud e be m n so tio in ela e vising us I se ant corr ethods of re anges that the import d God’s m try out ch ar to w s to es ng gn in ristians taki and unwill perceive Ch confidence misplaced ence that I e id th nf co by d d ce ne la I am concer to the misp ten similar at this is of th d ne er conc

dical that true, ra d enough,” or oo “g e ar e e w ving that w nfident that lves into belie en we feel co rse th ou t e bu iv s, ce ce de tisenten life. Often we are in a beau metaphorical get that we ted Christian ange for a few , and we for ized, conten al us ide on an ns we’ll allow ch sio of e ajor life-revi up our imag d imposes m d just mess revision woul punished if Go g in be e ar ng, or eation. t things wro terly new cr with, somehow go ed into an ut u start out on hi as -f re g not what yo in is be ng of ni s ea es : “M ful proc out revision; Peter Elbow God is all ab g theorists, way. I believe vorite writin r fa ila y m sim of a e at I call in a quote by on ’s out for wh e in our lives ind myself of nch is that he d sees purpos hu Go y at m th e, ak ng I like to rem em inki .” I enjoy th al changes w u end up with l, punctuation en the smal but what yo ev es iat d. ec he He appr of us untouc believe that leave no part and while I and it’s far, visions that re ale sc let, paragraph, sions - who yet redundan , ed lov be “global” revi a an? Will He ing e a career pl k about delet . Will He revis ents to thin us ud st for y t m ou r ab fo need to might bring y - it’s scary show us the visions God ange is scar ily? Will He re m ch fa ng of a pi m ee or for sw ge ocess ria Any time. The pr t the kinds of ans for mar idea of a fun to think abou revise our pl r us He ou r t ill fo no W s ier ? it’ far, scar we live near rstand why munity that can well unde mily or com fficult, and I di ys wa revise the fa al cessary. e ar ys, always ne e? Revisions essy, yet alwa in a loved on m y ith el fa se em vi tr re d ex ing, scary, an revision: time consum God’s idea of of revision is ld to explain na do ac M orge parable by Ge is doing. He draws on a tand what He , C.S. Lewis ty ni tia ris u can unders yo s, ap In Mere Ch rh pe u are not st, ing and so yo house. At fir bs needed do rebuild that jo e to os in th es at e. m th co to make sens g house. God on: you knew es not seem roof and so do self as a livin e d ur th an yo in e ly in ks ab ag lea ing “Im hurts abomin t of - throw stopping the s right and in a way that e you though t ain on ou e dr ab th e e th us om g e fr is gettin ng the ho fferent hous e going to be starts knocki ing quite a di ght you wer t presently he ds. You thou at He is build ar th ty is ur n surprised. Bu co tio g in ? The explana towers, mak h is He up to running up in Himself.” What on eart a floor there, e and live it tr m ex co an to s on g nd in te tt in pu He , . re ce la ing he building a pa out a new w es as part of e: but He is changing liv little cottag nt ce de a o look at your to t u yo made int e ag is terms, no cour I want to en rfection on H , dear girls, it will be pe t so d bu , An at th le! e. ab lac just lly unimagin coming a pa rfect means w wonderfu process of be d of Be Ye Pe A palace - ho likely in the His comman t os n. m tio e ea u’r cr new to, rejoice! Yo s towards a ght it ought God’s proces like you thou u yo to ks thing loo ours. So, if no

Much love, Sarah

Sarah Tillman, 26, is a graduate student in English literature at the University of Delaware where she also teaches freshman composition classes. She lives in Newark, Delaware, with her husband, Nathan, and her two kittens, Venus and Diana. Her favorite things to read are poems in Middle English, novels by Thomas Hardy and Toni Morrison and fabulously revised papers by her students.



L-R: Krista, Therese, Leah, and Megan


XwxÇ fàÜ|Çz dâtÜàxà four musical sisters

talk about womanhood, excellence, serving, and their music.

Megan, Krista, Leah, and Therese, four sisters from central Illinois, are gifted musicians and devoted Christian women. Five years ago they formed the Eden String Quartet and they share their music throughout the United States—everywhere from the Crystal Cathedral to a friend’s wedding. In 2006 they produced a CD entitled What Wondrous Love. Listen in to our conversation as the girls share about their story, music, and life. Can you tell us your “story?” When did you all begin to play music? How did the quartet begin? How did you choose the name Eden String Quartet? We were exposed to music at a very young age from our Grandma Bobbie who would often sit us by her piano as infants and play for us. Later on, when each of us was around age 5-6, we started walking down the road to her house for weekly piano lessons. We are often asked if our parents play any instruments, and the answer is no. Our mom played the piano for a few years growing up, and our dad the trumpet, but both of them ended up quitting and have always regretted it. When we started learning to play, it was made clear to us that quitting wasn’t an option. My parents’ goal was not to raise worldclass musicians, but they knew that soon the newness would wear off, things would get hard and we would come to them, begging to be able to quit. It is here, when the rubber meets the road, that character is formed. Our parents knew that if we could learn to persevere through the difficulties, we would come out victorious on the other end.

expensive and plus we would have to get an even bigger vehicle to haul it around in. She started taking viola lessons from Megan at age 7. There is almost an 8year age span between Megan and Therese so by the time Therese started viola lessons, us older three girls had already been playing for a while and often performed for various local events and nursing homes as a quartet with another violinist-friend. Although we loved making music together, we didn’t set out with the goal of forming a family quartet as we had one violinist, two violists and a cellist in our family. The first time we performed as a quartet with all four of us girls was for a wedding in 2003. After that time, we had more and more gigs, made our very first CD (which is now no longer in print—we call it our archival copy) and kind of took-off in terms of being asked to perform in various venues around the country.

Our quartet has had many names—some of which we picked, and some that others picked for us. The name that stuck for quite a while was “Daughters of the King String Quartet.” However, people who were unfamiliar with the verse in Psalm 45:13 had trouble remembering such a All four of us at one time or the other (or long name. And it was often mistyped in multiple times) requested to quit music the address bar of the internet when peolessons, although we already knew what ple tried to look up our web site. Eden the answer would be- we thought we means “delight,” and we also just really would ask anyway just to be sure! We all liked the name. Our new name was nice started our second instrument after we and short, easy to say, type and was a had been playing piano for a few years fun word for our web-design-inclined and believe that helped us get off on the sister, Leah, to work with as she made right foot as we already knew the basics our website. of how to read music and count rhythm. Megan and I (Krista) started violin lessons when we were 8 and 9 ½. We were How did growing up on a farm help prepare you for your musical work and around the same size and were going to life in general? share our violin. However at our first lesson, our teacher suggested that Megan should play the viola because her hands Farm work is hard work and most of the were large and there are not as many time, not very glamorous. We grew up violists as violinists. So, as soon as we mucking out barns, taking care of cattle, were able to get a viola, Megan switched chickens and horses, baling hay, paintinstruments. Ever since Leah had heard ing barns and cleaning equipment in the a cello choir perform at a local university, sweltering summer heat and many other she had wanted to play cello and started odd jobs around the farm. We all enjoyed lessons when she was 9. I don’t think growing up on a farm and being able to that Therese really had a choice of what go out and work with our Dad, though she was going to play. She really wanted Leah made sure that she was indispensato play the harp, but was told it was too ble in the house so she would not be

asked to help with the outside jobs…she still had her fair share though! I think one of the most important lessons we’ve learned from working with our Dad on the farm is that any job can be fun, regardless of how yucky it is. I can still picture my dad standing on a hay rack on an extremely hot day, doing a cheer for us just to make us laugh and have fun. Hard work is all about attitude and can be a lot of fun and very rewarding if you make the choice to rejoice. In addition, after being outside in the hot, muggy weather of summer in Central Illinois, it made practicing in the airconditioned house much more attractive and seem more like “play” than “work.”

Can you tell us about your family? How many other siblings do you have? My parents have 7 children: Megan 26, Krista 24, Leah 20, Therese 19, Max 17, Isaac 7, and Evangeline 4. Now that two of us are married, our family continues to grow. Megan married Justin Goff in December 2004 and they have 3 children: Samuel 3 ½, William 1 ½ and Madeline 6 months. Krista married George Ochenjele in June 2007 and they have one little girl, Grace, who is 10 months. Over the past few years as we’ve gotten older and some of us have gotten married and moved away, our family life has changed drastically. Currently, Leah and Therese are both in college at local schools, Max is a junior in high school and my mom is homeschooling Isaac and Eva.

You’ve talked multiple times about how your music was not simply just to please other people, but you also pursued your music with the mission of being excellent for the glory of God. How does pursuing excellence through music play out in your day-to-day life? Would you encourage other girls that pursuing excellence is not just limited to music, but can be applied to various other arts, and even just school and family life? Colossians 3:23 says: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” The Lord wants us to be wholehearted in everything we do, whether it is the everyday aspects of life that no one else sees or it is something that many people see and notice. Please note that we are normal people with issues and struggles just like any other family. We girls have not always been the ideal music students and children. However, as we grew in our walk with the Lord, we began to see that if we only tried to meet the bare minimum requirements just to check it off our to-do list for the day, it didn’t get us very far. For example, my

grandma would ask us to practice each piece she assigned 3 times. On a good day, we could dutifully play through the piece our 3 times, but if we played it sloppy, with wrong notes and rhythm, we might as well have not practiced at all instead of practicing wrong and with a bad attitude or “B.A.” as we liked to refer to it. You’ve heard the saying “practice makes perfect.” We say that “perfect practice makes perfect.” When we saw that the Lord cares about every aspect of our lives and desires for us to bring Him glory through our thoughts, words, actions and attitudes, it began to change the way we would practice. We would instead do what we needed to do to learn the music correctly- however long it took. Being excellent for God’s glory doesn’t necessarily mean that we practiced longer, it means that we practiced better.

What is your favorite type of music to play together? Do the four of you have a favorite song? We really enjoy all types of music: classical, hoe-down, hymns, Celtic, Christmas

and pop songs. We love to play music that engages our audience and is fun for everyone to listen to, not just the classically trained musician.

plays the cello and piano. And Therese plays the viola and piano, although she’d also like to learn the guitar at some point in the future.

Can you walk us through what one of your concerts would be like? What songs do you play? Do you speak or give your testimonies? How has your music allowed you to share the gospel?

As Megan and Krista are now married, do you still give concerts? Will you continue to play music together? Do you have any future CDs planned?

A typical concert for us usually comprises a mixture of hymns and classical music. We have given our testimonies before during a performance—we usually just do whatever we’re asked. Through music, the Lord has opened up many doors for us to go places, meet people and develop friendships that we would otherwise not had the opportunity to do. We have found that really connecting with people on a personal level is the best way of sharing the gospel.

What instruments do each of you play? Megan plays the viola, violin, and piano. Krista plays the violin and piano. Leah

We have played quite a bit together until the past year when Krista got married and moved 3 hours away and two more babies were added to our family. We still play for weddings and have done a few local performances. We would like to make another CD in the future- it’s just a matter of finding the time and resources to make that happen. We have some more very beautiful hymn arrangements that were not included on our CD “What Wondrous Love” and have toyed with the idea of producing another hymn CD. We’ve also discussed the possibility of doing a Lullaby CD and Christmas CD. Right now, nothing is in the works, but continue to check back with us as we do hope to make another CD in the future.

//meet megan:

//meet krista:

As you are now married, do you have any encouragement for younger women?

Can you recommend one encouraging book to our readers and tell us why you liked it?

Waiting on God's timing and finding out God's will requires lots of patience, but it's worth it! I was encouraged with the thought that my future husband was most likely "out there" somewhere. It really made a difference in the way I lived my life, knowing that the Lord would bring us together in His timing. My encouragement to younger girls, is to be proactive in your waiting: learn new skills, serve others, pray for your future husband and family, take the time to read the Bible and other challenging books, mentor younger siblings or friends, sit under the teaching of older women (Titus 2), seek to do your husband good all the days of your life (Proverbs 31) and pray that the Lord would direct you specifically in how you can be a good help-meet to your future husband. Life doesn't start once you're married; life is for today. Each season should be fruitful. Seek out God's will for the particular season you’re in and jump in with enthusiasm! Also, one's single years aren't to be spent living for ourselves, for "fun's sake", and for our own "betterment", but to prepare us for the future. I know that's counter-cultural, but that's the principle taught in the Bible, under normal circumstances. I was reminded just the past couple weeks, through the death of a friend, to live like today is our last. Life is too short to spend whining, complaining, being mad, being lazy, or being unfruitful. As II Peter 2:18 says, "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."

There were many excellent books that I read growing up. Several of my favorites were books written by Eric and Leslie Ludy and Elisabeth Elliot. However, most of you have probably already heard of those authors. The book I would like to recommend is entitled “God Knows My Size!” By Harvey Yoder. This book is about a girl named Silvia, who grew up in a Christian home in communist Romania and was constantly told by her teachers that there was no God. She decided to find out for herself if God was really real and asked Him for 3 things: a pair of shoes, a sweater and a coat—all items, which at that time, were almost impossible to buy. God answered her prayer and gave her a faith that carried her though persecution and imprisonment for her faith. Right after I finished reading this book, one of my violin students saw it at our house and casually mentioned that “Silvia” was coming to their church to share her testimony in a few weeks. We were able to meet Silvia Tarniceriu and hear her story again, this time in person. For me, it was really a faith-building book and an inspiration for me in my walk with the Lord. ———————————————————————————— We’ll highlight the rest of this interview—including one-on-one questions with Leah and Therese—on our blog in the near future. Make sure to check there (at for extra features about the Miller sisters and their quartet. Also, check out the Eden String Quartet website:

an interview with

andy crouch Author Profile

In Andy Crouch’s Culture Making (IVP Books, 2008), he explains how the only way to change culture is to create culture—instead of the oft-attempted methods of condemning, critiquing, or simply consuming culture. But what does culture making look like for teenagers? Or what does culture making look like for someone who’s in school or working at the grocery store? What part does the arts play in culture making? And what does Crouch mean by calling culture the “furniture of heaven?” Listen in to our conversation with Andy Crouch as he answers these questions and more.

Although your target audience was most likely not teenagers, what would you hope a teenager would gain after reading "Culture-Making?"

Actually, I definitely hope teenagers will read the book! I tried to write it in a way that would be accessible to any motivated reader. The book is really written for people who are ready to take on more cultural responsibility. That describes not just teenagers, but college students, recent college

graduates, people at turning points later in life . . . it's for everyone who has become a bit dissatisfied with the way they're relating to the broader culture around them. I think part of what happens in one's teenage years is that for the first time, often, you become keenly aware, first of all, that there is a "culture" that is shaping and forming you for better and for worse, and you start to make intentional choices about how to relate to that culture. So I would hope that teenagers would read Culture Making and learn how to interpret the culture they are in, and then start to imagine what they could creatively contribute to a world that often wants to treat us merely as consumers of culture rather than agents of cultural change. In your book, you describe culture as "the furniture of heaven." What do you mean by this?

This came out of my reading of Revelation 21 and 22, where the apostle John, clearly influenced by the prophet Isaiah (Is. 60), describes the "kings of the earth" bringing "the glory and honor of the nations" into the

New Jerusalem in God's restored, re-created world. (Isaiah is more specific: he mentions the ships of Tarshish, the camels of Midian, and the silver and gold of nations far and wide.) It seems that the New Jerusalem is full not just of redeemed people, but of redeemed cultural artifacts as well. This has fascinating implications. It suggests that at least some human cultural efforts will not simply disappear at the end of history: they will actually reach their intended fullness as the "furniture of heaven." And that means that it's possible that some of the culture that we ourselves cultivate and create might actually show up, in redeemed and purified form, in God's eternal good world. If that's a possibility, it gives incredible dignity and importance to our cultural efforts, and gives us an incentive for becoming as skillful and excellent in our culture making as we can be. What are some practical suggestions for becoming a skillful culture-maker?

In one sense it is alarmingly simple. Skill in any cultural domain requires time. A lot of time. Recent studies (summarized by the

journalist Malcolm Gladwell) suggest that 10,000 hours is about right for achieving real mastery in a cultural domain—whether architecture or painting, civil engineering or nursing. That's sounds like an awful lot of time, but it comes down to 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 20 years (with two weeks off for vacation every year :) ). And then what you have to do for those

as much dance as you can. Second, it requires plenty of practice—see above. Third, it requires a willingness to open yourself to new experiences—to go places you wouldn't ordinarily go, to try food and books and places and acquaintances you might not normally seek out. Finally, once you've invested in all those prerequisites, you have to be willing to risk failure, and be fully aware that the great majority of the time,

and to go above and beyond the routine with their customers). It can happen—has to happen, in fact—in parenting, as we respond creatively to the unpredictable directions our children's lives and interests take us. "Cultivating" is not so much about creating something new, as keeping something that is already good, good. I think Christians

“So I would hope that teenagers would read Culture Making and learn how to interpret the culture they are in, and then start to imagine what they could creatively contribute to a world that often wants to treat us merely as consumers of culture rather than agents of cultural change.” 10,000 hours is be willing to embrace disciplines: small, simple things done over and over that gradually develop the capacity to do more complex things. Drummers practice their rudiments. Painters work on the basics of the human figure and still lifes. Writers write in journals. Most of these disciplines stay completely invisible—no one would be interested in watching me play scales on the piano! But they make it possible for us to do the things that ultimately become culturally excellent.

your creative efforts will fail. Failure is actually a key ingredient in developing full creativity!

have often been very quick to point out what is wrong in our cultures—and certainly there are plenty of things to criticize. But much of every human culture is actually in many ways very good, and "cultivators" are people who keep that good. When I dust the shelves in our living room, do the dishes, weed the garden; or when I take out the trash at work, tally up the cash register at the end of the day, or send out this month's round of invoices, I may not be doing something deeply "creative," but I am still cultivating: tending and keeping these processes that contribute, hopefully, to a flourishing human environment.

As for servanthood, I think this is a way that Christians can be especially distinctive and helpful in the arts. So often the arts in the modern era have been about selfexpression. I think a more deeply Christian way to do art is to put one's artistic talents to work telling the stories and expressing the experience of people who otherwise would never be noticed: the poor, the forgotten, those in pain, those without a voice. This is where being a teenager is really helpful. You have time! For a 40 year old to So I would encourage artists of all kinds to seek out ways to represent other's expericommit to 10,000 hours of practice of a ence in their work, rather than simply reparticular cultural discipline is very diffihearsing their own self-expression. Most of So I would ask of every occupation (paid or cult, sometimes all but impossible. But if you're 14 or 18 years old, one thing is pretty us are just not that interesting! unpaid): "What am I cultivating—keeping certain: assuming God grants you a normal good? And what am I creating—offering lifespan, you will spend 10,000 hours doing But also, for those of us who are in that is new and helpful in this cultural envischool or are stay-at-home moms or something. Why not make some choices ronment?" Those aren't just questions for about what you want to devote your 10,000 are working at the local grocery store, artists—they're for all of us. hours to? By the time you are 40 you could what does culture-making look like in those situations? have developed significant skill in a parDo you know of any examples of teenagers who are culture-makers? ticular area—and all that in just two hours a I am very eager for us to recognize that day. culture happens just as much (and in fact, Absolutely! Now let me acknowledge that much more often) in the grocery store, at to some extent, the teenage years are often You talk a lot about the artistic dimensions of life. What does culture-making the playground, or in our own kitchen as in more about cultural apprenticeship— look like in the arts? How can teenagartists' studios, highrise office buildings, or putting in the first few thousand of your ers seek creativity and servanthood in Hollywood production lots. All of us are 10,000 hours—than about radical cultural the arts? responsible for some cultural domain! innovation (though there are exceptions). A lot of what you're called to do in these years That's a fantastic question, and it pairs two I like to talk about two aspects of culture is simply learn about and become fluent in really important concepts: creativity and making: cultivating and creating. "Creating" our amazingly complex culture. So I wouldservanthood. I would say that genuine crea- is introducing something new into the world n't want anyone to feel tremendous pressure tivity requires a few important factors. First, that wasn't there before. This can happen to "change the world" right away . . . you it requires deep immersion in a rich tradieven in the most basic job (for example, might do more harm than good. tion. If you are a dancer, learn everything when an employee goes out of their way to you can about the history of dance, and see build relationships with fellow employees But once you realize that culture isn't just


something that happens in highrises and Hollywood, you realize that culture is happening in your high school, for example. Your high school has a very particular culture, for better and for worse, and just like every other human being you can ask, "What should I be cultivating here? What could I be creating?" The answer might be a school musical, a sports team, a school organization . . . all these are very much part of the culture of your school.

to me:

read poetry (out loud), read journalism, read about a field you know nothing about: read, read, read.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables . . . the unabridged version. An extraordinary, moving story of grace and forgiveness played out 2) Write. Find an audience, even if it is just over the course of a whole life. three friends and your parents :) and write for them, on some kind of regular schedule Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the so that your writing becomes a pursuit of Same Direction. Probably the book that had calling rather than mere self-expression. the greatest direct influence on me as a You really become a writer the day that you teenager, albeit just barely still a teenager— don't have anything bursting forth from I read it my freshman year in college. your heart to say, but you sit down to write anyway and discover the deeper things you I have also had the chance to meet a few have to say that are not merely the literary teenagers who are creating culture at much Homer, The Odyssey. Read this one three times: once from the perspective of its hero, equivalent of Too Much Information. :) larger scales. I think of Zach Hunter, who Odysseus; once from the perspective of started the campaign "Spare Change to Telemachus, his son; and once from the 3) Be edited. Find someone who is a better Loosen Chains" or Emma Sleeth, who has perspective of Penelope, his wife. You'll writer, a better thinker, and wiser than you written the book It's Easy Being Green. If (although they don't have to be older—one God has given you a vision to do something see different things each time, including some that will trouble you . . . this is defiof my best editors ever was someone I first like that, go for it! But don't be at all trounitely not a work of Christian fiction! met when she was a college student and I bled by was a campus minister). Ask them to be starting much smaller. Most of the teenagShakespeare, King Lear. Read this out loud brutally honest with you about the strengths ers I've met who have done something exwith some friends. What does this play say and weaknesses of your work. As far as ceptionally prominent also have access to about family, loyalty, power, success, fail- possible try never to publish anything unusual kinds of social capital (certainly ure? (keeping in mind that publish essentially that's the case for Zach and Emma, whose just means "to make public") without subparents are unusually well-connected and mitting it to an editor. influential leaders in the Christian commu- (Of course, there's this really good book nity). For the rest of us who don't happen to called Culture Making by Andy Crouch . . . :)) As you can see, none of these essentials have a famous last name, the much more requires you to have a "career" as a writer. important thing is to get to work on our Do you have any suggestions for an 10,000 hours. We won't be overnight sucIn fact, like being in love and singing the aspiring writer? Obviously, you did not cesses, but there is no reason that we can't high note, being a writer often happens just be making significant contributions to cul- start out as a writer, so what has shaped when you stop trying too hard to be one. ture, no matter our background, if we stead- your profession? fastly pursue excellence and integrity. Thank you, Mr. Crouch! There are really only three things an aspiring writer must do. If you could recommend 5 books to a teenager, which ones would you recommend?

For some reason only four really stick out

1) Read. Read widely. Read as much good writing as you can, and avoid reading bad writing as much as you can. Read novels,


For more information about Culture Making and Andy Crouch—or for extra resources or to check out Andy’s nifty blog—visit

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Profile for Bloom! Magazine

Spring 2009  

This issue was originally in print format, but Bloom! Magazine is now offering it online.

Spring 2009  

This issue was originally in print format, but Bloom! Magazine is now offering it online.