The danger, humor of Christian culture

There’s a long-standing tension among the Christians within Unitarian Universalism over what is Christian: is culture enough? can one be reared Christian, and this upbringing be sufficient to hold and maintain the faith?

I think this belief in Christian culture — as a high call of character formation — is fading in part because it normalizes certain virtues (civic, middle-class and Western ones especially) and hallows them without a necessary distance for self-reflection.

But perhaps the more potent reason why Christian culture has lost its cachet is by what most people mean by “Christian culture.” On the one hand, there’s the pretty but remote Christian culture of soaring music, stonework, cloisters and long-dead patrons. On the other, there’s the democratic but — let’s face it — tacky order of Evangelical and Catholic kitsch, domesticity and respectability. And with a remarkable capacity for both grinning and condemning. The kind of things highlighted in the Stuff Christian Culture Likes blog.

I won’t have either, and won’t appeal to either to try to share and expand Christian fellowship. Unitarian Universalist Christians — and many others — would do well to make a clear alternative.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. I had no idea how much crossover there is between the Utah Mormonism I grew up with and the “Christian culture” gently skewered on the blog. Except for the warehouse-church-specific aspects and things related directly to church staff (since Mormons have no paid church staff), I think everything applies. Yikes.

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