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May 2023 Culture Care Newsletter

  • Posted: May 31, 2023

What’s in a name? The history of the human races is in names. Our objective friends do not understand that, since they move in a world of objects which can be counted and numbered. They reduce the great names of the past to dust and ashes. This they call scientific history. But the whole meaning of history is in the proof that there have lived people before the present time whom it is important to meet.” — Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

A Note From International Arts Movement

When I moved to Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2018, I moved in with a sweet little family. At the time, their children were quite little (ages 2 and 3) and I spent my evenings after work playing with trucks and reading picture books and talking about colors. Since I moved out in the spring of 2019, the family had a third child, now my goddaughter, who is just as energetic and spunky and funny as her two old siblings. 

When I first graduated from college and moved in with this family, I had no idea that they would become fast friends. Not just the adults that I lived with, but the three small people who I have watched grow up in front of my very eyes. There is something deeply precious about watching legs elongate and words form and teeth fall out and, most of all, souls molded. Seeing personalities emerge, personalities full of care and love and tenderness, will certainly be one of the biggest privileges of my life, aside from perhaps becoming a parent myself one day. 

Friendship comes in all shapes and sizes. And for me, for the past five years, friendships has looked like having conversations about trucks and Curious George and how to use a fork correctly. It’s included snow ball fights and tantrums and reading aloud and approximately one thousand glasses of ice water at bedtime. I wouldn’t change a thing. 

A Note From Makoto Fujimura, Founder of IAM Culture Care

Dear Culture Care Movement,

In my recent acceptance speech for the Kuyper Prize, I stated the following:

I knew that then in a city of impossible dreams, I was there only there to be the best artist that I could be, and to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. I became known in the 1990’s as one of the few artists in New York City to speak of the idea of beauty”, when that was taboo to do so. I first spoke of the word beauty” in the mid 1990’s, a startling act”, a critic noted later, given at the site of my exhibit in Soho, from the passages of Isaiah, and from the history of Japanese aesthetics. Even the use of gold was not only unusual but frowned upon back then as remains of the imperialist past. I posited then, that the material gold is a dust remnant of Eden in our fallen world and explained how the Japanese artisans have learned to hammer gold into microscopically thin sheets, and how a pure gold is nearly transparent and liquid. Gold is a sign of divinity in all cultures, and I explained that my use of gold is to inject the sublime in my art.

This experience of being exiled” from the world of art because I spoke of beauty is one of the reasons IAMCultureCare matters. Kuyper, a theologian who was also the Prime Minister of Netherlands, laid the ground for our public theology. I believe this path, rather than the path of culture wars, is the most effective means to affect culture for generations, to steward God’s gift of cultural gifts toward ALL people. 

May the gold dust of Eden be found all about us to care for culture! May we pass on such golden discoveries for the next generation, the Kintsugi generation.

Yours for Culture Care,

Mako Fujimura

Guest Essay: Tiffany Thompson

Time moves differently in T. S. Elliot’s Four Quartets,” and what seems inevitable in our daily life is reframed as mystery. The final evening of our Academy Kintsugi (AK) engagement at John Brown University (JBU) on April 1st felt like the end and beginning Elliot famously writes about.

The story starts” decades ago, with a young native American woman named Erin Shaw. Ceramicist and painter, Erin was reading Mako’s book and considering him her distant mentor. Flash forward to 2021, and you find Erin leveraging her role as an art professor at JBU to spark a Culture Care revolution on campus. 

Finally, in May 2022, Erin emailed AK to inquire about bringing Kintsugi to campus. After her initial call with Haejin, David Chang and I were deployed to lead a total of six sessions for students, faculty, and staff. Good seeds were planted in soft soil. 

Erin continued to steward the work of kintsugi on campus and found her ceramics students no longer feared cracked items emerging from the kiln. They would simply say, kintsugi.” In the fall of 2022, Erin reached back out with an idea: let’s lead the JBU Board of Trustees through Kintsugi Experiences at their 2023 annual meeting. 

After months of planning and preparation, AK deployed six instructors to join David and me at JUB to lead over 50 JBU executives through simultaneous Kintsugi Experiences. Afterwards JBU President Chip Pollard tenderly shared reflections from his own heart with the group, and Erin Shaw said, I feel like AK instructors are Avengers, deployed into the world to bring beauty and grace.”

Truly, it was the spirit of culture care that Erin connected with decades ago that brought the fruit of our largest AK experience in the U.S. to date. But this end is just the beginning. 

Web Links

  • Pete Candler (whose photography is featured in the introduction to this newsletter) released a new book, which was featured in the Los Angeles Review of Books. You can buy his book here.
  • There are countless beautiful tributes to the late Tim Keller, including those written by Tish Harrison Warren, Molly Worthen, David Brooks, Russell Moore, and Michael Luo. Mike Cosper also interviewed Mako about his friendship with Tim for the The Bulletin.
  • In his commencement speech for the Torrey Honors College at Biola University, Fred Sanders asked his audience a few questions. 
  • International Justice Mission founder Gary Haugen recounts the organization’s humble beginnings in an interview with Pete Wehner. 
  • There is a significant gap in much of American culture between the visibility of a given group or movement, and that group’s maturity. Maturity” feels like a euphemism; grow up” is, for many people, what you say to someone whose passion and commitment is making you uncomfortable,” writes Samuel James in Mere Orthodoxy.