We need a faith big enough to make sense for all of life
from the mundane to the beautiful, from our laundry rooms to our living rooms to our conference rooms and everywhere in between. As our culture has become more polarized, more sensationalized, and more saturated with content, we find ourselves at a crossroads. We move through our days unaware of and disconnected from the purpose that underlies each moment. We struggle with how to interact with our culture and our neighbors. We segment and silo our thoughts and our beliefs and our actions, unsure of how to think through so many of the issues of modern life, much less engage.
The web is full of short pieces – and often very good short pieces – about various issues. But brevity done badly can constrain nuance and careful thought. We must specify what’s behind this content, what we believe. Belief matters because in the end it is one of the forces that shapes how we behave. The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture provides a place where Christians think carefully about issues worth pondering. We want our authors to delve into questions that we had not quite thought to ask, or to ask in that way, but that we wish we had asked.
The Christian faith purports to not simply be something we see, but something by which we see. C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” We believe that claim. And yet, any faith that would make such a grandiose claim will require much nuance and deep consideration of hard topics. We hope the thoughts of our authors make a modest contribution to that thinking, giving answers that are more than simple – neither trite nor glib, but carefully considered thoughts – even if that leaves the conclusions a bit more open.
We live our lives carrying out the mission of God in the world, and as Steve Garber, who founded the Institute, often says, “Vocation is essential to that Missio Dei, not accidental.” Our daily work is one of the primary avenues in which we work out our calling as God’s image, bringing order to chaos and pushing back against darkness. Yet work and vocation are so often misunderstood by Christians, considered an afterthought, or a result of fall, not a gift of gracious creation. We write and think to give honor and dignity to the daily work of all.
And we continue to believe that culture is the good result of human creativity, worthy of careful consideration and interaction. We would rather immerse ourselves in the best of culture, not run from it. Culture leads change and politics follows (though certainly with an enormous feedback loop), and people of faith ought to address the world in which we live thoughtfully and gracefully, parsing and pondering our culture – neither validating it entirely nor opposing it entirely, but always considering it with grace.
Articles at The Washington Institute vary in length, but we pray they will each represent “a good thought, well thought,” something worth the time and consideration of those who want to be thoughtful as we engage our own faith, vocation, and culture.
The Institute was founded in 2005 by Dr. Steven Garber, author of The Fabric of Faithfulness and Visions of Vocation, with initial support from the Lilly Endowment’s Programs in the Theological Exploration of Vocation grant. Born out of a long relationship with The Falls Church, a historic Anglican parish located a few miles outside of Washington DC in Falls Church, Virginia, the Institute is now overseen by McLean Presbyterian Church.
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