Friday, January 7, 2011

Cultured or "Jes' Growed"

H. Henry Meeter, "Calvinism and Culture," in Calvinism: An Interpretation of Its Basic Ideas, pp. 80-81:

It is important to notice that culture always implies the thought of improvement, not just development. Topsy of Uncle Tom's Cabin "jes' growed"; she wasn't cultured. The great contents of culture, or rather its tools, are, therefore, never merely mechanical and chemical powers of nature, but science, art, technique, ethics, law, the state, always some product of the human mind. It is rather the activity of the human mind applied upon the forces of nature, and bringing creation by the use of these human powers to higher and nobler levels. Culture, in a word, is the fulfillment of the command given to man, the king of creation, by His Maker, in the Garden of Eden: "Keep the garden and dress it." "Have dominion over the earth and subdue it" (Cf. Genesis II). Man was made in the image of God. Just as God is King over the universe and has brought to pass many and noble things in the creation which He made, so He has given to man His image bearer control over nature as his dominion, and said to him: "Subdue creation, and bring out the many possibilities in it and in your own nature." Culture is the execution of this divinely appointed task. In his cultural task man is to take the raw materials of this universe and subdue them, make them serve his purpose and bring them to nobler and higher levels, thus bringing out the possibilities which are hidden in nature. When thus developed man is to lay his entire cultural product, the whole of creation, at the feet of Him Who is King of man and of nature, in Whose image and for Whom man and all things are created.

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