Gray Matters

Navigating the Space between Legalism and Liberty

Cover Art

Where to Purchase

About

Culture. As Christians we're encouraged to engage it, create it, redeem it. And today many of us are actively cultivating an appreciation for aspects of culture previously stigmatized within the church. Things like alcohol, R-rated movies, and secular music have moved from being forbidden to being celebrated. But are we opening our arms too wide in uncritical embrace of culture? Can there be a healthy, balanced approach--or is that simply wishful thinking?

With the same insight found in his popular Hipster Christianity, Brett McCracken examines some of the hot-button gray areas of Christian cultural consumption, helping to lead us to adopt a more thoughtful approach to consuming culture in the complicated middle ground between legalism and liberty.

"McCracken charges headfirst into controversial questions and leaves no stone unturned. The result is a truly spectacular book that carves a path between an oppressive, rules-based religion and a powerless, free-for-all 'faith.' If you start reading it, beware--you won't be able to put it down."--Jonathan Merritt, faith and culture writer; author, A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars

"A helpful, critical, reflective exploration of how we should consume culture as Christians, one that is neither reactionary nor defensive, triumphalist nor despairing. Few younger Christians have navigated these turbulent waters with as much even-handed clarity as this book does, which makes it an important read."--Matthew Lee Anderson, MereOrthodoxy.com; author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter for Our Faith

"Idealism is all the rage among bright young evangelicals today, but Brett McCracken brings something all too rare to the table: he holds his earnest idealism in tension with lucid good sense and winsome moderation. May his tribe increase!"--John Wilson, editor, Books & Culture

"Martin Luther said the world was like a drunken man, first falling off one side of the horse and then the other. With a fresh and thoughtful look at challenges such as food, music, film, and alcohol, Brett McCracken has offered a new generation a way to stay on the horse."--Roberta Green Ahmanson, writer and speaker

Brett McCracken is a Los Angeles-based journalist. He is the author of Hipster Christianity and has written for many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Books & Culture, Christianity Today, and Relevant. A graduate of Wheaton College and UCLA, Brett currently works as managing editor for Biola magazine and teaches journalism at Biola University. Follow him at his blog, The Search, at www.stillsearching.wordpress.com.


Endorsements

"Brett McCracken is one of this generation's leading thinkers on the intersection of faith and culture. In Gray Matters, he explores Christianity's natural extremes with his feet firmly planted in Scripture. He charges headfirst into controversial questions and leaves no stone unturned. The result is a truly spectacular book that carves a path between an oppressive, rules-based religion and a powerless, free-for-all 'faith.' If you start reading it, beware--you won't be able to put it down."

Jonathan Merritt, faith and culture writer; author, A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars

"This book is not only clear and engaging but also careful and wise. Gray Matters is a helpful, critical, reflective exploration of how we should consume culture as Christians, one that is neither reactionary nor defensive, triumphalist or despairing. Few younger Christians have navigated these turbulent waters with as much even-handed clarity as this book does, which makes it an important read."

Matthew Lee Anderson, MereOrthodoxy.com; author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter for Our Faith

"Idealism is all the rage among bright young evangelicals today, but Brett McCracken brings something all too rare to the table: he holds his earnest idealism in tension with lucid good sense and winsome moderation. May his tribe increase!"

John Wilson, editor, Books & Culture

"Martin Luther said the world was like a drunken man, first falling off one side of the horse and then the other. With a fresh and thoughtful look at challenges such as food, music, film, and alcohol, Brett McCracken has offered a new generation a way to stay on the horse."

Roberta Green Ahmanson, writer and speaker

"In Gray Matters, Brett McCracken does something quite refreshing--he serves as a wise and discerning guide to the consuming of culture. Many books condemn 'secular' culture, just as many books advocate (consciously or unconsciously) accommodating ourselves to culture. Brett has written something much different: a biblically informed and culturally savvy approach to consuming culture in a God-honoring, community-building, and mission-advancing way. Not everyone will agree with Brett's method or his conclusions, but that is part of his point. Central to modern discipleship to Jesus is wrestling through 'gray matters'--those areas where there is room to think, pray, study, and consume--in the ways we eat, drink, listen, and watch. Brett seeks to redeem our consumption in surprising and helpful ways."

Mike Erre, pastor; author, The Jesus of Suburbia: Have We Tamed the Son of God to Fit Our Lifestyle?

"Brett McCracken has long been my favorite reviewer of both music and movies, so it's no surprise to me that he has written this needed book on consuming culture. A number of wonderful books have been written encouraging readers to create culture, but Brett takes the reader into the everyday world of consuming culture. Brett is an incredibly capable writer, thinker, and connoisseur, and all of this shines through in his work--bringing back into focus that how we engage the world around us matters deeply."

Tyler Braun, worship pastor; writer; author, Why Holiness Matters: We've Lost Our Way--But We Can Find It Again


The Author

  1. Brett McCracken

    Brett McCracken

    Brett McCracken is a Los Angeles-based journalist. He is the author of Hipster Christianity and has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, CNN.com, the Princeton Theological Review, Mediascape, Books...

    Continue reading about Brett McCracken

Reviews

"Evangelical Christians tend to view cultural topics in black and white: something is either good or it's bad. Brett McCracken challenges believers to consider the "gray matters" that exist somewhere between the extremes of legalism and unrestricted liberty. He focuses his attention on four areas of pop culture that tend to spark the hottest controversies: food, music, movies, and alcohol. For leaders and laity who are truly willing to gain insight into how Christians can effectively interact with mainstream society, McCracken provides a great starting point."

Worship Leader


Resources