An old word like "patronage" has either a negative connotation (nepotism, playing favourites) or a very limited meaning that we associate with wealthy donors (think Downton Abbey
But no—the word is much broader. All of us are patrons. We are patrons, even if we might be poor grad students or young married couples barely eking out an existence. We are patrons, not just in our "charitable" giving, but in our day-to-day lives.
To be a patron is to be a selector, an evaluator. And by our decisions, we are saying "yes" to some version of the good life.
I hope this issue of Comment
will prompt you to ask questions you haven't considered before, so that you might see your daily life anew and thereby take hold of your calling as a patron—and take up that cultural labour as an investment in shalom
—James K.A. Smith
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