16.8.12

"Viral" by Leonard Sweet



Leonard Sweet, Viral. Waterbrook Press, 2012. 240 pgs. 

"The Gospel is nothing without relationship. And no one gets it like the google generation." So begins the copy for Viral by Leonard Sweet. What follows, once you get into the book, is 4 chapters distinguishing the "Google generation" from the "Gutenberg generation." Once Sweet has set up this division, he proceeds to examine Twitter, Google, iPhones, and Facebook and how each of these lends itself to relationship and, thus, the gospel. Sweet concludes by saying that we need to be able to deal with both cultures with love and hospitality. 

I have enjoyed some of Sweet's books in the past. I did not enjoy this. The problems with this book are numerous. Sweet acknowledges, in the final pages of his book, that he has "grievously simplified the two cultures" of 'googler' and 'gutenberger.' He is almost right. I would go so far as to say that he has invented these two cultures. People, at least the people I know, do not divide along these lines much at all. What you get, then, is a shallow analysis of a non-existent phenomenon based on exaggerated pop-cultural cliches. Unfortunately, most of the chapters follow suit. The "analysis" (if you can call it that) of each pop trend is also entirely based on stereotyping. Sweet's conclusion is, of course, absolutely true: we do need to embrace people regardless of their culture. Of course, when the entire book has failed to get below the surface it is not difficult to find a general Christian principle with which to conclude. 

Conclusion: 1 Star. Not Recommended. You won't find anything worth your time here. 

1.8.12

Faith's Freedom: Technologically Obscured Other

"The problem is that our technological capability has created a world of physical and social systems that, in the most concrete sense, eliminate the otherness of creation. Those living in industrialized, computerized lands rarely if ever encounter the world as other, but only a hominized world that is precisely constructed according to human reason and will. 

...Society can eliminate otherness by its coercive power, shaping members into smooth conformity; or by its censoring power, suppressing difference in thought or belief or action; or by its segregating power, placing those who are different or deviant into safe compartments. 

But a lie is no less a lie because it is often repeated, stated loudly, or written in stone and circuit. The person who experiences electricity only by flipping a switch or monitoring a generator may grow confused about power and who controls what. The person who encounters lightning in an open field is not confused. Bouncing a healthy baby on my knee, I can think that my life is simply a series of problems to solve. Staring into the ravaged eyes of my raped daughter, I must know that life is a mystery that must be suffered. Even in our closed-circuit world, God can grace us with otherness and call us to a project larger than our own. And even in this hermetic, homogenized, hominoid world, we can respond with the fundamental choice of denial or acceptance, closure or openness, sin or faith."

- Luke Timothy Johnson, Faith's Freedom

I'm not sure what to think here. This is one of the more thought provoking books I've read in a while,and I am really enjoying it. I understand that through technological control we live in a world less 'other' than ever before, in the sense Johnson is talking about, and I resonate with a lot of what Johnson has to say. But that line about babies and daughters hits hard, and it quickly reminds me why I, and most everyone else, regularly prefers to live in a controlled, technological, homogeneous world.  On the other hand, maybe Bultmann was more right than he knew.

And We're Back!

After an unannounced 1 month + hiatus, I'm back!

If your curious, our church planned a missions trip to a closed country involving teaching English, and so I was both super-busy with planning and then out of the country for several weeks. When I got back, I had a bazillion emails to respond to, as well as normal work to do. In the face of these events, this blog suddenly falls even lower than normal on my list of priorities. 

But I have books waiting to be reviewed and other things waiting to be said, so I just couldn't stay away forever :) 

I hope that makes you happy!