just started reading

Do you know that 27% or approximately one in four Americans read no books in the past year? Zero. In fact, according to recent surveys done by the Associated Press, if you read 5 books a year you are in the top 1% of the population. I certainly hope you are among that select few. Books, art, music, theater, etc. are windows to our culture not to mention things which keep our brains from turning to mush.

I make it a point to try and read books on the New York Times Bestsellers list. Being informed on what people are reading, saying, thinking is essential to authentic engagement. So, what are you reading?

This week I began the NY Times bestseller, What’s So Great About Christianity, by Dinesh D’Souza [Rishwain Research Scholar Stanford University]. The work is essentially a thoughtfully written response to the recent flurry of publications by atheist authors such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.

D’Souza sets out to determine whether or not God is obsolete and if the critics of religion in general are fair, honest, and rational in their public attack on Christianity in particular. He looks at faith with a questioning eye and what he sees is quite fascinating. So far I’ve found D’Souza to be refreshingly frank about those on both sides of the issue.

In the preface of his book, D’Souza writes the following…

Instead of engaging the secular world, most Christians have taken the easy way out. They have retreated into a Christian subculture where they engage Christian concerns. Then they step back into secular society, where their Christianity is kept out of sight until the next church service. Without realizing it Christians have become postmodernists of a sort: they live by the gospel of two truths. There is religious truth, reserved for Sundays and days of worship, and there is secular truth, which applies the rest of the time…they have sought a workable, comfortable modus vivendi in which they agree to leave the secular world alone if the secular world agrees to leave them alone.

Ouch! See what I mean? D’Souza seems to hold no interest in sugarcoating reality or simply demonizing those who reject religion – although he does offer some harsh words for rabid atheists who have little concern about being nice and who openly label non-atheists as ignorant irrational rubes. In their not-so-humble opinion, “theology is little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed it is ignorance with wings.”

Anyway, I’m pretty excited to keep reading. This text is going to take some time to absorb and process. As I do, I’ll be blogging some snippets of interest – taken from both the book and my brain.

3 Responses to “just started reading”

  1. 1 Larry Eisner
    May 10, 2008 at 2:48 am

    Wow, I’m really interested in this book now! (I suppose I am in the top 1% or close though, because I read about 5 books a year, and many many many periodicals…)

    But this is specifically the root of the problem (at least as I see it specifically with the older youth). I see this dual-life thing happening WAYYY too much. It really saddens me. In fact, just a couple weeks ago I had to remove my students from the “normal schedule” of youth group to challenge them to make Jesus not just their savior but their Lord as well.

    It’s something that’s taught, but I don’t know if it’s something that’s really understood by many these days. The idea that not only is God ultimately good and ultimately right, and ultimately awesome… but that he’s ultimately sovereign, ultimately powerful, ultimately king, and ultimately to be in control of our lives, our hearts and our actions.

    And it’s simply sad. Because I think in this “me-too” “I’m the boss” culture of America, we are too afraid to let someone in and take over. But with God, there is no fear!!! But people are still afraid (which makes me wonder if he’s really their savior then, because are they really making a commitment to God, or simply something they made up in their head, if they cannot trust him…?)

    Anyway, sorry again for being all rant-a-riffic… but this is my number one complaint against the church in general (and this is not to say that I live my life 100% of the time as if God, my Lord was in charge. Far from it… I fail and fail and fail. But I also have a repentant heart about these things and it kills me when I recognize that sin of “making God small” within me…) But yeah… it’s a hot topic of mine. Thanks again for doing what you do, Ray!

  2. 2 Larry Eisner
    May 10, 2008 at 2:50 am

    okay, the two “winking faces” are not meant to be that. They are parentheses with something “wrong” in front of them. I know not what it is that I’m doing wrong, but something is not right.

  3. May 12, 2008 at 1:36 am

    Hi Ray,

    Check out this debate between D’Souza and Hitchens. Great stuff.

    I haven’t read the book but I’ve become a fan of D’Souza.

    [video src="http://www.isi.org/lectures/flvplayer/lectureplayer.aspx?file=v000187_cicero_102207.flv" /]

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re: the random-ness

Husband. Father. Senior Pastor of Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, IL.

Ok...so you've located the place where I put down my random thoughts. The key word here is random: music, sports, art, food, books, news, spiritual musings, weird stories, etc. I'm especially interested in how everyday experiences of life intersect with the ancient stories of Scripture. Thanks for reading.
May 2008
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Thoughts gone by

"No problem can withstand the assault of substantial thinking." Voltaire



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