Reading this book is part of a deliberate effort to study the relationship of reason to the Christian faith. The current subtopic is why evangelicals seem to be so anti-intellectual, this book follows: The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind , and Love Your God with All Your Mind . There are two more in the TBR pile as well: Habits of the Mind by James Sire and The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship by George Marsden, so i am looking for more books with the same common theme, email me your favorites please.
I usually read for an hour or so each morning over coffee at a local fast food joint, i find if i don't get out of the house at this time, that i don't get out of the house at all. I was lamenting the slowness of my reading to a person i have gotten acquainted with while sitting in my favorite booth there. He told me my problem was that i am trying to reading books that are too long, i suspect he isn't much of a reader, but his point is well taken. So this very short, 150 pages book is my attempt to take his advice to heart. The trouble is that this book is not an easy read, not because it's topic is complex but because of its structure, i started the book and put it aside several times because it seems too disjointed and choppy. It wasn't until chapter 10 on advertising that i realized that the book's structure is deliberate and made to mirror the criticism he makes of the shallowness of Christian intellects, i know i am slow, but i eventually got it.
The average chapter is about 5 pages long, the book reads like a series of slogans strung out together on a clothes line, with cuteness in phrasing common. There is little complexity of thought with points then defense and analysis but rather a structure that mentally looks like an outline. I thought at first that it was a collection of essays written for serialization in a periodical hence the short, concise chapter length, but with the embedded advertisements in chapter 10, it became clear that the form was part of his message. Literally the book is written to those he is critical of, those majority of Christians that prefer TV to books, who desire style rather than substance, who are critical of the pastor if the sermon has more than 3 main points or goes over the allotted 30 minutes(45 in Reformed churches, we are just a little more intellectual). So he wrote the book in 3 sections, each with 8 points, none of the points with more than 2 levels of depth, chapters able to be read in 15 minutes or less (except the last, "Let My People Think", his prescription which is 21 pages long, an average sermon). Now this makes a cute point, but is really hard on a reader, who naturally expects a book not a collection of sermons, unless labelled and advertised as such. The cuteness is mnemonic, meant to be ear-some, witsome, memorable with turns of phrase to stick in the mind and become the central take home point to remain available in the reader to dredge up when he thinks about the topics covered.
Fit Bodies, Fat Minds
Introduction: A Scandal and a Sin
...."the greatest danger besetting American Evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind as to its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough" Charles Malik (pg 11)
...."Without a genuinely critical position resting on Christain foundations and directed by a coherent theological vision that can deal with modern science and technology and the reality of foreign cultures, it is very likely that the evangelical voice in politics today will once again confuse the Christian faith with the American flag." John Schaar (pg 13)
....Not surprisingly the disarray and frustration is deepest among evangelicals who think--whether those who do so for a living such as academics, or those who do so for the love of it, such as artists.",/i> (pg 15)
Part One: A Ghost Mind
...."But the real damage to evangelicals was self-inflicted...The true story of the evangelical mind in retreat is the story of the surrender, not the stealing of America."
Part Two: An Idiot Culture
....What follows, then, is an outline of some of the pressures shaping the Christian mind in America at the popular level. ... But the following list throws light on the source and style of modern pressures that make our thinking more like the 'idiot culture' around us than the mind of Christ within us." (pg 75)
9 Amusing Ourselves to Death
10 People Of Plenty
11 All Consuming Images
12 The Humiliation of the Word
13 Cannibals of PoMo
14 Tabloid Truth
15 Generation Hex
16 Real, Reel, or Virtually Real?
Part Three: Let My People Think
...."This is the incurable suspicion of thinking born of the distorted notion that, because divine wisdom is folly to human minds, Christian thinking is a contradiction in terms and itis therefore better to be irrational." (pg 137)
Os Guinness, Senior Fellow with the Trinity Forum and one of the few conservative popular Western Angelicans, book is a good little primer on Western scosiety's, especially American society's in general and Evangelicals in particular, lack of interest in intellectual matters and almost complete ingorance of where many of current evangelical ideals have srung from.
Religion he asserts was once the road to knowledge in America. He quickly shows the two phases of ideas that helped shaped American's anti-intellectual (1700-Civil War and Civil War to the present). Of course, most who read the book will be more familar with the more contempory arguements.
The book is an easy read but does suffer from being to short. The chapters are not very long and the arguements are not quite laid out well enough. Although I agree with him, I think he should ahve written a more detialed book; however, I may be wrong in assuming too much. It may be that he was just writing a quick primer for a culture knee deep in intellectual mediocrity, and anything else may loose their attention.