My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Review: Interpreting Your World: Five Lenses for Engaging Theology and Culture

Interpreting Your World: Five Lenses for Engaging Theology and Culture Interpreting Your World: Five Lenses for Engaging Theology and Culture by Justin Ariel Bailey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Man is a social animal where we divide ourselves into groups or communities that are typically determined by something we call “culture.” In fact, culture plays an outsized role in determining our identity, purpose and “tribe.” Some philosophers argue that the very nature of self can only develop within and without other people … for it is be such comparisons and contrasts that we find out what makes us different and what makes us the same (e.g. the boundaries of self and the collective and of the other). Culture is such a ubiquitous part of our psychology that it is actually difficult to define it distinctly … so it is more of a recognition when you see it (a sort of this are my people and these are not division of the world) … Much like the author, I find that I “gravitate to spaces in which I am comfortable, where I know what will be asked of me, spaces where I have some measure of power, influence , and control.” And yet, isolation is Not the Call of the Christian.  So while I bring my own culture into the world, conflict is inevitable when I encounter other cultures … some markedly different than my own. How should I “interpret” and “differentiate” myself unless I can understand how culture drives my own motivations and that of others?

This book gives us 5 “lenses” by which we can better understand what culture is and how it works in our communities and weaves that into the generally call by Christ to love [our enemies] and what that means. Each lens highlights an aspect of culture that should ultimately be viewed together as a whole. Each lens is introduced with a bit of an explanation of why that particular metaphor works (for example … Jonathan Haidt is used to introduce a Moral Foundations Theory that explores sin (6) [paired] innate moral intuitions and the tension within each pair in terms of resonance and resistance). Also within each, the author proposed several theological threads exploring the intersection of culture and theology (the point of the book). The sections each end was a series of questions to reflect on or discuss. Over all, this was an quick and easy read without any of the “big” words or ideas often found within a theology piece, so I would recommend that book for any inquirer interested in a culture and how such interacts with [christian] theology (in both directions).

Introduction: Is There Anything to Say?

1. The Meaning Dimension: Culture as Immune System
2. The Power Dimension: Culture as Power Play
3. The Ethical Dimension: Culture as Moral Boundary
4. The Religious Dimension: Culture as Sacred Experience
5. The Aesthetic Dimension: Culture as Poetic Project

Conclusion: The Lived Dimension

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#InterpretingYourWorld #NetGalley.

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.