While I’m not buying books this year, why not look back at a few that I’ve read?
I like to write in margins, take notes as I read – the “interaction” helps me commit things to memory. Similarly, writing a quick review on Goodreads helps me process and cement my own thoughts about what I’ve read – and have something to share with others!
A fellow minister and blogger shared one of my reviews on his site, and I though I’d just put the review up here too – of quite a monumental and important book!
Here it is:
Well, this was a very thorough treatment of a very relevant and difficult topic. Honestly, it’s so thorough that it can feel overly thick and tedious. Still, I think a book like this needs to be written, showing in great detail the historical, intellectual, and philosophical foundations of our current cultural milieu.
Perhaps to put it simply, the roots of current views on sexuality and gender are found in the thoughts of Rousseau, Freud, and others of their time— who began to untether human identity from divine revelation, objective reality, or social standing.
Now, feeling trumps physical; psychology overrules biology. What was once the diversity of personality within biological genders is now biological diversity within psychologically defined categories of identity.
As people define themselves based on feelings, the author wonders which social taboo will become mainstream next—polygamy, pedophilia, bestiality? That might sound alarmist at the moment, but Trueman shows clearly that the foundation for opposing such practices has been undermined, and the only object in the way of their legalization is current public opinion.
Our society is moving away from any objective, unchanging moral standard. Trueman also identifies various fractures in the LGBTQ movement as they work out their philosophies and ally around the common identity of victimhood. Interestingly, feminism has experienced frustration and division in relation to these developments.
Personally, I can’t help but think of biblical ideas of setting aside social, gender, and ethnic identities for the sake of unity in Christ. But this is not setting aside external identities for something self-defined; instead, it is finding a new identity, our true, original identity, defined by God and restored through Christ by the work of the Spirit for anyone, no matter who they are.
I think this book will provide a good basis for others to expand on, and perhaps there are other books that are more accessible to read. He provides a lot of research to support one main point. This is a difficult read, and I think he has a more popular version of this available (Strange New World — see living theology note below).
Other authors have explored the history of modern thought and its implications for Christianity. Francis Schaeffer (How Shall We Then Live) and Lesslie Newbigin (Foolishness to Greeks) are foundational.
Trueman’s conclusion alone is worth reading. He summarizes it all and offers some very helpful advice to Christians about how to relate in a world where they find themselves foreigners in their surrounding culture.