Books on Contemporary Culture

Prodigal Hugging Church by Tim Wright (Augsburg).
Not an assessment
of modern culture, but a brief and joyous case for appreciation of culture
and how to engage and use the best of our contemporary context. A solid
reminder of the need for relevant engagement. Very solid. And the notion
that we embrace and celebrate “prodigals” is nice, too, eh?

Carpe Mañana: Is Your Church Ready to Seize Tomorrow?
by Leonard Sweet (Zondervan).
Sweet’s newest offers 10 “naturalization
lessons” for those of us for whom this new hot-wired postmodern world
is not the culture of our birth. Classic Sweet, chock-full of stories,
examples, statistics, new definitions (even new words), trends and tons
of things to do, consider or discuss. Fun, provocative and, even if you
only use a portion of it, it is well worth the ride! For a real treat
(and perhaps the best way to appreciate his material) check out the SoulTsunami
audio tapes. Woo-hoo.
The End of the World as We Know It by Chuck Smith (Waterbrook).
Nobody has explained postmodernism as simply as this! Very basic and
altogether helpful. For a deeper study, ask us, as there are several important
titles we recommend, but for starters, this intro to the cultural shifts
away from the “modern” is really good. At last.
No More Front Porches: Rebuilding Community In Our Isolated Worlds
by Linda Wilcox (Beacon Hill).
A Christian sociologist has given us
an insightful invitation to rebuild neighborhoods by reconnecting with
one another. A clear critique of the trends towards individualism and
fragmentation. Offers clear hope for building “front porches”
in today’s world. Social commentary doesn’t get any clearer
than this.
Eyes Wide Open: Finding God in Popular Culture by William D.
Romanowski (Brazos Press).
The author–a native of Pennsylvania
who came to faith through a local Presbyterian outreach (and who served
for 12 years on CCO staff)–has given us the very best biblical argument
for engaging popular culture. Truly fascinating, insightful and exciting
(yep, it is actually fun), this is theologically clear and solid as can
be. Fabulous!
Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment
by Brian Godawa (IVP).
An exceptional and brand new study of how
movies have shaped our views of life. Written by a Hollywood screenwriter,
this is no ivory tower treatise. It is, however, very thoughtful, philosophically
learned and worthy of serious consideration. (His Web site and movie suggestions
are fabulous resources, too.)
A Time for Truth: Living Free in a World of Lies, Hype & Spin
by Os Guinness (Baker).
An elegant and eloquent essay on the profound
nature of truth and the need for a reconsideration of the notion of truth
in a culture which has rejected the idea. For many, this will be a rich
resource for serious reflection and repeated readings. Guinness is surely
one of the finest public intellectuals and a theologically astute observer
of the contemporary cultural crisis.
Confident Witness–Changing World: Rediscovering the Gospel
in North America
edited by Craig Van Gelder (Eerdmans).
A serious
examination of the radical shift that has reshaped American life and what
it means for congregations and their mission…insightful critique and
profound reflections on the new challenges. A semi-scholarly, foundational
discussion of how our churches can have a greater witness with biblical
fidelity. An important volume in the ongoing Christ and Our Culture
Consuming Passion: Christianity and Consumer Culture edited
by Rodney Clapp (IVP).
A collection of serious essays (a few of which
are nearly brilliant). Looks at various ways the ethos of consumption
has effected our lives and even our understanding of the gospel itself!
Much, much more than a warning against the lure of materialism, this is
a study of the whole ethos of consumerism.
Dining With The Devil by Os Guinness (Baker). One need
not agree with Dr. Guinness’ criticism of “seeker-sensitive
mega-churches” to appreciation this keen, clear critique of how the
values of the modern world — technology, choice, change, marketing,
growth, image — have presented unprecedented challenges to the communication
of the gospel. His urgent warning that we not adopt these values unwittingly
is truly worthy of our utmost consideration.          
Is It a Lost Cause? Having the Heart of God for the Church’s
by Marva Dawn (Eerdmans).
Although the subtitle indicates
that this may be mostly about children or for Christian educators, this
is a radical and clear-headed critique of our cultural values and family
habits — materialism, TV violence, etc. — and a reminder that
the gospel calls us to be a counter-cultural community, different from
the world, but for the world. What a wake up call! Truly one of the most
important theological voices writing today, this is one of her most challenging
and important.
A Beginner’s Guide to Crossing Cultures: Making Friends in
a Multi-Cultural World
by Patty Lane (IVP).
There are plenty of
powerful books on cultural diversity, various ethnicities and the biblical
call for racial justice and reconciliation. This book spells out as well
as any the details of actually learning to be comfortable in our diverse
and multi-cultural world. Very important amidst our “global village.”
Uncommon Decency by Richard Mouw (IVP). As Christians
press the claims of Christ across the entire spectrum of society, we must
be humble, fair and civil. This astute evangelical Calvinist has learned
much about principled proclamation as well as graciousness in the public
square. Delightful, challenging and more urgent than ever!