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Books on Christianity and Modern Culture
Christianity is a religion that shouldn't be of the world, but it still needs to be in the world. This balance can be extremely difficult to manage and Christians must constantly be evaluating how far is too far when it comes to joining secular culture. Yet, God's grace, creativity and love can be seen in many different parts of life, many far outside the church.
The history of how Christians have interacted with the culture of their day can be tough to look through, but it's an important topic to understand. Just as important is building a worldview on how to participate in modern culture; in art, politics, business and the social world. These books, listed and described below, are excellent tools for discernment and knowledge, helping Christians understand how the world sees them and how we should see the world.
Written by Nancy Pearcey, this book is written as an arguement to get Christianity free from the secular captivity it's been placed in. Similar to Francis Schaeffer's , Pearcey discussed the role and history of Christianity in modern culture and where and how God has a place in it. Discussing the Bible's place in education, business and politics, Pearcey goes into heavy discussion about the philosophy of placing God at the head of culture. A Christian Manifesto
Pearcey writes in a clear but well thought out manner and you feel your brain stretch as you read each chapter. From the effects of the industrial revolution on the family to the removing of God from the business world, she doesn't pull any punches. This book was a profound read for me, shaping my mindset regarding my faith in the workplace and what I wanted to do with my life.
I'm also suggesting Pearcey's other book, Saving Leonardo. I haven't read it, but it is on my list to get to and comes highly recommended from a good friend.
Unchristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity...and Why It Matters
Put together by David Kinnaman, this book is a collection of research and surveys done by The Barna Group. Kinnaman presents his data within each chapter, focusing on the negative views the rest of the world has towards modern Christianity. Dealing with issues such a hypocrisy to anti-homosexuality, from being judgmental to being too pushy in politics, Kinnaman's research holds no punches.
Kinnaman does well in presenting the data as it is, though there is commentary about the Church's need to understand this situation. The views are supported with interviews and polls, all meant to help Christians see the other side of the fence. While the church can't change in some area, we can acknowledge the way the world sees us and how to help fix the problems.
Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment
Written by Brian Godawa, Hollywood Worldviews is a book specifically about Christians and movies. As culture is often best understood by its art, it's important to have a critical mind when dealing with our most popular form of storytelling. As Godawa points out, the messages and worldviews that are presented in films can be stealthy. Wisdom and discernment are important when sitting down to watch a movie, even when it's just for entertainment.
This book doesn't condemn movies. They're a medium of art and not bad on their own. But Godawa does go through many different films and dissects what they are "preaching" when it comes to how the world works. Christians shouldn't avoid these films but they should be able to understand what they're selling in order to defend or protect the truth. This is a great book for movie buffs and film critics to read through, along with Reel Spirituality.
A Faith and Culture Devotional: Daily Readings on Art, Science, and Life
Kelly Monroe Kullberg and Lael Arrington put together this devotional and there is nothing quite like it. Going over the course of fifteen weeks, each day is a focus on a different part of culture and how it interacts with Biblical faith. The topics; theology, history, philosophy, science, literature, art, and contemporary culture are all covered by different writers and teachers, helping to differentiate each day. It never gets old and you'll find yourself wanting to read more than just a topic a day.
Honestly, this is the only devotional that has ever worked for me. I wish there was a sequel or more in a series, because I could read books like this forever. From the talks about intelligent design to the Biblical allusions in Ben-Hur, this is a great read. You'll feel taught and strengthened each day and it's a great way for Christians to see the surrounding world. If you've read this and have found others like it, please, let me know in the comments. I'd love to find more books like this.
Too much too read...
Of course, like all lists, this isn't a complete collection. There are many different types of books dealing with the subject of faith and culture. You might find some that I haven't mention because of the topics. There are plenty of books on theater, music and art that I haven't read. Please feel free to suggest others and let me know if you've read these books above!