Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Alan Wolfe's new book

I came across a review of Alan Wolfe's new book in Christianity Today through the Arts & Letters Daily website:

"For all their (often quite legitimate) denunciation of sex and violence in the popular media, evangelicals flourish amidst the celebrity-drenched, lowest-common-denominator, highly sentimentalized world of romance novels, daytime soaps, NASCAR races, and Opry-knockoff music that dominates America's entertainment industry." With well-chosen and telling detail, Wolfe applies this lesson across the board: Americans of all faith communities pose a decreasing ideological challenge to culture. "Evangelical churches lack doctrine because they want to attract new members. Mainline churches lack doctrine because they want to hold on to those declining numbers of members they have." Each in its own way, American religious communities are shown bending before American social pressures.

What Wolfe says to his audience of secular intellectuals is irenic and calming. They should be willing to engage religious people in debate and not attempt to use the courts to rule them out of public life. What he says to his religious audience is, despite his own reluctance to offend, ironic and alarming. People like me, he says just between the lines, can live with people like you because you do not truly take yourselves seriously.

Interesting! Elsewhere the reviewer, who does not appear to be an academic, talks about Wolfe's method and his approach to audience. It might be helpful for my own work.

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