Sunday, January 01, 2006

Two interesting books

Okay, I'm a total nerd. Total nerd. Beginning of a New Year and I spend the first day engrossed in book TV.

But two books worth a possible read: Robert Kaplan's Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground and Pamela R. Winnick's A Jealous God: Science's Crusade Against Religion.

Kaplan's book (please know I only read the review and listened to him speak so I write with limited knowledge) seems to have some implications for our society at large. First, he writes fondly of American troops who disdain the elites in Washington who discuss political theories over dinners in posh restaurants while the farm boy from Iowa is actually doing the work in ways those, well, we, at nice restaurants can't imagine. In Kaplan and their view, they do not know what is happening in the field. I would argue that this perception (and perhaps in some cases it is only that--a perception) exists throughout society. The church staff doesn't know what is going on among it's members. The school admin. doesn't know what is going on in the classroom. Washington bureaucracy doesn't know what is going in Slidell, Mississippi (warning: I'm using his view as an illustration, it is not one I necessarily support.) The IMB is out of touch with missionaries in foreign lands and in home churches. Such cynicism concerning authority has important implications for the Universal Church.

Large organizations in our society will increasingly breed distrust. Not that all of them should, but all of them will. And I just don't think that churches will escape such a societal phenomenon. We will have to adapt as well.

Winnick's book relates to Kaplan's by showing that the academic elites of our society operate with their own agendas as well. The scientist, who in a way functions as a kind of prophet truth in our society, is all too fallible. Winnick reveals the depraved practices of some scientists giving examples from stem cell research and the eugenics movement. Winnick's book suggests that scientists are human with very human motivations as well. To an increasingly cynical public, their expertise will be viewed with suspicion. It is the natural tendency of a postmodern generation.

I believe that in this new world trusted friendships and people who are recommended through those trusted informal networks will be the ones who disseminate knowledge throughout our society. I'm not saying this is better or worse, just different, and we will need to adapt.

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