This was an interesting yet somewhat confusing book. The author is a sociologist who attempts to present data to show that the state of Christianity is much better than most people tend to believe. He suggests that Christians are not as "bad" as the surveys seem to indicate. We are actually pretty decent folk who are more respected by society today than 20 years ago.
While I don't argue much with his conclusions, I was a little surprised as to how he came to those conclusions.
"...later in this book you'll read that Christians are significantly less likely to smoke marijuana than non-Christians. This could mean that Christianity could make people less likely to smoke marijuana. It could also mean that people who smoke marijuana are less apt to join Christianity. Or maybe Christians who smoke marijuana are more likely to leave their faith. Finally, it could be that some underlying characteristic, say a propensity for conventional behavior, both increases churchgoing while decreasing sustance abuse, so there might be no causal relationship between the two at all."
In other words, who can we trust when looking at surveys about religion/Christianity? How can we accurately interpret them with so many variables? How do we know what the results of the surveys actually say about Christians and our society?
Here's where the confusing part came for me. The rest of the book was dedicated to proving the state of Christianity by using data from surveys! The author appeared to be contradicting himself by presenting data from the very medium he warned us was unreliable at best and untruthful at worst. His use of survey results was not convincing. He was doing the very thing that he had said in the first chapter was problematic. He did say he likes statistics, but I did not see how he used them any better than anyone else in showing the truth of the matter.
The author had a few funny moments. Here is one, in defense of why you should read this book:
"In writing this, I realize that I may have made a strategic error in discussing why I have written this book: I have neglected to add a fear appeal. So maybe no one will read it. But it's not too late, so here it goes. You should read this book because 'there is a deeply disturbing trend of bad statistics that is sabotaging American Christianity and destroying the American way of life, and if you ignore it your entire body will soon be covered with boils. The good news, however, is that if you buy this book and read it carefully, you will avoid this calamity; plus you'll live longer, have fresh breath, and your kitchen knives will always stay sharp.'"
How's that for a guarantee?
The book is full of statistical data and graphs. If you like those kinds of things, then maybe you will enjoy this book. I, however, could not stay interested in it for very long. Some of the info was helpful, but most was not. I rate this book 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.
To read more about this book on Amazon, click on the book cover above.
(I received this book from Bethany House Publishers for review purposes. I received no monetary compensation for this review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.)