book report: Christians are Hate-filled Hypocrites 2010 by Bradley Wright
I have only known UConn Sociology professor Bradley R. E. Wright through the internet but he still was kind enough to send me a copy of his new book to review. I loved it. It's got a long title, but it tells you everything you need to know, Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites...and Other Lies You've Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media. I started reading Wright's blog soon after he started it, when he was investigating the assertion that Christian divorce rates are no different from non-Christian divorce rates in America. As he pointed out, things are more complicated than that. But you can read the series yourself, or the book, to get the rest of the story. One lesson I learned from all the data he presents from large national surveys is that, in general, the more often you go to church, the more likely you will behave in a Christian way, with the exception of minority tolerance. I could focus on that bit of negativity, but, as Wright points out, it's that inconsistent stuff, the non-Christian behavior of Christians, that sells papers, magazines, books, and conferences. But most of the negativity that comes out from Christian pollsters should be taken with a pound of salt. Here is how the "chicken littles" of the american church sound to Wright,
Their message can go something like this: American Christianity is rapidly dying, and Christians are immoral, disliked, and not very good at being Christians, so ... go invite your friends to join us. Frankly, if after two millennia on Earth and several centuries in this country, Christianity is as messed up as people like to describe it, we should probably just give up. No book or conference or magazine article is going to save it now. Thankfully, this appears not to be the case, and many things are going well. When we invite others to join us in our faith, we are not asking them to jump onto a sinking ship; rather, it's a ship going at maybe three-quarters speed in mostly the right direction. p. 213Thank you professor Wright. You can get a sense of his conversational tone in his writing. Although an academic, he has written this for anyone. There are tons of graphs and charts in the book, but that's a good thing, because a picture is worth a thousand words. There are pictures showing the growth of evangelicalism in america since the revolution, the retention of the youth, the consistent practice of Christian ethics and practices in the church, etc. The sky is not falling on the american evangelical church. Jesus made a promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church, Matthew 16:18. Maybe the Holy Spirit really does work in the lives of believers and changes their hearts, and if that is true, maybe this year's crisis is nothing the Holy Spirit is worried about. Wright's book, seems to support a correct theology of the Holy Spirit, indirectly, simply using large data samples from groups without interest in selling solutions.