Monday, October 17

Book Review: Total Truth

Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Study Guide Edition), by Nancy Pearcey, reviewed as part of a program at The Diet of Bookworms.

I was supposed to have this book reviewed a couple of weeks ago. I left plenty of time to read the book before the review was due--plenty of time, that is, if this were an ordinary book. But Total Truth is an extraordinary book, a dense book, and I could only read a few pages at a time before I had to stop to digest what I'd already read. I'd underestimated the book and underestimated the time it would take to finish it.

I hope that my calling Total Truth dense won't scare you away from it, because what Nancy Pearcey has given us in this book is too valuable to avoid just because it's not a quick read. Besides, in this case, dense doesn't mean difficult to understand, only that there's lots to take in.

Why should you care about this book? Why will you find it valuable? Well, unless you've been living under a bridge in Norway eating billy goats, you've heard the word worldview bandied about lately. We've all got one, you know. What is your worldview? How did you get it? How do you evaluate a worldview? How do you apply your worldview practically and personally? These are all questions that this book will help you answer.

I'm not going to review the book by doing a summary of it. There are several other reviews at the Diet of Bookworms, so if you need a summary, you can hop over there and read one of the other reviews. I am going to focus my remarks more on the study guide that comes with this book, since I'm reviewing the new study guide edition, and the study guide is what makes this edition different from the previous--and already widely reviewed--edition of Total Truth.

The purpose for the study guide is to help the reader "gain practical experience in applying what [they] have learned." It consists of discussion questions, many of them arising from real-life situations or quotes from real-life people.

Like me, you will probably find some of the questions of more interest to you than others. That's to be expected, because we all have our special areas of expertise and our own favorite things to think about. Several of the questions were taken from statements made in the 2004 U.S. election, for instance, and those tended to make my eyes glaze over before I'd even finished reading them. I've got U.S. politics fatigue, I think. But there were still plenty of questions that I found compelling, and one in particular that I stewed over all day yesterday. I plan to write on it later in the week, and that'll give you a little more idea what the discussion questions in the study guide are like.

The sort of questions in the study guide are probably more useful for group discussion than for someone just reading through it on their own. However, if you are buying Total Truth (and you should!), I'd suggest getting the study guide edition even if you plan to just read the book by yourself and never discuss it with anyone. I guarantee there'll be a question or two in there that'll get you going and help expand your understanding of the principles in the book.