Reading Together

As you know, I have a strong interest in studying youth, culture and theology.  To that end, earlier this morning, I ordered several new monographs from Amazon.com.  I am listing them below in the hopes that one or more of them might intrigue you.  So why don’t you take a look at the list below and use the comment section to let me know which book you would like for me to discuss on this site.  And hey, if you’d like, perhaps you can order your own copy and read along with me.

(For your convenience, I have hyperlinked each photo and title to amazon.com, where you can order a copy for yourself.)

Hidden Worldviews by Steve Wilkens.  Why do we buy what we buy, vote the way we vote, eat what we eat and say what we say? Why do we have the friends we have, and work and play as we do? It’s our choice? Yes, but there are forces, often unseen, that shape every decision we make and every action we take. These hidden, life-shaping values and ideas are not promoted through organized religions or rival philosophies but fostered by cultural habits, lifestyles and the institutional structures of society.

The End of Sexual Identity by Jenell Paris.  Sexual identity has become an idol in both the culture at large and in the Christian subculture. And yet concepts like “gay” or “straight” are relatively recent developments in human history. We let ourselves be defined by socially constructed notions of sexual identity and sexual orientation–even though these may not be the only or best ways to think about sexuality.  The End of Sexual Identity moves beyond culture-war impasses to open up new space for conversations in diverse communities both inside and outside the church.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

Alone Together by Sherry Turkle.  In Alone Together, MIT technology and society professor Sherry Turkle explores the power of our new tools and toys to dramatically alter our social lives. It’s a nuanced exploration of what we are looking for—and sacrificing—in a world of electronic companions and social networking tools, and an argument that, despite the hand-waving of today’s self-described prophets of the future, it will be the next generation who will chart the path between isolation and connectivity.

The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein.  Despite the information superhighway, the younger generation today is less informed, less literate, and more self-absorbed than any that has preceded it. But why? According to the author, the immediacy and intimacy of social-networking sites have focused young people’s Internet use on themselves and their friends. The material they’re studying in school seems boring because it isn’t happening right this second and isn’t about them.  They’re using the Internet not as a learning tool but as a communications tool. And the language of Internet communication, with its peculiar spelling, grammar, and punctuation, actually encourages illiteracy by making it socially acceptable.

The Narcissism Espidemic by Jean Twenge.   Twenge’s influential first book, Generation Me, spurred a national debate with its depiction of the challenges twenty- and thirty-somethings face in today’s world.  Now, Dr. Twenge turns her focus to the pernicious spread of narcissism in today’s culture, which has repercussions for every age group and class. Dr. Twenge joins forces with W. Keith Campbell, Ph.D., a nationally recognized expert on narcissism, to explore this new plague in The Narcissism Epidemic, their eye-opening exposition of the alarming rise of narcissism and its catastrophic effects at every level of society.

P.S.  Yesterday afternoon, I added another post entitled, “Sandusky, Penn State and ‘The Superman.'”  For some reason, this post did not get emailed to everyone that has subscribed to this blog.  So if you missed that discussion, you might want to go back and take a look.  And if you haven’t subscribed to the blog yet, but you are liking what you see, why don’t you take a few moments to go to the home page and subscribe.  It’s very easy.

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10 Responses to Reading Together

  1. Matt E says:

    I read “The Narcissism Epidemic” a couple of years ago. It was great, albeit very depressing. One problem I have with books like it, though (a category to which I expect “Alone Together” and “Dumbest Generation” belong), is that the people who need to read them the most won’t. Which only adds to the depression.

  2. Caroline Zak says:

    The first two books sounded really interesting to me! Might even honestly try to read them the next time I get some time on my hands. I was a little super excited when I saw Hunger Games on here!! 🙂 I’d really love to hear your thoughts on that one.

    • So I’ll let you in on a little secret. You and Sydney are the main reason I added “The Hunger Games” to the list. I honestly believe that, as Christians, we are best-served if we stay current with pop culture. And clearly, “The Hunger Games” is resonating in society right now, so it’s time for me to read it. Just tell me this: is it better than “Twilight?” ‘Cause “Twilight” almost made me hate reading. And it takes a spectacularly awful book to make me hate reading. 🙂

      • Caroline Zak says:

        I can’t really say anything about Twilight, haven’t read the books or seen the movies. I did at one point ask, and my parents don’t really like the idea because of the whole vampire issue. 😛 Its just not really popular with my friends either, so its not like I have people screaming in my face “YOU HAVE TO READ THEM!!!” (Which was definitely the case with Hunger Games. :))
        I really do think there is value in reading The Hunger Games though. I love the story. But also the culture was really interesting to me. I felt like it implied alot of things about humanity’s nature, which were really interesting. I’d suggest trying to make it through all three in the series, and just seeing what you think. 🙂

        What was it you hated about Twilight though?!?! The writing style…the story? Just kinda wondering.

  3. What did I hate about Twilight? How much time you got? 🙂

    In short, I really don’t care for vampire mythology. Vampire mythology takes every symbol of the Christian faith and it inverts it. Blood doesn’t heal, it must be taken. The heroic vampire is repelled by the cross, instead of being drawn to it. Immortality is achieved not through grace, but through violence. Sexuality gets distorted and becomes an act of violence. The list goes on and on.

    Beyond that, the vampires “sparkled.” If you’re going to do a vampire story, you don’t make vampires “sprarkle.” It’s just lame!

  4. Josh The Younger says:

    Yes… someone (who shall remain unnamed) rented the first movie when she was visiting our house and somehow convinced my Dad and me to watch the last half hour or so. I suffered through the first twenty minutes with the hope that the inevitable confrontation at the end might be somewhat cool. Sadly, that hope was completely dashed to the rocks, and suffice it to say that I came close to vomiting the movie was so bad. I wouldn’t go near it again if you paid me, and that’s just because of the story and acting. Throw in the anti-biblical themes and it’s just sickening.

    But in the end, though, something positive DID come out of that misplaced half hour: I now know what to mock when people mention Twilight. 😉

  5. Josh The Younger says:

    And I’ve heard about the sparkling. Honestly, take a writing course and come up with a descriptive adjective that doesn’t remind me of nursery rhymes. 😛

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