Monday, January 31, 2011

What does a 'Book Awards' list tell us?


Christianity Today's 2011 Book Awards:
Apologetics / Evangelism:
The Passionate Intellect: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind
Alister Mcgrath (Intervarsity)

Spirituality:
Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ
Eugene H. Peterson (Eerdmans)

Theology / Ethics:
After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters
N. T. Wright (Harperone)

Biblical Studies:
The Good and Evil Serpent: How a Universal Symbol Became Christianized
James H. Charlesworth (Yale University Press),

and

The Historical Jesus: Five Views
Editors: James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy; Contributors: Robert Price, John Dominic Crossan, Luke Timothy Johnson, James Dunn, and Darrell Bock (Intervarsity Academic)

Christian Living:
What was Lost: A Christian Journey Through Miscarriage
Elise Erikson Barrett (Westminster John Knox)

Christianity and Culture:
Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You've Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths from the Secular and Christian Media
Bradley R. E. Wright (Bethany House)

Missions / Global Affairs:
Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China
Lian Xi (Yale University Press)

The Church / Pastoral Leadership:
Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church
Kenda Creasy Dean (Oxford University Press)

Fiction:
Of Love and Evil The Songs of the Seraphim, Book Two
Anne Rice (Knopf)

History / Biography:
Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch
Eric Miller (Eerdmans)
Reading through the list year after year, I'm convinced that the award name should be changed to 'American Christianity Today Book Award'.

Looking through the list, we should ask ourselves these questions:

What 'historical Jesus'? A technical term referring to the industry of studying Jesus as a historical person as contrast to the Church's official belief and teaching about him. The industry started in Europe and gained prominence two decades ago in America through the works of American institutions like the Westar Institute. The rest is a twenty years of academic responses produced to engage the industry.

What lies and myths, and from which secular and Christian media? American lies and myths, and from American secular and American Christian media.

Why popular Christianity in modern China and not India, Africa, eastern Europe, South Korea, or Southeast Asia? That is because China is the best contender as the world's most powerful nation in terms of economic influence, international political relations, product consumption, and military-affair against America.

"What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church." Needless to say more.

And, finally, who is Christopher Lasch? A prominent American academic critic who is famous for his works on American culture and its affairs in the late 20th century.

Is American Christianity the representation of Christianity today? Americanization is not limited only to economics, culture, education, and politics. When these areas are Americanized, there is no way for religion not to be affected. Americanization of Christianity occurs as subtle as an annual Book Awards list by a magazine fancifully titled 'Christianity Today'.

I think American Christians need to start realizing two things. First, they are not the embodiment of Christianity today. Second, the world is incomprehensibly larger than America. On the other hand, non-American Christians need to stop seeing themselves as part of American Christianity. I'm writing this without any intention to offend anyone, particularly Americans. This is just my observation and thoughts.

3 comments:

yourshoeah said...

May I humbly propose that your kind self consider taking up the mantle Wang Ming Dao has left and produce a Christian Journal for and from Asia?

Sze Zeng said...

Hi yourshoeah,

There is already one by TTC: http://www.ttc.edu.sg/images/ttc/publications/cns_advert_dec2010.pdf

There are other journals from Taiwan and Hong Kong which are philosophically and theologically sophisticated. I don't remember their names though as I haven't read any. But TTC library subscribes them. I see them lying on the shelves :D

david said...

I suggest you don’t just read the book list –if you read the books you may find that you have something beneficial to say to your readers.