As appropriate for a book that could be used as a textbook for a freshman-level survey course of contemporary issues, Anderson assumes no prior knowledge so his chapters on 17 hot-button subjects such as abortion, homosexuality, pornography, and capital punishment include basic definitions and data current as of the 1998 publication date. Given the classroom context thus is a logical approach, but one that left me disappointed on two crucial counts:
1). While many (but not all) of the chapters include a section on the Biblical perspectives, by not leading with these Anderson has allowed the definitions and data current in 1998 to drive the content. A much more cogent and powerful presentation could have been made by leading with the Biblical perspective and using the data to show the rightness of the perspective. G. K. Chesterton in his classic study of Jesus The Everlasting Man which I recently read and reviewed, makes the point that Jesus never phrased His message in terms bound by the Roman world, so that it has remained always relevant and timeless.
2). A related but the reverse problem is that the "contemporary" definitions and data used by Anderson has in the 15 years since publication become incredibly dated by the warp speed pace of moral change. Notice I said moral change, not technical change, even though technologies like the internet, social media, and genetic manipulation have indeed outpaced every expectation. But the real impact of that rate of change is on the moral issues Anderson is attempting to document. On a scale that is even further beyond expectations the moral boundaries have shifted. Homosexuality is no longer considered a moral dilemma but an accepted right, and gay marriage is fast approaching that point. Global warming (briefly hinted at in then section on "Ecology and the Environment") has gone from fringe theory to pet theory (whether proven or not) in political, media, and some scientific circles.
So with the expectation of classroom use for freshman-level survey courses, Anderson made his organizational choices, and now I am reading a 15-year old text book hopelessly out of date that attempts to apply 2,000 year old moral principles that still shine like new. But I can hardly criticize Anderson for being less of a writer than Chesterton--we all are. Hence the dilemma of my review title. I wished for more and got more--or less-- what my daughter warned me to expect. So, reading this book today is a literal "waste of time", but I've rated it one range higher given the context.
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