A Lunch Community

Dilemma indeed: how to review fairly in context

  • Mar 11, 2013
Rating:
+1
When I opened this book to begin to read it this weekend my adult daughter said "Dad you know that was an old freshman-level textbook of mine that we had put out for the yard sale last year?"  I replied "Yeah, when it didn't sell [books never sell at yard sales] I decided to add it to my reading shelf because the title sounded interesting."  So duly warned I forged ahead.


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.

What did you think of this review?

Helpful
0
Thought-Provoking
0
Fun to Read
0
Well-Organized
0
Post a Comment
More Moral Dilemmas: Biblical Persp... reviews
review by . March 11, 2013
When I opened this book to begin to read it this weekend my adult daughter said "Dad you know that was an old freshman-level textbook of mine that we had put out for the yard sale last year?"  I replied "Yeah, when it didn't sell [books never sell at yard sales] I decided to add it to my reading shelf because the title sounded interesting."  So duly warned I forged ahead.    As appropriate for a book that could be used as a textbook for a freshman-level …
About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #1
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
About this product

Wiki

Tags

Details

© 2014 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
The catholic reader is part of the Lunch.com Network - Get this on your site
()
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since
reviews
comments
ratings
questions
compliments
lists