Have you ever tried to power up a machine that hasn’t been turned on in a while and you can almost feel it having to break through the crust of stagnation to get moving? That’s sort of how I feel right now.
Reading: Almost Christian by Kenda Creasy Dean
(Pre-reading expectations) This book is a follow-up to Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, which used large-scale data to profile the state of Christianity in teens, and introduced the concept of “moralistic therapeutic deism*” as the sort of fake religion many teenagers practice, (and youth ministers teach). This book uses the same aggregate data as Soul Searching to seek out a better alternative. My hopes: this book is a recommendation from my soon-to-be boss, and I’m happy to be doing something that feels like work. I like data, so this book already has points in that category. My concerns: that the 2010 publication may feel dated because teenage culture changes so quickly, and that a book about the data of Christianity, instead of its Gospel, has a potential to focus attention to quantifiable outcomes of faith, instead of its honest practice.
*That phrase is a fancy term for the type of feel-good gospel that tells you that you’re special and perfect and expects nothing of you. But it turns out, this version of the Gospel isn’t only incomplete, its also driving people away from discovering real faith.