SoulTsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture

Leonard Sweet, Author
Leonard Sweet, Author Zondervan Publishing Company $16.99 (0p) ISBN 978-0-310-22762-5
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-310-22712-0
Book - 978-0-310-26102-5
Open Ebook - 978-0-310-83380-2
Open Ebook - 978-0-310-86553-7
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-310-24280-2
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The book's title comes from the Japanese word for a tidal wave that sweeps away all that it encounters; Sweet's thesis is that the present postmodern culture is advancing on churches, as it has on business, education and other areas of life, with comparable great force and speed. Like a French Impressionist painter, Sweet--a Methodist minister and dean of the Divinity School of Drew University--presents a canvas filled with numerous small points of light, offering a snapshot of a scene caught in that moment when one time blends into the next. The book presents almost innumerable details. The reader learns that the number of books being sold is increasing, that the average American must learn to operate 20,000 pieces of technology and that Generation X has witnessed (on television and elsewhere) more violence than any previous generation. The resulting information pileup makes the reader feel almost bombarded by hundreds of bites of data; in fact, one of Sweet's principle points is that contemporary culture is generating more and more information. The present human response to this glut of information ranges from a passion to keep up with it all--buying more computer time, scanning more information sources and buying more books--to a desire to escape into a private world or inner experience. Furthermore, Sweet argues that this increase in knowledge makes it difficult for present-day folk to reflect on the ultimate meaning of that data. The book's format invites its use by church discussion groups. Each chapter ends with questions, theological snippets and activities (including topics to be researched on the Web) that lead naturally to personal reflection and group conversation. Although Sweet believes that many churches are behind the times, he also notes that the postmodern world offers them new opportunities for mission. In places, these suggestions do little more than urge churches to use the best the culture has to offer; for instance, to construct Web pages, to use contemporary language and idiom in worship and to appeal to the high value that people today place on personal service. Sweet goes beyond such commonplaces and also speaks about the spiritual resources that churches possess. Sweet's insistence that postmoderns need to be reminded of the Christian teaching on original sin and human fragility and his sense of the need for spiritual values, such as humility, to counterbalance consumerism are cases in point. (Mar.)
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