My Review of The Diversity Culture by Matthew Raley

I received The Diversity Culture by Matthew Raley from the Ooze Viral Bloggers program and this is the review I left on the site:

Here’s the book summary copied from the Ooze: “We are facing a crisis in civility in our society. Whereas in the 1990s polarizing talk radio was a growing novelty, today this level of demeaning, caricaturing, hyperbole-laden discourse is the New Normal in America’s public square. Even worse, it seems to have found a hotbed of grassroots support among American evangelical Christians. Evangelical Christians, it seems, feel the ‘pain’ of our multicultural, pluralistic society more than most. In fact, to many of the rest of us (this would include emerging, mainline, and progressive Christians), multiculturalism and pluralism aren’t negative realities at all, but something to be celebrated. Even so, emerging and missional Christians often wrestle with how to witness authentically to the life of God found in Jesus without culturally steam-rolling our friends, neighbors, and relatives.

Enter a self-confessed ‘conservative evangelical’ California pastor, whose book The Diversity Culture is sub-titled Creating Conversations of Faith with Buddhist Barristas, Agnostic Students, Aging Hippies, Political Activists, and Everyone In Between.”

Who I Think the Book is For: A thoughtful, very conservative evangelical whose looking for a change from being inspired by Max Lucado, angered by Bill O’Reilly and has already read all the Ravi Zacharias, John Piper and Chuck Colson one can handle.  If that’s been your diet of books lately, than I suspect that you will appreciate this offering from Matthew Raley.  Honestly, I think this book is for my parents.  Even further for any boomer age parents who have felt they have lost their son/daughter to the “relativism and humanism” taught in the university, this book would help in understanding where their children are/were coming from.

Who I Don’t Think this Book is For: Me.  While I enjoyed reading it, it didn’t alter or challenge me in any dramatic or profound way.  And that’s ok.  I don’t think Raley had postmodern seminarians like me in mind when he was writing it.  I think Doug Pagiit’s A Christianity Worth Believing would be more helpful for the postmodern believer or skeptic. That said, it probably did help me in trying to communicate more effectively to the Boomer generation.  Like Raley, I am a pastor in a Evangelical Free Church and I see myself as a mediator,

What Raley Does Well: 1. I think he offers excellent caricatures of those outside the Christian faith.  There’s a couple but the main one focuses on “The woman at Cafe Siddhartha” which is his coffee shop equivalent of the well.   She really takes life in chapter four or at least that’s when I connected with her.  She’s  an intelligent, culturally savy woman who has given up on the basic faith she was raised with.2.  I like the whole “Cafe Siddartha” theme.  As he explains in the beginning, “Siddartha is the birth name o f the Buddha which translates to “One who has found meaning”. Among other things, he explains that this is the place of understanding the diversity culture.   3. I liked how he continued to weave through Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman as an excellent approach of creating conversation outside of our walls.  4. I liked how he criticized the lame approach of Teen Mania.  Although it was too polite, a thoughtful Boomer will nod in agreement.

What I Would Have Liked to See More of: 1. I think i wanted to feel more of the plurality of what was contained in  the subtitle of the “Buddhist Baristas, Agnostic Students, Aging Hippies…”  2. He has a chapter called, “Be a Heretic” (Ch. 8) and in truth, I was looking for more boldness (or at least one heresy).  It seemed that it should have been called its theme which was “Don’t Be a Hero”.

Concluding Thoughts: Overall, I liked The Diversity Culture. It’s a well written book with excellent themes weaving throughout.  I think it’s strength is in opening the mind of a Boomer in helping him/her understand the mentality of those outside the Christian faith.  We in the church like to say that non-believers are “lost in their sin” and “have hardened their hearts to the Holy Spirit” and dismiss them.  I think Raley will help people see why some non-Christians like being non-Christians and how one can begin a similar conversation as Jesus did with the Samaritan woman at the well at our respective wells and cafes in life.