Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Viral - by Leonard Sweet

I was given a copy of Leonard Sweet's book Viral to review recently.  Below are my thoughts.

This is my first Leonard Sweet book I have read (gasp!), and it was well worth it.  Having seen him speak on a couple of occasions, his writing did not disappoint.

Overall a very good and interesting read.  I'd certainly recommend the book.  Looking at culture has become the "in" thing to do, but few do it as well as Sweet.  I would disagree with Sweet on the strength of his categorization of the old culture (Gutenberger - paper & pencil & print) vs. the new culture of Google (electronic & immediate).  I think he overstates the strength of difference between these two groups more than necessary.  He needs to show the differences, but there is more overlap between the groups than Sweet shows in the book.  That said, I realize he did so to state his points, so I'm not going to gripe too loudly over it. And most of the generalities he talks about are accurate much of the time.  This shift in culture that Sweet is pointing out is impacting our churches and our world, and we as Christians need to be aware of that and be on point to work through this change/transition.

Sweet coins a simple yet powerful acronym for the Google culture - TGIF - Twitter, Google, iPhone, and Facebook.  This becomes the focus for much of the book.  Sweet uses these social media platforms to give some good and clear examples of how the church needs to connect with the culture in new ways, and how we present the eternal Truths of the Bible have to be adapted to this new culture.  The Truths remain the same, but how we share them in the context of our culture is constantly changing.  This isn't new news, but Sweet frames it in a fairly modern context quite well.

I think the biggest take away from the book is the need for us to see that the Google culture is still needing and wanting to find what they were created for and why they were created.  The church needs to adapt and make sure we continue to make these connections in relevant ways to people's lives.

One final thought - I know that Sweet runs in PoMo circles that I am somewhat uncomfortable with at times, yet he manages a fair presentation in the book without trying to push the reader to fully embrace things in postmodernism that can be at odds with historic Christianity.  I've heard criticism of him on this in the past, but I didn't see it in this book if it was there.

A few other books by Leonard Sweet:

I Am A Follower

The Greatest Story Never Told

Jesus Manifesto

I was given a review copy of Viral by Waterbrook Multnomah as a part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not obligated in any way to give it a positive review.

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