This month for the Viral Bloggers I am reviewing the book The Seven Faith Tribes by George Barna. To be honest, this book is based more on interpretation of numbers from polls and such. I will not go into a lot of detail on their information gathering techniques, but it is by looking at a large number of polls that had a couple of faith questions. It was from these polls that Barna extracted the information on the lifestyles and the rest of the information. It is also interesting because this book attempts to remove any sort of slant on the various tribes. The author fully discloses his Christian faith, but explains how this book was written as a means to explaining the various tribes and how the all fit into the current economy and how the shifting values in America are causing the once peaceful interaction or co-existence of the faiths to become contentious.
I must admit that after reading the first three chapters (dealing with how the data was collected, the importance of the data, and then a chapter on Casual Christians, and a chapter on Captivated Christians), I think that the book is more than worth it, and I would highly recommend this book. My reason for saying that is because as a Christian, we like to think that we are in the captivated category, but after reading this we slowly will see that we have allowed our values to slip and slide. I think that, this in and of itself is pretty enlightening to read.
I am halfway through the chapter on American Jews and am starting to find areas that I wish were of value still to the modern day Christian. While the American Jew is not tied to religious tradition, they are deeply communal and familial. This is something that I think has been lost, that was not a part of the transition between the old and the new covenant.
In the second part of the review, I will cover the rest of the book as well as look at how it is all pieced together.
I completed The Seven Faith Tribes today and in the latter chapters, I felt that my enthusiasm for the book dwindled on some level, but that is from my own personal convictions and beliefs on what needs to happen in order to truly change the world and our country for the better. I am a believer in Jesus Christ and as such, I have tendencies that will push me to one side of the spectrum on issues. So when Barna calls for all the tribes to focus on the similarities, I can appreciate his point. I can even commend him for his ability to detach himself from his “tribe” in order to attempt to write a book that takes us out of our safe little boxes.
I do however feel that many of the obstacles we face today, are bigger and deal with a lot more than the “can’t we all just get along” mentality. I do strongly agree with the ideas that were expressed in the first chapter about the paradigm shifts that are taking place, or have taken place in the US. I can even agree with many of the stances that he takes in the latter chapters, but there are from an idealogical standpoint, that would call for many people to give up some of their core beliefs from within the tribes themselves.
The main thing that I did not see addressed was the simple truth that within the culture shift, there has been a marginalizing of the Christian perspective. It is a trait, that I did not see fully covered and that is that, the majority can be removed for the sake of the minority. Society and the US has moved into a realm of being so afraid to offend that we remove the majority for the sake of tolerance. That which is given to the public is through a completely different lens, the lens of tolerance. The majority tribe (Christians – Casual or Captivated) are asked to put aside their views for the sake of the other tribes, without the same thing being expected from the other tribes.
Overall though, I do think that the book was worth reading. I do think that this book is eye-opening in how it explores and lays out a broad understanding of the various tribes. I think that the ideas suggested by Barna are good and encouraging on some level, but they are at times a lot to ask. To ask all the tribes, to become a melding pot and yet still hold onto their individuality is a little hard to swallow.
But even with saying all that, I would recommend that people read this book for the sake of seeing those broad pictures of the tribes. The information within those sections will surprise many.