Monday, July 7, 2014

Faithful Learning Series: Sociology

P&R Publishing has released a series of small books on academic disciplines, presented positively, from a Christian perspective.  For too long Christians have abandoned rigorous study of “secular” disciplines out of fear, ignorance, and/or apathy.  These booklets in the Faithful Learning Series will go a long way in helping the reader to see why God cares about the liberal arts and sciences. 
We were not wrong to learn the alphabet just because they say that the god Mercury was its patron, nor should we avoid justice and virtue just because they dedicated temples to justice and virtue. . . . A person who is a good and a true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found.—Augustine, On Christian Doctrine
So why should Christians care at all about a subject like sociology?  In a culture where the individual is seen as ultimate, it is important to see just how interconnected we all are. 
We cannot know who we are solely on the basis of things internal to us. To know ourselves, we must locate ourselves in the company of others. Who we are—our identity—is related more to things outside us (like people) than to things inside us. And since I write from such a highly individualistic culture (I am a Westerner), it is surprising to realize just how little of “me” there is when I cut myself off from the groups that influence and form me. Why is this so? In a nutshell, we are made for fellowship—with God and with others—and, apart from these relationships, “who I am” deteriorates or fails to develop at all.
Vos shows the reader what it means to be “normal” and the difference between “troubles” and “issues”, including how “troubles” can never truly be solved unless “issues” are generally alleviated as well.  His outlining of 3 main ways of “seeing things” was interesting and helpful.  Taking the reader through functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism Vos helps the reader to see much: including the underlying evolutionary mindset of many as to how societies thrive, how conflict is not necessarily negative, “normal” vs “natural”, how some(a lot even) truth is most certainly relative, and much more. 

This booklet is an easy and informative read on a subject that which it would benefit us all to be a bit more educated.  Well worth the time and effort to invested in these few pages.

***I received a review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

From the Publisher:
Price: 4.99
Pages: 48
ISBN: 9781596387201
Binding: BKLT
Publication Date: July 2014

We are made for fellowship—fellowship with God and with others. None of us can know who we are by looking only at what is inside us and ignoring our relationships—after all, Christ asks us to be in the world but not of it. This is where sociology, the study of how we fit into groups, comes in. Matthew Vos offers an introduction to sociology and describes how sociology sees and studies the world, the world’s issues, and our own troubles—all with the goal of bringing new depth to our understanding of our relationships with God and the world.