I am finally writing my review of Matthew Raley’s The Diversity Culture for the Viral Bloggers Network. I received two books at once and freaked briefly over the thought of reading and reviewing both within a month. I had them both read on a three day vacation I took, but have let this one languish for a couple weeks before reviewing it.
I liked the book, then again, I didn’t. I have always thought I come from evangelical roots, by Raley and others are convincing me that I was always a mainline person, with fundamentalist, then evangelical affinities.
Raley’s story, flowing out of his own story, is about “healing relationships as a way f showing Jesus Christ to Contemporary America.” (p. 16) Diversity Culture is set in Café Siddhartha, where each one is several stereotype rolled into one.
Using the story of Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4), Raley makes some interesting and valid points for evangelicals who “have difficulty penetrating this culture’s ways, and seem to feel it was designed to exclude them.”
Raley does a respectable job of trying to draw evangelicals out of their absolute, fact-driven world into the world where everyone else lives – the world of relationships and brokenness and community. Is this relativism? “Is it relativistic,” Raley asks, “to hear someone out, or to participate in discussions that may not resolve neatly?”
My hesitation to recommending the book strongly is about what seems to me to lie beneath the surface. The Diversity Culture reads to me as if Raley is hanging onto the assumptions that the evangelical worldview is the one true and accurate worldview, but that evangelicals ought to loosen their grip on it for the sake of building relationships and thereby bringing others to Christ. This worldview is from the Reformation and its progeny, not from Jesus or the New Testament era. We don’t need another book calling us backward to Calvin, Luther, and Locke.
Overall, it is a good read. At only 166 pages, it is written well enough to be worth the time it takes you to read it. Raley raises good questions, and is, I believe, headed in the right direction.