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Book Review: The New Matrix: How the World We Live In Impacts Our Thinking About Self and God

 

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My sister has a favorite expression for women she admires. She calls them “no sh-t Shirleys.” These are women who don’t play games. They tell it like it is.

            Carl Krieg fits that definition. In The New Matrix, he describes the modern world just like it is, and then he reflects on how a religion that is 2,000 years old fits into the matrix of the twenty-first century.

            His discussion of the matrix, the context of the modern world which so dramatically impacts Christian belief, is impressive. He begins with the universe, the immense and beautiful creation that dates back 13.7 billion years, and moves to the tiny world of quantum mechanics. This discussion of modern science is conducted with language that is easy to understand and with a spirit of humility. There are aspects of these astounding discoveries that he admits he does not fully understand.

            From the immense and the tiny, he proceeds to analyze the impact of centuries of evolution on the development of human nature. His discussion of the intricacies of what it means to be human demonstrates a wide-ranging understanding of psychology. He also analyzes the context provided by a modern culture defined by secularism and relativity and saturated by social media.

            This discussion of context is followed by several essays reflecting on how this modern matrix impacts contemporary Christian belief. The result is that several beliefs are discarded and others are reinterpreted in creative ways that fit the modern context. He allows for no speculation or wishful thinking, but sticks to facts and experiences that are well documented in everyday life. He retells the story of Jesus in a way that is both faithful to modern biblical scholarship and inspirational for contemporary followers.

            The main point that drives the book is that so much of Christian theology today buries its head in the sand because it refuses to consider honestly the modern context in which our religion exists. His reflections, the product of a creative theologian who has thought about these issues for more than fifty years, go a long way toward bringing Christianity into the twenty-first century. What is both impressive and encouraging is that so much remains that is beautiful and good with regard to the Christian religion.

            Krieg’s book points out clearly how becoming a follower of Jesus provides a meaning and purpose for one’s life that can be transforming. The magic of God’s boundless love and goodness still manifests itself in a world that couldn’t be more different from the first century Palestine where it all began. To come to this place, however, it helps for those of us who choose not to live in the La La Land of evangelical wishful thinking to be brutally honest about what we believe.

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About the Reviewer

Dr. Rick Herrick (PhD, Tulane University), a former tenured university professor and magazine editor, is the author of six published novels and two works of nonfiction. His three latest books are: A Christian Foreign Policy, A Man Called Jesus, Jeff’s Journey and A Second Chance. His musical play, Lighthouse Point, was performed as a fundraiser for the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Herrick is currently retired, living in Bluffton, SC. He is married with three children and seven grandchildren.

 

About the Author

Dr. Carl Krieg received his BA from Dartmouth College, MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in NYC, and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He is the author of What to Believe? the Questions of Christian Faith,   The Void and the Vision and  The New Matrix: How the World We Live In Impacts Our Thinking About Self and God. As professor and pastor, Dr. Krieg has taught innumerable classes and led many discussion groups. He lives with his wife Margaret in Norwich, VT.

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