A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World is intended for parents who are concerned about raising their children in the Christian faith and seeing them continue in that faith as they mature. The book is presented in four parts, each of which could stand alone. Each part has a number of chapters. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter are very useful since they cause you to reflect more deeply on the content and then consider personal applications. It would be ideal for a couple to read the chapters and discuss the questions together in light of their own family situation.
Part One: Why Culture Matters discusses the present state of our culture and how it influences us. It does this within the context of a biblical perspective on culture. It also includes current ideas such as Christian Smiths’s concept of moralistic therapeutic deism and Rob Dreher’s Benedict Option, ideas with which Christian parents should become familiar.
Part Two: A Read of the Cultural Waters delves into broad cultural problems such as the influence of technology, the influence of worldviews contrary to Christianity, human dignity, community (or lack thereof), and perpetual adolescence. Rather than simply paint a dismal picture, Stonestreet and Kunkle talk about how to help children develop a Christian worldview and how to cultivate virtues.
Part Three: Pounding the Cultural Waves confronts the huge cultural issues of our day: pornography, the hookup culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, affluence and consumerism, addiction, entertainment, and racial tension. For each of these issues the authors follow a similar chapter outline. They first expose the cultural lie and explain why they believe it to be wrong from a Christian standpoint. Secondly, they offer a way to “Recapture the Wonder of God’s Story,” presenting the biblical perspective on the topic. A third section, “Action Steps,” offers lists of suggestions, practical things that you might consider doing. They conclude each chapter with “Hopecasting,” reminding us that present-day events occur in the midst of a bigger story, and that our hope based upon God’s promises gives us a broader, more positive perspective.
While the book is designed to help parents as they raise their children, the authors are cognizant that many parents themselves are struggling with pornography, addictions, and others of these issues. Action steps generally include suggestions for parents as well as for use with their children.
Part Four: Christian Worldview Essentials takes time to present a worldview primer. While the authors have discussed worldviews throughout the book, this last section will be very helpful for those new to the idea of a Christian worldview. They begin with the importance of Scripture and its reliability. They expand upon worldviews with sections such as “The Christian Vision of Religions and Truth.” I think that the specific steps they offer for “Helping Kids Navigate the New Kind of Pluralism” is one of the most succinct and useful summaries for learning and applying a Christian worldview within today’s culture.
If you are already familiar with the state of the culture, you might find yourself skimming through the first two parts, but I don't recommend skimming through the last two parts because this is where you can discover how to confront the most difficult cultural challenges that must be addressed.