Divine Commodity is a provocative book. Probably the most provocative I have read since Flickering Pixels. (I ended up writing five blog posts about Flickering Pixels because it was so provocative. This is the last post with links to the others.)
In many ways it is hard to argue with the basic idea that the church of modern America has been impacted by the growth of consumerism and the focus on the market economy. I would think almost no one can disagree with that basic statement. The question that I kept bumping up against was, “Ok, so we have been affected, but what does that mean?”
Jethani keeps suggesting that our churches have been broken by their interactions with culture. This is where I kept wanting to argue. I agree that many church have altered their programing to better serve the congregation (or potential congregation.) But most of them have done that, not as a rejection of Christianity, but with a real belief that they can either redeem culture, or at least they can help redeem those within culture. Jethani reject the idea that we should be changing culture as a major focus of our job as the church. He does not reject evangelism, but does suggest that the basic method of mass media evangelism is broken.
There are many radical suggestions, like rejecting web culture because it inherently weakens personal relationships, and rejecting most, if not all marketing within and outside the church. I think that Jethani is playing with ideas. He is intentionally being provocative, to make us really think about how we interact with culture and what the role of the church should be.
Like Flickering Pixels, the book is mostly redeemed for me in the last few pages. I do think this is an important book. The US church has been impacted by culture more than it has impacted culture. But I am not sure that is not the way that Christ intends. Regardless of where you come down, this is a book that will make you think.
I listened to this book as an audiobook and it was well presented. It was also offered for free on Kindle two days after I bought the audiobook. So I picked up the Kindle version (it is now $9.99) as well, but I listened anyway.