Jonathan Edwards wrote, “in every act of will there is an act of choice; . . . in every volition there is a preference, or a prevailing inclination of the soul, whereby the soul, at that instant, is out of a state of perfect indifference, with respect to the direct object of the volition. So that in every act, or going forth of the will, there is some preponderation of the mind or inclination, one way rather than another . . . ” In essence: to choose is to prefer. Our choices, our attitudes, our acts are rooted in the prevailing inclinations (affections) of our souls . . . our preferences. Where there is no preference, there is no choice.
But, what inclines us towards one thing and not another? How are preferences shaped? Hidden Worldviews – Eight Cultural Stories That Shape Our Lives is an excellent work by Steve Wilkens and Mark L. Sanford that examines this very question. The authors’ premise is that there exist eight cultural story lines that shape our preferences and therefore shape us. Or, to put it another way, we are largely a product of the voices [narratives] we listen to and believe. This work examines these voices by carefully articulating them thereby assisting the reader to discern their strengths and weaknesses.
The IVP book site says it this way:
These hidden, life-shaping values and ideas are not promoted through organized religions or rival philosophies but fostered by cultural habits, lifestyles and the institutional structures of society . . . The authors show how to detect the individualism, consumerism, nationalism, moral relativism, scientific naturalism, New Age thinking, postmodern tribalism and salvation as therapy that fly under our radar.
Hidden Worldviews is beneficial for understanding the times in which we live and the times that live in us. Readers will find it readable, often witty, and balanced. I appreciated that Wilkens and Sanford listed pros and cons of each issue. I think readers will have plenty to mentally chew on but without the indigestion that often accompanies too large of a meal.