This book is the final nail in Os Guinness’ coffin, as far as I am concerned; I have now read three books by him, two of which I found extremely unimpressive, and I will avoid his work in the future. I found this book to be pointless and an almost complete waste of time. It offered no substance, practical information or advice. My main complaint against Guinness is his lack of originality – the one thing he is best at is quoting other people and telling their stories. Whenever he quoted C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton (which was frequently), I found myself wishing I was reading a book by them instead.
Guinness looks at how modern American views of tolerance and the idea of separation between church and state have moved away from the intent of the First Amendment with regards to religion: namely, to ensure freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. He argues that rather than attempting to remove religion from politics and public discussion, anti-religious, non-religious and religious philosophies should be accorded the same respect, consideration and civility in the public square. I admire and agree with many of Guinness’ points, but the fact remains that as long as there is money to be made and power to be grabbed from encouraging the illogical, impassioned, hate-filled polarization of people over topics of religion and politics, civil discussion will be impossible. In the light of modern culture, media and politics, Guinness’ book is a discouragingly small glimmer of reason and common sense.
This book tells some touching stories and provides some good quotes, however it does not dive very deeply into the subject. Its unconvincing surface exploration of such a major issue would probably be most useful to already established Christians. It comes nowhere close to the apologetics of C.S. Lews, G.K. Chesterton and the like.