There aren’t many books that analyse culture, and our understanding of certain topics that start with a goldfish, not at least to my knowledge. It might be a bit unusual, at first, but it makes perfect sense. A goldfish lives in water, they see everything in the water, they enjoy the benefits of being able to live whilst being in the water, but a goldfish doesn’t see the water itself. In a sense, if you are a Westerner (big generalisation, I know), then you’re a goldfish and if you’re the goldfish then Christianity is the water in which you swim. Let me explain, or should I say, let Scrivener explain…
“The extraordinary impact of Christianity is seen in the fact that you don’t notice it. You already hold particularly ‘Christian-ish’ views, and the fact that you think of these values as natural, obvious or universal shows how profoundly the Christian revolution has shaped you.“
Throughout this book Scrivener takes the reader through seven values that the ‘Western’ culture holds dear; equality, compassion, consent, enlightenment, science, freedom and progress. In each chapter Scrivener challenges the read to think about why they think what they do and where their understanding of these values come from.
Each chapter is full of helpful insight and a bit of a history lesson (that’s really engaging and fun!). The whole point of the book, spoiler alert… is to point people to Jesus. This book does a similar thing to what other, larger books have done such as Dominion by Tom Holland for example. The thing that I like about this book is that Scrivener takes uses the same information, but puts it across succinctly and in a way that engages with so many relevant topics today. I also just like Scrivener’s writing style, it’s quite relaxed.
This book is exactly what Scrivener says…
“I’d like to take you on a journey from the ancient world to the modern and from the beginning of the Bible to the end of history. I hope that along the way we’ll have some fun, that you’ll get a deeper appreciation for the values you cherish, and, most of all, that you’ll see the power and profundity of Jesus and his revolution.”
The question I asked myself whilst reading this book was, who is it for? I think it’s definitely a book that a non-Christian would be comfortable picking up and reading and it presents the gospel well too, so that’s a winner! I would also say that it’s a book for Christians who want to be able to engage more with their friends and family. This book can help give you confidence to know how to respond to certain topics and issues when they arise and to help you know how to point people to Jesus.
The Air We Breathe is a little bit longer than most books I would review here, it’s 232 pages long, but I had to ration my pages per day because I was enjoying it too much and didn’t want it to end so soon. It’s super readable and very engaging, so don’t be freaked out by 232 pages. Grab your copy of the book here, it could be a great Christmas gift to a friend or family member, or a good giveaway to those who have questions about their values and whether or not Christianity is relevant.
Glen Scrivener directs the evangelistic charity Speak Life. He is an ordained Anglican who writes, speaks, and makes media to equip the church and reach beyond it. He is married to Emma and is the author of 7 books, including 321, Long Story Short and The Gift.
*** I received a digital copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. This does not change the way I rate the book. My views are my own. ***