The Air We Breathe

How We All Came to Believe in Freedom, Kindness, Progress, and Equality

from 5 reviews

Discover the Christian roots of the values we prize in western society.

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Description

Is Christianity history? Or is Christian history the deepest explanation of the modern world?

Today in the west, many consider the church to be dead or dying. Christianity is seen as outdated, bigoted and responsible for many of society’s problems. This leaves many believers embarrassed about their faith and many outsiders wary of religion. But what if the Christian message is not the enemy of our modern Western values, but the very thing that makes sense of them?

In this fascinating book, Glen Scrivener takes readers on a journey to discover how the teachings of Jesus not only turned the ancient world upside down, but continue to underpin the way we think of life, worth, and meaning. Far from being a relic from the past, the distinctive ideas of Christianity, such as freedom, kindness, progress and equality, are a crucial part of the air that we breathe. As author Glen Scrivener says in his introduction: “The extraordinary impact of Christianity is seen in the fact that we don’t notice it".

This is a book for both believers and sceptics—giving Christians confidence to be open about their faith and showing non-Christians the ways in which the message of Jesus makes sense of their most cherished beliefs. Whoever you are, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the values you hold dear as you discover the power and profundity of Jesus and his revolution.

Glen Scrivener is an ordained minister and the Director of Speak Life, an organisation that exists to share the love of Jesus through creative communication. He has also authored several books, including The Gift, 321, The Story of God, the World and You and Long Story Short: The Bible in 12 Phrases

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Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Things were different back then
  • 2. Equality
  • 3. Compassion
  • 4. Consent
  • 5. Enlightenment
  • 6. Science
  • 7. Freedom
  • 8. Progress
  • 9. The Victory of the Victim
  • 10. Choose Your Miracle
  • Final words

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Specification

Contributors Glen Scrivener
ISBN 9781784987497
Format Paperback
First published June 2022
Dimensions 135mm x 216mm x 11mm
Language English
Pages 240
Publisher The Good Book Company
Endorsements

Sam Chan

Third Space, thirdspace.org.au

We long for justice, freedom, and equality. We believe that each and every human being—no matter how rich or poor, powerful or weak—deserves fairness, dignity and respect. But where does this vision come from? Why are we so zealous for it? What if our values aren’t as self-evident as we think they are? This is why Glen Scrivener’s The Air We Breathe is a must-read for anyone who benefits from being WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic). This book will give us the basis for our shared vision. It will give us the story behind our values. By reading this book, we will humbly acknowledge the Composer from whose songsheet we’re singing.

John Dickson

Author; Historian; Distinguished Fellow, Ridley College

Glen Scrivener has done us a great favour. He has taken lengthy, scholarly (and sometimes boring) history tomes and transposed their ideas into something exciting, crystal clear, and almost impossible to put down. His central thesis is that our contemporary “secular” beliefs about equality, compassion, sexual consent and even progress all ultimately derive from the Christian faith. This thesis is not so controversial in learned circles, but with a few more books like it may soon become common knowledge. I hope this book is very widely read.

Rebecca McLaughlin

Author, Confronting Christianity

The Air We Breathe is a pithy, energetic and compelling exploration of how Christianity has formed our moral thinking—whether we realize it or not—and why the truth or falsehood of Christianity matters for all of us today. Whatever your current beliefs, I highly recommend you give Glen Scrivener a hearing!

Customer reviews


26/06/2022

“Excellent Summary of The Impact of Christianity on our Culture”

Something I should clarify - Glen Scrivener is one of my favourite speakers and also an author I love to read! His book 3,2,1 was brilliant and this is also excellent. He explores the idea that we often assume that our current culture is "neutral", fighting over whether it is the Christian worldview or non-Christian worldview that will have more influence. The reality according to Scrivener is that our history has been radically shaped by the gospel, by the hope and the morality that comes from a faith in Jesus. Not only do we get a tour of history, however, as Scrivener also shows us that our world continues to use the Christian worldview to make sense of much of life and this actually helps us to understand the values we trust in. It's a book that not only encourages a Christian but might also be a challenging read for someone exploring faith who might be interested to see how much of their thinking has been shaped by the Christian faith and to question whether putting their faith in Jesus might not be illogical after all. It might actually help them to understand the world better than ever before!


21/06/2022

“Highly Readable and Engaging”

In this highly readable, engaging book, Glen Scrivener shows that Christianity is "the air we breathe" within Western society, regardless of our individual beliefs. He shows that core Western moral convictions, such as the idea of human equality, come from the Bible and from "the Jesus revolution," not from any self-evident truth in nature. In contrast with this, he shares history from the ancient world and quotes from its famous philosophers, showing how deeply their self-evident norms go against ours. What we see as inevitable, and as obviously right, flows from Christianity, regardless how secularized Westerns leave Christianity behind in their pursuit of those virtues.

"The Air We Breathe" is fascinating. Unlike more academic books that deal with similar topics, this one is concise and frequently humorous, with Scrivener's strong voice adding to the book's appeal. He also makes a point of addressing different groups of people (Christians, secular readers, and people who have left Christianity), and anyone can enjoy and benefit from the book, regardless of their beliefs. Scrivener also primarily cites from non-Christian historians to support his case, showing that the power and revolution of Christianity in society are evident to people who disbelieve its religious claims.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Western history, social issues, or religious history. I found this fascinating, and despite how well-versed I already am with the topic, I learned a lot. My only word of warning is that some chapters include graphic details about physical and sexual violence. None of the information is gratuitous, since it reveals socially accepted evils from the ancient world, but readers who are highly sensitive to this should be aware

Note: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


08/06/2022

“Fantastic Read”

In The Air We Breath, Glen Scrivener opens up Christianity through time and challenges many modern myths that people have believed are true about Christianity. In this book, Scrivener challenges these myths by opening them up to wider analysis within it the context of the time period.

What I really like about this book is the fact that Scrivener doesn't shy away from the mistakes that Christians made in the past which shapes the opinions of non-Christians today. An example of this is when he discussed the Crusades in chapter five. Here again, he discussed the issue in a wider historical context which I found very refreshing, yet also confronted the mistakes made by the Christians of the time which have reverberated through time.

What I really like about this book is how Glen Scrivener points out that many of the beliefs we have today (equality, fairness, inclusion etc.) are ultimately not new ideas from an "enlightened" age but have been standard Christian truths and beliefs for centuries.

I found this book very readable and easy to understand. Scrivener's use of history really helps to back up what he is saying and provides the reader with extra insight into past Christian issues and how to address these issues in the present.


04/06/2022

“great information”

I had never heard of Scrivener prior to this book and given the book subtitle, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from it. Based on the back cover description, it seemed to be a very time appropriate book given the current culture battles we face.

Scrivener structures the book with an introduction and ten chapters. Each chapter addresses different aspects of culture such as science, equality, and freedom. The amount of historical context the he provides throughout the book is incredible. It almost feels as though the book could be categorized as a historical nonfiction. But he takes that history and weaves it into our current culture. The book itself is significantly informative. Although his ultimate aim is to persuade or convince the reader the values from the beginning still hold truth in today's world, he presents the historical and statistical facts in such a way that it's difficult to dispute, difficult to disbelieve.

The book is concluded with a Final Words section. I appreciate this as he steps away from the informative side of things and instead encourages the different types of readers that may read his book. he specifically addresses the "nones" by encouraging them to not leap, then the "dones" to not leave, and finally to the "won" to be weird. These will make more sense after reading the entirety of the book.

I really enjoyed the amount of information he provided on the history of Christian values and their importance to our current lives and culture and the need to stand firm.

I received a copy of this book from The Good Book Company in exchange for an honest review.


01/06/2022

“An Enlightening Read”

The Air We Breathe offers a point of view that I had not really encountered or considered before, but probably should have been aware of. The premise of the book is that, whether we are aware of it or not, the very essence of Christianity is core to the way we (in the “western world”) think and form our opinions, ethics, judgements, theories and ideas. Glen offers a clear explanation as to why Christianity is so relevant, in fact is central, to our world view. That it is like “the air we breathe”.
As a Christian, it is somewhat reassuring and encouraging. It strengthens my faith. It is a relevant read for people like me who do have a faith, but also holds relevance for those who may have lost a once held faith, and for those who have never had any Christian faith at all. If you hold a belief that you know about Christianity already and have decided you don't believe, then perhaps read this one, just to make sure you are right?
It is an important read, to get a fuller understanding of how the world was, and is, influenced by Christianity, how Jesus kicked off a revolution that is still impacting the world around us.
Christian values are clearly at the heart of the western world’s moral compass. In his writing, Glen has a great way of stepping back and taking a logical look at the world, bringing context, oversight and clear thinking.

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The Air We Breathe | Glen Scrivener | $19.99