"In our fallen state we think we know best, that we can do better. And so we continuously set out to make our best lives happen right now."
This is the situation we often find ourselves in, the pursuit of happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment during our time here on earth. We look around at the variety of ways this seems to be achieved. In Cultural Counterfeits: Confronting 5 Empty Promises of Our Age and How We Were Made For So Much More by Jen Oshman, she helps us discover the ways culture seeks to provide this for us, and how Christ offers so much more.
Cultural Counterfeits | Book Review
Purpose of the Book
The author writes this book to help Christian women face the empty promises of the world and find answers in Christ, to reject idolatry and receive God’s good purpose for us.
Table of Contents
PART 1 You Are Here CHAPTER 1 Waking Up in a Far Country CHAPTER 2 The Sexual Revolution Meets #MeToo CHAPTER 3 A Timeless Lens for Changing Trends
PART 2 Confronting the Empty Promises of our Age CHAPTER 4 Obsessed: Bodies, Beauty, and Ability CHAPTER 5 Selling Out for Cheap Sex CHAPTER 6 Abortion Has Not Delivered CHAPTER 7 Trending: LGBTQIA+ CHAPTER 8 When Marriage and Motherhood Become Idols
PART 3 We Were Made for So Much More CHAPTER 9 It’s Good to Be a Girl CHAPTER 10 Home
In the first three chapters of Part 1 she reminds us of two stories we hear. The first-and loudest shared with us from culture and society - is that the world offers you and me an amazing life; we just have to go out and make it happen. The second is a quieter story, a whisper from our heart, speaking a longing and deep desire within us, that we were made for more.
How we interact with and the extent to which we believe each of them, determines our actions and exhaustion as we seek to fulfill them both from ingredients the world provides - "if only I have that, then I'll feel significant, valued, and have purpose."
Maybe we don't speak it out as brazenly, but it's there. We expect satisfaction and fulfillment from created things rather than the Creator - these are our idols.
Jen takes us through some history of the feminist movement to help us understand the biblical principles where it began and the tragic shift of the second wave where equality became defined as sameness, resulting in idolatry of our bodies and it's expression in our sexuality.
Part 2 she confronts the cultural expressions of freedom as defined by these movements for women and how tragically they differ from God's design, in our perception of beauty, hook-up culture, abortion and gender dysphoria. She also includes the idol of marriage and motherhood, as expressed when you hear people say things like, "motherhood is a woman's highest calling," when our highest calling in the Christian life isn't limited to a temporary role here on earth.
In Part 3, she moves from how the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, to how Christ came to give us abundant life. With love and passion, Jen shares the reasons why it's good to be a girl and how we can embrace the God who satisfies our longing souls and fills us with good things and who invites us to make our home in him.
The impact of culture through social media, entertainment, and governing policies is similar to putting a frog in lukewarm water and then boiling it. The poor frog won't notice the temperature going up. In the same way, we acclimate to the shifts in culture around us, and easily find ourselves caught up in it if we don’t practice a pause to search for biblical truth first.
After Canada legalized marijuana, I had a vivid example of this. For the weeks after we had so many patients present to the ER with adverse symptoms related to marijuana use. When the medical team asked about their substance use, they’d disclose using marijuana, but now legally, of course. Their symptoms were a result of their cannabis use, but the patients had naively assumed since it was legal now, it must be okay to use and without any side effects.
As Christians, we can’t assume our culture won’t have an impact on us. If we sit in the pot, we’re going to have to keep an eye on the temperature so we don’t end up cooked. This looks like talking with other Christians about the movies we see, reading books and articles that teach us about worldview, learning to ask ourselves questions to assess what information is being presented and how it lines up with Scripture.
This is no easy task.
Yet, Scripture reminds us to "take every thought captive and obey Christ" (2 Cor 10:5). Sometimes, we just don’t know how to do this on our own, which is why resources like this are so helpful and important for us.
Jen's book is a call for us to think critically and biblically about rising culture issues. To develop a biblical worldview requires our discipline and effort, particularly in how we perceive our womanhood and God's good design for us.
I’d say this is an important read for every Christian woman, so add it to your TBR (to-be read) shelf!
There’s some great discussion questions for small groups, or personal reflection, and the end of each chapter, so consider grabbing some ladies to do a book study together.
# of pages: 200
Level of Difficulty: Easy
My Rating: 5 stars
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Scriptures About Keeping Our Eyes on the Lord
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Is 26:3)
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us. (Ps 123:2)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2)
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 1:13)
*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced reader copy, and for the opportunity to post an honest review.