Official Review: Where To Now Saint Paul? by Brad O'Donnell

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NadineTimes10
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Official Review: Where To Now Saint Paul? by Brad O'Donnell

Post by NadineTimes10 »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Where To Now Saint Paul?" by Brad O'Donnell.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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In Where to Now Saint Paul?: Why We’re Quitting Church, author Brad O’Donnell gives his perspective on a possible crisis in the Christian Church. O’Donnell discusses some of the reasons why many Christians, particularly of the baby boomer generation and younger, are no longer churchgoers even though they are still people of faith. To develop his arguments, the author describes Christian Spiritualists and explains how there is a difference between original Christianity (early Jewish Christianity) and the now prevalent Roman Christianity.

As he addresses a subject regarding crucial aspects of life for numerous people, O’Donnell writes with a conversational, accessible style. Now, there are a few moments when the author seems to assume that readers will know what he means without a prior word of explanation, such as the author’s first, informal reference to “boomers.” Yet, for the most part, the material in this book is straightforward. The author also includes some tips for what readers should do in light of this book’s information. However, it might have been more effective if the author’s tips had come at the conclusion of the work, leaving readers with a call to action rather than an argument.

Although this book can indeed be thought-provoking for a casual audience, it would likely be less helpful for readers looking for authoritative information on O’Donnell’s topic. Readers may have concerns about the credibility of some of the online sources the author cites, such as the forum Quora and also Wikipedia, an open content encyclopedia. This book has a moderate number of technical errors in grammar and punctuation, and sometimes the incorrect punctuation makes it unclear whether the author is quoting from a source or if he is speaking for himself. Conversely, there are times when the author presents critical statements as if they are definite facts without citing sources to support them.

Moreover, this book is severely redundant. Less than halfway through the reading, it becomes apparent that O’Donnell has relatively few new details to build upon his main idea. He offers many of the same historical and theological points and rehashes much of the same commentary time and time again. After the first chapter or two, readers may begin to skim through the book to see if the author will add anything fresh that he has not already said.

Overall, this book addresses a fundamental, relevant topic regarding Christians in a style that is easy to understand. However, the work suffers from technical errors, a great amount of redundancy, and the lack of specific sources to support some of the author’s critical claims. Therefore, I give Where to Now Saint Paul?: Why We’re Quitting Church a rating of 2 out of 4 stars. I’d recommend it to readers of nonfiction with an interest in Christianity and religion in general, but the readers should be aware that this work is more informal than authoritative.

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Where To Now Saint Paul?
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Post by Jaime Lync »

Wow... citing Quora and Wikipedia - that's poor. The author has obviously not done his home-work properly...and the fact that you did not mention any use of biblical reference other than the use of Paul the apostle in the title... I would definitely not waste my time on this book. Thanks for the well-written, informative review.

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Post by NadineTimes10 »

Jaime Lync wrote:
26 Dec 2019, 12:28
Wow... citing Quora and Wikipedia - that's poor. The author has obviously not done his home-work properly...and the fact that you did not mention any use of biblical reference other than the use of Paul the apostle in the title... I would definitely not waste my time on this book. Thanks for the well-written, informative review.
You're welcome!

Now, it may not necessarily be necessary to use biblical references to explain why certain Christians are deciding not to attend church any longer. :)

But, yes, it is fairly common knowledge that while an encyclopedia may be a good starting point for basic information on a subject, encyclopedias generally aren't acceptable sources to cite in, say, university research papers or authoritative nonfiction. The same goes for online question-and-answer forums like Quora. Those aren't the author's only two sources in this book, of course, but their inclusion could make readers question the reliability of the author's overall research.

In my case as a reader, it helped that I already knew much of the theological and historical information the author gives, so I wasn't blindsided or baffled by the reading. :techie-studyinggray:

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Post by Jaime Lync »

NadineTimes10 wrote:
26 Dec 2019, 13:58
Jaime Lync wrote:
26 Dec 2019, 12:28
Wow... citing Quora and Wikipedia - that's poor. The author has obviously not done his home-work properly...and the fact that you did not mention any use of biblical reference other than the use of Paul the apostle in the title... I would definitely not waste my time on this book. Thanks for the well-written, informative review.
You're welcome!

Now, it may not necessarily be necessary to use biblical references to explain why certain Christians are deciding not to attend church any longer. :)

But, yes, it is fairly common knowledge that while an encyclopedia may be a good starting point for basic information on a subject, encyclopedias generally aren't acceptable sources to cite in, say, university research papers or authoritative nonfiction. The same goes for online question-and-answer forums like Quora. Those aren't the author's only two sources in this book, of course, but their inclusion could make readers question the reliability of the author's overall research.

In my case as a reader, it helped that I already knew much of the theological and historical information the author gives, so I wasn't blindsided or baffled by the reading. :techie-studyinggray:
You make a valid point with regards to not necessitating scriptural references to explain why certain Christians are not attending church any longer. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this book doesn't seem to have substance if it is to be viewed as Christian non-fiction literature that is addressing such a problem. It would not do to simply state the dilemma...the importance of fellowship is noted in various books in the bible...

Thanks for your response.

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Post by Nisha Ward »

I wouldn't necessarily fault the author for his use of Wikipedia, as it's become an excellent jumping point to get more reputable sources but I shudder at the use of Quora and lack of any other substantial citations for such a fascinating subject. I don't believe you indicated the use of any interviews or surveys either?
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Post by NadineTimes10 »

Nisha Ward wrote:
27 Dec 2019, 16:43
I wouldn't necessarily fault the author for his use of Wikipedia, as it's become an excellent jumping point to get more reputable sources but I shudder at the use of Quora and lack of any other substantial citations for such a fascinating subject. I don't believe you indicated the use of any interviews or surveys either?
(I'm responding to your reply but also commenting in general for anyone who may read this review, so pardon if I include information you already know, Nisha! :) )

I often use Wikipedia myself when I want to check out a little something fast. :D Still, while encyclopedias are indeed helpful for personal or informal use and can certainly be "jumping points" to reputable sources, encyclopedias generally aren't acceptable to cite in scholarly works and serious nonfiction.

(Wikipedia specifically is also quite known for inaccurate information at times, missing citations, and questionable editing of articles. Anyone registered with the site can write articles there, and registration is not required to edit/alter the articles. The people making changes can be anonymous internet users from essentially anywhere.)

And yes, although "Readers may have concerns about the credibility of some of the online sources the author cites, such as the forum Quora and also Wikipedia" in this book, the author does cite other sources, including a couple of magazine/newspaper publications and mostly web pages. However, those web pages also include sites like HubPages and the discussion forum Yahoo! Groups where, again, the reliability of the information there may be in question. Basically anyone can generate articles/posts on websites like those, whether the people posting are studied and experienced experts on a subject or they're simply everyday people using an internet platform to say what they wish.

For a topic as crucial to faith as the one this author addresses, serious readers would need to see citations of only credible sources to better trust (or to at least give earnest consideration to) the author's arguments, and that would likely include a bibliography of books the author has read first-hand pertaining to his subject.

As for my concern with the author's lack of citations, that comes into play when he makes certain statements, such as assertions about what "most people now believe" or what Jesus Christ did or did not do or say. In those kinds of instances, it becomes all the more important for the author to be specific, such as clarifying who "most people" are, and to state exactly where he obtained the information he shares pertaining to Christ, even if his sources are not the Christian Bible.

I would say more on that, but I don't what to give away the author's arguments. :shifty:

As for interviews and surveys, the author includes a key poll from Parade magazine, and he mentions another poll from Barna Group. It is not apparent that the author himself conducted any formal surveys or interviews for this book.

Hence, it's my assessment that "readers should be aware that this work is more informal than authoritative." Like Wikipedia, I think this book may a "jumping point" for casual readers to take with a grain of salt (if they won't mind the book's redundancy and the errors in grammar and punctuation), but I wouldn't say it's a book for serious study or for developing formal theories. :techie-studyinggray:

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Post by Nisha Ward »

NadineTimes10 wrote:
27 Dec 2019, 22:05
Nisha Ward wrote:
27 Dec 2019, 16:43
I wouldn't necessarily fault the author for his use of Wikipedia, as it's become an excellent jumping point to get more reputable sources but I shudder at the use of Quora and lack of any other substantial citations for such a fascinating subject. I don't believe you indicated the use of any interviews or surveys either?
(I'm responding to your reply but also commenting in general for anyone who may read this review, so pardon if I include information you already know, Nisha! :) )

I often use Wikipedia myself when I want to check out a little something fast. :D Still, while encyclopedias are indeed helpful for personal or informal use and can certainly be "jumping points" to reputable sources, encyclopedias generally aren't acceptable to cite in scholarly works and serious nonfiction.

(Wikipedia specifically is also quite known for inaccurate information at times, missing citations, and questionable editing of articles. Anyone registered with the site can write articles there, and registration is not required to edit/alter the articles. The people making changes can be anonymous internet users from essentially anywhere.)

And yes, although "Readers may have concerns about the credibility of some of the online sources the author cites, such as the forum Quora and also Wikipedia" in this book, the author does cite other sources, including a couple of magazine/newspaper publications and mostly web pages. However, those web pages also include sites like HubPages and the discussion forum Yahoo! Groups where, again, the reliability of the information there may be in question. Basically anyone can generate articles/posts on websites like those, whether the people posting are studied and experienced experts on a subject or they're simply everyday people using an internet platform to say what they wish.

For a topic as crucial to faith as the one this author addresses, serious readers would need to see citations of only credible sources to better trust (or to at least give earnest consideration to) the author's arguments, and that would likely include a bibliography of books the author has read first-hand pertaining to his subject.

As for my concern with the author's lack of citations, that comes into play when he makes certain statements, such as assertions about what "most people now believe" or what Jesus Christ did or did not do or say. In those kinds of instances, it becomes all the more important for the author to be specific, such as clarifying who "most people" are, and to state exactly where he obtained the information he shares pertaining to Christ, even if his sources are not the Christian Bible.

I would say more on that, but I don't what to give away the author's arguments. :shifty:

As for interviews and surveys, the author includes a key poll from Parade magazine, and he mentions another poll from Barna Group. It is not apparent that the author himself conducted any formal surveys or interviews for this book.

Hence, it's my assessment that "readers should be aware that this work is more informal than authoritative." Like Wikipedia, I think this book may a "jumping point" for casual readers to take with a grain of salt (if they won't mind the book's redundancy and the errors in grammar and punctuation), but I wouldn't say it's a book for serious study or for developing formal theories. :techie-studyinggray:
Oh, most definitely. One of the practices I've had instilled in me by some of my favorite professors is that if you use wikipedia, cite from the sources that those articles cite from because often you get way more accurate and reliable information.

Also, thank you for including the information on the other sources the author used. That's reassuring.
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Post by Julius_ »

A book trying to explain why the church attendance is declining, particularly to the baby boomers. I would like to have a look at the book. Thanks for the review.
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