Thinking Out Loud

July 28, 2011

The Glass is Half Full: Upside by Bradley Wright, PhD

I have to admit it’s getting better,
A little better all the time
~The Beatles

Last year, Bradley Wright’s Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You’ve Been Taught was seen as an appropriate rebuttal to David Kinnaman’s unChristian.  Two different approaches to the faith life of Americans; two different approaches; and often two very different sets of data.  I reviewed Wright’s first book in two parts, here and here.

This summer, Wright is back with the second in his series of The-Sky-Is-Not-Falling books, Upside: Surprising Good News About The State of Our World, also published by Bethany House. 

“Is there another period in history when people were better off? I don’t see one.” (p. 205)

But is there an upside to everything in Upside? When discussing things like the number of Americans incarcerated in state and federal prisons or the obesity epidemic in the U.S., Wright takes a realistic, honest and balanced approach to the data.   This is a not an author who is euphoric about everything but one who feels another voice needs to be added to the dominantly pessimistic mix.

For this reader, there are two rather disappointing aspects to the book.  First of all Upside is very Ameri-centric.  In an increasingly global world, this is a book about U.S. life written for a U.S. audience.  Yes, it does mention my own country, Canada, a half dozen or so times, but most of the U.S. data comparisons are made to other countries.  It was easy to feel left out. 

Second, this is a very “secular” social science analysis.  Whereas …Hate Filled Hypocrites… dealt with faith, belief, church and religion issues, this book does not, though it is written in the same style with extensive graphs and charts.  To make the book more relevant to a Christian audience, Wright inserts a number of sidebar articles called “Christians making a difference” which illustrate the way in which the Church of Jesus Christ is informing the issues dealt here — finances, education, health, quality of life, crime, war, marriage, family and the environment — but readers may not find themselves engaged on the topics of Wright’s sophomore title as they were the first time around.

Still it’s nice to know the sky isn’t falling.  At least not today.  And the final chapter’s title, “The Counting of Blessings” really puts things in perspective.

A copy of  Updside was provided to Thinking Out Loud by Bethany House via its Canadian distributor, David C. Cook Canada.


  1. Thank goodness! I was bginning to feel that I was the only little chicken running around yelling “The sky is NOT Falling”

    Comment by Cynthia — July 28, 2011 @ 10:37 am

  2. some people think the sky may fall, and are preparing for the distaster.

    Comment by Brian — July 28, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  3. […] have dealt with enough potential negatives that his follow up had the more buoyant title Upside, reviewed here.  In John Dickerson’s case, the half empty glass and the half full glass are presented in a […]

    Pingback by Bad News / Good News for American Evangelicals | Thinking Out Loud — July 16, 2013 @ 7:38 am

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