Veneer…a Book You Should Be Reading

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Want to reach the widening 60% that can’t be reached by the attractional model?  Developing a deeper cultural awareness is absolutely essential.  As part of my process I read Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society by Timothy Willard and Jason Locy.

I noticed Veneer and requested a copy after seeing a Qideas tweet (, because I’m looking for ways to understand what is happening in the culture…and why.  This is definitely part of The Next Christians conversation.

What’s missing for many of us is a language or a way of talking about cultural developments.  Not, “what’s the coolest new song” or “what movie is everyone talking about.”  It’s not even what book is everyone reading.

It’s not actually about what.  It’s about why.

What can Veneer do to help develop your cultural awareness?  I think this paragraph from the Prelude provides a clue:

“If we listen closely, we can hear the world speaking a language, a language that echoes in the way we dress, the jobs we take, and even how we interact with our friends.  It is the language of culture.  We all speak this language as we mimic the world of celebrity, buy in to the promise of consumption, and place our trust in the hope of progress (p. 14).”

I loved Veneer.  I resonated and was captivated by some sections.  I also found it heartbreaking and some sections haunting.  I saw so much of my journey in it.  I also recognized immediately some of the language we’ll need if we’re going to play any part in connecting beyond the usual suspects.  You’ll see it, too, if you’re looking.

Teasing out the metaphor of veneer*, Willard and Locy tackle our obsession with celebrity (and pursuit of our own “15MB of fame”), as well as our desperate need to consume (a symptom of “an underlying belief system, a belief that personal meaning comes from the things we buy”).  They also explore technological progress “where computer screens and avatars simulate the life we want but not necessarily the life we have (p. 15).”

Veneer is not a quick read.  Chapters interwoven with thought-provoking imagery, short stories that vividly paint the picture, as well as carefully selected lines from theologians and scholars, all work together to create the basis for a conversation; an essential conversation that will influence your cultural awareness.

This book will be read, and re-read, as the conversation builds.  I hope you’ll add the ingredient of Veneer to the pot you’re stirring up.

*A thin decorative covering of fine wood applied to a coarser wood or other material.

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  1. Mike on May 24, 2011 at 2:42 am

    This looks good…very good. Thanks for posting about Veneer.

    I’m reading Donald Norman’s “Emotional Design” and found some interesting connections firing in my mind as I read your post. Norman supplies insight into how the “veneer” is applied.

  2. Anonymous on May 24, 2011 at 2:47 am

    Hmmmm…keep me posted! You would find application for Veneer in your work.


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