Seeing Through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion, By Dick Keyes

Seeing Through Cynicism

A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion

by Dick Keyes

Seeing Through Cynicism
  • Length: 239 pages
  • Published: July 12, 2006
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3388
  • ISBN: 9780830833887

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We live in a cynical age. Cynicism is in the air we breathe; it is a cultural norm; it is the default setting and lens through which many of us view the world. Why is cynicism so pervasive? What does it promise? How does it work? And what does it deliver?

In this thorough, interdisciplinary exploration of cynicism, Dick Keyes probes the intellectual and cultural underpinnings of cynicism in its modern and postmodern manifestations. In analyzing our cynicism toward individuals, institutions and God, he gives cynicism the scrutiny it deserves, arguing for its merits as a tool for discernment while pointing out its limitations. Keyes subjects cynicism to its own critique and ultimately looks beyond cynicism to alternatives that wrestle honestly with suspicion, trust and hope.

Wide-ranging and vast in scope, Seeing Through Cynicism offers meaty, substantive perspectives for faithful living in a cynical world.

"With thoughtfulness far exceeding the pseudosophisticated world, Dick Keyes parts the dark clouds of cynicism, revealing an open sky of reasonable hope for the world."

Kelly Monroe Kullberg, founder, The Veritas Forum, and author of Finding God Beyond Harvard

"This long-awaited book is simply a feast. Dick Keyes takes us on an enthralling adventure where we meet hundreds of players and discover hundreds of insights. We are thoughtfully introduced to the major sickness of cynicism, an epidemic in our culture in many guises. Then we are shown the best response to it: not fighting fire with fire, nor with sentimentality, but with opening our eyes wide. Keyes counters cynicism with a demonstration of the great power of imagination, God's imagination, which gives us a robust hope that trumps all our unhealthy, indolent doubting. Required reading for just about anyone concerned with understanding the times and seeing in a fresh, compelling way how radiant the Christian message is."

William Edgar, professor of apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary

"Dick Keyes's work here is profound, bringing his own hard-won wisdom to bear upon what is the most difficult of all human tasks; namely, can one really know what the world is like and still choose to responsibly love it? With great skill, ground out over years of listening to fellow pilgrims wrestle with their cynicism even as he has faced his own, his insights are pastorally attentive and philosophically rich. This is an important book for the young who hope, as well as for the old who still need help hoping."

Steven Garber, director, The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture, and author of The Fabric of Faithfulness

"For those battered by the winds and tides of cynicism about marriage, family, politics, the church, the meaning of words, and even the character and existence of God, or for those just wanting to understand the culture in which we live, this is a brilliant and powerful exploration of a pervasive problem. Dick Keyes, in his wonderfully down-to-earth and intelligent manner, helps us to navigate between the rocks of corrosive pessimism and romantic optimism to healthy suspicion and solidly grounded hope."

Richard Winter, author of Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment and Perfecting Ourselves to Death

Written by the co-director of the New England L'Abri, it brings together insightful cultural criticism, thoughtful psychological study, a critique of an unqualified shift to the postmodern, and how all of this allows many of us to wallow in our nearly self-righteous contempt for nearly everything. This is a book, I say again, that is truly thoughtful and exceedingly rich. It is very important, and utterly compelling for those willing to work through it.

Byron Borger, Hearts Minds Books (, August 30, 2008


Part 1: The Anatomy of Cynicism
1. Introducing Cynicism
2. Cynicism: New and Used
3. Seeing Through People
4. Seeing Through Institutions: Government, Family and Church
5. Seeing Through God
6. Seeing Through Human Knowledge of God: The Masters of Suspicion
7. Seeing Through Meaning to Power: Postmodern Cynicism
8. Seeing Through Everything Else: Boredom, Irony and Satire

Part 2: Raising Questions
9. Suspecting Our Suspicions
10. The Vulnerability of Cynicism
11. Suspecting Contemporary Suspicion About God

Part 3: An Honest Alternative to Cynicism
12. The Providence of God: A Theology of Brokenness
13. Living with the Providence of God
14. Providence Experienced: Does Jesus Make Any Difference?
15. A Pointer to Transcendence
16. What If the Transcendent Has Come to Earth?
17. Questions About a Transcendent Message

Part 4: Redeeming Suspicion: A God's-Eye View
18. What If God Is Not a Cynic?
19. Seeing Through Cynicism
20. Beyond Cynicism: Humility--The Reality Check
21. Beyond Cynicism II: Individuality and Charity--Walking a Tightrope
22. Cynicism and Marriage
23. Cynicism and the Church
24. Cynicism and Government
25. Hope and the Costs of Cynicism



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Dick Keyes

Dick Keyes (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is director of L'Abri Fellowship in Southborough, Massachusetts, where he has worked for more than twenty-five years. He has also worked for L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland and in England, and he has served as a pastor in the International Presbyterian Church in London, England. He has taught as an adjunct professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary. His books include Beyond Identity, True Heroism, and Chameleon Christianity. He has also written chapters in anthologies such as Finding God at Harvard. He has a BA in history from Harvard.