Series: Emory University Studies in Law and Religion (EUSLR)
American society is experiencing a profound crisis of trust, from government to mass media to educational and religious institutions. Whether we acknowledge it or not, this crisis affects us all.
In Building Cultures of Trust
Martin Marty proposes ways to improve the conditions for trust at what might be called the "grassroots" level. He suggests that it makes a difference if citizens put energy into inventing, developing, and encouraging "cultures of trust" in all areas of life -- families, schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, and churches. His analysis is particularly poignant and his conclusions especially helpful when he advocates trust-building in the religion-versus-science debate, rather than the confrontational postures that characterize much of that debate today. Marty believes that such efforts at trust-building will do more than just trickle up to larger areas of society; they will become slow-spreading habits of honesty, inspiring trust on a culture-changing scale.
Of course, Marty acknowledges that the reality of human nature tends toward trust-breaking, not trust-building -- all the more reason, he argues, to develop strategies to bring about improvements incrementally, one small step at a time. In reply to those who remain skeptical that small-scale efforts at trust-building can make a difference, that efforts to understand and deal honestly with each other can improve the conditions for trust, Marty asks, What is the alternative?
AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS
Academy of Parish Clergy, Book of the Year (2011)
"As our society has become increasingly divided and polarized, one thing that has broken down is trust — both between individuals and between groups of people. One of the most trusted people in America, Martin Marty, persuasively suggests that the most promising way to change is 'building cultures of trust' from the bottom up — from individuals to communities and beyond. With his characteristic depth and insight into American public life, this book is a vital resource for anyone who wishes to contribute to recovering a more 'civil' society and moral public discourse."
"The presidential election of 2000, the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq made the degree to which trust in political and religious leaders has been completely broken a serious consideration. In his thoughtful and probing study, Marty, the dean of American religious thinkers, examines some of the reasons that mistrust is fostered in society and then suggests ways that trust can become a more evident feature of society, enriching our lives. Rather than striving to construct a utopian state in which everyone trusts everyone else completely, Marty suggests a more incremental approach in which individuals in various cultures and subcultures, such as science and religion, begin to build trust step by step through conversations about the nature of human communication and the human self. Open flow of communication is vital, for Marty, to the development of trust as part of the goal of building cultures in a complex society. Part of the Emory University Studies in Law and Religion series, Marty's little book offers hopeful suggestions for restoring trust in a world sorely lacking it."