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Socrates in the City: Conversations on "Life, God, and Other Small Topics"

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  304 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Following the extraordinary success of the New York Times bestseller Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas's latest book offers inspirational and intellectually rigorous thought about the great questions surrounding us all today.The Greek philosopher Socrates famously said that "the unexamined life is not worth living." Taking this as a starting point, Eric Metaxas founded a speaking s ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 13th 2011 by Dutton (first published October 1st 2011)
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Carol Apple
Dec 14, 2012 Carol Apple rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audiobook and it was great to hear the voices of all the speakers as well as Metaxas’ funny introductions in which he mostly roasts the speaker of the night’s program and repeats the premise and motto of the series: Socrates’ maxim that “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Metaxas and Os Guinness, speaker at the series and author of many books, hatched the idea for the series based on the maxim and their concern that busy professional New Yorkers did not tend to take the ...more
Nov 30, 2012 Chionesu rated it really liked it
"Hmmm ..." This I repeated several times throughout the book having come across a thought-provoking point brought out by the speakers. There were a few talks that I had to re-read multiple times in order to mine the treasures of the esteemed speakers.

The nature of the content, that of what are essentially transcribed talks, doesn't lend itself to a lengthy book review; however, I do have a few points I believe are of note.
- Christians can indeed have a genial sense of humor, and intellectually
Paul Bruggink
Nov 02, 2012 Paul Bruggink rated it it was amazing
How many places can you find readable and stimulating essays by eleven significant writers on their favorite subjects, generally a summary of a recent book (that is, if you include Eric Metaxas's own essay on his book on Bonhoeffer)? :-)

Each essay includes a transcription of Eric Metaxas' lighthearted introduction, the talk at the Socrates in the City forum, and a transcription of the Q&A session after each talk, all of which took place at Socrates in the City forums between 2003 and 2010. M

Quotes from Os Guinness' talk "The Case for Civility - and Why Our Future Depends on It"

"A civil public square is where people of all faiths - and for our secularist friends we have to add 'no faith,' although in fact they have faith, too - are free to enter engaged public life on the basis of their faith." (287-288)

"Christians have erred in the culture wars but not because it is wrong to contest issues such as human life and the importance of the family. What has been wrong is the sub-Christia
Socrates, gadfly that he is, rolls over in his grave, most unapologetically. This conversational book of collected talks with questions and answers following each section is intended for college/university students majoring in the school of business and marketing without academic interest in the examined life. Unfortunately, Christian clichés proliferate.
Scott Golden
Jun 20, 2016 Scott Golden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.]
Reasoned, articulate and engaging. These essays will make you think -- as opposed to the charged rhetoric found on social media, which seems so often to generate nothing above the level of reactionary denouncements. Recommended.
Shane Wagoner
Feb 26, 2014 Shane Wagoner rated it really liked it
A thought provoking compilation from the masters.
Ryan Thomas
An interesting collection of topics has been assembled for this book. All are good treatments, some are great (my favorites included the contributions of Polkinghorne, Kreeft, Elshtain, and Guinness). At the very least, it points towards some good resources to follow up a subject in more depth. This book would also be a good one to use as a springboard for discussion with a group of friends.
Don Weidinger
Feb 22, 2015 Don Weidinger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
unexamined life not worth living, know thy self and limits, search for truth in and out of science fit together cannot be accident evolve a more clever world make own self thru procreation wisdom as pursuit of good over evil literature as individual story, Making sense of suffering Kreeft Frankel to live to suffer to live for meaning Buddha-let go ego selfish desire all things work together for good faith as invitation to trust come and see hope in future love in closeness with Jesus he wept onl ...more
John Martindale
Feb 10, 2014 John Martindale rated it really liked it
From seeing some of the reviews, I am glad I listen to the audiobook, for instead printed speeches, the audiobook included the actual presentations. Most of the talks were pretty good, a couple were exceptional, but Peter Kreeft speech on "making sense of suffering" was just horrible, I imagine one of the only people who could have been a worse choice for this topic would be John Piper. But yeah, sadly Kreeft's theology does absolutely nothing but exacerbate the problem of evil and after blowing ...more
Jul 14, 2013 Jude rated it it was ok
I would love to give this book a higher rating as some of the speeches contained within it are very absorbing and interesting, but I can't. The biggest problem I have with this book is that it claims to be a collection of philosophical discussions on some very important issues (life, God, the universe etc) when in actual fact it was a series of 11 lectures from people all with the same point of view. Not to be pedantic about the matter, but surely any book discussing such important and, ultimate ...more
Apr 05, 2014 Don rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Excellent book! I highly recommend the audio version as it will absorb you into the atmosphere of the New York City event, as well as having the plus of hearing each speaker present his essay in his or her own voice.

I found the book very thought-provoking, and so I took some of the chapters slowly. Some I chose to return back and re-read, so I could mentally chew on the points that were being made. I did not agree with everything that each speaker presented -- for example, Peter Kreeft’s belief
I wish I could rate this book lecture by lecture, rather than as a whole. While I found some of the lectures to be fantastic (most notably the lecture by Jean Bethke Elshtain), some of the other lectures are a little lackluster at best. This may be due to the fact that spoken lectures transcribed into essay form tend to be a little distorted, but a few of them felt so rambling and unfocused that if it weren't for the essay title, I couldn't have possibly told you what the topic was. A few sloppy ...more
I don't quite know what to say, I feel like a traitor because I love listening to Metaxas on the radio, he is insightful, intelligent, listenable - the man can render words so beautifully, I mean, look at his Bonhoeffer! (Just starting that one...) But this book evaded me, as hard as I tried. (Out of sheer loyalty!) I think the topics addressed are extremely important, but the fact that the wording is essentially a transcript of what was presented through the microphone somehow diminished the ef ...more
Richard Ross
Aug 23, 2012 Richard Ross rated it really liked it
A collection of lectures delivered in New York from events held by the Socrates in the City organization. Designed to promote discussion and an examination of the big questions in life. This book does just that. Topics ranging from Atheism, Suffering, God and Science, Morality, Evolution, Christianity etc... are what are most common. Unique in its nature, this book is a remarkable resource of information delivered lecture style by some of our generations deepest thinkers. The famous Socrates quo ...more
Mark Dellenbaugh
So many wonderful, thought-provoking talks. The audiobook version has original recordings so the half-dozen or so various British accents all shine through, ensmartening the production. Eric Metaxas' introductions might begin to seem self-indulgent or smarmy when encountered one right after another, but since I suffer the same affliction and sense of humor they worked well for me!

Sir John Polkinghorne, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Chuck Colson, N.T. Wright, Alister McGrath, and Francis Collins were esp
Dec 16, 2013 Lisa rated it it was ok
This was good as far as content goes. But the content is quite familiar and I have over the years read many books covering this debate. This was a new and fresh approach and I think thoroughly enjoyable if I attended an event live. As a book I was bored but that was just me not the content which was very good. I've read various blogs and have a great respect for the intellect of Metaxes and this generation's ability to engage.
Sep 17, 2014 Lauren rated it really liked it
These talks, though my interest in each varied, were consistently thought provoking. I especially like Os Guiness' ideas about The Return to Civility and Who are We? C. S. Lewis and the Question of Man by Jean Bethke Elshtain. It would be a slightly better book if the transcriptions were massaged a bit more for print (the introductions to each talk, while funny and undoubtably hilarious in real life, can be a bit tedious, as can the Q&A).
Nathan Schwartz
Jun 11, 2013 Nathan Schwartz rated it it was ok
Some of the speeches were pretty good, and some terrible, but they all suffer from being translated to written form. Even a good dinner speech is going to sound rough written down. I have heard Metaxis speak very charmingly, but here his introductions read like your boorish drunken uncle. It is also clear that the speakers are presenting to a sympathetic crowd, and never felt the need to present a strong case for their positions.
Julie Davis
Apr 06, 2015 Julie Davis rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed listening to the recordings of all these talks by such a variety of speakers. The Q&As for the most part were also really interesting. The one thing I didn't always love was Eric Metaxas' sense of humor. However, that's a small point. Considering how much I loved Rabbit Ears Radio and respect his books, his sense of humor is the last thing we're going to let get in the way, right?
Jul 23, 2015 Seth rated it liked it
Before reading or listening to this one should know the book is not about philosophy it is mostly about religious belief and specifically Christianity so title not really fitting and I wish I'd known that before having book. Some speeches good some just preaching to the converted. Would make a good podcast.
Glenn Williams
Mar 21, 2012 Glenn Williams rated it really liked it
An interesting collection of speeches and Q&A from NYC's "Socrates in the City" lectures. While some were a bit shallow in substance, all were thought-provoking in their approach to easy questions like "if God is good, why is there pain?" or "if you believe in science, can you believe in religion?" Recommended.
Brittany Barden
Feb 11, 2016 Brittany Barden rated it it was amazing
Absolutely phenomenal book, though I do believe I was completely spoiled in listening to the audio version. As the book is a transcript of presentations given in NYC, so the audiobook is live recordings of said presentations. To hear the introductions, presentations, and Q&A sessions as they originally occurred was fantastic.
Keith Bell
May 21, 2016 Keith Bell rated it liked it
Read for "Book Club" (also an excuse for 4 couples to eat, drink and have great discussions). Transcriptions of speakers were interesting and informative in themselves, but better yet was the discussions they spurred. It helped to have those discussions with close, open minded friends that we could argue, debate and commiserate with.
Justin McRoberts
Mar 11, 2012 Justin McRoberts rated it really liked it
Most likely, I'm with the vast majority who read this and loved Eric Metaxas' introductions every bit as much as the presentations of those he introduced.

The book features an excellent breadth of topics and perspectives (within, that is, the orthodox christian worldview).

Transcribing the Q and A was a great idea.
May 13, 2013 Christopher rated it really liked it
This book was placed in my hands with no prior buildup. Usually, a friend will talk up a book a few times before they hand the volume over to me. This book was literally placed in my hand with no warning and I was told to read it because it did a very good job of presenting many approaches to Apologetics.

My friend was right.

Read the full review on my blog:
Nov 27, 2011 DROPPING OUT rated it it was ok
I wanted very much to like this book, for I thought (of what I had read previously on his web sites) Metaxas had the making of being the next Bill Moyers. But the quality of the essays in this volume is uneven, and Metaxas' "witty introductions" (which read like they were transcribed verbatim) are too often terminally cute.
Sep 07, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing
The best thing about reading this is the excellent mind buffet presented by the guests. The second best thing about reading this was the off-the-wall intros to the speakers by Metaxas. The worst thing about reading this book is the realization that you weren't there to hear them live.

The lectures will definitely challenge you to think seriously about serious issues.
May 02, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
I have always loved being in the room with intelligent people. In this book, Eric lets you be apart of the room in pages. Hard to fly to New York to be apart of some of the greatest speakers but, you never feel distant from the conversation. Love all the conversations. Wonderful topics.
Ritchie Pruehs
Jul 09, 2012 Ritchie Pruehs rated it it was amazing
Some of the best Christian thinkers in the world fill these pages. The audio version is basically a recording of the verbal presentation as well as the Q & A which follows. Subjects include creation/evolution, the problem of suffering, the impact of fathers, etc.
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In a decidedly eclectic career, Eric Metaxas has written for VeggieTales, Chuck Colson, Rabbit Ears Productions and the New York Times, four things not ordinarily in the same sentence. He is a best-selling author whose biographies, children’s books, and works of popular apologetics have been translated into Albanian, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, and Macedonian.
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