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Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture

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Written with a perfect blend of curiosity and respect, Rapture Ready! is an insightful, enlightening, and weird journey through Christian pop culture--with it pulpy novels, music, creationism museums, and more--by talented New Yorker writer Radosh.


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Written with a perfect blend of curiosity and respect, Rapture Ready! is an insightful, enlightening, and weird journey through Christian pop culture--with it pulpy novels, music, creationism museums, and more--by talented New Yorker writer Radosh.

30 review for Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    For the overly sensitive and easily offended, I feel I need to point out that this book does not make fun of Christianity and the majority of Christians. However, if you are the type of person who will buy a candle because it "smells like Jesus", be prepared to have the stuffing mocked out of you! Well, okay...he does kind of poke fun at Stephen Baldwin. Or, should I say, he just lets Baldwin talk, and Baldwin does the job for him by being such an ass. Don't worry. Baldwin says that I'm allowed t For the overly sensitive and easily offended, I feel I need to point out that this book does not make fun of Christianity and the majority of Christians. However, if you are the type of person who will buy a candle because it "smells like Jesus", be prepared to have the stuffing mocked out of you! Well, okay...he does kind of poke fun at Stephen Baldwin. Or, should I say, he just lets Baldwin talk, and Baldwin does the job for him by being such an ass. Don't worry. Baldwin says that I'm allowed to use that word since Jesus rode on an ass in the bible. We're allowed to say 'crap', too. Why? I'm not sure. Ask The Baldwin. Radosh provides a good look at all things aimed at the Christian buying public. He visits the world's largest Christian bookstore - "over 35,000 square feet of faith". He visits a creation museum where the recreated Garden of Eden is teeming with dinosaurs. Friendly dinosaurs. Because Long ago, dinosaurs and people were friends. Uh huh. He even manages to keep a straight face when interviewing members of the UCW, as in Ultimate Christian Wrestling. There are lengthy sections on Christian music, and the agony of not being "Christian enough" to get played on Christian radio. "You have to have your JPMs to get on the radio - your Jesus Per Minutes in a song," gripes one publicist. And why is there almost no Christian hip hop or rap music? "Worldly rap is so different from Christian rap in terms of the themes." A love song can be Christianized by substituting Jesus for your girlfriend, he said, but "God can't be your ho." No. I would think not. The moral of the book seems to be - let rationality rule, avoid extremism, and remember the words of P.T. Barnum - "There's a sucker born again every minute." Or something like that.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    If you're looking for this book to reinforce your belief that all Christians are mindless cattle, indiscriminately consuming whatever cultural drivel is set before them, you're going to be disappointed. Likewise, if you're hoping this book will be a post you can hitch your pro-Christian culture argument to, you'll also be disappointed. That's because this book is surprisingly even-handed, even when dealing with situations that would seem absurd to many people. (Humans riding saddled dinosaurs le If you're looking for this book to reinforce your belief that all Christians are mindless cattle, indiscriminately consuming whatever cultural drivel is set before them, you're going to be disappointed. Likewise, if you're hoping this book will be a post you can hitch your pro-Christian culture argument to, you'll also be disappointed. That's because this book is surprisingly even-handed, even when dealing with situations that would seem absurd to many people. (Humans riding saddled dinosaurs less than six thousand years ago? Anyone?) Radosh's book is by no means a comprehensive look at Christian pop culture. Instead, he uses anecdotes and extrapolates to the subculture at large, and he does it quite well. I grew up in the world described in this book -- and make no mistake, it is a world unto itself. I listened to Christian music (and sometimes even threw away Christian CDs if I deemed them "not holy enough"), went to Jesus camp, bought Jesus junk, and read nothing but Christian fiction. My beliefs and politics have changed drastically, but I still had no interest in ready a heavy-handed book that bashed things I used to hold dear. Radosh covers all these topics with sensitivity and grace, always seeming to know how to point out the absurdity of things without feeling as though he's mocking the people behind them. I think that this book has the potential to get conversations going, to get some people reaching across the aisle, as well as simply inform. I highly recommend it to Christians as well as non-Christians, though for hard-line Christians, some language in the book may offend. (At least it would have offended me back in my Bible-thumping days.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    Rapture Ready was a little different than I thought it would be. Given that the author was a writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, I thought this would be a humorous look at some of the excesses of far-right Christian culture, set on skewering the people who embody the worst hypocrisies of calling yourself a Christian while showing little compassion or understanding for your fellow humans. And don't get me wrong--the book was often funny, and certainly extremely conservative Christians get Rapture Ready was a little different than I thought it would be. Given that the author was a writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, I thought this would be a humorous look at some of the excesses of far-right Christian culture, set on skewering the people who embody the worst hypocrisies of calling yourself a Christian while showing little compassion or understanding for your fellow humans. And don't get me wrong--the book was often funny, and certainly extremely conservative Christians get their share of the spotlight. But the book also gives a lot of time and space to moderate and liberal Christians, and even some of the conservative ones turn out to be more accepting when spoken to face-to-face. Rapture Ready also makes the case that Christian pop culture (mainly books and music, although other entertainment forms are addressed as well) can be just as interesting as the best of secular pop culture, and that it does the most effective job of representing Christianity when it leaves room for the doubt and questioning many believers experience, as well as for the best of Christianity--love, forgiveness, and a broader view of humanity. Rapture Ready also does a good job of exploring the conflicts inherent in Christian pop culture: Are Christians better off being in the world, or separating themselves from it? Are Christian consumer goods a good way to get the word out, or just a display of crass materialism? Radosh doesn't provide definitive answers, of course, but he does ask the right questions and give the reader a lot to think about. Unfortunately, the last few chapters, about teen abstinence programs and anti-evolution museums, made for a somewhat downbeat ending. Being reminded of the sorts of groups that don't just ignore facts but aggressively attack them, supposedly in the name of bringing more people to Christ, left a sour taste in my mouth that Radosh's conciliatory final chapter did not entirely dispel. Radosh has hope that secular people, moderate Christians, and liberal Christians can all come together to minimize the destructive elements of conservative evangelical culture. But this book was first published 8 years ago and, if anything, fundamentalist voices seem to be even louder and more extreme now (witness the religious-based fights against the Affordable Care Act, for example, or the politicians who claim that rape can't possibly result in pregnancy). Still, I learned a lot from this book, I laughed quite a bit, and I did come away from it feeling some hope that positive change is possible. Radosh's intent is to increase understanding, and regardless of where a reader may fall on the religious spectrum, that's a worthy and admirable goal.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    Radosh is a self-described non-religious Jewish liberal, who decides he wants to explore the $7 billion industry that is Christan pop (sub)culture. He travels to 18 cities and towns in 13 states, interviewing a fascinating group of people, ranging from Bibleman, the Caped Christian; Rob Adonis, the founder and star of Ultimate Christian Wrestling; Ken Ham, the country's leading creationism prophet; and Jay Bakker, the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and the pastor of a liberal, punk rock church Radosh is a self-described non-religious Jewish liberal, who decides he wants to explore the $7 billion industry that is Christan pop (sub)culture. He travels to 18 cities and towns in 13 states, interviewing a fascinating group of people, ranging from Bibleman, the Caped Christian; Rob Adonis, the founder and star of Ultimate Christian Wrestling; Ken Ham, the country's leading creationism prophet; and Jay Bakker, the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and the pastor of a liberal, punk rock church. Here are some excerpts from the pages that I dog-eared (much to my husband's dismay, as he hates it when I dog-ear books!): --At a contemporary Christian music festival (which was relatively liberal in evangelical circles), Radosh meets author and professor Dan Howard, who talks about his fondness for "transformative" contemporary Christian music and rails against his own "counterculture's" rejection of key dominant values. He says "The only values that we're worried about are abortion and gay rights. That's it. Because those are sins we don't commit; those are sins other people commit. The Bible has more than 2,000 verses about poverty and maybe 5 or 10 that you can interpret as being about abortion, but we're all about aabortion. Those 2,000 verses about Christians' responsibility to widows and orphans and aliens and strangers and the poor? We manage to be blind to al; of that, but we can find those 5 verses about abortion." Amen, brother. --Apparently "self-cutting" is a major issue among young Christians. "The creator of one self-injury support group told Christianity Today that the most important message to give a cutter is that "Jesus loves her as she is, and that his atonement is sufficient for her sins." However, how is that reconciled with the evangelical emphasis on sin and evil? Perhaps these teens are feeling awful about themselves, and that they are not worthy, and resort to cutting? It causes me to wonder... --A liberal evangelical told Kadosh that he believes that the way for the fundamentalist churches to be transformed from within and to be more inclusive to those on the outside is for them to be grown, like bread rises, gradually and organically. "The problem is that mainstream liberal and moderate churches stagnated and lost their cultural relevance. The Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists, they were never the driving force behind the growth of the Christian music industry...the moderate voices never expressed themselves in a commercial way, so their voices are muted today. You don't hear them unless you're part of their flock." This is true--I have heard some wonderful, progressive Christian musical groups, but only within the Lutheran (or other mainstream) churches. The mainstream churches have not appealed to the masses, so most people think of Christian music in only one way. --The most poignant part of the book for me was when Radosh discovered a pro-life group at a music festival with pamphlets damning not only abortion, but also assisted reproductive technologies. Because he and his wife had to resort to IVF to have their own twins, he understandably became angered by this group's assertions that they viewed his children as "objects" or "commodities"...or that "assisted reproduction violates marital integrity." This is one thing that angers me about the Catholic church, too: how can the church fight to keep people alive on life support, yet claim that assisted reproductive technology is evil? How is it any different? 100 years ago, there were no ventilators or IV fluids to keep people alive. If you're going to reject scientific methods of creating life, why not also reject scientific methods of sustaining life? --Another liberalish recording artist talked to Radosh about his discomfort with the way evangelicals treat the issues of abortion and homosexuality. He talked about how bizarre it is to spend so much time focusing on abortion, while sanctioning killing in war or the death penalty. He also said "Jesus never mentioned homosexuality once. How has it become such an issue? Strange how all the things that Jesus actually did talk about fail to become issues...." --Radosh devotes a chapter to the abstinence movement, and discusses how it casts "women as objects to be managed by men: first by fathers and then by husbands," and casts men as lustful creatures who women have the responsibility to protect against lust (by not wearing revealing clothing, etc.). Some in the abstinence movement even suggest refraining from kissing until marriage! Abstinence educators in the past talked about how difficult it is to use condoms, because they have to be inspected for leaks, and then after using them, the genital area have to be cleaned with rubbing alcohol or Lysol! And "premarital sex depletes a chemical necessary for forming permanent a bond with one's spouse (the doctor who came up with this theory was later appointed to run the Bush administration's women's health program!)." --In one of the last chapters, Radosh talks about visiting a "hell house" with Jay Bakker (the liberal son of Jim and Tammy Faye), which is a Christian version of a haunted house, with depictions of evil in the world and the sinners here. Baker is suitably horrified at what his fellow Christians are implying about "nonbelievers" or "sinners," and says when he saw "Jesus" at the end of the hell house, he felt like saying "If you really love us, why is this the option--to serve you or torture us for eternity?" That describes how I feel when I read about or experience this perspective of Christianity. I believe in a loving God, not want who will damn us to hell if we don't behave in a certain way. I believe in grace and forgiveness. Radosh actually forms a lot of positive bonds during his journey and finds much to appreciate in the evangelical movement, once he was able to find his way to the outskirts. There is much out there that is disappointing, horrifying, and just not very smart...but Radosh found some hope for the future.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I thought this was a really entertaining, well-written, insightful book about the bizarre alternate universe of Christian pop culture. It was also a timely read, considering the RNC's recent efforts to reignite the culture wars and demonize the "liberal media" (yawn...that old chestnut). I got the sense that book was animated by a desire to understand what forces really fuel the Christian market and why the right wing has been so successful in politicizing religious faith. Ultimately, the author I thought this was a really entertaining, well-written, insightful book about the bizarre alternate universe of Christian pop culture. It was also a timely read, considering the RNC's recent efforts to reignite the culture wars and demonize the "liberal media" (yawn...that old chestnut). I got the sense that book was animated by a desire to understand what forces really fuel the Christian market and why the right wing has been so successful in politicizing religious faith. Ultimately, the author determines that (in the course of writing this book) he met a lot more moderate, reasonable people than he did intolerant-lunatic-fringe-fundamentalist types, and he stresses the importance of finding a common ground with the reasonable set, seeing as nontheistic rationalists are grossly outnumbered AND (more importantly) secularism as a sociopolitical model is not the exclusive property of the nonreligious. Basically, in addition to being a humorous examination of this weird cultural bubble, the book also calls for eliminating that bubble for a variety of reasons, such as: "When their only audience is other Christians, the feedback loop amplifies narrow-mindedness and inhibits self-examination." The author is a Jewish guy from New York who's been published in the New Yorker, The NY Times, and a host of other publications. I expected the book to be pretty snarky, given that Christian culture is a really easy target (example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7myO3...), but I thought he was actually incredibly fair and kind in his assessment of things like Christian comedy, Christian theme parks, Christian wrestling, the Creation Museum in Kentucky, and other such cringe-worthy subjects. Kinder and more fair and kind than I could be, I think. Of course, there were moments when snark was more than deserved, like in laughing at the terrible writing of Tim LaHaye, author of Left Behind. Apparently, one of the heroes of that book is a prize-winning journalist, and this is an example LaHaye's idea of Pulitzer-winning prose: "To say the Israelis were caught off guard was like saying the Great Wall of China was long." Another snark-deserving individual: Stephen Baldwin. Whoa. Also entertaining was a list the author acquired from a friend who works for Harlequin regarding taboos to be avoided in the company's "inspirational" romance novels. Taboo words included the following: dang, dagnabbit, breast (except for breast cancer if necessary), Halloween, heat (when used to describe kisses), undergarments of any kind, whore.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn Day

    This book was one of the suggestions in my 2013 Reading Challenge and I am so glad I included it. There are few books I've read that accurately and thoroughly capture the total weirdness that is Christian pop culture, but this one does it so well. I've mentioned before that I grew up in Christian schools and going to church with my family and I've personally seen or experienced so many similar things that Radosh covers in this book (sometimes to a lesser or even greater degree). Christian pop cul This book was one of the suggestions in my 2013 Reading Challenge and I am so glad I included it. There are few books I've read that accurately and thoroughly capture the total weirdness that is Christian pop culture, but this one does it so well. I've mentioned before that I grew up in Christian schools and going to church with my family and I've personally seen or experienced so many similar things that Radosh covers in this book (sometimes to a lesser or even greater degree). Christian pop culture is weird to outsiders. It seems contradictory, cheesy and strange. But it's a huge business. It's enormously profitable and slowly integrating into the mainstream. This book was written over four years ago and the extent to which some elements of Christian pop culture continue to trickle down into what Radosh calls "mainstream" pop culture is becoming both more prevalent and more alienating. The high points he mentions--the release of The Passion of the Christ, the Left Behind book series--happened years ago, but we're still seeing that same type of crossover. For example, Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander has been on the Amazon best seller list for weeks. Joel Osteen's books consistently become best sellers too. The 5 Love Languages, published in 2009, has over 5 million copies sold. Ultimately, the reason this book is so good is that Radosh approaches it as an outsider with an understanding that much of what he's seeing is business-driven. They qualify it in different ways ("spreading the Word," for example), but business is business. Keeping the enormous amounts of money at stake in the back of your mind is helpful when reading about the ridiculous (Testamints) and the almost unbelievable (The Holy Land Experience). Whatever I think of it, whatever you think of it and whatever Radosh thinks of it doesn't matter. There is a huge market share up for grabs containing people willing to pay to feed their faith in a way that makes them feel part of something greater than themselves. It's interesting to look at Christianity through this commercial lens and it's an approach that I haven't often read about. Some of the products and books and Passion plays will seem crazy to you if you've never been exposed to Christian culture before, but you shouldn't be too surprised it exists. You've seen Family Christian Stores in strip malls before, right? People actually shop there. It would have been impossible for Radosh to cover every corner of Christian pop culture, but what he does discuss feels comprehensive and informative. As someone vaguely familiar with what he's talking about, I didn't feel there were any gaps in the pop culture portrait he was pulling together. The portions where he attends Christian music festivals and discusses Christian music with various artists are some of the most interesting sections of the book and help shed a lot of light on why there are so many "levels" of Christian artists. (For example, some say "God" or "Jesus" in songs but others choose to use the vague "You" for crossover appeal.) As someone who was once surrounded by Christian pop culture and came out the other side, I found the book intensely interesting, but I think you will too--even if you know nothing about it and really don't care to. Radosh, who is Jewish, has no Christian agenda to push. In fact, he gets confrontational often and isn't afraid to express skepticism or frustration with the people he comes across. (One memorable moment happens when Radosh confronts a man passing out "IVF Violates Humanity Dignity" pamphlets amongst a group of rabid pro-life demonstrators at a music festival. Radosh's children were conceived using IVF.) There are other insightful passages in the book as Radosh has conversations with various members of the Christian pop culture community. In one interview with Jay Howard, author of Apostles of Rock: The Splintered World of Contemporary Christian Music, Howard said this: "Sociologists contend the number-one value in American society is self-actualization or self-fulfillment. Everybody thinks, I have a right to do whatever it takes to make me happy. Christians aren't really a whole lot different from mainstream society in that regard. I mean, we divorce at nearly the same rate as mainstream society. That's because we've bought into this idea that happiness is the ultimate American right. We don't challenge the materialism of our culture. We don't challenge the self-indulgence in our culture. We don't challenge the American superpower we have a right to tell the rest of the world what to do kind of thinking. A counterculture rejects some of the key dominant values of the surrounding society. The only values that we're worried about are abortion and gay rights. That's it. Because those are sins we don't commit; those are sins other people commit. The Bible has more than two thousands verses about poverty and maybe five or ten that you can interpret as being about abortion, but we're all about abortion. Those two thousand verses about Christians' responsibility to widows and orphans and aliens and strangers and the poor? We manage to be blind to all of that, but we can find those five verses about abortion." 

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    Yes, I do sometimes substitute personal reflection for actually reviewing the damn book. You have been warned. I thought I knew something about Christian pop culture. I’ve certainly seen a few bumper stickers over the years, as well as that fish symbol and the myriad variations thereof. I’ve watched a few Veggie Tales releases. I’ve been in a Christian bookstore or two, but preferred regular bookstores. And I was aware of Christian rock, but would be hard-pressed to name any examples. I did atten Yes, I do sometimes substitute personal reflection for actually reviewing the damn book. You have been warned. I thought I knew something about Christian pop culture. I’ve certainly seen a few bumper stickers over the years, as well as that fish symbol and the myriad variations thereof. I’ve watched a few Veggie Tales releases. I’ve been in a Christian bookstore or two, but preferred regular bookstores. And I was aware of Christian rock, but would be hard-pressed to name any examples. I did attend a Stryper concert back in my college days, mostly because it was free. I remember no individual songs, just generally that they sounded like a watered-down Styx--pleasant enough, but nothing that inspired me to run out and buy their albums much less start attending church on a more regular basis. I generally wrote off Christian rock as inferior to the real thing. I wasn't unfamiliar with the basics of the faith. I was actually raised Methodist, but stopped going to church once I was no longer living with my parents. It wasn't out of any sort of negative feeling; I just preferred sleeping in on Sunday mornings, and didn't really feel that my life was lacking in anything that church could provide. I’d happily attend church when I was home visiting, and certainly didn't have a problem with folks who preferred to make religion more central to their lives. But I thought I knew all I needed to know about Christian pop culture. I can even recall a younger version of me saying something like, “I feel kind of sorry for someone who needs their own special sanitized version of rock and roll or whatever because their ideas can't survive contact with the real thing.” Yeah. Sadly NOT the dumbest thing I’ve ever thought. Anyway, I was wrong. Very wrong. Turns out, Christian pop culture, while it has its laughable aspects (and really, what variety of pop culture doesn't), is surprisingly robust and more vast in scope than one would think viewing it from the outside. Radosh doesn't set out to definitively catalog it or anything, just give the uninitiated some idea of just what all is out there. He covers music, TV, comedy, attends a Christian rave, a Christian wrestling match, and a Christian skateboarding event. He interviews some surprising people, and generally finds out that--surprise!--not everyone fits the conservative right wing Christian stereotype. Sure, I expected this book to be entertaining, but I had, I think, been expecting it to be more shallow, taking cheap shots at easy targets. I was pleasantly surprised to find it deeper and genuinely interesting. Highly recommended!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    How is it that, in 35 years of being a Christian, I have never heard of Bibleman? Or attended a purity ball? Or listened to Christian emo? I feel...cheated. (Side note: I have seen a man tear a phone book in half in Jesus' name, which I think counts for something). Radosh's perceptive bit of investigative journalism really opened my eyes to what some of my brothers and sisters in Christ are doing for the furtherance of the Kingdom. Covertly antisemitic passion plays, men in tights, hell houses an How is it that, in 35 years of being a Christian, I have never heard of Bibleman? Or attended a purity ball? Or listened to Christian emo? I feel...cheated. (Side note: I have seen a man tear a phone book in half in Jesus' name, which I think counts for something). Radosh's perceptive bit of investigative journalism really opened my eyes to what some of my brothers and sisters in Christ are doing for the furtherance of the Kingdom. Covertly antisemitic passion plays, men in tights, hell houses and abstinence overkill are just a few more examples of what I missed out on growing up Presbyterian rather than evangelical. And, somehow, I don't feel deprived. The evangelical antics in this book ranged from the silly to the nauseating to the downright scary. Some of my favorite bits of the book were the author's interviews with Jay Bakker. His particular brand of Christian world view was refreshing when compared to the not-quite-malicious but still dangerous groups and individuals that populated most of the book. There are many good questions posed in these pages, but I think the most important is when does all this Jesus junk become a mockery of what it claims to venerate?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Daniel Radosh is NOT an evangelical - in fact, he's a Humanistic Jew (his own description) - which for the purposes of this book is a very good thing. One of the pieces of advice you're often given when getting ready to sell your house is to have someone who's never been there come to walk through & look for all the things that need fixing or repainting. There's a reason - you've lived there for so long that you've become used to the imperfections, blemishes & outright broken stuff. Mr. Radosh's Daniel Radosh is NOT an evangelical - in fact, he's a Humanistic Jew (his own description) - which for the purposes of this book is a very good thing. One of the pieces of advice you're often given when getting ready to sell your house is to have someone who's never been there come to walk through & look for all the things that need fixing or repainting. There's a reason - you've lived there for so long that you've become used to the imperfections, blemishes & outright broken stuff. Mr. Radosh's book that does just that for Christian pop culture (primarily evangelical pop culture). I was impressed with the breadth of his knowledge, his willingness to have his pre-conceived notions corrected (or confirmed), and his sense of humor. (Honestly, we evangelicals are a pretty funny bunch sometimes... and occasionally even on purpose.) Particularly interesting is his interview with Frank Peretti & Ted Dekker. He deals with Jesus junk, CCM, passion plays, Bibleman, Hell Houses, the sad state of Christian fiction, niche marketing for Bibles, "Left Behind" (and not kindly, which I wholeheartedly approve!), abortion politics, Christian comedians (including lots of time w/Dan Rupple), creation science museums, abstinence education & Christian sex therapy... even Christian wrestling. He admits that his coverage isn't exhaustive, but it's still pretty darn good. His confrontation at Cornerstone with the volunteer at the Rock for Life booth should be required reading for every pro-life person... and I'm one of those people. Daniel Radosh does an amazing job of pointing out one of our biggest blind spots - the very accusation we make (that pro-choice folks treat babies/people as objects) is all too often the way we treat those who do things we think are wrong - we objectify them as "the enemy". There's really only one clunker chapter in the book - his "fake interview" with Stephen Baldwin reads more like "I'm ticked at this guy for standing me up" than "I've found a humorous way to deal with the fact that Mr. Baldwin is kind of a knucklehead." Some warnings for those who've lived inside the Christian bubble: the language here can be pretty raw - both from Mr. Radosh & from the folks he's interviewing. There are going to be theological & political things that you disagree with espoused both by the author & by some of the folks he talks to. If you don't like the way your faith is expressed being challenged, this book will make you downright uncomfortable. But, I think you'll be making a mistake if you don't take this book seriously. We need to see ourselves through the eyes of the secular culture - not so we can change our theology or our faith in God, but so we can stop doing things that keep people from hearing the truth of Jesus Christ because our cultural expressions are shouting too loudly. Some quotes that stuck out to me: "If you are trying to communicate to people, it makes sense that you want to find a common currency, a bridge which you can communicate across." He glanced around. "Now, having said that, you can do it with style or you can do it tackily. But that's true of any endeavor, not just the Christian retailing world." I nodded. "That's true, but I have to say that from what I've seen, it kind of looks like tacky is winning." Butcher sighed ruefully. "When you are born again, God gives you a new heart & a new opportunity. He doesn't necessarily give you new taste." --- Cameron Williams is one of "Left Behind"'s two main heroes. His friends call him Buck, "because they said he was always bucking tradition & authority." The other hero is Rayford Steele, an airline pilot. That's right, Buck Williams & Rayford Steele. There's also Steve Plank, Bruce Barnes & Dirk Burton. Apparently, having a porn star name is enough to keep you from getting raptured. --- As I discovered when I asked Christians about it, the secular world's continued fascination with LEFT BEHIND is seen as a sign of how out of touch we are with evangelical culture. Imagine thinking that THE REAL WORLD still defined American TV. --- R.T. asked if he could pray for me, which didn't surprise me. And then he prayed that my book would help Christians see some hard truths about themselves, even if it hurt. Which I hadn't expected at all. --- Escape from the hard work of thinking about everything was, in fact, one of the main reasons I listened to music. Not only is it all right for Christian kids to want that same avenue of retreat, but more non-Christian kids would do well to develop the kind of critical listening skills that Christians bring to secular music. It is to the great credit of evangelical teens that they aren't as thoughtless as the rest of us about such things. --- As Christians make their mark on the mainstream, the rest of us will feel their influence. If our response is hostile, it will only... feed the growth of the most mean-spirited strain of Christian pop culture, and mainstream culture will be warped accordingly. But if we are welcoming, we help nurture a form of Christian culture that can in turn enrich our own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marlena

    Interesting concept, mildly entertaining, too many excuses made, too many false equivalencies and too much straight, white, mansplaining. Radosh may have thought being a Jewish, liberal New Yorker made him some kind of outsider-looking-in and discovering that evangelical culture isn't as bad as he first thought, but he failed to realize that that may be because he occupies a strata of society that is not heavily attacked by evangelical Christianity in the US, so his "being cool with it" kinda me Interesting concept, mildly entertaining, too many excuses made, too many false equivalencies and too much straight, white, mansplaining. Radosh may have thought being a Jewish, liberal New Yorker made him some kind of outsider-looking-in and discovering that evangelical culture isn't as bad as he first thought, but he failed to realize that that may be because he occupies a strata of society that is not heavily attacked by evangelical Christianity in the US, so his "being cool with it" kinda means jackshit. "Besides, thirty years after The Jeffersons and ten years after Will & Grace, Christians are overdue for their turn to have the rest of us laugh with them, not at them." This is the closing line from the chapter about the Christian comedy circuit and apparently Radosh is lamenting how evangelicals are not typically given flattering screen-time on television by comparing evangelical Christians in the US to racial minorities and LGBT people, as if they have shared an even remotely similar struggle(??!?) Could Radosh be aware how insulting this one, simple sentence is, and how punch-in-the-gut it was to read? I re-read the whole passage twice just to see if I could dig up an explanation - could it be sarcasm? - but no, it was sincere. It was lazy kowtowing in an attempt to seem inclusive: to show how Radosh was ~learning~ on his journey and how maybe it's secularists who are a lil' too close-minded sometimes, yaknow? Yeah, no. Another section that really churned my bile while also really highlighting Radosh's serious case of male pattern blindness was the bloated discrepancy between his "I've met so many ~admirable~ Christians who would want me to be understanding and forgiving of those I disagree with" reaction to the real-life, actual legislation banning abortion in South Dakota compared to his (two pages later) "FUCK YOU, I WILL KNOCK YOUR TEETH OUT, HOW DARE YOU SAY SUCH THINGS, RAAAAAAAAGE" reaction to reading an anti-in vertro fertilization flier. Radosh goes on to explain how he became a father... take a guess. So it's not terribly surprising that this man - this like, I'm totally liberal man - felt perfectly at ease not getting up in arms about women having their entire bodily integrity taken away from them by law, but motha'fucka' is ready to THROW DOWN if he feels personally insulted. Because that's what really gets him fired up: shit that affects him. Which makes him not much different from anybody else in a majority-power class, except he seems to think he's above all that. Sugar, you ain't. No wonder Radosh came away from his journey with such a ~can't we all just get along and learn from each other, because the evangelicals actually aren't that bad, and YOU'RE the ignorant one if you won't just give them a chance~ attitude: most of this shit doesn't actually affect his life. And when it does... he ain't that fucking peachy about getting along with them or their ideas. It's all easy for you to say, Bub.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Johnny Brooks

    If you have Christian art hanging in your house, own Christian music CDs, go to Passion plays, believe Creation science is actually science, and think that plastic crosses are cool, then this book is for you. "Adventures in the parallel universe of Christian pop culture" When I read that from the front of the book, I was hooked. I knew this book would be a cool read. Daniel Radosh, author, is a humanist Jew, or something like that, who immerses himself in various aspects of Christian pop culture o If you have Christian art hanging in your house, own Christian music CDs, go to Passion plays, believe Creation science is actually science, and think that plastic crosses are cool, then this book is for you. "Adventures in the parallel universe of Christian pop culture" When I read that from the front of the book, I was hooked. I knew this book would be a cool read. Daniel Radosh, author, is a humanist Jew, or something like that, who immerses himself in various aspects of Christian pop culture over a one year period of time. He visits passion plays (not that easy for a Jew,) Christian book stores (not that easy for anyone,) music festivals, creation museums, and professional Christian wrestling. Yes, you heard right, professional Christian Wrestling. Things have gone too far when we have to have our own fake wrestlers. I really enjoyed the book. There was a time in my life when I thought that slapping the Christian label on something actually made it holy. Thankfully God has delivered me from that mind set, but I still know many folks who think that way. He is honest about his feelings throughout the book, and finds good things to admire about evangelicals. Which admittedly is something I find hard to do sometimes. I felt angry alongside him at the narrow-minded Christians at Corner Stone Music Festival who told him his children were mere objects to him because he and his wife used IVF to conceive. I was frustrated alongside him at the close minded creationists. I was also alarmed at the amount of violent language found throughout the evangelical world. I also appreciated the faith he encountered on his journey. I was surprised at people's willingness to communicate with a liberal journalist, and amused at people's responses to his Jewishness. All in all a pleasant read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Hager

    For the most part, I really enjoyed this book (although he got a little unnecessarily snarky at the end, I thought). I was expecting this to be really funny--and parts are--but it's more of a sociological look at Christian pop culture than an AJ Jacobs-style book. Still, it's definitely worth the read. I got some reading suggestions (Ted Dekker, who I had actually heard of before, of course) and learned more about a lot of things I wasn't really aware of. So if you're in the mood for an intellige For the most part, I really enjoyed this book (although he got a little unnecessarily snarky at the end, I thought). I was expecting this to be really funny--and parts are--but it's more of a sociological look at Christian pop culture than an AJ Jacobs-style book. Still, it's definitely worth the read. I got some reading suggestions (Ted Dekker, who I had actually heard of before, of course) and learned more about a lot of things I wasn't really aware of. So if you're in the mood for an intelligent, mostly civil view of Christian pop culture from an outsider's perspective, definitely pick this up.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    This book was slow at first, but ultimately became riveting to me. Fascinating, in depth look at the world of evangelical pop culture. There are pop culture phenomenons that I didn't even realize existed. I also watched the movie Jesus Camp around the same time I read this book. The two dovetail nicely. This book was slow at first, but ultimately became riveting to me. Fascinating, in depth look at the world of evangelical pop culture. There are pop culture phenomenons that I didn't even realize existed. I also watched the movie Jesus Camp around the same time I read this book. The two dovetail nicely.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Valenti

    I LOVED this book - so well-written and funny.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elise Smith

    I grabbed this book because I thought it would be a light, hilarious take on the oftentimes crazy world of Christian Pop Culture. This book IS hilarious, but it does so much more than just take cheap shots at Evangelicals. Through his journey, Radosh, a self-defined "humanist jew," meets everyone from the outright crazy fundamentals to the Christians who are embarrassed by how Christianity has been commercialized and politicized and just trying to live their faith authentically. He honestly is s I grabbed this book because I thought it would be a light, hilarious take on the oftentimes crazy world of Christian Pop Culture. This book IS hilarious, but it does so much more than just take cheap shots at Evangelicals. Through his journey, Radosh, a self-defined "humanist jew," meets everyone from the outright crazy fundamentals to the Christians who are embarrassed by how Christianity has been commercialized and politicized and just trying to live their faith authentically. He honestly is surprised to find less of the former and more of the latter. He even develops a genuine respect for some of the artistry he sees in Christian pop culture. As someone who grew up in this culture (I actually attended a version of the "hell houses" he talks about in chapter 17 as a tweenie), I was amazed at his insight into some of the cultural aspects of American Evangelicalism that have always bothered me. I was especially impressed at his ability to express the uneasiness I've always felt about altar calls in his chapter on Christian Wrestling (which I did not even know existed). He writes: "This wasn't the first time I'd found that someone was keeping a running tally of souls saved at their events. Not only is the altar call a sacred ritual for evangelicals, it's often a form of score card. And yet it seems a profoundly flawed one. I was sure that most of the people at the show that night had been their before. Were there even that many new people to be saved? Or that many non-Christians coming to see Christian wrestling....And even if some of the people who come forward have been genuinely moved to confess their sins for the first time, are they really Christians now? It's one thing to get caught up in the excitement of a wrestling match or rock show or even traditional sermon, but what happens the next day or the next week?...The fetishization of the altar call as a single moment of victory seems to obscure the need for the hard work that it must take to bring somebody to a genuinely meaningful faith." There were other parts of the book that were just amazing pieces of writing. I have to share my two favorite excerpts. From chapter 5 about the craze surrounding the Left Behind series: "Cameron Williams is one of Left Behind's two main heroes. His friends call him Buck, 'because they said he was always bucking tradition and authority.' The other hero is Rayford Steele, an airline pilot. That's right, Buck Williams and Rayford Steele. There's also Steve Plank, Bruce Barnes, and Dirk Burton. Apparently having a porn star name is enough to keep you from getting raptured. The villain is a Romanian politician named Nicolae Carpathia, who brings the world together under a single government as the head of the United Nations. A charming and outwardly altruistic leader, he seems an unlikely candidate for the Antichrist--don't they always! Only in the prequels do we find out that he's the genetically engineered offspring of two gay men." From chapter 7 about the children's hero, Bibleman: "...R.T. [Bibleman] told me that on his first tour, when the bad guy was a character kids already knew and hated from the videos, on boy stood up and yelled, 'I will find you in the parking lot, and I got a stick!' At least the kids come alive for the fight scenes. During one melee, the bad guy attempts to outsmart Bibleman by pointing out, 'You talk about peace, but you swing a sword. Where's that in the Bible?' To which Bibleman replies, 'Hebrews chapter four, verse twelve. "The word of God is sharper than a sword sharpened on both sides."' And then he whacks the villain before you can say the word metaphor. He ends his book with the claim that Christian artists and secularists outside the movement both have a role to play in reconciliation and redefining the world's negative take on Christians. He goes so far as to say that Christian artists, especially the authentic non-crazies trying to genuinely live out their faith, have a lot to offer the world in general and can easily affect views on Evangelicals in positive ways. I can't think of a person that shouldn't read this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ana Mardoll

    Rapture Ready / 978-0-7432-9770-7 I expected "Rapture Ready!" to be a fun, snarky joyride through modern Christian evangelical pop culture - something that made cutesy fun of all the kitsch you see at the Mardel store, and a largely fluffy throw-away book. What I found, however, was a far deeper, more mature consideration of such - wrapped tightly in the best book I've read all year. Daniel Radosh is a plainly a skilled writer, and as a good writer he can't help but feel deeply connected to the 'c Rapture Ready / 978-0-7432-9770-7 I expected "Rapture Ready!" to be a fun, snarky joyride through modern Christian evangelical pop culture - something that made cutesy fun of all the kitsch you see at the Mardel store, and a largely fluffy throw-away book. What I found, however, was a far deeper, more mature consideration of such - wrapped tightly in the best book I've read all year. Daniel Radosh is a plainly a skilled writer, and as a good writer he can't help but feel deeply connected to the 'characters' he writes about - even when they're real people. I'm amazed to find the tenderness and kindness that Radosh employs as he visits 'Holy Land' amusement parks (er, sorry, that should be tax-free 'thematic experiences'), participates in passion plays (as That Nice Jewish Guy who thinks maybe Jesus doesn't need to be crucified after all), tours creationism museums (and watches Adam and Eve saddle and ride dinosaurs) and gently interviews everyone from Frank Peretti to the head of a geocentrist community. As Radosh navigates the confusing and sometimes contradictory landscape of Christian pop culture, he does so gently and sympathetically - indeed, the reader will likely come away with a much deeper and more sympathetic viewpoint of the Christian community than they probably arrived with. Far from being a homogeneous group, the Christian community is composed of many and varied ideas - from the very conservative to the extremely liberal. Many (if not most) of the people he interviews are simply good people trying to live and enjoy a good life. Even many of the traditionally 'extreme' examples of Christian pop culture - for instance, Frank Peretti, whose books of evil, demon-possessed 'liberals' have been a divided point in the community for years - come away as nuanced individuals. The quote on the cover jacket is from A.J. Jacobs, another writer interested in the intricacies of a 'Christian life', and states, simply, "Everyone should read this book," a not uncommon sentiment for a book-jacket endorsement. On reflection, though, I think that this quote is accurate. Christian culture is a very powerful subculture within America, and it is important to understand it in a nuanced, meaningful way - rather than in a one-dimensional "love it or leave it" manner. Regardless of your outlook on life, Christian or not, there are people in Radosh's book whom you will disagree with - and who it is important to see as people, not as caricatures. Radosh's book provides nuance, depth, and meaning to a culture that many of us have only marginally been exposed to. Plus, the wit in "Rapture Ready!" is completely hilarious and will leave your sides splitting for days. It's rare for a book to be "good for you" and just plain good in the way that Radosh's book is. ~ Ana Mardoll

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ana Mardoll

    Rapture Ready / 9781416593751 I expected "Rapture Ready!" to be a fun, snarky joyride through modern Christian evangelical pop culture - something that made cutesy fun of all the kitsch you see at the Mardel store, and a largely fluffy throw-away book. What I found, however, was a far deeper, more mature consideration of such - wrapped tightly in the best book I've read all year. Daniel Radosh is a plainly a skilled writer, and as a good writer he can't help but feel deeply connected to the 'cha Rapture Ready / 9781416593751 I expected "Rapture Ready!" to be a fun, snarky joyride through modern Christian evangelical pop culture - something that made cutesy fun of all the kitsch you see at the Mardel store, and a largely fluffy throw-away book. What I found, however, was a far deeper, more mature consideration of such - wrapped tightly in the best book I've read all year. Daniel Radosh is a plainly a skilled writer, and as a good writer he can't help but feel deeply connected to the 'characters' he writes about - even when they're real people. I'm amazed to find the tenderness and kindness that Radosh employs as he visits 'Holy Land' amusement parks (er, sorry, that should be tax-free 'thematic experiences'), participates in passion plays (as That Nice Jewish Guy who thinks maybe Jesus doesn't need to be crucified after all), tours creationism museums (and watches Adam and Eve saddle and ride dinosaurs) and gently interviews everyone from Frank Peretti to the head of a geocentrist community. As Radosh navigates the confusing and sometimes contradictory landscape of Christian pop culture, he does so gently and sympathetically - indeed, the reader will likely come away with a much deeper and more sympathetic viewpoint of the Christian community than they probably arrived with. Far from being a homogeneous group, the Christian community is composed of many and varied ideas - from the very conservative to the extremely liberal. Many (if not most) of the people he interviews are simply good people trying to live and enjoy a good life. Even many of the traditionally 'extreme' examples of Christian pop culture - for instance, Frank Peretti, whose books of evil, demon-possessed 'liberals' have been a divided point in the community for years - come away as nuanced individuals. The quote on the cover jacket is from A.J. Jacobs, another writer interested in the intricacies of a 'Christian life', and states, simply, "Everyone should read this book," a not uncommon sentiment for a book-jacket endorsement. On reflection, though, I think that this quote is accurate. Christian culture is a very powerful subculture within America, and it is important to understand it in a nuanced, meaningful way - rather than in a one-dimensional "love it or leave it" manner. Regardless of your outlook on life, Christian or not, there are people in Radosh's book whom you will disagree with - and who it is important to see as people, not as caricatures. Radosh's book provides nuance, depth, and meaning to a culture that many of us have only marginally been exposed to. Plus, the wit in "Rapture Ready!" is completely hilarious and will leave your sides splitting for days. It's rare for a book to be "good for you" and just plain good in the way that Radosh's book is. ~ Ana Mardoll

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I have no clue where I originally heard of this book, but I'm glad I did because I quite enjoyed it! This is a look at Evangelical Christian pop culture, from things as simple as music and books and clothes to bigger endeavors like Christian wrestling (!!) and theme parks. The author, I thought, treated the subject matter fairly, without being overly judgmental one way or another and even acknowledging when his assumptions turned out to be incorrect. I didn't know much about the pop culture feat I have no clue where I originally heard of this book, but I'm glad I did because I quite enjoyed it! This is a look at Evangelical Christian pop culture, from things as simple as music and books and clothes to bigger endeavors like Christian wrestling (!!) and theme parks. The author, I thought, treated the subject matter fairly, without being overly judgmental one way or another and even acknowledging when his assumptions turned out to be incorrect. I didn't know much about the pop culture featured in this book, and it was fascinating to learn about it all. Clearly the author immersed himself in each item, for better or worse, and I really enjoyed reading his recaps, some of which seemed too weird to be true. The section about Christian books was, I think, my favorite, probably in part because I'm (obviously) a reader and Christian books are so completely separate from "mainstream" books - not just as a separate category but with separate publishers and completely different rules about what can and can't be included. It was also interesting to read about people the author interviewed who thought some of the parameters for "Christian fiction" were too stringent (example: it's OK for villains to kill people left and right, but it's not OK for villains to swear while they're doing it). There really are all types of readers! I also liked the look at the most popular series out there and how outlandish the books are, the poor writing featured in them, and yet they continue to sell so well! Boggles the mind. But, as was noted by the author and others, Christian pop culture is more focused on the products in question being undeniably "Christian" than they are about them being "good" otherwise. While it might seem, at first glance, that this book is aimed at poking fun of this pop culture that often seems crazy, it really didn't do that. A lot of the book was quite thoughtful, and many of the people he spoke with weren't malicious and seemed much more level-headed than expected. Others, not so much. But it did a nice job showing the full spectrum of people and definitely underscored the point that beating someone over the head with your religion and doing so in a judgmental, heavy-handed way is not how to win converts. Definitely an engrossing read! I think this book has a wide spectrum of appeal, for anyone interested in pop culture and trying to understand it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    It took me a long time to read this book, which perplexes me because every time I picked it up to read it I really enjoyed it and had many laugh-out-loud moments. I think because it hits so close to home--I grew up evangelical, and while I didn't experience everything that this book portrays, it certainly was along the same thread as I experienced growing up. In fact I attended the college that Tim LaHaye co-founded, and was taught by Institute for Creation Research-trained professors. I know ho It took me a long time to read this book, which perplexes me because every time I picked it up to read it I really enjoyed it and had many laugh-out-loud moments. I think because it hits so close to home--I grew up evangelical, and while I didn't experience everything that this book portrays, it certainly was along the same thread as I experienced growing up. In fact I attended the college that Tim LaHaye co-founded, and was taught by Institute for Creation Research-trained professors. I know how to defend the Christian faith from those who would tell you that we are products of evolution. I know where in the Bible to find the answers to science. And I still know people who form their worldview around their faith, rather than to allow their worldview to form from what they see around them and ask their faith to give answers to how the world actually is. This is a very compassionate and balanced interpretation of what happens in evangelical fundamentalist circles. If it reads as fantastical, that's because that world really is fantastical. I loved how the author was greeted when people found out that he wasn't a Christian, and was in fact a Jew. Most had the simpering sweet response of "oh, our faith is built on yours!" They do not seem to understand how insulting that is. But one person got suspicious of him when he said he was Jewish, and demanded to know why he did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. This person threw the idea at him: "Someone said that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord." "Yes, that was CS Lewis, right?" The guy had no idea who it was who said it. A Jew beating him at his own game. I'd highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand a bit more about the culture of fundamentalist Christianity. The author encourages using rationality to reason with folks in that camp, rather than mockery. I'm not sure it will work but I do think that being compassionate toward people who have been indoctrinated into this way is much better than derision.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I am, without a doubt, a person who lives a life far apart from Christian (or any religion, for that matter) pop culture. Noone in my family attends church regularly and I can count on one hand the number of I've actually been inside a church myself. However, I'm incredibly intrigued by religion. Its something so pervasive yet so alien to my way of thinking. As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it--lickity split. The author, a Jewish man with fairly liberal tendancies, immerses I am, without a doubt, a person who lives a life far apart from Christian (or any religion, for that matter) pop culture. Noone in my family attends church regularly and I can count on one hand the number of I've actually been inside a church myself. However, I'm incredibly intrigued by religion. Its something so pervasive yet so alien to my way of thinking. As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it--lickity split. The author, a Jewish man with fairly liberal tendancies, immerses himself in Christian pop culture: attending concerts, going to creation museums and christian theme parks, and talking with pastors of all varieties as well as members of the churches he visits. Is it a totally unbiased report on christian pop culture? absolutely not. The author brings his background and views with him as he writes but that is part of the fun of the book. Some of it is down right frightening in its conservatism but there are, surprisingly, a few hopeful notes. I'd recommend this book to anyone. If you are a secularist, its a good laugh mixed with a certain amount of "they really aren't all crazy, maybe you shouldn't be so judgemental." If you are a Christian, its a good way to see yourself through the eyes of a secularist. You may think your creation museum is totally factual--but really? Most people think you are nuts to believe adam and eve rode around on domesticated dinosaurs. I'd give it 5 stars but there are a few places where it does get a little slow...those are almost totally redeemed by the "interview" with stephen baldwin however. Those few pages alone are worth reading the book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    I have mixed feelings about this book. I saw it listed on my daily "Book Lover's" calendar, and I was intrigued by the premise. A liberal, New York Jew explores the "parallel universe of Christian pop culture." As someone who has both worked in a Christian bookstore and grown up in conservative churches, I was interested in an outsider's take on the subculture. On the one hand, there is much to agree with in this book. Christian pop culture is often a cheesy, in-your-face derivative of secular p I have mixed feelings about this book. I saw it listed on my daily "Book Lover's" calendar, and I was intrigued by the premise. A liberal, New York Jew explores the "parallel universe of Christian pop culture." As someone who has both worked in a Christian bookstore and grown up in conservative churches, I was interested in an outsider's take on the subculture. On the one hand, there is much to agree with in this book. Christian pop culture is often a cheesy, in-your-face derivative of secular pop culture. I smiled with Radosh as he gently poked fun at Bibleman, Christian fiction, and the proliferation of "Jesus junk." I sympathized with his desire to find common ground between liberals and conservative non-Christians. My heart broke at the insensitivity of "Rock for Life" in condemning parents who choose to use IVF when they can't naturally conceive. Still, after finishing the book, I was strangely unsettled. I think because, in the end, he came across as a scientist objectively studying a subculture instead of an ethnographer ("participant observer") attempting to truly understand it. You can't understand the Christian subculture without understanding the religion that gives rise to it. I enjoyed "The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University" much more because, even though the author didn't convert, I actually felt he came away with a better and more nuanced understanding of the Christian subculture. Overall, though, this book is worth the read, especially for non-Christians who know very little about Christian pop culture.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jared

    I almost want to give this book 5 stars, but by principle can not give a book that is written for an 8th grade reading level a 5 star review. Call me a snob. I don't care. There are other reasons I won't give this book 5 stars. Maybe it was because of his own liberal tolerant intolerance, or the buried postmodern assumptions and his desire for Christians to become postmodern. Or the fact that it is not masterful language or masterful storytelling. Or because this book will not matter in 20 years I almost want to give this book 5 stars, but by principle can not give a book that is written for an 8th grade reading level a 5 star review. Call me a snob. I don't care. There are other reasons I won't give this book 5 stars. Maybe it was because of his own liberal tolerant intolerance, or the buried postmodern assumptions and his desire for Christians to become postmodern. Or the fact that it is not masterful language or masterful storytelling. Or because this book will not matter in 20 years. I don't like to give books that won't be relevant in 20 years a 5 star review. Regardless, this is a book most evangelical Christians should read. It is written by a liberal Jew from New York City who investigates Conservative Christian pop culture. There are parts of the book that are funny, and embarrassing. But there are also parts where the author expected to meet awful people and instead he met warm hearted, intelligent individuals. He also includes some horror stories as well, but overall had a noble attempt at fairness. The best part of reading the books is how enlightening it is to see a non christian's of pop Christianity, and how he perceives the way we present ourselves. It can also be annoying when he goes into his tolerance, and acceptance rhetoric, and his special emphasis on liberal Christians. At those times he get's "preachy". But other times he shows when his feelings were hurt and it is understandable. Best of all he shows that we don't do everything wrong. Read this book and be a bit more enlightened.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    Daniel Radosh, an outsider to the world of the American Christian subculture embarks upon a journey that takes him to Christian music festivals, Bible themed amusement parks, and interviews with Christian authors. Radosh, who is of Jewish background, shares his frank reactions to the products, places, and people he encounters. His viewpoint exposes much that is regrettable about the consumerism that drives many of these ventures. But Radosh is also surprised by the genuine efforts of Christians Daniel Radosh, an outsider to the world of the American Christian subculture embarks upon a journey that takes him to Christian music festivals, Bible themed amusement parks, and interviews with Christian authors. Radosh, who is of Jewish background, shares his frank reactions to the products, places, and people he encounters. His viewpoint exposes much that is regrettable about the consumerism that drives many of these ventures. But Radosh is also surprised by the genuine efforts of Christians to reach out to him, to point out their own shortcomings, and their lack of hostility towards him as a self confessed secular liberal. A Christian myself, I found Radosh's book to be an enlightening read. His manner was breezy and light, but he still did not shy away from discussing controversial topics. I learned a lot about the Christian subculture that I often am a part of, some things I didn't like, some things that made me sad, and some people that made me a bit proud in how they shared their faith intelligently and with grace. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in popular culture--Christian or not--as the 'parallel universe' many Christians live in is one that is often over looked, yet it has great influence in our country. It is also just a flat out enjoyable read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Melinda Worfolk

    This book is a fascinating look at a subculture I only know a little bit about. The author's approach is not to point and laugh, but rather to make a genuine attempt to understand where evangelical Christians are coming from. However, he's definitely not afraid to call out the real jerks in the evangelical Christian world (like James Dobson's son Ryan Dobson, author of the book Be Intolerant: Because Some Things are Just Stupid...ugh*) and show his disgust at their intolerance and bigotry. I part This book is a fascinating look at a subculture I only know a little bit about. The author's approach is not to point and laugh, but rather to make a genuine attempt to understand where evangelical Christians are coming from. However, he's definitely not afraid to call out the real jerks in the evangelical Christian world (like James Dobson's son Ryan Dobson, author of the book Be Intolerant: Because Some Things are Just Stupid...ugh*) and show his disgust at their intolerance and bigotry. I particularly liked the chapters about Christian genre fiction, pop music, and stand-up comics. It was interesting to read his interviews with the big players in those fields, and hear their candid thoughts about the good aspects and the schlocky or mercenary aspects of Christian pop culture. The only issue I had with the book was that at points the writing was a little stilted and uneven, but overall the subject matter and the author's knack for getting great interviews with people made it a very good read. *As Goodreads reviewer Marcus Johnson writes, "The book should actually be titled Be Ignorant: Because Some Things Are Just Too Complex For My Worldview."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I had such high hopes for this book. Fundamentalist Christianity fascinates me, and I am especially intrigued with Rapture-focused beliefs. When I hear about young fundamentalist children who go home to an unexpectedly empty house and immediately assume that everyone but them has been "raptured," I have a peculiar impulse to weep with compassion and laugh hysterically, both at the same time. (Note: that impulse is not a happy one - it's actually quite uncomfortable - but it IS intriguing.) So poo I had such high hopes for this book. Fundamentalist Christianity fascinates me, and I am especially intrigued with Rapture-focused beliefs. When I hear about young fundamentalist children who go home to an unexpectedly empty house and immediately assume that everyone but them has been "raptured," I have a peculiar impulse to weep with compassion and laugh hysterically, both at the same time. (Note: that impulse is not a happy one - it's actually quite uncomfortable - but it IS intriguing.) So poo on Daniel Radosh, who, instead of writing a thoughtful, well-organized, well-researched analysis of Rapture culture, wrote instead a shallow, patronizing, scattered comic book. His smug take on far-right Christian culture is not a liberal rant; but that's all you can say about it. If you haven't read this, don't waste your time - go straight to _The Unlikely Disciple_ by Kevin Roose, which examines many of the same issues, but is infinitely better.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    The best book yet on Christian pop culture. Smart about lefty condescension, and about the ways that some Christians actually want to live their faith through their music (mostly, though he does semi-pitch a sitcom idea featuring a Christian, gay neighbors, and intolerant fundamentalist neighbors), but also about all the ignorance and intolerance (and just plain crap) out there. Introduced me to Krystal Meyers (the Christian Avril Lavigne), KJ the 52 (the C. Eminem--even has a two-part song wher The best book yet on Christian pop culture. Smart about lefty condescension, and about the ways that some Christians actually want to live their faith through their music (mostly, though he does semi-pitch a sitcom idea featuring a Christian, gay neighbors, and intolerant fundamentalist neighbors), but also about all the ignorance and intolerance (and just plain crap) out there. Introduced me to Krystal Meyers (the Christian Avril Lavigne), KJ the 52 (the C. Eminem--even has a two-part song where he raps to Em like Em rapped to Stan), and some other kinda good music, though not my favorite Christian song, which is DC Talk's (the C. Linkin Park) "Jesus Freak." Sharp, entertaining, angry when necessary, and unafraid to avoid the easy caricatures secularists like me sometimes want to find.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jean Genie

    I went into this book thinking I was going to get my fill of 'insane religious behavior' - and though the book did bring to light some super crazy mind frames, it also showed that this isn't something every Christian wants or believes. It was not overly harsh, instead searched for the common ground where this subculture can meet with the secular world. The need to make all Christian follow a set of rules reminded me that Christianity is like any cliche, they have a uniform, there are those who f I went into this book thinking I was going to get my fill of 'insane religious behavior' - and though the book did bring to light some super crazy mind frames, it also showed that this isn't something every Christian wants or believes. It was not overly harsh, instead searched for the common ground where this subculture can meet with the secular world. The need to make all Christian follow a set of rules reminded me that Christianity is like any cliche, they have a uniform, there are those who feel like they don't fit in, and those who actively try to push others out based on their own opinion Having grown up with Christian pop culture in the 90s, this book also brought back a lot of things I had forgotten/repressed.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I appreciated the information about modern day Christianity and found many of the writer's experiences quite profound. However, I would have appreciated less of his personal commentary. He came off as quite preachy at times and it bothered me to a point that I started liking him less. With the message he was carrying, I think it's important for him to be farther from judgment so that the reader can create an opinion for him/herself. Otherwise, he marginalizes his consumers. This message is impor I appreciated the information about modern day Christianity and found many of the writer's experiences quite profound. However, I would have appreciated less of his personal commentary. He came off as quite preachy at times and it bothered me to a point that I started liking him less. With the message he was carrying, I think it's important for him to be farther from judgment so that the reader can create an opinion for him/herself. Otherwise, he marginalizes his consumers. This message is important for many to read, Christians included. But I worry they won't include themselves because they'll be too busy feeling offended rather than rationally challenged.

  29. 4 out of 5

    LibraryLaur

    I felt like I was eavesdropping on what "non-Christians" think of us Christians and it was fascinating. Having worked in a Christian bookstore and seen some of the ways "evangelicals" try to co-opt popular culture for their own ends, I found Radosh's perspective to be insightful and illuminating. I was surprised at how compassionate he was and think that all Christians should read this book to get a little bit of distance and, hopefully, perspective. I felt like I was eavesdropping on what "non-Christians" think of us Christians and it was fascinating. Having worked in a Christian bookstore and seen some of the ways "evangelicals" try to co-opt popular culture for their own ends, I found Radosh's perspective to be insightful and illuminating. I was surprised at how compassionate he was and think that all Christians should read this book to get a little bit of distance and, hopefully, perspective.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karen Blanchette

    This book was absolutely fascinating. Growing up in the South and spending some time around Evangelical Christians, I am not terribly surprised by what he found, but it really made me think about how the economy, Capitalism and American culture intersects with Christianity and religion in general. If you want to start thinking critically about how religious expression is constructed through pop culture. Very good.

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