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Title: Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture
Author: Daniel Radosh
Year of Publication: 2008
Genre Keywords: Bibles, business, Christianity, conservatism, creationism, cultural anthropology, music, non-fiction, politics, religion, theatre, travel.
Summary: Daniel Radosh – a non-believer of Jewish extraction – travels across America to investigate the far reaches of Christian culture. The result of his journeys is this collection of loosely-linked adventures. Meet the sellers of kitschy “Jesus junk”; learn how the Bible continues to be a best-seller even when every Christian’s got one; dance the night away at a Christian purity ball; rock out to the best of contemporary Christian music; investigate the historical anti-Semitism of the Passion Play; ride a dinosaur at Kentucky’s Creation Museum; and get the hell scared out of you (literally, the Christians hope) at a Christian haunted house where evangelizing gets graphic. While many people in the book come across as rigid and doctrinaire, the warmth of the story comes from the few genuine, thoughtful individuals Radosh meets: Christians genuinely grappling with the realities that accompany their beliefs, and trying to engage with broader culture through a Christian lens.
Who’ll Love It: This is a fantastic introduction to fundamentalism, and I say that as someone who has been following Christian culture in America with some interest. If you’ve never encountered the God Squad in the U.S. of A., you’ll get a broad-based view of them here. The book may highlight some of the kookier elements (like the Christian variant of World Wrestling Entertainment!) but it does so in a light, mostly-loving way. Judgment isn’t Radosh’s aim here, which is what gives the book its charm. Avid fundamentalist-watchers will find lots to love here as well, even if they’re already familiar with Answers in Genesis, Christian music, or Left Behind. The conversations with more nuanced thinkers within Christian culture will both inspire and challenge the reader. And I was absolutely riveted by an intensely personal scene in which Radosh, whose children were born through IVF, confronts a pro-life pamphleteer after reading his argument against artificial insemination.
Want More? Christian culture is so fascinating, it can get pretty addictive. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of it on the Internet. If you want to get to know the Creation Museum, check out their ministry at Answers in Genesis. If you liked reading about the Cornerstone music festival, you can find out more about this year’s event. If you were fascinated by the alternate realities of Left Behind and Hell Houses, you should know they were ripped straight from the pages of Chick Tracts. Keep up with the chastity movement at Chastity.com, get political about abortion at LifeSite News, or get it on – but only if you’re married! – with sex advice from the Christian Nymphos. Then, once you’ve found your favourite flavour of fundamentalism, hit Google to see what else you can find out there! (Be sure to comment, so everybody at Bookshelf of the Mind can follow what you’ve found.)