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Roadside Religion: In Search of the Sacred, the Strange, and the Substance of Faith Paperback – May 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Near Mammoth Cave in Kentucky are plenty of roadside attractions, but on Beal's list is Golgotha Fun Park, a miniature golf course which is described in a chapter wittily titled "Stations of the Course". Bizarrely, the name comes from the Aramaic for "the skull" and is the name of the place where the gospels say the crucifixion happened. Some fun. There are some ceramic skulls on the sixteenth hole: "Although they don't pose much of a putting challenge, they _are_ rather creepy and distracting." The eighteen holes tell the story from creation to Resurrection.Read more ›
Although the Introduction and some of the chapters are a rambling mess, the Conclusion was insightful and inspiring. In four pages, Beal describes his rediscovery of faith as something more/other than mere belief alone: "Faith is a leap of hospitality, an opening of oneself to the other... an opening toward an unknown other....faith as vulnerability, risking relationship." Especially in a world that's divided by power and fear, this was sheer heaven to read.
My disppointments with the book are few, and mostly about the structure and omissions.
For subject matter that is as visual as it is spiritual, photos seem lacking and of poor quality: 25 in all, small scale, black and white only. Also, there are times when a simple diagram or even a primitive hand-drawn sketch whould have been far better than the dull prose trying to describe the same thing (such as the layout of Paradise Gardens). While this is not a guidebook, a simple map of the route taken to the visted sites seems like a given, but it's not. Finally, the lack of an INDEX, NOTES, or even FOR FURTHER READING represents a missed opportunity to improve the quality of the book and inspire futher exploration of the subject matter.
In the end, hearing Dr. Beal describe his journey is far more engaging than the way he wrote about it. Nonetheless, it's worth the read, and the sites themselves, worth the visit.
It all started outside Prattville, Alabama with a sea of crosses and signs of doom and the rewards of a sinful life. The Cross Garden is more than just an amalgamation of wooden objects and words but a statement of faith by the man who, with a vision from God, started its construction, his wife who supports him and the visitors who wander by.
Like the journeys of Bill Bryson throughout Great Britain; but these in search of the God experience behind the images, Beal brings us from The Holy Land Experience, to a Disneyesque theme park in Orlando, and onto a Biblically themed Golf Course, followed by a man who is building Noah's Ark in Frostburg, Maryland, to the largest Ten Commandments in the country in North Carolina, to the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama and countless attractions in-between.
I thoroughly enjoyed this travel log complete with RV and family. Each stop indicated a struggle and a creation out of some grief in life. The most unique of the visits I felt was the one to the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, Missouri. Each of the figures is a precious creation of its artist Samuel Butcher. Fashioned like his Precious Moment figurines that are popular collectables, each of the biblical scenes is populated by Precious Moment children. Interesting enough, however, the only figure that is not fashioned like the children is the figure of Christ. Like many of the sites visited, this one was born out of the pain of the death of a Son. Almost cathartic in nature, this site is a work of love and a way of dealing with loss.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A bit too scattered for a fully effective presentation of the weird stuff in American rural religion but a fun read nonetheless.Published 17 months ago by John C Holbert
I enjoyed reading this book - funny as well as inspiring. Having been to three of the places in this book I felt this was a well written account of those interesting home grown,... Read morePublished on March 22, 2011 by Beverly Leach