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Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 8, 2008
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“Organized as a series of adventures,” Radosh’s entertaining, often enlightening guide to a $7 billion industry cruises through the complex, diverse world of Christian pop culture. It drops into a Christian retail show in Denver; the Holy Land Experience, a biblical theme park near Orlando, Florida; The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas; Thomas Nelson, one of the largest Christian publishers in the U.S.; the ostensible “granddaddy of the alternative fest,” Cornerstone Festival outside Peoria, Illinois; Christian comedy clubs and tours; and the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. It also discusses, among other topics, Christian bookstores, the flourishing Christian children’s and teenage markets, and Christian music. The Jewish Radosh, who writes regularly for the New Yorker, the New York Times, and similarly secular publications, approaches the subject as if he were on an anthropological expedition, interviewing countless people, taking careful notes, and offering thoughtful observations. He takes his role of reporter in an unfamiliar land seriously, yet he isn’t afraid to use his well-honed wit to good advantage. --June Sawyers
"Radosh's entertaining, often enlightening guide to a $7 billion industry cruises through the complex, diverse world of Christian pop culture...He takes his role of reporter in an unfamiliar land seriously, yet he isn't afraid to use his well-honed wit to good advantage."-- Booklist
"Funny, revealing, and descriptively titled."-- Esquire
"Goes beyond mockery to engage seriously with Christian believers who make, consume, and even criticize Christian pop culture."-- TheAtlantic.com
"As an outsider, he sees things that all of us who grew up in this little world either slide past, choose to ignore or shrug off."-- Relevant Magazine
"Radosh has the astute sense of a journalist and the evocative humor of a stand-up comic."-- Publisher's Weekly
"Radosh has discovered a world that is hilarious, unpredictable, and lucrative! It seems there's a foreign country in America and it's right down the street...and now I'm not so sure that I'm not the foreigner."-- Sam Seder, Air America Radio
"What happens when a secular liberal enters the conservative Christian subculture? Yes, he's grossed out at times, appalled at least once, amused sometimes and cussin-mad at others -- and maybe even a little scared on occasion. But in the end, he offers evaluations and insights that might be considered downright prophetic and compassionate too. No evangelical insider could have done as good a job as Daniel Radosh. He's a witty, energetic, and insightful writer who grabs your attention and interest on page one and won't let go until he's escorted you to a powerful conclusion in the final paragraphs." -- Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian and Everything Must Change
"Daniel Radosh writes about Christian culture with brilliance, humor and understanding. Everyone should read this book -- with the possible exception of Stephen Baldwin (see page 143)."-- A.J. Jacobs, author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically
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Top Customer Reviews
Radosh's book embraces a complex, nuanced view of evangelical culture, and argues that secular liberals may have much more in common with at least some Christians than they would imagine. For every narrow-minded fundamentalist or weird, misguided extremist, there's a surprise: the encounter with Christian thriller writer Frank Peretti will come as particularly unexpected for anyone who grew up reading his books.
Whether you're a Christian who wants some perspective on the outside world might see you or a non-Christian who wants to see what makes them tick, this book is a must-read. I think it could be a really valuable tool for establishing common ground for a dialogue between the two groups.
I was raised without religion, so my perspective is admittedly skewed, but it is shocking to me that many of these products are conceived, and more importantly consumed, in earnest. Bibleman? Christian theme parks (excuse me, "themed ministry")? Pastel bibles for women? Christian pro-wrestling? It sounds like the making of a great South Park episode. But it's all real, and well worth reading about.
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.
NOTE: this review is based on the hardcover edition of the book.