Wednesday, December 10, 2008

book review: rapture ready

i recently read rapture ready by daniel radosh, and it was good.

basically, a jewish writer explored the alternate universe that is christian pop culture. i liked it for many reasons:

  • it was a blast from the past. as a teenager i was steeped in christian pop culture. if music was secular or a book mentioned inappropriate topics i had to enjoy it secretly. as an alumni of christian youth culture, i can tell you that radosh was spot-on with his observations. also very evenhanded, given the occasional ridiculousness of his subject.
  • he's a fantastic writer. he has the rare gift of being able to step back and let people tell their own stories. huge chunks of the book are simply quotes from people he was interviewing. instead of taking what he was told by all these people and writing things up from his point of view, he just recorded their words. it made the book seem more objective and made the people he met easier to relate to - i could hear their voices and understand where they were coming from. yes, a christian pro wrestling circuit is ridiculous from almost anyone's standpoint, but after hearing from the guy in charge, i understood why he felt what he was doing was important.
  • the writer's jewish perspective added to my understanding of the world of christian culture. there were so many things that i took for granted when i was younger, then forgot when i became an apostate, but now i see them through daniel's culturally sensitive eyes and i realize how bigoted and hurtful so many evangelical assumptions and attitudes are. if he had been writing from a secular or christian viewpoint i would have probably failed to notice some of the institutionalized xenophobia.
  • it's laid out so clearly. each chapter is about one area of christian pop culture. the whole thing is arranged like an essay, but with chapters instead of paragraphs. it's all very clear and informative and definitley entertaining. it's similar in subject to a j jacobs' year of living biblically, but with less emphasis on the humour and the personal, and more emphasis on a comprehensive understanding of the topic on hand. radosh's clarity makes jacobs' writing seem like a chaotic mishmash. which it is not.
  • the faux-interview with stephen baldwin. freaking awesome. if you can't afford this book, just walk into a bookstore and turn to page 143 and read to the end of the chapter, piss your pants laughing, and walk back out.
  • it really is very funny, with flashes of dry humour and some outright silliness. don't let my extended ranting about the way he takes his subject seriously make you think that it isn't a fantastically funny book.

overall, i give the book ***** out of five stars. two thumbs up. i only wish it could have been longer.

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