You know what expression I love? “All roads lead to Rome.” You know what I love even more than that expression? All roads actually leading to Rome. Rome being, in this case, Christian culture. The other day I followed a link (from where I can’t remember) that promised snarky remarks on Twilight, and as I was navigating through the linked blog trying to find such remarks, I stumbled upon a review of a book all about Christian pop culture. This book in fact. Oh, world, you are indeed full of a number of things, but I don’t necessarily think kings are all that happy.
Daniel Radosh, a self-described “humanistic Jew”, writes of his travels through myriad aspects of Christian pop culture: toys, comedy, contemporary music, sex education and educators, books, amusement parks. The above-linked review praises him for his good humor, his refusal to take the easy path of mocking Christian pop culture, and his reflections upon pop culture in general. Sounds amazing, right? Yeah, not so much.
Leaving aside the question of tone, my main complaint was that we never stuck with one topic long enough to make it interesting. Radosh makes note of this, I suppose, in the introduction to the book, that it’s a personal history in a lot of ways, that he’s writing about his encounters with these beliefs. His writing about his encounters with people involved in each aspect of Christian pop culture, though, often fails to provide a solid background on the topics he’s discussing with them. He skips desultorily from topic to topic and lacks the instinct for providing the crucial, vivid detail to bring into focus the culture that he’s exploring.
If I may bring tone back into the question, the second biggest problem I had was that I found Radosh utterly condescending. He registers cartoony, over-the-top surprise every time he finds that people who believe things he finds preposterous can actually be nice people. We had a nice chat! he keeps saying in apparent shock. S/he gets frustrated with aspects of Christian pop culture. Apparently fundamentalist Christians do not all march in lockstep! There are only so many times you can hit this beat before it becomes a) boring and b) insulting.
All roads led to Rome but it did not do me any good. Onward! I have six books out of the library right now that are more or less related to this same topic, although I am putting them off in favor of Susan Douglas’s Enlightened Sexism. Me and evangelical Christian culture, we are not done with each other yet.
Tell me if I missed yours!