Review: Rapture Ready, Daniel Radosh

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.

Other reviews:

Open Mind, Insert Book
Flight into Fantasy

Tell me if I missed yours!


15 thoughts on “Review: Rapture Ready, Daniel Radosh

  1. Well, hell. [Sorry…couldn’t resist:)] That’s very disappointing to hear. This book is right up my alley, and would have quickly been moved to the top of my TBR pile. Thank you thank you thank you for saving me from wasting valuable reading time on something unworthy.

    • You are more than welcome, although it may be perilous to take my word for it. But it does seem like there are a lot of books out there that deal with these topics, and this one’s soooo not worth the time.

  2. After the thoughtful, nuanced characterizations provided by Kevin Roose in _The Unlikely Disciple_, this one must have been a big disappointment. I found it both trivializing and trivial – it had a sort of slapsticky quality to it.

    Also, one of the things I liked very much about Roose’s book was how well it was put together – it seemed like such a mature and crafted work, despite the youth of its author. This one felt like a handful of randomly gathered Facebook statuses – disorganized and shallow.

    • Yes! All very true! Though to be fair, The Unlikely Disciple’s premise lent itself to narrative in a way that Rapture Ready didn’t really. It made it very absorbing. Bonnie stayed up all night to finish it.

  3. Have you read any of Matthew Paul Turner’s books? He writes from the perspective of being a Christian (former fundamentalist) and you might enjoy it. His most recent, Hear No Evil, is about his experiences with music. I really really enjoyed it.

    • No, I’ve never heard of him! But I would quite like to read something by him, as he will have had an insider’s perspective. Yay, I’m loving all these recommendations. 🙂

    • This author sounds interesting to me too. I come from a conservative Christian background and still attend a fairly conservative church, but am personally more moderate in how I live out my faith. So I would like to read the perspective of others from similar backgrounds.

  4. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book about Christian culture. Oh wait, yes I have! It was called A Year Lost and Found and it was by Michael Mayne, a priest who fell ill with ME. Apparently he writes lots of good books. I found the one I read quite gripping. Although it does sound as if this one you are reviewing was a bit of a turkey.

    • Oo, that looks a bit sad, doesn’t it? My library has never heard of this author! I’m going to see if I can get them to order this, though they have not responded to this in the past very much.

  5. So not for me, though I like the cover shown on one of the reviews you linked to. I’m even finding The Unlikely Disciple rough going, though I agree with your mom that it is a well-written book. I keep thrashing in my chair, putting it down, and then picking it up again. I’m like a melodrama script: “I can’t read the book!” “You must read the book!” “I can’t read the book!”

    • How come? Too upsetting? I found it very absorbing and couldn’t put it down. I brought it to my parents’ place to lend it to my father, and my mum and sister both read it on the same day because they, too, could not put it down. 😛

      • Yes, too upsetting. Then I got through the thrashing and stayed up til past one to finish it, only I didn’t quite finish it, because I wanted to read the part where he is unmasked when my eyes weren’t crossing. It’s so nice to discover a book about something you know about, that doesn’t get anything wrong. He really doesn’t seem to have any agenda except the journalist’s; I don’t think an older person could have written the same book. I am contemplating a monumental autobiographical review now. Probably not a good idea.

      • The part where he tells everyone the truth is sad. I would have been SO MAD if I found out that a friend of mine was undercover and writing about me secretly.

    • Ha, I have soooo many religious books out of the library right now. I’m reading one called Quiverfull about this movement that promotes “complementarian” (which means extremely traditional) gender roles and the having of many, many, many children; and then I’ve got one about the Christian youth movement, and two that are more generally about the Christian right. I’m so excited to read them all!

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