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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Rapture Ready by Daniel Radosh

Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture by Daniel Radosh is pretty much exactly what you would expect from the title. Radosh is a secular Jew who becomes fascinated by the different aspects of Christian pop culture and spends some time exploring it. I first heard about the book in this post by Stephanie at Open Mind, Insert Book. Stephanie's review made me look and see if my library carried the book, which the did. I've since heard from several other trusted readers that they really enjoyed it. Looks like Stephanie has good taste!

Ok, enough of that, what's the book about? It's about Christian music, Christian fiction, Christian movies, superheros, wrestling (yes, really) and other forms of entertainment. Radosh is intent on figuring out just what makes some of them successful and some not. He goes to great pains to talk to artists and producers of various media to see if he can figure out their motivation. He explains the different tactics and beliefs- for example, is it Christian music because you sing about God, or is it Christian music because you yourself are Christian? For the most part he manages to present a fair, if skeptical, view of beliefs that are not his own. There were both moments that made me think about faith and what it means to me and moments where I felt he was making fun of the true believers. (And of the Left Behind series.) It was a fascinating book and one I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys reading about faith and/or enjoys memoirs/ non-fiction where the author embarks on a quest (think The Year of Living Biblically, Bonk, or Eat, Pray, Love.)

Most of the book is fairly light hearted and avoids big political agendas. In the very last chapter Radosh makes the point that by maintaining that Christian pop culture as something different, something to be kept separate, that we make it harder for Christians to come to the liberal side of thinking. That the secular world helps enforce the split between liberals and conservative Christians. Here, let him tell you, from page 306:

Our ignorance of Christian culture not only causes us to misunderstand, misinterpret, and mis judge our Christian neighbors, it also precludes our effectively challenging those aspects of Christian culture that may be properly judged as offensive. To the extent that we hope to change Christian culture, we have to understand and appreciate it. Think about the situation in reverse: Is there anything more ridiculous than a fundamentalist's rant about a TV show he's never seen?

Uh, Harry Potter, anyone?

I don't know if this makes me more likely to read Christian fiction, but it does make me think more open-mindedly (is that a word?) about it.

Do you read Christian fiction? What authors do you enjoy that you don't think would turn off a non-Christian? What about music? Are there any artists who inspire you without preaching? Have you attended a Passion Play? For years there was a permanent play in local Spearfish SD, called the Black Hills Passion Play, but it closed a year ago. If you haven't already weighed in on my Bible question, inspired by this book, please stop by and do so!

Rapture Ready by Daniel Radosh
310 pages


  1. This one may have to go on my wish list. Thanks for the review, Lisa!

  2. I hope you like it. I found it really interesting.

  3. What an odd little book. I don't set out to read Christian fiction but I accidentally pick one up now and again. I say accidentally because they are so thinly veiled as Christian fiction that you really don't notice the genre.

  4. This sounds like something I might like. I have read Christian fiction before but it is not my preference and I am very picky about the books I do read in that category.

    I'm fascinated by religion in general and the different histories of various religions. I think I'd be more likely to read this book because it is presented from a secular viewpoint than a similar book written from the Christian standpoint.

  5. I've read a few books that are considered Christian fiction, but it's not a genre I seek out. This book does sound interesting, though.

  6. I'm always curious about books about christianity written by those outside of it but I have yet to read one. (Someday but too many other books to read right now) What I don't understand from his quote is why he would want to change christians, to bring them around to his side. Christians try to convert folks because they believe it to be a godly endever. What would be the secular world's motivation? Guess I'll have to read the book to find out.

    Hmmm, Harry Potter indeed. We were ostracized for that one.

  7. Forgot to add, I gave up on christian fiction a while ago because it was just plain boring. But recently I read a book by Jackina Stark that I liked. The main character is reading through her husband's bible while she mourns his death. I didn't think it preachy but pleasant. I am reading her second book later this week.

  8. I wouldn't seek out Christian fiction at all. I find it to be a little weird. I have my own personal beliefs (we're a Catholic family) but why on earth would I want to specifically read fiction surrounding the Catholic faith? Or listen to religious-centred music? I don't get it. I really don't.

  9. Thanks for clarifying that quote. That makes much more sense now.

    About that Jackina Stark book I mentioned, the second book is much more christian infiltrated than the first was. I'm only two chapters in but I don't think a nonbeliever would care for it.


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