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RTA
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

A friend loaned me this book a few weeks ago when I asked for a light non-fiction recommendation.  I agree it’s both a useful and entertaining read (though, truth be told, I read through about 2/3 of it one night and never picked it up again to finish it, don’t know why.)  It’s worth the read, well 2/3’s of a read anyway, just for the mock interview of Stephen Baldwin.

 

At the end of the Bible-sale-extravaganza chapter Paul Caminiti, the head of a company’s Bible division, cites the story of Philip the Evangelist and the Ethiopian Eunuch from Acts.  For Caminiti, the infusion of pop culture into Christianity is substantively no different than Philip providing a little “color commentary” for the Ethiopian. 

 

But consider that the eunuch’s story is immediately preceded in Acts by Simon’s story.  Simon was a great magician (or sorcerer) in Samaria prior to Philip’s visit.  Simon had bewitched the people of Samaria who, “from the least to the greatest,” “all gave heed” to him saying that Simon “is the great power of God.”  Philip arrives in Samaria under such conditions.  He preaches to the people “the kingdom of God” and “the name of Jesus Christ,” and all were baptized, including Simon.  So, while the Ethiopian benefits from a little “color commentary,” it’s also reflected in Acts that, even among those dazzled and distracted by sorcery, the word of God, alone, garners their attention.  And this left me wondering, in light of Caminiti’s biblical justification, about the “accuracy-lite” as Radosh terms it that results from the infusion of pop culture into Christianity.

 

According to my albeit limited understanding, secular pop culture can be viewed as provocative and dangerous precisely because it distracts from the ultimate Christian message—i.e. Jesus.  And it seems to me that the Christian version of pop culture seeks to re-distract from secular pop culture to Christian pop culture.  In distracting their target audience from secular pop culture, Christian pop culture, presumably, aims to bring its audience back to the ultimate Christian message, again Christ.  And I’m left wondering if Christians are questioning why the message, alone, isn’t enough. 

 

This isn’t a dig at the apparent hypocrisy; it’s a genuine curiosity.  If the secular world, substantially embodied in secular pop culture, is that which threatens to distract from Christianity, is there any danger in co-opting a secular tool—pop culture—to entice people to Christianity?   And, further, if Christian ideology indeed embodies an ultimate truth, then wouldn’t it benefit Christianity to examine why the co-opting of pop culture is even necessary in order to sell/package/provide “color commentary” for that truth?

 

Hmmm...I'm now re-intrigued.  Perhaps I'll pick it up again this week and read the end.

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Four_Eyes
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

How many bibles do I own?  Well, I'm not looking at my bookshelf right now. . .  As a lay pastor, several.  I only paid full price for the first three of these, the others I picked up on sale used for about $1 each.  I do like to compare passages across versions, but I don't really have a favorite.  I pick up extras on the cheap because I give them away so often. 

 

NKJV Geneva Study Bible (current version is the Reformation Study Bible)

ESV Study Bible, Kindle edition for my iPod

NASB thinline (for travel)

RSV (inherited from my Grandma)

Oxford Annotated with Apocrypha (RSV) Hardcover

NIV (2) one at work and one at home.

KJV large print for the Bible Reading at church.

NCV (don't use much)

Gideon's pocket New Testament (NKJV) with Psalms and Proverbs (a gift from a Muslim friend).

New English Bible with Apocrypha (Hardcover)

NLT New Testament (paperback evangelism version)

Good News New Testament (my first bible was a Good News NT).

Gideon's KJV New Testament softcover (Portuguese/English)

 

I still want to pick up the ESV Literary Study Bible.

 

Other favorite spiritual classics that I couldn't do without:

The Cloud of Unknowing

The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way.

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Four_Eyes
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

On popular Christian Culture:  I sometimes have problems with recent expressions of popular Christian culture.  In particular, grunge T-shirts with a Christian message, heavy metal gospel music and unshaved youth pastors (male) with earings.  It bothers me that this seems like a superficial effort to say, "Hey! We're Christians, but we're 'cool' too."

 

I would rather see a Christian culture that is an authentic expression of the sacred values of Christ.  It dilutes the message when this popular culture seems to be saying, "we are just like everybody else".  The whole point is to be "new creatures in Christ", not old creatures in grunge T-shirts. 

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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!


Four_Eyes wrote:

On popular Christian Culture:  I sometimes have problems with recent expressions of popular Christian culture.  In particular, grunge T-shirts with a Christian message, heavy metal gospel music and unshaved youth pastors (male) with earings.  It bothers me that this seems like a superficial effort to say, "Hey! We're Christians, but we're 'cool' too."

 

I would rather see a Christian culture that is an authentic expression of the sacred values of Christ.  It dilutes the message when this popular culture seems to be saying, "we are just like everybody else".  The whole point is to be "new creatures in Christ", not old creatures in grunge T-shirts. 


Hey Four_Eyes.  I’m curious about what you wrote and was hoping to clarify your position. You seem to offer two different critiques of Christian pop culture, correct me if I’m wrong.  One, that it is superficial to adopt pop culture in an effort to attract.  And, two, that it dilutes the Christian message to steep it in pop culture. 

 

My question is, would your first critique hold if it were demonstrated that some Christians don’t adopt grunge T-shirts or heavy metal music, or hairy faces merely because they’re trying to paint Christianity as socially ‘cool’?  That is, presuming there are unshaven youth pastors who are unshaven not because they want to be the cool, hip pastor, but because they don’t like to shave, or are lazy, or even don’t shave purely for vanity, would you still take issue with these ‘cool’ Christians. 

 

The reason I ask is because some people are just drawn to certain styles of clothes, music, physical appearance.  Sure people listen to some music, or dress a certain way, as part of a group affiliation.  But some people just really, aesthetically, like the sound of heavy metal, or rock, or country, or hip hop, etc.   Is it fair to assume that such people choose to listen (or make) rock Christian music primarily, or exclusively, because they want to be ‘cool’ Christians?  In the end, Christians are people and people appreciate and gravitate towards different types of art, right?

 

Consider, for instance, historically much of the music associated with early Christianity (among the denominations that incorporated music) was what we generally term classical music now.  But I can’t imagine that most, if any, Christian denominations that incorporate music today tie themselves to classical music.  I’ve been to a number of Christian services that incorporated music reminiscent of folk music, children’s music and some that I would categorize as rock.  It seems to me that Christian music in the past has evolved to adopt the tastes of its time.  Is the development of rock or heavy metal Christian music any different? 

 

Is it really “superficial” to appreciate certain types of art (or certain styles) and want to be able to experience that art/personal style in the context of one’s Christianity?  And is it safe to assume that a person chooses to experience their Christianity through various art forms predominantly (or even significantly) because they want to appear to be 'cool' Christians?

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Peppermill
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready! (The Bible business is today's discussion)

What a bunch of kitsch is much of what Radosh describes about Christian pop culture in the opening chapters of Rapture Ready!

 

The book is fun to read and does have some interesting tidbits.  However, the author loses credibility when he generalizes from what he has been observing to all Christians or even to the population in general: 

 

p. 72 "Christians have been waiting for the second coming of Jesus for roughly 2,008 years now."  Rather silly, since Christianity, per se, did not exist until at least after the death of Jesus.

 

p. 73 "Today, most Catholics and mainline Protestants believe some form of amillennialism."  Evidence for this statement?

 

p. 76 Of the Book of Revelations:  "There is no way that between 36 and 59 percent of Americans have ever read this, much less understood it."  Sounds reasonable, but the evidence?  If so, what does it mean when on p. 75 Radosh reports that polls indicate those percentages of Americans believe the events described in Revelations will come true.  What does the disconnect mean? 

 

(Many scholars believe that Revelations coded events that were happening in the Roman Empire at the time it was written.  Those whom I have heard speak on the subject ao not hold it was written by the Apostle John, as was apparently assumed at the time the canon was codified.  None of which is to deny that this mystical book is a part of the holy scriptures that inform a faith -- or perhaps multiple faiths, but still collected under the label of Christian.)

 

I wonder when Radosh was able to get his tongue out of his cheek while or after writing this.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Joseph_F
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready! (The Bible business is today's discussion)

Peppermill, I understand your concerns, but I feel that he is generally quite respectful of his subjects, or at least as respectful as he feels they deserve. In other words, if he feels someone is being dishonest or hateful, he's not afraid to make fun of them or tear them apart, but he takes the time to get context and response for every viewpoint he brings into it. Maybe it's because I'm from a very similar situation as the author (liberal Jew living in New York), but I feel that he is as fair and nuanced as he can be. He's just not willing to let go of things he believes are genuinely wrong.

 

As for the disconnect between him saying that people don't understand Revelations and many people believing Revelations, I don't see any disconnect at all. If you study the whole end-times phenomenon, you'll see that what people believe Revelations says and what Revelations actually says is worlds apart. The "literal," "biblical," reading of it that is popular in modern America at the moment involves a fantastic amount of cherry-picking of verses and even cherry-picking of words within verses. The modern interpretation will jump from a line in Revelations to half a verse in Isaiah to the a couple verses of Kings and back to half a chapter of Revelations as thought that were the common sense, literal way of reading that text. It's hard to see how someone actually approaching the text with a sense of literalness and without that interpretive framework already built for them would possibly come to any of the conclusions of the modern end-times movement.

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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready! (The Bible business is today's discussion)

[ Edited ]

"Maybe it's because I'm from a very similar situation as the author (liberal Jew living in New York)"

 

And maybe because I consider myself a Christian and I live and participate in a community of faith so far removed from what Radosh describes, I am oversensitive to comments that seem like generalizations.  Believe me, much of what he describes is as disconcerting to me as it seems to have been to him. (He does have some delightful spots of humor and some useful reminders of the perspectives of his own faith -- the two that come to mind are his routing for Christ against the mob in the Passion Play (p.57) and his sensitivity to conversion for those who have survived the Holocaust -- the later bears quoting.)

 

Writing of Dekker's Obsessed, Radosh says:  "In the 1960's, a Jewish philosopher and Holocaust survivor named Emil Fackenheim formulated a "614th commandment" (Jewish tradition holds that there are 613 in the Torah): "Do not grant Hitler posthumous victories." The admonition "has perfectly captured the mood of vast numbers of contemporary Jews," writes Joseph Telushkin in Jewish Literacy.  "Hitler wanted to destroy the Jews [so] one must live as a Jew.  To do otherwise would be to ...complete Hitler's work,"  You can see how a book that proposes the lesson of the Holocaust is to become a Christian would be somewhat upsetting--even if you call it Messanic Judaism...."  (p. 100)

 

"The modern interpretation will jump from a line in Revelations to half a verse in Isaiah to the a couple verses of Kings and back to half a chapter of Revelations as though that were the common sense, literal way of reading that text."

 

That is the sort of discussion that it seems to me that was insightful when Radosh provides it, but which so far, in my reading, he has often failed to do.  I am also lacking so far a framework as to what led to his writing this book and what his purpose in doing so was -- i.e., who is his target audience and what does he want them to take away?

 

(Another phrase whose "truth" or validity I question is "The Bible that changed Christianity," referring to the Scofield Bible.  p. 72)

 

Pepper


Joseph_F wrote:

Peppermill, I understand your concerns, but I feel that he is generally quite respectful of his subjects, or at least as respectful as he feels they deserve. In other words, if he feels someone is being dishonest or hateful, he's not afraid to make fun of them or tear them apart, but he takes the time to get context and response for every viewpoint he brings into it. Maybe it's because I'm from a very similar situation as the author (liberal Jew living in New York), but I feel that he is as fair and nuanced as he can be. He's just not willing to let go of things he believes are genuinely wrong.

 

As for the disconnect between him saying that people don't understand Revelations and many people believing Revelations, I don't see any disconnect at all. If you study the whole end-times phenomenon, you'll see that what people believe Revelations says and what Revelations actually says is worlds apart. The "literal," "biblical," reading of it that is popular in modern America at the moment involves a fantastic amount of cherry-picking of verses and even cherry-picking of words within verses. The modern interpretation will jump from a line in Revelations to half a verse in Isaiah to the a couple verses of Kings and back to half a chapter of Revelations as thought that were the common sense, literal way of reading that text. It's hard to see how someone actually approaching the text with a sense of literalness and without that interpretive framework already built for them would possibly come to any of the conclusions of the modern end-times movement.


"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!


Peppermill wrote:

However, the author loses credibility when he generalizes from what he has been observing to all Christians or even to the population in general: 

 


I think Radosh is fairly clear that he isn't generalizing Christian to all Christians.  He prefaces the entire book, writing:

The people I am writing about call themselves by many names: traditional Christians, conservative Christians, orthodox Christians, Bible-believing Christians, or even the saints.  But mostly they just say Christians, and for the sake of simplicity, I've chosen to follow their lead.  If you're a mainline or liberal Christain who has a problem with that, take it up with them.  (8)

While I'll agree that's not a perfect definition of who, exactly, falls under the term as he uses it.  One thing is certain, Radosh does not offer that he is writing about "all Christians or even...the population in general." 

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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

I understand, but at places in the text he repeats his general disclaimer or provides clearer specifics; other places, he does not.  Personally, I sometimes find that aspect of his handling disconcerting and disorienting.

 

 


RTA wrote:

Peppermill wrote:

However, the author loses credibility when he generalizes from what he has been observing to all Christians or even to the population in general: 

 


I think Radosh is fairly clear that he isn't generalizing Christian to all Christians.  He prefaces the entire book, writing:

The people I am writing about call themselves by many names: traditional Christians, conservative Christians, orthodox Christians, Bible-believing Christians, or even the saints.  But mostly they just say Christians, and for the sake of simplicity, I've chosen to follow their lead.  If you're a mainline or liberal Christain who has a problem with that, take it up with them.  (8)

While I'll agree that's not a perfect definition of who, exactly, falls under the term as he uses it.  One thing is certain, Radosh does not offer that he is writing about "all Christians or even...the population in general." 


 

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

[ Edited ]

 


Peppermill wrote:

I understand, but at places in the text he repeats his general disclaimer or provides clearer specifics; other places, he does not.  Personally, I sometimes find that aspect of his handling disconcerting and disorienting.

 


Well, then, to help me understand, can you point to some examples?  I can't think of one instance in the book where I thought Radosh was referring to all Christians, or any sort of mainline Christian, without specifically stating so.  I can't say for certain because I read most of the book a couple months ago, but, to the best that I can recall, when the text uses any sort of unmodified "Christian," I didn't have any problem applying Radosh's above caveat.  

 

Certainly, I don't think it's fair to claim the quote you gave above is an example of Radosh speaking of all Christians, considering the context of the statement and, again, Radosh's prefaced clarification.

 

EDITED:

 

You know, let me add, because I don't mean to give the impression that I didn't think the general tagging a little sloppy.  As I said above, the definition he gives his subject in the preface isn't really satisfying.  And, I agree, it isn't always apparent how large the specific group of evangelical "Christian" is when he writes it. But one thing was absolutely clear to me in the book, when Radosh used an unmodified version of Christian, he wasn't speaking of Christians, generally.  

 

Personally, my pet peeve with the book was lack of citations. 

 

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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

RTA -- I don't know if I can adequately clarify the confusion I feel as I read Rapture Ready! about the use of the word "Christian" with the type of conversation we can have on a forum like this, but let me see if I can make myself more comprehensible, both to you and to myself.  :smileyhappy: -- I did hesitate about posting.

 

First, you may note that I  raise questions as to what led to writing this book and what the purpose in doing so was -- i.e., who is the target audience and what does the author want them to take away?  Is he primarily trying to reach a segment of the population that is unfamiliar with so-called Christian pop culture?  Or, is he trying to speak to the adherents of that pop culture itself?  If the former, it seems to me that a significant number of his (Christian) readers are likely to attempt discernment between different sub-groups of Christianity, distinctions that I stumbled over as I read.

 

The feelings of confusion had been mounting for me -- certainly reference to Puritans as Christians seemed a different group than 21st century "evangelicals."  In the initial disclaimer, did the author intend to distinguish "traditional" from "main-line Protestant and Catholic"?  I couldn't tell.  Why was "fundamentalist" going to be expected to be pejorative when it was used in the text?  While I certainly can't "take it up with them", I could sympathize with the author's dilemma on terminology and was willing, at least initially, to ride with his choice.

 

A sense of discomforture had been growing for me (i.e., what's included in the scope of the $7B "Christian" products market in 2006 -- e.g., only products that "religious" or also all the sweet statues like the young girl reading that I received for Christmas and that was produced by a company whose product [junk!] line includes lots of angels).  Certainly the Bible market described included more than evangelical Christian oriented products, unless one went the route of acknowledging that all Christianity is evangelical in the sense of encouraging converts (as is Islam), even if the "best selling book" comments did not include the Torah.  (I couldn't tell from the text.)

 

However, the point at which I became ready to articulate my discomforture was with the opening sentence of Chapter 5:  "The Bible that changed Christianity...."   The statement startled me, because I had never, through many a discussion and volumes of reading, encountered such power ascribed to a particular Bible version.  Even going back now as I try to figure out how to respond to your question, I realize that the paragraphs that immediately follow simply do not make sense if I try to insert "evangelical" before "Christian" or "Christianity".   Sometimes one can reasonably do so, sometimes clearly the broad scope of Christiandom is intended.

 

My book on Bible translations is on loan at the moment, but the best conversation that I have had to date on the Scofield Reference Bible indicated that this bible was more a response to a movement than the creator of one.  Another of my questions to Radosh is what is meant when he calls it "the best selling Bible of the twentieth century"?  More than all other translations and editions combined?  Most of any <cavet to be provided>?

 

Pepper

 


RTA wrote:

 


Peppermill wrote:

I understand, but at places in the text he repeats his general disclaimer or provides clearer specifics; other places, he does not.  Personally, I sometimes find that aspect of his handling disconcerting and disorienting.

 


Well, then, to help me understand, can you point to some examples?  I can't think of one instance in the book where I thought Radosh was referring to all Christians, or any sort of mainline Christian, without specifically stating so.  I can't say for certain because I read most of the book a couple months ago, but, to the best that I can recall, when the text uses any sort of unmodified "Christian," I didn't have any problem applying Radosh's above caveat.  

 

Certainly, I don't think it's fair to claim the quote you gave above is an example of Radosh speaking of all Christians, considering the context of the statement and, again, Radosh's prefaced clarification.

 

EDITED:

 

You know, let me add, because I don't mean to give the impression that I didn't think the general tagging a little sloppy.  As I said above, the definition he gives his subject in the preface isn't really satisfying.  And, I agree, it isn't always apparent how large the specific group of evangelical "Christian" is when he writes it. But one thing was absolutely clear to me in the book, when Radosh used an unmodified version of Christian, he wasn't speaking of Christians, generally.  

 

Personally, my pet peeve with the book was lack of citations. 


 

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

The Scofield Reference Bible created more or less wholesale the modern ideas of rapture and end-times. These are fundamental to the religion, culture, and politics of most modern evangelicals. This is what he is referring to.

 

The problem of his terminology seems to me a separate one from that. He might be a little sloppy with the term Christian, sometimes using it in the way he promised and sometimes using it too generally, but reading with a charitable frame of mind and with an eye on the context of each use of the word, it's not very hard to see what he is referring to each time he uses the word.

 

The intended audience for the book, it seems to me, is outsiders to this whole world he's describing. He is arriving as an outsider and asking lots of questions as a surrogate for any inquisitive reader. His two main intentions seem to be to allow us a glimpse of this "alternative pop culture" we might not otherwise see, and also to give us enough context to understand this alternative culture a little better if we ever have brushes with it.

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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

[ Edited ]

"...rapture and end-times. These are fundamental to the religion, culture, and politics of most modern evangelicals."

 

Joseph -- I respectfully disagree that "rapture" is fundamental to "modern evangelicals" -- at least in many of the uses of evangelical that I encounter.

 

I do not always find it easy to determine Radosh's use of "Christianity" from the context (in a number of cases, I found myself stopping and re-reading), but for the purposes on the remainder of the discussion here I shall try to refrain from commenting on that particular difficulty, unless I can articulate a situation I find particularly troublesome.  I think I have asked that the reader be wary.  I guess our parsing exemplifies why it is sometimes difficult to have discussions about religion that remain on the same wavelength.

 

Regardless, I am glad to be reading Radosh's book and hearing what he has to say.

 

 


Joseph_F wrote:

The Scofield Reference Bible created more or less wholesale the modern ideas of rapture and end-times. These are fundamental to the religion, culture, and politics of most modern evangelicals. This is what he is referring to.

 

The problem of his terminology seems to me a separate one from that. He might be a little sloppy with the term Christian, sometimes using it in the way he promised and sometimes using it too generally, but reading with a charitable frame of mind and with an eye on the context of each use of the word, it's not very hard to see what he is referring to each time he uses the word.

 

The intended audience for the book, it seems to me, is outsiders to this whole world he's describing. He is arriving as an outsider and asking lots of questions as a surrogate for any inquisitive reader. His two main intentions seem to be to allow us a glimpse of this "alternative pop culture" we might not otherwise see, and also to give us enough context to understand this alternative culture a little better if we ever have brushes with it.


 

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

Peppermill - Please continue to bring up anything that troubles you! :smileyhappy: I'm merely offering the answers that I see from my perspective on the issues you are bringing up.

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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

Thanks for taking the time to reply, P.  And sorry for my delay in responding, my schedule has been a bit wonky lately. 

 

I think a lot of the questions you’ve raised are fair and highlight the difficulty in trying to group and collate various religious beliefs.  As I said, I agree that some--perhaps even a lot--of Radosh’s labels aren’t fully enlightening.  Whether that’s indicative of a sloppy method for labeling or an indication of, again, the difficulty in trying to group religious belief despite one’s best efforts, I’m ill-equipped to say.  So, I don’t disagree that some of the generalizations made by Radosh have minimal, if any, value. 

 

My disagreement arises in your extending that lack of value of some, or many, of the generalizations to lost “credibility” and the indication that Radosh intended to make observations regarding “all Christians or even to the population in general.”  It seems pretty clear, not only from the caveat, but from the entire thrust of the book, focusing on pop culture surrounding predominantly evangelical Christians, that Radosh has no intention of making blanket generalizations regarding all Christians.  He, by necessity, eliminates groups of Christians just by the limited scope of his topic--i.e. Christian pop culture.

 

I think perhaps some of the difficulty I’m having in understanding how you read this book stems from a clash of personal experiences.  It seems evident that you experienced some of Radosh’s generalizations on a personal level (“maybe because I consider myself a Christian and I live and participate in a community of faith so far removed from what Radosh describes”).  But, for the very same reason you give here, I do not, at all, see evident in the text Radosh attempting to generalize to the vast majority of Christians I know now, nor to my own (not insubstantial) Christian experiences.  Just the focus on Christian pop culture removes the generalization of Christian in the text away from almost all the Christians I know, since very few have any involvement in Christian pop culture.  So I had no difficulty taking Radosh at his word that he isn’t talking about “all Christians or even…the population in general.”  Nor did I experience any confusion that, perhaps, some unmodified “Christian” uses in the text were meant to generalize all Christians.  It just wasn’t an issue for me, because the Christian described was so far removed from almost all my personal experiences with Christians and Christianity.

 

I think the strength in Radosh’s book comes from his first hand accounts.  I think they offer a view into a culture that many Americans, particularly secular Americans, are not familiar.  And I think the bulk of the value in the text would still be present, even if one were to redact every attempt at generalization made in the book.  Significant to the text, for me, are Radosh’s many first hand accounts and experiences, such as, his days at the Cornerstone Festival (pp. 171-199), or his conversations with R.T. (pp. 125-132) and not the minimal sprinkling of generalizations.  And I think it would be a shame for someone to tune out those accounts because of a not-particularly-illuminating generalization here and there.

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Christian parenting methods

Salon had an article yesterday, "Godly discipline turned deadly," about the death of Lydia Schatz, who was allegedly beaten to death by her parents with a quarter inch plumbing supply line.  The Schatz's reportedly informed police that they practice the parenting methods offered by Debi and Michael Pearl of No Greater Joy.  The article focuses, significantly, on some Christian responses to the Pearls' Christian-based parenting philosophy. 

 

I was surprised when I reached the end of Rapture Ready that there was no discussion of Christian parenting.  Perhaps it doesn't fulfill what Radosh considers to be Christian pop culture, but it does seem to have a growing marketing push.  Anyway, the article highlighted an issue that some of P's comments and my response to the text raised for me, but I'm out of time to exand on it at the moment.  (And, truthfully, I'm still trying to work out exactly what I'm thinking and want to say.)  In the meantime, I figured I'd drop off this article in case anyone was interested.

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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!

It just wasn’t an issue for me, because the Christian described was so far removed from almost all my personal experiences with Christians and Christianity.

 

RTA -- I have probably just sat through too many meetings agnozing over the meaning of "evangelical" on the list of attributes desired or not desired in calling a pastor to a mainline church, to which I could probably apply the adjectives "traditional, liberal" !  (Contradictory as those may be.)  My sensitivity level on word usage is undoubtedly set too high.

 

My thanks to you and Joseph for keeping me reading Radosh.  I finally finished it last night and spent a little time at his rather incredible web site today.  I enjoyed Radosh's humor, both blatent and that which required rereading to guess whether he was serious this time, or, as was more likely, satiric or ironic.  He had clearly garnered quite a set of anecdotes from his travels.


So, I don’t disagree that some of the generalizations made by Radosh have minimal, if any, value.

 

Yes, I find it very difficult to draw conclusions from what this book presents, other than Radosh's own: "...American evangelism is a tremendously heterodox society that is not well represented by its shrillest component..." (p.304) Still, the words "deeply weird" from the cover flap description seem only too applicable. 


RTA wrote:

Thanks for taking the time to reply, P.  And sorry for my delay in responding, my schedule has been a bit wonky lately. 

 

I think a lot of the questions you’ve raised are fair and highlight the difficulty in trying to group and collate various religious beliefs.  As I said, I agree that some--perhaps even a lot--of Radosh’s labels aren’t fully enlightening.  Whether that’s indicative of a sloppy method for labeling or an indication of, again, the difficulty in trying to group religious belief despite one’s best efforts, I’m ill-equipped to say.  So, I don’t disagree that some of the generalizations made by Radosh have minimal, if any, value. 

 

My disagreement arises in your extending that lack of value of some, or many, of the generalizations to lost “credibility” and the indication that Radosh intended to make observations regarding “all Christians or even to the population in general.”  It seems pretty clear, not only from the caveat, but from the entire thrust of the book, focusing on pop culture surrounding predominantly evangelical Christians, that Radosh has no intention of making blanket generalizations regarding all Christians.  He, by necessity, eliminates groups of Christians just by the limited scope of his topic--i.e. Christian pop culture.

 

I think perhaps some of the difficulty I’m having in understanding how you read this book stems from a clash of personal experiences.  It seems evident that you experienced some of Radosh’s generalizations on a personal level (“maybe because I consider myself a Christian and I live and participate in a community of faith so far removed from what Radosh describes”).  But, for the very same reason you give here, I do not, at all, see evident in the text Radosh attempting to generalize to the vast majority of Christians I know now, nor to my own (not insubstantial) Christian experiences.  Just the focus on Christian pop culture removes the generalization of Christian in the text away from almost all the Christians I know, since very few have any involvement in Christian pop culture.  So I had no difficulty taking Radosh at his word that he isn’t talking about “all Christians or even…the population in general.”  Nor did I experience any confusion that, perhaps, some unmodified “Christian” uses in the text were meant to generalize all Christians.  It just wasn’t an issue for me, because the Christian described was so far removed from almost all my personal experiences with Christians and Christianity.

 

I think the strength in Radosh’s book comes from his first hand accounts.  I think they offer a view into a culture that many Americans, particularly secular Americans, are not familiar.  And I think the bulk of the value in the text would still be present, even if one were to redact every attempt at generalization made in the book.  Significant to the text, for me, are Radosh’s many first hand accounts and experiences, such as, his days at the Cornerstone Festival (pp. 171-199), or his conversations with R.T. (pp. 125-132) and not the minimal sprinkling of generalizations.  And I think it would be a shame for someone to tune out those accounts because of a not-particularly-illuminating generalization here and there.


 

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: Christian parenting methods

As noted in a previous post, Radosh, after giving all the various forms of Christian that is incorporated into his general application of the term, writes: “If you’re a mainline or liberal Christian who has a problem with that, take it up with them.”  In truth, I read that as almost a challenge to mainline or liberal Christians.  It does sometimes seem to me that Christians are often quick to criticize non-Christians who use the generic Christian label.  But, at the same time, I don’t see the same sort of criticism towards the Christians who are actually using the label. 

 

Is the substantive issue to be addressed Radosh’s, and other secular writers’, use of the Christian label?  Or is the substantive issue in how Christians, themselves, use the Christian label?  To me, it seems that the latter should be the focus of mainline Christians.  And, more to the point, it’s from Christians where some of the most useful criticism is likely to be found.

 

To that end, I was relieved to see such a vocal response, amounting to outright criticism, from Christians to the sort of biblical chastisement advocated by the Pearls. 

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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready!


Peppermill wrote:

 

Still, the words "deeply weird" from the cover flap description seem only too applicable. 

 


P., glad to hear you stuck with the book, though I imagine you probably would have without my goading. 

 

The phrase deeply weird kind of struck for me when Radosh recounted his role as an extra in the passion play at one of those resorts.  At first it was funny, almost raucously so, when Radosh described his miming resistance to the crowd’s call for Jesus to be crucified.  Then in a moment in grew from funny to uncomfortably bizarre, or "deeply weird." 

 

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Re: Book Discussion: Rapture Ready! (Homeschooling.)

[ Edited ]

This article describes a case of political asylum being granted to the U.S. to permit continuing to home school this family's children.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy