Book Review: Rapture Ready: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture, by Daniel Radosh

In his entertaining, often funny and sometimes unsettling book, Daniel Radosh takes a tour of fundamentalist Christian pop culture. Through his wanderings, readers can see what takes place at Christian concerts, bookstores and events throughout the country. Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture lets you check out this curious sub-culture without ever leaving home.

The author, Daniel Radosh, is a self-described liberal New York Jew in his mid-thirties. He is a freelance journalist and a writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Which may make him seem like an unlikely author to write about Christian pop culture... or the perfect one, depending on your point of view.

As the book's introduction explains, Radosh's journey into fundamentalist Christian pop culture began when he decided to tag along to a Christian rock concert with a teenage evangelical Christian family member. That first concert sparked his interest, not in Christianity itself, but in the surrounding pop culture and its lesser known world of Christian consumerism.

On page 2 of the introduction, Radosh explains:
This book is about popular culture. It's about entertainment, leisure, and shopping. It's also about politics and the culture war that engulfs America. And it's a little bit--but not as much as you might think--about religion.
Though talking about what Christians believe is sometimes needed to add context, the author's intention is to focus on the culture of fundamentalist Christianity, not the religion itself. He does not attend church services, though he does attend concerts or other entertainment-based events held in churches or religious buildings.

During his journey, Radosh visits several places, like the Holy Land Experience, a Bible-themed amusement park in Florida; a performance of The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkasas (in which he participates); Christian Supply, a large family-owned store in South Carolina; the Cornerstone Festival, a Christian alt rock festival in Illinois; and The Creation Museum in Kentucky.

The book covers many aspects of the fundamentalist Christian sub-culture. Radosh is thorough as he dives into Christian music, TV shows, merchandise, amusement parks, comedy, sex and education. He even spends a chapter covering Christian pro wrestling.

Of course, Radosh delves into Christian literature as well. A couple of notables include BibleZines: Bibles that are reprinted magazine-style complete with glossy pictures and contemporary language; and the Left Behind Series: a series of violent action books describing life on earth after the Rapture.

Radosh's style is witty and engaging. The book is his candid response to a journey through this fundamentalist Christian sub-culture, but it also contains some interesting research into the areas he explores. This book offers a fascinating look at Christian Pop Culture, with a particular focus on the more extreme end of the spectrum.

Plus, his imaginary interview with Stephen Baldwin (where Baldwin's answers are all taken--out of context--from his book, The Unusual Suspect) is f*cking hilarious!

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