Saturday, October 11, 2014

Our Great Big American God: A Review

I really wanted to like this book. And I did enjoy it... just not as much as I hoped I would.

I loved the premise -- how we 'Mericans have created God in our image -- or some version of what we think God should be like. I was hoping it would be as good as Stephen Prothero's "American Jesus" (which does much of the same sort of thing, with the Americanization of Jesus.)

Turner gives a lot of information and presents it entertainingly and well. I think many people will really like this book and find it informative (especially the chapter about the "invention of the rapture" (my title) given the release of the new "Left Behind" flick). Maybe I've read too much US religious history to have found this a fully satisfying read -- the problem of having a seminary education that focused on church history.

The other reason I didn't love this book was (and this is hard for a professional smart-ass to say) that it was a little too clever at times. Too many snarky/smart remarks/asides. Yeah, like I have room to talk. Especially since I'm writing the "Bad Quaker's Guide to the Good Life" (although the official title is "The Humble Stumble Toward Grace") -- which is tongue firmly in cheek. This book reminded me that wit is good, too snarky is off-putting to many people, and so humor mixed with whimsy is best. I hope I can find that balance in my book.

Do I recommend this book? Yep. Especially for those who want to see just how our culture affects our faith (would that it was vice versa) and how much of America's "old time" religion is just a tad over 100 years old.  It is also helps us ponder whether God has a hard time recognizing Himself (American!) in our cultural mirror.  I suspect God does.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good review. Clever, but generous and not snarky. Made me want to read The Humble Stumble! (Not sure my eyesight is good enough to prove I'm not a robot though.)