The Sinner’s Guide to the Evangelical Right by Robert Lanham

I sure do like books that make me laugh out loud and this one surely does that.  It kept me company on my journey to England and back – even helped those five hours in Newark airport pass by at lightning speed.  This is one audacious and potentially offensive book!  I must disagree with one review I read that said that even those who fall in the category of the evangelical right should read this book. No way!! What was that reviewer thinking?  This book pokes fun at everything that is the evangelical right.  So, I just caution those who fall into that category:  Warning: This book Sinnersguide_1 may be hazardous to your health, may raise your blood pressure, and make you very angry.  That said, I will go on to describe this book for the audience to whom this book is addressed – in the author’s words, the sinners.  According to Lanham, the evangelical right is not the new counterculture, but the new mainstream culture.  So, consider this book an ethnography of their culture.  Undercover field researchers attended dozens of churches across the country, immersing themselves in evangelical culture.  They focused a lot on some of the most notorious mega-churches in the nation and their pastors, their beliefs and the focus of their ministry.  (Odd bit of synchronicity for me – while in England, I was reading the chapter on Ted Haggard and his mega-church when the scandal about him erupted in the US. Uncanny!)  My only issue with this book is how much of it is factual and how much of it is poking fun?  Usually it is easy to tell when Lanham adds something glaringly ridiculous amongst the facts for comic effect.  It just doesn’t say anywhere in the introduction about how to tell fact from fiction.  Overall, I adore this book and its audacity. I highly recommend it.

(Heidi Schachtschneider, Information Services)

Editor’s suggestions in the GPL collection for further exploration:

With God on our side : the rise of the religious right in America by William Martin

Why the Christian right is wrong : a minister’s manifesto for taking back your faith, your flag, your future by Robin R. Meyers

Religious right, religious wrong  by Lloyd J. Averill

Mine eyes have seen the glory : a journey into the evangelical subculture in America by Randall Balmer

Letter to a Christian nation by Sam Harris

American theocracy : the peril and politics of radical religion, oil, and borrowed money in the 21st century by Keven Phillips

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