Metropolitan Books, 2010
Non-fiction; Religion; Memoir
Source: The library
Summary: Gina Welch undertook a journey in to the church founded by controversial preacher Jerry Falwell in order to understand evangelicals in comparison to her own Jewish/atheist liberal background.
Thoughts: I saw several reviews of this in the blogosphere and I enjoyed reading Kevin Roose's The Unlikely Disciple (which I recommend and read pre-blog), which seemed similar. His was only for a semester while hers was more long-term. I was pleased to see it in my library but this book seriously underwhelmed me.
I found Welch's introduction condescending as if evangelicals were lesser than her and those like her and were possibly not even human. But to her surprise, they turn out to be mostly nice people who struggle and mess up just like everyone else! I'm technically an evangelical Christian (although more liberal than those that Welch met) and I'm pretty confident that fundamentalists of all stripes, atheists, agnostics, pagans, etc, are just people who are in many ways similar to me. That's not groundbreaking.
I was also concerned with her deceit; while I've read that she didn't begin this book with a contract, she got it in the middle of writing, I feel like it was written for her profit. I was also uncomfortable with her decision to be baptized without believing. Baptism is important to the Christian faith and I believe very strongly that it is wrong to be baptized without believing. I don't know why she couldn't have attended the church and worked from there without going so far in her deception.
I did identify with her somewhat though in terms of not quite understanding all of the Christian-ese and being uncomfortable praying out loud as I have only been a Christian for two years. Her fear of evangelizing was also convicting for me; I believe in my faith and I should be less hesitant about sharing it with the world. I also identified when she talked about how friendly and warm and nice everyone seems and how it's a little scary. My college Christian community is filled with the nicest, most caring people I've ever met and I've been afraid that they'll look at me and find me wanting but instead I've found myself growing and emulating them (well, really emulating Jesus).
She also had valid concerns about the homophobia which appears. I'm in a more liberal place than she is but even so I've seen disconcerting happenings of homophobia within my particular Christian community.
Overall: 3/5. I found the basic premise somewhat insulting and I didn't think it was particularly well-written.
Cover: I like the plainness and color.