Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content at the RNS Archives website.

Today, I’m “reviewing” David Plotz’s “Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible.” My six-word review: `Good Book’ makes God look bad. For an explanation of the thinking behind six-word reviews, please see here.

3 Comments

  1. I don’t doubt that David Plotz, an editor at slate.com, is an accomplished wordsmith and has turned out an entertaining (and even informative!) book here. What brings me great dismay is the fact that the book has achieved the following sales success on Amazon.com in these categories:

    #1 in
     Books > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Old Testament

    #1 in
     Books > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Old Testament

    #1 in
     Books > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries

    Excuse me?!? How is this book a “commentary” in any scholarly sense? Or…given the fact that it doesn’t pretend to be scholarly…how does it achieve “bestseller” classification in these categories??

    Oy.

    What I find frightening about this is that people in general (i.e., the general population in the U.S.) seem to have detached “religion and spirituality” from any sort of academic moorings. I would have to include in this population not only atheists and agnostics, but also fundamentalists and much of the “evangelical” community.

    The one reviewer who mentions this (Derek Leman from Snellville, GA) gets booed off the stage.

    Oy, oy, oy.

  2. Hey Dave, thanks for your comments. I have to ask, though, when do you think Americans ever attached religion and spirituality to the academy?

    Seems to me circuit-riding Methodist preachers and the like have always been more popular than the erudite products of seminaries and yeshivas. The religious movements that have taken root in American soil have almost always been populist in character: Mormonism, Christian Science, Pentecostalism.

    In a country in which the bestselling book on spirituality is “Eat, Pray, Love,” Plotz’s popularity is hardly surprising.

  3. Hi, Daniel. Your words are strangely reassuring. Still, I keep puzzling over the decline of mainline Protestantism. Maybe it was an anomaly in the U.S. culture…which is only now correcting itself.

    I wish I understood these things better…