Matthew Yglesias (his girlfriend, actually) reviews Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture.
Making fun of Christain pop culture is easy–there’s a lot that deserves to be made fun of. What makes Rapture Ready worthwhile is that Radosh–a secular Jew–goes beyond mockery to engage seriously with Christian believers who make, consume, and even criticize Christian pop culture, to explore what it means to them and the broader social implications of the existing Christian pop culture sector.
Mockery is pretty hard to get past, for this secular Jew. I’ve lived mostly in places where Christian pop culture has seemed as exotic as Shinto fertility festivals, but I have been to a Stryper show. Unwittingly—they opened for Motörhead, and I was sure that they were a joke band (This Is Spın̈al Tap* had just come out). Bumblebee spandex, throwing bibles into the audience, “to hell with the devil!”…no, they were totally cereal.
As was a co-worker of mine some years later, a Promise Keeper, Tim LaHaye reader, and Christian Rock enthusiast. Concerned as he was about my eternal soul, he told me about the rapture and the signs of the end times. [Update: the needle is pegged on the Rapture Index!] He was pretty sure that it was coming before 2000.
At the time, viatical settlements were in the news, and I thought there could be a market in rapture futures: He expected to be raptured before 2000; I was fairly certain that he wasn’t going to be or, if he was, that I’d be left behind. In which case he wouldn’t be needing any of his stuff. So I offered him $20 if I could have his house, in the event. I don’t recall the chapter and verse of his response, but it wasn’t Song of Solomon. Maybe it was the Book of Stryper.
*Footnote: The blogging software can’t render an “n” with an umlaut, oddlly enough. Update: A reader sends a fascinating “screencast” of the history of the heavy-metal umlaut.