GodSpam is extremely psyched to have made The Revealer's Best Religion Writing 2008 (in the rather specific category "Favorite Resurrected Religion Site -- Pop Division"). There's also a great round-up of top religion writers' favorite media of the year at Religion Dispatches. I've been a little distracted this year (a-hem), but here' s a tribute to the best of the books & articles I managed to squeeze into my schedule...
The Family by Jeff Sharlet
Sharlet is the best religion journalist working today, and his eye-opening investigation into American fundamentalist Christianity explains so much about religion and politics that the media otherwise glosses over. If you've ever wondered how the Religious Right became a major political power, or how megachurches that preach the evils of homosexuality and the virtue of wealth descended from a politically radical peasant preaching in the desert, you must read this book.
Rapture Ready! by Daniel Radosh
With this book, Radosh set out to explore the good, the bad and the ugly of Christian pop culture -- but instead of the comically unbalanced group of zealots he anticipated, he found a complex, sympathetic subculture with an abundance of good and bad ideas. A very funny and enlightening book with a kick-ass website.
The Butcher's Daughter by Peter Manseau
A beautifully written, heartbreaking novel about the transition of Yiddish culture from the old world to the new one, through the eyes of an immigrant poet.
Ex Machina by Brian K Vaughn
This ongoing comic series -- about a superhero who saves the second tower from falling on 9/11, then become the mayor of New York City -- is a fascinating exploration of morality in the modern world, and it ventured into blatantly religious territory this year when Mayor Hundred had a vision of God.
Gabriel Mckee's film coverage on Religion Dispatches
I am absolutely biased when it comes to the brilliance of SF Gospel author Gabriel Mckee, but thanks to Religion Dispatches, the rest of the world can now appreciate his gift for finding religious messages in such unlikely films as Cloverfield and Funny Games.
"Culting" by Catherine Wessinger on Religion Dispatches
A warning about the perils of labeling any religious sect a 'cult,' this particularly timely article should have been read by every media person assigned to cover the Warren Jeffs scandal.
Does Religion Cause Violence? by William T Cavanaugh in The Harvard Divinity Bulletin
Okay, technically this article came out last year, but it was sitting on our coffee table for so long that I didn't read it until this year. Cavanaugh takes the common belief that a world without religion would be a world without violence and deconstructs it, beginning with the definition of the word "religion."
AND ONE TO WATCH FOR IN 2009...
Quiverfull by Kathryn Joyce
An even-handed but absolutely terrifying exploration of the "patriarchy movement," this book (which comes out in March) looks at a growing group of Americans who believe that feminism is the chief enemy of Christianity. (Warning: read this and The Family in the same week and you might feel compelled to move far, far away.)
Happy New Year!