God Bless America lifts the veil on strange and unusual religious beliefs and practices in the modern-day United States. Do Satanists really sacrifice babies? Do exorcisms involve swearing and spinning heads? Are the Amish allowed to drive cars and use computers? Offering a close look at snake handling, new age spirituality, Santeria spells, and satanic rituals, this book offers more than mere armchair research. It takes you to an exorcism, a Charismatic church, and a Fundamentalist Mormon polygamist compound.
You will sit among the beards and bonnets in a Mennonite church, hear the sounds of silence at a Quaker meeting, and listen to L. Ron Hubbard's sci-fi stories told as sermons during a Scientology service. From the Amish to Voodoo, the beliefs and practices explored in this book may be unorthodox, and often dangerous, but they are always fascinating. Some of them are dying out, while others are gaining popularity with a modern audience, but all offer insight into the past, present, and future of religion in the United States.
©2013 Karen Stollznow (P)2014 Pitchstone Publishing
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"Enjoyable but kind of pointless"
An interesting look at lesser known religions and religious practices in the United States. I did not have a good feeling going in because the very first chapter opens with a misquotation ("Two girls for every boy" is mis-attributed to the Beach Boys, when it is in fact a Jan and Dean lyric). Chapters include Voodoo, Fundamental Mormonism, Satanism, Quakers, Scientology, Amish/Mennonite, and New Age. My main problem is, if you are remotely literate in matters of American history, sociology, and religion, none of the content is terribly enlightening, as one already knows the bulk of it.
"Good book, terrible narration"
Probably not. I would read the book instead if I wanted to refresh my memory on details or just felt like reading it again, but I wouldn't want to go through listening to the author reading aloud again.
There are too many books out there telling about religions to do a list of comparisons. This is a very fresh point of view since Ms. Stollznow isn't from the U.S. and didn't have knowledge about these religions before researching her book. It was all new to her. Other writers skip some things because they assume what people must already know is the same as what they already knew and they don't want to be repetitive.
Almost anybody. Bronson Pinchot would have been good although he mostly does fiction. She reads too fast and she pauses in the wrong places. It's as though she is reading to the end of the line with no comprehension whereupon she pauses for a moment and reads the next line, pauses, reads the next line and so on. It's very much like a woman doing a poor William Shatner impersonation. She reads better when she gets to parts she finds more interesting but even then she reads too fast. She also mispronounces words such as apostate which is very annoying. I admit there is a chance that these words are pronounced differently in Australia but I don't think so. Mispronunciations drive me crazy. I think narrators should be professional enough to check on words rather than guess. And there are only a few writers who are good narrators. Unfortunately Ms. Stollznow is not one of them. I don't want to hurt her feelings but she should be satisfied with her writing talent and leave narrating to those who have that talent.
I don't think anyone will be making a film of this book. It's not that type of book.
It's better to read this book than listen to this recorded version. But if you don't read, only listen, you should suffer through the narration because the book is worth it. If the narration had been even average I would have rated the book a 5 star.
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