An incendiary but profoundly moving deconstruction of conservative Christianity.

EMPTY THE PEWS

STORIES OF LEAVING THE CHURCH

A timely collection of essays by a diverse group of people who’ve left the religious right.

This Eos Award–winning book features an assortment of written works from men and women who grew up attending fundamentalist and evangelical Christian churches but eventually went their own way. The book should be especially praised for its inclusion of a wide range of perspectives. The authors of the nearly two dozen essays here include multiple New York Times-bestselling writers, popular bloggers, artists, and academics; they include white men, feminists, African Americans, members of the LGBTQ community, Protestants, and Catholics. The book’s debut editors are at the vanguard of the bourgeoning “exvangelical” movement on social media; Stroop created the viral Twitter hashtags #EmptyThePews and #ChristianAltFacts, and O’Neal co-hosts the “Sunday School Dropouts” podcast. The book’s foreword is by Frank Schaeffer, the son of Francis Schaeffer, an ideological founder of the modern-day religious right and an evangelical icon from the 1970s through the ’90s. Each essay addresses what the younger Schaeffer calls America’s “generational exodus from toxic Christianity” from the perspective of former members. Although many of the authors here are currently atheists, others found spirituality in Eastern spiritualism or in more liberal interpretations of Christianity. The collection’s opening section, “Purity Culture, Sexuality, and Queerness,” is perhaps its most damning, featuring the stories of abuse survivors, gay people, and other victims of conservative Christians’ sexual repression and hypocrisy. Boy Erased author Garrard Conley’s essay, “Land of Plenty,” on his endurance of gay “conversion therapy,” is particularly poignant. Not all of the essays, though, center on traumatic experiences as the factor that led their authors to leave the church. Peter Counter’s contribution, “Saint Tornado-Kick,” for example, intriguingly shows the gradual transition of a sincere Catholic teenager away from the faith of his parents after taking up karate lessons. Overall, this is a profound, well-written collection that will appeal not just to “exvangelicals” and other critics of the religious right, but also introspective fundamentalists who seek explanations for their dwindling numbers.

An incendiary but profoundly moving deconstruction of conservative Christianity.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946093-07-3

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Epiphany Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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