If your treasure lies where your heart is, then Nelson figures that such national EKGs as Nielsen ratings, mass paperback sales, box office receipts, music charts, and magazine allegiance show where our God is. He sees in popular culture the religious expression of the American way of life, celebrating and sustaining its system of values. The Western serves as prototypical American myth: a lone hero rescues the good townfolk from an alien menace, thereby restoring the family-centered social order typified by the noble woman. The suggestive if scarcely insightful analysis of the changes rung on this basic theme--in movies, TV serials, magazine images, detective fiction, etc.--constitutes the substance of the book. More an interpretive overview of pop culture from the vantage of religious theory than a coherent account of it as anything but a pseudo-religion, the book skirts critical questions: how much do popular media really shape lives? don't they leave us mythically undernourished? what about cultural pluralism? ""We don't 'just watch TV,' we worship there--same time, same station, week after week, at the altar of our own cultural values."" Nelson pushes a modest idea too far--one suspects he finds patterns of religious meaning in his morning Alpha Bits--but offers consolation to brainy addicts who can now tot up all those lost hours before the tube as on-the-job research into the national soul.