In the Land of Believers: An Outsider's Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Churchby Gina Welch
Pub. Date: 03/01/2011
"Ever since evangelical Christians rose to national prominence. mainstream America has tracked their every move with a nervous eye. But in spite of this vigilance. our understanding hasn't gone beyond the caricatures. Who are Evangelicals, really? What are they like in private, and what do they want? Is it possible that beneath the differences in culture and… See more details below
"Ever since evangelical Christians rose to national prominence. mainstream America has tracked their every move with a nervous eye. But in spite of this vigilance. our understanding hasn't gone beyond the caricatures. Who are Evangelicals, really? What are they like in private, and what do they want? Is it possible that beneath the differences in culture and language. church and party, we might share with them some common purpose?" "To find out, Gina Welch, a young secular Jew from Berkeley, joined Jerry Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church. Over the course of nearly two years, Welch immersed herself in the life and language of the devout: She learned to interpret the world like an Evangelical, weathered the death of Falwell, and embarked on a mission trip to Alaska intended to save one hundred souls. Alive to the meaning behind the music and the mind behind the slogans, Welch recognized the allure of evangelicalism, even for the godless, realizing that the congregation met needs and answered questions she didn't know she had." What emerges is a riveting account of a skeptic's transformation from uninformed cynicism to compassionate understanding, and a rare view of how Evangelicals see themselves. Revealing their generosity and hopefulness, as well as their prejudice and exceptionalism, In the Land of Believers is a call for comprehending, rather than dismissing, the impassioned believers who have become so central a force in American life.
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I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Welch's personal account of her undercover journey at the Thomas Road Baptist Church. Like Ms. Welch, I have a suspicion of both organized religion as a whole and especially of persons belonging to organized religion. I particularly have a fascination for Evangelical churches. I was very keen to understand what makes Evangelical's tick. Ms. Welch's account is detailed, entertaining, reflective, and mostly fair. This is not a muckraking expose. Even though Ms. Welch was not open about her intentions, she treated the subjects of her investigation with respect and dignity, rather than caricatures of Evangelicals. While her book has not inspired me to become a member of an Evangelical church or convert to Christianity, it has definitely inspired me to be less suspicious of Evangelical Christians and more open in general to other's beliefs.