Saints and Sinners; Walker Railey, Jimmy Swaggart, Madalyn Murray O'hair, Anton LaVey, ...

( 3 )

Overview

In this fascinating book about religion in America, one of this country's most probing yet sympathetic journalists puts forth stories not only of real grace but of despair, sexual scandal, and attempted murder.

Lawrence Wright's Saints and Sinners are Jimmy Swaggart, who preached a hellfire gospel with rock 'n' roll abandon before he was caught with a, prostitute in a seedy motel; Anton LaVey, the kitsch-loving, gleefully fraudulent founder of the First Church of Satan; Madalyn ...

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Saints and Sinners: Walker Railey, Jimmy Swaggart, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Anton LaVey, Will Campbell , Matthew Fox

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Overview

In this fascinating book about religion in America, one of this country's most probing yet sympathetic journalists puts forth stories not only of real grace but of despair, sexual scandal, and attempted murder.

Lawrence Wright's Saints and Sinners are Jimmy Swaggart, who preached a hellfire gospel with rock 'n' roll abandon before he was caught with a, prostitute in a seedy motel; Anton LaVey, the kitsch-loving, gleefully fraudulent founder of the First Church of Satan; Madalyn Murray O'Hair, whose litigious atheism sometimes resembled a brand of faith; Matthew Fox, the Dominican priest who has aroused the fury of the Vatican for dismissing the doctrine of original sin and denouncing the church as a dysfunctional family; Walker Railey, the rising star of Dallas's Methodist church, who, at the pinnacle of his success, was suspected of attempting to murder his wife; and Will Campbell, the eccentric liberal Southern Baptist preacher whose challenges to established ways of thinking have made him a legend in his own time.

By letting us listen to their voices and see the individuals in all their complexities, Lawrence Wright has written a richly fascinating book about the passions, triumphs, and failures of the life of faith.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Trenchant, fair-minded, gracefully written....Wright brings his subjects into sharp focus with plenty of perceptive details."

— Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A very American struggle....[Wright] memorably articulates his battle...between doubt and belief." — Newsweek

"An entertaining, and insightful account...vivid...beautifully rendered stories."

— Chicago Tribune

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wright ( In the New World ) explains that his own spiritual uncertainty impelled him to interview these six religious figures. The first two essays are compelling accounts of two of them who went astray: Walker Railey, a prominent Methodist minister in Dallas who in 1987 was charged with attempting to kill his wife, then committed suicide, leaving a note about the ``demon in his soul''; and Jimmy Swaggart, the evangelist disgraced by his escapades with prostitutes. But the piece on Madalyn Murray O'Hair, an atheist activist in Texas, combines hearsay with vague allegations of financial misdoings. Others covered are Anton LaVey, who founded the Church of Satan in San Francisco in 1966; Will Campbell, who studied theology at Yale and whose Southern ministry includes the Ku Klux Klan; and Matthew Fox, a New Age Catholic priest in Oakland, Calif. The essays, although clever and incisive, are diminished by the author's ruminations on his own spiritual quest, which seems an artificial device. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Wright ( In the New World , LJ 1/88) profiles six notorious figures on America's religious fringes while searching for a system of belief in his own life. Walker Railey, former pastor at First United Methodist in Dallas, allegedly attempted to murder his wife. Wright expresses deep-seated bitterness about his own childhood in that church and cynicism concerning Railey. In addition he tricks Jimmy Swaggart into blessing him; atheist Murray O'Hair sues him; satanist Anton LaVey curses him; civil-rights hero Will Campbell sees through him; and New Age Catholic priest Matthew Fox abandons hope of reaching him. Wright provides six vivid, memorable portraits, but his own odyssey can be intrusive. His subjects' religious ideas are simply more stimulating than his own.-- Richard S. Watts, San Bernardino Cty. Lib., Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679761631
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/1995
  • Series: Vintage Series
  • Edition description: Reprinted Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 816,406
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence Wright
Lawrence Wright
An award-winning author, screenwriter, and staff writer for The New Yorker, Lawrence Wright has won acclaim for his in-depth investigations into groups from evangelical Christians to Al-Qaeda. He's even written a one-man play, "My Trip to al-Qaeda," about his adventures in researching The Looming Tower, his National Book Award contender.

Biography

Lawrence Wright is an author and screenwriter, and a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine.

He is a graduate of Tulane University, in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the American University in Cairo, where he taught English and received an M.A. in Applied Linguistics in 1969. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1971, Wright began his writing career at the Race Relations Reporter in Nashville, Tennessee. Two years later, he went to work for Southern Voices, a publication of the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta, Georgia, and began to freelance for various national magazines. In 1980, Wright returned to Texas to work for Texas Monthly. He also became a contributing editor to Rolling Stone. In December, 1992, he joined the staff of The New Yorker.

Wright has published six books: City Children, Country Summer (Scribner, 1979), In the New World: Growing Up with America, 1960-1984 (Knopf, 1988), Saints & Sinners (Knopf, 1993), Remembering Satan (Knopf, 1994), Twins: Genes, Environment, and the Mystery of Identity (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1997; Wiley & Sons, 1998), and God's Favorite (Simon & Schuster, 2000).

His history of Al Qaeda, The Looming Tower, was published by Knopf in August 2006. A portion of that book, "The Man Behind Bin Laden," was published in The New Yorker and won the 2002 Overseas Press Club's Ed Cunningham Award for best magazine reporting. He has also won the National Magazine Award for Reporting as well as the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism.

Wright is the co-writer (with Ed Zwick and Menno Meyjes) of The Siege, starring Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis and Annette Bening, which appeared in November 1998. He also wrote the script of the Showtime movie, Noriega: God's Favorite, directed by Roger Spottiswoode and starring Bob Hoskins, which aired in April 2000. Currently he is working on a script for MGM about John O'Neill, the former head of the FBI's office of counterterrorism in New York, who died on 9/11.

Wright is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also serves as the keyboard player in the Austin-based blues band, Who Do.

Biography courtesy of the author's official web site.

Good To Know

"I play the keyboards in an Austin blues band, WhoDo," Wright told us in our interview. "I've found that playing music with friends is about the most fun a grownup can have. I didn't take up the piano until I was thirty-eight and a half because I wanted to play 'Great Balls of Fire' on my fortieth birthday. I guess the point is that it's never too late to acquire a new passion."
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    1. Hometown:
      Austin, Texas
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 2, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
    1. Education:
      B.A., Tulane University, 1969; M.A. (Applied Linguistics), American University in Cairo, 1971
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The writer better be careful!!!!

    I dont have to say alot for a Christian to understand! Jimmy Swaggart is A Man Of God! The Holy Spirit works through Bro. Swaggart and anyone who will look on his website or turn on sonlife broadcasting you will see how the Holy Spirit works! Bro. Swaggart isnt perfect just like any other human in this world. So I can say to the writer and to anyone who disagrees with me: anyone has went you life saved or unsaved cast the first stone! Dont waste you time reading this to see what Bro. Swaggart went through in a tough time when evil spirits was opressing this man with all they had! Because like always Jesus gets the Victory!

    2 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2012

    Kyle says.....

    I read this book years ago, and personally, of all the featured people, I'd rather hang out with Anton Lavay than any of the others. He atleast knew what he was and did not try to convince people he was any great saint.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2011

    Fit to teach?

    Though this book may take a more secular approach in its view of these vibrant and flamboiant personalities, I'd hardly say the crime boss that was brother Jimmy would qualify as a fit teacher of the Gospel of Christ.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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