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Sundays in America


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It's a fascinating project: attend 52 different churches in one year and report your first impressions. Shea, a New England novelist and former Catholic, engagingly writes of her initial visits to all kinds of churches: Shaker and Baptist, evangelical and mainline, African-American and Caucasian. Sometimes, these well-written first impressions yield intriguing analysis, as when she notes the total absence of children at the Mother Church of Christ, Scientist. But more often, the book's quick verdicts reinforce the idea that public Sunday worship is just one part of what makes a religion tick, and that it may be unfair to judge churches solely on this basis. Shea seems comfortable enough criticizing other people's intolerance-including that of former president and erstwhile Sunday School teacher Jimmy Carter-but myopically fails to see her own judgmentalism, as when bemoaning the Mennonite presence on a Hopi reservation or taking easy shots at televangelist Joel Osteen. Also, the book has some small factual errors; for instance, Mormons do not believe in the Holy Trinity, as Shea attests. Although the portraits are appealingly personal and often funny, readers may wish for a more rigorous examination of these churches than Shea's impressionistic approach is able to provide. (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

A captivating trip into the heart of non-Catholic Christian America that reveals the amazing diversity of one complex faith.--Booklist, starred review

It's not the famous people and places that make this book a good read; it's the typical Americans practicing their faith, day by day.--John Lewis, Baltimore magazine Sundays in America does for us what most of us cannot do for ourselves: it puts us in the pews of dozens of churches all across America as an 'inside outsider' to contemporary Christianity. This book is for anyone looking to understand, evaluate, or reignite their Christian faith through the prism of curiosity and the spirit of exploration.--Kristin Hahn, author of In Search of Grace I can think of no better companion on a spiritual journey than Suzanne Strempek Shea. In Sundays in America, with her trademark humor and grace, she takes the reader's hand and shows us churches across the United States, pointing out the subtleties and details that we would otherwise have missed. --Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle

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