Item description for Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television by Nadia Bolz-Weber...
Overview A book for everyone who's ever flipped past the religious channel and thought, "I haven't the faintest clue what's going on there," or "That church doesn't seem like my church at all," or even, "Wow, so that's what happened to Kirk Cameron." With the personalities of Christian broadcasting constantly talking about every major issue from abortion to culture to war, and given the amount of influence they have on the political discourse in this country, the more one understands about religious television, the more one understands America's religious landscape. On an average day, the largest religious broadcast channel in the country reaches millions of viewers,featuring programming from figures such as Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes, Pat Robertson, Paul and Jan Crouch, Jesse Duplantis, Joel Osteen, and others. Yet, despite its presence in well over 50 million households, many people have little concept of what kind of faith happens there. The author, a Lutheran seminarian and former stand-up comic who had never before watched religious broadcasting, spent 24 hours immersing herself in the messages and culture of religious television. Joined by guest viewers at various points in the day, including a rabbi, Unitarian minister, her 8-year-old daughter, and others, and augmented by running count of all of the biblical verses used and total cost of various donations solicited and products shilled through the day, the author chronicles this huge - but unknown to many - area of religious culture.
Publishers Description A book for every person who's ever flipped past the religious channel on cable and thought, "I haven't the faintest clue what's going on there," or "that church doesn't seem like my church at all," or even, "wow, so that's what happened to Kirk Cameron." With the personalities of Christian broadcasting constantly in the news talking about every major issue from abortion to culture to war and with the amount of influence their movements have on the the political discourse in this country, to under stand more about the stop on the television dail is to understand more about American and America's religious landscape. On an average day, the largest religious broadcast channel in the country reaches millions of viewers and features programming from figures such as Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes, Pat Robertson, Paul and Jan Crouch, Jess Duplantis, Joel Osteen, and others, yet despite it's presence in well over 50 million household many have little conception of what kind of faith happens there. Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran seminarian and former stand-up comic who's never before watched religious broadcasting, spends 24 hours in front of the TV immersing herself in the messages and culture to be found on the part of the dial. Bolstered by visits from guest such as rabbi, her 8-year-old daughter, Unitarian friend, and others, Salvation on the Small Screen? is Bolz-Weber's chronicle, augmented by after-the-fact research, of a huge, but unknown or mysterious to many, branch of religious culture."
Citations And Professional Reviews Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television by Nadia Bolz-Weber has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Christian Century - 02/10/2009 page 43
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Reviews - What do customers think about Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television?
Fun read Apr 9, 2009
While the premise lends itself to a superficial treatment (24 straight hours of watching religious programming), the author did a fine job of balancing perspectives. As a Lutheran myself, I particularly enjoyed seeing the programming through her eyes and thinking that our observations probably would have been very similar. I gave it four stars instead of five because I would have liked to have seen a treatment of this subject over a longer period of time, and in a way that didn't carry the risk of a loss of attention after having been up for many hours. (Also, there were some editing errors that bothered me.) Still, I very much enjoyed the book and hope the author turns her attention to another subject soon!
A unique and humorous work that may surprise you Feb 11, 2009
What's Christian about Christian TV? "Salvation on the Small Screen?: 24 Hours of Christian Television" is the results of a social experiment from Nadia Bolz-Weber about her one straight day of being a couch potato, exposing herself to an unhealthy dose of Christian programming. Witty and insightful, Weber draws insights from herself and those who just happen to stop by to endure her torture alongside her. Not to be confused as an indictment of Christianity, but instead Christian Television, "Salvation on the Small Screen?" is a unique and humorous work that may surprise you.
Interesting review - funny and provocative Jan 31, 2009
The author and many friends spent 24 hours listening and commenting on TBN programs. Many religious statements from a variety of people of faith and of no faith made an interesting commentary. I also liked the fact, that, in spite of her initial cynicism, she developed a better understanding of her relationship, as well as that of others, to God.
By the way, she missed the question: Which book of the bible is the story of Jonah in? Off the top of the head, Do you know?
A fun and surprising read Jan 22, 2009
Nadia Bolz-Weber is a tall, brash, heavily tattooed Lutheran pastor from Denver who speaks with the sarcastic delivery of a stand-up comic. It turns out she used to be a stand-up comic and her blog is entitled The Sarcastic Lutheran. Her writing is in some ways reminiscent of Anne Lamott. I attended a reading from the book by the author and was intrigued enough to purchase a copy. I've just finished it and found it to be a quick and entirely fun read.
The set-up for the book is this: Bolz-Weber, a blogger and essayist on Jim Wallis' God's Politics site, was asked by a publisher to watch TBN (Trinity Broadcast Network) for 24 hours straight and then write about the experience. She asked, "Can I bring my friends?" and when the publisher agreed, she took on the job.
Nadia begins her journal of TBN watching at 5am and concludes at 5am the next day. Throughout that 24 hour period she is joined by a revolving cast of friends and strangers (ranging from seminary professors to gay community workers to her parents to an ex-boyfriend to a Jewish atheist to a Methodist pastor) who sit on her couch and provide running commentary--ala Mystery Science Theatre 3000--on what unfolds on the screen before them. She admits up front that not only has she never watched TBN (other than occasionally passing it while channel-surfing and thinking, "What the...?"), but that she also harbors deep feelings of derision towards Fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity (originating, no doubt, from her upbringing in a Fundamentalist Evangelical home).
One expects snarkiness and mockery, and one is not disappointed. The surprise, however, is the author's chagrin/discomfort at her own cynicism, her willingness to examine her own attitudes, prejudices and shortcomings and her attempts to find something (anything) of value in the tepid swill served up on TBN.
Rather than walk away from her 24 hour ordeal with a smug sense of superiority, Nadia comes to the realization that her own faith tradition also contains plenty of holes and flaws. She wonders "...what the TBN folks would think of me, a heavily tattooed Christian progressive from a liturgical denomination. How would people in their theological camp respond to my preaching? Would they think, as I do of them, that I misuse scripture? Would they be offended at the aesthetic in the community I serve? Would they dismiss my years of theological education as silly and unnecessary? When it comes right down to it, so many of my criticisms of TBN could go both ways, and if that's true then could it also be true, despite us both, that God is at work in my community and (gulp) TBN?"
Thankfully, she also clarifies that "Allowing for the possibility that God may be at work in both my community and TBN is not the same as conceding that TBN's theology and methods are sound."
Throughout the book a tally is kept of the amount of money one would spend by purchasing the trinkets, teaching tapes, books, DVDs and other products hawked during each ministry's TBN segment. The 24 hour grand total, revealed at the end of the book, is flabbergasting. Bolz-Weber also ponders such inevitable questions as What is really being sold on TBN?; Are preachers like Benny Hinn sincere in their beliefs?; and What is the appeal of these ministries, particulary to the elderly and shut-ins? The answers to these questions are disturbing, not only because of what they say about those ministries on TBN but also about Western Christian culture as a whole (including you and I).
Salvation on the Small Screen? is put out by a small publishing company with limited distribution. You're certainly not going to find it at your local Family Christian Bookstore. I do hope that it catches on though because it conveys some great observations in a thoroughly enjoyable manner. It's gotten me to thinking that it might be really fun to have some friends over for a round of TBN viewing.
Christian Television Without Pity Dec 8, 2008
It shouldn't be too surprising that a self-identified progressive Lutheran seminary grad and her (usually) mainline and/or agnostic friends find TBN to be strange, offensive, unintentionally hilarious, and at times quite touching. I work in the "Christian-Industrial Complex" she talks about and go through the same motions when watching.
Nadia and her friends witness 24-hours of America's most watched Christian TV network. Through this, she finds massive sets and smiling preachers professing their love to viewers they'll never meet. She also finds out that "commercial free" programming can include selling a lot of bizarre trinkets and kitch. She witnesses hours of asking for money, singing oddly phrased choruses, honorary Doctorates, cheap puppet shows and cartoons, a few confusing prophecies about Israel, and Ann Coulter.
Like numerous other books recently deconstructing pop-Evangelicalism for outsiders (Rapture Ready, Churched, Body Piercing Saved My Life - to name a few), there is the feel of a tourist here. She latches on to what is initially odd or novel and compares it to what she considers normal at home. She asks questions about methodology, and wonders aloud if any one actually believe what they are saying. There are times when her questioning and comments seem like a long pat on the back for her liturgical, "progressive" Lutheran tradition, and some preconceived notions that shatter seem telling. At one point she actually seems stunned that a show with Pentecostal roots has an insightful, balanced look at race relations - as if that issue belongs to her particular bent. On the other hand, she tends to admit things like this, and spends time wondering aloud if her Lutheran tradition is limited due to its desire to separate from Evangelicals. The result is a graceful view of TBN and those on the network -- critical, but finding hope and ministry in the midst of a lot of silliness.