Religion and Politics? I’m so in!

Fascinating read. Ken Woodward hails from Rocky River, a stone’s throw from me, on Cleveland’s westside. He writes from decades of personal experiences as religion editor for Newsweek. He’s talked up close and personal to the papacy, prophets, preachers, politicians and people passing themselves off as God. He covers the “majors” naturally (perhaps skimping a bit on Judaism while lingering on Christian denominations). But he also explores all the popup movements and crazy cults of the sixties and seventies (my words, not his). Woodard delights with endless, juicy stories from the field. He speaks plainly and yet his vocabulary is amazing; I had to keep my iPhone nearby to look up definitions and pronunciations. And I wouldn’t have expected such humor nor quite such candor from a guy who covers religion; so refreshing! I highly recommend this historic look at how religious beliefs and practices, cultural norms and shifts, and politics all interact with and influence each other.

While he does write with a Catholic filter (and acknowledges this upfront), I found him to be a reliable storyteller. His research is over-the-top impressive, and footnoted. He does occasionally interject his opinion, but he makes it clear he’s doing so, which I think adds to his credibility. I liked knowing more about him and his personal beliefs and biases.

I didn’t want the book to end. It’s clear Woodward could have gone deeper and broader. If he does decide to go at it again, I’ll be first in line for Getting Religion, Part Two.



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