This book is an up-close look at the spiritual experience of American evangelicals. The author, T. M. Luhrmann, spent considerable time walking alongside disciples of Jesus Christ who worship in Vineyard Christian Fellowship. She functions as a sympathetic (though not totally convinced) anthropologist. Luhrmann, who now teaches at Stanford University, is deferential to her subjects. Such courtesy provides access to personal moments of faith practice that is missing in much literature about American religious practice. She summarizes her approach by stating, “…mostly I watched and listened, and I tried to understand as an outsider how an insider to this evangelical world was able to experience God as real.” You can read this book from an outsider perspective. Or, you can read this book in order to be a more engaged observer of religious practice among the people with whom you are most involved. Either way you will come away with an appreciation of how fellow humans not only come to relate to God, but live and practice their faith in God.
Reviewed by Tim Shapiro