2014 Book Goal: 52 (mostly non-fiction)
2014 Books Read: 33 (88% non-fiction)

51KGRgfdk+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_It appears I have another reading theme.  (First, I read a lot about psychopaths, now I am exploring the world of anti-religious books.) God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States by Karen Stollznow is just such a book.

The title and subtitle leave you with the impression that this is going to be a journalistic look at strange and unusual religious beliefs and practices in the United States, but journalism doesn’t enter into things at all.  Stollznow, an expatriate Australian living in Colorado, is in my opinion the epitome of a sensationalist.  Whether she is writing about exposing pseudoscience practitioners, aliens, or ghosts she focuses on the most negative aspects.  The closest thing to journalism she has written is Whinger! Wowser! Wanker! Aussie English: Deprecatory language and the Australian ethos.  Her background in linguistics and straightforward approach to the subject make it a good read.

Back to this book.  Talk about having an axe to grind… Stollznow paints this book as information, but her thinly veiled slams against all of the religions mentioned is downright venomous.  Don’t get me wrong… the things she points out as wrong and bad are indeed, wrong and bad.  She just doesn’t give anyone a fair shake.

Her tone is the same you hear when someone proclaims all guns should be taken away because a gun was used to harm someone once.  It is the same single-minded, unintelligent mindset that ignores all the other things that have been used to harm someone once because there is no market for selling a book about condemning oxygen, water or trees (they all have killed before.)

She pulls out instance after instance of evil perpetrated in the name of religion.  Where is the condemnation of evil perpetrated in the name of journalism, book sales or hackneyed pseudo-scientists claiming to be fighting the good fit against pseudoscience.

Again, she does a fine job of chronicling some despicable things these whacky religions have done.  She just does it very immaturely.  I would have loved the book and every story retold within had she done it without the nasty tone of, “see how sick and lame these people are?”

To Karen Stollznow: This post is purposely written in a style reflecting how you treat your subject matter – very accusatory, inflammatory and rude.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Don’t curse anyone related to a sect/cult/congregation just because of the douche scamming, raping or manipulating at the top.  Curse the psychopath who took advantage of the innocent people – not the religion and certainly not the people.   These are victims, not mindless religious zealots.   Just as the followers of your rants are not evil or stupid, just victims of your marketing efforts to sell books and seats at presentations.

Chris Doelle