How God Becomes Real: Kindling the Presence of Invisible Others

From the New York Review of Books:

* “People evangelize because they fear that the belief to which they have committed themselves may not be true.”

* For American evangelicals, the problem of God is endlessly a problem of the self. In the Horizon Christian Fellowship in Southern California, people spoke of intense personal difficulty, of self-destruction and despair followed by redemption. They told of “a wild ride through drugs, sex, alcohol, and depravity until they hit bottom,” at which point they finally turned to Jesus and were saved. The addiction narrative is so common that Luhrmann wonders if it affords an alarming glimpse into American, or at least Californian, life, but it might also be asked whether feelings of transcendence require a knowledge of abjection: you cannot be found if you already know where you are.

* American evangelicals speak to God about their feelings, and they do this because they assume their feelings matter… For American evangelicals, God is mostly about them. He is a friend, and, like a friend, he helps solve everyday problems—dilemmas about relationships, personal happiness, and the choices people make in life: “You can ask him what shirt you should wear and what shampoo to buy.”

* At a shul in San Diego for Jews who had recently become Orthodox, the word people used most often was “connection.” They felt connected “to an imagined community that included not only all Jews living, but all Jews stretching back generation upon generation.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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