I've been listening to Tom Perrotta's book, The Abstinence Teacher, in my travels. Having been immersed in the wacky world of American Christendom, Perotta's realistic portrayal of religion gone awry resonates with me.
If you're not familiar with the book, it's about a human sexuality teacher, and how an innocent comment made in class gets wrung from its context, and plunges Ruth Ramsey into midst of controversy, courtesy of the local version of God and Co, the Gospel Tabernacle. Pastor Dennis, a neo-fundamentalist pastor, with his own baggage, has managed to control a large portion of Perrotta's fictional suburban New Jersey community.
Perrotta does an excellent job of capturing the nuances of American Xianity, the conservative brand that bashes gays, seeks to ban sex of any kind, except that practiced within the confines of marriage, and yet, always comes out on the side of guns, empire, and Republicanism.
The book's quite realistic, and listening to the narrative, reminds me of the sheltered life that I once embraced. I can see former pastors, religious hypocrites, family members, and others, represented by Perotta's various characters.
When people seek the simplistic causality provided by conservative religion, it's difficult to counter. Biblical belief forms a circular logic that probably provides solace, but robs the "believer" of anything approaching an honest intellectual rendering of facts.
Perotta allows readers to see the end result that comes with blind faith.