holy smoke book review christianity atheism government
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I find self-promotion embarrassing, but I’m still pleased to report that BookLife (Publishers Weekly’s influential reviewer of independently and self-published books) just released a very positive review of my new book, Holy Smoke: How Christianity Smothered the American Dream (Amazon, February 2020).

holy smoke book review christianity atheism governmentBookLife awarded Holy Smoke a lightning-bolt icon designating it as an “Editor’s Pick” and “a book of outstanding quality.”

Read the full review here.

The BookLife review’s “takeaway” conclusion on Holy Smoke: “Readers interested in religious history and American history fans will be captivated [and entertained] by this informative view of Christianity’s influence on America.”

“This cogent and comprehensive work … clearly heavily researched … immerses the reader in an examination of American history from a perspective that most textbooks omit (or incorporate without acknowledging it),” the review noted. “This clear and factual work will intrigue a wide variety of readers and encourage them to see familiar elements of American culture in new ways.”

While Holy Smoke does spotlight the negative impacts of Christianity on America’s development from its embryonic days to now, as characterized by the book’s “unfortunate,” somewhat strident cover, the reviewer explained, the text “is also sympathetic to how deeply rooted Christians beliefs can be and how difficult it is for leaders to completely separate church and state … and even deeply devout readers will find most of [the book] unobjectionable.”

A self-identifed Christian who submitted a review on Holy Smoke‘s Amazon page, asserted:

“I appreciate that Snedeker does not really disparage those who profess faith, but effectively challenges its place in our government and public education. … I highly recommend this book. Regardless of where you are on the faith continuum, ‘Holy Smoke’ will make you think.”

By emphasizing the risks to reason, the book promotes the idea that far more importance should be focused on teaching children critical-thinking skills to accommodate greater rationality and less supernaturality in their lives and the life of the nation as they develop. The review quoted this relevant passage from the book:

“There are mortal dangers to being unaware that our myths can seamlessly masquerade as reality.”

The review correctly interprets the book’s central hope: that teaching children to be more critical of every idea, especially supernatural ones, will hopefully lead to a “more rational, less religious” American future.

This is exactly opposite the hope of the current Donald Trump administration, which dreamily envisions a Christian theocracy taking root in America.

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Rick Snedeker

Rick Snedeker is a retired American journalist/editor who now writes in various media and pens nonfiction books. He has received nine past top South Dakota state awards for newspaper column, editorial,...