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When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Mar 27 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st Edition edition (March 27 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307264793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307264794
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.7 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 816 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #223,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alice in Wonderland on Oct. 17 2012
Format: Hardcover
I don't have much to add beyond what the critics state above, as they capture pretty well all of my sentiments about this book. It's unlike anything I've encountered that tries to do something similar. I think this is a great read for Christians seeking to better understand and deepen their faith journey, and for non-Christians and Atheists seeking to better understand how many Christians live out their religion/spirituality in a post-modern world with all of its advances in technology, science, sociology, psychology, etc. I really enjoyed how the author wove history, psychology, her research experiments, and personal stories from the people she encountered. It gave me a lot of insight regarding questions I've been asking for years. I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Embalina on Jan. 5 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for anyone who is trying to 'unpack' their experiences in charismatic Christianity. A brilliant read, and an ambitious research undertaking, Dr. Luhrmann's work is at once intellectual and relevant. I cannot say enough good things about this book and how it has helped me understand the experiences I had as a believer.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 67 reviews
128 of 131 people found the following review helpful
A Great Source for Discussion April 10 2012
By Alex Van Riesen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am the current Lead Pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of the Peninsula (VCFP), which is one of the two churches Mrs. Luhrmann attended while researching and experiencing what eventually became this book. I am grateful for the perspective of someone coming into our church, who does not identify themselves as a Christian, and sharing with us (VCFP) what they experienced. I think there is a lot for us as a church to discuss, in terms of what those who visit our churches experience and what it says to them both about our church and about God. I also find Mrs. Luhrmann's observations helpful in having a more robust conversation about what experiencing God is like, or can be, in our culture today. While I do not identify with everything she describes, nor would I always define things the same way, I find her observations and insights engaging and enlightening. I would love for every church in the Vineyard movement to discuss this book and how it either does or does not reflect their congregation, but then ask the bigger questions of why or why not. In that process we can all have a more clear understanding of why we do what we do, and possibly - hopefully - even have a better understanding of what those who do not follow Jesus experience when they visit our churches. I think that should matter a lot to us. Finally, I consider Mrs. Luhrmann a friend and enjoy my conversations with her. I appreciate most that she is asking questions and looking to learn and grow. This book displays her sensitivity, compassion and kindness - as well as her intellect - in very clear ways. I recommend this book highly.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
A Model of Christian Practice for both believers and nonbelievers May 24 2012
By Jeremy Garber - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
An excellent, sympathetic, yet well-researched and objective look at how "revivalist evangelicals" train their brains to literally experience God. Luhrmann, an anthropologist, spent years with Vineyard Christians as a participant-observer to explore how they maintained faith in a God that was not directly available to their ordinary senses. Luhrmann also devised a sophisticated experiment that connected various forms of prayer with the psychological tendency to "absorption," that is, becoming totally enveloped in a particular activity. She concludes that prayer in an evangelical sense is not centered on belief - especially not on unwavering belief - but rather on cognitive techniques that allow one to become "absorbed" in reconstructing a world in which God exists. The "kataphatic" tradition, or visualizing oneself in connection with Scripture and God, provided particularly striking results. Luhrmann's style is simultaneously intensely readable and intellectually rigorous. She lays out a way for both believers and nonbelievers to understand Christian practice in a 21st century world. A paradigmatic example of participant observation at its best.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Deeply Insighful and Mind-Opening Study May 7 2012
By Tom Dylan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Even though I do not believe in a supernatural God, I am always fascinated by my religious friends' ability to have faith. This book gave me much more understanding how the human mind can make something unreal seem alive and real for these people. I always thought religious people are borderline insane. But so many supposedly very smart people (I have deeply religious friends who are physicians, even genetic biologists). This book also made me much more feeling sympathetic to these people. Because we are humans capable of rational (or irrational) thought, we all desire to be loved, to be cared, to have a social companion.

Some of the psychological studies are also interesting. Such as the test given to evaluate mental insanity conducted on these Vineyard specimens. The study seems to indicate these Vineyard religious people relate to God positively, when asked if they feel to have been followed or spied upon, they said no. But they always feel the presence of God not associated with negative, but with love and care. If a person feel some hostile force following them, they are likely to react violently, but if they feel a benevolent force following them, they feel much more at peace.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Snappy Writing with a Fresh Perspective. April 13 2012
By melinda athey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Luhrmann is an interesting person. I appreciate her openness and candor. Her interview on Fresh Air was worth listening to as well.[..]

Luhrmann says about community..."The community is crucial, snarky as its members can be. It is tempting to look at this modern evangelical experience of God and see it as profoundly individualistic: me and my relationship with God. And that view certainly captures something real. But it takes a great deal of work for the community to teach people to develop these apparently private and personal relationships with God. The community can help someone to stick it out and keep them at it, just as community can help to keep someone sober and to get them to the gym. It may take a kick in the rear to get people to the gym in the first place... but it is the friends they work out with who keep them there. " p. 279.

Luhrmann is a snappy writer with a fresh perspective. Well done.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A tour of many forces April 16 2012
By R. Ornstein - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A tour de force, as were her earlier books, Luhrmann has, like a not-so-secret agent, penetrated the "societies" of witchcraft, the Parsis (Parsi friends were amazed at her work) and, even, Psychiatrists. Unusually, she combines skills that are rarely joined in one person, a discerning choice of topic, empathy with the subject, at the same time the objectivity to record experience, and an understanding of other disciplines that bear on the subject. In this case those include evolutionary psychology and old regular psychology. And, she is a teriffic writer. Here she presents a worldview living aside the rational that has taken millions of adherents, and yet is completely unintelligible to most of the rest of us. "Evangelicals" calls up, to the receptive mind, either missionaries, or the Christian moralist, socially-engaged. But these aren't the evangelicals of William Wilberforce, but people looking for an inner voice "of God". It's a daily search for them, to feel a closeness with a divine presence right here and now. Luhrmann is compelling in describing these intimacies. Overall, it is not a heavenward or otherworldly pursuit but quotidian to the core, even sometimes shockingly so, asking God for, not only a car (vide Janis Joplin's "Oh Lawd wontcha buyme a Mercedes-Benz") but a red one specifically. We come to follow their pursuit intimately, a look not before, I think, ever presented. The author shws us, closely, this quest. Very valuable.

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