4 out of 4 stars
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The United States of America is the land of the free. For decades, the US has sold the “American Dream” and has seen an influx of immigrants that believe that they will have the freedom to be anybody and anything. But is the US truly what it says it is? Rick Snedeker, in Holy Smoke, reveals how Christianity has crept its way into and put a steadfast hold on the lives of people living in the US. The author began by explaining the history of the United States and how the founding fathers traveled from Europe, especially Britain, to form what is now the US. He also discussed the roles of other European countries, including Spain, the Netherlands, and so on, in the formation of the US. The author then further discussed the denominations of Christianity and how they have affected the country so far.
I enjoyed this book a lot. It was insightful and delightfully objective. The author started with the well-curated history of the US, the roles of the founding fathers, the Indians, and African and Caribbean immigrants in the melting pot that was the early United States. I particularly enjoyed reading about Anne Hutchinson. It delighted me to learn that a woman played such a courageous role in American history. Another thing I enjoyed was the author’s reference. Snedeker was detailed in his explanations and their references but still managed to remain concise and on point.
I enjoyed that this book did not read to me like a witch-hunt on Christianity. The author acknowledged the positive effects of Christianity on American society. His valid argument, however, was that Christianity should not take precedence over other religions in America. The author’s progression was professional. After explaining the history of how Christianity came to be in the US, he explained modern Christianity and the effects of different Christian denominations on the country. He also explained the influence that Christianity has on the American schooling system. He made viable suggestions that can help America be a true land of freedom for all religions.
I did not dislike anything about this book. The editing was professional, and I only found a few minor errors. The author’s writing style, though not simple, fits the audience I think this book is meant for. The author provided occasional personal stories that helped to give the book a unique touch, but he still kept the overall tone professional. The author did a great job in presenting some of the histories of the US. I learned about the Salem witch trials and important non-conformists of that era who went on to found communities of which Rhode Island is an example. I, however, did not agree with one suggestion the author made about middle schoolers learning philosophy.
Essentially, Holy Smoke is an exposé on Christianity, its history, transformations, and effects on modern society. Anyone who is close-minded regarding Christianity may be offended by the author’s evaluation of the religion. I would only recommend this book to intellectuals who are interested in learning about American history and religion, especially Christianity, objectively. I also recommend this book to all open-minded Americans as well. I rate this book 4 out of 4 because I believe it deserves a perfect rating.
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