Steve Waldman asked each of the Bnet bloggers to nominate the best spiritual or religious book we’ve read this year. He’ll post them all in the next week or so.
I confess that I’m ending the year having read much less than I had hoped to. I plan on 2009 being different in that regard. In fact, I’ve got a couple books to finish by in the next couple weeks, so maybe I won’t feel so bad about 2008.
IMHO, the finest religion book of 2008, far and away, is Jeff Sharlet’s The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.
While researching another book, Sharlet found himself for a time at “The Cedars,” the training center for young men entering The Fellowship (a.k.a., The Family). Known primarily for the National Prayer Breakfast and their secrecy, the Fellowship is a wildly influential group of power brokers in Washington D.C. Sharlet infiltrated the group easily, and he writes compellingly about his time there.
However, Sharlet uses the Fellowship as the entree into an investigation of the long and convoluted relationship between fundamentalism and power in America. The writing is breathtakingly good, and the truth he exposes is breathtakingly frightening.
In other words: Read It!