April 5, 2008 by Tracey S. Rosenberg
Lauren Sandler, Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement
Hmmm, I seem to be on a once-a-month diet of books that go behind-the-scenes into areas which require a colon in the title. Following on from sororities and figure skating, we move to youth-oriented evangelical movements. Surprisingly, little attention is paid to the various abstinence movements, though perhaps they get enough press on their own.
Sandler doesn’t shirk from putting herself in the front line – she freely discusses how close she came to having her own personal conversion experience – but I’m not sure how applicable her final-chapter ideas are going to be. Still, that may be because the liberals don’t have a core idea to gather around in the way that these not-so-fragmented evangelical groups do. And I don’t want America to be run along lines dictated by the graduates of Patrick Henry College, so any plan sounds good right now.
After decades of making a good living by writing curmudgeonly and downright mean articles, Joe Queenan decides to become good. Most of the book deals with his (largely successful) attempts to do so, ranging from ethical purchasing to random acts of kindness, and is entertaining and insightful. His lists of ‘pop culture/political people and things I hate’ get a bit tedious, though, and I’m guessing that at one point Queenan had a third child which John Tesh roasted and ate. (That’s the only way I can explain the repeated references. Any more of them and I would have started a drinking game.)
Alas, the book fizzles away as Queenan realizes that he’s losing money by turning down writing work, which he explicates in detail. Boom! No more Mr. Nice Guy, and certainly not Mr. Saint. Why not a partial attempt? – after all, the nastiness in writing doesn’t have to reflect on his personal life, and surely, if it did, his family would have had much more to say about it. But no, he is now mean again.
But that means he is rich, as he is getting all this paying work, so I would like to say, Mr. Queenan, that if you ever have a quiver of your briefly ethical self and feel like starting up a new foundation – say, the Foundation For Supporting Starving Writers Who Are Tracey S. Rosenberg – I will happily accept one of your La Leche checks at any time. Or maybe you’d prefer Paypal, as they’re terribly unethical in a variety of ways.