Subtitled: Viewing Faith Through an Atheist's Eyes
Published by WaterBrook Press (Random House)
I wasn't familiar with WaterBrook. This is from their website:
"WaterBrook Multnomah was launched in September 1996 as an autonomous evangelical Christian publishing division of Random House, Inc. as WaterBrook Press. Since the release of our first books in February 1998, our publishing program has grown dramatically. With the purchase of Harold Shaw Publishers in 2000 and acquisition of Multnomah Publishers in August 2006..."
The Multnomah part comes from an acquisition, it looks like, and presumably that acquisition was located in Oregon.
Anyway. Mehta was raised Jain and his parents continue in that faith. They were in the Chicago area, then Knoxville, then back to Chicago. Along the way, Hemant got to thinking (always a dangerous thing) and concluded that this whole religion thing didn't really meet his standards. The specific morals/ethics were a-o-good with him (still a non-violent vegetarian), it was more the reincarnation/timeline/etc. stuff. After participating in/leading secular group(s), he decided to learn a bit more about the Xtianity that had surrounded him growing up in the United States. To that end, he auctioned off his time on eBay, which Jim Henderson won. Henderson asked him to spend 50 hours in not more than 15 churches and write about what he experienced (<-- I think those were the details of the deal). Jim Henderson already had some experience paying people to go to church and then write about what they thought.http://seattletimes.com/html/dannywestneat/2011003516_danny07.html
While part of the book is the reviews, a much, much larger chunk of the book is Mehta talking about himself, his background, other people like him and similar. Which is great. Altho it is a little weird that both Hemant and his mother are big Joel Osteen fans.
Mehta's critiques of churches are relatively well-aligned with common critiques of churches ("be more mission focused" is how it would be described in-group, for example, when Mehta talks about the need to reach out to the community at large vs. focusing on serving the existing believers). Mehta is himself a very appealing person.
It's an interesting read, wherever you might find yourself now or in the future, in terms of organized religion. I don't think Mehta's suggestions, if taken, would be as successful as he thinks they would be (but I don't think they would hurt for the stated goals, either). I think Mehta is not the target audience he would like to present himself as being. And I think he may drastically misunderstand the appeal of religion, given his unitary focus on reason and his general obliviousness to what at least some other people are clearly getting out of church-going.
It was super-funny reading Mehta get all offended about people arriving late, being bored and going-through-the-motions. It's a good thing he isn't religious, because he'd sure be a pain if he were saying this as a Believer.
A fast, enjoyable read.
ETA: Henderson has a book out. Review here:http://booksaint.blogspot.com/2012/03/resignation-of-eve-jim-henderson.html
Henderson chimes in to say the summary is accurate, which is always an interesting piece of information; the reviewer segregates their opinion of what the author is saying from the description of what the author is saying, which is helpful to someone looking for an executive summary.