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Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl

3.42  ·  Rating Details ·  351 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
By the age of twelve, Susan Campbell had been flirting with Jesus for some time, and in her mind, Jesus had been flirting back. Why wouldn't he? She went to his house three times a week, sat in his living room, listened to his stories, loudly and lustily sang songs to him. So, one Sunday morning, she walked to the front of her fundamentalist Christian church to profess her ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Beacon Press
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Jan 26, 2009 Jessie rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I work for the publisher, but I'm not asked to review our work on GoodReads and I don't choose to review everything we put out.

So... I resisted reading this book at first, because for me, like for many people I know who are scarred by their encounters with religion, it looked like it might strike a little too close to home. And did it ever! However, as Campbell opened up old wounds, wounds that I've so carefully hidden over the years, I found myself comforted by her humor and he
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
This book was really good.

This book gave me lots of feels, and made me think of things that I haven't thought in a long time.

I am going to be speaking about religion/spirituality and my own thoughts on it. Feel free to not read it, because I know that can be upsetting/triggering to people.

This memoir was at times hilarious, and at times serious. One woman's journey spiritually. It made me remember why I left the Christian faith as a whole. We had similar observations, but at the same time very
Jan 29, 2009 Lori rated it it was ok
Fundamentalists scare...and sorry to come off as flippant here...the hell outta me. Yes, they do. I just cannot get into their heads. I lack the stomach for it. Talk about compartmentalization. How can anyone go through life constantly assigning 90% of the people around them to Lucifer's Fiery Pit? I just don't have the steely nerve for that!

I recall being in a Denny's on a Sunday morning many years back. I know it was a while ago because my husband was my boyfriend, we were both wearing leather
Jul 11, 2012 Jessi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not entirely what I was expecting. I was honestly expecting something much more snarky and critical of Christianity in general. What I got was an endearing memoir of Campbell growing up in a very fundamentalist church and family, and struggling with the very anti-woman teachings she was bombarded with versus her own belief in her inherent worth. Campbell tells her story with great wit and imagery. I chuckled at her imaginings that, when she was paraded around as the sophomore atten ...more
Feb 04, 2009 Babs rated it it was ok
The title of this book drew me to it, and I had high expectations. It didn't meet them. The story didn't have anything different or extraordinary about it. It felt to me that Campbell's journalism background interfered with a more personal telling of her story. Parts of the historical background of the feminist movement were interesting, but they have certainly been told before. The Bible references felt, at times, like they were in there to meet an unwritten quota for when a book has "fundament ...more
May 21, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it
Susan Campbell's book Dating Jesus recounts her childhood growing up in the fundamentalist Church of Christ denomination. As the only girl in her family Susan inwardly struggles with what it means to be a woman in her faith. Although she eventually leaves her church, she still struggles as an adult to work out how women and the Church can work together in a good way. I really enjoyed her chapters that explored all the ways women in the Bible have been misconstrued into something "bad". My only c ...more
There are a lot of good insights in this book, and I gave it only three stars for what may be an unfair reason: I don't think the author has fully come to terms with her religious upbringing and views. But maybe she never will -- I feel sorry for her there. Raised in a [C:]hurch of Christ congregation (she says that members are encouraged to use a small "c"), Campbell was both a firm adherent and a rebel because she could never quite see why girls/women couldn't preach or hold other church offic ...more
Jeff Raymond
This was a strange book. The narrative was very disjointed and felt all over the place, and the flashes of really interesting stories were too difficult to get to around the somewhat dry and difficult way the information was presented.

Essentially, the book is about the author's relationship with her fundamentalist upbringing, her modern feminism, her relationship with religion, and how they intertwine. Thus, there's a lot of good-to-great information to chew on over the course of the book. Unfor
Jan 03, 2010 Lauren rated it it was ok
I got this book after reading a good review of it in BUST magazine, but was ultimately disappointed. Campbell's writing style is just not my cup of tea - she uses a wry, arch to tone to describe her fundamentalist childhood, using frequent and unnecessary footnotes on every page as some sort of comedic gimmic. When she gets to her awakening feminism in her adolescence I became more interested, but could never quite lose myself in her writing as it veers wildly between her personal stories (with ...more
Jun 10, 2009 Danielle rated it it was ok
I picked this book up from the new book section at work to read while I was waiting on some books I had requested from another library to arrive. The author describes her upbringing in a church of Christ while elaborating on her eventual rejection of the church because of her feminist leanings. I enjoyed some parts of the book, but not the book as a whole for the most part. It didn't feel very cohesive to me as she jumped back and forth in time somewhat and inserted stuff about feminism and femi ...more
Jan 03, 2010 Kym added it
I grew up in the Church of Christ -- the same "denomination" that Campbell did. (I use the term "denomination" in quotes because the doctrine dictates that the CoC is THE church that Paul established in Romans and is, therefore, not a denomination. What does that tell you?) I think her branch was a bit more liberal than mine, though, because we did not knock doors or do outreach, but I understand that the church I attended later employed some of the same tactics (the bus stories cracked me up).

Dec 01, 2014 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in the Bible Belt I could appreciate her story. My upbringing wasn't like hers, but I feel like I knew girls at school for whom this was their life. I appreciated her honesty, but I did feel like she got lost in the writing. There was a lot of talk of youth to adolescence -- but then we suddenly jumped to adulthood with no real explanation of her transformation from a young girl who felt like her boyfriend was Jesus to a very different adulthood.

There was a nearly full chapter that wa
Apr 17, 2013 Nick rated it it was amazing
a by turns fascinating, mind-blowing, heart-rending, spit-take hysterical, scary, beautiful 200-page memoir that wouldn't let me stop reading it.
Jan 17, 2017 Cheryl rated it really liked it
It was less of a memoir than I expected, and more of a historical treatment of the role of women in evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity. A very good read!
Feb 21, 2017 Cindy rated it liked it
Ana Mardoll
Apr 25, 2010 Ana Mardoll rated it liked it
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Dating Jesus / 978-0-8070-1066-2

When Amazon started recommending "Dating Jesus", after purchases of books like "Quiverfull" and "The Purity Myth", I mistakenly believed that the book would cover modern fundamentalist objections to dating and basic sex-education, and I was slightly surprised to find that this book has very little to do with dating and much more to do with the author's discovery of feminism as she grows up in a fundamentalist environment.

I was instantly charmed by the first few c
Mar 01, 2012 Florinda rated it liked it
Despite the fact I haven't been a regular churchgoer for several years - or maybe because of it - I still find religion a fascinating subject. I'm interested in both academic-style discussion of religious topics and personal accounts of experience with organized religion, especially struggles with it. I'm pretty sure that ten years of living in the Bible Belt contribute to a particular curiosity about fundamentalist beliefs and practices, and my own issues as a woman living within Catholicism d ...more
Feb 24, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
I spent the first part of this book wishing I could bring myself to highlight in books that are not textbooks. I want to hand this book to my husband with the parts relevant to my own childhood pointed out with highlighter. I want to laugh and also cry at how similar my life was to the author's. Campbell's anecdotes are funny, poignant, and most importantly, allegorical.
As I start the sixth chapter, I become less enchanted with the book. It seems we've slipped from humorous-memoir-with-a-message
Apr 17, 2011 Rowan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone with an interest in religion and feminism
I don't know if I can express how much I enjoyed and appreciated this book. I've been doing a lot of non-fiction reading lately, and a number of authors are clearly writing because they have a bone to pick. I don't feel that that is at all true of this book. Campbell grew up attending the fundamentalist church of Christ in Missouri. It was the sort of place that didn't allow musical instruments for their hymns, because they aren't mentioned in the Bible. Campbell was a staunch believer, and comp ...more
Mar 23, 2015 A. rated it it was amazing
This book wasn't exactly what I was expecting, though I'm not entirely sure what I did think it was going to be. Still, the combination of a history of some aspects of American evangelicalism coupled with stories about the early American feminists, interwoven with Campbell's own experiences in a fundamentalist church was extremely interesting. I found it helpful partly because it aided me in parsing out some of the things I encountered when I spent a couple years at a church of Christ high schoo ...more
Oct 22, 2013 Susan rated it liked it
I loved the first few chapters of Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl, in which the author told of her growing up years in the Church of Christ. I think Susan Campbell and I share more than a first name, because many of her recollections were very familiar to me (and hilariously written, I might add).

Campbell and her family were in church every time the door was open, and she was a Bible Bowl Champion. However, even as she listened attentively to the preacher
Alison Hardtmann
Nov 22, 2016 Alison Hardtmann rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-library
I'm having trouble marshaling my thoughts in regards to Susan Campbell's account of growing up within a rigid brand of Christianity and how that shaped her adult life. When I was sixteen, my family moved and the new church we attended was unlike what I had been used to. For a while I fell in with this new brand of American Christianity until the cognitive dissonance did me in and I had to walk away. From there it's hard to turn around and find a place for faith in my own life. Campbell's experie ...more
My only real problem with this book was my own expectations. The book was recommended to me as being "very funny," and so I expected a rollicking autobiography about growing up in a particular Protestant faith. The actual book is very good, but I would not describe it as funny. It has a few droll moments, but mostly it's a report on the still-unhealed war wounds of a woman who grew up in the midst of both religious and gender-related social wars.

She puts in many more Biblical references than I
Mar 06, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it
OK, I'm admittedly giving this an amazing review and I've only just started the book. The title itself gave me such high expectations that for the last few days, I've just been staring at it lovingly. Then yesterday, I told my partner, "There's no way this book is going to live up to my expectations. I don't even want to start it."

But start it, I did, and love it, I do. It's witty, humorous, and yet earnest. While my growing up experience was not nearly as fundamentalist, it explores some eeril
I definitely related to some of this. The author writes about growing up in the church of Christ, in Missouri in the 1960s. She was a natural born feminist, not understanding the rules that limited women from preaching, or being a bigger part of the church. She grew up in a church that taught you that God could come back at any moment, and you'd better be right with God at all times. This is the part that I most identified with, as well as the idea that Jesus was a person who I had an intimate r ...more
May 02, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
This memoir is a sincere and honest account of the author's experience growing up in and grappling with the church of Christ. Campbell's story weaves together the threads of her fervor, disillusionment, and ultimately her sense of being "Christ-haunted." Though I do not identify with fundamentalism in the exact same sense that she does - Baptists, as she notes, have the assurance of salvation that her brand of fundamentalists do not - it was eerie to me to read how much of our experiences overla ...more
Priscilla Herrington
Apr 15, 2015 Priscilla Herrington rated it it was amazing
Susan Campbell a journalist and columnist for The Hartford Courant, but before she arrived in Hartford, Connecticut, she was a little girl growing up ion a fundamentalist Christian household in Missouri. Dating Jesus is a memoir of Campbell's life and her movement away from the church of her childhood. It is also a thoughtful consideration of what she was taught as a child (such as, that women must be silent in church, and that homosexuality is wrong) and her own conclusions based on her study o ...more
Dec 30, 2012 Rebecka rated it liked it
For the most part,I enjoyed this book. I was somewhat disappointed in the imbalance of topic- I thought there would be more memoir and less theology. I felt I could relate to the author on many levels, having been raised fundamental Baptist. There were indeed some parts where I knew exactly where she was coming from, but I couldn't relate to her struggle to make it all fit together. In my own experience, if a puzzle is missing pieces or has other pieces mixed in with it, I don't bother working o ...more
May 29, 2009 Natalie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
"Like a sword, fundamentalism was plunged into our bodies, ant ehn it got broken off in us so that we will never ever heal from the wound. Like Perpetual Jesus on the Perpetual Cross, we are the walking wounded. By now, the shaft is part of our organs and these smiling, happy people? They have no idea."

"And then came the day when I realized aht I had for most of my adult life, since I left the church of my girlhood in my early thirties, let others define my faith for me. Don't go to church three
Feb 04, 2011 Alana rated it liked it
I read a lot of the reviews on this book and I agreed with a few, the writing isn't like other journalist's takes on fundamentalism...but this wasn't really written from that perspective, it was written more as a memoir by Campbell.

I grew up Southern Baptist and while we weren't quite as strict, most of Campbell's attitudes about gender roles and religious mores rang really, really true for me.

I thought the writing at the end was better than the writing at the beginning and I wish I could get t
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“So you raise up a few generations of young girls, telling them that they should step to the back of the bus, ingrain that in their psyche, preach it to them from the pulpit, hold up as ideal examples women doing precisely that, and in a few years, you can step back; you need say no more. Your work is done, because you have carefully created a herd of women who know and even begrudgingly accept that their place is secondary, just outside the limelight, clapping for and cheering on the important people who were never taught to put others first.” 9 likes
“But slowly, evangelicalism's emphasis on social reform began to be seen by some of its adherents as its own form of apostasy, or abandonment of the movement's early tenets. The idea that Christians could and should effect social change on a large scale appeared, to some, to smack of theocracy, a blending they could not countenance. The notion of separation began to take hold; fundamentalists within the evangelical movement found themselves focusing more on Jesus's intended return to earth, and they began to view what they saw as society's ills as the scriptural fulfillment of the last days. To try to improve the world was to risk moving into the distance the day of Jesus's triumphant return. Proponents of the social gospel, in the eyes of the fundamentalist, were "making people too much at home in the world," rather than” 0 likes
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