Picked up this book on a whim because it was cheaper than dirt and looked interesting. Apparently it was based on a Christian documentary which I likely will never see, though it may be worthwhile if you get your hands on it.
Merchant's book and film project ask the question: why is the gospel of love dividing America? He explores these 'cultural wars' engaged in by the evangelical conservatives and the godless secular leftists. I have been in Canada for several years so I haven't had to think about America's political and spiritual polarism. This book was similar in content to Becky Garrison's Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church, but where Garrison tells the story of American politics and religion, Merchant tries to get behind the fear felt on both sides. The book is about three years old so somewhat dated, but the lines are still drawn (particularly if you look towards the 2012 election).
So Merchant interviews people on both sides (or however many sides there are supposed to be) to get to the bottom of the so called 'cultural wars.'
Merchant does two things which while gimmicky, probably were great to watch in the documentary and actually make his point pretty well:
1. He where's a bunch of competing worldview bumperstickers and interviews people on the street about their thoughts on Jesus and which bumpersticker they relate with. That's it. No hardsell evangelism but tries to really listen to people where they are coming from.
2. He sets up a confessional in the middle of San Fran's castro district during a Pride celebration, in order to confess the sins of the church against the Gay community, where they dropped the ball in the AIDS crisis, and Merchant's personal sins against gay people. Merchant's confessions start conversations with people and is healing for a group of people who felt judged, dismissed and hated by the church.
Ultimately this is all Merchant is arguing for, more dialogue less polarizing posturing and monologue preaching. I agree with him and found it an interesting presentation (though I think I would like the documentary better). This reads like a theme issue from a good Christian magazine.