This is a fascinating book. I really enjoyed it though it at times made me uncomfortable.
The author is a Yale graduate and teaches English at George Washington University. She grew up in Berkeley, CA as an atheist and avowed Leftist as were her parents. Her father was a dedicated communist. After graduating from Yale in 2001, she moved to Virginia for work opportunities and immediately found herself in a cultural environment that had always, until then, existed only as a caricature and recipient of belittlement and scorn for her, her friends, and her family.
Amazed by just how alien that corner of the Bible Belt was to all she had ever believed and experienced, she decided to try to get closer to Evangelical Christians in hopes of increasing her understanding and tolerance. She had always believed herself to be tolerant and inclusive and she was shocked at just how repelled she and her friends were by Evangelicals.
She chose to do so in a morally questionable way. She went 'under cover' for two years at Jerry Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church. She presented herself as a seeker, got 'saved', baptized, and became very involved at Thomas Road. She was active in their EPIC singles ministry and even went on a mission trip to Alaska.
This book is the story of those two years and the impact they had on her. There is much here to make us Evangelicals uncomfortable and much to make us proud. Most of all, it is an opportunity to see ourselves as 'others' may see us. And there isn't much comfort in the target being 'Baptist' instead of Nazarene or any other Evangelical brand. Many of our churches would not have come off as well as Thomas Road did and the similarities far outweigh any differences between 'them' and 'us'.
Won't give away details, but one fascinating element to us believers is her description of "Feeling X". This was how she labeled it. It was her designation of a positive and mysterious feeling she often encountered during worship. I believe we would identify 'Feeling X' as the Holy Spirit.
I highly recommend it.
In The Land of Believers