"Spalding writes with great grace about the splendor of contemporary religious life in the USA, and his own role as a witness and jester therein.... He sees us as a bunch of digressing pilgrims, and he likes us anyway.”
The Door Magazine
"John Spalding is one of those writers who doesn’t just sit in front of his computer, making up his witty columns.... He’s what you’d call a writer on active duty, canvassing the world for reality tidbits on his favorite obsession—humanity’s hilariously flawed search for God.”
LA Weekly ("Readings Pick of the Week")
"A quirky, comic postmillennial trek through some of America's more exotic embodiments of faith, from the Christian Wrestling Foundation to The Garden of Eden, a Bible-based roadside attraction in Kansas, shedding light all the while on the author's dual affinity for the holy and the down-home."
"Make no mistake: this book contains more than just spiritual spoofing and farcical situations. Like the religious writing of Annie Lamott, Spalding's pilgrimage for the truth in American Christianity is irreverent but deeply honest.... Spalding describes his figurative and literal travels through Christendom with an informative, colloquial voice that is capable of posing questions devoid of condescension. He does not claim to know the answers, but instead admits to a need for the journey, a desire for the destination. The result is a humorously poignant story of spiritual journey that is more authentic than we are apt to first admit."
Image: A Journal of the Arts & Religion
"John D. Spalding has grazed heavily at the available spiritual buffet and he gleefully pushes the envelope with his journalistic tongue lodged firmly in his cheek. The 27 pieces in this book, organized roughly around Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, manage to be amusing without being condescending, and given some of the spiritual oddities Mr. Spalding seeks out, this is something of a feat."
Santa Barbara News-Press
"A hilarious crazy quilt of often eccentric, mostly sincere spiritual quests and philosophies."
"A genuinely funny book due not to Spalding's brilliance--though he's a wickedly clever writer--but to his humility. Most of the stories consist of encounters with genuinely odd religious types. A less secure writer would struggle to find the perfect witticism or knife-twist ending to cap off his stories, but Spalding usually lets the believers have the last word."
Jeremy Lott in Books & Culture ("Book of the Week")
“One thing you can say for Spalding is that he goes out of his way for his articles and does things that most people wouldn’t do. There’s a lot of humor along the way. And there is some smooth, steady and readable reportage on offer here....perfect snapshots of encounters with some incredible people.”
The Stamford Advocate
"Religious humor is hard to write, largely because it is so easy to offend. Each chapter in this collection will offend somebody: Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, naturally; but also Jerry Falwell, Messianic Jews, free-floating New Agers and various Christian associations (booksellers, bowhunters, wrestlers). One church covenant calls believers to 'be slow to take offense'—a self-discipline that allows a measure of modest pleasure in reading these commentaries by 'The Sick Soul' columnist at Beliefnet.com. He is a 'lapsed Protestant' but maybe not for long, given a seven-day fast, a 500-mile pilgrimage, and a conversation with God in a New York sports bar, all described in witty, whimsical fashion.... It's all in good fun, for sure, and some of it downright preachable."
Dallas Morning News
"This book shows the vitality of contemporary spirituality in all its bizarre forms....While many books have documented the variety of religious experience in America, Spalding's blend of humor and inquisitiveness make[s] this an unusually enjoyable read."
"Beliefnet.com's 'Sick Soul' columnist wryly explores the strange vagaries of belief.... Refreshingly colloquial account of a spiritual journey complete with "ups and downs. Some open highway, and, um, lots of toll booths."
"An insouciant collection of pieces ... Spalding writes in the great theological tradition of Hunter S. Thompson, Woody Allen, and P.J. O'Rourke."
John Wilson in Christianity Today
“[Spalding’s] descriptions — whether of the weeklong fast that he undertook while still going to work every day or his trek through northern Spain along the Medieval pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela — are both humorous and insightful.”
The Seattle Times
"For those who may not have stepped foot into a church or synagogue in a long time, but who consider themselves religious and are interested in the ways people express their faith.... With a wry sense of humor and a sharp eye for irony, combined with a master’s degree in divinity, Spalding takes the reader along as he attends a huge Christian Booksellers convention, wrestling matches where the gospel is preached, and introduces one to a variety of fascinating characters including an itinerant preacher who dresses and looks like an idealized version of Jesus."
"Armed with a marvelously irreverent sense of humor, John Spalding explores the public and private face of religion. In episode after episode on his journey he punctures pomposity with illuminating shafts of light, while raising to consciousness the very reality that religion so often exists to hide. I smiled constantly as I read this book."
John Shelby Spong, author of A New Christianity for a New World
"John Spalding's brisk tour of Vanity Fair shows that idolatry is as fashionable today as it ever was. Readers who take their Christianity seriously will find hope in his unsparing,
James Wilcox, author of Heavenly Days and Modern Baptists
"A little bit Hunter Thompson, a little bit Joseph Mitchell. The reader will thank God that Spalding became a man of letters and not a man of the cloth."
Ted Heller, author of Slab Rat and Funnymen
"Many through history have unintentionally made religion hilarious. John Spalding does it deliberately and does it very well. His book will appeal to anyone who truly believes—in having a good laugh."
Gregg Easterbrook, senior editor at The New Republic and author of The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse