In Brenda Peterson's unusual memoir, fundamentalism meets deep ecology. The author's childhood in the high Sierra with her forest ranger father led her to embrace the entire natural world, while her Southern Baptist relatives prepared eagerly and busily to leave this world. Peterson survived fierce “sword drill” competitions demanding total recall of the Scriptures and awkward dinner table questions (“Will Rapture take the cat, too?”) only to find that environmentalists with prophecies of doom can also be Endtimers. Peterson paints such a hilarious, loving portrait of each world that the reader, too, may want to be Left Behind.
Talk of the rapture the ascent to heaven of true Christians before the end of the world surrounds Peterson (Duck and Cover), and she engages this conversation with delicacy, humor, frustration, and, at times, a begrudging respect, in this memoir about growing up among Southern Baptists and not quite fitting in. Peterson s story is told through what is really a series of vignettes, tied together by two themes, faith and the environment. She looks back at her childhood, college, and then adulthood, stopping here and there, selecting scenes from her life that show why she finds God outdoors, and why the rapture-obsessed family and community of her youth quickly loses its appeal. Her love for this world and everything in it is far greater than any promise of salvation apart from and above it. Readers interested in a story about leaving behind theologically conservative Christianity and other types of extremism will find Peterson s collection of anecdotes and remembered conversations engaging. The chapters can be read on their own, and her prologue, The Trumpet Shall Sound, and chapter In the Garden are among the best.