Book Review: Raised Right

Alisa Harris’ Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics and Learned to Start Living the Gospel is an interesting look into the evolving beliefs of young evangelicals raised by the now-aging members of the Religious Right and Moral Majority. The book charts Harris’ conversions from the fundamentalist Protestant religion of her youth to the triumphalist Republican politics of her adolescence to the more uncertain, searching faith of her early adulthood.

The book flits back and forth between different periods in Harris’ life, making it hard to construct a chronological narrative of how her outlook has evolved over time. It’s not until mid-way through the book that a real sense of that conversion emerges, after she enters a conservative christian college and encounters the hypocrisy of her peers and the emptiness of political maneuvering.

Harris is good at constructing a compelling narrative — each chapter includes clever anecdotes from her early life in religion and politics — but I would have liked a more nuanced look at the belief systems Harris has encountered during her life. Everything in the book is from her perspective, and the various systems of thought encountered are explained only in the most superficial way. While I recognize that this is a memoir and not a more systematic treatment of American politics and religion, a little more depth would have added context to her story.

I would also have been interested to hear if and how her parents’ outlooks have changed. In the beginning of the book they sound rigid and inflexible in their beliefs, yet by the end of the book Harris seems to indicate that their stances have softened, if not as radically as hers.

Raised Right is a quick, easy read for anyone interested in learning more about the outlook of young evangelicals seeking to move beyond the easy answers of partisan politics towards a more Gospel-based means of living in the world.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewer program.