From a Barnes & Noble review:
Chidester travels through the cultural landscape and discovers the role that fakery--in the guise of frauds, charlatans, inventions, and simulations--plays in creating religious experience. His book is at once an incisive analysis of the relationship between religion and popular culture and a celebration of the myriad ways in which invention can stimulate the religious imagination.
A much more thorough review of the book is on the Journal of Religion and Pop Culture website.
Mr. Chidester will be one of the guest speakers at the annual American Academy of Religion's seminar in San Diego this week. Aslo on that agenda is a discussion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The discussion of this 'deity' will raise questions about the essence of religion itself.
That pasta deity came to the fore as Kansas debated the teaching of Intelligent Design in its public schools back in 2005. Supporters of intelligent design hold that the order and complexity of the universe is so great that science alone cannot explain it. The concept's critics see it as faith masquerading as science.
As a result, an Oregon State physics graduate named Bobby Henderson stepped into the debate by sending a letter to the Kansas School Board. With tongue in cheek, he purported to speak for 10 million followers of a being called the Flying Spaghetti Monster — and demanded equal time for their views.
Fortunately for the children of Kansas, the state school board pulled ID from the school program.