Reader’s comments

“Prayer is not an aberration. As part of the daily life of literally billions of people, it must be regarded as well within the normal repertory of human behaviors. Yet anthropology–ready enough to discourse about religion–has never managed a thick description of prayer. This is the ground that T. M. Luhrmann breaks with a deeply engrossing, first-ever, thick anthropological description of prayer in two American evangelical congregations.  A remarkable intellectual venture.”

–Jack Miles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of God: A Biography

“What if nonbelievers could understand how people come to experience God? What if believers could come to understand just how difficult the process of coming to experience God is for all of us, here at the end of modernity?  When God Talks Back is a chance for our divided nation to stop talking past each other about our national preoccupation: God.”

Ken Wilson, senior pastor of Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor and author of Mystically Wired: Exploring New Realms in Prayer

“Not since Robert Bellah’s Habits of the Heart a quarter century ago has there been so readable, so informing, so scholarly, and yet so winsome a report about any group of American believers as Luhrmann’s When God Talks Back. This is religion writing at its best–a masterful examination that is a candid, humble, clear-eyed, and affirming record of what faith looks like and how it operates.”

–Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence and founding editor of Publishers Weekly‘s Religion Department


“Rarely have I encountered a book that succeeds so admirably in exploring the interior lives of America’s evangelicals. What makes this book so remarkable is not only the author’s exhaustive and empathetic fieldwork but that her conclusions emerge from a deep understanding of the history of evangelicalism.”

–Randall Balmer, author of The Making of Evangelicalism

“How can one live a life at once wholly modern and fully engaged with the supernatural real? Many books aim to explain how American evangelicals pull this off, but this is the one that will actually change the way you think about religion going forward. Writing elegantly and sympathetically about evangelical lives while at the same time developing a profound theory of the learning processes by which human beings come to inhabit religious worlds, Luhrmann has produced the book all of us-believers and nonbelievers alike–need to put our debates about religion and contemporary society on a truly productive footing. People will be learning from When God Talks Back for a very long time to come.”

–Joel Robbins, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego

“This amazing book provides a compelling account of how evangelical Christians come to experience God as intimately and lovingly present in their lives. Drawing on two years of field work, supplemented by extensive knowledge of evangelical literature and innovative scientific field experiments, Luhrmann’s demonstration of the role of both training and individual abilities in the shaping of religious experience breaks important new ground in the cognitive science of religion.”

–Ann Taves, author of Religious Experience Reconsidered