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"It may be difficult to imagine a program with elements that appeal to Steelers fans, 'Lost' aficionados, religious scholars and PBS viewers, but next week's 'God in America' might just do the trick."
"If you're going to watch only six hours of serious TV this fall, spend it all on the joint Frontline and American Experience documentary God in America…
"In total, the programs do nothing less than explain how we got where we are today in an original and revealing light. Brilliantly researched and documented, God in America will make you a believer in the power of religious freedom. It's like being born again … intellectually."
"I've come to realize my father was right about television eroding a person's intelligence. Thankfully, there are exceptions -- those TV programs that actually make you smarter. …
"God in America provides helpful context to understand today's conflicts. As we continue to wrestle with issues such as homosexuality and abortion, war and economic policy, education and health care, we often invoke our religious values. And as our country grows more religiously diverse, the debates become more complex, more challenging."
"… it tells the story of America in a fresh and unexpected fashion…"
"As daunting as the title might sound, God in America has impressively distilled an enormous topic down to its essential building blocks … deftly connects the U.S.' religious past to the nation's cultural and political present."
"… an unusually serious and … intellectual endeavor for television, one that doesn't make many compromises for short attention spans."
"I don't know how many conservatives in the U.S. regularly watch PBS historical documentaries, but I am one of them. …
"Yet after previewing all six hours I came to a surprising conclusion. God in America -- while it has its flaws, a few of them major -- is worth watching. It's far from being a church production, but it has plenty of strengths and just might spark some Christians into learning more about the history of their faith."
"As basic primers go, this one is both enlightening and entertaining. …
"But as impressive as many of the segments are in this uneven exploration, six hours simply is not enough time to adequately cover the endlessly fascinating territory. …
"In short, God in America is too short."
"… this is one of those PBS fall blockbusters that strives to swallow a huge topic whole and inevitably manages only a bite, albeit a big, flavorful one.
"Still, the size of the subject speaks to the worthiness of the project, as Mt. Everest stakes more of a claim on the climber's imagination than does Bunker Hill."
"… provocative …
"God in America will give holy rollers and atheists alike a new understanding of the forces behind today's culture wars."
"God in America is a meticulous, thoughtful, and provocative production. It is a must-see for anyone who wants to understand the motivations and actions behind America's relentless quest for religious freedom that began almost 400 years ago."
"If you loved HBO's John Adams, you're going to enjoy the first two nights of God in America.
"There is a thread that connects every chapter in American religious history, right up to the present day, and God in America does a commendable job of presenting it to a general audience."
"Among the many virtues of God in America -- including the actors' subtle performances, expert commentary, the crisp but sweeping narration and the stunning array of visuals -- is its timeliness."
"… an intense exploration of the complex dynamics that animate a nation that is both deeply religious yet without an official religion."
"Even though the title suggests a subject that is far too broad, the series is commendably evenhanded and sober, as one would expect. If there were urgent-care centers for people who've flipped their lids watching too much Fox News or MSNBC, the nurses there would strap these frantic citizens to gurneys and administer God in America via a nice, slow IV drip, like a powerful PBS antibiotic."
"… eye-opening and thought-provoking. But the vision still seems narrow."
"… ambitious and extraordinarily well-produced…"
"… thoughtful storytelling, but only part of the history of God in this new world, told by only some of the believers. …
"This sprawling six hours tells an American story, our story, no matter where we come from or where we are heading. You need to know it."
"Since there's no disrespect intended, perhaps a just and merciful God will not be offended by the suggestion that PBS' ambitious six-hour God in America is pretty dry stuff.
"It's done well, and in defense of the producers, they had little choice about the 'dry' part. No one really wants or needs a production that presents the history of American spirituality as a Lady Gaga video. …"
"Probably the most provocative and insightful look ever done on the role of religion in the United States…"
Published October 11, 2010