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Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals…

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and… (udgave 2020)

af Kristin Kobes Du Mez (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1316159,420 (4.52)9
Titel:Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
Forfattere:Kristin Kobes Du Mez (Forfatter)
Info:Liveright (2020), Edition: Illustrated, 368 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

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Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation af Kristin Kobes Du Mez


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» Se også 9 omtaler

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A very interesting history of Evangelicalism in America, demonstrating successfully that the support of Evangelical Christians for Trump, while very much in tension with Christianity's actual beliefs, was no accident. It's loaded with detailed information and at times becomes weighed down and difficult to see the forest for the trees, but it tells a compelling story and sets the stage for important discussion. ( )
  exhypothesi | Mar 7, 2021 |
A thoroughly researched investigation into a particularly white Evangelical cult of "masculinity" over the past 75 years.

The author's primary title is chosen advisedly: the entire work analyzes the history of white Evangelicalism with a focus on the encouraged expression of militant masculinity embodied in the characters portrayed by John Wayne. The author does well to note how the characters of John Wayne, and the actual John Wayne, were different in many respects; the irony is not lost throughout.

In a very real sense the work is an attempt to understand Evangelical support for Trump: the work is introduced by one of Trump's speeches, and concludes in the wake of his election. By the time you get to the end you much more fully understand how Trump was not aberrant, but in fact the embodiment of a type of militarist fighting style which has been championed in white Evangelicalism for years.

The author begins with the antecedents from the second great awakening and the early 20th century but really focuses on the era of Billy Graham and following. The veneer on Graham is highly chipped in this telling, with a focus on his rabid anti-Communism, foreign aggression, intense politicking, fondness for Nixon, and his awful quote in the NYT about everyone having their own type of "My Lai." After this it becomes much easier to understand Graham fils' affection for Trump.

The narrative continues with all the events of the late 20th century with a focus on the development of this particular brash masculinity in white Evangelicalism: highly patriotic and militaristic, aggressive, rarely rationalized in terms of Scripture, but certainly willing to shape views of Biblical characters in light of the John Wayne/Braveheart/etc. model. The author addresses the changes of the Sixties, the war in Vietnam, political agitation as segregation was condemned by society, the anti-ERA crusade of Schlafly (who becomes a major character throughout the work), the establishment of the "Moral Majority," the apotheosis and disappointment of the Reagan presidency, a nadir under Bush I, and resurgence under Clinton. We read of the development of the homeschool emphasis, the Gothard collective, Phillips and Wilson, Dobson of course, and what they were all about. The Nineties are filled with the Promise Keepers and a momentary hope for racial reconciliation: it is perhaps at this moment when the author's tendency toward Midwestern snark and cynicism is perhaps a bit misplaced, for whereas yes, these emphases would be lost as the 21st century came about, it would not be hard to imagine a possible 21st century in white Evangelicalism that maintained this kind of emphasis. It might have been better to underscore how the Promise Keepers movement was damaged by its emphasis on racial reconciliation as a harbinger of what was to come.

With the 21st century we get Eldredge and his crowd, the acceleration of this particular view of "masculinity" over the "softness" of the Nineties, and of course the post-9/11 demonization of Islam and Muslims which became quite prevalent within white Evangelicalism. Again white Evangelicalism was at a nadir with the unpopularity of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the economic crisis; yet again it would draw strength by finding an enemy, this time Obama, and in their demonization of him. All of this leads directly to Trump: the author spoke of the 2016 primary and election in great detail, particularly in terms of the Evangelical response to Trump. How they took to him as their champion and defender is the appropriate conclusion to the whole.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of the book is in its marketing: this is a work of historical analysis taking a critical look at the history of white Evangelical characterizations of masculinity (and, by necessity, its view of femininity as contrast) from 1950 to the present, and how those characterizations help to inform Evangelical culture and political engagement. It does not pretend to be a wide-ranging history; it was not designed to be sympathetic. The secondary title is highly inflammatory, although the author has made strong arguments to both ends: the masculinity which white Evangelicals have promoted is not the masculinity of Jesus, but a particularly romanticized American aggressive masculinity without anchor in Scripture, and which has distorted white Evangelical perspectives on what "Biblical masculinity" might involve; the promotion of these various causes and views are at least partially responsible for the divisions present in America, although it would be inaccurate to suggest they are the only catalysts for such fracturing.

That the "tone" of the book is being criticized speaks to the unassailable nature of the historical evidence marshaled and the discomfort the work causes to those regarding whom it is written. There is good reason why this book is so lauded: the quality of the scholarship, and the abundant evidence for its propositions, demand a reckoning. There are certainly plenty of more "hagiographical" histories of white Evangelicalism, but gone are the days when they set the tone for how white Evangelicals are understood in history. White Evangelicalism is going to undergo a lot more critical review of its history as here and in Posner and Butler, among others, and such a reckoning is long due.

If you have lived as a Christian and have been influenced by "popular Christianity" at all over the past 75 years, read this book. See if and how you have been unduly influenced by these portrayals of masculinity. Allow the context to help explain it, and prove willing to repent by no longer using American popular conceptions of masculinity to inform how one views the Biblical witness, and prove willing to reconsider what the Biblical witness is saying about what it means to be male and female in Christ. ( )
  deusvitae | Feb 6, 2021 |
Despite the provocative title, this is a well-researched, well-documented, thorough history of the evangelical movement of the past half century. For those of us outside the faith, it has long been baffling how the so-called "moral majority" defends rapists and child-abusers, and supported the most immoral man to ever sit in the oval office. This book explains a LOT. ( )
  Tarawyn | Jan 27, 2021 |
An interesting read that offers lots for thought although the author clearly has an agenda and her style allows for no counter claims. There are some factual issues such as her blaming "The Fellowship" for having “In God We Trust” added to US currency in 1955. It was made the US motto that year but first appeared on coins in 1864, long before there was such a thing as Evangelicals. There are many instances of "guilt by association" without providing sources so I'm unsure if her claims are accurate. I was also dismayed that she spent little time on white Evangelicals who are not of the type she wants to portray. Her claim is that "white evangelicals corrupted a faith and fractured a nation" so she spends no time on white Evangelicals who don't fit that paradigm and I only counted one BIPOC associated with them as the exception that proves the rule I suppose. All in all she fails to prove her thesis but provides enough material for three stars. ( )
  True54Blue | Oct 27, 2020 |
What a timely, well-researched, fascinating, gripping book Du Mez has written. It traces the rise of white Christian evangelicalism from a small and fringe group to the powerhouse that dominates huge swaths of commerce, politics, and education. And how this group's view of Jesus is not that of the gentle, robed man who advocated "love thy neighbor," but instead a warrior whose mighty sword will swiftly kill millions of enemies.

The myth of the heroic warrior male in American history starts with Teddy Roosevelt, a short, high-voiced man who chose the cowboy persona and became President and patron of the West. But it didn't stop there, and morphed from Teddy Roosevelt to John Wayne to Ronald Reagan to Trump. None of these men were evangelical, but that does not seem to matter to this movement: they are brash, swaggering, and insistent that women stay in their appointed places. Boys are bullied into being men, girls are brainwashed into total submission, and any difference from these norms, including sexual assault, are the victims' fault. And her father's, because he did not protect "his" daughter/property well enough.

It is a quick read by a professor who has done an extraordinary amount of what must have been difficult research, and documents how we came to be where we are now. ( )
1 stem threadnsong | Oct 11, 2020 |
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On a bitterly cold day in January 2016, Donald Trump stood on the stage of an auditorium at a small Christian college in Iowa. (Introduction)
The path that ends with John Wayne as an icon of Christian masculinity is strewn with a colorful cast of characters, from the original cowboy president to a baseball-player-turned-preacher to a singing cowboy and a dashing young evangelist. (Chapter 1)
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