Popular Religion in America: The Evangelical Voice

Popular Religion in America: The Evangelical Voice

Popular Religion in America: The Evangelical Voice

Popular Religion in America: The Evangelical Voice

Synopsis

Jorstad attributes the enormous growth of evangelicalism to its ability to blend with American popular culture. He argues that the evangelical movement was able to integrate populist, democratic traditions with a cultural inclusiveness, a mastery of modern technology, and a willingness to use mass media to spread its views. The first part of the book discusses the development of evangelical subculture between 1960 and 1990. The second part discusses the interplay between the evangelical movement and social values. The third section analyzes the relationship between evangelicalism and the media. Throughout the work, Jorstad closely and carefully analyzes the place of evangelicalism in modern American culture.

Excerpt

Those who track or participate in the course of religion in the United States come to recognize the recurrence of certain modes of thought and behavior. Among those that stand out vividly within the North American setting are the modes of irony, paradox, and contradiction. Although not unique to the American scene, they take on a certain compelling veracity by being located within the nation frequently known as having "the soul of a church." For example, believing this land was created to make straight the way of the Lord, many people of faith ironically have committed great sins against their own people and innocents abroad. To win the world to their ancient and unchanging truths, the faithful paradoxically employ the most up-to-the- minute technology, which inevitably reshapes their message. Finally, faith seekers continue to stay mired in the contradictory expressions of committed discipleship and yet of continuing racism, prejudice, sexism, and ecological despoilment.

Rather than despair over such a situation, trackers choose to accept such modes as givens, as expressions of the human condition but not as controlling determinants of their searches. They affirm that, in their tracking, they find authentic paths, trails, avenues, and even some highways leading them to greater understanding of the terrain. At times these roads even overlap, crisscross, bisect, or disrupt each other. Viewed from a distance, however, they form patterns and configurations. The knowledgeable tracker will detect both those features that are familiar and those that are new; both those that come most clearly into view when viewed through the lens of irony, paradox, and contradiction and those that are better understood by the use of other instruments of study.

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