Moral Ambition: Mobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches

By Omri Elisha | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
The Spiritual Injuries of Class

No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the
one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and
despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

—Luke 16:13

You can’t follow God and the American Dream at the
same time.

—Member of Eternal Vine Church

There was a time, not so long ago, when conservative evangelicalism was widely assumed to be a “religion of the dispossessed” (Niebuhr 1929), a rigid sectarian faith reserved for the poor and uneducated masses who reject modernity and all that comes with it. On the contrary, many North American evangelicals are educated, economically well off, and well acquainted (perhaps to the point of unease) with the trappings of secular culture (Shibley 1996; Smith 1998; Warner 1988). With increasing prominence, in fact, evangelicals occupy high positions of political power and corporate influence, and are closely associated with new media and cosmopolitan trends (Lindsay 2007). As issues of social class have received renewed attention in the study of North American religion (McCloud 2007), scholars have demonstrated the relevance of class for analyzing the cultural politics of evangelical engagement with the modern world (e.g., Griffith 2004; Hendershot 2004; Kintz 1997). Somewhat less attention has been paid to the fact that evangelicals who identify as “middle-class” wrestle self-consciously with the implications of class status in relation to religious faith. Reflexive critiques of middle-class identity are pervasive in evangelical culture. Even as they embrace the promises of upward social mobility, suburban evangelicals

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Moral Ambition: Mobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - Awaking Sleeping Giants 36
  • Chapter 3 - A Region in Spite of Itself 61
  • Chapter 4 - The Names of Action 85
  • Chapter 5 - The Spiritual Injuries of Class 121
  • Chapter 6 - Compassion Accounts 153
  • Chapter 7 - Taking the (Inner) City for God 183
  • Epilogue 214
  • Notes 223
  • References 241
  • Index 253
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