Cover image for Shaking the world for Jesus : media and conservative evangelical culture
Shaking the world for Jesus : media and conservative evangelical culture
Hendershot, Heather.
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Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2004.
Physical Description:
x, 256 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
For-profit prophets : Christian cultural products and the selling of Jesus -- Why should the devil have all the good music? : Christian music and the secular marketplace -- Virgins for Jesus : the gender politics of therapeutic Christian media -- Holiness codes and holy homosexuals : interpreting gay and lesbian Christian subculture -- Putting God under the microscope : the Moody Institute of Science's cinema of devotion -- Praying for the end of the world : the past, present, and future of Christian apocalyptic media.
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BV652.97.U6 H46 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In 1999, the Reverend Jerry Falwell outed Tinky-Winky, the purple character from TV's Teletubbies . Events such as this reinforced in many quarters the common idea that evangelicals are reactionary, out of touch, and just plain paranoid. But reducing evangelicals to such caricatures does not help us understand their true spiritual and political agendas and the means they use to advance them. Shaking the World for Jesus moves beyond sensationalism to consider how the evangelical movement has effectively targeted Americans--as both converts and consumers--since the 1970s.

Thousands of products promoting the Christian faith are sold to millions of consumers each year through the Web, mail order catalogs, and even national chains such as Kmart and Wal-Mart. Heather Hendershot explores in this book the vast industry of film, video, magazines, and kitsch that evangelicals use to spread their message. Focusing on the center of conservative evangelical culture--the white, middle-class Americans who can afford to buy "Christian lifestyle" products--she examines the industrial history of evangelist media, the curious subtleties of the products themselves, and their success in the religious and secular marketplace.

To garner a wider audience, Hendershot argues, evangelicals have had to carefully temper their message. But in so doing, they have painted themselves into a corner. In the postwar years, evangelical media wore the message of salvation on its sleeve, but as the evangelical media industry has grown, many of its most popular products have been those with heavily diluted Christian messages. In the eyes of many followers, the evangelicals who purvey such products are sellouts--hucksters more interested in making money than spreading the word of God.

Working to understand evangelicalism rather than pass judgment on it, Shaking the World for Jesus offers a penetrating glimpse into a thriving religious phenomenon.

Author Notes

Heather Hendershot is associate professor in the media studies department at Queens College, City University of New York. She is the author of S aturday Morning Censors: Television Censorship before the V-Chip and editor of Nickelodeon Nation: The History, Politics, and Economics of America's Only TV Channel for Kids .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Hendershot (media studies, Queens College of CUNY) examines evangelical videos, films, magazines, and music in an analysis of the Christian cultural products industry. She persuasively shows that evangelical media are very diverse and "incredibly uneven in the degree to which they overtly proclaim their faith." Hendershot argues that in trying to cross over into the broader American popular culture, some evangelical media have become more ambiguous in their messages, but not necessarily more secular. For example, she suggests that crossover Christian bands like Creed, and teen videos such as the series Edge TV, have successfully incorporated the therapeutic language permeating American popular culture. At the same time, they have retained evangelical idioms, which are quickly recognized by believers. Sometimes these idioms prove impossible to transfer into the larger culture. As a case in point, Hendershot argues that the box office failure of Left Behind: The Movie was due to its producer's inability to make evangelical apocalyptic theology ambiguous enough to "cross over." Though the entire work is engaging, Hendershot's most interesting analysis appears in her examination in chapter 3 of the gendered constructions of teen sexuality in evangelical youth magazines. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and up. S. McCloud University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Table of Contents

Part I Commodification
1 For-Profit Prophets: Christian Cultural Products and the Selling of Jesus
2 Why Should the Devil Have all the Good Music? Christian Music and the Secular Marketplace
Part II Sexuality
3 Virgins for Jesus: The Gender Politics of Therapeutic Christian Media
4 Holiness Codes and Holy Homosexuals: Interpreting Gay and Lesbian Christian Subculture
Part III Filmmaking
5 Putting God under the Microscope: The Moody Institute of Science's Cinema of Devotion
6 Praying for the End of the World: The Past, Present, and Future of Christian Apocalyptic Media