1) I gave this book the academic read, i.e. I read the intro in full (and pretty closely), skimmed the chapters for their main points, and did some bi1) I gave this book the academic read, i.e. I read the intro in full (and pretty closely), skimmed the chapters for their main points, and did some bibliography mining. Bear this in mind re: subsequent comments ;)
2) With that disclaimer: I was really hoping this book would be useful for my work on U.S. evangelical political and cultural identity with regards to race—more specifically, whiteness. I was disappointed and perhaps unduly surprised to find almost no engagement with race, racism, or white supremacy as factors in the formation of white American evangelical political identity, beyond brief mentions here and there or references to other scholars' work. This is a problem. Why? Read on.
3) The book is a comparative study of political and national identity in two American and two Canadian churches, all predominantly white and evangelical. More specifically, it is an attempt to explain, through qualitative field research: - why Canadians in theologically and socially conservative evangelical churches show more political diversity than (mostly white) Americans in theologically and socially conservative evangelical churches. - why political positions common to American conservative evangelicals, such as opposition to the welfare state, are not common among Canadian conservative evangelicals.
4) Which brings us to the problem. The particular history and present day reality of racism and white supremacy in America is *so bound up* in white political identity in general and white evangelical political identity in particular that it is utterly bizarre that the book basically doesn't address that history or contemporary reality at all. You can't talk about U.S. white conservative evangelical opposition to welfare without taking into account the racialization and feminization of welfare in American public discourse—racist, misogynist framings of Black mothers as welfare queens. You can't talk about U.S. white conservative evangelical understanding of national identity as excluding anyone who isn't like them without talking about the Southern Strategy and racism and xenophobia in white evangelicalism. Several of the differences between Canadian and American conservative white evangelicalism that the book aims to explain significantly accounted for by the ongoing legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in the United States. That the discussion of race adds up to maybe 10 pages (generous estimate) in a 200+ page book is inexplicable.
5) The thesis and methodology of the book are definitely interesting. I would even go so far as to say that the thesis of the book is correct and potentially adds something really meaningful to current understandings of white evangelical identity in North America. But this only makes the omission of race more confusing, because the argument of the book—that the culture of local churches is responsible for differences in political identity between these two groups of evangelicals—would only be strengthened by taking into account how different the histories of anti-Black racism in Canada and the U.S. are from each other. All that to say, I not only found the book a lot less useful for my research than I was hoping, I found the lack of race analysis actively and progressively irritating, to the point where I don't think I can actually give it a star rating. There's useful stuff in here and the bibliography looks quite good on first glance at least, but I can't really assess the book in the sense of giving it a rating when it feels like at least half of it is just missing....more
An excellent and overdue account of how evangelical demand for adoptions is sharping the global adoption industry. Very worth the read. More detailedAn excellent and overdue account of how evangelical demand for adoptions is sharping the global adoption industry. Very worth the read. More detailed review to come....more
_Churched_ mostly consists of light, amusing anecdotes about growing up Independent Fundamentalist Baptist. There is the occasional insightful comment_Churched_ mostly consists of light, amusing anecdotes about growing up Independent Fundamentalist Baptist. There is the occasional insightful comment about the oddities and hypocrisies of fundamentalist culture. Turner narrates the audio version himself; his intonation and scansion are a bit off at times , which can be distracting. An entertaining read/listen....more
Valenti makes a number of good arguments in _The Purity Myth_: that it's dangerous and damaging to teach young women that their morality or lack thereValenti makes a number of good arguments in _The Purity Myth_: that it's dangerous and damaging to teach young women that their morality or lack thereof hinges on whether or not they have sex, rather than whether or not they are kind people living ethical lives; that obsession with sexual purity infantilizes women; that the virgin-whore dichotomy enables the abuse and marginalization of women, and pushes a view of masculinity that is toxic to both women and men. Valenti is right on the mark in calling for an understanding of female sexuality that respects female autonomy and encourages sex-positivity.
However, the book is mostly for the converted. I doubt anyone who doesn't already have serious reservations about the abstinence-only movement would find this book convincing. There's a real need for books and other media that address young women raised in the abstinence movement where they are, with arguments that take their beliefs seriously and come from people who understand those beliefs.
Valenti's tone also veers into the casual and even flippant a bit too often for my tastes. The book at times reads like a long form blog post, which is not surprising given that Valenti is a blogger, but it would have been nice if she had taken some time to polish her prose a bit. Again, I don't think this is particularly conducive to reaching an audience that takes teachings on abstinence so seriously that they're literally a matter of life and death.
ETA: Forgot to mention that the book uses some interesting sources, and the footnotes/bibliography seem like a good place to start to compile a reading list on contemporary issues around female sexuality. I plan to go back through the footnotes to find more stuff to read....more
Really glad I read this book, highly recommend it - really, anyone who takes the Bible seriously or even just wants to understand how we got the BibleReally glad I read this book, highly recommend it - really, anyone who takes the Bible seriously or even just wants to understand how we got the Bible in the first place should read this book. I'll post a more detailed review when I get a chance....more
A well-written, insightful analysis of the ways in which the culture and structure of white evangelicalism perpetuates racial inequities and divisionA well-written, insightful analysis of the ways in which the culture and structure of white evangelicalism perpetuates racial inequities and division despite overt commitments to racial equality. Factors include white evangelical insistence that all sin and division between people can only be the product of individual choices or faults (leading many to blame blacks and other people of color for racial inequality), which both prevents the possibility of recognizing structural factors that create racial inequity and perpetuates those factors. Further, the vast majority of white evangelicals are racially isolated (with social networks that are over 90% white), and thus not exposed to the perspectives of black Americans and other people of color on race, and not confronted with the daily evidence of racial disparities in America. The racial segregation of the American church, in combination with the fact that the dominant voices in American religion are racially isolated whites, means that serious efforts from within the church to address structural inequalities are marginalized. Emerson and Smith's findings paint a bleak picture about the role of religion in American race relations - e.g., they find that white conservative Protestants are significantly more racially isolated (segregated) than white Americans in general, and also significantly more likely than white Americans in general to assign blame to black Americans for racial inequality and deny the reality of structural racism.
The one issue I had with their argument was their repeated assertion that white conservative Christians have the best of intentions when it comes to race relations. It's certainly the case that most white evangelicals vocally state a belief in the equality of all people regardless of race, and it's also true that white evangelicals are generally open to modest, individual-level efforts to bridge racial divisions. It's a rather large leap from there to the conclusion that white evangelicals sincerely intend an end to racial inequality - especially given the authors' consistent findings that in fact, white evangelicals on the whole don't consider racial inequities or tensions to be a problem of any priority. There's a world of difference between benign intent and "the best of intentions" - when most white evangelicals don't consider racism a problem worth seriously addressing, despite a general awareness that people of color do find it to be a problem worth addressing, that can hardly be described as having the "best of intentions" towards people of color. That objection aside, the book is very well done. It should be required reading for all evangelicals, and for anyone who wants to understand why there's so much racial animus against the president and communities of color right now....more