Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
How did a libertine who lacks even the most basic knowledge of the Christian faith win 81 percent of the white evangelical vote in 2016? And why have white evangelicals become a presidential re ...more
Author looks at the specifically *contemporary* evang. phenomenon as a culture, or sub-culture, emerging in the late 20th C., …moreTo answer your question:
Author looks at the specifically *contemporary* evang. phenomenon as a culture, or sub-culture, emerging in the late 20th C., not primarily as a theology. Only the evang's claim to define themselves according the their beliefs; but in the US this is actually a cultural (& political) movement more than a theological one. The book's approach is increasingly valid as church attendance and familiarity with the tenets of the faith, theology & Biblical text are cratering, but the culture of consumption of "Christian" media products (radio, TV, books, music, the "gift" industry) is immersive. She stresses the fusion of show business and bible-crusading that took hold in the 1940's. (Not sure yet if she covers the heavy financial backing of Billy Graham & similar preachers by oligarchic business figures in California and especially the oil industry.)
"John Wayne" in the title alludes to the extreme emphasis on gender roles & exaggerated masculinity in the evang. culture, as exemplified by Hollywood figures they revere, like Wayne, Reagan; divorcees, immoralists, (Trump), who can seem to defend the vision of Christian nationalism as they increasingly see themselves as beleaguered & persecuted on all sides (communists, humanists, secularists, Muslims) in a secular market-oriented & transactional cultural context.
Their sense of persecution & the resultant militancy is stoked by evangelical leaders (usually a "strong man") who seems to offer protection, but the militancy really comes first, and requires the rationale of persecution in order to be justified & sustained. The leaders need the loyalty, and the money, but the rank & file need the sense of righteousness, protection & community. Same mechanism as used by authoritarians like Putin, Mussolini, etc., in eras of social instability & economic distress.
They re-invent Jesus, not as a figure of peace & forgiveness, but in the image of a muscular militant warrior, wielding a sword, etc.
Popular evangelical books on Christian manhood are not very biblical, but are more informed by portrayals of Hollywood figures; Mel Gibson, John Wayne (see Wayne's May 1971 Playboy interview for his explicit racism & justification of violence). Men unrestrained by Christian values are the ones admired for their ability to defend the faith, like trump. Evangelical support for trump wavered only briefly and slightly when the Access Hollywood video (the "pussy tape", sorry) came to light. There is a long history of Evangelicals supporting abusers in their own communities, dismissing allegations, blaming victims, in the embrace of a rugged, militant masculinity. The sex scandals are legion. Maybe you could tell me the name of the guy who held bible study sessions with boys in his hot tub. I do know about Fallwell Jr., (and many, many others) but not this one.
Anyway, the fact that most of this world exists so completely out of the view of any conventional elite means their culture remains largely unexamined and unchallenged, even as they use radical political hardball based on weaponization of their beliefs, malice, dishonesty & disinformation to entrench minority rule (by whites) in the US and retard public health, human development & material & cultural progress on all fronts.
Thus the importance of this book. There are many others like it. See Christopher Hedges for a much, much more dire & trenchant view of the topic. (less)
More lists with this book...
“To be an evangelical, according to the National Association of Evangelicals, is to uphold the Bible as one’s ultimate authority, to confess ...more
Church services had just ended, and now I was standing in the hallway waiting to get into the restroom so I could then go home. A woman was standing in front restroom door with a megaphone in her hand, and she was preaching a different gospel, an evangelical one. I wondered why the Methodist Church was allowing her to be there, to preach. I just wanted out, and I never wanted to ever return to this church or any church. But, first, I needed to use the restroom. Fat chance of that ha ...more
Why Evangelicals are suckers for Qanon...
and why it's the ugly return of medieval anti-Semitism
A precedent, Christians in Nazi Germany....
Germany was filled with Christians whose understanding of their faith had so converged with German national culture that it ...more
Kristin Kobes Du Mez ho ...more
This book won’t sit easily with most evangelicals. It shouldn’t. Du Mez has left no stone unturned in her quest to connect the dots between evangelicalism and Trump. Is their support for h ...more
The degree to which this emphasis on masculinity by ...more
I grew up in American evangelicalism, though I was not conscious of that until I left home for college. My church growing up was certainly evangelical, but most of the focus from the pulpit was on living as a ...more
There are so many good sections of the book that I could highlight, but for me understanding the common thread of masculinity in evangelical churches is ...more
In their fight against feminism, LGBT rights, and all other things deem ...more
If you are not an Evangelical and you are genuinely curious about why we supported Trump, this is not the book you are looking for. DuMez clearly did a lot of historical research, but she has such a different worldview then Evangelicals so when she tries to interpret events, movements, etc. she almos ...more
Here are some quotes:
“For conservative white evangelicals, the “good news” of the Christian gospel has become inextricably linked to a staunch commitment to patriarchal authority, gender difference, and Christian nationalism, and all of these are intertwined with white racial identity. Many Ame ...more
The author is spot-on in diagnosing how much evangelicalism was shaped by cultural forces, parachurch organizations, the publishing industry, and political and economic fears rather than Word and sacrament. This is a sobering and oft-times painful read because of what is revealed:
1. The mission of the church was co-opted by Christian Nationalism and the pursuit of the American Dream. Piety in exchange for national security and your best family ...more
Even if readers disagree with he ...more
When I first heard about Jesus and John Wayne, I had it connected to books on Christian Nationalism, like Taking America Back for God, maybe because that is how Matthew Lee Anderson framed his review in Christianity Today. That isn't completely wrong, but I am not sure it really gets the main point of the book any more than framing it as an Anti-Trump book as t...more
Jesus and John Wayne, as you may guess from the title, is a book about American Christianity, masculinity, and fear. Du Mez is one author in a long line seeking to explain the Trump phenomenon. Of the many articles and few books I’ve read on the topic, I found her explanations to be the most logical, even though I have so much cognitive dissonance on the topic that no explanation could ever real ...more
I absolutely don’t have words to neatly summarize all that I just read and learned. What I will say: Fascinating, infuriating, sobering, thought provoking.
I’m not sure how to move forward with this information, but it did bring the light of greater understanding to much that happened in America in the past five years. 4.5/5