Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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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 reprobate's staunchest supporters? These are among the questions acclaimed historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez asks in Jesus and John Wayne, which explains how white evangelicals have brought us to our fractured political moment.
Jesus and John Wayne is a sweeping account of the last 75 years of white evangelicalism, showing how American evangelicals have worked for decades to replace the Jesus of the Gospels with an idol of rugged masculinity and Christian nationalism. Evangelical popular culture is teeming with muscular heroes - mythical warriors and rugged soldiers, men like Oliver North, Ronald Reagan, Mel Gibson, and the Duck Dynasty clan, who assert white masculine power in defense of "Christian America." Chief among these evangelical legends is John Wayne, an icon of a lost time when men were uncowed by political correctness, unafraid to tell it like it was, and did what needed to be done.
A much-needed reexamination, Jesus and John Wayne explains why evangelicals have rallied behind the least-Christian president in American history and how they have transformed their faith in the process, with enduring consequences for all of us.
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 3 minutes|
|Author||Kristin Kobes du Mez|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||July 14, 2020|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #779 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Christian Church & Church Leadership
#1 in Church & State
#1 in Nationalism (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in the United States on December 31, 2020
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Dr. Du Mez does an excellent job of navigating the history of evangelical culture. Through the book, Du Mez discusses the role of centralized "Christian" (evangelical) publishing and media, gender roles (evangelicals have reinforced "traditional" or patriarchal roles), and political activism on forming a culture supportive of a character like Trump (or John Wayne). Through these various lenses, it becomes easier and easier to see how Trump gained 81% of evangelical votes.
If this book's summary (or back cover text) resonates with you at all - if it leaves you intrigued, you will absolutely find this book worthwhile. I have not been able to set it down yet.
Frequently stressing the “whiteness” and "patriarchy" of Evangelical men, Du Mez tries to build the case how everything from Biblical inerrancy to the pro-life movement is not merely tainted by their worldview, but is actually motivated by their patriarchal desire for male superiority over women. She remarks, "Accounts of the battles over the SBC [Southern Baptist Convention] commonly focus on the question of Biblical inerrancy, but the battle over inerrancy was in part a proxy fight over gender” (Chapter 6). That’s an exact quote, folks. And the pro-life movement? Well, it all started with patriarchal men, only after women began lobbying for control over their own bodies. According to Du Mez, it had nothing to do with saving little babies, but once again, it was all about male dominion over every single little part of women's lives.
As a white Evangelical man who has been following politics and keeping up with the Christian right, this borders on serious paranoia. Oh, and contrary to her strange assessment, the young men who grew up watching VeggieTales are in their teen years, hardly candidates for leadership in the “hard right.” I know because my sons were instant fans of the series, when it came out. They are 17 and 19 years old. Having sat under 20+ preachers and teachers of several denominations over the past 50 years, I can count on one hand the number of times I've heard patriarchy being stressed, and that was in an obscure independent Pentecostal church, of less than 50 members.
Although Du Mez does not explicitly state her political views, she does mention Hillary Clinton as the perfect representation of a fine upstanding Christian woman, and any Evangelicals who voted for the alternative, are token Christians and patriarchs, afraid of losing control over women. If you think this sounds like, shaming, then you're right, because this book is really all about unseating President Donald Trump.
One key take-away in her survey that she seems to have accidentally let slip past her, is that white Evangelicals did not become Republicans over Barry Goldwater and the Civil Rights Act (although she claims they resisted it), but that it wasn’t until Ronald Reagan ran against Jimmy Carter (which was the last Democrat to receive the majority of the Evangelical vote. Not to be surprised that Republicans haven’t won every race since, because as Kristin notes, it’s similar to asking God to help your football team win the Super Bowl, “God does not take sides in American politics.”
Kristin Du Mez is a historian and teaches at Calvin College, a Christian university. She is submitting her book as an analysis within the framework of her discipline, that is, as a professional historian assessing the roots of masculinity and American culture within Evangelicalism, as it pertains to Christian theology. Rather than offering an unbiased historical survey, what she has put together is a pop-culture opinion piece based on carefully sifted information that's been ripped out of context, spanning the course of decades, to set forth an argument based on her own progressive political and feminine theological positions. Such partisanship is expected from Ann Coulter and Michael Moore, but it’s not what I would call historical scholarship. Nevertheless, the book was seamlessly written and the audiobook format was flawlessly narrated, and there were occasional points of interest. 2 Stars.
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Having lived a few years, I have come to observe that if I analyze the faults of others long enough, I will find that what I was looking for in them, proves to be exactly what I always thought them to be. The problem is - when I point my finger at others - there are three fingers pointing back at me! And one pointing at God! I have become guilty of the very same things I was pointing out in others, and I am at least to some extent, knowingly or unknowingly blaming God. In my opinion, finger pointing is what this book is really about.
On the contrary, when I allow God to examine my heart - my life- my motives I find I am just as far or further from God as those I am accusing! As an accuser I have unwittingly fallen into the trap of the master accuser, the devil. I am reminded from scripture (Romans 3:23) that all, including myself, have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. My only hope is in Jesus Christ the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrew 12:1,2). Only as I surrender to him will I fulfill the abundant life he has for me!
Is this the faith that Professor Kobes duMez says has been corrupted? If not, what is it? What is the alternative to sinful people coming to a holy God for mercy and grace, as so many of those she has so patently accused have done? This book leaves the reader in suspense as to the faith that the author mentions in the subtitle and leaves one thinking she is promoting a lifestyle that just as godless as the one she has contrived and is so blindly and vehemently opposing.
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 NLT