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Shaking the World for Jesus: Media and Conservative Evangelical Culture Hardcover – April 1, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0226326795 ISBN-10: 0226326799 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 266 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226326799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226326795
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,904,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

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.

About the Author

Heather Hendershot is associate professor in the media studies department at Queens College, City University of New York. She is the author of Saturday 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.

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David S Hills on June 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Heather Hendershot does a wonderful job of reviewing Christian conservative media culture and some of what propels it. Her survey of Christian entertainment feels plausible enough that her conclusions are not unreasonable. However, I found her discussion of Evengelical attitudes toward sex incomplete and biased. The chapter, Holy Homosexuals, while interesting hardly belonged with the rest of the book. The other chapter dealing with sexuality only surveyed Focus on the Family publications. It ignored denominational publications - there must be some. I am still not convinced Focus on the Family is representative. These chapters felt like Evengelical books reviewing the beliefs of other religions: here are their beliefs and why they are wrong. Unfourtunately, the editor didn't strongly recommend removing or rewriting these chapters. It would have improved the insight and power of this book. Still, I enjoyed the book, and recommend it.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. Dixon on March 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was excited to read this book for a graduate class on Pop culture. However, the disjointed chapters and pages of flimsy text analysis that stretched to cover the glaring absence of solid ethnographic research resulted in yet another book that attempts map the evangelical landscape without setting foot on it. The book is a resounding disappointment when it could have been so cool. Hendershot admittedly has no interest in the users of the media products she examines and instead focuses on the producers--Dr. Dobson of Focus on the Family in particular. While being an outsider can give a striking vantage in surveying beliefs and practices, here it becomes a painful deficiency. Hendershot gives us nothing of the textured lives of the people who believe, commune, and consume within the broad sweep of the evangelical community. As such, her analysis is uneven and the history of politics, media and evangelical Christianity she hopes to illuminate through her research into contemporary Christianty and its products is confusing at best. Theory is only sporadically supplied--usually at a moment of self-determined crisis, and her selective reading of texts leaves us without any inkling of how people actually respond to and incorporate them into their daily practice. I'd suggest forgoing this book and hanging out with your local evangelical youth group for a more scintillating introduction to contemprorary Christian media and lifestyles.
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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on December 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book gets off to a pretty interesting start as Hendershot defines the world of evangelicals, who are much more numerous and integrated than fundamentalists, and describes their use of media to spread the word, either to each other or "non-born-agains." Unfortunately, this initially informative discourse soon becomes lost under extremely typical and unrewarding academic methods, in a book that claims to have interest for the general reader but has merely been constructed by a professor for the approval of a few other professors. (I can say this as an academic myself, coming from the same discipline as Hendershot.) All of the worst academic tendencies are here - excessive introductions and summaries, anemic cultural observations, name-dropping other obscure academics under a guise of corroborating evidence, disjointed chapters that likely originated as separate research projects, grand conclusions based on limited specific examples, and the obligatory application of obtuse theory (especially outdated feminism and cultural studies) to real-world phenomena.

The low point of the book is a suspiciously reference-deficient passage in chapter 3 in which Hendershot constructs the supposed inner thoughts of Christian teenage girls who have eating disorders, after personally interviewing not a single person in that demographic. This and the following chapter, dealing with gender and sexuality respectively, are loaded with preconceived notions that are propped up after the fact by a supposedly detached application of moribund and leaden bodies of theory, that would merely impress the limited number of other people who also write about those theories (a problem of epidemic proportions in academic writing).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't agree with some of the conclusions, but I felt the author made an effort to understand evangelicals. The sexual agenda in this book is the weakest part to me. I enjoyed the historical information on the film making of Irwin S. Moon. I agree with the advice that this book is good to check out from the library and read in contrast to a variety of other opinions about Christian media.
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