From Publishers Weekly
Arguing that West Virginia native T.D. Jakes "is the signpost for postdenominational Protestant America" for his "uncanny ability to blend the spiritual with the secular," Tulane University sociologist Lee offers an intriguing exploration of Jakes's popularity. His entrepreneurial spirit and multimedia approach have endeared him to millions, while his lavish lifestyle and focus on Christians' right to material prosperity continue to spark criticism. Lee avoids heavy jargon and effectively pares his study down to the essentials, making this an accessible portrait despite some occasionally awkward prose. His approach is generally well-balanced; he admires Jakes's journey up from poverty, his hard work and innovation, but believes his "strong embrace of capitalism, penchant for self-invention and reinvention, rugged individualism, and... insatiable appetite for success" reflect the darker side of the nation that made him a Christian celebrity. (Oct.)
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Jakes has risen from poverty in the mining towns of West Virginia to a multimillion--dollar faith industry based in Dallas, benefiting from the controversial trend toward prosperity religion. Lee, a professor of African studies, examines the rags-to-riches life of Jakes in the broader context of changes in how Americans view religion. Lee calls Jakes a postmodern preacher who seeks to combine godly wisdom with psychological insight on the human condition, capitalizing on an uncanny ability to touch on the modern-day ills at the heart of most Americans' spiritual struggles. Lee also explores the changes in Pentecostalism from an ascetic faith to one that preaches prosperity for the pastor and the congregants, a change that has provoked criticism from some quarters. Lee sees the rise of Jakes to a status comparable to that of Billy Graham, forging a following of all races and economic backgrounds, as symbolic of a trend toward the commodification of religion as more churches struggle to hold onto their flock in the face of secular appeals to wealth and therapeutic alternatives. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved