Good Reads: Evangelicals and Popular Culture

Evangelical Christians and Popular Culture: Pop Goes the Gospel (3 volumes), edited by Robert Woods, Foreword by Mark Noll, was released in January 2013 by Praeger Publishing Company. Here is a direct link to the collection:

The three volumes provide additional support for the ways American evangelicalism in general, and evangelicals and popular culture in particular, are becoming subjects of serious academic study inside and outside the academy and beyond only those who identify with it as insiders. The 57 authors across three volumes and 54 chapters represent nearly 50 institutions of higher learning, both public and private. The authors teach and write in the areas of history, English, theology, music, psychology, sociology, new media, journalism, communication and media studies, rhetoric and cultural studies, film and television studies, advertising and public relations. They explore the following intersections between evangelicals and popular culture:

• how evangelicals produce traditional and non-traditional forms of popular culture;

• how evangelicals are portrayed in popular culture created by non-evangelicals;

• how evangelicals are viewed by the wider public/mainstream media/press;

• how evangelicals and their faith have shaped and been shaped by popular culture;

• how evangelical critiques can be brought to bear on popular culture; and

• how evangelicals use, or make use of, popular culture for spiritual/religious purposes.

Of special interest to this network's members are several chapters in volume one dealing with new media. In chapter 17, Heidi Campbell (this site's director) explores the rise of evangelical engagement with the Internet and the range of reactions voiced by evangelicals towards this media technology. Attention is specifically given to the rise of e-vangelism as an example of the evangelicals’ tradition of appropriating media within a distinctive frame for specific religious outcomes. In chapter 18, Mara Einstein provides a unique view of GodTube, exploring its “missed opportunities” despite its early successes. In chapter 19, Samuel Ebersole provides an indepth analysis of evangelicals’ engagement with and use of social media to create online communities and interactive live events for religious purposes. It also addresses some of the promises and pitfalls that emerge when a subculture based on tradition adopts new digital technology. Finally, in chapter 20, renowned communication and media scholar Clifford G. Christians offers several evangelical perspectives of technology, from the instrumental view to more interactive, dialogic views. His chapter offers a unique understanding of the philosophical and theological systems that drive evangelicals’ consumption, creation, and critique of new media.