REDEMPTORAMA: Culture, Politics and the New Evangelicalism by Carol Flake

REDEMPTORAMA: Culture, Politics and the New Evangelicalism

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A lively, slapdash, honest-but-amateurish catalogue. To quote her publisher, Flake is ""a born-again insider and brilliant rock critic."" These dubious credentials (for the sort of analysis promised by the subtitle) appear in her residual nostalgia for simple, Southern Baptist days in Texas, and in her long digressions on Evangelical music. Flake can do pert journalistic sketches by the score--of the ""Super Savers"" (Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, Rex Humbard, Robert Schuller, et al.), of the 1980 Washington For Jesus rally, the PTL and 700 Clubs, the God-fearing sexism of Marabel Morgan, the book-banning crusade of Mel and Norma Gabler, the corporate piety of the Dallas Cowboys, and so forth. But when it comes to serious history or sociology, Flake just doesn't have the tools. She calls Dwight Moody ""the first great Super Saver,"" ignoring Charles Finney, not to mention George Whitefield. She defines civil religion absurdly as ""the inflamed patriotism that fuses the cross and the flag."" She claims that ""fundamentalist leaders"" (how many televangelists deserve that label?) built their power on ""Puritanism and revivalism"" (a bit like saying the rise of ITT is due to the Industrial Revolution and the profit motive). But even when she's just covering the religious scene, Flake has some deplorable lapses of taste: Bibles are ""perpetual blockbusters"" in the Christian book market; ""hard-nosed newsmen found themselves melting like communion wafers before the hearty charisma of the peripatetic pontiff."" Flake is at her best, not scoring easy points off reactionary preachers, but dealing with the left-wing Evangelicals she admires--Will Campbell, Jim Wallis, the Sojourners group. Yet even at her best she's no competition for Quebedeaux, Frady, or other seasoned observers of Evangelical life.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1984
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday