The Faithful Citizen
Popular Christian Media and Gendered Civic Identities
Publication Year: 2010
For decades, American popular media have instructed audiences about their roles and significance in the public sphere. In The Faithful Citizen, rhetorical critic Kristy Maddux argues that popular Christian media not only communicate avenues for civic engagement but do so in profoundly gendered terms. Her detailed interrogation of popular Christian movies, books, and television shows—the Left Behind series, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, Amazing Grace, 7th Heaven, and the blockbuster The Da Vinci Code—exposes five competing models of how Christians should behave in the civic sphere as their gendered selves. What emerges is a typology that insightfully reveals how these varying faith-based models of engagement uniquely shape public discourse and influence the larger picture of contemporary politics.
Published by: Baylor University Press
Table of Contents
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My maternal grandmother, who tried to teach me manners, would surely be scandalized to know that I have written a book about religion, politics, and gender. Raised the daughter of Danish immigrants in Lincoln, Nebraska, my grandmother learned to put aside such controversial topics so that she could blend into the community, and she encouraged me to do the same. ...
1 Christian Media, Gender, and Civic Participation
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If you listened to one set of doomsayers at the close of the twentieth century, it seemed that the once-robust American tradition of civic participation had atrophied. Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone” thesis sounded the alarm: Americans had ceased to volunteer, support charities, and join community organizations—at least at levels rivaling previous generations.1 ...
2 Genteel Masculinity, the Prophetic Posture, and Legislative Politics
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Following the 2004 election, journalistic narratives made religious influence in electoral politics seem simple: Christian beliefs translate naturally into political platforms that translate naturally into electoral votes. The remarkable backlash that greeted the “values voters” and their evangelical leaders ...
3 Violence, Suffering, and Feminine Submission
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In April 2004, Time magazine’s Holy Week cover story posed the question that Christians have disputed for centuries: “Why did Jesus die?” Ever an appropriate question in the days approaching Easter, it was especially salient that spring amidst The Passion of the Christ’s blockbuster cinematic run. ...
4 Brutish Masculinity and the War on Evil
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As the year 2000 approached, Americans succumbed to millennial fever. Whether the new millennium would technically dawn at the advent of 2000 or 2001, Americans could not deny that they were possibly facing the end of civilization or the beginning of a new era in human history. The Y2K computer glitch was just one popular framework ...
5 Feminine Charity, Secular Salvation, and Social Reform
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It is surely no more than coincidence that the television family drama 7th Heaven premiered in 1996, the same year that the U.S. Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. Yet this coincidence is remarkable. Dismantling the federal welfare bureaucracy and making it harder for families to acquire welfare benefits ...
6 Biology, Heterosexuality, and the Privatization of Faithfulness
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In their varied ways, Amazing Grace, The Passion of the Christ, Left Behind, and 7th Heaven all depict faithful Christians engaged in the public lives of their communities. These Christians participate in a democratic legislative process, they gather in the public square to witness the public execution of a perceived criminal, they mobilize a global army, and they contribute ...
7 The Limits and Possibilities of Faith-Based Civic Participation
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The Christian-themed media texts popular at the turn of the twenty-first century—not only Left Behind, 7th Heaven, The Passion of the Christ, The Da Vinci Code, and Amazing Grace, but also the dozens of other books, films, and television shows produced in that time period—earned their places in the national consciousness because ...
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Page Count: 282
Publication Year: 2010