Selling Jesus through Popular Culture

Edited by Shirley R. Steinberg; Joe L. Kincheloe

First Edition • February 10, 2009 • pages

Print ISBN: 9780813344058 • $40.00 USD$56.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780786744176 • $25.99 USD$28.99 CAN

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For more than two thousand years Christian expansion and proselytizing was couched in terms of “defending the faith.” Until recently in the United States, much of that defense came in the form of reactions against the “liberal” influences channeled through big-corporate media such as popular music, Hollywood movies, and network and cable television. But the election of Ronald Reagan as a Hollywood President introduced Christian America to the tools of advertising and multimedia appeals to children and youth to win new believers to God’s armies.

Christotainment examines how Christian fundamentalism has realigned its armies to combat threats against it by employing the forces it once considered its chief enemies: the entertainment media, including movies, television, music, cartoons, theme parks, video games, and books. Invited contributors discuss the critical theoretical frameworks of top-selling devices within Christian pop culture and the appeal to masses of American souls through the blessed marriage of corporatism and the quest for pleasure.

Shirley R. Steinberg is an associate professor at McGill University in Montreal and the director of the Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy. She is the founding editor of Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education, and her numerous books include Media Literacy (with Donaldo Macedo); the award-winning Encyclopedia of Contemporary Youth Culture (with Priya Parmar and Birgit Richard); and Kinderculture and The Miseducation of the West (with Joe L. Kincheloe).
The late Joe L. Kincheloe was the Canada Research Chair of Critical Pedagogy at McGill University in Montreal and the founder of the Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy. His books include Teachers as Researchers, City Kids, Kinderculture, and the Gustavus Myers Human Rights award–winning Measured Lies.

Preface: Joining Team Christ: On the Path to Christotainment, Shirley R. Steinberg

1. Selling a New and Improved Jesus: Christotainment and the Power of Political Fundamentalism, Joe L. Kincheloe

2. Christian Soldier Jesus: The Intolerant Savior and the Political Fundamentalist Media Empire, Joe L. Kincheloe

3. Onward Christian Drivers: Theocratic Nationalism and the Cultural Politics of “NASCAR Nation,” Joshua I. Newman and Michael D. Giardina

4. The Gospel According to Mel Gibson: Critical Reflections on The Passion of the Christ, Rhonda Hammer and Douglas Kellner

5. Convertoons? VeggieTales for Young Souls, Michael Hoeschsmann

6. Screening Jesus: Hollywood and Christonormativity, Shirley R. Steinberg

7. Battle for the Toy Box: Christogimmicks and Christian Consumer Culture, Christine M. Quail

8. Faith Talking Toys and Other Youth Purity Makers, Lisa M. Trimble

9. The Stillborn Twin: The Christian Lifestyle Beats with the Heart of Rock ’n’ Roll, Philip M. Anderson

10. Crossover Christian Rock and the Music Industry: Tendencies, Discourses, and Limitations, Silvia Giagnoni

11. Christotainment in Punk Rock: Complexities and Contradictions, Curry Stephenson Malott

About the Editors
About the Authors

“Christotainment is a thoroughly researched and highly disturbing account of the way fundamentalist Christian groups spread their doctrines using American media and popular culture. The book covers everything from the theocratic nationalism found in NASCAR and the anti-Semitism and sadomasochism permeating Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ” to what we might describe as the “Christianization” of toys, Rock ‘n Roll and Punk Rock. One cannot help but be alarmed by the book’s description of the increasingly widespread use of media to disseminate the social, cultural and political beliefs of various ultra-conservative religious organizations in America. The subtext of this superb book is that the power of the fundamentalist Christian media empires and the popularity of Christotainment pose a serious threat to American democratic institutions.”

—Arthur Asa Berger, Professor Emeritus, San Francisco State University

“Shoppertainment…retailtainment…edutainment…and now Christotainment! Here is a revealing and provocative look at the extent to which consumer culture has penetrated Christianity including NASCAR Nation, The Passion of Christ, Veggie Tales, Christotoys, and even Christian rock. An eye opener for anyone who harbors any doubt about the full extent of the commodification of our lives.”

—George Ritzer, University of Maryland, Distinguished University Professor

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