Homespun Gospel: The Triumph of Sentimentality in Contemporary American Evangelicalism
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Oxford University Press / 2013 / Hardcover

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Homespun Gospel: The Triumph of Sentimentality in Contemporary American Evangelicalism

Oxford University Press / 2013 / Hardcover

In Stock
Stock No: WW988983

Product Description

* Are evangelicals using sentimentality to establish authority in the public sphere? Noting the frequent use of saccharine prose in Christian literature, Brenneman demonstrates how this focus may be effective in achieving individual conversions. But ultimately he believes it also impedes the ability to bring about the larger social changes evangelicals seek. 208 pages, hardcover from Oxford University.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 208
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 9.25 X 6.13 (inches)
ISBN: 0199988986
ISBN-13: 9780199988983

Publisher's Description

In popular evangelical literature, God is loving and friendly, described in heartfelt, often saccharine language that evokes nostalgia, comfortable domesticity, and familial love. This emotional style has been widely adopted by the writers most popular among American evangelicals, including such celebrity pastors as Max Lucado, Rick Warren, and Joel Osteen. Todd M. Brenneman provides groundbreaking insight into the phenomenon of evangelical sentimentality: an emotional appeal to readers' feelings about familial relationships, which can in turn be used as the basis for a relationship with God.

Brenneman shows how evangelicals use tropes of God as father, human beings as children, and nostalgia for an imagined idyllic home life to provide alternate sources of social authority, intended to help evangelicals survive a culture that is philosophically at odds with conservative Christianity. Yet Brenneman also demonstrates that the sentimental focus on individual emotion and experience can undermine the evangelical agenda. Sentimentality is an effective means of achieving individual conversions, but it also promotes a narcissism that blinds evangelicals to larger social forces and impedes their ability to bring about the change they seek.

Homespun Gospel offers a compelling perspective on an unexplored but vital aspect of American evangelical identity.

Author Bio

Todd M. Brenneman is Assistant Professor of Christian History at Faulkner University in Montgomery, AL. He earned his Ph.D. at Florida State University. His research interests include religion in the United States, evangelicalism, the history of Christianity, and religion and children.

Editorial Reviews

"Brenneman's work fills a gap...little [scholarly attention] had been paid to the pastorpurveyors of popular 'inspiration' and therapeutic advice that form such a large part of evangelical culture itself. Brenneman provides a solid analysis establishing the way that this discourse naturalizes the sentimentalist sensibility that shapes a dominant American
evangelical way of understanding self, cosmos, and the parameters of legitimate political agency."--The Journal of American Culture

"Homespun Gospel is an insightful work that encourages us to rethink, and re-feel, evangelicalism. It should stimulate and provoke a great many conversations to come."--Sociology of Religion

"Homespun Gospel is a nuanced and thought-provoking work... Recommended."--CHOICE

"Homespun Gospel could very well launch a broad reinterpretation of contemporary evangelicalism . The genius of Brenneman's book is in reexamining old, familiar scenes through freshly adjusted lenses." --Christianity Today

"Homespun Gospel shows that the pulse of American evangelicalism resides, appropriately, in the heart. Brenneman skillfully moves evangelical studies away from beliefs and politics before revealing how sentimentality informs those spheres, too." --Steven P. Miller, author of Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South

"Why read this book? Because it redirects our search for the soul of evangelical politics from the preacher-politicians who dominate the media to those preacher-authors who claim no political involvement at all, and whose books, Brenneman argues, foster a culture of simplicity, dull the evangelical intellect, legitimate narcissism, and shape the evangelical 'mind.' A provocative read to say the least!" --Richard T. Hughes, author of Myths America Lives By

"Homespun Gospel provides an insightful analysis of well-known, but seldom studied figures of contemporary evangelicalism. Brenneman's argument that evangelicalism can best be understood through the lens of sentimentality is both provocative and compelling. Brenneman challenges readers to grapple with evangelicalism on different terms and makes a great contribution to the study of this complicated religious movement." --Lynn S. Neal, author of Romancing God: Evangelical Women and Inspirational Fiction

Author/Artist Review

Author: Todd M. Brenneman
Located in: Montgomery, AL
Submitted: December 10, 2014

    Tell us a little about yourself.  I am an assistant professor of Christian history at Faulkner University. I have my Ph.D. from Florida State University in American religious history. I have a wonderful wife and daughter who encourage me in everything I do.

    What was your motivation behind this project?  A lot of the focus on works on evangelicalism focus on beliefs and politics. People who don't fit that dynamic are often ignored. I also saw how successful people like Max Lucado and Rick Warren were but not much attention had been paid to them, outside of a few really good studies.

    What do you hope folks will gain from this project?  I hope people who read the work will step back and consider how much of their personal faith is shaped by culture and how much is shaped by scripture. I think in Christianity we have an uneasy relationship with culture and sometimes we adopt certain practices or approaches that might not fit in with scriptural ideas.

    Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists?  Academically I really enjoy Randall Balmer's work, John Fea's work, and Amanda Porterfield's work. Spiritually, I am a big fan of Philip Yancey and Tim Keller. I think both of those authors really try to encourage the intellectual side of faith.

    Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know:  Too often we think of our faith as either intellectual or emotional when it is to be a balance a both. Especially in our current culture, we need to step back sometimes and make sure we aren't getting those things out of balance.

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