Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Evangelical Bubble

I just finished reading The Fall of the Evangelical Nation last night -- very interesting. As I was reading, I kept thinking that what it reminded me of was the housing bubble, "it" being the supposed success of evangelical churches, especially megachurches.

I love data and this book contains a lot of it: convincing (to me) survey data that suggests the evangelical movement isn't nearly as strong as it makes it out to be and is declining all the time.

One of the things that was most convincing to me was the section on child-rearing: that evangelicals tend to raise their children using a "strong-father" model, while most of the rest of the U.S. uses a "nurturant" model.

So the kind of God evangelicals worship is devalued by children raised in the nurturant model because they don't think of themselves as sinful or even as particularly disempowered. The leap of faith and the unquestioning obedience to biblical rules that evangelical faith rests on are also devalued -- replaced by questioning, self-scrutiny, logic, and reasoning...Parents are the first gods in our lives. When they say from our earliest memories, "You're right. It is more complicated," in response to our scrutiny of the rules, it's impossible to respect or love a God who would do less.

Maybe not impossible, but certainly far, far more difficult for a vast majority of people.

It's a fascinating book; if this kind of thing interests you, I highly recommend it.

Unlike Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which was dreadful.


Lorin said...

Interesting thought. I think, though, that there may be just as many people who are attracted to the simplicity of following their lives according to strict rules without the need to question from where or whom those rules are coming.

LKT said...

After reading this book, I'm not as sure that this is true. The thing about this book is that it strongly supported the notion that there are a ton of people (yes, I know that's not very exact) calling themselves "evangelical" who don't actually follow the strict rules of evangelicalism. The number of people we automatically think of when we think of the word "evangelical" is hyperinflated compared to the reality. At least as Wicker describes it. She was very persuasive!

Lorin said...

Well, I'll buy that. I called myself Catholic for years after I stopped caring what the Pope had to say.

Lorin said...

Did you hear that the P&P&Z guy has a deal for a new book - Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Not kidding.