Donald Trump’s no outlier, but epitomizes the malignant heart and soul of contemporary American evangelicalism, and none of its historic attributes; they are a match made in heaven.
Both a timid, ignorant liberal media establishment and a cloistered, largely indifferent class of American academic drones—dwelling in what Mary Douglas might call the hallowed groves of Pentecostalism—have completely whiffed on the social, political, cultural, and theological origins of the revolution of disenchantment that carried an evangelical-inspired-and-infested Trump administration to power. Indeed, without evangelicalism: no obstructionist Religious-Right Republican Congress, no Donald Trump, no 600,000 (and rising) total Covid-19 deaths, no January 6th. White supremacists, the Alt-Right, the Proud Boys, and other extremists would still only malinger along the fringes of American society and politics.
In Paradise Joe’s, a rogue cultural sociologist demonstrates how evangelicalism came to occupy the ideological heart of American society and politics. He transforms what might have been a conventional academic case study into an entertaining, jargon-free tale of one small Christian college community, an account filled with memorable local and national characters, all the while gleaning from it the larger meaning and significance of evangelicalism in American life.
--Why has evangelicalism made a progressive, European-style social democracy—and universal health-care—a virtual impossibility?
--Why the corrosive distrust of government and science?
--Why the malingering legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, of legal and economic inequality?
--Why the persistent urban/rural antagonisms?
In sum, why are we so different from our closest European ancestors and kin?
Paradise Joe’s takes these and other daunting questions head on.
In a second extended bonus appendix for academicians, the author tacks his 95 theses of Paradise Joe’s onto the Wittenberg door of a deeply compromised American sociology of religion.
Observe here the crazy old aunt of evangelicalism getting dragged down from the attic and cast out into the open, exposed to the light of day for the first time.
Marshall Sahlins, who until his recent death was widely-regarded as our most distinguished living anthropologist (“one of the benefits of longevity” he once quipped) called Paradise Joe’s “A marvelous history . . . a marvelous ethnography . . . with moments of great hilarity.”