An Election

The CMRC seminar took some time to reflect and decompress following the 2020 presidential election. Below are some of the thoughts we had and the topics we cannot let go of yet.

The religious coding of Trump’s resistance to his electoral loss—a blend of prophecy, prosperity, and metaphysical discourses—is overwhelming for a religion scholar. Anthea Butler describes what’s going on with the Prosperity Gospel slogan “name it and claim it.” Jeff Sharlet, meanwhile, has chronicled a shift in emphasis from the Prosperity Gospel of 2016 to the gnosticism of 2020. The lawsuits, the lies, the shared sense of truth—these are all toward the creation of a new community of faith, prepared to operate in the catacombs of Bidenism, should it come to pass. This is serious stuff; gnosticism-infused early Christianity brought down the Roman Empire.

–– Nathan Schneider

I’ve been thinking about how Jill Biden is playing dual roles as future first lady – she is both a symbol of independence and success through maintaining her career as an educator, but also highlighting the supportive role women often play. I’ve thought a lot about her straddling these expectations, roles, and the gender constructs they intersect with. I recently read this article and it was helpful to think with, especially when considering the way this new duality is mediated. 

–– Samira Rajabi

I recently finished, and highly recommend, Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s book Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a NationDaniel José Camacho has a nice review of the book here, which summarizes many of the book’s key arguments about the confluence of race, gender, and politics within [American] evangelicalism. Camacho also questions the extent to which the militant hypermasculinity described by Kobes Du Mez is limited to white evangelicals.    

–– Art Bamford

I’m convinced there is a huge agenda ahead for those of us interested in media and religion.  We need to be able to address several discourses:  First, while there has been quite a bit of journalistic discourse about religion in the election, and to an extent it has been an improvement over past election cycles,  it could be much better.  Second, and feeding into that, the media are now the context where religion is defined and circulated in American culture.  This is for a couple of reasons.  One is the overall fact of hypermediation or deep mediatization.  Mediation is the definitive context today.  But it is also that religion has done this to itself.  In particular, the rise of the Evangelical movement and of Evangelical politics has both been largely a media phenomenon and an ongoing project of erasing whatever boundary there might have been between “private” and “public”  faith. They, and conservative Catholics, have wanted it to be all “public” and about the public prosecution of political projects.  Finally, there is the issue Nathan raised and Debbie and I endorsed in our conversation, that we need to think about how entirely new media-logical forms and circulations of “the religious” going forward.

–– Stewart Hoover