Holy Mavericks

Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace

Shayne Lee
Phillip Luke Sinitiere
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Holy Mavericks
    Book Description:

    Joel Osteen, Paula White, T. D. Jakes, Rick Warren, and Brian McLaren pastor some the largest churches in the nation, lead vast spiritual networks, write best-selling books, and are among the most influential preachers in American Protestantism today. Spurred by the phenomenal appeal of these religious innovators, sociologist Shayne Lee and historian Phillip Luke Sinitiere investigate how they operate and how their style of religious expression fits into America's cultural landscape. Drawing from the theory of religious economy, the authors offer new perspectives on evangelical leadership and key insights into why some religious movements thrive while others decline.Holy Mavericks provides a useful overview of contemporary evangelicalism while emphasizing the importance of "supply-side thinking" in understanding shifts in American religion. It reveals how the Christian world hosts a culture of celebrity very similar to the secular realm, particularly in terms of marketing, branding, and publicity. Holy Mavericks reaffirms that religion is always in conversation with the larger society in which it is embedded, and that it is imperative to understand how those religious suppliers who are able to change with the times will outlast those who are not.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-5345-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    On March 12, 2006, the revivalist Billy Graham spoke in New Orleans as part of his Celebration of Hope evangelistic crusade. Graham came out of retirement to encourage New Orleans residents during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one of the greatest natural disasters in American history. People packed the New Orleans Arena in record numbers as thousands more went to an overflow area to watch a videocast of Celebration of Hope. Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea, longtime members of the Billy Graham team, warmed up the crowd with a few songs. A captive audience turned out to hear this...

  5. 1 Evangelical Innovators
    (pp. 11-24)

    Abraham Cahan’s classic novelThe Rise of David Levinskyillustrates that some religions have been more successful than others at changing with the times. Cahan’s loosely autobiographical narrative depicts a Russian Jew adjusting to a new American setting at the turn of the twentieth century. In the epigraph that opens this chapter, the protagonist contemplates how difficult it is for Orthodox Jews to retain distinctive elements of their faith and tradition while attempting to fit in with American society (Cahan 1917: 110). Cahan’s contrast of traditional Judaism to the flexible Christianity he observed in his new American environs alludes to...

  6. 2 The Smiling Preacher: Joel Osteen and the Happy Church
    (pp. 25-52)

    On Saturday, October 15, 2006, the Society for the Performing Arts hosted the Houston debut of José Porcel and his flamenco dance troupe from Seville, Spain. The audience responded to the opening showcase with calm and decorum appropriate for Jones Hall, Houston’s premier venue for artistic events. But as the concert continued, the passion and technique of the flamenco dance genre gradually provoked more enthusiasm from the audience. By the show’s end, the two-hour explosion of vibrant colors, tantalizing rhythms, and sensual choreography transformed an audience of well-dressed urban sophisticates into a rowdy mass of patrons screaming for more. The...

  7. 3 Great Jazz: T.D. Jakes and the New Black Church
    (pp. 53-76)

    In his candid autobiography, jazz legend Miles Davis chided heir apparent Wynton Marsalis for playing an “old dead European” genre of music better known as classical. Davis believed that anyone through rigorous practice could master Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, while only special musicians could create in the moment to play jazz. He rendered classical music stagnant, while he saw each melody of jazz as a mélange of talent, ingenuity, and life experience. Davis emphasized that with jazz, one cannot play a song the same way twice—each opportunity involves pairing musical prowess with the demands of the situation to produce something...

  8. 4 A New Kind of Christian: Brian McLaren and the Emerging Church
    (pp. 77-106)

    In the late 1940s, Thomas Kuhn, an energetic graduate student in theoretical physics, taught an experimental undergraduate course on the history of science. While preparing for the course, Kuhn studied longstanding scientific theories that newer discoveries later disconfirmed and noticed that many of the leading scientists did not accept the new discoveries but rather feverishly defended the older theories. This research sparked his groundbreaking work,The Structure of Scientific Revolutions(1962), in which he demonstrates that scientific advancement does not come from the gradual accumulation of new facts as commonly taught but from political struggles in which new paradigms replaced...

  9. 5 Messed-Up Mississippi Girl: Paula White and the Imperfect Church
    (pp. 107-128)

    The New Testament mentions that it is healthy for people to confess their sins to others (James 5:16). Divulging frailties and struggles to a trusted friend or family member is one thing, but publicly declaring shortcomings is a riskier endeavor. It is hard to forget televangelist Jimmy Swaggart’s television confession, “I have sinned against God,” after his sexual dalliance with prostitutes in the 1980s. Similarly, in the last year of a presidency laden with sexual scandals, Bill Clinton chose Willow Creek, the largest congregation in Illinois, for the site of a public dialogue with its pastor, Bill Hybels. It was...

  10. 6 Surfing Spiritual Waves: Rick Warren and the Purpose-Driven Church
    (pp. 129-148)

    It was an ironic twist of fate that Brian Nichols’s and Ashley Smith’s paths crossed in March 2005 in an apartment complex in Duluth, Georgia. Smith, a widow and mother fighting addictions to speed, marijuana, Xanax, and methamphetamines, had just moved to her apartment in Duluth earlier that week. Nichols fled there to elude the federal and state authorities. Their courses converged for a dramatic early Saturday morning encounter that would affect the rest of their lives.

    Nichols became the target of the largest manhunt in Georgia history only hours before meeting the twenty-six-year-old Ashley Smith. On trial for the...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 149-158)

    Organizers claim that the Technology Entertainment Design (TED) event is like no other. Each year, TED invites more than a thousand leaders from various industries to Monterey, California, for “four days of learning, laughter, and inspiration,” as stated on its website. Where else could a person connect with a politician like Al Gore, a movie star like Meg Ryan, a rock music icon like Peter Gabriel, and an international motivational speaker like Tony Robbins all in one day? Among the list of actors, politicians, scientists, environmentalists, and corporate executives speaking at the conference in 2006 were Rick Warren and an...

  12. Bibliographic Essay: Theory of Religious Economy
    (pp. 159-176)

    Kurt Cobain and his rock band Nirvana exploded onto the music scene in the early 1990s with unprocessed music and deep, dark lyrics that resonated with millions of American contemporaries. Similarly, by appealing to the eclectic tastes and desires of many Americans, Jewish reggae hip-hop artist Matisyahu has the ear of today’s alienated, media-savvy, market-saturated individuals. Few financial wizards capture the public’s attention like television host and author Suze Orman. With long-running Emmy Award–winning cartoons likeDuck TalesandKim Possible, and newer shows likeThat’s So RavenandHannah Montana, the Disney Channel captivates millions of kids nationwide....

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 177-192)
  14. Index
    (pp. 193-198)
  15. About the Authors
    (pp. 199-199)