Sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read (as soon as the semester is out), is the new book by Jason Bivins, Religion of Fear. Jason is one of the Religion editors for the Religion in the Americas section of COMPASS, Blackwell publishers online journal. Anyway, here's a nice review of his book in CHOICE, just a preview until I can read and prepare a more substantial blog later. Also, here are ten questions for the author, with his answers.
Bivins, Jason C. Religion of fear: the politics of horror in conservative Evangelicalism. Oxford, 2008. 317p bibl index afp ISBN 0-19-534081-7, $27.95; ISBN 9780195340815, $27.95. Reviewed in 2009 may CHOICE.
Recent political engagements of conservative Christians of an Evangelical bent have led to success in political offices' public policy. Bivins (North Carolina State Univ.) explores factors and forces that lie underneath--and produce and sustain--the religious endeavors in political activities. The focus of his analysis is the creators of Evangelical products: the cartoons of Jack Chick and their militant social criticism of American culture; the denunciations of rap and rock music with their Evangelical demonology; the theatrical Hell Houses that portray the consequences of sin that await sinners; and the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, preoccupied with the rapture. Fear is the theme that Bivins finds in all these instances of the New Christian Right's activities, deriving from the overwhelming sense of being under siege by the forces of secularism and displaying the conviction that American history exhibits a decline from the Christian origins of the founders. Hence the New Christian Right adopts a combative stance that pervades Christian Evangelical thought and behavior. Well-written and clearly argued, Religion of Fear makes a major contribution to the study of religion in American culture. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above; general readers. -- L. J. Alderink, emeritus, Concordia College