Date of Award

5-2010

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

Laura Lindenfeld

Second Committee Member

Kristin Langellier

Third Committee Member

Nathan Stormer

Abstract

Among the many and diverse Christian movements that exist in the contemporary U.S. are two opposed groups: Conservative Christianity and Progressive Christianity. Individuals from various evangelical denominations comprise these movements which thus cut across specific church affiliations. Both movements have the stated goal of promoting authentic Christian lives pursuing God. Both movements make use of the Christian Bible as the authoritative text in determining what exactly the "authentic Christian life" is. That said, there are marked irreconcilable differences. The similarities of and differences between these movements provide an interesting site of critical analysis. Through close textual analysis and ideological criticism of two Christian texts, The 700 Club and God's Politics (Wallis, 2005), this thesis explores how the Conservative Christian movement and Progressive Christian movement both enact hegemonic masculine ideology, albeit in different ways. In addition, this thesis attempts to understand how God's Politics (Wallis, 2005) as a Progressive Christian text, positions itself in response to Conservative Christianity. I examine how the text subverts and/or affirms the ideology of Conservative Christianity. Approaching this study from a critical perspective, I argue that The 700 Club seeks to erase the fractured nature of the U.S. Christian church and enacts white hegemonic masculinity by constructing Pat Robertson as a prophetic spiritual authority. Second, I argue that God's Politics embraces the fissured and diverse nature of the Christian church in the U.S. and attempts to subvert the ideology of the Christian Right. Wallis does so by rearticulating a Christian political agenda and refocusing on issues such as poverty and social justice. While God's Politics does this, it also reiterates hegemonic tropes present within Conservative Christianity. Falling into ideological traps of Conservative Christianity undermines Wallis's stated goal of transcending partisan politics and bad theology.

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