Shopping for God: How Christianity Went from in Your Heart to in Your Face

James B. Twitchell, Author . Simon & Schuster $26 (324p) ISBN 978-0-7432-9287-0

Twitchell (Branded Nation ) offers a provocative but uneven analysis of the nexus of consumerism and Christianity. Arguing that Americans live in a religious marketplace, where “religious sensation is... manufactured, branded, packaged, shipped out, and consumed,” he examines the cultural significance of marquee signs, the appeal and limitations of megachurches and the choreography of Franklin Graham's crusades. The most fascinating sections analyze the strengths and weaknesses of mainline denominations' print and television advertising campaigns. Twitchell helpfully contextualizes the marketing of religion in the larger story of American consumerism, and he intriguingly points out that some of our most important advertising gurus were the children of clergy. Although often incisive and insightful, Twitchell's analysis is marred by an annoyingly colloquial tone and an occasional ahistoricism. Although Twitchell is clearly familiar with other historical moments in which Christianity was marketed, he seems to imagine that in some bygone era, American religion was “private.” The claim that “The old-style celeb kept his religion to himself” overlooks the fact that many old-time celebs, such as Henry Ward Beecher, were preachers. Although he rehearses the history of the Great Awakening—when newspapers puffed revivalists—he suggests that religion's status as “big news” for journalists is a new development. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/23/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-7432-9288-7
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4165-4572-9
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