Monday, September 9, 2013

Memes Christian Culture Likes

Evangelical Christian culture has an obsession with being “relevant.” This obsession has led to an infatuation with new media and technology, and especially social media. As Evangelical Christian culture has put itself more and more in the spotlight through new media, groups with differing views have sought to use the same media to explore and challenge the legitimacy of the claims made by Evangelical Christians. One prominent site that engages in a critique of Evangelical Christian culture is the blog (and attendant facebook page) entitled “Stuff Christian Culture Likes”, run by Stephanie Drury.

While the bulk of Drury’s critique seems to be levied at megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll and his followers, Drury also engages larger social questions, such as “how should religion and politics interact?”, “what would be an appropriate Christian response to gay marriage?” and other questions such as these that traverse the notoriously shaky ground where faith and politics intersect. Given that religious beliefs are crucial to making political calculations for a significant portion of the U.S. population,[1] this case study will focus on a sampling of memes from the blog and facebook page for, “Stuff Christian Culture Likes” that address the intersection of faith and politics.

I have chosen to sample from both the blog and the facebook page because Drury sets the tone for her project strategically, selecting items that she sees—as an Evangelical pastor’s daughter—as being indicative of larger belief sets that are strongly valued and adhered to within conservative Evangelical Christianity. While posts on the blog are context rich, posts on the facebook account tend to have less explanation and therefore call for more audience interaction. Attending to Drury’s posts will provide a focus on her project which, launched exclusively through new media, forwards a more progressive, inclusive Christian mindset by questioning aspects of Christian culture that are often taken for granted by its adherents.

In order to accomplish this, I propose to search Drury’s blog and facebook page for three to five memes that contain both political and religious content. In analyzing these memes, the following questions will be addressed: first, what specific aspect of Christian culture is being criticized or questioned; second, what response is the creator of the meme attempting to invoke; and finally, what contribution does this meme make toward our understanding of the interaction between Evangelical Christianity and American political culture? Answering these questions will necessarily involve analysis of the image and text of the meme, as well as the larger context in which it is used. By analyzing these kinds of memes, I hope to begin to address the larger question of how new media creates space for critical reflection regarding faith and civic engagement, as well as how effective these attempts are at reaching those they critique.

[1] Jansen, J. 2011. “The civic and community engagement of religiously active Americans.” Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

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