New Books Network

In her book Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Evangelical Empire (Duke University Press, 2018), Dr. Jessica Johnson chronicles the rise and fall...

In her book Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Evangelical Empire (Duke University Press, 2018), Dr. Jessica Johnson chronicles the rise and fall of Mars Hill Church, an evangelical megachurch that started in Seattle in the 1990’s and spread to multiple locations across five states before collapsing in the mid-2010’s amidst testimonies of abuse, manipulation, and exploitation. Johnson skillfully weaves together multiple strands of theoretical analysis – affect theory, embodiment, biopower, and a critical interrogation of masculinity – as she explains how church members were affectively recruited into sexualized and militarized dynamics of power, particularly through the preaching of Pastor Mark Driscoll. The evocative phrase “biblical porn” refers to “the affective labor of mediating, branding, and embodying Driscoll’s teaching on ‘biblical’ masculinity, femininity, and sexuality as a social imaginary, marketing strategy, and biopolitical instrument” (p. 7). This deeply thought-provoking book will be useful for readers who want to deepen their understanding of masculinity and authoritarianism not only in evangelical contexts, but in American society more broadly.


Dannah Dennis is an anthropologist currently working as a Teaching Fellow at New York University Shanghai. You can find her on Twitter @dannahdennis.