In America's Pacific Northwest a group of conservative Protestants have been conducting a new experiment in cultural transformation. Dissatisfied with what they see as the clumsy political engagement and vapid literary and artistic culture of mainstream Evangelicals, these Christian Reconstructionists have deployed an altogether different set of strategies for the long game, fueled by their Calvinist theology and much-more-hopeful apocalypse.
In Survival and Resistance in Evangelical America: Christian Reconstruction in the Pacific Northwest (Oxford UP, 2021), Crawford Gribben presents a hybrid study of historical, theological, literary, and anthropological analysis of this variant of Evangelical counter-culture. Gribben paints a rich and detailed portrait of this loosely banded, sometimes coordinated migration to the "American redoubt." This migration has led, in part, to the establishment of a network of communities and institutions that include churches, a liberal arts college, a publishing house, and an ambitious media strategy that has already had an outsize impact.
From their outpost in Idaho and prompted by their revised postmillennial eschatology, these Christian conservatives are preparing to survive the collapse American society and to reconstruct a godly society that will usher in the Kingdom of Christ. For this group of born-again Protestants, their apocalyptic strategy is precisely to be left behind.
Ryan David Shelton (@ryoldfashioned) is a social historian of British and American Protestantism and a PhD researcher at Queen’s University Belfast.