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Defending the Faith: Easter Sermon Reaction to Pop Culture Discourses

David M. Haskell, Kenneth Paradis and Stephanie Burgoyne
Review of Religious Research
Vol. 50, No. 2 (Dec., 2008), pp. 139-156
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20447558
Page Count: 18
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Defending the Faith: Easter Sermon Reaction to Pop Culture Discourses
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Abstract

In the weeks leading up to Easter 2006, several books on Canada's bestseller's list questioned traditional Christian beliefs surrounding the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Through a textual analysis of a random sample of Easter Sunday sermons, this study seeks to determine whether Canadian clergy chose to respond to the challenges raised by these contradicting pop culture voices. Secondarily, this study explores the presence of biblical content and generic pop culture content in the sermons in order to determine whether clergy in certain denominations are predisposed to privilege one of the two over the other. Our analysis found 38% of the sermons contained one or more references to popular culture. Works of pop culture that featured unorthodox accounts of Jesus' death and resurrection were cited most often. While liberal Protestant clergy and conservative clergy (i.e. evangelicals and Catholics) referenced and condemned these unorthodox works in almost equal measure, liberal clergy were twice as likely as conservative to cite pop culture in their sermons. Conversely, the sermons of conservative Protestant clergy (and to a lesser extent Catholic clergy) relied most heavily on quotation and exposition of sacred text for their content. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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