Joel Osteen, Paula White, T. D. Jakes, Rick Warren, and Brian McLaren pastor some the largest churches in the nation, lead vast spiritual networks, write best-selling books, and are among the most influential preachers in American Protestantism today. Spurred by the phenomenal appeal of these religious innovators, sociologist Shayne Lee and historian Phillip Luke Sinitiere investigate how they operate and how their style of religious expression fits into America’s cultural landscape. Drawing from the theory of religious economy, the authors offer new perspectives on evangelical leadership and key insights into why some religious movements thrive while others decline.
Holy Mavericks provides a useful overview of contemporary evangelicalism while emphasizing the importance of "supply-side thinking" in understanding shifts in American religion. It reveals how the Christian world hosts a culture of celebrity very similar to the secular realm, particularly in terms of marketing, branding, and publicity. Holy Mavericks reaffirms that religion is always in conversation with the larger society in which it is embedded, and that it is imperative to understand how those religious suppliers who are able to change with the times will outlast those who are not.
"These evangelical innovators are household names, thanks in large part to their multimedia know-how, but they preach a conservative message—often regarded as antiquated. Most important, their ministries supply existential fulfillment to existential demands. This book (especially the bibliographic essay "Theory of Religious Economy") will most appeal to scholars and students. However, curious readers will enjoy it as well. Highly recommended."
"Introduces us to some of the most prominent religious innovators in the United States today—‘savvy spiritual suppliers,’ as the authors say—who are skilled at recalibrating their messages and ministries to fit particular audiences. Religious scholars will welcome the attention given to cultural themes in the analysis, and the emphasis on more than just individual choice; general readers will be enthralled by the creativity of the producers but also appalled at the captivity of religious faith to contemporary culture."
—Wade Clark Roof, University of California at Santa Barbara
"A fascinating journey into the worlds of five of the most influential religious leaders in the United States. Holy Mavericks provides an open window to view change both in American religion and American culture. In reading this book, you will find that these five religious giants do not practice old time religion, and yet, ironically, they do. Holy Mavericks shows us how."
—Michael O. Emerson, co-author of People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States
"Takes us beyond the scandal-mongering and speculation so common in popular media coverage of religion to provide a deeper level of insight into some of the most influential ministries in the spiritual marketplace of American religion today. Combining keen sociological analysis with crucial historical contextualization, Lee and Sinitiere explain what have been the keys to the relative successes of these ministries' leaders as individuals willing to ‘do business’ outside of traditional ministerial boundaries in a variety of ways. . . . A must-read for those seeking to understand this intersection of faith, commerce, and politics."
—Milmon F. Harrison, author of Righteous Riches: The Word of Faith Movement in Contemporary African American Religion
“The new book Holy Mavericks casts a wide net in its study of evangelical innovators . . . Co-authors Shayne Lee and Phillip Luke Sinitiere see [them] as helping to create the competition and vitality of America’s religious marketplace.”