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TitleBy What Authority? The Rise of Personality Cults in American Christianity.
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- ISBN 0-06-066724-9 >$11.95

Richard Quebedeaux, well known as a keen
observer of the trends in American religion,
has now written a probing, insightful volume
on the relationship between celebrity-dom and
religious authority. Quebedeaux relates the
American love of charisma and our need for
heroes to the success of the "electronic church."
He also analyzes the impact of the religious
personality cults on American culture. He offers
insight into such critical issues as: What forms
will authority take in a culture where formal/
traditional st.ructures have failed? • Where are

the roots of America's love of charisma and
"instantism"? • By what authority do sports
heroes, movie stars, political figures, TV
evangelists, and musicians instruct the masses
of religious people? • Why do celebrities appear
to be the new spiritual leaders in America?

Popular religion in America is strongly in­
fluenced by the mass media, which confirm
and strengthen the values the viewing, listen­
ing, and reading public already hold dear.
Quebedeaux examines the role of celebrities
in communicating packaged, how-to religion
to bored and anxiety-ridden people; he shows
how their personal appeal convinces the public

that what is being offered will change their
lives and make them happy and successful.

Considering historical, sociological, and

biblical perspectives, this <;utting-edge work
examines the nature of true religious authority,
the decline of respect for rationally ordered
authority, and the present "reign of super­
ficiality" in modern American religion. By What
Authority is a thorough study of the thought
and actions of popular religious leaders in
America and the historical traditions out of
which they have arisen, in order to get at the
real significance of "popular religion."

(continued on back flap)


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