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S4:E3 Jesus and John Wayne

S4:E3 Jesus and John Wayne

How the myth of the cowboy encouraged Christians to vote for Donald Trump and changed Christian masculinity

What do you think of when you picture a cowboy? A rugged, handsome individual? A lover? Someone who doesn’t need the government’s help? Evangelicalism has long pushed this as the ideal model for the Christian man. What is the impact of that set of ideas?

John Wayne and Ronald Reagan have both become popular figures in American men’s ministries. Their names come up often, they both played cowboys in Hollywood. But they are unlikely heroes. Both men were divorced. Wayne wasn’t an evangelical, and Reagan had once been a democrat. But both men were instrumental in whipping up anti-communist sentiment in the US, building credibility with a religion focused on individualism.

You can draw a line from them straight to former president Donald J. Trump. All three had questionable public morals but were seen as strong, uncompromising figures. They are seen in many men’s books as the epitome of masculinity. That idea, though, comes in contrast with Jesus’ own words about turning the other cheek, forgiving our enemies, and loving our enemies.

In this episode, Chris talks with Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of “Jesus and John Wayne: How Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation“.

Discussion Questions

  • What do you think of when you picture a cowboy?
  • How have you heard cowboys, soldiers, and fighters discussed in evangelical circles?
  • What books have you read that stressed the importance of tough men?
  • What do you picture when you think of a Christian man? How has that been shaped?
  • What do you picture when you think of a Christian woman? How has that been shaped?
  • What is your idea of Jesus like? Is He a warrior, a gentle savior, or both?
  • Can you see the link between the cowboy image and Donald Trump?
S3:E8 What is the Difference Between Communism and Socialism?

S3:E8 What is the Difference Between Communism and Socialism?

What is the difference between communism and socialism? They get used interchangeably in our culture, but do they really mean the same thing?

In this episode, we’ll give a textbook definition of each and then see how those ideas change in the wild. Our guests today are my friend Brian Faehnrich, Professor Barbara Engel (author of “Russia in World History“), and Roland Elliott Brown (author of “Godless Utopia“).

The basic difference between communism and socialism is where the profit goes:

  • In communism, the profits go to the government
  • In socialism, the profits can go to the people

Also, communism is inherently atheistic, in keeping with the vision of Karl Marx.

Select Links:

  • President Trump’s speech before the United National General Assembly on September 24, 2019 (CSPAN)
  • Russia in World History – by Barbara Engel
  • Godless Utopia – by Roland Elliott Brown
  • New York Times article about the potato harvest

Topic Covered:

  • What is the difference between communism and socialism?
  • Who was Karl Marx?
  • Who invented communism?
  • What was the first communist country? (Russia)
  • How did Vladimir Lenin rise to power?
  • Does communism work?
  • Is communism a utopian idea?
  • What did Karl Marx have against the Christian church?
S3:E2 Romanov Stroganoff

S3:E2 Romanov Stroganoff

One murder changed the course of Christian history. And it wasn’t of a pope or church leader – it was the murder of Russia’s last czars, the Romanovs. This is the beginning of our series on how communist Russia shaped modern Christianity in America. Tsar Nicholas II made many crucial mistakes: allowing Rasputin into his life, ignoring workers, the Russo-Japanese War, and many others. How we dealt with these tragic errors led the country into the hands of the Bolsheviks.

Oh yeah, and we made stroganoff. The recipe is below.

Truce is a listener-supported show. Please consider donating a little each month via Patreon (which entitles you to some cool bonus material) or helping out with a one-time gift on Paypal. These gifts are not tax-deductible.

Our research was greatly aided by the following books:

The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore

A Well Ordered Thing – Michael D Gordin

Dairy-free stroganoff recipe

Ingredients:

Egg noodles (as many as necessary – we used half a bag)

1 lb ground beef

1 can mushrooms (small)

1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1 diced onion

1/2 cup beef broth

1/2 cup dairy-free sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Directions:

  1. Brown ground beef in a skillet. A little extra beef is fine. Elk and deer meat work just as well, though you may want to add more seasoning if it is too “gamey”.
  2. Put hot water on to boil for the noodles.
  3. Drain the fat from the beef.
  4. Add noodles to hot water.
  5. When the meat is brown, add in garlic powder, pepper, mustard powder, onion, and mushrooms. Cook at about medium heat and stir.
  6. When the onion has softened a little, add in the mayonnaise, sour cream, and beef broth. Let that simmer for about 15 minutes.
  7. Drain noodles. Stroganoff is best served over a big heap of noodles. Put the beef mixture over the noodles and enjoy!

Questions we examine:

  • Why did communism take over Russia?
  • Who were the last tsars of Russia?
  • Who was Rasputin?
  • What was the Russo-Japanese War about?
  • Why did Lenin want to stay out of WWI?
  • Was Tsarina Alexandra crazy or just on a lot of drugs?
  • How did the downfall of the Russian tsars impact American Christianity?