Onward Christian Warriors
I first started exploring evangelical masculinity and militarism nearly a decade ago, not knowing that the presidency of Donald Trump would be its culminating chapter. I spoke on the topic at the National Women’s Studies Association and at the Paul Henry Institute, but then I set the project aside for a time. I needed to finish my first book on Christian feminism, and, related to that project, I had begun to investigate Hillary Clinton’s religious formation as well.
It was only in October of 2016 that things clicked. Even after the Access Hollywood tapes, white evangelicals continued to support Trump. How could they embrace a man who made a mockery of their deeply held “family values”? But then I realized that popular evangelical literature on masculinity had prepared evangelicals for a man like Trump. Trump didn’t represent the betrayal of American evangelicalism as much as he was its fulfillment. Or so I argued at Religion & Politics. The book will be published with Norton’s Liveright Publishing, with an early 2020 release date.
Side note: For a somewhat related and widely read linguistic analysis of Donald Trump’s rhetoric, written during the heat of the 2016 campaign, see “Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, By Their Words.”
Journey of Faith: Hillary Clinton and the Polarization of American Christianity
Having spent a lot of time reading the sermons and diaries of intrepid Methodist women in the late 19th– and early-twentieth centuries, I couldn’t help but see Hillary Clinton as a torchbearer of this vibrant tradition of progressive faith and activism. Yet it puzzled me that so many people, on the left and right, saw her as “secular”–or even “pagan.” The more I began to dig into her story, the more I began to realize that to tell her story is to tell the story of Christianity in recent American history. This narrative is perhaps all the more important given her loss in the 2016 election.
A New Gospel for Women
My first book is about Katharine Bushnell. Not exactly a household name, but that was kind of the point. Once an internationally-known anti-trafficking activist and feminist theologian, Bushnell had all but disappeared from the historical record. Her story tells us a lot about the relationship between Christianity and feminism in America. And, once you read about her remarkable, radical-yet-orthodox revision of the Christian scriptures, you’ll never read the Bible the same way again. Is it possible to be a Christian and a feminist? After this book, you might wonder if it’s possible not to be.
A New Gospel for Women (Oxford University Press, 2015)
“This is the book many of us have been waiting for, a top-notch biography of the inimitable Kate Bushnell. DuMez provides a thoroughly compelling portrait of a woman both ahead of and behind her times, whose accomplishments-and subsequent obscurity-tell us much about the long and vexed relationship between conservative religion and modern feminism.” –Margaret Bendroth, Executive Director, Congregational Library
“In this dazzling hybrid of history, biography, and theology, Kristin DuMez rekindles our interest in a path-breaking woman — Katharine Bushnell — whose sprawling work on behalf of Christian feminism spanned decades, traversed boundaries, shattered categories, and covered the globe. With judiciousness and a lively pen, DuMez makes it perfectly clear why this crusading reformer, written off or forgotten as a product of an antiquated Victorian past, must be re-centered in our histories and current renderings of modern Christianity and of modern America itself.” –Darren Dochuk, author of From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism
“Katharine Bushnell was a pioneering physician, missionary, expert in Greek and Hebrew, critic of the sexual double standard, and advocate for women’s rights-all within late-Victorian culture. Kristin Kobes DuMez’s historical contribution demonstrates why Bushnell deserves to be remembered as a noteworthy reformer. The book also challenges modern feminists who question Christianity and modern Christians who question feminism to ponder what each might learn from Bushnell’s extraordinary career.” –Mark Noll, author of Protestantism: A Very Short Introduction
“…[A] fascinating study… This is both an important work of scholarship and an engrossing and accessible book for those interested in the many provocative issues it covers… Highly recommended.” —CHOICE
“Bushnell’s key insights should resonate with present-day promoters of feminist consciousness.”–Christian Century
“[N]on-evangelical Christian feminists might be interested in recovering Bushnell s scholarship, as it has striking resonance with their own e.g., a firm commitment to female equality in church and home. But Bushnell rejected higher criticism and would surely condemn any claim that biblical culture itself is saturated with patriarchy. Du Mez does a great service in opening up such conversations.”–Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology
“Du Mez’s study is both a fascinating biography of this largely forgotten woman and an excellent social history of late 19th- and early 20th-century American Christian feminism.”– Jane Shaw (Stanford University), Times Higher Education.
“Through eight page-turning chapters, Kobes Du Mez introduces Bushnell within the context of American Protestantism….A New Gospel for Women contributes significantly to the history of women in missions, social justice, and biblical scholarship.”– Mimi Haddad, Christians for Biblical Equality.
“thoroughly masterful work of feminist theology”– Darcy Metcalfe, Christian Feminism Today.
“A New Gospel for Women is not just an acknowledgement of a remarkable woman, it is a sophisticated account of a moment in history and one woman’s contribution, prophetic voice, conflicted reception, rejection, and dogged perseverance to correct what she saw as a distortion of the Christian faith. Du Mez herself moves easily between biography, history, historiography, hermeneutics, and biblical theology, as well as adding her own comment on the possible implications of Bushnell’s voice for women, feminism, Christian feminism, sexuality, and social activism today. It is a fascinating read for a Christian woman, but it should be read much more widely than just among Christian women. Anyone interested in the effects of patriarchy on women world-wide, on what the Bible says about women, on what men and women think the Bible says about women, on the history of feminism in the West, or on the interplay between secular feminism and Christian feminism will find something of interest in this book.”– Lucy Pepiatt, Theological Miscellany.
I blog at Patheos’ The Anxious Bench on all sorts of topics related (most of the time) to American religious history, broadly defined.
Some of my favorites include…
When not at Patheos, I’ve been a guest blogger on an array of topics: Pumpkin Spice lattes at Historical Horizons, Jen Hatmaker and female authority in the Christian blogosphere at in All things; Christian responses to 50 Shades of Grey at OUPblog; and race, gender, and American religious history at Religion in American History.
Chapters and Essays
Getting into the weeds of my CV, here are a few additional publications that may be of interest:
“Katharine Bushnell’s God’s Word to Women: Theology and Social Reform in Victorian America,” in Finding Themselves: Women and the Bible in the Nineteenth Century (volume in The Bible and Women: An Encyclopaedia of Exegesis and Cultural History, forthcoming).
“Reorienting American Religious History: The Case of Katharine Bushnell,” in American Evangelicalism: George Marsden and the Shape of American Religious History, Darren Dochuk, Thomas S. Kidd, and Kurt W. Peterson, ed. (University of Notre Dame Press, 2014).
“Katharine Bushnell” and “Lee Anna Starr,” in Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters, ed. Marion Ann Taylor and Agnes Choi (Baker Academic, 2012), 100-103; 473-475.
“Leaving Eden: Resurrecting the Work of Katharine Bushnell and Lee Anna Starr,” in Breaking Boundaries: Female Biblical Interpreters who Challenged the Status Quo, ed. Nancy Calvert-Koyzis and Heather Weir (T&T Clark, 2010), 144-168.
“The Beauty of the Lilies: Femininity, Innocence, and the Sweet Gospel of Uldine Utley,” Religion and American Culture 15, no. 2 (Summer 2005): 209-243.
“Selfishness One Degree Removed: Madeline Southard’s Desacralization of Motherhood and a Tradition of Progressive Methodism,” Priscilla Papers 28, no. 2 (Spring 2014): 17-22.