My research and teaching interests investigate the convoluted, yet endlessly fascinating relationships between religion, American politics, and popular culture in post-World War II America. I am especially interested in the inherently public nature of such relationships and their capacity to cultivate both social turmoil and cohesion in times of uncertainty. As such, I am most compelled by those cultural objects and events that seem to reach beyond their initial purpose of entertaining the masses so as to speak to the vitality of American public life, or lack thereof. Thus far, my research has explored the spiritual biographies of Conrad Hilton and Norman Lear as well as the religious histories American conservatism, hip-hop, and religious liberalism respectively over the course of the 20th century. I am currently completing a manuscript on Lear and what I call the “spiritual politics of religious liberalism,” which is under contract with Columbia University Press.
After completing my study of the spiritual politics of American religious liberalism, my upcoming research will explore the history of American conservatism and the rise of “the Christian Right” as an intimately imbricated process. In particular, this work will focus on the writings of various New Right activists and organizers who helped reconstitute the Republican Party along the lines of what was understood at the time as “the New Majority.” My excavations in this regard reflect a larger analytical agenda, namely to provide an answer to the question of, “Where did the idea of the Christian Right come from?” This is not a question of demography or statistics; instead, I contend that both the New Right and Hollywood liberals like Lear contributed to the idea that Christian conservatism was “on the rise” despite early reports disputing the largely hyperbolic numbers associated with the “Electronic Church,” "the Christian Right," and its respective audiences and constituencies.