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Many believe that religion plays a positive role in men's identity development, with religion promoting good behavior, and morality. In contrast, we often assume that the media is a negative influence for men, teaching them to be rough and violent, and to ignore their emotions. In Does God Make the Man?, Stewart M. Hoover and Curtis D. Coats draw on extensive interviews and participant observation with both Evangelical and non-Evangelical men, including Catholics as well as Protestants, to argue that neither of these assumptions is correct. Dismissing the easy notion that media encourages toxic masculinity and religion is always a positive influence, Hoover and Coats argue that not only are the linkages between religion, media, and masculinity not as strong and substantive as has been assumed, but the ways in which these relations actually play out may contradict received views. Over the course of this fascinating book they examine crises, contradictions, and contestations: crises about the meaning of masculinity and about the lack of direction men experience from their faith communities; contradictions between men's religious lives and media lives, and contestations among men's ideas about what it means to be a man. The book counters common discussions about a "crisis of masculinity," showing that actual men do not see the world the way the "crisis talk" has portrayed it--and interestingly, even Evangelical men often do not see religion as part of the solution.
Focusing on this intersection of the sacred and the secular, this volume gathers together the work of media experts, religious historians, sociologists of religion, and authorities on American studies and art history. Topics range from Islam on the Internet to the quasi-religious practices of Elvis fans, from the uses of popular culture by the Salvation Army in its early years to the uses of interactive media technologies at the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Beit Hashoah Museum of Tolerance.