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The Globalization Reader, 5th Edition by John Boli, Frank J. Lechner

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55 American EvangelicalsThe Overlooked Globalizers and Their Unintended Gospel of Modernity

Joshua J. Yates

Introduction

When people talk about the American dimensions of contemporary globalization, they generally speak about the spread of American popular culture, financial markets, multinational corporations, and political ideals. The images they evoke come effortlessly to mind: McDonald's, Nike sneakers, MTV and hip-hop music, Disneyland, Levi's jeans, the New York Stock Exchange, and American-style democracy, to name but a few. More astute observers are quick to note, however, that such examples are simply the more noticeable expressions of a seemingly endless array of other less culturally-identifiable, but no less American “products,” including skyscrapers, greeting cards, chewing gum, microwaves, modern passenger airplanes, basketball, snowboards, the ATM, cell phones, computer hackers, and so on. Taken together, these familiar, and often bemoaned, instances of the diffusion of American “goods,” “ideas,” and “styles” provide a certain warrant for the claim that the US is the primary source and symbol of most of what passes as “globalization” in the planetary popular imagination.

Missing from this typical listing of dominant American cultural diffusions, however, are those emanating from American religion. Indeed, even the more sophisticated academic accounts of the so-called “modern global circumstance” – those charting the “flows” and “networks” of people, images, ...

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