Review by Choice Review

Frankl draws connections between 19th-century revivalism and the ``electric church,'' and she documents significant changes wrought when evangelists committed themselves to the use of TV. She traces the development of the ``ethos'' of urban revivalism by Charles Finney, who demystified revivalism and defined it as a sales strategy; by Dwight Moody, who rationalized and routinized it as social organization; and by Billy Sunday, who added showmanship and commercialism. She then shows how the organizations, the role, and the message of contemporary evangelists have been altered by the ``imperatives'' of TV: its great costs, its formats, its own logic of marketing, the shift from local presentations to mass communication. Frankl teaches in management and is Coordinator of Human Resources Management at Glassboro State College, but she is a sociologist, and this is a sociological study centered on eight leading televangelists, which uses Max Weber's method of ideal types and his concept of rationalization to reach her conclusions. She discusses the affinity between the electric church and cultural fundamentalism in American politics, believes alignments with the New Right will continue, and predicts an increasing competition between televangelists over their ``market shares.'' This very readable book may be read as a companion to J.K. Hadden and C. Swann, Prime Time Preachers (CH, Oct '81), but it extends the subject uniquely and may be read independently. Excellent methodological appendix; moderate-sized but very useful bibliography. Appropriate for college, community college, university, and public libraries.-R.L. Herrick, Westmar College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

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