Honors Theses


Susan Trollinger, Ph.D.



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Honors Thesis


Scandals involving evangelical churches seem to appear daily in the news. Whether the scandals involve a church leader engaging in bullying, sexual harassment, sexual abuse or something else there seems to be no end in sight. One might imagine that people would flee the churches where these leaders have or continue to serve. But, in general, they do not. A good question to ask is why. Why do people continue to follow someone who has been proven through their discourse that they are aggressive, sexist, and sometimes even violent?

To answer this question, this project focuses on the rhetoric utilized by Mark Driscoll in a series of blog posts that appeared on the Mars Hill Church website in late 2001 to early 2002. In these posts, Driscoll exhibits a distinctly harsh rhetoric that I argue goes against conventional neo-evangelical arguments for complementarianism (the idea that men and women have different but equally valuable roles and that men should be in charge) to an intensely misogynistic and homophobic rhetoric. This thesis argues, through the work of Barbara Biesecker – which draws heavily on Judith Butler and Slavoj Zizek’s theory of subjectivation – that Driscoll’s rhetoric constructs a masculine Christian identity that appeals to a group of straight, white men who have felt ostracized by the dominant discourses of American culture for the past 100 years, and, through his rhetoric, gives these men an opportunity to achieve the power and belonging that they so desperately desire. I also use Stuart Hall’s concept of the floating signifier to explain how Driscoll defines both masculinity and his definition of “pussification”, which is, in simple terms, the feminization of men. Driscoll appeals to these men by giving them two options: adopt Driscoll’s’ brand of homophobia and misogyny or admit that they have been “pussified” – that is, completely emasculated.

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Undergraduate research