Biblical Porn: The Carnal Resonance and Political Valences of Conviction

Jessica Johnson

Please join us on Monday, April 16, at 3:30 PM in Denny 203. Jessica Johnson will lecture on "Biblical Porn: The Carnal Resonance and Political Valences of Conviction."

Dr. Jessica Johnson teaches in the Departments of Anthropology and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington.

This talk is based on ethnographic research conducted from 2006-2016 on Mars Hill Church in Seattle, a multisited megachurch co-founded by Pastor Mark Driscoll that had expanded to fifteen locations spread across five states before its dissolution in 2014. Driscoll resigned in the wake of public testimonies by former congregants and staff that detailed tactics of emotional manipulation and spiritual abuse, including systemic bullying and shunning practices. I examine Mars Hill’s use of digital technologies and Driscoll’s controversial preaching on gender and sexuality to analyze how congregants were recruited into gendered and collective affective labor, both voluntary and involuntary, on behalf of church growth—a social and embodied process that I call “biblical porn.” In turn, my paper theorizes the carnal resonance of conviction as surplus affective value with valences that reinforce and exceed logics of biopolitical regulation, agitating fear, animating threats, circulating shame, and exploiting paranoia. This presentation is based on material from my book, Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Evangelical Empire, forthcoming in May from Duke University Press: https://www.dukeupress.edu/biblical-porn.