Case Study: What Would Jesus Do?
This chapter discusses Charles Sheldon's novel, In His Steps, where the book, a minister challenges the members of his church to join him in a pact of sorts, according to which they will devote themselves for one full year to living as they believe Jesus would. They commit to asking themselves daily what Jesus would do if he were in their situations, and promise to follow through on their answers. This novel is of interest because in it people can find almost all of the elements covered in this book: classification, social stratification, domination, habitus, legitimation, authority, authenticity claims, and so on. The chapter provides a reading of the novel, showing how the social and cultural theory proposed can shed light on a specific text. It shows how one could apply the theory of religion to Sheldon's novel, and that doing so sheds light on "what's going on" with Sheldon's form of late nineteenth-century Christianity.