The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 212
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212 Southwestern Historical Quarterly
elist who teaches at the University of Tulsa, Mojtabai has written as per-
ceptive an analysis as we have of Christian fundamentalism in contem-
porary American culture. Ignoring the remarkable empire of Oral
Roberts in her own backyard, she instead has painted a sensitive por-
trait of the religious culture of Amarillo, Texas, a few hundred miles to
the south and west.
That is not what she originally intended to do. She selected Amarillo
because it is the home of Pantex, the final assembly plant for nuclear
warheads in the United States. She was intrigued by the protests at the
plant every August 6, the anniversary of Hiroshima, and wanted to find
some way to get through the barrier of incomprehension that divided
the demonstrators from the Texans at work within the plant. She soon
discovered, though, that her initial forays into the political and economic
culture of Amarillo were not going to suffice. Slowly, then, she began to
discover and then pay attention to the religious life of the Panhandle
city; there she found answers to "questions about human history and
destiny, about the purpose of our sojourn here on earth." There she dis-
covered "how people of conscience, loving parents, thoughtful neigh-
bors, and devoted churchgoers lived calmly with the prospect of nu-
clear destruction" (pp. 87, 88).
Mojtabai's analysis is based on thorough research in the Amarillo
newspapers, extensive interviews with a wide range of truly remark-
able-sometimes arresting-people, and the printed and recorded ser-
mons of Amarillo's Christian pastors. The first section of the book is a
rich, impressionistic evocation of the political, economic, and social
context in which the debate over nuclear weapons in Amarillo devel-
oped. The second section is a detailed analysis of the city's fundamen-
talist Christian churches. And the final divisions of the book focus on
"the intersection of nuclear reality and religious vision" (p. x).
The author suggests that Amarilloans have developed "two seemingly
desperate modes of accommodation to nuclear reality-the apocalyptic
and the technocratic," or, as she ingeniously encapsulates each, "End
Time" and "Steady Technological Progress" (p. x). Each, she asserts,
promises "'blessed assurance,' the promise, for true believers, of ex-
emption and safety from the suffering that might befall others" (p. x).
She is much more successful in discussing the "apocalyptic" than the
Mojtabai's analysis of the fundamentalist community in Amarillo is
both discerning and nuanced. She realizes that there are crucial differ-
ences between the pastor of Amarillo's First Baptist Church, the closest
thing to an "established church" in the city, and the shepherd of the
Jubilee Tabernacle's charismatic flock. These are differences of tem-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/239/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.