Same Old Song

Sarah Stankorb
11 min readFeb 16, 2024

The recent Atlantic essay defending Dobson and slamming authors like Barr and Kobes Du Mez is a tired sort of disingenuous critique

Taylor Swift, overlaid atop images of books The Making of Biblical Womanhood and Jesus & John Wayne.

A Surprise Fea

Last week, The Atlantic published an essay by John Fea that argued certain recent books critiquing evangelicalism run “flat” and neglect how some of the movement’s leaders’ influence did benefit believers. Fea’s thesis was that for all the bad that came out of the faith movement, “seeing the good in evangelicalism is essential to understanding its appeal to millions of Americans.” Fea referenced historians Beth Allison Barr and Kristin Kobes Du Mez in particular, as identifying a “serious dark spot in the history of American evangelicalism.” But he also felt that these two scholars had neglected to tell stories like those of his father, who were personally improved by the teachings of someone like James Dobson.

After spending days reading background on the dynamics between Fea, Barr and Kobes Du Mez, I find this piece even more troubling and the timing just plain weird. I now find myself with a series of questions and, thinking about all the energy directed at taking down women with big platforms, irritated to see the same couched as academic postulation.

“Bet I could still melt your world, argumentative, antithetical dream girl.”
–Taylor Swift, Hits Different



Sarah Stankorb

Sarah Stankorb, author of Disobedient Women, has published with The Washington Post, Marie Claire, and many others. @sarahstankorb