A Cosmo-Style Makeover for the Bible?

Most experts estimate 25 percent to 30 percent of Americans are fundamentalist Christians, and perhaps another 5 percent to 10 percent are broadly sympathetic to those values and beliefs. Those numbers haven't changed significantly in recent decades, but they have become wealthier and more active consumers, says Philip Goff, director of Indiana University's Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture.

Goff believes the growth of Christian pop culture also reflects the expansion of mainstream pop culture, which has become ubiquitous and ever more varied in recent decades.

"There's so much more choice in pop culture at large," says Goff.

The interaction of faith and pop culture is hardly limited to evangelicalism, or even Christianity. From the New Age movement to yoga and feng shui, there are traces of many religions and spiritual movements in mainstream trends.

"People want to lead integrated lives," says Mahan. "So their entertainment life, their political life and their work life are integrated with their life of faith."

A Bible With Quizzes, Top 10 Lists, and Celeb Birthdays

Young evangelical Christians like Neille Sybert say a pop-influenced Bible like Revolve is not a bad idea.

"It looks totally like a magazine," says Sybert, a 19-year-old saleswoman at Loaves & Fishes Christian Store in Vista, Calif. She thinks it would appeal to young girls who might feel embarrassed carrying around a black leather tome.

"It makes it fun to read the Bible," she says.

In addition to the biblical text — written in the modern English of the New Century Version — Revolve also features teen 'zine staples such as quizzes, Top 10 lists, and Q&A's. They focus, however, on religious topics like, "Are you dating a godly guy?" and inner-beauty advice. There are also tips on prayer, volunteerism, and calendars with entries, such as "Pray for a person of influence: Today is Michael Jordan's birthday" on Feb. 17.

Revolve has been on the shelves for barely a month, but Stephen Virkler, an assistant manager at the Family Christian Store in Fairfield, N.J., says his customers appear interested.

"They have to reach these kids in a different way," says Virkler, 31.

Revolve and similar efforts typically emphasize aspects of Christianity that might appeal to teenagers' attitudes. They describe Jesus as a radical who was not afraid to challenge mainstream society.

The content, however, hews to conservative Christian values on subjects like homosexuality and women's deference to men.

In one hypothetical question and answer, a girl asks, "How do you tell a friend that's your crush that you're into him without ruining your friendship?" Revolve counsels her: "You don't. Sorry. … God made guys to be the leaders. That means that they lead in relationships."

Older evangelicals like Mike Berthurum, a salesman at The Ark Book Store in Denver who has been selling Christian texts for 30 years, say they don't have a problem with Revolve if it spurs young people's faith.

"This looks more like a book or a magazine that a youth would pick up," he says. "I think it's a good idea."

God and the Hulk

The convergence of religion and pop culture has reached into film, music, books.

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