Leper Messiah: A Jesus Freak’s Search for the Meaning of Bowie—A Critical Novella


A self-styled “devout atheist,” cultural critic Mark Dery is well-known for his sharp-penned critiques of the bigotry and anti-science know-nothingism of the religious right. Yet, in the mid-’70s, Dery was a born-again Christian, caught up in the “Jesus Freak” movement that began in Southern California, near his hometown of San  Diego. 


In Leper Messiah: A Jesus Freak’s Search for the Meaning of Bowie, Dery uses his spiritual crisis, as a born-again teen torn between his conservative faith and his obsession with David Bowie, to explore the historical connections linking religious zealotry and rabid fandom. Revealing for the first time the doubt-haunted spiritual yearnings at the heart of Bowie’s art, Dery asks searching questions about the costs of blind faith—in messiahs and pop icons—and about what we lose when we lose our religion.

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