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Outline ReviewIt's tough to be devout and kitschy at the same time, but Colleen McDannell strikes that delicate balance with admirable poise in Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America. Her book is an argument that "American Christians ... want to see, hear, and touch God. It is not enough for Christians to go to church, lead a righteous life, and hope for an eventual place in heaven." This argument is amply defended by smart essays about family Bibles, gravestone design, and Lourdes Water, as well as hundreds of illustrations of vestments, churches, portraits of Jesus, rapture T-shirts, and backyard statues of Our Lady. Where Material Christianity gets really interesting, however, is in its assertion that "Christian material culture does not simply reflect an existing reality. Experiencing the physical dimension of religion helps bring about religious values, norms, behaviors, and attitudes." For example, the warmth and intimacy of Warner Sallman's painting "Head of Christ," which hung in almost every Protestant Sunday School classroom in America until the 1960s, was probably every bit as influential as any given phrase from the Sermon on the Mount in determining the personal nature of Protestants' relationships with Jesus. Material Christianity covers a lot of ground--from Mormonism to fundamentalism--and every chapter is as theologically wise as it as aesthetically astute. --Michael Joseph Gross
This lavishly illustrated book investigates the history and meaning of Christian material culture in America over the past 150 years. Drawing on a rich array of historical sources and on in-depth interviews with Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Colleen McDannell examines the relationship between religion and mass consumption.
Buy Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America by Colleen McDannell from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780300074994 & 0300074999
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