Monday, March 29, 2010

The Material World of The Unseen

Our reading for this week took me by surprise. I was not sure quite what to expect but I knew I was interested. At first, I thought it was going to be an expositional critique of the American Right and the problematic relationship they might have between promoting materialism (through free-trade and just for being those fist pumping capitalist types) and promoting a religous view that preaches against materialism or "the things of this world." Apparently I was writing my own book in my own head before I opened this one. Almost like not even seeing the previews for a movie, but only hearing a title and deciding you could imagine what it would look like, who the characters would be, and so on.

Still, I am presently surprised. This book appears to take a more archeological and anthropological stance and approach to research. While these disciplines often have to do with empirical sciences, they also appear to be a place where more theoretical and philosophical questions must be asked. For this reason I enjoyed the reading. It seems exceedingly more difficult to keep one discipline away from each other, and this can only be a good thing. If we are to pick up a clay pot and document it as only made of clay from the nearby area but do not ask how this effected the humans, culture, and their relation to the world, then what good is that clay pot?

In a way I'm thankful we don't have to go back to clay-pot type times. This book is talking about the recent and the very recent past. We're talking Christian book stores, pictures/representations of Jesus, jewelery, trucker-hats...I could go on.
But the most interesting thing the author states and that I agree with is that all these objects, these products influence the way we concieve of ourselves, others, other objects, our own spirituality/religion, and more. That the author asserts that Americans want see, do, and touch our religions is especially dead-on. In a way we create a relation to the unseen world we tell others we believe, but the seen world is what helps us build (or demolish) that belief, that relation.

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