Sunday, April 4, 2010

Material Christianity Review

I would like to think of myself as religious. I’ve been getting more and more active with my faith, which is hard to do when you live in a society where everything is separate and they’re trying to ban praying in schools and such. My faith is something I hold very close to my heart. It’s a big part of my life. It influences everything I do, and who I am. Given that, this book we’ve been reading in class has had quite an effect on me.
The book is Material Christianity. The first couple chapters were pretty cool. One of them talked about cemeteries. Usually when cemeteries are brought up in a conversation, some of the thoughts that run through the mind are: death, ghosts, perhaps monsters…and other thoughts linked to these. So, it would come as a surprise that people used to walk around cemeteries like they were in a garden. However, it was true. Thinking back to when I was very young, my family went walking through cemeteries. We would look at all of the different grave stones, stone angels, names, dates, flowers, etc.
Some religions celebrate death. Mine is one of them. So, back before the monsters modern day people constantly dwell on started to haunt the ideas of cemeteries, the cemeteries would be associated with a joy. People had died and gone to heaven. This was reason for celebration. In my religion, one does not wear black to a funeral because of this reason. The dead have only passed through the temporary life on earth and have gone home. In this sense, cemeteries are very uplifting. However, over the years they have changed. For example, the grave stones have been modified in order to mow the grass easier.
Some of the material presented in later chapters I found very offensive. Some of it just seemed like trash, bordering on blasphemous, if not out right blasphemous. One particular part was when McDannell, the author, presented John Lyon. Lyon talks about pictures of Jesus, saying how they are very feminized. He says that they send messages of temptation. He links Jesus with sluts and whores. First, this was very offensive to read as a Christian for obvious reasons.
This was also very offensive to read because I am a woman. Throughout this entire chapter, women are seen in one of two extremities: saint or whore. Lyon generalizes women as the latter.
In all honesty, this wasn’t too much of a fun book to read. There are many people who will give their opinion about anything, even if they don’t know anything about the subject. There are also many people willing to give a bad opinion, or review, about religion, simply because they can or it isn’t their religion. What are McDannell’s reasons for choosing this source? She could have picked up a person off of the street and gotten him, or her, to say the same thing. It also does not help that after all of the bashing, she only gives about three lines to balance out that she’s not just going to trash this particular faith, but others as well.

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