Thursday, May 26, 2011

Live option!

I'm reading sociologist of religion Meredith McGuire's Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life, and enjoying it greatly. "Lived religion in New York City" is the name of my Fall course, and I'm assembling materials for it as we speak, and exploring field trip possibilities. McGuire's offering both. McGuire's book begins with an account of medieval Christian religion - before the "Long Reformation" of 1300-1700 centralized religious power, and set in motion the contingent and oppressive eccesiastical and political structures which have been naturalized in modern theories of religion. Borrowing from the historian of "popular religion" Peter Burke, McGuire brings in Breughels' Fight between Carnival and Lent" (at the KHM in Vienna). With the Long Reformation, Lent seems to have won. We've forgotten that both fasting and feasting used to be religiously meaningful activities, and can't quite believe that both took place inside as well as outside ecclesiastical precincts. But the premise of the whole "lived religion" movement is that its only church folk who think Carnival was defeated, or entirely secularized. We're going to have a ball!

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