Bringing the Spiritual To Its Senses
A leading scholar explores the importance of physical objects and sensory experience in the practice of religion.
Humans are needy. We need things: objects, keepsakes, stuff, tokens, knickknacks, bits and pieces, junk, and treasure. We carry special objects in our pockets and purses, and place them on shelves in our homes and offices. As commonplace as these objects are, they can also be extraordinary, as they allow us to connect with the world beyond our skin.
A History of Religion in 5 & 1/2 Objects takes a fresh and much-needed approach to the study of that contentious yet vital area of human culture: religion. Arguing that religion must be understood in the first instance as deriving from rudimentary human experiences, from lived, embodied practices, S. Brent Plate asks us to put aside, for the moment, questions of belief and abstract ideas. Instead, beginning with the desirous, incomplete human body, he asks us to focus on five ordinary types of objects - stones, incense, drums, crosses, and bread - with which we connect in our pursuit of religious meaning and fulfillment.
By S. Brent Plate