Divine Signs: Connecting Spirit to Community
Divine Signs is the concluding volume of the ethnographic trilogy about the communicative tensions in everyday American cultural life H. L. Goodall, Jr., began with Casing a Promised Land and continued with Living in the Rock n Roll Mystery.
In this final work, the terms for understanding these tensions are found in a historical and mythological drama featuring Power (as the embodiment of the modern), Other (as the embodiment of the postmodern), and Spirit (as the unifying power capable of connecting disparate selves to dangerously fragmented communities). For this study, the localized site of interpretation is in and around Pickens and Oconee Counties, South Carolina, where every day street signs, business advertisements on billboards, signs that announce church themes, Internet postings, and other forms of public communication that invite private meanings are read as rhetorical invitations to participate in these myths and mysteries.
Using themes discoverable in such public forms of communication, Goodall deconstructs a variety of communal experiences—from annual community celebrations to weekly therapy sessions in local beauty salons to the fall audience rituals of Clemson University football games—to gain a deeper appreciation of the unifying symbolic orders that enrich the interpretive possibilities of our lives and that serve as signs of our deeply spiritual connections to each other and to the planet.
In the last sections of the book, the interplays of Power, Other, and Spirit are read into and against a wide variety of everyday interpretive contexts, from Rush Limbaugh and talk radio to narratives about angels and stories about the transformative powers of spiritual practices in organizations. Goodall then asks the important question: Where are the themes of this mythological drama leading us? In the stunning conclusion, Goodall creates communicative, cultural, and spiritual challenges for us all.
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