Monumental Jesus: Landscapes of Faith and Doubt in Modern America

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University of Virginia Press, 2020 - Christianity and culture - 194 pages
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The American landscape is host to numerous works of religious architecture, sometimes questionable in taste and large, if not titanic, in scale. In her lively study of satire and religious architecture, Margaret Grubiak challenges how we typically view such sites by shifting the focus from believers to doubters, and from producers to consumers. Grubiak considers an array of sacred architectural constructions--from "Touchdown Jesus" at the University of Notre Dame to the Wizard of Oz Mormon temple outside Washington D.C. to the renamed "Gumby Jesus" of the Christ of the Ozarks statue in Eureka Springs, Arkansas - and how such constructions are confronted by the doubt and dismissiveness articulated by the more skeptical of their viewers. These responses of doubt activate our religious built environment in ways unanticipated but illuminating, asking us, at times forcefully, to consider and clarify what it is we believe. Opening up new avenues of thinking about how people deal with theological questions in the vernacular, Grubiak's book shows how religious doubt is made manifest in the humorous, satirical, blasphemous, and popular culture responses to religious architecture and image in modern America.

Midcentury: Architecture, Landscape, Urbanism, and Design

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About the author (2020)

Margaret M. Grubiak is Associate Professor of Architectural History at Villanova University and the author of White Elephants on Campus: The Decline of the University Chapel in America, 1920-1960.

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