Religious Objects Part 2: S. Brent Plate
This is the second part of our conversation with scholar and author S. Brent Plate. Plate researches the way in which lived religious experience is influenced by materiality and physical objects. He discusses this issue in his latest book, A History of Religion in 5 1/2 Objects: Bringing the Spiritual to Its Senses.
Also on the show, journalist and educator Natasha Alford reflects on a recent visit to Memphis, the death of Martin Luther King, and the unfolding drama in Ferguson, Missouri.
When you were growing up, did you hum that old song by The Police - "we are spirits in the material world..."? Fast forward thirty years, and a lot of religious scholars have made a return to the physical, exploring how objects and actions inform and enrich our understandings of interior religious lives.
That question has become the focus of the work by S. Brent Plate.
Professor Plate's teachings and writings explore relations between sensual life and spiritual life. He has authored/edited eleven books and writes regularly for the Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches, Killing the Buddha, OnFaith, and other sites. He is co-founder and managing editor of Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art, and Belief, co-founder and president of SCRIPT (Society for Comparative Research in Iconic and Performative Texts), president of CrossCurrents/ The Association of Religion and Intellectual Life, and is a board member of the Interfaith Coalition of Greater Utica, NY. His most recent book is A History of Religion in 5 ½ Objects: Bringing the Spiritual to its Senses.
Also on the Show
Journalist and educator Natasha S. Alford took a trip down to Memphis to visit the Lorraine Motel - the site of the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr.
King's assassination was neither the beginning nor the end of the civil rights struggle. Rather, it was one point of violence along a line that stretches from slavery and Jim Crow to today's unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
Alford shares with our listeners a letter that was written to King by an admirer - a white man named Edmund Jeffries - who had heard him speak on the Chicago Sunday Evening Club.
The letter suggests a hope for a way out of the cycle of violence. Alford explores these connections, tying together the threads that lead back from Missouri to Memphis.