Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Branson and the Ozarks: Where Superficial Religion Reigns

Doesn't it seem a bit awkward that it takes a place like Branson, Missouri to bring out missing aspects of peoples religious lives? The fact that an oversized, cliche Jesus or gigantic praying hands may bring the conviction out in the lives of the tourists strikes me as a bit tacky. I understand how the whole simplistic, natural scene of the Ozarks can bring out an idea of selflessness (similar to that of Buddhism) but the fact that these monuments and Precious Moments dolls are recognized in the same context makes me lose all believability. (if that is a word)

It makes sense that religious people can find their religion in new institutions rather than churches and Branson would make a picture perfect place for the religious experience. But something that came up in class the other day needs a bit of examination. The fact that Branson "works" for the tourists makes me question the meaning of "works." If people need to see superficial monuments and dolls to believe and become closer to their faith, where does the concept of religion come into play? I believe a key concept of religion is belief in not seeing. If everything could be viewed, then there wouldn't be a question as to what the truth is. The idea of religion here is diminished by the fact that tourists can view oversized Jesus and praying hands and be personally convicted.

To me, when something "works," it means that that the picture becomes clearer or a solution to a problem is found. When I put gas into my car, the car works. However, when I see a Precious Moments doll, and I say that now my religion is "working," I fail to see how. A lot of times this is where religion gets a bad name in society; when believers say they believe based on tacky symbolism.

There is a possibility that I am missing the point of the article. But with the authors tone in writing the article from an etic perspective, I would say he would comply with my belief. His hint of sarcasm and disbelief is what lead my thoughts in this direction in the first place.


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