At Design Observer, William Drenttel offers up a post and slide show on religious signage in the American South. He ponders whether the usually nondescript signs in front of churches that contain a Bible verse and the name of the church and/or pastor are at all reflective of a cultural difference between New England, where he is from and currently lives, and the South in how religion is expressed.
Here in New England, we wear our history on our sleeves; our poorest, most rural areas are still full of colonial architecture and stone walls and covered bridges. Our churches have white chapboard steeples, and (artificial) candles illuminate the windows. We are private about our religion, and its public display — at least on the surface — is generally dignified and historic.
Yet the South is so different.
Though there have been numerous studies on religious imagery, including recent works by Jean-Luc Nancy, Jean-Luc Marion, and David Morgan, with the exception of Morgan, very few scholars of religion look at the mundane images that surround us, like these signs. It seems that religious studies, at least in the U.S., would be remiss not to pursue studies of, not only religious “high culture” (e.g., iconography and religious art), but also religious “low culture” (e.g., postcards and church bulletins).