Follies of Belief: Architecture, Religion, and Humor in Modern America

posted Nov 14, 2017, 6:34 AM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Nov 17, 2017, 12:06 PM ]
Lecture by Margaret M. Grubiak

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Following the 2015 Islamic extremist attacks on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Pope Francis asserted “there is a limit to free speech” when it comes to religion and that we “cannot make fun of faith.” But is this true in the American context? In this talk, we will explore follies of belief in the United States—the Washington, D.C. Mormon Temple, which graffiti compares to The Wizard of Oz; the so-called “Touchdown Jesus” mural at the University of Notre Dame; Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Heritage USA Christian theme park; and Oral Roberts University—to understand the ways Americans have responded to religious difference using humor and satire. Our reactions to the images of religion we see in our landscape suggest that Americans can and do make fun of faith productively, helping us to negotiate religious difference and take steps toward realizing religious pluralism.

Dr. Margaret Grubiak is an associate professor of architectural history at Villanova University and author of White Elephants on Campus: The Decline of the University Chapel in America, 1920–1960. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband. Her current book project on the humor and satire of American religious architecture was inspired by frequently passing the Mormon Temple along Washington’s Beltway on her commute to Philadelphia.

The First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 
6:30 pm – reception, 7:00 pm – brief annual meeting lecture


Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $15.00 for non-members (reduced admission for non-members!).
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Bill Marzella,
Nov 14, 2017, 6:34 AM
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