Anthropology Book Response

It is fascinating how religion and Christianity can entangle with human life so profoundly and closely. In chapter 4, the author focused on how religion practically works and impacts people in New Orleans. I thought this chapter partially answers what we have discussed last class. The author mentions how black churches and their beliefs orient the frameworks and practices of a sacred and sustainable black future. To create a beloved community, a congregation of people is a necessary condition for religious work. The author uses the example of “Thou Shalt Not Kill” to explain this. Religious people try to assemble and hold a “Thou Shalt Not Kill” sign to prevent murder incidences and practice urban recovery in New Orleans. In this way, they try to inscribe this religious and moral conception to people. It works as a moral belief and a relational framework for people in Crescent City. I thought this part shows how people here are trying to use religion to reestablish corrupted souls and community and how people in this city collectively approach the aim.

The example of the poor guy shot a younger boy for over $25 struck me since it was also interpreted as an event that awakens people religiously and provokes religious belief. Pastor Samuel thinks that the neighbor’s unfortunate incident brought the reality of death and made people face death directly. It enforces to the people that how death is pervasive and exists closely surrounding us. Moreover, it was surprising how victims and perpetrators of the murder incidence are both victims of this society. The author delineates that the Pastor’s way of thinking is valid since the murder incidence shifts people’s way of thinking urban corruption from a distanced stance to a more engaged and interrelated response. The tragedy brought people together through emotions and thoughts such as care and empathy toward the community. I liked the way the author portrays New Orleans as an established space of death.

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People in the space where death and dying happen pervasively end up having a different mindset and thought processes than people who are not situated in such an environment. When I researched at the Palliative care ward, all of the patients I met were expected to die within a few days. Dying happens every day. The caregivers in this so-called “established space of death” share a different ethos that no other people can imagine. Significantly, this ethos was deeply entangled with religious belief. I thought the fear of death is too significant and thus only thing they could do is relying on religion and god. This was all I could interpret from my research area. However, the author analyzes how these people use this to congregate people and build the community’s collective mindset with religious belief. It somehow shows how fear and sorrow of death can be overcome.

In Chapter 5, Louise focused on typical sentiments expressed by women who had endured the loss of children due to violence and homicides at Crescent City. Louise met the women who had found their ways to survive and sustain their life, relying on each other. Here again, Louise situates these losses and traumas that the women experience in the broader context of African American Christian beliefs.

This book has given me so much insight into how to deal with the relationship between death and religion and how people cope with pervasive death with the mechanism of religious belief. At first, I doubt the author’s way of connecting death and following sorrow to Christianity because I thought this is somewhat cliché. However, the geographic and cultural uniqueness inherent in New Orleans people established a different ethos that cannot be found in other regions or other groups. Thus, chapters 4 and 5 were essential parts that enlighten me a lot.



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