Synopses & Reviews
In this bracingly original anthropological study, Miles Richardson uses forty years of empirical research to examine the ways Christians address the uniquely human question of death. Rooted in the author's personal story of why he became an anthropologist, the book illuminates how two groups, Catholics in Spanish America and Baptists in the American South, create "being-in-Christ" and thereby "put death in its place." Richardson's striking scholarly thrust joins four-field anthropology (biological, cultural, archaeological, and linguistic) and a rigorous evolutionary framework to a postmodern dialogic, reflexive stance. His lively immediate method draws us into a creative dialogue with his text and into solidarity with the worshipers inside two distinctly rendered composite settings: the dark "Nueva Esperanza" iglesia, where Christ dwells in sight, touch, and taste: and the brightly lit "Mt. Hope" church, where the Lord is experienced in the Word of sermon and song. We journey across the Spanish American landscape to holy places where the immanent Christ works miracles and Good Friday signifies his sacrificial suffering, while in the American South pilgrimages lead to antebellum homes, and at sunrise on Easter Sunday, the choir sings of glorious resurrection and death finds its place in the salvation message of a risen Christ. General readers, anthropologists, and students of Latin American and southern culture will be enthralled by Richardson's combination of hard-won ethnographic detail and moving religious insight that speaks to the question of what to do about death within the construct of human evolution.