Lecture Twenty Four Christianities Popular and Real

Scope: A study of the vestibule and sanctuary of a typical Roman Catholic church of the twenty-first century reveals the enduring tension in Christianity between official religion (which is all about controlled power) and popular religion (in which power eludes official channels). Official religion always claims to be real religion, tending to despise the popular. Academic study of religion, for a variety of reasons, has tended to follow the same path. Thus, we know much more about Christianity's official leaders, doctrines, moral teachings, and forms of organization than we do about the actual religious lives of Christians. Only recently has scholarship paid due attention to popular forms of Christianity, although its messiness makes analysis difficult. We have learned just enough to open our eyes to see afresh the history of Christianity and its current manifestations.

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