A History of Religion in 5 ½ Objects, authored by Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies S. Brent Plate, has recently been reviewed and featured prominently by several media outlets. The Christian Century chose an essay by Plate about his book titled “Faith of the senses - Christianity in five objects” as its cover story for its May 14, bi-weekly edition. The Los Angeles Review of Books praised the book in its April 25 issue in an article titled “Bringing the Spiritual to Its Senses” and Marginalia Review of Books featured an interview with Plate focused on the book. The New Republic praised his book in an April 9 review titled “Religion Only Works When It Appeals to the Senses.” Previously the Library Journal had assessed the book as “highly recommended.”
In his invited submission to The Christian Century, Plate claimed, “… a look at religious history, including Christian history, reveals a deep-seated, perennial love for things. Objects large and small, valuable and worthless, are part of the tradition from the beginning, creating memories and meanings for the Christians who pray and worship, love and share, make pilgrimage and make music. An account of Christian history is incomplete if it ignores material things.
“My aim here is to tell a story of Christian life in five objects, with frequent reference to the human body that connects and corresponds with these objects.”
The Los Angeles Review of Books declared Plate’s work as a “provocative, contemplative, and beautifully written book [that] aims to do just what its subtitle promises: to bring the spiritual and the religious ‘to its senses.’ Back to its senses, really.” The reviewer wrote, “Reading this book is such a pleasure. … you’ll see something you thought you understood in a new way.”
The New Republic’s reviewer described Plate’s book as an “erudite and lyrical account of the role of objects in religious expression” and his interpretations, his reading of material culture, as “often downright revelatory.”