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Monumental Jesus

Landscapes of Faith and Doubt in Modern America
Margaret M. Grubiak

BUY Cloth · 216 pp. · 7 × 8 · ISBN 9780813943749 · $49.50 · Feb 2020
BUY Ebook · 216 pp. · ISBN 9780813943756 · $49.50 · Feb 2020

The American landscape is host to numerous works of religious architecture, sometimes questionable in taste and large, if not titanic, in scale. In her lively study of satire and religious architecture, Margaret Grubiak challenges how we typically view such sites by shifting the focus from believers to doubters, and from producers to consumers. Grubiak considers an array of sacred architectural constructions—from "Touchdown Jesus" at the University of Notre Dame to the Wizard of Oz Mormon temple outside Washington D.C. to the renamed "Gumby Jesus" of the Christ of the Ozarks statue in Eureka Springs, Arkansas - and how such constructions are confronted by the doubt and dismissiveness articulated by the more skeptical of their viewers. These responses of doubt activate our religious built environment in ways unanticipated but illuminating, asking us, at times forcefully, to consider and clarify what it is we believe. Opening up new avenues of thinking about how people deal with theological questions in the vernacular, Grubiak’s book shows how religious doubt is made manifest in the humorous, satirical, blasphemous, and popular culture responses to religious architecture and image in modern America.

Midcentury: Architecture, Landscape, Urbanism, and Design


Elegant, original, and intellectually rigorous, Monumental Jesus is a timely contribution to the field of modern religious architectural history.

Joseph M. Siry, Wesleyan University, author of Beth Sholom Synagogue: Frank Lloyd Wright and Modern Religious Architecture

About the Author(s): 

Margaret M. Grubiak is Associate Professor of Architectural History at Villanova University and the author of White Elephants on Campus: The Decline of the University Chapel in America, 1920–1960.

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