The Power of Belief

Spiritual Landscapes of the Rural South

David Wharton

 
Date Published :
October 2016
Publisher :
George F Thompson Publishing
Contributor(s) :
Charles Reagan Wilson
Language:
English
Illustration :
duotone photographs by the author
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Hardback
ISBN : 9781938086397
Pages : 176
Dimensions : 12 X 10 inches
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In stock
$50.00

Overview
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Winner of the 2017 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Literature award for photography.

The rural American South has no grand cathedrals or other wonder-of-the-world monuments to religious belief. Nor has it ever been the site of religious wars or large-scale religious persecutions we see throughout the world. Nevertheless, as David Wharton reveals in his remarkable new book of photographs, the rural South is a place—a land, a region, a culture, a "way of life"—so heavily invested in religious belief that the spiritual is constantly made manifest in the ordinary. This is how religion becomes pervasive and integral to everyday life in the South for believers and nonbelievers alike.

Just as David Wharton did for his pioneering book, Small Town South, he has traveled throughout the entire South since 1999, on hundreds of trips, making thousands upon thousands of photographs about the region's spiritual landscapes—from churches both active and abandoned in all vernacular shapes and sizes to actual church services and outdoor baptisms, from iconographic signs about Jesus and redemption and sin to welcoming gestures about the wonders of revivals and of grace and compassion. Lurking behind every image, however, is a sense of place about this most distinctive American region, in which religious commitment is confined neither to Sundays nor to individual houses of worship. Religion in the rural South is, quite literally, everywhere.

It is Wharton's unique gift that his photographs have meaning and memory beyond merely recording the physical appearance of spiritual sites and worship activities. The people and places that appear in The Power of Belief are seen not to be a product of recent changes in religious life seen elsewhere in urban and suburban America but, instead, as an ongoing living tradition that dates back far into the history and culture of the rural South.

About The Author
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David Wharton was born in New York City, in 1947, and was raised in New Jersey. He attended Colgate University, where he earned his B.A. in English in 1969. After an extended trip through Andean South America in 1974, he resolved to teach himself how to use a camera and make photography his life's work. From 1976 to 1978 he worked as a photojournalist for the Willamette Valley Observer in Eugene, Oregon. He then entered graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned his M.F.A. in photography in 1986 and his Ph.D. in American studies in 1994. He taught at the University of Texas at San Antonio from 1996 to 1998 and, since 1999, has been Director of Documentary Studies and an assistant professor of Southern studies in the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. His photographs have been exhibited throughout the United States, Latin America, and Europe, and his first book, The Soul of a Small Texas Town: Photographs, Memories, and History from McDade, was published in 2000 by the University of Oklahoma

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