Christian Materiality Introduction

Bynum, while obviously drawing from earlier philosophers and theorists we’ve studied (such as Latour), makes sure to draw a divide between her arguments and that of total ‘thing power’. Based on our early readings of her theories, how does Christian Materiality differ from the thing power found within Vibrant Materialism and Latour’s theories? What do you think are, or will be, the defining characteristics separating the two?

1 thought on “Christian Materiality Introduction

  1. Christian Materiality differs from total “thing power” in that it relies on a desire for the utility, or power over objects. To an extent, an objects agency is determined by the agent which operates on or through it, whether human or supernatural. The crucifix for example. What does a crucifix ‘do’? Bennett may conclude that it has a power all its own, while Bynum would most likely emphasize the human manipulation and transformations which act on that crucifix which produces its agency, a emphasis on the influencing of things which makes them active.

    I think the defining characteristic of Christian Materiality will be its preoccupation with magic or otherworldly influences on objects and how this makes them unstable or untrustworthy, or mysterious. The transconfiguration of the Eucharist is one example in which a supposedly ‘godly’ influence transforms things: the bread and wine into quasi-literal body and blood.

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