Implicit Religion, Vol 12, No 1 (2009)

The “Sin” of Wal-Mart Architecture: A Visual Theology Reflecting Economic Realities

Christy M. Newton
Issued Date: 7 Aug 2009

Abstract


The visual symbols of society’s most deeply lived religious beliefs are ever-present: what one sees is what one believes, and what one believes is evident in what one sees. Relying on the foundational work of sociologists, this paper considers the reciprocal relationship between the political economy and the voice of religion by focusing on a specific object of material culture: the architecture of a Wal-Mart store. People often define place, community, and value in relation to a Wal-Mart store, which raises important theological concerns surrounding individual and community identities, sin, grace, abundance, dependency, commodification, and consumption, as well as specific sociological concerns surrounding class, religious fundamentalism, and militarism. Generated by the neo colonial interests of economic and cultural globalization, a Wal-Mart building communicates a “visual theology,” with roots in a monolithic form of cultural production beyond the control of individuals and communities and yet determinative on many levels of social life.

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DOI: 10.1558/imre.v12i1.021

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