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Channeling the Symbols of God’s Radiation: An Ethnographic Analysis of the Functions of Sacred Materials in Superetism

  • Author(s): Brown, Degenhart Maria Grey
  • Advisor(s): Roberts, Allen F.
  • et al.
Abstract

Despite mounting interest in the lives of objects across a broad swathe of academic disciplines, researchers often reduce the complex mediating role of religious materials among human and divine beings to categorical, social constructions. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the United States, Mexico, and Nigeria over a period of five years, this thesis explores the divine and agentive functions of sacred objects pertaining to the Los Angeles-based Holy Superet Light Church. Since the passing of the movement’s founder in 1957, Superet sacred objects have adopted Her role as mediator between humanity and God. As indexical representations for God’s Light, Superetists consider the movement’s religious materials to possess remedial qualities that transcend human agency. Ultimately, this project prioritizes an emic, collaborative perspective in exploring how members of the Holy Superet Light Church access spiritual and physical healing through an immersive, long-term interaction with the religion’s material culture.

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