From the Puritan settlers, to mega churches and the prosperity gospel, the story of American religion has greatly shaped our nation and the people of it. Throughout the formation of religion in America there has been a common theme of conscious. This has allowed for people to argue that in there truest of true self’s, that the Lord God told them to do so. Conscious is protected, there is no way to tell if someone did or did not feel it in their heart, we just do not know. It is one man’s word against the other. This has fostered a sense of self in American religion that is accentuated through a democratic government where freedom is emphasized. With the government and the argument of conscious in addition to our inherently prideful self’s, there becomes a place where everyone is going to see religion in their own way. Early on, the people that made this known were looked at to be going against the church. They went out and formed denominations, became preachers, or moved away to continue to do what they wanted to and believed. With church order and structure becoming of less importance, it is not as noticeable when someone begins to disagree or step away. I believe that today, many people have formed their own church full of spirituality, self-help, prosperity gospel, maybe a Sunday service or too and that thing called the Bible somewhere at the end. From the “self” aspect of faith and religion for the Puritans being worried that they would be condemned to Hell, today it is much more focused on personal happiness. This can be seen in Opera, Joel Osteen, and on any bookshelf. The formation of technology has continued to form this sense of self religion, where people go and watch a mega church sermon on their computer or listen to a podcast. I believe that American religion has become a product of conscious and freedom which is now presenting itself as self-religion of what one wants, when, where, and how they want it.
This can be seen in the large following of those preaching the prosperity gospel, such as Joel Osteen, believing that if "I" am obedient to God then "I" will have more money, health, and happiness. Another way this can be looked at is from metaphysical religion, or the spiritual but not religious. They are ok with believing that there is something bigger out there, but they want it to be in their control and of their understanding, preventing the need for true faith. In another vein, the individualism of Americans shows the desire for people to be in control and focused on understanding themselves over understanding God.
The first imagine shows a church overlaid on a portrait to depict how people have become their own churches, creating their own beliefs and making themself larger than the church. The window is overlaid on her face showing there there is no true passage into ones conscious, but the mind can make you believe that there is with the stairs leading up to her head where all of these beliefs lay.
The second image depicts how people fill themself with knowledge, taking bits from each and forming their own beliefs, which is why her face is uncovered. There is a bit of haze over all of it though as not everything is completely understood. The bible is open in the bottom of the image as it is the foundation for American religion but gets looked over with things such as doctrine, theology, or worldly things such as financial knowledge being treated as greater.
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