Jose Quintero: Asad and Professor Walton

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In Professor Walton’s lecture “This is my body broken for you…”, Walton spoke on relating Christianity to the present struggles of Black and Brown bodies. The incident at hand was a die-in staged in front of Harvard Memorial Church while mass was taken indoors. Some of the parishioners were angry that the die-in was being performed during their sacred ceremony. Professor Walton argues that protest is a form of public ritual, for it is a theatrical representation of injustice and resistance. Professor Walton brings up Jesus’s last supper, where he gave his body and blood in remembrance of him. Professor Walton describes Jesus and the jews as religious subversives for they were going against the Pax Romana. The bread and wine meant to stand as Jesus broken body. Professor Walton offers the idea to change the bread and wine to an Arizona iced tea and Skittles, the two objects Trayvon Martin was carrying before being shot by George Zimmerman. The adoption of new symbols for the consumption of broken bodies.

I would like to relate this to the Asad’s writing of religious symbols and how they fits into religion and society. Asad writes that ritual is meant how it is played out. Here protest is seen as a ritual for it engages with the damage of black and brown bodies. The eurocentric idea of what is a ritual is critiqued here by Talal Asad. The premise of the argument is the protest being held at the same time as the mass. Asad argues that religious symbols are more apart of life and not just for religious ceremonies as in European traditions. Professor Walton argues that a protest is tied to Christianity. Trayvon Martin and others are martyrs of Black Lives Matter, and so religion should take a greater part in remembering such a fallen figure. Hence, the renewing of the religious symbols. In a way it is still eurocentric, for this is a black and brown body issue. It is easily discarded by the white masses when it should be consider as part of the religious celebration.

 

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