Thanks for following us! We can't wait to start road tripping again and appreciate your interest in our project.
We'll be in touch real soon. Look for our first post in 2010 on March 5th.
Until then, here is a summary of our project:
Miami, what the New York Times has referred to as an “American mecca of decadence,” is filled with toned tanned bodies, upscale resorts, and adventurous nightlife. As the setting for reality shows from Bravo's Miami Social to MTV's Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami, the city behaves like a playground for adults. Miami is projected through the media as a place to get down, get gritty, and get away with it.
Juxtaposed against this ritzy lifestyle, five megachurches exist within the city limits. They continue to attract thousands of worshipers week after week. Devout followers of Jesus Christ attend these houses of worship during the day, mere blocks from where their fellow Miamians let their hair down in what are known as “megaclubs.” The opportunities created by a megachurch and a megaclub are not lost on us. For this reason, we want to investigate the possible relationship between the glamorous and carefree Miami lifestyle and the megachurches that operate widely within it. To allay any fears about four college youths confronted with notorious clubbing opportunities, most of our exploration is going to take place during the daylight hours. From the beaches to the streets, Miami style is revealing and indulgent. Our foundational inquiry: how does Miami's reputation affect the religious life there?
By evaluating our experience last spring break, we have been able to make some adjustments. Our goal is to continue a discussion of large-scale religiosity in a popular and complex setting – but also to hone in more closely and try to elucidate the revelations we have. Whereas the outcome from last year's trip amounted to a number of different threads on our religioUSA blog, we'd like to continue in four specific directions. We will look at the differences between this trip and the last in terms of (1) our personal transformation and interpersonal dynamic, (2) the roadtrip experience with a new destination, (3) religion in a reportedly hedonistic atmosphere, and (4) strategies for mass appeal of both religious and recreational institutions. We also believe focusing on a smaller area – a city instead of an enormous region – will enable us to support more precise conclusions. We will have more time to speak with the locals, and more time to saturate ourselves in the atmosphere.
Our journey will begin Friday, March 5th and conclude Sunday, March 14th. After arriving in Miami, we will be devoted to exploring the South Beach area – its culture, beaches, shopping centers, social offerings – and the air-conditioned sanctuaries of its megachurches. To ensure that we spend the maximum number of Sundays in church, we will be also visit the McLean Bible Church on our way back to Philadelphia. We visited this church last year, and it will be useful to our purposes to acknowledge any new developments there.
We will embark on a journey that will test our wits, preconceived notions, and ability to communicate our experiences. We will write as regularly as last year on the same blog, continuing where we left off. While some of the subject matter is the same, we want to dig deeper, come to fairer conclusions, and learn more about the mechanisms that make our country what it is. These mechanisms define our social and spiritual order – be it through their presence in our lives or a lack thereof. These spring break enterprises enrich our understanding of ourselves by giving us the opportunity to better understand the heterogeneous communities around us.
The Members of Spring Break Odyssey 2010