Things Seen and Unseen

Geoffrey Cantor

in Religion and the Great Exhibition of 1851

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199596676
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725685 | DOI:
Things Seen and Unseen

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One of the main issues of contention among religious writers was whether and to what extent the outwardly worldly Exhibition, with its extensive displays of material artefacts, could be reconciled with the other‐worldliness of Christianity and especially its promise of a future life beyond the grave. This chapter examines how Christians representing a wide range of religious positions engaged—and sometimes tried to resolve—this apparent contradiction. Arguments from design were utilized by many Christians to render the Exhibition religiously acceptable by portraying the objects on display—even man‐made artefacts—as ultimately designed by God. However, while some evangelicals disparaged the objects on display in the Crystal Palace as insignificant when compared with the far more pressing issue of man's salvation, others welcomed the Exhibition as a divinely ordained event.

Keywords: artefacts; design; Great Exhibition; materialism; salvation; worldly

Chapter.  5982 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Christianity

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