A few years ago, I had a couple of features on my blog called Virtual Sundays and Vintage Religion. After I posted a blog survey, a reader in Australia emailed me to say she really missed the Vintage Religion posts. They were kind of the religious version of Gen X nostalgia. So, as time permits, I’ll be reviving this blog feature. Enjoy!
|From the Elgin County Archives | VBS in Elgin County, 1974|
Summer always reminds me of Vacation Bible School. Who didn’t love winning prizes for bringing friends or making paperweights out of baby food jars filled with glitter? I loved seeing adults dress up as Bible characters and sets created out of refrigerator boxes. The felt boards (sometimes called flannel boards), were always my favorite thing. I loved hearing Bible stories as each new felt character was added.
Felt Board Stories
|Felt Board Stories | 1951 | Mennonite USA Archives|
Here is a picture I came across on Flickr of an American missionary using a felt board to teach some children in Argentina about Moses and the burning bush. This was taken in 1951 and is part of the archives of the Mennonite Church USA. They’ve enabled the Blogger share function, but they’ve labeled the photo “all rights reserved.”
Go ahead and laugh. I did. There is something somewhat amusing about that felt bush. Obviously, some Bible stories lend themselves to felt boards more than others. Like, I bet there aren’t any felt characters with leprosy, and I bet nobody is selling a felt set of a woman being stoned for having five husbands. :O
I like felt boards so much, I bought one a few years ago for my kids along with characters from the story of Noah and the Ark. Etsy is a fabulous resource for all kinds of felt board stories. It’s also easy to make your own felt board. I came across this tutorial with templates for dress-up.
Who Are the 12 Disciples?
I love to search on Etsy for vintage religious items. This week I came across a set of hand-styled and hand-painted religious figures. It includes the original 12 disciples, half of whom I can never remember. They were John, Peter (Simon Peter), Matthew, Andrew, Thomas, Philip, Simon, Jude (Jude Thaddeus), Bartholomew, James the Greater, James the Less and Judas. Also included in the set is Matthias (who replaced Judas), Jesus and Paul the Apostle. This is such a cool find and rare collection. You can buy it for $50.
|Vintage Religious Figures via Retro Cents Studio on Etsy|
Vintage Bar Mitzvah Photos
I love sourcing photos of Gen Xers at their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, First Communions and baptisms, etc. They can be hard to find, and when you do (usually on Flickr), they’re not available for sharing.
|Barry’s Bar Mitzvah, 1980 | via goldenbiceps on Flickr | Creative Commons License applies|
Here are a couple of great Bar Mitzvah photos taken in 1980. These are from the Flickr user goldenbicep and are made available through the Creative Commons License.
The Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a coming-of-age ritual for Jewish youth. A boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah at age 13 and a girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah at age 12.
St. Ambrose Church, Berkeley, California | First Communion Ceremony, 1976
Photo made available through the Blogger share function on Flickr via jeneen_johnston.
|1975 via Library Studies Student|
As a kid, I remember seeing pictures of communion dresses in the Sears, Montgomery Ward and JC Penney catalogs. I always wanted my mom to buy me one. They looked like wedding dresses for little girls, which, in essence they are. The dresses are white symbolizing both purity and that the child has become the Bride of Christ.
Most of the First Communion dresses I see today fall just above the ankles, but when Gen Xers were growing up they were either really short or really long. Girls wore them with white leotards or tall white knee socks, and the veils were generally quite poofy.
Generation X and Religion
|McKinley Archives, 1971|
I’m fascinated by the religious experiences Gen Xers had in childhood, especially since religious affiliation among Generation X has reportedly declined. Based on a study by the Pew Forum for Religious Life 20 percent of Gen Xers claim no religious affiliation. This is compared to 8 percent of Silent Generation members and 13 percent of Baby Boomers.
What were your religious experiences in youth and how have they informed your adult life?