It goes without saying that Detroit has seen better economic times. It seems like there is almost nothing left in the city. That is, except for murder, fire, and churches.
The photo “praying, east side” got me thinking about the instances that spirituality comes up in LeDuff’s book. There are plenty of instances. Detroit is a city with a very involved and vibrant religious life. An observant character even says “Why are there so many churches here? Who goes to them? Why can’t we just do it like the white people-have three different churches and that’s it?”
Certain characters seem have copious amounts of faith. Kiera Bell’s father, for instance. He was out of a job, below the poverty line, and living in the most dangerous city in the world. However, he found God in everyday occurrences. “The car still works. Praise him.” Big Martha, as well. She is completely down on her luck-her children were unfair victims of the city, killed in drug-related incidents as nothing more than innocent bystanders. However, she has is deeply spiritual. She believes that god communicates with her through her dreams, that her late children and mother are in a better places with the Lord. This is something intriguing, almost beautiful to see. In a situation where it would be much easier to be apathetic, to lose hope in an unseen god, these people have faith to spare. This is an example of spiritual plenty- hope can be found in decay and desparation.
However, this is Detroit, so even religion is stained with curruption. For example, Kwami Kirkpatrick and his adminstration are all worshippers of the Shrine of the black Madonna, a church that was centered around an African-American jesus christ. Also worshippers are the firefighters, arguably the bravest, most hardworking men in Murder City. There is great juxtaposition in this-in a church centered around equality and possibility, worshippers such as Kwame are profitting from inequality and the city’s ruin.
The most outlandish example of corrupt religion in Detroit is the example of Prophet Jones. The infamous Monica Conyers is a follower. He believed that by 2000, humans would become immortal. His commandments were backwards and inconcievable for modern day: he claimed that women should take laxitives twice a day, wear red nail polish, and always have on a girdle to keep their stomachs from showing.
I’m sorry, but at least the way I was raised, Jesus Christ never mentioned laxatives in his teachings.
So, the question still plagues me: is Detroit a land of spiritual poverty, or prosperity?