Adam Morris | Petit Plançó school (Olot) | October 9, 2017

Curiosity can lead almost anywhere—including a new career. This was the idea I wished to communicate when I told students at Petit Plançó school the story of my journey to writing about American messianic sects. Although I am not a scholar of religion or history by academic training, I began writing about messianic movements after curiosity about an architectural ruin—the abandoned luxury hotel in Philadelphia known as the Divine Lorraine—led to my discovery of Father Divine and my subsequent study of other American messianic groups. I was completely fascinated by what I learned, and the subject eventually became a long-term book project. As I told the students, you never know what you might find or do when you allow yourself to indulge curiosity from time to time. 

It’s always invigorating to speak to a new audience about my projects: it helps me see them in a new light. At Petit Plançó, I had the opportunity to explain the impact of messianic movements on American gender and race relations to students who grew up with an entirely different linguistic and cultural context. Their intelligent questions reminded me of important differences between the ways people of different backgrounds understand religion as a cultural institution and social force. I will carry these insights back into my work.