Audio essay. Production¬†by D’Arcee Charington Neal.

The COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges and new possibilities for our work on the American Religious Sounds Project. Stay-at-home orders meant we could no longer safely visit religious houses of worship or other public places where we had been producing recordings for several years. On the other hand, we realized that we had an extraordinary opportunity to document in real time how the pandemic was transforming American religious life and to create a permanent archive for the future.

In May 2020, we announced a new crowdsourced initiative. We put out a call, inviting members of the general public to send us recordings documenting how their religious and spiritual practices were changing in response to COVID. We were overwhelmed by the response. To date, we have received close to 200 submissions from across the country, representing a wide range of traditions and practices.

This exhibit shares what we learned by listening for religion during the time of COVID. It is divided into three sections. Playlists offers curated playlists of excerpts from the audio submissions we received, organized by themes that we identified as we listened. Essays features extended multi-media essays on specific themes and practices. Community Channels provides opportunities for specific communities to share, in their own words, how they adapted to the conditions of the pandemic.

We invite you to listen, reflect, and share with us. What do your religious and spiritual practices sound like in the age of COVID-19?
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