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On Religion and Memory

Babette Hellemans

Publication Year: 2013

This volume takes up the challenge implied in Augustine's paradox of time: How does one account for the continuity of history and the certitude of memory, if time, in the guise of an indivisible "now," cuts off any extension of the present? The thinkers and artists the essays address include Augustine, Abelard, Eriugena and Thoreau, Calvin, Shakespeare, De Rancé, Stravinsky and Messiaen, Rubens and Woolf.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-8

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pp. ix-12

On Religion and Memory was initially conceived at a colloquium held in December 2008 at the premises of the Dutch Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in Amsterdam. The colloquium was designed as a pre-paratory exchange of ideas that was to materialize in a joint publication. Accordingly, all participants were invited to address a set of questions con-...

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Introduction: On Religion and Pastness

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pp. 1-14

This volume brings together a number of studies dealing with the pastness of the religious, Christian past.1 While it is generally accepted that temporality and historicity are constitutive elements of the Christian religion to the extent that Christianity is sometimes credited with being their founder, the actual status of time in religion is far from self-evident. First, ...

I. Time and Eternity: Between and Betwixt

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1. The Vision at Ostia: Augustine’s Desire to Become a Red Indian

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pp. 17-31

The concept of time that is central to this volume derives from Augustine’s aporetic notion of temporality as it has been handsomely summarized by Garry Wills—Wills, in turn, evoking Nabokov to support his own reading: ...

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2. Memory and the Sublime: Wittgenstein on Augustine’s Trouble with Time

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pp. 32-42

Augustine writes his Confessions under the assumption that God’s experience of time must be radically different from his own. This assumption of his proves to be problematic, not for the unsurprising reason that Augustine is not God and so has little acquaintance with divine time-consciousness, but because Augustine, from his own time-bound point of view, fi nds that he ...

II. Moving Progressively Backward

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3. The Man without Memory: Peter Abelard and Trust in History

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pp. 45-63

In the first section of this volume (on Augustine and Wittgenstein) it has been pointed out how the structure of language becomes scattered in the realm of history, especially when language uttered by the “confessional self ” is at issue. This article will turn toward a more theoretical approach of this problem. It seeks to explore how one of the most famous confessional...

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4. Creation and Epiphanic Incarnation: Reflections on the Future of Natural Theology from an Eriugenian-Emersonian Perspective

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pp. 64-88

Why should there be an essay about nature in a volume about temporality? In terms of Christian theology one may be inclined to say that time is all about linearity and horizontal progression, while nature is about God’s vertical intervention in the world, styled in the final analysis as his single- handed invention of it. The latter position is what has become...

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5. The Care of the Past: The Place of Pastness in Transgenerational Projects

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pp. 89-99

It is not hard to find in different religious communities a concern for trans-generational projects, those human projects that by their very nature assume that many individuals and communities will participate in them, care for them, across time, in different times and places. Transgenerational projects are always ongoing and appear in history as-yet-unfinished...

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6. Trembling in Time: Silence and Meaning between Barthes, Chateaubriand, and Rancé

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pp. 100-120

Thus speak Chateaubriand and Barthes about transcending time. Each steeped in his time, the former lingers with the work of the genius on the verge of death; the latter with the mystery of the fragmented. Time transcended, time confirmed. Barthes took up this duplexity in his essay “La voyageuse de nuit” (1965) on Chateaubriand’s Vie de Rancé (1844), and with...

III. Time and the Ordinary

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7. The Literary Comfort of Eternity:Calvin and Thoreau

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pp. 123-136

Calvin’s theology has a peculiar relationship to the comfort that eternity can bring. In Calvin scholarship, a polemic has ensued between those who believe that there is a clear break between Calvin and the later Calvinists who transformed his Calvinist theology into an orthodox and overly philosophical Calvinist doctrine,2 on the one hand, and those that uphold that in...

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8. The Past and History in Ordinary Language Philosophy

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pp. 137-152

An attempt to address temporality from the point of view of ordinary lan-guage philosophy may appear to be self-defeating—so elusive is the topic in the work of its major exponents, Ludwig Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, and Stanley Cavell. This elusiveness fosters the idea that ordinary language philosophy is generally hostile to historical approaches. For example, when ...

IV. Time and Lateness

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9. From Past to Present and from Listening to Hearing: Final Indefinable Moments in Bach’s and Stravinsky’s Music

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pp. 155-174

On May 15, 1999, the main organizer of Indian music concerts in Amsterdam, John Eijlers, decided to launch a completely different approach to music performance.1 At the beginning of a recital at the Theatre of the Royal Tropical Institute he declared that the time had come to end applause from the public, even as the last musical sounds are still moving...

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10. Late Style Messiaen

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pp. 175-186

What is the role of time in the work of a religious artist? This question shall guide my ruminations in this essay.
For most religious artists some relation with the eternal—that is, it seems, with the square opposite of time—appears to be part of their creative program. Religious works of art often aim to express, symbolize, allegorize, or perhaps even capture some aspect of the timeless realms of...

V. Time and Oblivion

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11. Of Shakespeare and Pastness

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pp. 189-203

Shakespeare, it is often said, is a writer neither of the past nor of the future but of the continuous present. From his first posthumous entry into the world in the complete works edition of 1623, he was described (in an epigraph to the First Folio by his own contemporary Ben Jonson) as a poet who transcended time. He is a monument without a tomb, and lives on, ...

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12. The Anger of Angels: From Rubens to Virginia Woolf

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pp. 204-230

In the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford is a drawing of Rubens’ entitled Landscape with Mill Buildings. The drawing is in pen and ink on gray “stone-coloured” paper.1 The lines appear to have been made with the rapidity and the fluency of what is drawn from life, and even the nonchalance of the virtuoso capable of perceiving the scene as ...


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pp. 231-268


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pp. 269-271

E-ISBN-13: 9780823251643
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823251629
Print-ISBN-10: 0823251624

Page Count: 6
Illustrations: 1 b/w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Cloth