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Religious and Philosophical Perspectives in Dialogue
For the living, death has a moral dimension. When we confront death and dying in our own lives and in the lives of others, we ask questions about the good, right, and fitting as they relate to our experiences of human mortality. When others die, the living are left with moral questions—questions that often generate personal inquiry as to whether a particular death was “good” or whether it was tragic, terrifying, or peaceful.
In The Ethics of Death, the authors, one a philosopher and one a religious studies scholar, undertake an examination of the deaths that we experience as members of a larger moral community. Their respectful and engaging dialogue highlights the complex and challenging issues that surround many deaths in our modern world and helps readers frame thoughtful responses.
Unafraid of difficult topics, Steffen and Cooley fully engage suicide, physician assisted suicide, euthanasia, capital punishment, abortion, and war as areas of life where death poses moral challenges.
Religious Epistemology and the God-World Relationship
In Evidence and Transcendence, Anne Inman critiques modern attempts to explain the knowability of God and points the way toward a religious epistemology that avoids their pitfalls. Christian apologetics faces two major challenges: the classic Enlightenment insistence on the need to provide evidence for anything that is put forward for belief; and the argument that all human knowledge is mediated by finite reality and thus no “knowledge” of a being interpreted as completely other than finite reality is possible. Modern Christian apologists have tended to understand their task primarily, if not exclusively, in terms of one of these challenges. As examples of contemporary rationalist and postliberal approaches, Inman analyzes in depth the religious epistemologies of philosopher Richard Swinburne and theologians George Lindbeck and Ronald Theimann. She concludes that none of their positions is satisfactory, because none can uphold the notion of God’s transcendence while at the same time preserving a sound account of our claims to freedom and knowledge. The root cause of such failures, Inman argues, is an inadequate philosophy of God and of the relation of God and the finite world. Her exploration of the theologies of Karl Rahner and Friedrich Schleiermacher provides the material for the constructive work in this book. Against rationalist and postliberal epistemologies, Inman calls for an austere grounding of Christian faith in the claim that God is known in human conscious activity as such, as the “other” that grounds the finite.
Emmanuel Levinas Between Jews and Christians
We are exorbitant, and rightly so, when we cut any link we may have to cosmological powers. Levinas invites us to be exorbitant by distancing ourselves from visions of metaphysics, epistemology, and theology. We begin to listen well to Levinas when we hear him inviting us to break completely with the pagan world in which the gods are simply the highest beings in the cosmos and learn to practice an adult religion in which God is outside cosmology and ontology. God comes to mind neither in our attempts to think him as the creator of the cosmos nor in moments of ecstasy but in acts of genuine holiness, such as sharing a piece of bread with someone in a time of desperate need. Levinas, in short, enjoins us to be exorbitant in our dealings with one another. This book asks how the betweenof Levinas's thinking facilitates a dialogue between Jews and Christians. In one sense, Levinas stands exactly between Jews and Christians: ethics, as he conceives it, is a space in which religious traditions can meet. At the same time, his position seems profoundly ambivalent. No one can read a page of his writings without hearing a Jewish voice as well a a philosophical one. Yet his talk of substitution seems to resonate with Christological themes. On occasion, Levinas himself sharply distinguishes Judaism from Christianity--but to what extent can his thinking become the basis for a dialogue between Christians and Jews? This book, with a stellar cast of contributors, explores these questions, thereby providing a snapshot of the current state of Jewish-Christian dialogue.
A Postmodern Response
The book provides a series of approaches to the ancient question of whether and how God is a matter of experience,or, alternately, to what extent the notion of experience can be true to itself if it does not include God. On the one hand, it seems impossible to experience God: the deity does not offer Himself to sense experience. On the other hand, there have been mystics who have claimed to have encountered God. The essays in this collection seek to explore the topic again, drawing insights from phenomenology, theology, literature, and feminism. Throughout, this stimulating collection maintains a strong connection with concrete rather than abstract approaches to God.The contributors: Michael F. Andrews, Jeffrey Bloechl, John D. Caputo, Kristine Culp, Kevin Hart, Kevin L. Hughes, Jean-Yves Lacoste, Crystal Lucky, Renee McKenzie, Kim Paffenroth, Michael Purcell, Michael J. Scanlon, O.S.A., James K. A. Smith. Kevin Hart is Notre Dame Professor of English and Concurrent Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame; among his many books are The Trespass of the Sign: Deconstruction, Theology, and Philosophy (Fordham), and The Dark Gaze: Maurice Blanchot and the Sacred. His most recent collection of poems is Flame Tree: Selected Poems. Barbara Wall is Special Assistant to the President for Mission Effectiveness and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University. She is co-editor of The Journal of Catholic Social Thought and The Journal of Peace and Justice Studies.
Their Roles in Religious and Secular Life
Explores the mutually dependent relationship of faith and reason in human life and human knowledge. Few words are as widely misconceived as the word “faith.” Faith is often set in stark opposition to reason, considered antithetical to scientific thought, and heavily identified with religion. Donald Crosby’s revealing book provides a more complex picture, discussing faith and its connection to the whole of human life and human knowledge. Crosby writes about that existential faith that underlies, shapes, and supports a person’s life and its sense of purpose and direction. Such faith does not make a person religious and being secular does not mean one rejects all forms of faith. Throughout the book Crosby makes the case that faith is fundamentally involved in all processes of reasoning and that reason is an essential part of all dependable forms of faith. Crosby elaborates the major components of faith and goes on to look at the mutually dependent relationships between faith and knowledge, faith and scientific knowledge, and faith and morality. The work’s final chapters examine crises of faith among several noted thinkers as well as the author’s own journey of faith from plans for the ministry to pastor to secular philosopher and religious naturalist.
Feminist theory and reflections on sexuality and gender rarely make contact with contemporary continental philosophy of religion. Where they all come together, creative and transformative thinking occurs. In Feminism, Sexuality, and the Return of Religion, internationally recognized scholars tackle complicated questions provoked by the often stormy intersection of these powerful forces. The essays in this book break down barriers as they extend the richness of each philosophical tradition. They discuss topics such as queer sexuality and religion, feminism and the gift, feminism and religious reform, and religion and diversity. The contributors are Hélène Cixous, Sarah Coakley, Kelly Brown Douglas, Mark D. Jordan, Catherine Keller, Saba Mahmood, and Gianni Vattimo.
Since the establishment of Christianity in the West as a major religious tradition, Augustine (354–430 C.E.) has been considered a principal architect of the ways philosophy can be used for reasoning about faith. In particular, Augustine effected the joining of Platonism with Christian belief for the Middle Ages and beyond. The results of his enterprise continue to be felt, especially with regard to the contested topics of human embodiment, sexuality, and the nature and roles of women. As a result, few thinkers have been as problematic for feminists as he has been. He is the thinker that a number of feminists love to hate. What do feminist thinkers make of this problematic legacy? These lively essays address that question and provide thoughtful arguments for the value of engaging Augustine’s ideas and texts anew by using the well-established methodologies that feminists have developed over the last thirty years. Augustine and his legacy have much to answer for, but these essays show that the body of his work also has much to offer as feminists explore, challenge, and reframe his thinking while forging new paradigms for construing gender, power, and notions of divinity.
Emmanuel Levinas, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, and Israel among the Nations
Reviews the potentially complementary albeit sharp differences between two important contemporary Jewish philosophers. The Fence and the Neighbor traces the contours of two thinkers, Emmanuel Levinas and Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who crossed the divide between Talmud and philosophy “proper.” Adam Zachary Newton shows how the question of nationalism that has so long haunted Western philosophy—the question of who belongs within its “fence,” and who outside—has long been the concern of Jewish thought and its preoccupation with law, limits, and the place of Israel among the nations. To those unfamiliar with Talmudic thought Newton shows how deeply its language and concerns shape Levinas. He also offers an introduction to Leibowitz, a conservative religious thinker who was an outspoken gadfly and radically critical voice in the Israeli political scene. Together, their common origin in Jewish Eastern Europe, a common concern with national allegiance, and the common fence of religious Judaism that makes them intellectual neighbors are voiced in penetrating and original dialogue.
A Lexicography of the Scapegoat or, the History of an Idea
Wandering Monks in Twentieth-Century Thailand
"I stayed [in the forest] for two nights. The first night, nothing happened. The second night, at about one or two in the morning, a tiger came--which meant that I didn't get any sleep the whole night. I sat in meditation, scared stiff, while the tiger walked around and around my umbrella tent (klot). My body felt all frozen and numb. I started chanting, and the words came out like running water. All the old chants I had forgotten now came back to me, thanks both to my fear and to my ability to keep my mind under control. I sat like this from 2 until 5 a.m., when the tiger finally left." --A forest monk During the first half of this century the forests of Thailand were home to wandering ascetic monks. They were Buddhists, but their brand of Buddhism did not copy the practices described in ancient doctrinal texts. Their Buddhism found expression in living day-to-day in the forest and in contending with the mental and physical challenges of hunger, pain, fear, and desire. Combining interviews and biographies with an exhaustive knowledge of archival materials and a wide reading of ephemeral popular literature, Kamala Tiyavanich documents the monastic lives of three generations of forest-dwelling ascetics and challenges the stereotype of state-centric Thai Buddhism. Although the tradition of wandering forest ascetics has disappeared, a victim of Thailand's relentless modernization and rampant deforestation, the lives of the monks presented here are a testament to the rich diversity of regional Buddhist traditions. The study of these monastic lineages and practices enriches our understanding of Buddhism in Thailand and elsewhere.