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Decoding Roger Williams

The Lost Essay of Rhode Island’s Founding Father

Linford D. Fisher

Near the end of his life, Roger Williams, Rhode Island founder and father of American religious freedom, scrawled an encrypted essay in the margins of a colonial-era book. For more than 300 years those shorthand notes remained indecipherable... ...until a team of Brown University undergraduates led by Lucas Mason-Brown cracked Williams’ code after the marginalia languished for over a century in the archives of the John Carter Brown Library. At the time of Williams’ writing, a trans-Atlantic debate on infant versus believer’s baptism had taken shape that included London Baptist minister John Norcott and the famous Puritan “Apostle to the Indians,” John Eliot. Amazingly, Williams’ code contained a previously undiscovered essay, which was a point-by-point refutation of Eliot’s book supporting infant baptism. History professors Linford D. Fisher and J. Stanley Lemons immediately recognized the importance of what turned out to be theologian Roger Williams’ final treatise. Decoding Roger Williams reveals for the first time Williams’ translated and annotated essay, along with a critical essay by Fisher, Lemons, and Mason-Brown and reprints of the original Norcott and Eliot tracts.

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Decreation

The Last Things of All Creatures

Paul J. Griffiths

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The Devil as Muse

Blake, Byron, and the Adversary

Fred Parker

Does the Devil lie at the heart of the creative process? In The Devil as Muse, Fred Parker offers an entirely fresh reflection on the age-old question, echoing William Blake’s famous statement: “the true poet is of the Devil’s party." Expertly examining three literary interpretations of the Devil and his influence upon the artist—Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost, the Mephistopheles of Goethe’s Faust, and the one who offers daimonic creativity in Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus—Parker unveils a radical tension between the ethical and the aesthetic. While the Devil is the artist’s necessary collaborator and liberating muse, from an ethical standpoint the price paid for such creativity is nothing less damnable than the Faustian pact—and the artist who is creative in that way is seen as accursed, alienated, morally disturbing. In their own different ways, Parker shows, Blake, Byron, and Mann all reflect and acknowledge that tension in their work, and model ways to resolve it through their writing. Linking these literary conceptions with scholarship on the genesis of the historical conception of the Devil and recent work on the role of “otherness” in creativity, Parker insightfully suggests how creative literature can feel its way back along the processes—both theological and psychological—that lie behind such constructions of the Adversary.

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Dirty Work

The Social Construction of Taint

Edited by Shirley K. Drew, Melanie B. Mills, and Bob M. Gassaway

Dirty Work profiles a number of occupations that society deems tainted. The volume's vivid, ethnographic reports focus on the communication that helps workers manage the moral, social, and physical stains that derive from engaging in such occupations. The creative ways that those who perform such dirty work learn to communicate with each other, and with outsiders, regulate the negative aspects of the work itself and emphasize the positives so that workers can maintain a sense of self-value even while performing devalued occupations.

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Disability and Spirituality

Recovering Wholeness

William C. Gaventa

Disability and spirituality have traditionally been understood as two distinct spheres: disability is physical and thus belongs to health care professionals, while spirituality is religious and belongs to the church, synagogue, or mosque and their theologians, clergy, rabbis, and imams. This division leads to stunted theoretical understanding, limited collaboration, and segregated practices, all of which contribute to a lack of capacity to see people with disabilities as whole human beings and full members of a diverse human family.
 
Contesting the assumptions that separate disability and spirituality, William Gaventa argues for the integration of these two worlds. As Gaventa shows, the quest to understand disability inevitably leads from historical and scientific models into the world of spirituality—to the ways that values, attitudes, and beliefs shape our understanding of the meaning of disability. The reverse is also true. The path to understanding spirituality is a journey that leads to disability—to experiences of limitation and vulnerability, where the core questions of what it means to be human are often starkly and profoundly clear.
 
In  Disability and Spirituality Gaventa constructs this whole and human path before turning to examine spirituality in the lives of those individuals with disabilities, their families and those providing care, their friends and extended relationships, and finally the communities to which we all belong. At each point Gaventa shows that disability and spirituality are part of one another from the very beginning of creation. Recovering wholeness encompasses their reunion—a cohesion that changes our vision and enables us to everyone as fully human.

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Disability, Providence, and Ethics

Bridging Gaps, Transforming Lives

Hans S. Reinders

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Disputed Issues

Contending for Christian Faith in Today's Academic Setting

Stephen T. Davis

Disputed Issues is a collection of essays reflecting Professor Steven Davis’s thinking—developed over a long and illustrious career—on a host of widely-contested issues essential to Christian philosophy, theology, and belief. These thoughtful and highly readable essays explore a range of topics, from those central to basic Christian belief (such as issues about resurrection and the survival of death), to others focused on more specific questions (such as whether Mark copied Homer and whether exegesis should be presuppositionless). Intended as a useful, instructive resource for believers and unbelievers alike, Disputed Issues is essential to understanding what a thoughtful orthodox Christian believes—and why.

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The Ecology of Spirituality

Meanings, Virtues, and Practices in a Post-Religious Age

Lucy Bregman

In The Ecology of Spirituality, Lucy Bregman surveys the many and varied religious, psychological, and sociological definitions of spirituality on offer. Spirituality has been made and remade many times over in the hope of fitting it to some new cultural need. Bregman argues that a better understanding of spirituality is instead rooted in specific professions and practices, and she demonstrates that it is not an irrevocably ambiguous pop cultural phenomenon, but is embodied in historic virtues and practices of a craft.

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Engaging Voices

Tales of Morality and Meaning in an Age of Global Warming

By Roger S. Gottlieb

Our ecological dilemmas provoke powerful emotions and deeply contested views. How should we think about them? And how can we live together, or even talk together, when we cannot listen to people who think differently?

In a lively and at times very funny book, Roger S. Gottlieb (A Greener Faith, This Sacred Earth, A Spirituality of Resistance) explores these questions in a collection of distinct but related philosophical short stories. Fictional characters with personalities, individual histories, and strong opinions wrestle with the meaning of life, the value of nature, animal rights, the roles of science and religion in environmentalism, and political choices facing environmental activists—as well as their own anger, fear, despair, and close-mindedness. Encountering forcefully articulated positions and engaging characters, readers will be moved to reconsider their own beliefs—and to examine personal barriers to truly listening to those “on the other side."

Engaging Voices: Tales of Morality and Meaning in an Age of Global Warming received the Silver Nautilus Book Award for Fiction in 2013.

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Enticed by Eden

How Western Culture Uses, Confuses, (and Sometimes Abuses) Adam and Eve

Linda S. Schearing

Sex, seduction, and the perfect marriage. Though it may not have been the intent of Genesis 1-3, the biblical first couple has been used for generations to sell consumable goods and strange ideologies—both salacious and holy—to willing western masses. And, Linda Schearing and Valarie Ziegler argue, Adam and Eve have become archetypal figures for secular and religious society alike as they are transplanted from their ancient garden to a more modern Eden, often with eyebrow-raising consequences. Finding common ground between both religious and secular recastings of Adam and Eve, Schearing and Ziegler offer page-turning evidence of just how ubiquitous the first couple has become. From online dating services and promises of God-ordained romance to the advertising and selling of games, bathroom fixtures, and even risqué bloomers, Adam and Eve are a hot commodity in modern culture. These strange, confusing, often humorous, and sometimes shocking accounts testify to the myriad of ways in which Genesis 1-3 has been recycled and recreated in the popular imagination, and moreover, in promotion of the Western worldview.

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