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Apocalyptic Patterns in Twentieth-Century Fiction

David J. Leigh, S.J.

David J. Leigh explores the innovative influences of the Book of Revelation and ideas of an end time on fiction of the twentieth century, and probes philosophical, political, and theological issues raised by apocalyptic writers from Walker Percy, C. S. Lewis, and Charles Williams to Doris Lessing, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo. Leigh tackles head on a fundamental question about Christian-inspired eschatology: Does it sanction, as theologically sacred or philosophically ultimate, the kind of “last battles” between good and evil that provoke human beings to demonize and destroy the other? Against the backdrop of this question, Leigh examines twenty modern and postmodern apocalyptic novels, juxtaposing them in ways that expose a new understanding of each. The novels are clustered for analysis in chapters that follow seven basic eschatological patterns—the last days imagined as an ultimate journey, a cosmic battle, a transformed self, an ultimate challenge, the organic union of human and divine, the new heaven and new earth, and the ultimate way of religious pluralism. For religious novelists, these patterns point toward spiritual possibilities in the final days of human life or of the universe. For more political novelists—Ralph Ellison, Russell Hoban, and Salman Rushdie among them—the patterns are used to critique political or social movements of self-destruction. Beyond the twenty novels closely analyzed, Leigh makes pertinent reference to many more as well as to reflections from theologians Jürgen Moltmann, Zachary Hayes, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and Paul Ricoeur. Both a guidebook and a critical assessment, Leigh’s work brings theological concepts to bear on end-of-the-world fiction in an admirably clear and accessible manner.

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Aquinas's Ethics

Metaphysical Foundations, Moral Theory, and Theological Context

Revecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Colleen McCluskey, Christina Van Dyke

The purpose of Aquinas's Ethics is to place Thomas Aquinas's moral theory in its full philosophical and theological context and to do so in a way that makes Aquinas (1224/5-1274) readily accessible to students and interested general readers, including those encountering Aquinas for the first time. Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Colleen McCluskey, and Christina Van Dyke begin by explaining Aquinas's theories of the human person and human action, since these ground his moral theory. In their interpretation, Aquinas's theological commitments crucially shape his account of the human person, human capacities for action, and human flourishing. The authors develop a comprehensive picture of Aquinas's thought, which is designed to help students understand how his concept of happiness and the good life are part of a coherent, theologically-informed worldview. Many studies of Aquinas naturally focus on certain areas of his thought and tend to assume a general knowledge of the whole. Aquinas's Ethics takes the opposite approach: it intentionally links his metaphysics and anthropology to his action theory and ethics to illuminate how the moral theory is built on foundations laid elsewhere. The authors emphasize the integration of concepts of virtue, natural law, and divine grace within Aquinas's ethics, rather than treating such topics in isolation or opposition. Their approach, presented in clear and deliberately non-specialist language, reveals the coherent nature of Aquinas's account of the moral life and of what fulfills us as human beings. The result is a rich and engaging framework for further investigation of Aquinas's thought and its applications.

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Arabic Literary Salons in the Islamic Middle Ages

Poetry, Public Performance, and the Presentation of the Past

Samer M. Ali

Arabic literary salons emerged in ninth-century Iraq and, by the tenth, were flourishing in Baghdad and other urban centers. In an age before broadcast media and classroom education, salons were the primary source of entertainment and escape for middle- and upper-rank members of society, serving also as a space and means for educating the young. Although salons relied on a culture of oral performance from memory, scholars of Arabic literature have focused almost exclusively on the written dimensions of the tradition. That emphasis, argues Samer Ali, has neglected the interplay of oral and written, as well as of religious and secular knowledge in salon society, and the surprising ways in which these seemingly discrete categories blurred in the lived experience of participants. Looking at the period from 500 to 1250, and using methods from European medieval studies, folklore, and cultural anthropology, Ali interprets Arabic manuscripts in order to answer fundamental questions about literary salons as a social institution. He identifies salons not only as sites for socializing and educating, but as loci for performing literature and oral history; for creating and transmitting cultural identity; and for continually reinterpreting the past. A fascinating recovery of a key element of humanistic culture, Ali’s work will encourage a recasting of our understanding of verbal art, cultural memory, and daily life in medieval Arab culture.

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Ascetic Culture

Essays in Honor of Philip Rousseau

Blake Leyerle

Ascetic Culture honors Philip Rousseau’s pathbreaking work on early Christian asceticism in a series of essays exploring how quickly the industrious and imaginative practitioners of asceticism, from the early fourth through the mid-fifth century, adapted the Greco-Roman social, literary, and religious culture in which they had been raised. Far from rejecting the life of the urban centers of the ancient world, they refined and elaborated that life in their libraries, households, and communities. The volume begins with a discussion of Egyptian monastic reading programs and the circulation of texts, especially the hugely influential Life of Antony. A second group of essays engages the topic of disciplinary culture in ascetic spaces such as the monastery, the household, and the city. A third group focuses on the topic of imaginary landscapes and ascetic self-fashioning. Ascetic Culture concludes by surveying the scholarly study of asceticism over the last one hundred and fifty years, arguing that previous generations of scholars have regarded asceticism either as a product of the inner dynamism of early Christianity or as a distortion of its earliest aims. Together, the contributors recognize, reflect upon, and extend the themes explored in Rousseau’s work on early Christianity’s ascetic periphery—a region whose inhabitants reflect in various ways the aspirations of their religion, from the daily to the otherworldly.

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Ascetics, Authority, and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian

Second Edition

Philip Rousseau

In his Ascetics, Authority, and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian, published in 1978, Philip Rousseau presented a survey of asceticism in the western church until about 400, including a selective study of Jerome, and then, moving into the fifth century, a reading of Sulpicius and Cassian. Rousseau explored such societal changes as the eventual triumph of the cenobitic movement and its growing effect within the church, not least on the episcopate. He focused primarily on the development among ascetics of a certain concept of spiritual authority; on the attraction of that concept for a wider audience; and on its enduring formulation within a literary tradition of great influence. For this second edition, Rousseau has supplied a new introduction with extensive bibliographical references in which he charts the ways in which scholarship on early Christian asceticism has developed since his compelling and influential original argument.

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Aspiring to Fullness in a Secular Age

Essays on Religion and Theology in the Work of Charles Taylor

edited by Carlos D. Colorado and Justin D. Klassen

Aspiring to Fullness in a Secular Age, whose title is inspired by Charles Taylor's magisterial A Secular Age, offers a host of expert analyses of the religious and theological threads running throughout Taylor’s oeuvre, illuminating further his approaches to morality, politics, history, and philosophy. Although the scope of Taylor’s insight into modern secularity has been widely recognized by his fellow social theorists and philosophers, Aspiring to Fullness focuses on Taylor's insights regarding questions of religious experience. It is with a view to such experience that the volume’s contributors consider and assess Taylor’s broad analysis of the limits and potentialities of the present age in regard to human fullness or fulfillment. The essays in this volume address crucial questions about the function and significance of religious accounts of transcendence in Taylor’s overall philosophical project; the critical purchase and limitations of Taylor’s assessment of the centrality of codes and institutions in modern political ethics; the possibilities inherent in Taylor’s brand of post-Nietzschean theism; the significance and meaning of Taylor’s ambivalence about modern destiny; the possibility of a practical application of his insights within particular contemporary religious communities; and the overall implications of Taylor’s thought for theology and philosophy of religion. Although some commentators have referred to a recent religious “turn” in Taylor’s work, the contributors to Aspiring to Fullness in a Secular Age examine the ways in which transcendence functions, both explicitly and implicitly, in Taylor’s philosophical project as a whole.

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Augustine and the Cure of Souls

Revising a Classical Ideal

Paul R. Kolbet

Augustine and the Cure of Souls situates Augustine within the ancient philosophical tradition of using words to order emotions. Paul Kolbet uncovers a profound continuity in Augustine’s thought, from his earliest pre-baptismal writings to his final acts as bishop, revealing a man deeply indebted to the Roman past and yet distinctly Christian. Rather than supplanting his classical learning, Augustine’s Christianity reinvigorated precisely those elements of Roman wisdom that he believed were slipping into decadence. In particular, Kolbet addresses the manner in which Augustine not only used classical rhetorical theory to express his theological vision, but also infused it with theological content. This book offers a fresh reading of Augustine’s writings—particularly his numerous, though often neglected, sermons—and provides an accessible point of entry into the great North African bishop’s life and thought.

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Authenticity as Self-Transcendence

The Enduring Insights of Bernard Lonergan

Michael H. McCarthy

Michael H. McCarthy has carefully studied the writings of Bernard Lonergan (Canadian philosopher-theologian, 1904-1984) for over fifty years. In his 1989 book, The Crisis of Philosophy, McCarthy argued for the superiority of Lonergan's distinctive philosophical project to those of his analytic and phenomenological rivals. Now in Authenticity as Self-Transcendence: The Enduring Insights of Bernard Lonergan, he develops and expands his earlier argument with four new essays, designed to show Lonergan's exceptional relevance to the cultural situation of late modernity. The essays explore and appraise Lonergan's cultural mission: to raise Catholic philosophy and theology to meet the intellectual challenges and standards of his time. Chapter 1, "The Tangled Knot of Old and New," shows how Lonergan's redemptive project strategically developed from the critical appropriation of our cultural heritage. In chapter 2, McCarthy locates Lonergan's philosophical anthropology within the historical problematic created by Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Darwin, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. Through his profound analysis of human subjectivity, Lonergan identified a striking paradox at the heart of modern culture and sought to unravel it by a forceful defense of the human capacity for self-transcendence. In chapter 3, McCarthy clarifies the nature and origins of modern secularity and the unprecedented challenges it creates for religious faith. In the concluding chapter on the challenges of Catholic renewal, the central themes of Lonergan's life work are brought together. After describing the Catholic struggle with modernity and John XXIII's bracing call for aggiornamento, McCarthy examines Lonergan's distinctive contributions to the philosophical and theological renewal of his church.

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Authoritarian El Salvador

Politics and the Origins of the Military Regimes, 1880-1940

Erik Ching

In December 1931, El Salvador’s civilian president, Arturo Araujo, was overthrown in a military coup. Such an event was hardly unique in Salvadoran history, but the 1931 coup proved to be a watershed. Araujo had been the nation’s first democratically elected president, and although no one could have foreseen the result, the coup led to five decades of uninterrupted military rule, the longest run in modern Latin American history. Furthermore, six weeks after coming to power, the new military regime oversaw the crackdown on a peasant rebellion in western El Salvador that is one of the worst episodes of state-sponsored repression in modern Latin American history. Democracy would not return to El Salvador until the 1990s, and only then after a brutal twelve-year civil war. In Authoritarian El Salvador: Politics and the Origins of the Military Regimes, 1880-1940, Erik Ching seeks to explain the origins of the military regime that came to power in 1931. Based on his comprehensive survey of the extant documentary record in El Salvador’s national archive, Ching argues that El Salvador was typified by a longstanding tradition of authoritarianism dating back to the early- to mid-nineteenth century. The basic structures of that system were based on patron-client relationships that wove local, regional, and national political actors into complex webs of rival patronage networks. Decidedly nondemocratic in practice, the system nevertheless exhibited highly paradoxical traits: it remained steadfastly loyal to elections as the mechanism by which political aspirants acquired office, and it employed a political discourse laden with appeals to liberty and free suffrage. That blending of nondemocratic authoritarianism with populist reformism and rhetoric set the precedent for military rule for the next fifty years.

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Avoiding Governors

Federalism, Democracy, and Poverty Alleviation in Brazil and Argentina

Tracy Beck Fenwick

With the goal of showing the effect of domestic factors on the performance of poverty alleviation strategies in Latin America, Tracy Beck Fenwick explores the origins and rise of conditional cash transfer programs (CCTs) in the region, and then traces the politics and evolution of specific programs in Brazil and Argentina. Utilizing extensive field research and empirical analysis, Fenwick analyzes how federalism affects the ability of a national government to deliver CCTs. One of Fenwick’s key findings is that broad institutional, structural, and political variables are more important in the success or failure of CCTs than the technical design of programs. Contrary to the mainstream interpretations of Brazilian federalism, her analysis shows that municipalities have contributed to the relative success of Bolsa Familia and its ability to be implemented territory-wide. Avoiding Governors probes the contrast with Argentina, where the structural, political, and fiscal incentives for national-local policy cooperation have not been adequate, at least this far, to sustain a CCT program that is conditional on human capital investments. She thus challenges the virtue of what is considered to be a mainly majoritarian democratic system. By laying out the key factors that condition whether mayors either promote or undermine national policy objectives, Fenwick concludes that municipalities can either facilitate or block a national government’s ability to deliver targeted social policy goods and to pursue a poverty alleviation strategy. By distinguishing municipalities as separate actors, she presents a dynamic intergovernmental relationship; indeed, she identifies a power struggle between multiple levels of government and their electorates, not just a dichotomously framed two-level game of national versus subnational.

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