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Religion and Community Development in Rural Ecuador
Cement, Earthworms, and Cheese Factories examines the ways in which religion and community development are closely intertwined in a rural part of contemporary Latin America. Using historical, documentary, and ethnographic data collected over more than a decade as an aid worker and as a researcher in central Ecuador, Jill DeTemple examines the forces that have led to this entanglement of religion and development and the ways in which rural Ecuadorians, as well as development and religious personnel, negotiate these complicated relationships. Technical innovations have been connected to religious change since the time of the Inca conquest, and Ecuadorians have created defensive strategies for managing such connections. Although most analyses of development either tend to ignore the genuinely religious roots of development or conflate development with religion itself, these strategies are part of a larger negotiation of progress and its meaning in twenty-first-century Ecuador. DeTemple focuses on three development agencies—a liberationist Catholic women's group, a municipal unit dedicated to agriculture, and evangelical Protestant missionaries engaged in education and medical work—to demonstrate that in some instances Ecuadorians encourage a hybridity of religion and development, while in other cases they break up such hybridities into their component parts, often to the consternation of those with whom religious and development discourse originate. This management of hybrids reveals Ecuadorians as agents who produce and reform modernities in ways often unrecognized by development scholars, aid workers, or missionaries, and also reveals that an appreciation of religious belief is essential to a full understanding of diverse aspects of daily life.
Mary and Fatima in Medieval Christianity and Shi'ite Islam
Chosen among Women: Mary and Fatima in Medieval Christianity and Shi`ite Islam combines historical analysis with the tools of gender studies and religious studies to compare the roles of the Virgin Mary in medieval Christianity with those of Fatima, daughter of the prophet Muhammad, in Shi`ite Islam. The book explores the proliferation of Marian imagery in Late Antiquity through the Church fathers and popular hagiography. It examines how Merovingian authors assimilated powerful queens and abbesses to a Marian prototype to articulate their political significance and, at the same time, censure holy women's public charisma. Mary Thurlkill focuses as well on the importance of Fatima in the evolution of Shi`ite identity throughout the Middle East. She examines how scholars such as Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi advertised Fatima as a symbol of the Shi`ite holy family and its glorified status in paradise, while simultaneously binding her as a mother to the domestic sphere and patriarchal authority. This important comparative look at feminine ideals in both Shi`ite Islam and medieval Christianity is of relevance and value in the modern world. It will be welcomed by scholars and students of Islam, comparative religion, medieval Christianity, and gender studies.
Essays to Honor John Van Engen
This volume celebrates the remarkable scholarly career of medieval historian John Van Engen with eighteen exceptional essays contributed by Van Engen’s colleagues and former doctoral students, a group that includes some of the best established scholars of the Middle Ages as well as leading younger ones. Together, their work reflects the wide-ranging but coherent body of John Van Engen’s own scholarship. In a section on Christianization, Ruth Mazo Karras explores medieval marriage, Lisa Wolverton offers a new model of the Christianization of Bohemia, R. I. Moore examines the historiography of the Cathars, and Christine Caldwell Ames links the inquisition with medieval and modern concepts of popular religion. Under the rubric of twelfth-century culture, Maureen C. Miller uses eleventh-century Roman frescoes to rethink reform, Jonathan R. Lyon unpacks Otto of Freising’s notions of advocacy and tyranny, Rachel Koopmans traces testimonial letters associated with the cult of Thomas Becket, Dyan Elliot deliberates on the importance of what she calls counterfactual, or alternative, realities in twelfth-century thought and literature, and Giles Constable traces manifestations of the cross in monastic life. Three essays study Jews and Christians in society. Susan Einbinder probes the connections between martyrdom, politics, and poetry in thirteenth-century Castile, William Chester Jordan traces anti-Judaism in the Christina Psalter, and David C. Mengel highlights the significance of urban space for Jews in fourteenth-century Prague and Nuremberg. Lastly, contributors explore topics in late medieval religious life, a special focus of Van Engen’s scholarship. Walter Simons edits and analyzes a letter defending beguines in the Low Countries, William J. Courtenay traces the effects on pastoral care of papal provisions to university scholars, and James D. Mixson reinterprets the fifteenth-century treatise Firefly. An essay by Marcela K. Perett looks at vernacular anti-Hussite treatises, Daniel Hobbins employs a fifteenth-century Italian story about Antichrist to consider hearsay, belief and doubt, and Roy Hammerling contemplates Martin Luther’s understanding of himself as a beggar.
Classical Themes and Modern Developments
What is secularity? Might it yield or define a distinctive form of reasoning? If so, would that form of reasoning belong essentially to our modern age, or would it instead have a considerably older lineage? And what might be the relation of that form of reasoning, whatever its lineage, to the Christian thinking that is often said to oppose it? In the present volume, these and related questions are addressed by a distinguished group of scholars working primarily within the Roman Catholic theological tradition and from the perspectives of Continental philosophy. As a whole, the volume constitutes a conversation among thinkers who agree in their concerns but not necessarily their conclusions. Taken individually, each essay concentrates on a range of historical developments with close attention to their intellectual and sometimes pedagogical implications. Secular reason, they argue, is neither the antipode of Christian thought nor a stable and well-resolved component of it. Christian thinking may engage with secular reason as the site of profound difficulties, but on occasion will also learn from it as a source of new insight.
The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul
Lisa Kaaren Bailey’s Christianity’s Quiet Success: The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul is the first major study of the Eusebius Gallicanus collection of anonymous, multi-authored sermons from fifth- and sixth-century Gaul. Bailey sheds new light on these sermons, which were strikingly popular and influential from late antiquity to the High Middle Ages, as the large number of surviving manuscripts attests. They were used for centuries by clergy as a preaching guide and by monks and pious lay people as devotional reading. Bailey’s analysis demonstrates the extent to which these stylistically simple and straightforward sermons emphasize consensus, harmony, and mutuality as the central values of a congregation. Preachers encouraged tolerance among their congregants and promoted a model of leadership that placed themselves at the center of the community rather than above it. These sermons make clear the delicate balancing act required of late antique and warly medieval pastors as they attempted to explain the Christian faith and also maintain the clerical control considered necessary for a universal church. The Eusebius Gallicanus collection gives us fresh insight inyo the process by which the Catholic Church influenced the lives of Western Europeans.
The Church of the Holy Spirit, written by Russian priest and scholar Nicholas Afanasiev (1893–1966), is one of the most important works of twentieth-century Orthodox theology. Afanasiev was a member of the “Paris School” of émigré intellectuals who gathered in Paris after the Russian revolution, where he became a member of the faculty of St. Sergius Orthodox Seminary. The Church of the Holy Spirit, which offers a rediscovery of the eucharistic and communal nature of the church in the first several centuries, was written over a number of years beginning in the 1940s and continuously revised until its posthumous publication in French in 1971. Vitaly Permiakov's lucid translation and Michael Plekon's careful editing and substantive introduction make this important work available for the first time to an English-speaking audience.
Cicero’s Practical Philosophy marks a revival over the last two generations of serious scholarly interest in Cicero’s political thought. Its nine original essays by a multidisciplinary group of distinguished international scholars manifest close study of Cicero’s philosophical writings and great appreciation for him as a creative thinker, one from whom we can continue to learn. This collection focuses initially on Cicero’s major work of political theory, his De Re Publica, and the key moral virtues that shape his ethics, but the contributors attend to all of Cicero’s primary writings on political community, law, the ultimate good, and moral duties. Room is also made for Cicero’s extensive writings on the art of rhetoric, which he explicitly draws into the orbit of his philosophical writings. Cicero’s concern with the divine, with epistemological issues, and with competing analyses of the human soul are among the matters necessarily encountered in pursuing, with Cicero, the large questions of moral and political philosophy, namely, what is the good and genuinely happy life and how are our communities to be rightly ordered.
"There is nothing wiser than the circle," Rilke says in his Stories of God. John Dunne's new book explores the wisdom of the circle. He uses the metaphor of the circle dance, a folk dance in which the women form an inner circle, holding hands and moving clockwise; the men form an outer circle, moving counterclockwise. When the music stops the person opposite you is your partner for the next dance. Dunne interprets the circle as the great circle of life and light and love that comes from God and returns to God. Dunne emphasizes the far point on the circle, farthest away from God, and uses that to discuss the difficulties of our secular age. In the individual life, the far point is a dark night of the soul. Yet Dunne sees that far point of loneliness and darkness as a point as well, marking the return to love and light. So the theme of the book is like the words of an old Bedouin to Lawrence of Arabia, "The love is from God, and of God, and towards God." The book concludes with the words of twenty-one "Circle Songs," composed by the author.
Literature, Culture, and Ideology in Late Medieval England
In The Claims of Poverty, Kate Crassons explores a widespread ideological crisis concerning poverty that emerged in the aftermath of the plague in late medieval England. She identifies poverty as a central preoccupation in texts ranging from Piers Plowman and Wycliffite writings to The Book of Margery Kempe and the York cycle plays. Crassons shows that these and other works form a complex body of writing in which poets, dramatists, and preachers anxiously wrestled with the status of poverty as a force that is at once a sacred imitation of Christ and a social stigma; a voluntary form of life and an unwelcome hardship; an economic reality and a spiritual disposition. Crassons argues that literary texts significantly influenced the cultural conversation about poverty, deepening our understanding of its urgency as a social, economic, and religious issue. These texts not only record debates about the nature of poverty as a form of either vice or virtue, but explore epistemological and ethical aspects of the debates. When faced with a claim of poverty, people effectively become readers interpreting the signs of need in the body and speech of their fellow human beings. The literary and dramatic texts of late medieval England embodied the complexity of such interaction with particular acuteness, revealing the ethical stakes of interpretation as an act with direct material consequences. As The Claims of Poverty demonstrates, medieval literature shaped perceptions about who is defined as "poor," and in so doing it emerged as a powerful cultural force that promoted competing models of community, sanctity, and justice.
Philosophy in the Narratives of Maurice Blanchot
Maurice Blanchot is perhaps best known as a major French intellectual of the twentieth century: the man who countered Sartre’s views on literature, who affirmed the work of Sade and Lautréamont, who gave eloquent voice to the generation of ’68, and whose philosophical and literary work influenced the writing of, among others, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, and Michel Foucault. He is also regarded as one of the most acute narrative writers in France since Marcel Proust. In Clandestine Encounters, Kevin Hart has gathered together major literary critics in Britain, France, and the United States to engage with Blanchot’s immense, fascinating, and difficult body of creative work. Hart’s substantial introduction usefully places Blanchot as a significant contributor to the tradition of the French philosophical novel, beginning with Voltaire’s Candide in 1759, and best known through the works of Sartre. Clandestine Encounters considers a selection of Blanchot’s narrative writings over the course of almost sixty years, from stories written in the mid-1930s to L’instant de ma mort (1994). Collectively, the contributors’ close readings of Blanchot’s novels, récits, and stories illuminate the close relationship between philosophy and narrative in his work while underscoring the variety and complexity of these narratives.