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Encounters of the Spirit

Native Americans and European Colonial Religion

Richard W. Pointer

Historians have long been aware that the encounter with Europeans affected all aspects of Native American life. But were Indians the only ones changed by these cross-cultural meetings? Might the newcomers' ways, including their religious beliefs and practices, have also been altered amid their myriad contacts with native peoples? In Encounters of the Spirit, Richard W. Pointer takes up these intriguing questions in an innovative study of the religious encounter between Indians and Euro-Americans in early America. Exploring a series of episodes across the three centuries of the colonial era and stretching from New Spain to New France and the English settlements, he finds that the flow of cultural influence was more often reciprocal than unidirectional.

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Fighting Words

Religion, Violence, and the Interpretation of Sacred Texts

John Renard

One of the critical issues in interreligious relations today is the connection, both actual and perceived, between sacred sources and the justification of violent acts as divinely mandated. Fighting Words makes solid text-based scholarship accessible to the general public, beginning with the premise that a balanced approach to religious pluralism in our world must build on a measured, well-informed response to the increasingly publicized and sensationalized association of terrorism and large-scale violence with religion.

In his introduction, Renard provides background on the major scriptures of seven religious traditions—Jewish, Christian (including both the Old and New Testaments), Islamic, Baha’i, Zoroastrian, Hindu, and Sikh. Eight chapters then explore the interpretation of select facets of these scriptures, focusing on those texts so often claimed, both historically and more recently, as inspiration and justification for every kind of violence, from individual assassination to mass murder. With its nuanced consideration of a complex topic, this book is not merely about the religious sanctioning of violence but also about diverse ways of reading sacred textual sources.

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Finding Faith, Losing Faith

Stories of Conversion and Apostasy

Scot McKnight and Hauna Ondrey

This book examines conversion stories as told by people who have actually undergone a conversion experience, including experiences of apostasy. The stories reveal that there is not just one"conversion story."Scot McKnight and Hauna Ondrey show that"conversion theory"helps explain why some people walk away from one religion, often to another, very different religion. The book confirms the usefulness-particularly for pastors, rabbis, and priests, and university and college teachers-of applying conversion theory to specific groups. However, the book's sensitive detailing of the stories themselves makes conversion more than a theoretical occurrence; it makes the immediacy, and often the difficulty, of conversion both real and moving.

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Finding God among Our Neighbors

An Interfaith Systematic Theology

By Kristin Johnson Largen

For too many students, Christian theology is learned in isolation from other religious traditions.

With this creative book, Kristin Johnston Largen places the work of Christian theology soundly within the interreligious dialogue that is the defining feature of our time. This supplemental theology text prepares students for the real task of understanding and articulating their Christian beliefs in a religiously and culturally diverse world.

Concentrating on the anchoring subjects of God, creation, and humanity, she explores these loci in the broader context of interreligious dialogue with Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam to better understand the Christian tradition. The result is a fascinating lens through which to view the essential teachings of theology, and an essential supplementary textbook for the theology classroom.

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Frithjof Schuon

Life and Teachings

The first book in English devoted to the religious philosopher Frithjof Schuon (1907–1998) to appear since his death, this biography also provides an analysis of his work and spiritual teachings. Relying on Schuon’s published works as well as unpublished correspondence and other documents, the authors highlight the originality of Schuon’s life and teachings in terms of his consistent focus on esoterism, defined as the inner penetration of sacred forms and spiritual practices vis-à-vis the religio perennis, the eternal wisdom that lies at the core of all sacred paths. Schuon’s life, they argue, is a quest for the inner meaning of religious experience, as is indicated by his connections to Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Native American Shamanism. Spiritual seekers from all backgrounds will appreciate this comprehensive study of this towering figure of comparative religion.

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Fundamentalism

Perspectives on a Contested History

Simon A. Wood

Through a collection of essays, Fundamentalism: Perspectives on a Contested History explores the ways in which the concept of global fundamentalism does and does not illuminate developments in modern Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. At issue is whether, beyond the specific milieu of American Protestantism in the early decades of the twentieth century, the word ‘fundamentalism’ captures something important on a global scale that is not captured—or not as well—by other words. Readers will quickly discover that in exploring this issue the book is “at war with itself.” In Fundamentalism Simon A. Wood and David Harrington Watt have deliberately assembled a range of voices that is reflective of the broad spectrum of views scholars have offered on the topic, from those who find the concept not merely helpful but also important, those who have concerns about it but do not reject it, those who find that it has been misapplied in critical instances, and those who simply find it unhelpful and lacking in any meaningful specificity or content. While there are more than two perspectives presented, Wood and Watt identify two very broad groups of scholars from each end of the spectrum: those who find the concept illuminating and those who do not. The book does not privilege or advocate either of these positions, nor does it attempt to resolve the numerous problems that scholars on both sides of the debate have identified with the concept of global fundamentalism. Rather, it presents some of the key arguments on both sides of the contemporary debate. If it thereby provides readers with a sense of the current state of the discourse on fundamentalism it will have achieved its aim.

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Hindu-Catholic Encounters in Goa

Religion, Colonialism, and Modernity

Alexander Henn

The state of Goa on India's southwest coast was once the capital of the Portuguese-Catholic empire in Asia. When Vasco Da Gama arrived in India in 1498, he mistook Hindus for Christians, but Jesuit missionaries soon declared war on the alleged idolatry of the Hindus. Today, Hindus and Catholics assert their own religious identities, but Hindu village gods and Catholic patron saints attract worship from members of both religious communities. Through fresh readings of early Portuguese sources and long-term ethnographic fieldwork, this study traces the history of Hindu-Catholic syncretism in Goa and reveals the complex role of religion at the intersection of colonialism and modernity.

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The Hope of Liberation in World Religions

Miguel A. De La Torre, editor

Liberation theology emphasizes the Christian mission to bring justice to the poor and oppressed. As a part of Christian theology, liberation theology has been most frequently associated with the Catholic Church in Latin America. This groundbreaking work seeks to identify how the theological concepts of liberation theology might be manifested within other world faith traditions.





This is thus the first book that attempts to find a “common ground” for liberation theology across religions. All of the contributors are scholars who share the religion or belief system they describe. Throughout, they endeavor to articulate liberationist concepts from the perspective of those who have been marginalized.

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In the Course of a Lifetime

Tracing Religious Belief, Practice, and Change

Michele Dillon

In the Course of a Lifetime provides an unprecedented portrait of the dynamic role religion plays in the everyday experiences of Americans over the course of their lives. The book draws from a unique sixty-year-long study of close to two hundred mostly Protestant and Catholic men and women who were born in the 1920s and interviewed in adolescence, and again in the 1950s, 1970s, 1980s, and late 1990s. Woven throughout with rich, intimate life stories, the book presents and analyzes a wide range of data from this study on the participants' religious and spiritual journeys. A testament to the vibrancy of religion in the United States, In the Course of a Lifetime provides an illuminating and sometimes surprising perspective on how individual lives have intersected with cultural change throughout the decades of the twentieth century.

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In This Body

Kaqchikel Maya and the Grounding of Spirit

Servando Z. Hinojosa

The Kaqchikel Maya, who live in the highlands of central Guatemala, experience soul as part of a continuum of bodily states. This account of life in one highland Maya community shows how, among Kaqchikels, spirit expresses itself fundamentally through the body, and not as something entirely separate from the body. By examining the lived-meanings of midwifery, soul therapy, and community dance in the town of San Juan Comalapa, the book identifies the body as the primary vehicle for spiritual grounding in daily life. Hinojosa invites readers to understand how specialists in these activities articulate their knowledge of the spirit through their understanding of blood, and he encourages readers to glimpse the hidden life of the body and how bodily processes guide local understandings of spirit at the personal and group level. This work further illuminates the agentive role of the body in Maya spiritual experience and enriches the current discussions of Maya spiritual revitalization.

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