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Myth, Religion, and Thought
India and China dominate the Asian continent, but the two lands are separated by formidable geographic barriers and language differences. For many centuries, most of the information that passed between the two countries came through Silk Route intermediaries in lieu of first-person encounters—leaving considerable room for invention. From their introduction to Indian culture in the first centuries C.E., Chinese thinkers, writers, artists, and architects imitated India within their own borders, giving Indian images and ideas new forms and adapting them to their own culture. Yet India's impact on China has not been greatly researched or well understood.
India in the Chinese Imagination takes a new look at how the Chinese embedded India in diverse artifacts of Chinese religious, cultural, artistic, and material life in the premodern era. Leading Asian studies scholars explore the place of Indian myths and storytelling in Chinese literature, the ways Chinese authors integrated Indian history into their conception of the political and religious past, and the philosophical relationships between Indian Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, and Daoism. This multifaceted volume, illustrated with over a dozen works of art, reveals the depth and subtlety of the encounter between India and China, shedding light on what it means to imagine another culture—and why it matters.
Contributors: Stephen R. Bokenkamp, Bernard Faure, John Kieschnick, Victor H. Mair, John R. McRae, Christine Mollier, Meir Shahar, Robert H. Sharf, Nobuyoshi Yamabe, Ye Derong, Shi Zhiru.
The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Jews, Christians, and Muslims supposedly share a common religious heritage in the patriarch Abraham, and the idea that he should serve only as a source of unity among the three traditions has become widespread in both scholarly and popular circles. But in Inheriting Abraham, Jon Levenson reveals how the increasingly conventional notion of the three equally “Abrahamic” religions derives from a dangerous misunderstanding of key biblical and Qur’anic texts, fails to do full justice to any of the traditions, and is often biased against Judaism in subtle and pernicious ways.
From its most cosmopolitan urban centers to the rural Midwest, the United States is experiencing a rising tide of religious interest. While terrorist attacks keep Americans fixed on an abhorrent vision of militant Islam, popular films such as The Passion of the Christ and The Da Vinci Code make blockbuster material of the origins of Christianity. The 2004 presidential election, we are told, was decided on the basis of religiously driven moral values. A majority of Americans are reported to believe that religious differences are the biggest obstacle to world peace.Beneath the superficial banter of the media and popular culture, however, are quieter conversations about what it means to be religious in America today-conversations among recent immigrants about how to adapt their practices to life in new land, conversations among young people who are finding new meaning in religions rejected by their parents, conversations among the religiously unaffiliated about eclectic new spiritualities encountered in magazines, book groups, or online. Interfaith Encounters in America takes a compelling look at these seldom acknowledged exchanges, showing how, despite their incompatibilities, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Hindu Americans, among others, are using their beliefs to commit to the values of a pluralistic society rather than to widen existing divisions.Chapters survey the intellectual exchanges among scholars of philosophy, religion, and theology about how to make sense of conflicting claims, as well as the relevance and applicability of these ideas "on the ground" where real people with different religious identities intentionally unite for shared purposes that range from national public policy initiatives to small town community interfaith groups, from couples negotiating interfaith marriages to those exploring religious issues with strangers in online interfaith discussion groups.Written in engaging and accessible prose, this book provides an important reassessment of the problems, values, and goals of contemporary religion in the United States. It is essential reading for scholars of religion, sociology, and American studies, as well as anyone who is concerned with the purported impossibility of religious pluralism.
From the time of Francis’s meeting with the Sultan, a tradition of dialogue between the Moslem and Christian traditions, as epitomized in the Franciscan movement, has endured. This volume offers a set of essays that deal with the relationship between Islam and Franciscanism as experienced in the past and as it is presently being addressed.
Religion and Politics on the Streets of Miami
For many in Miami’s Cuban exile community, hating Fidel Castro is as natural as loving one’s children. This hatred, Miguel De La Torre suggests, has in fact taken on religious significance. In La Lucha for Cuba, De La Torre shows how Exilic Cubans, a once marginalized group, have risen to power and privilege—distinguishing themselves from other Hispanic communities in the United States—and how religion has figured in their ascension. Through the lens of religion and culture, his work also unmasks and explores intra-Hispanic structures of oppression operating among Cubans in Miami.
Miami Cubans use a religious expression, la lucha, or "the struggle," to justify the power and privilege they have achieved. Within the context of la lucha, De La Torre explores the religious dichotomy created between the "children of light" (Exilic Cubans) and the "children of darkness" (Resident Cubans). Examining the recent saga of the Elián González custody battle, he shows how the cultural construction of la lucha has become a distinctly Miami-style spirituality that makes el exilio (exile) the basis for religious reflection, understanding, and practice—and that conflates political mobilization with spiritual meaning in an ongoing confrontation with evil.
The Debate over Torah and Nomos in Post-Biblical Judaism and Early Christianity
The role and function of law in religious communities in the Roman period—especially in Judaism—has been a key issue among scholars in recent years. This thought-provoking work is the first full-scale attempt to write a historical assessment of the scholarly debate concerning this question, focussing on two closely related religious communities, Judaism and Christianity. By juxtaposing the two religions, a clearer understanding of the developments with respect to torah and nomos in Judaism and early Christianity emerges.
This insightful work, placing emphasis on the major figures and both the scholarly lines of development and the appropriate lines for future research, will set the debate in a clearer and more and succinct manner. It will serve as a critical point of reference for further discussion.
Sex, Magic, and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism
Sexuality and the occult arts have long been associated in the western imagination, but it was not until the nineteenth century that a large and sophisticated body of literature on sexual magic—the use of sex as a source of magical power—emerged. This book, the first history of western sexual magic as a modern spiritual tradition, places these practices in the context of the larger discourse surrounding sexuality in American and European society over the last 150 years to discover how sexual magic was transformed from a terrifying medieval nightmare of heresy and social subversion into a modern ideal of personal empowerment and social liberation. Focusing on a series of key figures including American spiritualist Paschal Beverly Randolph, Aleister Crowley, Julius Evola, Gerald Gardner, and Anton LaVey, Hugh Urban traces the emergence of sexual magic out of older western esoteric traditions including Gnosticism and Kabbalah, which were progressively fused with recently-discovered eastern traditions such as Hindu and Buddhist Tantra. His study gives remarkable new insight into sexuality in the modern era, specifically on issues such as the politics of birth control, the classification of sexual "deviance," debates over homosexuality and feminism, and the role of sexuality in our own new world of post-modern spirituality, consumer capitalism, and the Internet.
Can Christian-Muslim relations be better understood and even interfaith conflicts resolved if Christians and Muslims joined together in an existential and phenomenological engagement with common spatiality? To answer this question, 12 Christian students from St. Paulís University, Limuru, Kenya and 12 Muslim students from Eastleigh, Nairobi mapped the 12 streets of Eastleigh, a sprawling Nairobi suburb largely populated by Somali Muslis. The mapping method in the above exercise was phenomenological, that is, mapping spatiality as a ìlived experienceî and interpreting spatial observations in light of individual and group existential experiences. The result of the mapping exercise was a radical transformation both in the Mappersí own self-perceptions as well as their perceptions of Christian- Muslim relations. The seven chapters in this unique book look at the above finding from different perspectives, both Christian and Muslim.
Representing Indian and African American Belief
The spiritual and religious beliefs and practices of Native Americans and African Americans have long been sources of fascination and curiosity, owing to their marked difference from the religious traditions of white writers and researchers. Matter, Magic, and Spirit explores the ways religious and magical beliefs of Native Americans and African Americans have been represented in a range of discourses including anthropology, comparative religion, and literature. Though these beliefs were widely dismissed as primitive superstition and inferior to "higher" religions like Christianity, distinctions were still made between the supposed spiritual capacities of the different groups.
David Murray's analysis is unique in bringing together Indian and African beliefs and their representations. First tracing the development of European ideas about both African fetishism and Native American "primitive belief," he goes on to explore the ways in which the hierarchies of race created by white Europeans coincided with hierarchies of religion as expressed in the developing study of comparative religion and folklore through the nineteenth century. Crucially this comparative approach to practices that were dismissed as conjure or black magic or Indian "medicine" points as well to the importance of their cultural and political roles in their own communities at times of destructive change.
Murray also explores the ways in which Indian and African writers later reformulated the models developed by white observers, as demonstrated through the work of Charles Chesnutt and Simon Pokagon and then in the later conjunctions of modernism and ethnography in the 1920s and 1930s, through the work of Zora Neale Hurston, Zitkala Sa, and others. Later sections demonstrate how contemporary writers including Ishmael Reed and Leslie Silko deal with the revaluation of traditional beliefs as spiritual resources against a background of New Age spirituality and postmodern conceptions of racial and ethnic identity.
Commentary, Conflict, and Community in the Premodern Mediterranean
Jews, Christians, and Muslims all have a common belief in the sanctity of a core holy scripture, and commentary on scripture (exegesis) was at the heart of all three traditions in the Middle Ages. At the same time, because it dealt with issues such as the nature of the canon, the limits of acceptable interpretation, and the meaning of salvation history from the perspective of faith, exegesis was elaborated in the Middle Ages along the faultlines of interconfessional disputation and polemical conflict. This collection of thirteen essays by world-renowned scholars of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam explores the nature of exegesis during the High and especially the Late Middle Ages as a discourse of cross-cultural and interreligious conflict, paying particular attention to the commentaries of scholars in the western and southern Mediterranean from Iberia and Italy to Morocco and Egypt.Unlike other comparative studies of religion, this collection is not a chronological history or an encyclopedic guide. Instead, it presents essays in four conceptual clusters (“Writing on the Borders of Islam,” “Jewish-Christian Conflict,” “The Intellectual Activity of the Dominican Order,” and “Gender”) that explore medieval exegesis as a vehicle for the expression of communal or religious identity, one that reflects shared or competing notions of sacred history and sacred text. This timely book will appeal to scholars and lay readers alike and will be essential reading for students of comparative religion, historians charting the history of religious conflict in the medieval Mediterranean, and all those interested in the intersection of Jewish,Christian, and Muslim beliefs and practices.