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Tracing Religious Belief, Practice, and Change
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.
Kaqchikel Maya and the Grounding of Spirit
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.
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.
Religious Experiences with Nature
Learning Love from a Tiger explores the vibrancy and variety of humans’ sacred encounters with the natural world, gathering a range of stories culled from Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Mayan, Himalayan, Buddhist, and Chinese shamanic traditions. Readers will delight in tales of house cats who teach monks how to meditate, shamans who shape-shift into jaguars, crickets who perform Catholic mass, rivers that grant salvation, and many others. In addition to being a collection of wonderful stories, this book introduces important concepts and approaches that underlie much recent work in environmental ethics, religion, and ecology. Daniel Capper’s light touch prompts readers to engage their own views of humanity’s place in the natural world and question longstanding assumptions of human superiority.
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.