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Paul and the Ancestors in Postcolonial Africa
"Father Abraham had many sons . . ." So goes the chorus that the Shona people learned from European missionaries as part of the broader experience of colonization that they share with other African peoples. Urged to abandon their ancestors and embrace Christianity, the Shona instead engaged in a complex and ambiguous negotiation of ancestral myths, culture, and power.
Israel Kamudzandu explores this legacy, showing how the Shona found in the figure of Abraham himself a potent resource for cultural resistance, and makes intriguing comparisons with the ways the apostle Paul used the same figure in his interaction with the ancestry of Aeneas in imperial myths of the destiny of the Roman people. The result is a groundbreaking study that combines the best tradition-historical insights with postcolonial-critical acumen. Kamudzandu offers at last a model of multi-cultural Christianity forged in the experience of postcolonial Zimbabwe.
In this provocative work, Sophia Heller challenges the assumption that we cannot be without myth, that myth is necessary to vital, soulful living. Indeed, Heller argues, we have been living in a world without myth for a long time. The Absence of Myth examines the loss of a religious mode of being-in-the-world and demonstrates how theorists who insist on the presence of myth deny its historical end. Absence of myth may seem obvious: evidenced by our lack of cult and ritual, and by our de-animated natural world, as well as in the emergence of conceptual thought and psychological awareness, which could only arise with the dissolution of a prereflective (mythic) mode of being-in-the-world. But what appears to be straightforward becomes complicated when myth is intentionally conflated with thought and reflection, usually in the attempt to cultivate a “mythic consciousness” that aims to restore meaning to life and assuage the spiritual malaise of contemporary culture. Myth cannot rest in peace. It must be continually unearthed, redefined, and recontextualized such that modern and postmodern notions of myth are made to substitute for something that has never been experienced, only imagined.
The Rise and Fall of a Chinese Heresy
In spite of the common view of Buddhism as nondogmatic and tolerant, the historical record preserves many examples of Buddhist thinkers and movements that were banned as heretical or subversive. The San-chieh (Three Levels) was a popular and influential Chinese Buddhist movement during the Sui and T’ang periods, counting powerful statesmen, imperial princes, and even an empress, Empress Wu, among its patrons. In spite, or perhaps precisely because, of its proximity to power, the San-chieh movement ran afoul of the authorities and its teachings and texts were officially proscribed numerous times over a several-hundred-year history. Because of these suppressions San-chieh texts were lost and little information about its teachings or history is available. The present work, the first English study of the San-chieh movement, uses manuscripts discovered at Tun-huang to examine the doctrine and institutional practices of this movement in the larger context of Mahayana doctrine and practice. By viewing San-chieh in the context of Mahayana Buddhism, Hubbard reveals it to be far from heretical and thereby raises important questions about orthodoxy and canon in Buddhism. He shows that many of the hallmark ideas and practices of Chinese Buddhism find an early and unique expression in the San-chieh texts.
This is the final volume in Carl G. Vaught’s groundbreaking trilogy reappraising Augustine’s Confessions, a cornerstone of Western philosophy and one of the most influential works in the Christian tradition. Vaught offers a new interpretation of the philosopher as less Neoplatonic and more distinctively Christian than most interpreters have thought. In this book, he focuses on the most philosophical section of the Confessions and on how it relates to the previous, more autobiographical sections. A companion to the previous two volumes, which dealt with Books I–IX, this book can be read either in sequence with or independently of the others. Books X–XIII of the Confessions begin after Augustine has become Bishop of Hippo and they are separated by more than ten years from the episodes recorded in the previous nine books of the text. This establishes the narrative in the present and speaks to the “believing sons of men.” Augustine explores how memory, time, and creation make the journey toward God and the encounter with God possible. Vaught analyzes these conditions in order to unlock Augustine’s solutions to familiar philosophical and theological problems. He also tackles the frequently discussed problem of the alleged disconnection between the earlier books and the last four books by showing how Augustine binds experience and reflection together.
George Whitefield and the Creation of America
Patriots. Founding Fathers. Revolutionaries. For many Americans, the colonial heroes deserve special celebratory reverence. Yet while Washington's leadership, Franklin's writings, and Revere's ride captivate us, the inspiration and influence George Whitefield instilled within the revolutionary spirits of early Americans is regrettably unknown.
In this refreshing biography, Jerome Dean Mahaffey deftly moves beyond Whitefield's colonial celebrity to show how his rhetoric and ministry worked for freedom, situating Whitefield alongside the most revolutionary founders. As this Anglican revivalist traveled among the colonies, he delivered exhilarating sermons deeply saturated with political implications—freedom from oppression, civil justice, communal cooperation. Whitefield helped to encourage in his listeners a longing for a new, uniquely American nationalism.
The Accidental Revolutionary tells the story of this forgotten founder, who may not have realized the repercussions of his words as he spoke them. Now, Mahaffey delicately shows that Whitefield converted colonists not just to Christianity but to a renewed sense of unification that ultimately made possible the American Revolution.
Based on eyewitness accounts of rituals conducted at the height of Inca rule, this is a key document that provides an unparalleled account of the prayers and religious celebrations of the Inca in a context of rapidly changing cultural practices.
Many Nuns for Many Wests, 1850-1920
Roman Catholic sisters first traveled to the American West as providers of social services, education, and medical assistance. In Across God’s Frontiers, Anne M. Butler traces the ways in which sisters challenged and reconfigured contemporary ideas about women, work, religion, and the West; moreover, she demonstrates how religious life became a vehicle for increasing women’s agency and power.
On the Poetry of Mak Dizdar
The work of Mehmedalija MakDizdar (1917-71) is the cornerstone of modern Bosnian literature. During the Second World War he was a member of the anti-fascist Partisans. After the war, he became prominent in Bosnian cultural life and eventually President of the Writers' Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina. His work blends influences from Bosnian Christian culture, Islamic mysticism, and the cultural remains of medieval Bosnia, especially its stone tombstones.This book falls into two parts. The first is an essay on Dizdar's major poetry book Stone Sleeper. It argues that in his poetry Dizdar turns to spiritual regions and resources that had been suppressed during the time of communism. From the very outset, Stone Sleeper was recognized as a liberatrion from the ideological disciplines of communism, nationalism, and scientism. Few, however, were able fully to understand the traditional content of its post-traditional form. In this part, Rusmir Mahmutcehajic introduces readers to the traditional substance of Stone Sleeper, in the context of what he calls perennial philosophy.From that perspective, prophecy, being the source of perennial wisdom, is set above poetry. In some poetry, however, prophetic wisdom and poetic pronouncement exist inseparably. Stone Sleeper is an example of that mutual co-existence.In the second part, the author traces, in a discussion of Dizdar's mystically influenced poem Blue River,the perennial questions of how we are to discover or realize the human self in relation to God as Creator.