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Religious liberalism in America has often been equated with an ecumenical Protestant establishment. By contrast, American Religious Liberalism draws attention to the broad diversity of liberal cultures that shapes America's religious movements. The essays gathered here push beyond familiar tropes and boundaries to interrogate religious liberalism's dense cultural leanings by looking at spirituality in the arts, the politics and piety of religious cosmopolitanism, and the interaction between liberal religion and liberal secularism. Readers will find a kaleidoscopic view of many of the progressive strands of America's religious past and present in this richly provocative volume.
Esalen and the Rise of Spiritual Privilege
Yoga. Humanistic Psychology. Meditation. Holistic Healing. These practices are commonplace today. Yet before the early 1960s they were atypical options for most people outside of the upper class or small groups of educated spiritual seekers.
Esalen Institute, a retreat for spiritual and personal growth in Big Sur, California, played a pioneering role in popularizing quests for self-transformation and personalized spirituality. This “soul rush” spread quickly throughout the United States as the Institute made ordinary people aware of hundreds of ways to select, combine, and revise their beliefs about the sacred and to explore diverse mystical experiences. Millions of Americans now identify themselves as spiritual, not religious, because Esalen paved the way for them to explore spirituality without affiliating with established denominations
The American Soul Rush explores the concept of spiritual privilege and Esalen’s foundational influence on the growth and spread of diverse spiritual practices that affirm individuals’ self-worth and possibilities for positive personal change. The book also describes the people, narratives, and relationships at the Institute that produced persistent, almost accidental inequalities in order to illuminate the ways that gender is central to religion and spirituality in most contexts.
The Cultural Work of Jewish American Fiction
Looks at the role of Jewish American fiction in the larger context of American culture. 'In American Talmud, Ezra Cappell redefines the genre of Jewish American fiction and places it squarely within the larger context of American literature. Cappell departs from the conventional approach of defining Jewish American authors solely in terms of their ethnic origins and sociological constructs, and instead contextualizes their fiction within the theological heritage of Jewish culture. By deliberately emphasizing historical and ethnographic links to religions, religious texts, and traditions, Cappell demonstrates that twentieth-century and contemporary Jewish American fiction writers have been codifying a new Talmud, an American Talmud, and argues that the literary production of Jews in America might be seen as one more stage of rabbinic commentary on the scriptural inheritance of the Jewish people.
Diversity and Change in the World's Largest Amish Community
Holmes County, Ohio, is home to the largest and most diverse Amish community in the world. Yet, surprisingly, it remains relatively unknown compared to its famous cousin in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Charles E. Hurst and David L. McConnell conducted seven years of fieldwork, including interviews with over 200 residents, to understand the dynamism that drives social change and schism within the settlement, where Amish enterprises and nonfarming employment have prospered. The authors contend that the Holmes County Amish are experiencing an unprecedented and complex process of change as their increasing entanglement with the non-Amish market causes them to rethink their religious convictions, family practices, educational choices, occupational shifts, and health care options. The authors challenge the popular image of the Amish as a homogeneous, static, insulated society, showing how the Amish balance tensions between individual needs and community values. They find that self-made millionaires work alongside struggling dairy farmers; successful female entrepreneurs live next door to stay-at-home mothers; and teenagers both embrace and reject the coming-of-age ritual, rumspringa. An Amish Paradox captures the complexity and creativity of the Holmes County Amish, dispelling the image of the Amish as a vestige of a bygone era and showing how they reinterpret tradition as modernity encroaches on their distinct way of life.
On the Analogy of Being, Metaphysics, and the Act of Faith
Analogia Entis: On the Analogy of Being, Metaphysics, and the Act of Faith is an intellectually rigorous and systematic account of Thomas’s teaching regarding the analogy of being. Steven A. Long’s work stands in contradistinction to historical-doctrinal surveys and general introductions, retrieving by way of an interpretation of Aristotle and Aquinas the indispensable role that analogy of being plays for metaphysics and, consequently, for theology. In his later writings St. Thomas did not return to questions about the analogy of being that he had answered earlier in his career. This has led most historical-textual treatments of analogy in current scholarship to the mistaken conclusion that Thomas actually changed his answers to these questions. Scholars fail to see the continuity between his treatment in the Summa theologiae and his earlier De veritate. Long's study demonstrates the coherence of St. Thomas’s earlier and later analyses. It shows how Thomas’s later account in the Summa theologiae necessarily presupposes his earlier teaching.
Daoism and the Birth of Rebirth in China
This innovative work on Chinese concepts of the afterlife is the result of Stephen Bokenkamp's groundbreaking study of Chinese scripture and the incorporation of Indic concepts into the Chinese worldview. Here, he explores how Chinese authors, including Daoists and non-Buddhists, received and deployed ideas about rebirth from the third to the sixth centuries C.E. In tracing the antecedents of these scriptures, Bokenkamp uncovers a stunning array of non-Buddhist accounts that provide detail on the realms of the dead, their denizens, and human interactions with them. Bokenkamp demonstrates that the motive for the Daoist acceptance of Buddhist notions of rebirth lay not so much in the power of these ideas as in the work they could be made to do.
The Lives of Liutbirga of Wendhausen and Hathumoda of Gandersheim
In the growing field of early medieval texts in translation, this book presents the first full English translations of the Lives of Liutbirga of Wendhausen, the first anchoress in Saxony, and Hathumoda, the first abbess of Gandersheim.
The Life and Times of Duncan M. Gray Jr.
The story of the civil rights movement is not simply the history of its major players but is also the stories of a host of lesser-known individuals whose actions were essential to the movement's successes. Duncan M. Gray Jr., an Episcopal priest who served various Mississippi parishes between 1953 and 1974, when he was elected bishop of Mississippi, is one of these individuals. And One Was a Priest is his remarkable story.From one perspective, Gray (b. 1926) would seem an unlikely spokesman for racial equality and reconciliation. He could have been content simply to become a member of the white, male Missisippi "club." Gray could have embraced a comfortable life and ignored the burning realities around him. But he chose instead to use his priesthood to speak in unpopular but prophetic support of justice and equality for African Americans. From his student days at the seminary at the University of the South, to his first church in Cleveland, Mississippi, and most famously to St. Peter's Parish in Oxford, where he confronted rioters in 1962, Gray steadfastly and fearlessly fought the status quo. He continued to work for racial reconciliation, inside and outside of the church, throughout his life.This biography tells not only Gray's story, but also reveals the times and people that helped make him. The author's question is "What makes a good person?" And One Was a Priest suggests there is much to learn from Gray's choices and his struggle.
This is an intelligent study of an important topic, one not treated in this manner and deserving of a new investigation. It brings to bear, in particular, various recent critical concepts such as 'text' and 'intertextuality' that provide a new understanding of Gide's use of myth." Catharine Savage Brosman "Genova's study ... is an important contribution to our knowledge of Gide the writer and the man."Pierre L. Horn, Wright State University