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Mysticism and Vocation

We tend to think that a person who is both reasonable and moral can have a good life. What constitutes a life that is not only good but superlative, or even “marvellous” or “holy”? Those who have such lives are called sages, heroes or saints, and their lives can display great integrity as well as integration with a transformative “Spiritual Presence.”

Does it follow that saints are perfect people? Is there a common vision that impels them to seek holiness? In a controversial interpretation of mysticism Horne suggests that there is no single formula for the meaning of life and no one story that displays it to us. Mysticism, rather than being just a visionary perception, then becomes a problem-solving process that brings about a creative transformation of the personality at a critical stage in life. He suggests also that saints may be imperfect morally and describes true saints as double-minded: they are serious in a playful way.

Mysticism and Vocation illuminates our understanding of saintly lives by explicating their mystical characteristics and extending discussions of mysticism to explain its role in active lives. In discussing important decisions that go beyond conventional morality, it adds to recent philosophical arguments by Charles Taylor, Alasdair MacIntyre, Iris Murdoch, Bernard Williams and others to the effect that morality should be defined more broadly to deal with the human condition.

This book will be of interest to students of philosophy and religious studies, in both graduate and undergraduate programs.

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Mythologies and Philosophies of Salvation in the Theistic Traditions of India

Klaus Klostermaier

Based on exhaustive reference to primary source material, this volume explores the relationships between religious mythologies and religious philosophical system within the theistic traditions in India. Not content merely to explore these relationships, the author further examines the relevance of mythology and philosophy in a discussion of salvation—salvation understood in its sociological, eschatological, and philosophical senses. The treatment of myth and philosophy is comprehensive in scope, pulling together a great variety of sources and commentary, and illuminating them for the Western reader.

This study will be of interest both to students of Indian religions and to students of comparative religion interested in creating a context for the discussion of Eastern and Western religions.

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The New Canadian Pentecostals

The New Canadian Pentecostals takes readers into the everyday religious lives of the members of three Pentecostal congregations located in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Using the rich qualitative and quantitative data gathered through participant observation, personal interviews, and surveys conducted within these congregations, Adam Stewart provides the first book-length study focusing on the specific characteristics of Canadian Pentecostal identity, belief, and practice.

Stewart asserts that Pentecostalism remains an important tradition in the Canadian religious landscape—contrary to the assumptions of many Canadian sociologists and scholars of religion. Recent decreases in Canadian Pentecostal affiliation recorded by Statistics Canada are not the result of Pentecostals abandoning their congregations; rather, they are indicative of a radical transformation from traditionally Pentecostal to generically evangelical modes of religious identity, belief, and practice that are changing the ways that Pentecostals understand and explain their religious identities.

The case study presented in this book suggests that a new breed of Canadian Pentecostals are emerging for whom traditional definitions and expressions of Pentecostalism are much less important than religious autonomy and individualism.

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Of God and Maxim Guns

Presbyterianism in Nigeria, 1846-1966

Geoffrey Johnston

The founding of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria arose out of the enthusiasm of the young church in Jamaica. The first mission party arrived in Calabar in 1846 and settled into a routine of preaching, teaching, campaigning for social reform, ministerial training, and practising medicine. With the coming of the British Empire after 1890, a new generation of missionaries—armed with a kind of colonial mentality—appeared; thirty years later there was a network of churches and schools, and the missionaries who had begun as pastors of congregations had become administrators of districts. By the 1930s the church had developed a large corps of trained teachers and a smaller corps of trained ministers, men and women who were beginning to assert their independence. By 1950 the nationalist period had begun, a period marked by rapid growth of primary and secondary schools and teacher-training colleges and, most importantly, by a shift in power from the Mission Council to the Synod, which represented the church as a whole. By 1960 the church was back where it had started—with its affairs regulated by a court in which missionaries and natives sat and argued as equals.

A former president of the American Historical Association observed more than fifteen years ago that "mission history is a great and underused research laboratory for the comparative observation of cultural stimulus and response in both directions." In God and Maxim Guns, Geoffrey Johnston makes a substantial contribution to the field of mission history.

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Prometheus Rebound

The Irony of Atheism

Joseph C. McLelland

Modern atheism is a further act in the ancient drama of Prometheus vs Zeus. This book argues that the antagonism is false, as proved by the "irony": in which atheism turns into antitheism, transferring divine qualities to Humanity. The drama is framed by the "classicla dilemma," a conflict of wills: Tyrant and Rebel. The Unbinding of Prometheus is traced through Western history, to the Enlightenment "death of God," both speculative (Hegel) and practical (Marx). Finally, four types of "idols" are examined, in which Prometheus is rebound: Freud's Oedipus, Nietzsche's Dionysus, Camus' Sisyphus and Sartre's Orestes. The revision of both theism and atheism demands re-casting Zeus and Prometheus, breaking the impasse of heteronomy/autonomy and omnipotence/free will. Only thus may we affirm Humanity without denying God.

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The Promise of Critical Theology

Essays in Honour of Charles Davis

Written in tribute to one of the foremost Catholic theologians in the English-speaking world, the essays in The Promise of Critical Theology address the question: Can critical theology secure its critical operation without undermining its foundation in religious tradition and experience? Is “critical theology” simply an oxymoron when viewed from both sides of the equation?

From Marc Lalonde’s introductory essay which delimits Davis’ fundamental position, that the primary task of critical theology is the critique of religious orthodoxy, the essays examine Davis’ distinction between faith and belief and build upon the promise of critical theology as inextricably bound to the promise of faith. They ask: What is its promise? What particular religious ideas, themes, stories are appropriate for its concrete expression? How can the community of faith receive its transformative message? What might be the contribution of other religious traditions and philosophies?

Essays by Paul Lakeland, Dennis McCann, Kenneth Melchin, Michael Oppenheim and Marsha Hewitt respond to these and other questions and critically relate Davis’ work to ongoing developments in modern theology, critical theory, philosophy and the social sciences. Their diversity attests to the comprehensive scope of Davis’ thought and exemplifies the progressive character of contemporary religious discourse. They honour Davis and illuminate the promise of critical religious thinking in itself.

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Radical Difference

A Defence of Hendrik Kraemer’s Theology of Religions

It is commonly assumed that all religions are essentially alike, that they are all common members of the genus Religion. But what if religions are not fundamentally similar after all? What if, on the contrary, it is better to presuppose a radical difference among the world’s various religious communities, with each faith being defined by different beliefs, different practices, different world views, and different ways of life?

Radical Difference: A Defence of Hendrik Kraemer’s Theology of Religions explores the implications of this presupposition by examining the pioneering work of Dutch Reformed theologian and missionary Hendrik Kraemer. Perry shows that a critical reappropriation of Kraemer by contemporary Christian theology of religions can only help those Christians, especially evangelical Protestants, who find themselves equally unsatisfied with the various pluralisms and traditional responses, whether optimistic or skeptical, currently available.

Increased global migration and technological advances have brought us closer together than ever before. At the same time, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions throughout the world have awakened us to issues of interreligious tolerance and cooperation. This book recognizes and addresses the impact differing religious beliefs, practices and world views have on our lives.

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Religion in History / La religion dans l’histoire

The Word, the Idea, the Reality / Le mot, l’idée, la realité

The history of the concept of “religion” in Western tradition has intrigued scholars for years. This important collection of eighteen essays brings further light to the ongoing debate. Three of the invited participants, W.C. Smith, M. Despland and E. Feil, has each previously written impressive books treating this subject; the last two acknowledged the impact and continuing influence of Smith’s work, The Meaning and End of Religion.

An introduction and a recapitulation of Smith’s contribution as a scholar set the stage for a retrospective look at the published literature. Contributors then examine the transformation of words (the classical religio to the modern religion), particularities of religion in nineteenth-century France, Troeltsch’s concept of religion, the study of religion from an Asian point of view and the categorization of “World Religions.” The concluding essays elaborate contemporary anthropological, cross-disciplinary, semiological, deconstructive and psychoanalytical methodological approaches to the concept and study of “religion.”

Exploring critically different aspects of the concept and study of religion, these provocative essays typically reflect the methodological pluralism currently existing in the field of Religious Studies. Of interest to scholars and students alike, this collection also contains a complete bibliography of W.C. Smith’s publications.

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The Religious Dreamworld of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses

Recovering a Forgotten Hermeneutic

Apuleius’ Metamorphoses is probably best known as the literary source for the myth of Eros and Psyche and as a primary source of information about mystery religions in the ancient world.

There is another realm of the Metamorphoses which has, until now, received relatively little attention — namely, the many dreams found within it. The Religious Dreamworld of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses offers an engaging portrait of the second-century dreamworld. Recognizing the centrality of the religious function and spiritual interpretation of dreams, this book illustrates their vital importance in the ancient world and the wide variety of meanings attributed to them.

James Gollnick draws deeply from historical and psychological studies and provides a historical background on the current interest in the role of dreams in psychological and spiritual transformation.

This study of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses adds to an appreciation of Apuleius the dreamer and the second-century dreamworld in which he lived and wrote.

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Sharing without Reckoning

Imperfect Right and the Norms of Reciprocity

Sharing without Reckoning is the first full-scale treatment of the ancient and persistent distinction between “perfect” and “imperfect” rights and duties. It examines the use of the distinction in jurisprudential, philosophical and religious material from Classical times until the present; proposes a connection between imperfect right and the “norms of reciprocity” (as that complex set of ideas has been developed in anthropology and sociology); and argues that contemporary understanding of the nature of morality and of moral reasoning would be well served by the reintroduction of this traditional doctrine.

This enlightening study includes a notable chapter reassessing the role of imperfect obligation in the thought of Immanuel Kant, portraying a “kinder and gentler” Kant.

Concluding by elaborating ways in which concepts such as love, justice and the boundary between law and morality might be reconstructed — taking the fact of imperfect right seriously — this work will serve as a key reference for scholars interested in the complex question of “perfect” and “imperfect” rights and duties.

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