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New Critical Orientations to a Cultural Phenomenon
Historically, religious scriptures are defined as holy texts that are considered to be beyond the abilities of the layperson to interpret. Their content is most frequently analyzed by clerics who do not question the underlying political or social implications of the text, but use the writing to convey messages to their congregations about how to live a holy existence. In Western society, moreover, what counts as scripture is generally confined to the Judeo-Christian Bible, leaving the voices of minorities, as well as the holy texts of faiths from Africa and Asia, for example, unheard.
In this innovative collection of essays that aims to turn the traditional bible-study definition of scriptures on its head, Vincent L. Wimbush leads an in-depth look at the social, cultural, and racial meanings invested in these texts. Contributors hail from a wide array of academic fields and geographic locations and include such noted academics as Susan Harding, Elisabeth Shüssler Fiorenza, and William L. Andrews.
Purposefully transgressing disciplinary boundaries, this ambitious book opens the door to different interpretations and critical orientations, and in doing so, allows an ultimately humanist definition of scriptures to emerge.
Transmission, Translation, and Transformation
The global spread of Buddhism is giving rise to new forms of religious complexity, both in the West and in Asia. This collection of essays examines the religious and cultural conversations that are occurring in this process from a diverse range of disciplinary, methodological, and literary perspectives, including philosophy, ethnography, history, and cultural studies. The chapters in the first section explore the transmission of Buddhism to the West, ranging from the writings of one of its earliest western interpreters, the Wesleyan missionary R. Spence Hardy, to the globalization of Tibetan Buddhist reincarnation, to the development and practice of Buddhism within the American prison system. The concluding chapter of this section presents a case study of a Japanese Buddhist temple in Oregon that ultimately died out—an example of a transmission that failed. The second section looks at the complex issues that arise in the translation of Buddhist terms, texts, and concepts from one language or cultural milieu to another. Two chapters examine the challenges confronted by those who translate Buddhist texts—one exploring the contemporary translation of Tibetan Buddhism, the second analyzing an exchange of poetry in medieval Japan. The other two chapters describe the translation of Buddhist ideas into new cultural domains in America, specifically film and sports. The final section presents case studies in the transformation of Buddhism which is resulting from its new global interconnections. Topics include the role of women in transforming Buddhist patriarchy, Buddhist-Freudian dialogue in relationship to mourning, and the interplay between Buddhism and the environmental movement. The book also includes images created by the noted artist Meridel Rubenstein which frame the individual chapters within a nonverbal exploration of the themes discussed. In addition to the editors, contributors include Mark Blum, Mario D’Amato, Sue Darlington, Elizabeth Eastman, Connie Kassor, Tom Rohlich, Judith Snodgrass, Jane Stangl, and Karma Lekshe Tsomo.
Travel and Religion in Antiquity considers the importance of issues relating to travel for our understanding of religious and cultural life among Jews, Christians, and others in the ancient world, particularly during the Hellenistic and Roman eras. The volume is organized around five overlapping areas where religion and travel intersect: travel related to honouring deities, including travel to festivals, oracles, and healing sanctuaries; travel to communicate the efficacy of a god or the superiority of a way of life, including the diffusion of cults or movements; travel to explore and encounter foreign peoples or cultures, including descriptions of these cultures in ancient ethnographic materials; migration; and travel to engage in an occupation or vocation.
With interdisciplinary contributions that cover a range of literary, epigraphic, and archeological materials, the volume sheds light on the importance of movement in connection with religious life among Greeks, Romans, Nabateans, and others, including Judeans and followers of Jesus.
Southern Baptist Conservatives and American Culture
The first book-length interpretation of the new conservative leaders of America's largest Protestant denomination.
Uneasy in Babylon is based on extensive interviews with the most important Southern Baptist conservatives who have assumed control of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Known to many Americans from their appearances on national TV talk shows, such as Larry King Live and Fox News, they advocate a return to traditional values throughout the country. Hankins shows how differing cultural perceptions help explain the great chasm that developed between fundamentalists in the SBC and the moderates who preceded them as leaders of the denomination.
Ascetics in the Hindu Himalayas
In this moving ethnographic portrait of Hindu renouncers -- sadhus or ascetics -- in northern India and Nepal, Sondra L. Hausner considers a paradox that shapes their lives: while ostensibly defined by their solitary spiritual practice, the stripping away of social commitments, and their break with family and community, renouncers in fact regularly interact with "householder" society. They form a distinctive, alternative community with its own internal structure, but one that is not located in any single place. Highly mobile and dispersed across the subcontinent, its members are regularly brought together through pilgrimage circuits on festival cycles. Drawing on many years of fieldwork, Hausner presents intimate portraits of individual sadhus as she examines the shared views of space, time, and the body that create the ground for everyday experience. Written with an extraordinary blend of empathy, compassion, and anthropological insight, this study will appeal to scholars, students, and general readers alike.
A shocking snapshot of the most current impulses in American religion. Rodney Stark reports the surprising findings of the 2007 Baylor Surveys of Religion, a follow up to the 2005 survey revealing most Americans believe in God or a higher power. This new volume highlights even more hot-button issues of religious life in our country. A must-read for anyone interested in Americans' religious beliefs and practices.
Church and Society in the Mobile Phone Age
This is an original and innovative study of mobile phones in Africa from a theological perspective. The First and the Second Special Assemblies for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, held in Rome in 1994 and 2009 respectively, made an urgent appeal to the Church in Africa to employ various media forms of social communications for evangelization and the promotion of justice and peace. Evidently, electronic media are now increasingly used for evangelization across Africa. The proliferation of the mobile phone in Africa is a most welcome development to this end. On the basis of a thorough review of the growing literature on the mobile phone and the cultures it inspires, Goliama highlights the ambivalent nature of mobile cultures for the Roman Catholic Churchís evangelization mission in Africa. He argues not only for the continued merits of face-to-face communication for the Churchís pastoral approach in the African context. He points to how this could be enriched by a creative appropriation of the mobile phone as a tool for theological engagement, in its capacity to shape cultures in ways amenable to the construction of a Cell phone Ecclesiology. Such emergent mobile cultural values include the tendency of mobile users to transcend social divides, to promote social interconnectedness, and to privilege the question ìwhere are you?î. This informed and well articulated exploration of Cell phone Ecclesiology is thus envisaged to aid the Church in Africa to wrestle more effectively with challenges that diminish human life and promote instead qualities that are life-affirming to all categories of people in the Church and society.
Complementary Dualism in Modern Peru
Yanantin and Masintin in the Andean World is an eloquently written autoethnography in which researcher Hillary S. Webb seeks to understand the indigenous Andean concept of yanantin or “complementary opposites.” One of the most well-known and defining characteristics of indigenous Andean thought, yanantin is an adherence to a philosophical model based on the belief that the polarities of existence (such as male/ female, dark/light, inner/outer) are interdependent and essential parts of a harmonious whole.
Webb embarks on a personal journey of understanding the yanantin worldview of complementary duality through participant observation and reflection on her individual experience. Her investigation is a thoughtful, careful, and rich analysis of the variety of ways in which cultures make meaning of the world around them, and how deeply attached we become to our own culturally imposed meaning-making strategies.
Exploring the Yoruba tradition in the United States, Hucks begins with the story of Nana Oseijeman Adefunmi’s personal search for identity and meaning as a young man in Detroit in the 1930s and 1940s. She traces his development as an artist, religious leader, and founder of several African-influenced religio-cultural projects in Harlem and later in the South. Adefunmi was part of a generation of young migrants attracted to the bohemian lifestyle of New York City and the black nationalist fervor of Harlem. Cofounding Shango Temple in 1959, Yoruba Temple in 1960, and Oyotunji African Village in 1970, Adefunmi and other African Americans in that period renamed themselves “Yorubas” and engaged in the task of transforming Cuban Santería into a new religious expression that satisfied their racial and nationalist leanings and eventually helped to place African Americans on a global religious schema alongside other Yoruba practitioners in Africa and the diaspora.
Alongside the story of Adefunmi, Hucks weaves historical and sociological analyses of the relationship between black cultural nationalism and reinterpretations of the meaning of Africa from within the African American community.