Atrocity and Ambiguity: Recent Developments in Christian Holocaust Responses [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Faith and fratricide: the theological roots of anti-Semitism.
Oldenhage, Tania. Parables for our time: rereading New Testament scholarship after the Holocaust.
Holocaust (Christian theology)
Christianity and antisemitism -- History.
Christian Holocaust scholars insist that historical atrocity should catalyze
religious change. Many established Holocaust theologians presume
that the antidote to anti-Judaism involves identifying an authentic
version of Christian faith lacking moral blemish. However, recent
responses tend to view the Bible and the Christian tradition as irreducibly
ambiguous. These new responses foreground perpetrator perspectives
and correlate developments in theological reflection with evolving
public Holocaust representations. They are distinctive in advocating
careful examination of biographical connections to the Holocaust,
including family, religious, and national identification. In significant
ways, emphasis on ambiguity in recent Christian Holocaust thought
provides critical leverage on the redemptive tendencies of popular
Holocaust remembrance in the United States.
Tomlinson, Matt, 1970-
Mana in Christian Fiji: The Interconversion of Intelligibility and Palpability [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Mana -- Fiji.
Christianity and culture -- Fiji.
How might religious discourse about powerlessness motivate practical
strategies for gaining power? To answer this question, I analyze two
events in Fiji, both explicitly violent and markedly Christian: the story
of a murder committed by a man who wanted to become a Methodist
minister and a threat of cannibalism by men who supported a coup
d’état that was justified with reference to Fiji as a Christian nation.
These events are best seen as responses to a common theme in indigenous
Fijian religious discourse: the loss of mana (efficacy). This
theme motivates the “interconversion” of these events between poles of
intelligibility and palpability: palpable actions are transformed into
intelligible products such as narratives; conversely, intelligible products
are enacted. The cases of “good Christian” murder and cannibalism,
I argue, reveal the transformative dynamics of religious discourse and
suggest how claims about the loss of efficacy can be practically effective.
Chancey, Mark A.
A Textbook Example of the Christian Right: The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools.
Bible -- Study and teaching -- United States.
Church and state -- United States.
According to the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public
Schools, a Christian Right organization, “the Bible was the foundation
and blueprint for our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, our
educational system, and our entire history until the last 20 to 30
years.” The group claims that over 1,000 American public high schools
use its Bible curriculum, which it characterizes as nonsectarian and
scholarly. In fact, the various editions of this curriculum have been
filled with factual errors, fringe scholarship, and plagiarism. With its
promotion of a fundamentalist Protestant understanding of the Bible
and a revisionist history of the United States as a distinctively
(Protestant) Christian nation, the curriculum appears not to pass legal
muster. Its growing use reflects the increasing influence of Christian
Americanist ideology as well as the need for greater involvement of
religious studies scholars in the issue of religion and public education.
American Reincarnations: What the Many Lives of Past Lives Tell us about Contemporary Spiritual Practice [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
New Age movement -- Massachusetts -- Cambridge.
This paper explores how contemporary “past life” and “reincarnation”
practices in the United States draw upon and reproduce visions of divine
connection formed in nineteenth-century metaphysical investigations.
Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with spiritual seekers in Cambridge,
MA, in 2002–04, I demonstrate how contemporary past life beliefs and
practices resonate with older concerns, questions, and understandings of
the self in history. These practices allow contemporary American spiritual
seekers to augment and creatively rethink (and replace) their relations with
intimate others, providing rich experiential resources for placing the self in
history and relation. At the same time, these practices displace practitioners’
interests in the metaphysical histories that scholars of religion
have been most interested in recovering, raising new questions for historians
and sociologists alike about how traditions are carried and recognized.
Phrenology -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
Spiritualism -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
Farnham, Eliza W. (Eliza Wood), 1815-1864.
Edmonds, John W. (John Worth), 1799-1874.
Advancing a particular version of secularism, antebellum practices
such as phrenology and spiritualism encouraged the conflation of
moral agency with the directives of national security. In an attempt to
situate such practices in relation to secular assumptions about politics
in the mid-nineteenth century, this essay charts the deployment
of occult ideas at Sing Sing State Penitentiary. Before their embrace of
spiritualism in the early 1850s, both John Edmonds, the President of
the Prison Association of New York, and Eliza Farnham, an advocate
of phrenology, modified Sing Sing’s evangelical approach to phrenology.
Rather than continue to localize individual sin as the hinge of religious
conversion, their methods focused increasingly on the cultivation
of that which was both within and beyond the criminal body—the
dormant potentiality of citizenship. To attend to the ascendancy of
metaphysics at Sing Sing, I argue, is to begin to unpack the power and
scope of what may be called, with all its disturbing ironies, a religion
born of secular modernity.
In conversation with recent scholarly approaches to the interrelationships
of religion, media, and technology, this paper analyzes a neglected
form of metaphysical religion within the rubric of Protestant
experimentalism. The main sources are a group of early twentiethcentury
Anglican clerics with shared interests in telepathy, psychic
research, psychology, and healing. The paper argues for attention to
the “sensational forms” (or paths of transmission) through which these
clerics understood divine–human communication to occur. Analyzing
divine vibration, telepathy, and psychic energy as Protestant sensational
forms has allowed me to set my analysis of experimentalist healing
within intersecting historical contexts, including competing theological
imaginations, new communication technologies, discourses of scientific
authority, and cultural exchange on colonial frontiers.
Arnold, Daniel Anderson, 1965-
Nāgārjuna in Context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and Early Indian Culture (review) [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Walser, Joseph. Nāgārjuna in context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and early Indian culture.