2002 AAR AbstractsA16
Panel: AAR, SBL, and ATS Grants Forum
Christopher Wilkins, Association of Theological Schools in the U.S. and Canada, Presiding
Barbara Ashbrook, National Endowment for the Humanities
Patrick Henry, Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research
James W. Lewis, Louisville Institute
Christine O'Brien, National Research Council
Michael Hawes, Canada-US Fulbright Program
Program officers from foundations and funding agencies will be available to answer questions and distribute materials. This session is an opportunity to learn more about the funding process and the many different kinds of resources available to scholars in religion. It is designed to be helpful for first-time applicants as well as those who have received grants in the past. There will be representatives from organizations that provide a wide variety of types of funding, including dissertation support, faculty leave grants, and project-level grants.
Panel: Teaching Islam after September 11
Jonathan E. Brockopp, Bard College, Presiding
Frederick M. Denny, University of Colorado, Boulder
Anna M. Gade, University of Chicago
Zayn Kassam, Pomona College
Omid Safi, Colgate University
Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Georgetown University
In the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, many universities have sought to offer courses on the Islamic tradition, or at least substantially increase the coverage of Islam in other introductory or comparative courses. This development comes precisely at a time that most universities do not have a resident scholar of Islamic studies as a regular part of the faculty. As a result, this sudden impetus for new courses has posed a great challenge to many of the non-Islamic studies faculty members who may now be asked to engage Islam in their offerings. Even though most religious studies faculty attempt to go beyond journalistic accounts of Islam, they may be handicapped by a lack of great familiarity with the recent scholarly literature on Islam. This panel aims to create a dialogue in which some leading experts on Islamic studies may facilitate the pedagogical process of their non-Islamicist colleagues.
The Experience of Loss and Grief as Illustrated through the Paintings of Edvard Munch, 1885 to 1900
Paul Myhre, Wabash College
Edvard Munch is often called the father of modern expressionism. He spent much of his artistic career painting images of his personal experience of loss, grief, death and mourning. He is most well known for his 1893 painting entitled, The Scream. This paper explores several of his paintings that were created between 1885 and 1900. Exemplars from his work are used to illustrate his efforts to explore his emotions of death, loss and grief. A visual hermeneutical method that considers late nineteenth-century Norwegian cultural perceptions of loss and grief, Munch’s religious experiences, contemporary perceptions of death and dying, Munch’s family’s means of dealing with loss and grief, and Munch’s personal writings are examined. The meaning of color, composition, human figure and symbols are also explored. Examples of Munch’s work that are considered include, Death in the Sick Room, the Sick Child, spring, Melancholy, and Ashes.
Towards an Ethics of Seeing: Sally Potter’s The Tango Lesson
Ulrike Vollmer, University of Sheffield
The paper will deal with the issue of what makes a film "religious." An alternative to theme-based, style-based and reference-based definitions of religious films will be sought by examining Sally Potter’s film The Tango Lesson in terms of different ways of looking inherent in it. Voyeuristic and fetishistic looks that objectify are contrasted with the look of a film director, who claims that her look through the camera is a look of love that helps the other to become visible as a subject. Following this analysis of The Tango Lesson, a fourth, new approach to defining the religious in films will be put forward. By focusing on the act of seeing, this approach can help to shift the emphasis from defining the religious in films through contents and style to defining it in terms of the relationship between a film and its viewers.
John Damascene’s On the Divine Images: Witness, Theosis, and Humanized Revelation
Elijah Mueller, Marquette University
John Damascene does not only defend images in his On the Divine Images. Nor does he only defend the incarnation. His defense proclaims the icon as an essential element of a spirituality of continuous access to the foundational witness canonized in revelation. His theology stems from both the claims of liturgy and ascetic teaching, and bolstered a community confronting new hostilities that could result in martyrdom. In this context the icon, and the spirituality inherent in its use, represented a sort of religious humanism: a deep theological respect for the human "image" which does not allow of diminishment of human faculties and potential.
Poetic Ecology as Spiritual Critique: Wright’s Guggenheim Museum and the Demands of Vision
Stephen T. Campagna-Pinto, Colgate University
Frank Lloyd Wright’s design for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City resulted in one of the world’s most famous buildings, and the greatest creation of the final period of Wright’s career. As critics have noted, Wright was steeped from an early age in the organic philosophy espoused by Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman, among others. This paper will offer an interpretation of the Guggenheim Museum as a monument that takes account of the complexity of Emerson’s thought and the currents of both transcendentalism and classical pragmatism that run through it, and that are widely discussed and debated by scholars. The Guggenheim functions as an American expression of modern turriphilia that serves as both refuge from, and critique of, modern urban space, a poetic statement given form in order to reject the city’s box canyons and advance the priority of vision or imagination for a healthy society.
Task 46.97: Given
Hartwig Bischof, University of Vienna
A comparison between Duchamp and Marion can only be based on what Alain Badiou calls "in-esthetics." Both introduce themselves as important critics of the predominant mainstream and both leave a good portion of work for the recipient. Besides this the main-question will be whether Duchamp’s "Étant donnés" could be read and experienced as an example of Marion’s "saturated phenomenon" or not.
Liberation from the Private Sphere: Arguing for Religious Voices in National Policy
Laura Kicklighter, University of Texas
This paper examines current attitudes and misconceptions about the appropriate role of religious perspectives in determining public policy. The author challenges traditional interpretations of the First Amendment that restrict religion to the private sphere. Instead, the constitutional disestablishment of religion opens the door for religion to play a unique and vital role in United States public discourse. The author advocates Michael Walzer’s prophetic model of social criticism as an effective way for religious groups and individuals to enter the national conversation on issues of national policy. This paper examines the National Bioethics Advisory Commission’s (NBAC) deliberations on the question of embryonic stem cell research. While the Commission solicited testimony from a variety of religious scholars, their report reflects the prevailing notion that religion should not inform public policy, which should instead be based on pragmatic or utilitarian methods. The author concludes with reflections on the new President’s Commission on Bioethics.
Panel: Religious Ethics and Public Discourse: Canadian and American Considerations of Stem Cells and Reproductive Technologies
Suzanne Holland, University of Puget Sound, Presiding
Ian Shugart, Health Canada, Ottawa, ON
John Berkman, Catholic University of America
Joseph Boyle, University of Toronto
In May 2001, then Canadian minister of health opened hearings for Canada’s first comprehensive laws on reproductive technology. A preliminary report argues that the legislation should affirm the status of human embryos as a "third category" deserving respect as "an early human entity" but not with the moral status of human persons. This panel will discuss and evaluate the Canadian Government’s proposed "third category" for embryos, examining how this might serve as a basis for justifying experimentation on pre-existing cryopreserved embryos, while prohibiting the creation of embryos for the purpose of harvesting stem cells.
"Faith as a Moral Act": Nineteenth-Century Liberals on Religious Experience and Social Action
Christopher Glen White, Harvard University
This paper examines conceptions of salvation and social reform in late nineteenth-century American culture. It argues that liberal Protestants redefined salvation as a spiritual state created not in solitary worship but in efforts to reform and uplift others. In short, liberal Protestants believed that outer practices of social action created and sustained the inner emotions of faith. This way of thinking about piety dramatically changed the way Protestants during this time thought about relationships between their inner and outer lives, between the Church and the world, between the sacred and the secular. Their ideas set people to laboring in the secular world to foster the sacred in themselves. In this paper I narrate the history of the changing configuration of faith and practice in this period by looking at Social Gospel figures and early American social scientists.
Rufus Jones, Quaker Mysticism, and the Transformation of American Religion
Matthew Hedstrom, University of Texas, Austin
Rufus M. Jones (1863-1948) is remembered as a prominent professor of philosophy and psychology at Haverford College, a leading scholar of mysticism, and a founder of the American Friends Service Committee. Yet he was much more. Jones was also a spiritual leader, the foremost American mystic in the first half of the twentieth century, and a spiritual guide to vast numbers of Americans through his widely read autobiographies and inspirational books. In this paper I examine this other Rufus Jones. I contend that Jones, in his popular writings, synthesized various strands of mysticism, drawn from academic philosophy, psychology, and his own Quaker tradition, and translated them into an idiom that was broadly accessible to the American reading public. This task, accomplished both through the success of his writings and through his personal example as a leading mystic, had profound consequences for the shape of American religion in the twentieth century.
A Theological Basis of Nineteenth-Century Social Reform
Priscilla Eppinger, Graceland University
While most religion calls for some attention to social welfare, simply claiming religious faith does not necessarily lead one to engagement in social reform. Some would argue that social welfare and the reform of social systems are the purview of secular politics rather than of religion. I argue that for people of faith, religious beliefs are a significant and often the central motivating factor for their engagement in social issues. In this paper I will show that nineteenth-century reformer Lucretia Mott’s religious belief system, in particular the intersection of her christology, ecclesiology, and eschatology, required her to engage in systemic analysis and social reform. With Mott as a model, we may learn to take more seriously the theological underpinnings of those engaged in social welfare and reform work. The articulation of theological imperatives for people of faith would enrich current-day efforts to construct alternative models to existing social structures.
Panel: Critical Psychology and Its Critics
Susan E. Henking, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Presiding
Naomi R. Goldenberg, University of Ottawa
Diane Jonte-Pace, Santa Clara University
James W. Jones, Rutgers University
H. John McDargh, Boston College
Jeremy R. Carrette, University of Stirling, Responding
Critical psychology, drawing on the writings of Foucault and other post-structuralist thinkers, offers a particular analysis of psychology and its relationships with religion. Such an analysis, foregrounding issues of power and privilege in the production and deployment of psychological and religious knowledge, has produced a significant body of theorizing. The time has come to subject this critical analysis to a critical analysis. Doing so will be the function of this panel. Professor Jeremy Carrette, who has written extensively from this standpoint and gave a well-received paper on critical psychology at last year’s annual meeting, will begin the discussion with a brief overview. The panelists will then offer their analyses and critiques and professor Carrette will respond. Issues raised will then be discussed among the panelists and with the audience.
Panel: Delores Williams: The Womanist Who Went before Us in the Wilderness
Mary C. Churchill, University of Colorado, Boulder, Presiding
Hyun-Kyung Chung, Union Theological Seminary, New York
Michelle Gonzalez, Loyola Marymount University
Dwight N. Hopkins, University of Chicago
Andrea Smith, University of California, Santa Cruz
Judith Plaskow, Manhattan College
Frances E. Wood, Emory University
Delores S. Williams, Union Theological Seminary, New York, Responding
With the vision of a prophet and the insight of a poet, Delores Williams has helped shape Womanist theology since its inception. Her landmark work, Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk, invites critical dialogue with white feminist and Black liberation theologians. Her challenge to each of these groups, and others as well, is to recognize and honor the "wilderness experience" as a critical mechanism for theological interpretation, particularly in the lives of poor and marginalized women. This panel, featuring theologians and scholars of religion from a variety of specializations, will discuss the important and far-reaching implications of Williams' contributions and will include Delores Williams' response to their remarks.
Making the Unrespectable Respectable: Black Pentecostal Women and Identity
Anthea Butler, Princeton University
Much of the recent work on African American women and religion has employed the use of Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham’s thesis, "politics of respectability," to describe the religious work of African American women of the early twentieth century. However, the thesis does not hold for black women who embraced Pentecostal denominations such as the Church of God in Christ, Mt. Sinai Holy Church of America, and others that espoused ecstatic worship and women’s work, but did not meet the conditions of "racial respectability." Black Pentecostal women gained respect and authority through their unique focus on biblical beliefs, worship styles, and practices not filtered through the lens of racial uplift idealogy and renunciation of African worship styles. How Black Pentecostal women constructed their identity through employing the use of seemingly unrespectable behaviors to gain respectability is the locus of this paper.
Benjamin T. Tanner and the Creation of the AME Church Newspaper the Child’s Recorder, 1868-1884
Julius Bailey, University of Redlands
This paper examines the struggles of Benjamin T. Tanner, bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, to create the denominational children’s newspaper, the Child’s Recorder. As editor of the AME Christian Recorder from 1868 to 1884, Tanner employed editorials and printed articles in the newspaper to shape the public discourse in the church regarding the black family. In his efforts to stimulate support for the Child’s Recorder, he formulated a distinct application of evangelical domesticity that linked the spiritual nurture of children to the racial uplift of the AME Church and the African American race.
Shame: The Basic Reality of Sin
Christina-Maria Franke, Humboldt University
Shame is more than a bodily experience of deficiency or a moral negative affect in response to unaccepted behavior. Speaking of shame lays the groundwork for statements concerning the fragility and contingency of human existence and concrete subjectivity; but it also refers us to that secret which is vitally necessary to every person in his or her relation to God and to the other. Making use of the interpretation of shame in the work of Kierkegaard’s concept of individuation, Bonhoeffer’s ethics, and Barth’s soteriology, we acquire a threefold description of the reality of sin in human life. This account of sin acknowledges at its heart (1) the origin of shame, (2) its enduring and fundamental role in every fragile human existence coram Deo as a dynamics of veiling and unveiling, as well as (3) its eschatological surmounting.
Suffering in the Wilderness: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Stellvertreter Meets Delores Williams' sister Hagar
Elaine Robinson, Texas Christian University
Bonhoeffer’s theological concept of Stellvertreter, vicarious representative action, is central to grasping the meaning of transformed "suffering" within the onto-theological reality of "being in Christ." The challenge of liberation theologies, however, forces us to rethink Bonhoeffer’s noble notion of suffering on behalf of others as central to discipleship. Guided in large part by Delores Williams' use of the Hagar story and her concept of the "wilderness experience," this paper asks whether Bonhoeffer’s Stellvertreter leads to continued exploitation of those whose lives lack genuine freedom of choice, or if the wilderness experience and the Womanist critique can lead us to reconstruct Bonhoeffer’s concept of suffering from a perspective of particularity and difference.
Suffering with Creation: Bonhoeffer’s Promise for an Ecological Soteriology
Hilda Koster, University of Chicago
Over the last two decades the environmental crisis has spurred theologians to articulate the integrity and intrinsic goodness of creation, and formulate alternative understandings of the traditional doctrines of sin, finitude and suffering within the context of an ecological theology of nature. Yet although ecological theologians are comfortable speaking about sin in ecological terms, they have a harder time coming to grasp with violence in nature. This paper argues that the failure to deal with nature’s violence leads to romanticism which is no viable alternative to the ambivalent or negative attitude towards nature and finitude which has troubled Christianity all along -- examining the work of Sallie McFague and Jürgen Moltmann. Subsequently, the paper explores Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s perception of finitude and suffering as a resource for an ecological soteriology. Bonhoeffer offers a reading of sin, finitude and suffering which reconciles us with our finite existence by suffering with it.
Religion between Imago Dei and Sin in the Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Kirsten Busch Nielsen, University of Copenhagen
In the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the notion of religion plays an important role (Act and Being, Creation and Fall, and Letters and Papers from Prison). The interdependence between the notion of religion and the understanding of sin has been developed though only to a certain degree. The hamartiological dimension of Bonhoeffer’s thinking must be taken into account if a complete interpretation of religion in Bonhoeffer is to be achieved. Suprisingly, Bonhoeffer’s notion of religion does not only involve criticism of religion and a theory of religionlessness. It also involves a positive evaluation of religion which must be explained systematically. This positive evaluation leads to the question of religion as a possibly "natural" dimension of humanity (cf. imago Dei) and even as a "natural" function of society (cf. imago Dei as a matter of relationality).
Panel: Re-imagining the Nation-State: Religious Nationalisms in India and Israel
Barbara A. Holdrege, University of California, Santa Barbara, Presiding
Richard D. Hecht, University of California, Santa Barbara
Roger Friedland, University of California, Santa Barbara
Paul Morris, Victoria University
Ainslee T. Embree, Columbia University
Stanley J. Tambiah, Harvard University
Mark Juergensmeyer, University of California, Santa Barbara, Responding
India and Israel are both described as "secular" democracies, but they are also Hindu and Jewish nation-states. Religion was a powerful force in the creation of both of these nation-states, irrespective of how fervently the generation of founders sought to separate modern politics and the political order from religion. The panel will focus on how religious nationalists in India and Israel imagine the modern nation-state. The panel will include a consideration of (1) the religious visions of the Hindu and Jewish nation-states articulated by V. D. Savarkar and Abraham Isaac Kook; (2) the manner in which Hindu nationalists have invoked Israel as a paradigm of the religious nation-state; (3) ethnoreligious conflicts and constructions of the Muslim "Other"; and (4) issues of conflict resolution. The panel will conclude with a consideration of possible ways to re-imagine the nation-state in order to neutralize the mythological propensities of religious constructions of the state.
The Ends of Memoir and Testimony
Amy Carr, Western Illinois University
Analyzing the contributions of Patricia Hampl, Carolyn Forché, and Rebecca Chopp to theorizing about memoir, poetry of witness, and a poetics of testimony, I will suggest that memoir and testimony are useful strategies for theological or philosophical reflection in a variety of ways. They extend the range of participants who claim the authority to speak, contribute to the creation of new concepts and the critique of older ones, and involve their authors in a practice of world-seeking or world-building which, in turn, evokes a sense of belonging to a purposeful universe-one in which human experience matters, much as biblical events matter in the ancient Christian practice of lectio divina. But precisely in doing all this, memoir and testimony do not displace so much as feed modern (and perhaps newly-appropriated premodern) practices of claiming authority and authorizing new claims to theological or philosophical knowledge.
Dangerous Memories: Autobiographical Strategy in the Religious Writings of James Carroll
Marian Ronan, Temple University
The literary turn to autobiography and memoir would seem to contribute to the construction of new social locations for the oppressed. Yet when does performative reiteration replicate existing social arrangements? This paper teases out critical differences between repetition and catachresis in the works of the Roman Catholic writer, James Carroll. Autobiographical strategies frame Carroll’s two nationally recognized publications, An American Requiem: God, My Father, and The War That Came between Us, and Constantine’s Sword: The Church and The Jews, A History. Using Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s feminist/queer theory I will display in these two works and in the series of novels that preceded them a pattern of competitive homosocial bonding between men that enables the domination of women, bonding that elicits and is reinforced by homophobia. In light of this reading I will assess Carroll’s contribution to the discursive reconfiguration of the Catholic social domain.
Writing the Female Body: Quaker Autobiography as Theological Disruption
Shannon Craigo-Snell, Yale University
In this paper I argue that autobiography was an important tactic used by Quaker women in the seventeenth century to expose and assault the place assigned to women in the masculine economy of language. Drawing on the work of Luce Irigaray, Judith Butler, and Jill Ker Conway, I examine how the autobiographical accounts of Quakers Margaret Fell, Mary Pennington, and Joan Vokins constituted an attack on the theological discourse of their day. Analyzing these historical texts in light of feminist theory reveals that the primary point of their disruption is located at the insertion of female embodiment into theological language. This interpretation and inscription of women’s embodied experience contests the unrivalled primacy of the word. I propose that the rhetorical use of autobiography to integrate women’s embodiment into religious discourse can be understood as both a precursor and challenge to contemporary incorporation of women’s experience into feminist theology.
Medieval Christian Women’s Writing and the Problem of Autobiography
Amy M. Hollywood, Dartmouth College
The paper will explore the relationship between medieval Christian women’s appeal to experience and authorization. First, I want to access the extent to which the authorizing role of medieval women’s appeals to experience may vitiate claims for the autobiographical status of their texts. Secondly, I will argue that recognition of the complex ways in which experience authorizes medieval women’s theological projects can help us understand why autobiography and memory are so often deployed within contemporary feminist thought. Finally, I will look at the book of one medieval woman religious writer who arguably rejects extraordinary experiences of the divine as the basis for her writing, the thirteenth and early fourteenth-century beguine Marguerite Porete’s Mirror of Simple Souls, exploring the implications her eschewal of experience has for contemporary feminism’s rhetorical deployment of the autobiographical mode.
The Flames of Namugongo: Postcoloniality Meets Queer on African Soil?
Ken Hamilton, The Union Institute & University
The story of the 1886 martyrdom of Charles Lwanga and his companions is at the interstice of queer theory and postcoloniality. It is the founding missionary narrative of Christianity in Uganda, East Africa that equates that founding with the uprooting of same sex practice on the "Dark Continent." It raises suspicions around the demonization of "darkness," which includes "Africa," African male same sex desire, African traditional religions and Islam, feminized African masculinity, and the feminized African land. Moreover, the sublimation of this narrative into Roman Catholic canonization further defines same sex desire (and, therefore, homoerotic mysticism) as that which is not Christian and not Ugandan. One wonders how this process might, for instance, have affected public attitudes and public policies in locating and treating AIDS in Africa.
Seeing How Things Really Are When in the Mythic Matrix Queerness Is All Around!
Christopher Lamb, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Hindu myths about Vishnu-Mohini loosen the constraints of sexual dimorphism, opening up possibilities for a religious understanding of same-sex desire. These legends are at the basis of two festivals celebrated in South India during January and April: at Sabarimala in Kerala, of Ayyappa who was born of Mohini and Shiva, and at Pillaiyarkuppam in Tamilnadu of Kuttandavar-Aravan where Mohini marries him. Pilgrims at Sabarimala vow to maintain celibacy in honour of the god who wishes to remain so. At Pillaiyarkuppam thousands of Alis (aka Hijras), "third sex" people, attend the festival where they marry the god like the gender-bending Mohini, whose actions are revered. During the festival the behaviour of the Alis is approved, but society still disapproves of people who do not conform to the married paradigm. Having no "texts of terror" Hinduism has the resources to become more inclusive and accepting of difference; critical in the post-AIDS era.
Life as a Gay Filipino: Perception, Identity, and Ethics
Jeffrey Mann, Muskingum College
The social construction of homosexuality that one finds in contemporary Roman Catholic Philippine society stands in stark contrast to what Westerners hold and believe to be "normal." At the same time, their social perceptions of homosexuality appear to be very progressive in a society otherwise known for conservative sexual ethics which many believe are repressive. The key to understanding the self-perception of gay Filipinos and their society’s moral analysis of them lies within the Filipino belief that gender identity only exists as masculine or feminine. In this way one may understand why two gay men, or two lesbians, will not become romantically involved with one another; they seek their sexual opposite. Similarly, when coupled with their strong belief in fate, the Filipino people believe that a person is born with a pre-ordained sexual identity which exists prior to and apart from any moral evaluation.
Out of Africa: African Myth, Ritual, Homoeroticism, and Homosexual Expression
Horace Leedolphus Griffin, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary
The long held claim made by many African and African American leaders that homosexuality is a "white aberration" imposed on black Africans lacks foundation. In light of this fact, there is a need to provide an academic discussion presenting African homosexuality. While there are cultural differences regarding sexuality in Africa, such differences should not be interpreted as the absence of same sex desire in African or eastern cultures. This paper points out the reasons why such myths about African sexuality exists and highlights African religious responses to African transgendered individuals, homoeroticism and homosexuality. It also identifies arguments against the fullness of African sexuality as racist in nature and calls for a revisioning of African sexuality.
Panel: Sources of the Self: Charles Taylor and Søren Kierkegaard
David J. Gouwens, Brite Divinity School, Presiding
Edward F. Mooney, Sonoma State University
Stephen Crites, Wesleyan University
Marilyn Piety, Drexel University
Abrahim H. Khan, University of Toronto
Stephen N. Dunning, University of Pennsylvania, Responding
This session will feature an invited panel which will discuss the relation of Canadian scholar Charles Taylor’s analysis of the self to that of Søren Kierkegaard. The primary text forming the basis for comparison with Kierkegaard is Taylor’s book on The Sources of the Self.
Self-Annihilation and Ecstasy: The Engine of Franciscan Sadhana
John R. Haule, C. G. Jung Institute, Boston
The medieval biographies of St. Francis of Assisi contain numerous hints, coherent with one another, concerning techniques of ecstasy discovered through a life of constant experimentation. Like saints of the East, Francis pursued a life of reversal worthy of an avatar of Shiva. Because his attempts to imitate the poverty of Jesus through gestures of relinquishment generated feelings of humiliation, disgust, shame, and grandiosity, he repeatedly found himself faced with narcissistic crisis. The essential elements of his sadhana closely resemble those of the Tantric tradition: (1) stirring up an impending sense of self-annihilation from the narcissistic sector of the psyche, (2) standing calm within the tension generated, and (3) reversing one’s attention from the disturbing object to consciousness itself. Francis used the interior scandal of his own unworthiness to carry him over the threshold from the profane cosmos to the sacred.
The Christological Basis for Self-Actualization and Self-Annihilation in the Works of Catherine of Siena and Teresa of Avila
Margaret E. Taylor-Ulizio, Marquette University
This paper presents a comparative analysis of the relationship between Christology and the interplay of self-actualization and self-annihilation in the works of two important mystics, Catherine of Siena and Teresa of Avila. Christology is an important factor in the analysis of the works of Teresa and Catherine as it reveals how each interpreted her experience of God in order to define her own humanity, her mission and role in the Church, and her path to redemption. The distinct appropriations of Christology in the life of these mystics resulted in conflicting, though related, paths to self-actualization in the Christian tradition.
Bodily Mysticism of the Annihilated Self
Sarah K. Pinnock, Trinity University
Mystical self-annihilation connotes abject humility and masochistic suffering that are seemingly contrary to empowerment. Thus, it is surprising that loss of self and political activism are closely intertwined in the work of prominent twentieth-century mystics, Simone Weil and Dorothee Soelle. Their political mysticisms revolve around suffering and emptiness of self that allows God into bodily space. However, from a critical phenomenological perspective, the selfless mystical body is overly inscribed by suffering that is celebrated as a means to encounter God. Drawing on feminist theories of the body, this paper pursues constructive reflection on mysticism that dislocates the individual self in order to emphasize the intersection of bodies. The selfless mystical body encounters others in enstasy (standing within), discovering responsibility in interconnection. Spurring political activism, mystical annihilation of the self empowers vulnerable, gendered bodies to transcend suffering and dwell in divine vulnerability.
The Numinous and Cessative as Dimensions of Indian Mysticism
Stuart R. Sarbacker, Loyola University, Chicago
The close relationship between Hindu and Buddhist meditation-theory has been observed by numerous scholars. A noteworthy aspect of this relationship is the role of dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (contemplation) in the respective traditions. This project will apply a new methodological approach to the study of meditation that integrates together psychological and sociological models into an expanded phenomenology. It will be argued that the development of samadhi in both Hinduism and Buddhism is characterized by both numinous and cessative qualities. These respectively refer to the attainment of the attributes of a deity and the attempt to break free of samsara (cyclic existence). These relate psychologically to mental functioning, philosophically to conceptions regarding the nature of the liberated individual, and sociologically to central versus peripheral status with respect to social norms. These dimensions, which approximate "self-actualization" and "self-annihilation," demonstrate both the complementary inner qualities of meditation and their concrete manifestation in culture.
Panel: Indigenous Religious Identity in the Americas and the Politics of Blood Quantum
Justine Smith, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Presiding
Eva Garroutte, Boston College
Angela Gonzales, Cornell University
Kehaulani Kauanui, Wesleyan University
Audra Simpson, McGill University
John Mohawk, State University of New York, Buffalo, Responding
This session will explore the politics of blood quantum in the configurations of American Indian identity. We will look at the conflicts between how identity is constructed in indigenous communities through spiritually-based epistemologies and how identity is constructed through federal government regulations that often involve blood quantum requirements. In addition, we will explore how tribal communities adopt blood quantum requirements for membership and how these requirements are assimilated or not into their spiritually-based understandings of identity. Specific issues to be explored include the repercussions of these identity politics within the human genome diversity project, university admissions, notions of genetic memory, and alternative proposals for constructing tribal membership.
God’s Dominion and New Religious Movements
James A. Beverley, Tyndale Seminary
This paper will assess the diversity and shape of new religious movements in Canada by mapping out their emergence in Canada, their geographical and cultural setting across the nation, and their numerical and social power in the context of Canada’s older religious traditions. The research is based on data gathered in my role as Senior Editor of The HarperCollins' Encyclopedia of Religions in Canada.
Cooperation and Lingji Performance on Taiwan
Alison R. Marshall, Brandon University
Based on recent fieldwork, the paper examines how lingji or diviners of the spirit are actively involved in constructing their own identities as new types of ecstatic functionaries on contemporary Taiwan-a subject that has received very little scholarly attention in the English language and only superficial attention in non-academic books and magazines in Mandarin Chinese. Any day of the week all over Taiwan, lingji may be found in temples, praying, meditating, burping, singing, and dancing in praise of any number of deities in order to help people who are suffering. Most of the lingji on Taiwan practice independent of any organization or institution, refuse money for their work and occasionally attend public lectures on religion. These altruistic lingji aver that they only become inspired to meditate, burp, dance or sing when they cooperate with others, feeding off of the synergy generated by team-work.
"Deprogramming" around the World: Still a Problem?
James Richardson, University of Nevada, Reno
The paper examines "deprogramming," a popular method of extracting young people from controversial NRMs in the 1970s in the U.S., but one which waned after court decisions critical of such procedures. The paper will examine the diffusion of deprogramming around the world, and focus particularly on societies, such as Japan, where deprogramming has flourished for decades, with thousands of deprogrammings having occurred. Also, a recent European Court of Human Rights case from Spain is examined in which the Court ruled unanimously in favor of seven Spanish national adult plaintiffs seeking damages from the state for involvement in their deprogramming. An assessment of whether deprogramming represents a serious threat to religious freedom in some areas of the globe is offered, as well.
Socrates’ Last Words
Mark Mcpheran, University of Maine, Farmington
The import of Socrates’ last words at Phaedo 118a has been much discussed ever since he allegedly uttered them (I document twenty-two discrete interpretations at present). In this paper I argue for the superiority of two original interpretations according to which Socrates owes a cock to Asclepius in thanks for (1) his philosophy encouraging dreams (see, e.g., Apology 33c, Crito 44a-b, and Phaedo 60d-61b); and (2) for Crito and himself having survived the plague of 430-429.
Sight and Insight: The Body as an Instrument of the Soul in Plato and Plotinus
Twyla Gibson, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Statements in Plato establish the "eye of the body" as an analogy for the "eye of the soul" and correlate parallel concepts with each of them. I use these equations to establish a connection between Plato and Plotinus. The method combines philological techniques with philosophical analysis and the findings derived from the theory of oral traditions. I employ this approach to develop an outline of a sequence of classifications presented in the Platonic dialogues and to show that this series manifests the features that characterize oral traditional patterns of communication. Recognizing principles of the traditional definitions described and explained in Plato makes it possible to distinguish identical structural patterns in Plotinus. I use this homology to establish the consonance of Plato and Plotinus and to argue for the continuity of the tradition.
The "Perverted Imp": Plotinus and the Metaphysics of Shame
Wendy Wiseman, University of California, Santa Barbara
In Porphyry’s "On the Life of Plotinus and his Work," he recounts one of the few biographical details Plotinus deems worthy of revelation: "thus he told us how, at the age of eight, when he was already going to school, he still clung to his nurse and loved to bare her breasts and take suck; one day he was told he was a "perverted imp", and so was shamed out of the trick." Through examination of selected Enneads and with the help of feminist theorists Luce Irigary and Hélène Cixous, I will argue that Plotinus' conception of the body as temptress of the soul, and of Matter as privation, can be linked to the shame and resentment experienced upon being deprived of the motherly breast.
"Glorified Body": Resurrection and the Secular Political Order in the Thought of Richard Hooker
Torrance Kirby, McGill University
In his famous defense of the Elizabethan Settlement, Richard Hooker elaborates a Christian neoplatonic concept of a "bodily participation (methexis) of christ". "The mixture of his bodilie substance with oures is a thinge which the ancient Fathers disclaime. Yet the mixture of his flesh with ours they speake of, to signifie what oure verie bodies through mysticall conjunction receive from that vitall efficacie which we knowe to be in his,... to declare the truth then the maner of coherence betwene his sacred and the sanctified bodies of Sainctes", this "coherence" provides the theological ground for his subsequent argument in support of the union of the Church and the Commonwealth in a "single politique bodie." The aim of the proposed essay is to explore the argument whereby this Renaissance neoplatonist derives an account of early-modern institutions from a reflection upon patristic discourse concerning the participation of resurrected body.
Cambridge, Platonism, and the Body
Alison Teply, Cambridge University
The topic of the winged soul has a crucial position within Platonism because of the importance of the Phaedrus in neoplatonist thought, particularly in the Renaissance. In my paper I wish to consider the way in which the winged chariot of the Phaedrus is taken up by certain of the seventeenth-century Cambridge Platonists in partial answer to the Cartesian soul/body dichotomy, and with conscious reference to the neoplatonist tradition of the "spiritual" vehicle. Approaching the subject from the standpoint of the history of ideas, in my paper I shall be sketching the relative significance of the spiritual body for three thinkers within Cambridge Platonism-Henry More, John Smith and Anne Conway. I aim to draw some conclusions about the relative significance, or otherwise, of the employment
American Environmentalism: Science or Religion?
James Proctor, University of California, Santa Barbara
The paper will summarize, and derive philosophical and theoretical implications from, empirical research performed to date on a three-year NSF-funded project on the role and relative influence of science and religion in contemporary American environmentalism. According to a recent Gallup poll slightly over half of all Americans consider themselves to be environmentalists, suggesting a diverse movement that is a major feature of cultural identity among Americans. Yet the ideological diversity of environmentalism has yet to be empirically characterized, in particular the ways people ground their environmental concerns in major domains of authority such as scientific knowledge, religion/spirituality, and/or personal experience. The research aims to address this empirical need by means of a sample survey of 1500 American adults, with followup interviews of selected participants. In-progress results from the survey and interviews, plus a complete analysis of a pilot survey of over 200 participants, will be discussed.
The Precautionary Principle and the Biblical Wisdom Literature: Toward an Ethic of Ecological Prudence in Ocean Management
Susan Power Bratton, Baylor University
Recent catastrophes in environmental management, such as population collapses in oceanic fisheries, have led environmental activists and scholars to invoke the precautionary principle (PP). PP demands that no human-initiated change in an ecosystem be permitted unless it is certain it will do no harm. Implementing PP, however, presents epistemological, logical and practical difficulties. This paper replaces PP with a Christian ethic of ecological prudence, guided by the Biblical Wisdom Literature, and applies the ethic to fisheries management cases involving ecological uncertainty, inaccurate projections of scientific population models, scale-issues in large ecosystems, over-capitalization of fishing fleets, and displacement of folk fisheries. From the perspective of Biblical Wisdom, these cases concern the limits of knowledge, wisdom versus foolishness, greed, imprudent or speedy initiation of resource utilization, and disregard for community by ignoring the needs of poorer members.
>From Theory to Pedagogy: Engaging Science, Religion, and Ecosocial Location
Beth Blissman, Oberlin College
This paper explores one pathway through the creation of a theoretical stance incorporating both social and ecological location into a worldview consonant with systems theory. I then take this theoretical stance, which I call a liberation feminist ecological ethic, into the classroom in two multidisciplinary undergraduate courses. One of the tools created as part of this ethic, namely that of ecosocial location, is highlighted because of its potential to aid in the development of constructive postmodernist thought. The efficacy of this tool will need to continue to be tested, and enter into conversation with womanist, mujerista and other liberationist ethical models. However, it supports one ethical stance containing constructive resources for transformation of our ecosocial context from patterns of death and destruction to life and creative passion.
Spaceship Epiphanies and Cosmologies
Lee W. Bailey, Ithaca College
Outer space has become a frontier of spiritual seeking, full of mythic, ritual, and ontological quests. What will be the shape of the new cosmology emerging from the age of space travel? An entire genre of films heavily laden with myth portray everything from "space Cowboy" astronauts to ethereal aliens descending in UFOs, bringing affirmations of cosmic meaning, thinly concealed below technological wonder. UFO mythology, and science fiction films revel in quests for new cosmologies, exploring questions of evil, death and immortality. Real astronauts went up hard-nosed engineers and came back with accounts of a transformed consciousness like a conversion to a sense of the holiness of earth’s precious ecology and the sacred oneness of the universe’s ontological ground. Religion scholars need to bring out this spiritual quest, distinguish it from baser urges for dominion, and explore the new spirituality of outer space.
Spiritualities of Liberation in the Americas: Gregory Baum, Frantz Fanon, and Guillermo Gómez-Peña
Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Duke University
This paper explores the relevance of the decolonization of spirituality for a progressive and liberating ethico-political project. I first articulate the idea of a decolonization of spirituality by elucidating Canadian theologian Gregory Baum’s account of the "New Social Gospel" in Canada. Baum relates the commitment with social justice to a spirituality of openness, compassion, and solidarity. I intend to trace similar themes in two radical secular thinkers: the Afro-Caribbean Frantz Fanon, and the Mexican/Chicano Guillermo Gómez-Peña. I will first analyze the themes of crying, giving, and praying in Fanon. Then I will turn to examine the implications of Gomez-Peña’s performance in "the Temple of Confessions." I will argue that by different and distinctive means, both Fanon and Gómez-Peña’s work offer important elements for the decolonizaton of spirituality in the Americas. They both invite us, along with Baum, to rethink the meaning of radical political praxis.
The Principle of Mercy: Jon Sobrino and the Spirituality of Decolonization
David Tombs, Trinity College, Dublin
Jon Sobrino offers valuable insights into a decolonised Catholic spirituality. As a Basque Jesuit who has spent his working life in El Salvador, Sobrino stands in solidarity with the victims of colonial/neo-colonial power and articulates his spirituality from this perspective. This paper examines the development of Sobrino’s thought from the early 1970s to the present with particular reference to Spirituality of Liberation (1985) and the Principle of Mercy (1992). It highlights Sobrino’s own spiritual sense of "awakening from the sleep of inhumanity" and examines the social and theological influences on his spirituality of liberation in a country ruled by the idols of death
The Spirits Are Dancing within Us
Shelley C. Wiley, Concordia College, Moorhead
This paper will demonstrate the decolonizing spirituality of Haitian Vodou, a spirituality that denounced the colonizers, or colons, and provided a sustaining worldview of survival. During the colonial period, the brutal slavery that was practiced in Haiti meant that the African peoples and their descendants either had to accept that they were not fully human, or they had to keep alive their own traditions that said a loud "no" to the colonizers. This no took the form of resisting the spiritual demoralizaton of slavery while at the same time developing an ethos of hospitality. Contemporary Haitian Vodou is a voice of resistance to racism, economic oppression, and to the political and ecclesiastical injustice that would silence the voices of the majority people. It is this combination of resistance and hospitality that makes it a decolonizing spirituality.
Decolonizing Spiritualities: Discourse and Symbols
Mark Lewis Taylor, Princeton University
This paper argues why "decolonizing spirituality" needs discourse and symbols to focus struggle on and against present U.S. hegemony of global force and influence. A constellation of places and dynamics, including Haiti, Chiapas and Philadelphia are proposed as "sacred sites of struggle."
Pedagogical Uses of Feature Films for Religion Courses
Randal Cummings, California Sate University, Northridge
This paper explores the use of a wide variety of feature films and their specific pedagogical payoffs in the study of themes and paradigms within the World Religions. Specific references to a variety of films available in video stores from Quest for Fire to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon illustrate the engaging value of these films and their relevance in fleshing out the structure of often obscure motifs in the study of religion.
Perceptions and Realities: Hollywood Films Tackle Religion
John Schultes, Iowa State University
Hollywood and popular film in America have a profound power to influence and inform, as well as entertain on a myriad of subjects. Recent films such as Chocolat, Stigmata, The Siege, the Star Trek series, and the Star Wars series address religious issues both in allegorical and overt manners. Sometimes the filmmaker’s agenda when it comes to dealing with religious themes as the centerpiece for a film may appear controversial. Films such as Stigmata and The Siege, are good examples. These two films, in addition to their critiques of religion, also give predictions about their effects on society that may not be very realistic. However shortsighted the predictions and assumptions made by Hollywood filmmakers about religion may be at times, their work helps exemplify the profound effect that religion has on the collection consciousness, and the role it plays in shaping the way people view themselves.
Passionate about Joan: New Approaches in Religion and Film
Melanie Jane Wright, Cambridge University
This paper uses a study of Carl-Theodor Dreyer’s, The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, 1928) as a vehicle to explore the current modus vivendi of religion and film studies, and to suggest ways in which the field might develop in the future. It highlights the strengths and limitations of much current writing in religion and film (especially its problematic relation with secular film studies) and gives some positive suggestions on how to solve them. It argues that the territory of cultural studies (into which film studies has been shifting) offers a new kind of space, one in which the much touted dialogue between religious (or theological) studies and film studies (or between religion and film) might finally be possible.
Popcorn for Prasadam: Contemporary Cinema as a Ritual Space for Penetrating Maya
Stephen Jenkins, Humboldt State University
This paper explores how Indian traditions about illusion, and techniques of teaching it, might inform our understanding of imaginative processes at work in the cinematic experience and how cinema might be used in teaching Indian traditions about illusion. Many new films, The Matrix, Existenz, Thirteenth Floor, Pleasantville, Open Your Eyes etc., offer pedagogical opportunities, both in terms of their content and in terms of the way they provoke analysis of the processes of imagination involved in the film experience itself. A second dimension of using film in teaching conceptions of illusion is to make use of participant observation in the ritual and creative aspects of the film viewer’s response. The paper will examine how literary techniques of Indian storytelling relate to the content of recent films on illusion and how meditative visualization techniques might be compared to the use of film in teaching illusion.
Paul Ricoeur’s Mythology of Evil as Religion and Film Hermeneutic
Ken Derry, University of Toronto
One of the primary interests of religion and film scholars continues to be the identification of "Christ figures" in movies. If nothing else, the combined effect of this activity has been to demonstrate that a huge variety of Western films - including ostensibly non-religious productions - are deeply indebted to biblical myths. Drawing on the work of Paul Ricoeur, I propose to expand this critical activity by considering the ways in which three contemporary films (The Sweet Hereafter, The Truman Show, and Memento) function as mythic statements about the origins of suffering, or "evil," in modern life.
Tibetan Prophetic Literature in the Notizie Istoriche of Ippolito Desideri, S.J.
Trent Pomplun, Loyola College, Maryland
In this paper, I will trace the influence of Tibetan prophetic literature in the Notizie Istoriche of the Jesuit Father Ippolito Desideri, who witnessed the Dzungar invasion of 1717 and the establishment of the Manchu Protectorate in 1720. After showing how both the Padma lung-bstan and Padma bka"-thang genres influenced Desideri’s interpretation of the political events that shook central Tibet in the early eighteenth century, I will offer some tentative suggestions concerning Desideri’s sources of this literature and their implications for future studies on Desideri and early eighteenth-century politics in Tibet.
Rnying-ma Politics in the Seventeenth Century
Jacob Dalton, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
It is often assumed that followers of the Rnying-ma school remained outside large-scale Tibetan politics, but the dramatic events of the seventeenth century paint a different picture. This paper takes as its starting point the biographical collection on the bla-ma-s of the mdo-dbang lineage by Padma "Phrin-las (1641-1717), the second throne-holder of Rdo-rje "Brag. With this collection, Padma "Phrin-las created a brand new mdo-dbang lineage, in an effort to establish his new monastery as a major institution on the Tibetan religious landscape. Padma "Phrin-las touted his new lineage over and against the two already in existence. An examination of his motivations and their historical roots reveals a Rnying-ma school deeply involved in the politics of the day. While Mongol and Tibetan armies battled on the field, another war was being waged in the parallel realm of prophecy and black magic, between the great masters of the Rnying-ma school.
Controlling Time and Space in Lhasa: The New Year and City Pilgrimage Routes under the Fifth Dalai Lama
Kurtis R. Schaeffer, Harvard University
Sangye Gyatso (1653-1705), the fourth and most important Regent of the Tibetan government founded in 1642 by the Fifth Dalai, sought to assert control in various areas of public religious life. In two minor works, the Story of the New Year’s Fest and the Circumference and Extent of Lhasa and the Potala, Sangye Gyatso hoped to change both the time of the New Year’s Festival in Lhasa and the pilgrimage routes around Lhasa. By controlling time and space in Lhasa, so to speak, Sangye Gyatso sought to subsume public religious life in Lhasa under the growing power of the Ganden government, the Dalai Lama, and under the Potala palace, which symbolized this power. This essay will describe Sangye Gyatso’s aims and set them in the context of his position as Regent.
Religious Life in a Seventeenth-Century Tibetan Monastery
Bryan Cuevas, Florida State University
It is not possible to comprehend the complexities of religion, politics, and social life in premodern Tibet without a thorough understanding of the nature and organization of the monastic institution. In this paper I consider the structure and principles of operation of Mindroling monastery as outlined in its first monastic constitution written in 1689 by the institution’s founder, the esteemed treasure revealer Terdak Lingpa (1646-1714). My main objectives will be to demonstrate the value of Mindroling’s monastic constitution as an illuminating social-historical document and to offer a few insights into the nature of religious life and polity of one of the most influential Nyingmapa monasteries in central Tibet at the dawn of Gelukpa supremacy.
Defining Historical Consciousness
Charles J.T. Talar, University of St. Thomas
This paper will build on the seminar’s panel discussion last year to propose a working definition of historical consciousness.
Historical Consciousness and the Jesus Seminar
Marcus J. Borg, Oregon State University
A set of reflections on the Jesus Seminar, highlighting the way both its work and its reception by the public reflect our current cultural mind-set or "Zeitgeist": living on the border and in the transition from modern to post-modern historical consciousness.
Historical Consciousness and Baptists in the South: Owning and Disowning a Tradition
Bill J. Leonard, Wake Forest University
Baptists in the American South owned and disowned their history variously. Colonial Baptists viewed themselves within the church’s dissenting tradition, over against religious establishments from Constantine to the Puritans. Old Landmarkism fabricated an historical consciousness that traced Baptists through dissenters-Donatists, Cathari-back to Jesus, Jordan and the "First Baptist Church" of Jerusalem. Popular Landmarkism contributed to an a-historical consciousness implicit in the idea that Baptists were an extension of the New Testament community, duplicating the true church in every age. Twentieth-century white Southern Baptists often softened their slavery-related origins with the euphemistic "sectionalism." African American Baptists formed a certain historical consciousness as an "Exodus people" moving from slavery to deliverance on history’s "long march." A contemporary generation, white and black, has replaced interest in Baptist consciousness with a concern for generic Christianity.
The "Indian Sphinx": Conceiving South Asian Religion in A. W. von Schlegel’s Indische Bibliothek
Bradley L. Herling, Boston University
A.W. von Schlegel’s shadow looms large in the history of German literature, but he is less known for contributions to the study of the South Asian religion. But in 1818 Schlegel assumed the first chair of Indology in Germany and from 1820-1830 oversaw the publication of the Indische Bibliothek, one of the first journals of its kind in Europe. In this paper I explore the significance of this publication in the history of the study of religion. I argue that Schlegel wrestles with the tension between the Romantic image of South Asian religion and study of Indian religion as the object of an academic discipline. Consideration of the journal leads to reflection on contemporary riddles: What is the proper role for the written text in the study of religion? How do disciplinary myths and models draw the scholar to positing a pure origin for religious traditions?
Religion at the 1883 Colonial and Export Trade Exhibition in Amsterdam
Arie L. Molendijk, University of Groningen
The paper focuses on the representation of religion at the Amsterdam Colonial and Export Trade Exhibition in 1883, which was the first of its kind in the Netherlands. First, I will discuss the various ways religions were represented at the exhibition. Secondly, I will examine the interplay between the economic and colonial project on the one hand and scholarship in general and the study of religion in particular on the other, which is evident from the many conferences which were held simultaneously. I will conclude with some remarks on the international ramifications of the study of religion (the organizers tried in vain to obtain items from the collections of Pitt-Rivers in Oxford and Emile Guimet in Paris) and the museological conservation of ethnographical and religious objects.
Exhibiting Buddhism: Religion, Nationalism, and Japanese Agency at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions
John Harding, University of Pennsylvania
The Japanese delegates who represented Buddhism at the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago were active agents whose motivations, strategies, and interpretations of events reveal complementary religious and nationalist ambitions. The delegates described Buddhism as both authentically ancient and uniquely vital in the modern era. This portrayal depicted Buddhism as rational, modern, universal, consistent with science and equal to or better than competing traditions. Their roles in "exhibiting religion" participated in the hierarchical dynamics of global politics, cultural prestige and the underlying assumptions of social evolutionism that informed the biases of their hosts. Through their representation of Buddhism, the Japanese delegates promoted both Buddhism and the Japanese nation abroad, and they cultivated a supportive relationship between Buddhism and the nation at home. Their presentations echoed and informed religious and political dynamics in Meiji Japan, the formation of modern Buddhism, and the complex cross-cultural influences of modern religious encounter.
Human Rights Atrocities and the Ambiguities of the "Missionary Position": The Case of the Disciples of Christ Congo Mission (DCCM) in the Congo Free State, 1897-1908
Paul Allen Williams, University of Nebraska, Omaha
The history of the Congo Free State (1885-1908) includes atrocities against African peoples committed by agents of the colonial state and opposition to atrocities on the part of Africans, Europeans, and Americans. These state-sponsored acts stimulated an organized international human rights campaign at the beginning of the twentieth century, intended to end the human rights abuses and to force King Leopold II to abdicate his rights to administer the state. Baptist and Presbyterian activities in the campaign have been well documented, however my research uncovered evidence that the Disciples of Christ Congo Mission (DCCM) also participated in the reform campaign.
Never without Shame: Intersubjectivity, the Holocaust, and Ethical Responsibility
Robert Erlewine, Rice University
The events of September 11 make manifest the radical need to reassess the relationship between religion and ethics. As the dust settled on a world shocked by an unexpected tragedy of momentous proportion, the only theme many scholars could agree upon was the almost complete polarization of North American and Middle-Eastern, Islamic cultures. Questions arise: How can two disparate cultures bridge such wide gaps? How can we develop a language of shared responsibility that seeks to avoid future tragedies? In revisiting this tragedy it seems helpful to remember the paradigmatic tragedy of the twentieth century, the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of millions of Jews, Gypsies, gays and lesbians, and other marginalized peoples. It would seem prudent to also revisit the ethical reflections of two prominent Jewish thinkers and camp survivors, Primo Levi and Emmanuel Levinas.
Anatomy of Religious Terrorism in the United States
Melissa Fennewald, Florida State University
This paper will develop a typology of crimes that are commited as a result of religious convictions. Religious, criminological, and sociopathological literature will be reviewed in an attempt to explain such aberrant behavior. Distinguishing differences and similarities between religious/social groups and delineating the intersections of belief and motivation for criminal behavior will be its main goal. The units of analysis for this paper will be case studies of religiously motivated groups in the United States such as the anti-abortion movement, the militia or Patriot movement, and the "extreme right" who have used terrorist violence in connection with their faith. Historically, these groups have murdered, bombed, harassed, and beat their way into the public consciousness in order to advance their version of religious truth. The purpose of this paper will be to explore the contradiction between religion and commiting crimes in the name of religion.
Radical Islam, Human Rights, and Terrorism
Thomas A. Idinopulos, Miami University
This paper begins by surveying the condition of human rights within Muslim countries today, with particular attention to Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. The important development here is the lead taken by the regimes of these countries to mount what has come to be called a "human rights jihad," namely a campaign to divert attention from what is recognized in the West as human rights and replace them with what is now called "Islamic human rights." This paper focuses of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. In this context we deal with terrorism. Here we take up modern Egypt and the rise of the religion-political group called the Muslim Brothers (Ikhwan).
Blasphemy, Religious Hatred, and Free Speech: Exploring a Dilemma for Contemporary Human Rights Discourse
Anna Doswell, University of Derby
In the post-September 11 era, Islamaphobia in the United Kingdom has reached new heights with British Muslims experiencing increasing levels of offence, hostility and violence from the media and often, their neighbors. The aim of this paper is to explore the interaction of law and human rights in protecting religious adherents from hostility, violence or offence and the impact of any such protection on expressive freedom. Is the state under a duty to enact and enforce law to protect these individuals' rights to freedom of religion and non-discrimination? If so, what should be its content? How might this law impact on others' right to freedom of religion.
Panel: Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession Committee - The Public Role of Racial and Ethnic Scholars
Daisy L. Machado, Texas Christian University, Presiding
Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, Drew University
Chris Jocks, Dartmouth College
Sheema Khan, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ottawa, ON
Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, Graduate Theological Union
Jung Ha Kim, Georgia State University
It is generally known that the aim of racial and ethnic scholarship is to generate new knowledge, challenge old stereotypes, correct wrong interpretations, and re-educate the dominant society about the minority communities. A growing cadre of racial and ethnic public intellectuals is gradually emerging for the purpose of taking their scholarly findings beyond the halls of academe onto the public stage where their lectures and debates aim at influencing public policies and empowering their respective communities. This special topic forum provides an opportunity for a diverse panel of scholars to assess critically the emerging public role of racial and ethnic scholars. The following panelists will share their experiences: Ada María Isasi-Díaz, Drew University; Chris Jocks, Dartmouth College; Sheema Khan, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Canada; Jung Ha Kim, Georgia State University; and Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, Graduate Theological Union. Michael Eric Dyson, University of Pennsylvania, will respond.
Academically-Based Community Service: A Liberation Feminist Pedagogy for Non-Violence and Justice-Making
Beth Blissman, Oberlin College
This project explores possibilities for individual and communal change related to the pedagogy of Academically-Based Community Service (ABCS), also known as Service Learning. I argue that this approach to education, when combined with the tool of ecosocial location, not only demonstrates pedagogical creativity and analysis, but also supports a larger effort to address our current ecosocial context. This paper lifts up the concept of ecosocial location as grounding for a liberation feminist ecological ethic embracing values of justice-making and solidarity. The efficacy of this particular (and particularist) tool will need to continue to be tested, and enter into conversation with womanist, mujerista and other liberationist theological and ethical models. However, it provides grounding for one ethical stance containing constructive resources for transformation of our ecosocial context from patterns of death and destruction to life and creative passion.
Teaching Religion and Hate: The Crucible for a "Pedagogy of Emergence/y"
Fran Grace, University of Redlands
Teaching a course called "Religion and Hate" rewired me as a teacher. When I first offered this course to address the connection between religion and hatred/violence/social injustices, I assumed that multi-culturalizing my content was enough. But as the semester unfolded and religious hate and prejudices emerged to dominate the class dynamics, I realized that I had to transform my process and challenge my then-Freirean pedagogical assumption that a liberatory outcome had to be the class goal. In this presentation, I will address how the teaching of this extremely difficult and tense class became the crucible for developing an "Emergence/y pedagogy."
A Mockery of Justice: Using Role-Playing to Teach Intercultural Ethics
Glenn Whitehouse, Florida Gulf Coast University
In this presentation, I will discuss two of my attempts to create active learning environments for the purpose of teaching about cultural interactions within societies and between religious groups - the Mock Society Project and the Mock Religion Project. In both of these activities, groups of students developed imaginary cultural and religious groups with their own customs, norms and values. I then used an on-going role-playing situation in order to place the groups in the position of having to make concrete decisions about intercultural justice for themselves. One benefit of this method is that it provides vivid experiential examples of some of the main ethical concepts taught in the course. The method also tends to reduce the tendency of ethical discourse to get lost in insoluble ethical dilemmas, focusing instead on the resources of cooperation and ingenuity that can collectively be brought to bear on a practical problem.
An Interdisciplinary Investigation of Environmental Justice in the Borderlands
Laura Hobgood-Oster, Southwestern University
This presentation analyzes an interdisciplinary project focusing on ecojustice issues in Humanos Derechos, a colonia in Matamoras, Mexico. Borderland colonias are notorious for their dangerous environmental and social conditions. The project brings together three disciplines -- religion, chemistry and anthropology --integrating chemical analysis of waterways and water supplies in the colonia, investigation of colonia residents, perceptions of and concerns about their environment, and the religious-based organizations working to improve colonia conditions.
The project establishes a model for intensive, unique interdisciplinary work, focuses on issues of ecojustice and examines the application research outcomes. It is anticipated that the results will have practical implications and, in collaboration with colonia residents and relevant organizations and governmental bodies, could work towards sustained improvement of colonia conditions. The results might also provide insight to religious organizations as they attempt to formulate community-based programs that work towards justice in areas facing complex environmental degradation.
Teaching toward Justice: Dilemmas of Pedagogical Activism
Melissa M. Wilcox, University of California, Santa Barbara
This presentation considers the dilemmas involved in teaching for social justice, and explores possible solutions. It begins with several pedagogical challenges: How does one create a classroom environment that respects all points of view when the students (and the teacher) hold mutually exclusive worldviews? To what extent should social power structures affect the attention granted to differing viewpoints in the activist classroom? How does one teach about diversity and intolerance among a relatively homogeneous group of students? And how does a teacher’s disempowered social status, as a member of a marginalized group, interact with the power she holds in the classroom? Questions of power are especially difficult for new teachers, who are relatively low-status as faculty, yet wield far more institutional power than they did as graduate students. The presentation considers solutions based in both the author’s experiences and the ideas of radical educators such as hooks and Freire.
The Faustian Hermeneutic: Biblical Interpretation and Goethe’s Poetics of Allegory
David L. Simmons, University of Chicago
Critical discourse on allegory has been kept alive in the late twentieth century in two sectors of the academy: as a poetic mode, by literary and critical theorists; as a method of scriptural exegesis, by biblical scholars. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is the first modern critical thinker to differentiate between allegory and symbol. This paper reexamines Goethe’s contributions to an aesthetic and poetic theory of allegory, with two goals in mind: to address a prevalent misprision of Goethe’s evaluation of allegory, and to suggest a different way of positing the problem of allegory in biblical studies. After surveying the modern origins of allegory as a critical concept and its discussion among Bible scholars, this paper suggests that a new appreciation for Goethe’s theory of allegory responds to questions raised about allegorical interpretation of the Bible.
Re-hearing Qur’an in Open Translation: Ta"wil, Postmodern Inquiry, and Poetic Hermeneutics
Neil Douglas-Klotz, Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Learning
This paper uses hermeneutical and comparative methods to explore the similarities between an esoteric Qur’anic interpretative tradition, modern attempts to render the Qur’an in open poetic forms, and post-modern inquiry strategies. Classical Ismaili and Sufi scholars posited an "inner" hermeneutic called ta"wil, which allowed for multi-valent, non-literal interpretations of the Qur’anic text (Schimmel 1994, Daftary 1999). Parallels to both ta"wil and recent attempts to render the Qur’an through Western poetic forms can be found in the postmodern "new paradigm'social science research models of Torbert, Reason and Rowan (1981). The dialogue between ancient hermeneutics and postmodern inquiry suggests the development of a poetic "hermeneutics of indeterminacy" when dealing with Qur’anic texts in Western language translation. Such a hermeneutics would explore the boundaries of text, receptor-hearer, and the inter-subjective phenomenology of interpretation in order to see and hear Islam with Western eyes and ears in a more complex way.
"Literature and Theology" and the Re-sourcing of Kant
Andrew Hass, University of Houston
This paper will look at the theoretical grounds of the discipline of "literature and theology," broadly defined, as it has been sought in Kant’s critique. Here Kant’s understanding of imagination will be explored as it is found in the Transcendental Deductions of his first Critique, where the role of imagination becomes the dividing point of the two versions offered. The groundless nature of this imagination, as later pointed out in Heidegger’s reading of Kant, and in Zizek’s reading of Heidegger’s reading, gives literature and theology its starting point, as it brings imagination before an abyss whose negotiation can only be managed through the merging of the creative space of art with the theological space of the "groundless" or unknown. This new open-ended "discipline" then returns to Kant what Kant shrinks away from: the intractable nature of imaginative power that grants us the will and the courage to face the unknown.
Harrowing Hermeneutics: Caputo’s Radical Hermeneutics "In the Penal Colony"
Gitte Butin, University of Virginia
Having harrowed objectifying, methodological textual approaches since its Gadamerian transformation, one may ask whether hermeneutics in its turn needs harrowing. Taking its point of departure from John Caputo’s affirmative answer to this question in his recent book More Radical Hermeneutics, the present paper raises the same question to Caputo: Radical enough? If not, then how much more does it take? The present paper lets Caputo’s deconstructively inspired hermeneutics encounter the horizon of Paul de Man’s work on the blindness and insight at play between a text’s hermeneutical/representational reading and its rhetorical reading. After outlining the theoretical underpinnings of these two stances, we visit the Penal Colony: by offering both a more radical hermeneutical reading as well as a rhetorical reading of Kafka’s text the present paper invites the reader to submit to inscription.
On the Death of the Pilgrim: The Postcolonial Hermeneutics of J. L. Mehta
Thomas B. Ellis, University of Pennsylvania
In the work of J. L. Mehta, we find tropic representations of loss and death. Perhaps thwarting expectation, these images (e.g., the Pilgrim) bespeak not of mourning for such loss, but rather an embrace of and reconciliation to death. Recently we have seen the use of specific literary tropes as representations of certain types of subjectivity. In the work of E. Levinas in particular, we find "ethnotropes" characterizing transcendental subjectivity and ethical subjectivity, e.g., the Greek Hero/Ulysses and the Jewish Nomad/Abraham. While the Hero always recuperates himself in the centripetal return to his homeland, and the Nomad always anxiously awaits the coming to presence of the other, Mehta’s Hindu Pilgrim recognizes that the other always withdraws, thereby dashing any hopes for the plenitude of being, a certain postcolonial emphasis. Embracing its death predicated on the withdrawn other, the Pilgrim mourns not but adoringly loves the present absence of the other.
Sanctified Violence in Ritual and in War: Homeric Oath-Sacrifice and Ritual Performance as Metaphorical Transformation
Margo Kitts, Merrimack College
This paper approaches Homeric oath-sacrificing narratives from the perspective of Fernandez, Tambiah, and Ricouer, collectively enlisted to support the ritual-performance-as-metaphorical-transformation theory usually associated with Fernandez. Unlike commensal sacrifices in the Iliad, oath-sacrifices emphasize, rather than camouflage, the death of the victim, and their ominous texture is disseminated into subsequent narrative events. Explicit textual evidence will support the metaphorical transformation of oath-making witnesses to holy defenders of oaths, of perjurers to sacrificial victims, and of other casualties of war to casualties of sacrifice. As a foundational western war text, the Iliad’s themes shape our own sensibilities and the way we respond to the Iliad, but the fossilized nature of oath-making rituals and the semantic associations affixed to their stiff sequence of acts, allows us to speculate on Homeric imagination, as well.
Modern Chinese Buddhist Perspectives on Japanese Buddhism
Fumihiko Sueki, University of Tokyo
Chinese intellectuals in the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century had complex attitudes towards Japan; on the one hand, Japan was a model of modernization and, on the other hand, it was an aggressive power that threatened China. In the case of Buddhism, the situation was quite similar. These complex attitudes continued during the China-Japan war in the 1930s and 1940s. Even those who resisted the Japanese invasion initially had friendly feelings towards Japanese Buddhists and intended to use Japanese Buddhism as a model for the reform of Chinese Buddhism. In this paper, I would like to examine the activities and ideas of Yang Wenhui, Leguan, and Taixu in order to demonstrate the complexity of Chinese Buddhist attitudes towards modern Japanese Buddhism.
Modern Japanese Buddhist Proselytization in East Asia: Societal Reform and the Doctrine of Memorializing Enemies and Compatriots with Equal Compassion
Akeshi Kiba, Otani University
In this paper, I examine how, under the guise of proselytization aimed at helping East Asian Buddhists achieve modernization on a par with Japan’s, Japanese Buddhists attempted to reform Buddhism on the continent. The Japanese thereby hoped to create a bulwark against Western colonialism in Asia. Japanese Buddhist attitudes toward continental Buddhists were ambivalent, vacillating between cooperation and contempt. In my examination of Japanese proselytization efforts in East Asia, I will concentrate on sermons concerning the doctrine of onshin byodo, that is, memorializing enemies and friends with absolute equality. These sermons aimed to console and pacify the victims of aggression, while further confirming among the Japanese their own sense of superiority. Concentrating on Buddhist social reform efforts and the doctrine of onshin byodo, I will consider the nature of Japanese Buddhist proselytization efforts in East Asia and, more broadly, the intertwining broader topics of modernity, Buddhism, and East Asia.
Rethinking "Pro-Japanese" Korean Buddhism
Micah L. Auerback, Princeton University
Between 1877 and 1945, Korean Buddhists showed a variety of responses to the enticements of Japanese Buddhist missionaries and later, to the political domination of the Japanese colonial government. Contemporary historians generally classify Buddhists of the time as either "pro-Japanese" collaborators or "anti-Japanese" patriots. My paper builds on Pori Park’s initial insight into the limits of this binary classification and offers a more sustained critique of it. First, I critically trace the historiography of the category of "pro-Japanese" Buddhism. Second, I use the writings of selected "pro-Japanese" figures to develop an alternative classification, demonstrating that common motives could underlie both resistance and collaboration. I conclude by contending that instead of simply decrying the fact and extent of collaboration, we should examine how Buddhists acted subjectively during this era, and interrogate the historical conditions for the production and exercise of that subjectivity even under a repressive colonial environment.
The Intersection of Politics and Religion: The Japanese Buddhist Presence in Korea
Pori Park, University of Colorado, Boulder
This paper examines the process by which Japanese Buddhist orders began their missionary work on the Korean peninsula in the late-nineteenth century. It sheds light on the political implications of the Japanese overseas mission activities by investigating the relationship between the government and the Buddhist orders. It then presents the ramifications of the political subjugation of the religion for both Japanese and Korean Buddhism. It also presents an analysis of the responses of Korean Buddhists to the influx of Japanese Buddhism and colonial rule. The author argues that the naiveté of Korean Buddhists toward colonial politics produced the confused reactions of the Korean order vis-à-vis the Japanese regime. The paper also presents the religious relevance of the Buddhist responses of both nations to the "new" circumstances and addresses whether these Buddhist interpretations of the political situation reflect Buddhist worldviews and promote Buddhist fellowship between the two nations.
Lectio Divina and the Perfection of the Soul: The Physiological Process of Memoria and the Transformation of the Individual in Medieval Western Christian Monasticism
Shawn Madison Krahmer, St Josephs University
Using the work of Mary Carruthers, I intend to argue that the Aristotelian somatic understanding of memory and the function of memory in the moral transformation of the individual informs, however implicitly, the high medieval monastic traditions of the Christian west, and makes possible not only the turning away from the world required of novices, but the face to face meeting with God that is the signature of mature contemplatives. By controlling the content of text, and thereby controlling the formation of memory, the monastic community forms and reforms the person into a citizen of the monastic and Christian communities on earth. At the same time, and through the same process, the person is formed in the image of God until the mystical transfiguration of the soul occurs and the individual is able to meet God face to face.
Semiotics, Kinetics, and Mnemonic Strategies in Rabbinic Judaism
Michael D. Swartz, Ohio State University
On the one hand, the concept of the Oral Torah implies that the memorization and recitation of traditions constitutes a sacred activity; on the other hand, recent research has shown that the importance of memorization in Rabbinic Judaism is consonant with its importance in the larger Greco-Roman world. This paper will be an exploration of mnemonic and learning strategies in Rabbinic civilization, focusing on the semiotics of mnemonic formulae developed in the talmudic period and on such physical dimensions of mnemonics as chanting, physiological theories of memory, and patterns of Rabbinic discipleship designed to reinforce memory. Recent work by Mary Carruthers, Martin Jaffee and others will be used to place these strategies into cultural context.
Empty Texts/Sacred Meaning: Reading as Spiritual Practice in Chinese Buddhism
Dale S. Wright, Occidental College
This paper attempts to articulate the ways in which reading functioned as spiritual practice in Chinese Buddhism. It traces the history of reading in Chinese Buddhism up to its culmination in the Chan tradition, and focuses there on the critique of reading that played so formative a role in the sense of identity that this school had developed. There we find the Taoist inspired anti-textual text in a variety of forms playing a central part in spiritual practice. These texts were stories that valorized iconoclastic acts against the sacred texts of Buddhism, or that described audacious acts in which texts and reading were submitted to devastating critique. These new texts not only failed to diminish the role of reading in Chan Buddhism, they heightened it, and in the process invented new modes of reading that became closely linked to the distinct forms of subjectivity for which Chan is well-known.
(Trans)Formation through the Veda: The Case of the Indian Svadhyāyā
David Carpenter, St Josephs University
The ancient Indian textual practice of svadhyāyā, or the personal recitation of the Veda, was an essential practice in the reproduction of ancient Brahmanical society. At an early date, however, it also became a spiritual practice that went beyond the goal of the preservation of the Brahmanical ritual and social order and was adapted to the goal of the spiritual transformation of the individual. This paper will examine the relationship between what we think of as ritual practice, aimed at the reproduction of social formations, and spiritual practice aimed at individual transformation. The focus will be on the practices of memorization and recitation, and traditional spiritual psychology that underlay these practices in ancient India. Use will be made of Mary Carruther’s extensive work on the importance of memory and memorization in the culture of the Western Middle Ages and of studies on the psychophysiology of ritual.
God’s "Uuord" and the Conversion of Saxony
Rachel Fulton, University of Chicago
This paper argues on the basis of the Old Saxon "Heliand: and Paschasius Radbertus' "De corpore et sanguine Domini" that the development of the doctrine of God’s bodily, "historical" presence in the bread and wine of the Mass was itself an artifact of the Carolingian effort to convert the pagans of Saxony. Its argument is 1) that the success of this effort depended on the Christian missionaries' ability to "translate" the Savior heliand Christ into a god recognizable as such by Saxon pagans for whom words of power (such as the words spoken by the priest at the Mass to consecrate the elements) were things written (runes), not spoken (liturgical formulas), and Fate, not the gods, governed the destinies of humankind, and 2) that the missionaries (like Paschasius and the author of the Heliand) were both conscious of and responsive to this necessity in their writings for the converts.
Medieval Franciscan Hebraists: Constructing a Historical Jesus
Deeana Klepper, Boston University
Franciscan friars were the driving force behind the incorporation of Hebrew learning into the Christian study of the Bible in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Focusing on the work of Nicholas of Lyra (1270-1349), whose Postilla Llitteralis Super Vetus et Novum Testamentum was one of the most important Bible commentaries in the medieval Latin tradition as well as the most heavily dependent upon Hebrew and rabbinic interpretation, I connect this interest with distinctive aspects of medieval Franciscan spirituality. I suggest that, influenced by a Franciscan emphasis on imitatio christi and a tendency toward historicizing biblical exegesis, they turned to the hebraica veritas and Jewish exegetical traditions as a way to draw closer to a historical Jesus. By illuminating the Jewish world in which Jesus walked, the Franciscan Hebraist also provided a strong interpretive continuity between Israel before the incarnation and Christendom as versus Israel after the incarnation.
"To Be Brought Up in a Christian Home": The WMS Work among Chinese and Aboriginal Girls in British Columbia
Kerry Fast, University of Toronto
In the late nineteenth century, The Canadian Women’s Missionary Society of the Methodist Church (WMS) supported missionaries in two areas in British Columbia: educational work among girls in remote Aboriginal communities, and rescue work of Chinese girls in Victoria. In both contexts the WMS established residential homes for girls. Through a comparative study of the letters WMS missionaries wrote in the WMS’s circular The Monthly Leaflet, describing their work, this paper examines how WMS missionaries constructed the "body" as it pertained to Aboriginal and Chinese girls, as a site of disease and sexuality, and how this was inextricably linked to their self-perception of mothers establishing Christian homes for their students. This paper also probes into the complexity of the missionaries'self-perception as their own middle class values and attitudes intersected with the deepening connections that developed with their students.
Converting Slaves: The Place of Work in Catholic and Quaker Evangelization in Nineteenth-Century East Africa
Paul V. Kollman, University of Notre Dame
In their evangelization of slaves in nineteenth-century East Africa, both English Quakers and Catholic members of the Spiritan Congregation relied on work to effect the conversion and civilizing they sought. Both of their missions grew famous as sites of civilizing through work. Yet their ideologies of work differed, and comparing the place of work in the two missionary strategies reveals the differing notions of selfhood and communal life upon which they relied in their efforts at conversion. The Spiritans sought to form members of a church. Thus work, though its role changed as the mission developed, always had a theological cast within a larger evangelizing strategy. The Quakers, on the other hand, saw rationally remunerated work as the key to remaking slaves' characters. By learning to work for a wage the former slaves would perfect their freedom and achieve self-policing personhood more like prototypical modern selfhood.
The Devil in the Topknot: Conflicting Definitions of Conversion in Colonial South India
Eliza Kent, Chicago, IL
The history of Protestant Christianity in South India is punctuated by conflicts among missionaries and between missionaries and converts over the degree to which different cultural practices conflicted with adherence to Christianity. Such arguments frequently provided occasions for explicit theorizing as to what constituted genuine conversion. Some missionaries insisted on a model of conversion as a sudden, mysterious and supernatural transformation of the individual through grace, others regarded the moment of graceful transformation as but an initiatory first step, which could be reversed, and which needed to be completed and fulfilled through a progressive program of changes in lifestyle. By combining analyses of missionary texts with an examination of legal definitions of conversion, I hope to show that it was the latter understanding of conversion that had the most influence in colonial India.
Dalit Christian Conversion, Resistance, and Salvation in Northern India
Mathew N. Schmalz, College of the Holy Cross
This paper will examine the experience of Dalit converts to Catholicism in a North Indian village. The paper first examines the history of a North Indian Catholic mission, established by French-Canandian Capuchins and then entrusted to an indigenous Indian religious order. As material goods from abroad flood the mission, conversions from Dalit (Untouchable) castes increase. But as the debate grows over what kind of "conversions'such aid is fostering, the mission stops the distribution of material goods and the number of Catholics radically declines. The paper then examines the case study of an Untouchable convert to Catholicism named John Masih who became an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church. Masih’s multiple conversions show that the logic of dissent embodied by conversion does not "end" with the conversion itself. Instead, conversion can carry the logic of dissent though the tactical deployment of a variety of multiple religious and social identities.
Being There: The Role of Presence in Ritual Reconstructions of September 11
Carolyn Marvin, Universitiy of Pennsylvania
The success of commemorative ritual depends partly on making what is commemorated present and compelling to participants. Paradoxically, the absence of any distance from commemorated events would do away with ritual understanding altogether. Resolving presence is thus key to the process by which commemorative forms are constructed. I will examine the discourse of distance and presence around September 11 as an occasion for thinking about the vacillating relationship between presence and ritual form and to show how such discourse is part of rendering this group crisis morally graspable.
No Novenas for the Dead: Public Rites of Mourning and the Burning Man Festival
Sarah Pike, California State University, Chico
"Mom, you need no novenas to be in my heart," read one of the hundreds of messages penciled on the Mausoleum at the 2001 Burning Man festival. Ritual action around the Temple was a kind of anti-rite of passage. "No novenas suggests festival-goers' dissatisfaction with available religious options for mourning their dead and the ways in which mourning was extended beyond the festival space. Private stories of loss became collective memories at sites of ritual action around the Mausoleum, in cyberspace and through national news coverage. What are some issues raised by significant rites of mourning that take place in public rather than in private settings? What does it mean for this moment in American cultural history that the family of mourners is redefined to include websites and Chronicle readers in the San Francisco Bay Area?
Rituals of Crisis and Commemoration in the Mediated Experience: The Cultural Wake of September 11
Stewart M. Hoover and Anna Maria Russo, University of Colorado, Boulder
This paper focuses on the mediation of the World Trade Center attacks as an inquiry into the nature and status of rituals of crisis and commemoration in contemporary life. The concept of ritual, traditionally thought of in relation to a sacred religious sphere, has moved out into more secular or non-religious domains in recent scholarship. Media studies literature has sought to integrate the idea of ritual into considerations of the role of media and mediated experience in contemporary life. The purpose of this paper is to enrich the conversation and available theoretical framework on the relationship between ritual and media. What we think of as "media events," (crises and commemorations such as state funerals, royal weddings, etc.) are one framework through which to look at this relationship.
The Construction of an Imagined Bereaved Community: Oklahoma City and the Media
Edward Tabor Linenthal, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
This illustrated presentation will examine the complex interaction between family members, survivors, and media representatives that led to the creation of a media-generated imagined bereaved community that responded to the presentation of the impact of mass murder in a variety of ways. The presentation will pay particular attention to the impact of the famous photograph of the "fireman and the baby," tracing its transformation into art and memorial ideas.
Scriptural Authority in Ramanuja’s Sri-Bhasya
Sucharita Adluri, University of Pennsylvania
Ramanuja in his Sri-Bhasya, a commentary on Badarayana’s Vedanta Sutras, accords particular scriptures authority based on his analysis of verbal or scriptural testimony (sabda). In Visistadvaita epistemology sabda or verbal testimony is the most authoritative way of gaining knowledge of Brahman. For Ramanuja, all scriptural texts that do not contradict the Vedas, such as the Visnu Purana are authoritative whereas, some of the orthodox schools of philosophy (darsanas) such as Samkhya are found to be un-Vedic. This paper examines sections in the Sri Bhasya that explicitly deal with the issue of scriptural authority by addressing the convenience of the category of verbal testimony (sabda).
"Like Oil in Sesame Seeds": Upanishadic Views of the Vedanta within the Veda
Signe Cohen, University of Pennsylvania
This paper examines the usage of the terms "Veda" and "Vedanta" in the Upanishads. After exploring the Upanishadic views of the Vedic canon both as a textual and cosmogonic entity, I will discuss how the Upanishads position themselves in relation to this established Vedic canon. The usage of the term "Vedanta" both in the classical Upanishads and in later sectarian Upanishads will be analyzed. I will demonstrate that the term "Vedanta" is employed in the Upanishads to create a new canonicity that simultaneously draws upon and supersedes the Vedic canon.
The Veda in American Vedanta
Laurie Louise Patton, Emory University
What does it mean to introduce an ancient religious canon to a new culture, only to claim in the next sentence that the canon has been superceded? This paper will argue that such is the rhetorical fate of the Veda in American Vedanta. I present a survey of the informal publications (sermons, pamphlets, newsletters, and interviews) of several American Vedanta societies (roughly 1923-present) in Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, and New York. I will examine three different aspects of this complexity of the American Veda: 1) the accounts of the Veda in Vivekananda’s imagination; 2) American accounts of the flaws as well as the prestige of the early Vedic world view; and 3) American accounts of the superiority of the Vedantic perspective.
Madhva and the Veda: Defining Sarvavidya
Valerie Stoker, University of Pennsylvania
This paper examines the way in which Madhva (1238-1317), the founder of the Dvaita Vedanta system of Hindu philosophy, conceptualized the parameters of the Brahminical canon using the construct of sarvavidya or "all sacred lore." In his commentary on the Rgvedic hymns, the Rgbhasya, Madhva’s definition of sarvavidya is deliberately vague so that he can include other texts besides the Veda in his definition of a valid source of religious truth. These extra-Vedic sources include the Vaisnava Puranas and a body of unknown srutis which fourteenth-century critics accused Madhva of fabricating. Simultaneously, Madhva specifically delimits the parameters of the sacred corpus by excluding the Saivagamas. By exploring the manner in which Madhva’s sarvavidya expands and delimits the Brahminical canon, this paper presents an unknown yet critical aspect of Madhva’s Vedanta and contributes to the broader discussion of canonicity in Brahminical thought.
Prohibited Acts and Forbidden Partners: The Consequences of Unlawful Sexual Activity in Ninth-Century Sunni Legal Texts
Kecia Ali, Duke University
Improper sexual relationships in Islamic law have long been recognized to carry strong punishment. The category of proscribed sexual activity that jurists sought to regulate, however, was much broader than illicit intercourse (zina) and encompassed consequences beyond the application of the hadd penalties of flogging or stoning. Though they did not oppose hadd punishments, the jurists' main concern when dealing with illicit sexual activity -- fornication, adultery, rape, and sodomy (even between spouses) -- was to regulate its effects just as they would those stemming from "proper" intercourse between licit partners. The jurists were generally most concerned with determining whether a sexual act obliged dower payment and whether barriers to marriage with certain kin of the illicit partner were created. Exploring the jurists' treatment of these issues can help us to have a more nuanced understanding of the legal regulation of sex and sexuality in the first Muslim centuries.
Shah Hussayn’s Sexual-Spiritual Play: Homoerotic Acts and Public Morality in the Mughal Era
Scott A. Kugle, Swarthmore College
This paper explores Shah Hussayn’s life as a Sufi and saint, examining symbolic meaning of "sex acts" outside of assumptions about hetero-normative "sexuality." Hussayn was a patron saint of sixteenth-century Lahore. His public displays of ecstatic, antinomian piety earned him patronage among the Mughals. A hagiography presents Hussayn breaking norms of marriage, sexual expression and orientation. Hussayn realigned "sexual deviance" into "sacred difference." This paper presents this hagiography to reflect on the relationship between Hussayn and his companion, Madho. It portrays them as lover/beloved and saint/disciple, implying an intersection of sexual acts and spiritual growth. It presents them as older/younger man and as Muslim/Hindu, public roles that brought them under scrutiny and even persecution by Brahmin elites and Muslim police. Did Islamic law inform perceptions of public morality? Or did common patriarchy have more effect? This paper suggests that Hussayn’s "spirituality of play" negotiated sexuality and public morality.
"Your Wives Are a Tilth for You…" Interpretations of Qur’an 2:223
Khaleel Mohammed, Brandeis University
The classical exegetes state that the above verse was revealed in response to Rabbinic discussions on the allowable type of sexual intercourse between a man and his wife. The Talmud contains such a discussion; but if the verse was to answer the Rabbis, the exegetes expanded the matter way beyond its scope. Based on various interpretations of two terms, harth and annaa, they extended the discourse from vaginal sex to debating the permissibility of anal intercourse and of coitus interruptus. This study analyses the exegetical literature from the early classical period (al-Tabari, al Tusi) to the modern (Rida, Tabataba’i), dealing with works from both the Sunni and Shia madhabs. It seeks to find if the different viewpoints can be attributed to specific schools of thought, and if there has been any substantial change in the debate in the modern times.
Excising the Other: Islamic Visions of Male Circumcision
Kathryn M. Kueny, Lawrence University
All three Abrahamic traditions explore the issue of male circumcision in their sacred, exegetical, and legal texts. In Judaism, circumcision is justified by divine command through a covenantal promise to a favored line of male descendants; as such it is inextricably tied with one’s identity as a Jew. In Christianity, it was excised from covenantal demand and restrictive identity, and replaced with a nebulous but inclusive notion of faith. In the formative period of Islam, male circumcision persists, but without the marks of divine mandate or covenantal, patrilineal defense. This paper will demonstrate how a non-Qur’anic, normative custom elicited acceptable forms of rhetoric that confirmed its legitimacy as a distinctively Islamic practice. This rhetoric only gradually evolved in such a way as to privilege circumcised males (over and against their female counterparts) as the righteous inheritors of a pure form of monotheism embraced by Abraham and realized through Muhammad.
Panel: Prayers at a Different Altar
Victoria Rue, St. Lawrence University, Presiding
Miri Hunter Haruach, New College of California
Arisika Razak, California Institute of Intergral Studies
Michelle D. Herrera, California Institute of Intergral Studies
Carol P. Christ, Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual, Athens, Greece
Spirituality among African Americans and other oppressed people of color in the United States serves as a potential site of resistance to the forces of oppression. Among contemporary women of color in the United States, womanist, earth-based, female-centered, non-Christian spiritualities are helping to create culturally appropriate and empowered identities. Miri Hunter Harauch will present research on the Queen of Sheba and the Hebrew Goddess and discuss the empowerment this research offers to dark-skinned women of the African Diaspora. Arisika Razak will review traditional and contemporary examples of divine female embodiment that are found in African Diaspora religions and their potential to create liberating spiritual vision for African American women. Michelle Herrera will discuss the empancipatory vision found in the sacred traditions of First Nations peoples who honor the body of the earth and the bodies of women. Carol P. Christ of the Ariadne Institute will respond.
Panel: Conceptual Metaphor and the Study of Chinese Religion
Lee H. Yearley, Stanford University, Presiding
John Berthrong, Boston University
Edward Ted Slingerland, University of Southern California
Griet Vankeerberghen, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Mark Allen Berkson, Hamline University, Responding
This session explores the potential of a new approach to the study of religious thought in general, and Chinese Confucian thought in particular: that of cognitive linguistics or the conceptual theory of metaphor. Although more traditional approaches to the study of Confucian thought sometimes discuss the issue of metaphor -- especially when it comes to thinkers such as Mencius, whose reliance upon metaphor is quite obvious -- more attention needs to be focused upon metaphor as one of the primary tools of religious thought and, indeed, thought in general. We think in metaphors, and therefore the study of any thinker or system of thought -- Confucian or Western -- needs to take seriously the analysis of these cross-domain mapping structures. The three papers of this session are offered as case examples of how this might shed new light upon the study of Confucian thought.
To Defend the Constitution
Ronald B. Flowers, Texas Christian University
The paper is a history of the U.S. Supreme Court’s negative response to the question of whether aliens could become citizens if they were conscientious objectors to war. It describes the cases of four people, including two women (in 1929 and 1931!) and famed theologian Douglas Clyde Macintosh, who raised the question in four different ways before the Court. In the last, in 1946, the Court reversed itself and granted citizenship to conscientious objectors. Congress then changed the law so even conscientious objectors could take the oath, that says: "I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic." The paper contains dimensions of immigration and naturalization, pacifist, religious, legal and feminist history.
Public School Bible Courses in Tennessee: A Case Study
Stephen R. Haynes, Rhodes College
In May of 2000, the Tennessee Department of Education informed the School Board of Shelby County (Memphis metropolitan area) that its proposal to offer Bible History courses in county high schools had been rejected. The Department of Education suggested that Shelby County adopt an approved course in World Religions, but the board decided against this. Rather, it intensified its campaign to offer Bible History courses in the county’s public schools. That campaign was successful in February 2002, when a revised proposal for teaching Bible History was approved by the state Department of Education. This paper offers an analysis of Bible History I, which will be offered in the Fall of 2002. Special attention will be paid to the impact of local religious conditions, the possibility of teaching the Bible "objectively," and the current wave of attempts by Christian groups to carve out a wider niche for faith in public spaces.
Grading the Court on Zelman: School Voucher Programs and the Politics of Establishment Jurisprudence
William R. Barnett, Le Moyne College and Jane E. Hicks, Augustana College
The U.S. Supreme Court soon will decide on Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, a case in which challengers of the Cleveland, OH school voucher program argued this term that it violates church-state separation under cover of "parental choice." Zelman promises to be a landmark case regardless of the outcome because it will signal a direction for use of the Lemon test in First Amendment jurisprudence. Mindful that Court decisions never occur in a vacuum we propose to evaluate the Court’s summer, 2002 decision in light of First Amendment jurisprudence and the social, historical, political and ethical context. Examination of shifts in demographics, cultural developments and political alliances since 1947 will reveal important reasons for the Court’s apparent vacillation since 1947. We will conclude to an opinion on reception of Zelman.
Examining the Canon in Church-State Studies
Eric Michael Mazur, Bucknell University
Based on its primary teaching materials, the field of church-state studies is dominated by a law-centered outlook. It seems to be defined as the study of law as it is affected by religion, not the study of religion as it is affected by law. What would be revealed if we were to assume the other point of view? Is a hegemonic pattern revealed in such an examination? This paper will investigate the presumptions behind the creation and maintenance of a "canon" in church-state studies. First, it will examine prevalent casebooks, the cases they privilege, and their editors' organizing principles. Second, it will examine the religious history obscured by the "canon." Third, it will examine the presumptions reinforced by a "canon." While recognizing the necessity for editorial decision-making, this paper will problematize the process to better understand the power and impact of "canonization" in church-state studies.
Communitas and Conflict: Rethinking and Reapplying Turner’s Analysis of the Pilgrimage Process
Jacob Kinnard, College of William and Mary
This paper poses a basic question: Is Victor Turner’s influential analysis of pilgrimage relevant and applicable to pilgrimages and pilgrimage places that are not examples of liminality and communitas, but hostile confrontation? Focusing on two contested pilgrimage places in modern India, this paper argues that Turner remains relevant, but a more nuanced and careful application of his insights is necessary, one that attends to the actual progression of his thesis and the ways in which he applies it to his own ethnographic work. What is central to Turner’s work is as much the process through which pilgrimage and pilgrimage sites generate liminality and communitas as it is the end result. This paper suggests that scholars have too frequently sold Turner short, emphasizing the romantic notion of group identity formation, but missing the more subtle and complex insights that Turner has about the dynamics of such phenomena.
Discourses of Militancy in Islam: A Heterological View
William A. Barbieri, Catholic University of America
The events of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath have raised the stakes for the hermeneutics of alterity in Islam. How the other is viewed and, even more fundamentally, who counts as "other" are central questions in the struggle to define the present conflict between "Islam" and "the West." The discursive construction of otherness in Islam pits fundamentalist legitimations of violence against religious interpretations that undergird nonviolence. This tension is carried out in disputes that mirror Western debates about the legacy of the Enlightenment in some ways, while departing from them in others. Aided by the thought of the French cultural theorist and master of heterology Michel de Certeau, I propose to explore the dialectic of the other in contemporary Muslim views of war and peace. This sort of work, I argue, has important implications for cross-cultural understanding and peace-building.
The Frazerian Roots of the Theories of Girard and Burkert on Religion and Violence
Robert A. Segal, Lancaster University
Among the leading contemporary theories that derive religion from violence are those of Rene Girard and Walter Burkert. While Girard derives his theory from the literary concept of mimesis, and while Burkert derives his theory from the ethology of Konrad Lorenz and the sociobiology of Edward Wilson, both in fact are beholden to an earlier theory, one which has long been dismissed as outdated but which in fact is strikingly contemporary in its focus on violence as the heart of religion: the theory of James Frazer. I want to show how beholden to Frazer both Girard and Burkert are. But I also want to show far they break with him and to show that their breaks reflect the key difference between nineteenth-century theories of religion like Frazer’s (the first edition of The Golden Bough appeared in 1890) and twentieth-century ones.
The Hermeneutics of Violence and the Violence of Hermeneutics: From Walter Benjamin to Jacques Derrida to Sam D. Gill, with Sidetracks to Michael Taussig and Michael Bernstein
Jay Geller and Richard Hecht, Vanderbilt University
The study of religion has yet to realize fully the interpretive possibilities of Walter Benjamin’s work. We believe that there are problems he attempted to clarify or resolve which remain problems for contemporary hermeneutical studies. Benjamin was interested in reinvigorating Romantic hermeneutics as a way to escape the spiraling violence of German society and European civilization. The origins of violence were not located primarily or exclusively in politics and history, or even in the human psyche, but for Benjamin in hermeneutics. What was the nature of this hermeneutical violence? We argue that it was precisely the failure to understand the "historicity" of narrative and discourse. We suggest that recent studies, mediated by the work of Jacques Derrida, like Sam Gill’s Storytracking or Michael Taussig’s The Magic of the State or Michael Bernstein’s Foregone Conclusions provide reflexive strategies to escape the hermeneutics of violence.
Panel: Sexuality in the Late Antique Mediterranean, Part One
Kate Cooper, University of Manchester, Presiding
Cynthia M. Baker, Santa Clara University
Virginia Burrus, Drew University
Lynn R. LiDonnici, Vassar College
Terry Wilfong, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
In this panel four scholars will address histories and constructions of sexuality in the late antique Mediterranean (ca. 200-800 CE): practices, theory, sublimation, symbolization, procreation and contraception, reversibility and inversion, restriction, eroticism, perversion and fantasy, etc. How did sexuality frame religious experience, or vice versa? To what extent did it stabilize or destabilize religious communities? In what ways could sexual and erotic imagery be exploited for religious, ritual, or polemical discourse? What constructions of the self developed to reconcile sexuality with piety? How did religious institutions address sexuality and procreation?
Passing the Peace: Worship and Evangelism from a Non-Substitutionary Atonement Perspective
T. Scott Daniels with Marty Michelson, Southern Nazarene University
Because Evangelical theology has been dominated by substitionary or penal satisfaction theories of atonement, Evangelical worship tends to center around praise to God for the payment or cancellation of a debt owed and evangelism often equates a saving faith with cognitive assent or personal trust in Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Critiques by marginalized groups and an evangelically fresh reading of the Canonical texts are calling Evangelicals to understand God’s atoning work as victim of violence - and thus victor over violence - not as victor through violence. If these critiques are accepted then new practices of worship and evangelism ought to be constituted from such a view. Using the work of Rene Girard as a starting point, this paper proposes new practices of worship and evangelism that recognize the gospel’s requirement that we become participants in the kenotic life of the cross.
Nonviolent Analysis of Anselmian Atonement Violence
J. Denny Weaver, Bluffton College
Working from a biblical, nonviolent perspective, this paper will draw on and go beyond material in the author’s The Nonviolent Atonement (Eerdmans, 2001) to expose the intrinscially violent assumptions and imagery of satisfaction atonement. The analysis will include discussion of the role of God in satisfaction atonement; the implications of standard trinitarian understanding; and the logical significance of Anselm’s removal of the devil from the atonement equation. Contrary to the current tendency to hold the motifs together, Anselm’s move makes it impossible to integrate the atonement motifs into a single comprehensive motif. "Narrative Christus Victor," the author’s nonviolent alternative to satisfaction atonement, builds on Revelation. The paper will illustrate the intrinsically nonviolent orientation of Revelation by dealing with the image of the rider on the white horse in 19:11-21, a text frequently cited to show the divine violence of the book.
Panel: Sexual Freedom, Religious Freedom, and the Limits of Tolerance: Responses to Love the Sin by Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini
Elizabeth A. Say, California State University, Northridge, Presiding
Gayle R. Baldwin, University of North Dakota
Marcella Althaus-Reid, University of Edinburgh
Rebecca T. Alpert, Temple University
Kathleen Roberts Skerrett, Grinnell College
The book, Love the Sin by Janet Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini, argues that historically, tolerance in America of the religious outsider was due to the social and theological responses to competition and conflict among religious groups. This attitude persists today as queer people are treated socially and legally as heretics according to the standard set by one religious community, the conservative Christian communities. The argument continues that to impose this common religious belief and its mores on all of the people does not protect the freedom of the few, does not support democratic ideals, and only increases intolerance for diversity. Panelists will respond to issues raised by Love the Sin from both theological and political perspectives. The authors will participate in the panel discussion.
Christus Victor as Nonviolent Atonement
Thomas Finger, Elizabethtown College
The Christus Victor motif, especially as expressed by Irenaeus, can place non-violence at atonement’s heart: as intrinsic to Jesus' incarnation, life, death and resurrection and to God’s character. This outlook from Eastern Orthodoxy, currently of great interest to evangelicals, can also help overcome some impasses between two major western atonement theories: Moral Influence and Substitution. Methodologically, I will seek to establish Christus Victor as the deepest and most comprehensive reading of the biblical atonement narrative. I will address the contemporary and systematic issues of conceptualizing demonic powers, divine violence, deception of Satan, ransom to Satan and Jesus' divinity.
Penal Substitution and the Possibility of Unconditional Hospitality
Hans Boersma, Trinity Western University
The backdrop for this paper is two-fold: (1) postmodern philosophical discussions on hospitality that emphasize the demand for pure or unconditional hospitality; and (2) current theological attempts to arrive at a non-violent understanding of the atonement. It has repeatedly been argued in the last couple of decades that punishment and hospitality (as metaphor for grace) cannot possibly go hand in hand. According to this line of argument, the penal substitutionary tradition of atonement theology has lent itself to human violence rather than hospitality. In this paper I present a model of penal substitutionary atonement that honours the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the climax of divine hospitality. I argue that the justification of this violence in atonement is not merely found in a rational argument but in the eschatological reality of God’s unconditional or pure hospitality.
Is a Chicano Theology Feasible?: A Critique of Andrés Guerrero’s A Chicano Theology
Hector Avalos, Iowa State University
There have been a number of efforts in the last two decades to formulate liberation theologies to serve the needs of various ethnic groups in America. One of the foremost proponents of a Chicano theology is Andrés Guerrero who in 1987 published A Chicano Theology. While Guerrero attempts to ground his theology in the needs of Chicanos, there are problems with his proposal. The sample of interviews on which he based his theology is not representative. Second, Guerrero misreads the rise of Protestantism among Mexican Americans. Many Protestant Mexican Americans are particularly attracted to conservative evangelical strains, which would render it difficult to follow a theology that is so grounded in a Catholic symbol such as the Virgin of Guadalupe. Finally, a small but important minority of Mexican American secularists may not be amenable to any sort of theology to solve problems in the Mexican American community.
"Liberation" in the Latina/o Context: Reassessing Guerrero’s A Chicano Theology
Christopher D. Tirres, Harvard University
Along with Virgilio Elizondo’s Galilean Journey: Mexican American Promise (1893), Andrés Guerrero’s A Chicano Theology (1987) stands as one of the earliest systematic attempts to define a Mexican-American theology of liberation. Like Elizondo, Guerrero attempts a re-interpretation of key cultural symbols in light of "the process of liberation." The aim of this paper will be to explore what Guerrero understands by "liberation" and "liberative action," especially in terms of his hope for "the idea of a new socialism." I will argue that his insights, when further developed, may help inform and renew U.S. Latina/o theology’s own commitment to the project of liberation. My paper centers around two implicit ideas of liberation present in Guerrero’s work: "liberation as resistance through cultural symbols" and "liberation as revolutionary action." I will attempt to make more explicit the connection between these two forms of liberation, drawing upon Elizondo, Boff (theology), Gramsci and Sánchez-Vásquez (philosophy).
Malinchista Hermeneutics: Resistance and Appropriation in the Chicano Bible
Robert D. Maldonado, California State University, Fresno
This paper brings Guerrero’s A Chicano Theology into dialogue with my own malinchista hermeneutics. The malinchista perspective attempts to negotiate the complex power dynamics of perplexed identity mixture in Mexican/Yanqui borderlands. It does so by focusing on multiple levels of betrayal (within the text, tradition, and interpreter) drawing on the figure
of La Malinche (Doña Marina) as she is represented in history and lore. Among its strengths is that the malinchista mestizaje perspective allows for a radical critique of tradition while not necessarily rejecting the tradition. This is important because from a mixture perspective to reject tradition is to risk rejecting part of what makes us who we are. Having complex identity constituents, however, does not remove us from the need to reject the forces that threaten our flourishing, even to our existence.
The Evolution of Wonder: Religious and Neuroscientific Perspectives
Kelly Bulkeley, Graduate Theological Union
This presentation will critically examine the works of two scientists, Newberg (Why God Won’t Go Away: The Biology of Belief) and Ramachandran (Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Mind), who have been widely praised for their positive attitude toward religion but whose ideas are deeply problematic. This presentation will use ideas from classic thinkers in the psychology of religion (James, Freud, Jung) to 1) challenge the overly-simplistic religious, ethical, and cultural speculations of Newberg, Ramachandran, and other neuroscientists and 2) propose a more sophisticated understanding of the religious implications of evolutionary psychology (EP), with a specific focus on the phenomenology of wonder as the crucial bridging concept. The experience of wonder in religion, art, nature, and scientific investigation will be reconsidered in light of EP research on the human brain’s tremendous capacity to change and grow in consequence of encounters with radically new and unexpected phenomena.
Existential Semiotic and the Cultural Critique of Evolutionary Psychology
Nathaniel Barrett, Boston University
This paper uses semiotic theories of culture and the person to examine evolutionary psychology as a cultural phenomenon. Gathering from the works of Walker Percy, Charles Peirce, Judith Kristeva, Robert Neville, and Robert Corrington, a semiotic description of the biological and conventional aspects of personhood seeks to uncover the problematic structure of the symbolic self. As a kind of existential hermeneutic, this structure is then used to understand the motivations of reductive behavioral theories and their hold on the public imagination. The semiotic interpretation of scientific culture opens up possibilities for theology in the form of cultural criticism and constructive dialogue with the natural sciences.
Buddhism and the Sciences of Mind: A Critical Dialogue
William S. Waldron, Middlebury College
This paper critically examines the causal relations evolutionary psychology posits between biology, culture and religion, particularly in (but not limited to) Dawkins (1982). It specifically critiques causal models based on linear and mono-causality - the idea that causal effects could be directly brought about by unchanging causal entities, whether genes, substances or selves (i.e. Dawkins' "self-replicating" genes). It will then offer some alternative models, drawing upon two fields, the scientific theories of developmental systems theory, semiotics, and complexity and self-organization, and those of mainstream Indian Buddhism, all of which offer models of circular or multi-faceted causality which seem to be more viable approaches to the processes of evolution, ontogenetic development, and the arising of consciousness and culture.
Feminism, Religion, and Democracy in the American Pragmatic Tradition
Deborah Whitehead, Harvard University
In this paper I treat both American pragmatism and feminism as discourses that, at their best, can be understood as forms of cultural criticism that set out to analyze and critique democracy in its workings, inconsistencies, and exclusions. Building upon and expanding Cornel West’s portrayal of American pragmatism as a form of cultural criticism, I argue that pragmatism and feminism in the U.S. context can be understood as traditions of cultural criticism and deliberative democratic discourses. I argue further that feminist engagement with the American pragmatic tradition will remain impoverished unless it also considers the importance of religion in theorizing democracy and social justice.
Possession, Intuition, and James’s "Leaky Consciousness"
Marit Trelstad, Pacific Lutheran University
In The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James focuses on individuals with extreme personalities, those with a "leaky consciousness," which allows for experiences beyond the perceptions of ordinary consciousness. The "eccentric" or "pathological" person may serve as potential conduit or medium to realms beyond the ordinary, including the realm of religious experience. Women have also been described as particularly susceptible to serving as mediums through which spirits, power, money and status flow. This paper will compare the descriptions of possession and intuition, found implicitly or explicitly within James’s Varieties, with feminist theology’s work on women’s possession and intuition as well as feminism’s emphasis on openness to relationality. By comparing these depictions, James’s claim of a potential plurality of forces or divinities visiting human consciousness can be compared to the feminist discussion of women being relationally open to people, patriarchal structures and God, with enlightening results for each study.
Surrender Your Gender: Religious Subjectivity in William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience
Elizabeth Pritchard, Bowdoin College
In this paper I examine James’s gendered construction of religious subjectivity in The Varieties of Religious Experience. I contend that James’s classic text illustrates the modern construction of "real religion" as simultaneously an instance of agency or choice and as an instance of surrender or coercion. This is no careless contradiction, but rather is symptomatic of how subjects get made and recognized as such. James’s text enacts the presumed congruence of religious experience and the goals of American liberal democracy: religious and political recognition is purchased by psychological surrender-a surrender that is also gendered for James.
Social Injustice, Eugenics, and the Dignity of the Poor:The Ryan-Sanger Debate over Fertility
John Berkman, Catholic University of America
In the early twentieth century, the Catholic social ethicist John Ryan evaluated the morality of fertility control at a time when the drive to control the fertility of the poor was closely associated with a group of eugenists known as neo-Malthusians, who advocated eugenic sterilization for various undesirables and encouraged birth control as the appropriate solution for the troubles of impoverished families. At that time, fertility control was not a "private issue" but was intimately tied to issues of economics and the common good of society. This paper examines the interrelationship between poverty, eugenics, and fertility control in the work of John Ryan, comparing and contrasting his views with the social vision of Willford King, an early twentieth century neo-Malthusian economist, and Margaret Sanger, the founder of the modern birth control movement.
Intra-Catholic Pluralism: Resources to Resist a Universalizing, Characterless Globalization
Melissa Stewart, Vanderbilt University
"Globalization" implies a unifying force; instead it sweeps across cultures compressing time and space, thereby replacing boundaries of territory with boundaries of difference (R. Schreiter). It flows in and out of local communities undercutting any sense of unity of place and culture forcing people to build reactionary enclaves. Changes in technology and communication allow people to form communal factions based on totalizing agendas and avoid dealing face to face with those who think differently. I show how David Tracy’s development of a conversational method of correlation reveals the pluralism of Catholicism. This intra-Catholic pluralism historically resisted homogenization, and now more than ever, it must provide the resources to fight a totalizing and characterless globalization. Furthermore, the same intra-Christian pluralism that demands an interpretive framework such as the dialogical method of correlation results in a continuous adaptation of the interpretive model itself, thereby revealing a reflexive character to Catholic theological pluralism.
Foundations Once Destroyed: The Catholic Church and Criminal Justice
Andrew Skotnicki, St. Patrick’s Seminary
The Catholic Church, most notably the American hierarchy, has sought in recent decades to bring the resources of the Catholic tradition to bear in the area of criminal justice. Recent letters of the U.S. bishops, despite their pastoral sensitivity and attempt to mine both the social teaching of the Church and its historical legacy in matters pertaining to crime, have failed in two critical areas: they overlook key theological elements that gave rise to the prison as the normative disciplinary apparatus in the West; and they do not reveal an informed reading of the complex, and troubling, shifts in contemporary correctional methodologies. These foundational errors lead to a well meaning but largely ineffectual response to a pressing social problem. This paper seeks not only to offer a critique but provides resources for a more detailed and informed Catholic approach to criminal justice.
Charles Taylor’s A Catholic Modernity? and Nicholas Boyle’s Who Are We Now? Christian Humanism from Hegel to Heaney: A Comparison of Two Catholic Humanist Critiques of Friedrich Nietzsche
Dominic F. Doyle, Boston College
Two contemporary Catholic humanist "manifestos" are compared with reference to their critique of Friedrich Nietzsche, whom both understand as a central interlocutor for any Catholic response to modernity. Their works are situated by distinguishing them from Aidan Nichols' restorationist Catholic position, and from the communitarian Thomist position of Alasdair MacIntyre. MacIntyre’s pivotal reading of Nietzsche is questioned and serves to introduce Taylor and Boyle. Taylor’s response to Nietzsche is persuasive but limited in simply appealing to counter instances of genuine Christian agape. Boyle complements Taylor’s response by offering a specific and telling critique of Nietzsche’s loss of the notion of the particularity in his "middle mode of discourse". His more extensive critique is linked with the distinctively Catholic enterprise of relating the "one and the many" in a sacramental context and thus furthers Taylor’s programme of articulating the claims of transcendence to a secular academy.
Dialectical Pluralism: Rethinking Schleiermacher and the Problem of the Religions
Thomas E. Reynolds, Vanderbilt University
This paper addresses Schleiermacher’s theory of human religiousness and highlights its significance for the contemporary discussion regarding religious pluralism. For Schleiermacher, the generically religious disposition--the feeling of absolute dependence--is dialectically woven into the fabric of historical life, language being its communal medium. Religious feeling always already exists modified and actualized by cultural-linguistic ways of being in the world. Genuine religious difference is not reducible to some abstract, a-historical core, but rather confirmed and accounted for by means of an anthropological ground which renders it empirically intelligible. Schleiermacher eschews both universalism (wherein all are the same) and historicism (wherein all are relative to context and incommensurate). Rather he views religious diversity via a "dialectical pluralism" that is itself modified by redemption in Christ.
Schleiermacher and the Challenge of Religious Diversity
Philip L. Quinn, University of Notre Dame
In this paper I shall explore the response to the contemporary challenge of religious diversity that can be derived from Schleiermacher’s theological method. After sketching the challenge, I shall explicate the method using texts from the Speeches and the Christian Faith. I shall then argue that the method leads to an attractive response to the challenge. In order to assess its relevance to current debates, I shall go on to compare Schleiermacher’s response to the response offered by John Hick in "An Interpretation of Religion" and other works. I shall contend that Schleiermacher’s response has the advantage of being defensible against the charge of revisionism often leveled at Hick’s. I shall conclude with some thoughts about how Schleiermacher’s views address my own claims about the desirability of thicker religious phenomenologies and thinner theologies.
Schleiermacher on the Out-Pourings of the Inner Fire: Experiential Expressivism and Religious Pluralsim
Jacqueline Marina, Purdue University
Both in the Speeches and in Christian Faith Schleiermacher offers a comprehensive theory of the nature of religion grounding it in experience, specifically in the feeling of absolute dependence. Doctrines are derivative upon this experience, i.e., Christian doctrines are "accounts of the Christian religious affections set forth in speech." I argue that Schleiermacher’s theory offers a generally coherent account of how it is possible that differing religious traditions are all based on the same experience of the absolute. I show how Schleiermacher’s program can respond successfully to three related contemporary objections to religious pluralism: 1) Different religions make competing truth claims about the nature of reality and they cannot all be right; 2) Differing traditions cannot all be based on a similar religious experience because all experience is interpreted and 3) the pluralist needs to have criteria in place distinguishing real and illusory religious experience; but such criteria are elusive.
"Scriptural Maps" and the Journey from Kadesh through Transjordan
Thomas B. Dozeman, United Theological Seminary
The journey from Kadesh through the Transjordan is a central story in the Tetrateuch, Deuteronomy, and the Deuteronomistic History, repeating in Numbers 20-21 and 33, Deuteronomy 1-3, and Judges 11. Although the stories are characterized by geographical realism, the accounts diverge in tracing the route of the Israelite journey, which raises a question about the function of geography in ancient Israelite historiography. I wish to interpret the different accounts as "scriptural maps." Izak Cornelius applies the term to Christian cartographic drawings, which "depict the Holy Land and the rest of the world." He writes, "these are called 'scriptural maps' because of the specific ideology behind them and the ecclesiastical function of such maps." The term applies equally well to the accounts of the journey from Kadesh through the Transjordan. My paper will explore how these stories construct the geopolitical terrain of the Transjordan.
Rhetorics of Religious Space: Some East Asian Perspectives
William E. Deal, Case Western Reserve University
Scholars of religion have asserted that characterizing East Asian notions of religious space through a sacred/profane binary opposition inadequately describes these religious perspectives. Nevertheless, scholars have yet to formulate a systematic analysis of both physical and social contexts of East Asian religious space. This paper investigates spatial thinking and the rhetorical production of space in selected East Asian religious texts. I apply the work of theorists such as Lefebvre, de Certeau, and Soja to East Asian conceptions of religious space and consider how East Asian examples contribute to a comparative theory of space.
Critical Spatiality and the Uses of Theory
Jon L. Berquist, Chalice Press
The Constructions of Ancient Space Seminar has discussed critical spatial theory mostly with reference to the writings of Edward Soja and Henri Lefebvre. This paper will have two foci. First, it will survey and critically examine other bases for critical spatial study and postmodern human geography, with special attention to theories developed outside Europe and North America and by women. Second, it will discuss ways of bringing these theories into conversation with seminar papers, including those by C. Camp, T. Dozeman, and D. Gunn.
Storied Space, or Ben Sira "Tells" a Temple
Claudia V. Camp, Texas Christian University
I want to walk around three points. First is a reading of chs. 44-50-Ben Sira’s famous poem in praise of famous men-as a text in which the scribe constructs a Temple space by means of compressed, hymnic allusions to the stories of great men from the about-to-be-biblical tradition. The second point in my walk is that the spatial experience created by these stories is one of stories: levels stacked on top of levels, that is, vertical space-a tower with its top in the heavens. The third point returns to Thirdspace as periphery and resistance: under critical analysis, especially feminist analysis, the Temple crumbles; the telling leaves but a tell whose broken stories are excavated by the scholar.
A Place at the Table: Unity and Difference in Fieldwork on Religious Practice
Julie S. Heath, Indiana University, Bloomington
Religious ritual offers the fieldworker a marvelous vantage point from which to begin understanding a community’s core values, beliefs, and commitments. Because religious rituals are often public events, they can provide rich opportunities to observe and participate in the shared practices by which a group of people constitutes and sustains itself. However, one’s participation in such rituals may well be taken to indicate not only one’s interest in worship, but also the status of one’s soul. Based on fieldwork among evangelical Presbyterian congregations in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, this paper investigates challenges that arise as we negotiate the differences between our self-perception as participant-observers and the assumptions of those among whom we work, as they observe our participation. Moreover, it asks what we are to do when the ethnographer’s desire to understand deeply and participate fully conflicts with or confuses local ontological discriminations and modes of participation.
White Lesbian, Black Church: The Ethnographer as Participant in a Pluralistic Community
Aryana Bates, Drew University
I collected courage in the pews for two years before requesting interviews with women at Liberation in Truth, Unity Fellowship Church, Newark, NJ, a congregation comprised of African American lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people seeking spiritual community. My dilemma hinged on my racial difference as a white lesbian, and on my non-religious status. I found that being openly lesbian and Black requires of people flexibility and plurality in their relationship to religion. For these women religion functions as a medium through which they express their spiritual agency. This agency insists on the fluidity of identity, presupposes critical awareness of, and resists the systemic impositions of homophobia, racism, and religious intolerance. But one member of a diverse community, I hold in tension the problematic aspects of my ethnographic presence with the fluidity of my whole identity in an effort to represent these women’s spiritual practice with nuance and integrity.
Going Native in Academia: Studying Neo-Paganism as Insider and Outsider
Cat McEarchern, University of Stirling
This paper examines some of the issues faced by a researcher who plays the role of both insider and outsider, both in terms of the group studied and the academy. Drawing on personal fieldwork experiences, this paper will be a discussion of how I have handled these issues in my own work. By looking at the role of the researcher in defining not only the status in terms of being insider or outsider, but also in defining inside or outside of what, I will endeavor to point out some of the techniques and theoretical considerations which have developed through my own research.
The Elusive Subject: Finding and Interpreting the "Religious" in the Ethnography of Daily Life
Courtney Bender, Columbia University
When studying religious practice in non-religious organizations, the subject "religion" becomes elusive. What counts as religious action, and who makes that determination? In my fieldwork with volunteers in a non-religious non-profit organization, I explicitly asked this question of volunteers. How did they create interpretive footing on which to interpret others' actions, and express their own selves as religious? I also asked this question explicitly of my own positions: my interpretations were analogously molded by my own shifting interpretive horizon as a participant observer. Rather than trying to overcome this methodological fact of subjective positioning (something we all "know" as ethnographers) I developed dialogic surplus in my analysis. Rather than viewing this as a way to clumsily sidestep problems of ethnographic authority, I argue that this set of field methods gives voice to the epistemological turn that often lurks silently behind the study of lived religion.
Augustine Reading Paul Reading Moses: Christ Accursed and How Signs Work
Michael Cameron, Archdiocese of Chicago
This paper will examine Augustine’s early reading of Paul in order to show its influence on the development of his understanding of signs deriving from a fresh insight into the death of Christ in 2 Cor. 5:21, and Gal. 3:13. In particular he transmuted the language for the incarnation, suscipere, (‘take up, assume") at first used only to describe the Word’s divine act of assuming flesh, to describe the incarnate Word’s human act of assuming Moses' curse in Deuteronomy. This move can be pinpointed in his commentary on Galatians (394). This necessitated a subtle change in his understanding of signs that was partially developed in De doctrina christiana. Later it grounded the "substructure" of Augustine’s understanding of the Old Testament that was operative in his massive Contra Faustum (c. 398), his many homilies on the Psalms, and ultimately.
Augustine as Nemesis: The Beechers as Readers of the Bishop of Hippo
Peter Thuesen, Tufts University
To historians of American religious thought, Harriet Beecher Stowe is best known as a critic of New England Calvinism and its leading light, Jonathan Edwards. But in airing her frustrations with the Puritan tradition, Stowe also singled out a much earlier source of the problem: Augustine, the fifth-century bishop of Hippo. This paper examines the extensive comments on Augustine by his most public readers and critics in the nineteenth century: Stowe and her Beecher siblings, particularly Catharine (an educator and social reformer) and Edward (a Congregational minister). The paper argues that in the New England Calvinist tradition, the Beechers were more responsible for constructions of "Augustinianism" than Jonathan Edwards, who made scant reference to the Bishop of Hippo despite the clear affinities of Edwardsean theology with Augustinian themes of original sin and human volition.
The Creation of Tradition: Isidore of Seville as a Reader of Augustine
Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, University of Notre Dame
This paper examines one of the sources of medieval Augustinianism, the writings of the seventh-century bishop, Isidore of Seville. Examining the creation of an Augustinian tradition, the paper focuses on the use of Augustine in Isidore’s two longest theological works: the Sententiae and the Expositio in Vetus Testamentum. It treats three complexes of questions: 1) How does Isidore read Augustine? What sort of authority does Augustine carry for Isidore? 2) What conditions shape Isidore’s reading of Augustine? How does Isidore use the authority of Augustine for his own ends? 3) What is the theological justification Isidore has both for Augustine’s authority and for his own use of that authority?
Can Illumination Be Auditory? The Augustinian Legacy in William of St. Thierry and Bernard of Clairvaux
Andrea J. Dickens, University of Virginia
Typically, Augustinian illumination influences the mystical theologies of mediaeval Cistercians in two ways: epistemologically (explaining how the human being can come to have knowledge of God) and metaphorically (lending the writer or mystic a hermeneutical tool for choosing Biblical texts and images to support his or her mystical theology). While William of St. Thierry presents a relatively standard account of Augustinian illumination, Bernard of Clairvaux will downplay the metaphorical use of illumination and eliminate the privileging of the visual sense. For Bernard, the heard word is what brings a person to faith and to understanding, not vision. His privileging of the auditory points to an emphasis that will be picked up in later Cistercian mystics: a switch from emphasis upon finding Biblical warrants to a focus upon the element of human communication of personal experience of God. Bernard also expands the notion of illumination outside of its traditionally inward focus.
Panel: Toward a Cultural History of the Study of Religion
Robert A. Orsi, Harvard University, Presiding
Leigh E. Schmidt, Princeton University, Presiding
David S. Chidester, University of Cape Town
Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger, Emory University
Peter Harrison, Bond University
Donald S. Lopez, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
This is the inaugural panel for a consultation on the cultural history of the study of religion. "Religion" as an object of inquiry, academic and popular, has been constructed in multiple venues, among them Western efforts to identify and name certain Asian and African practices as "religious." Part of the work of excavating the history of the discipline is to trace its destiny in different areas of religious scholarship--on Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and so on--in relation to the broader cultural, social, and intellectual grounds on which these discourses of the "religious" emerged. The panelists will reflect on how "religion" has been constructed in their respective fields and discuss how these accounts of religion have shaped widely authorized Western notions of "religion."
De-Colonizing Disabled Bodies: "the Blind See, the Lame Walk, the Deaf Hear…"
Sharon V. Betcher, Drew University
Fanon’s psycho-phenomenological description of bodies moving through the process of decolonization in The Wretched of the Earth analogically suggests that--insomuch as disability is produced by "the context of social power relations" (Thomson)--a postcolonial reading of scriptural "cure stories," e.g., Lk. 7:18-35, might allow us to exorcise the "spirit" of miraculous remediation and the imperial strategy of normative wholesomeness. When Augustine and his theological heirs lost the socio-historical consciousness of the body in these scriptural pericopes, the de-politicized disabled body was made "de/monstrative" - providing, in its condition and consequent cure, evidentiary testimony for the superior power of God as well as legitimating thereby the imperial gaze and "the [colonial] politics of saving" (Razack). Returning finally to the theological theatre, the question must be asked: what theology of Spirit emerges consequent to the decolonizing of disabled bodies?
Experiencing the Sacred: Beyond the Limits of Language and the Cultural Linguistic Approach to Religion
Molly Haslam, Vanderbilt University
In The Rejected Body, Susan Wendell discusses the "disciplines of normality" which often exclude the full participation in social life by those unable to meet them. Academic theology is not free from these disciplines, and the consequences to the population of those with linguistic or cognitive disabilities can be devastating. In this paper, I engage George Lindbeck’s cultural-linguistic approach to religion that, while influential in recent years, necessarily excludes the possibility of experience of the sacred from those unable to participate in "the conceptual vocabulary and the syntax of inner logic which determine the kinds of truth claims the religion makes" (Lindbeck, 35). Along with Wendell, I will demonstrate the importance of considering the experience of people with disabilities, and I will argue that the experience of the sacred, while embodied, is not necessarily limited to those bodies with full linguistic, cognitive abilities.
The Disabled Body of Christ as a Critical Metaphor
Susanne Rappmann, Karlstad University
The disabled body is often a rejected and neglected body in society and church. Could it be otherwise? The paper explores the possibility of a constructive method in order to identify disabling images and to empower living bodies within the Christian tradition. It argues that the body of Christ hanging on the cross is a rejected and disabled body and that the disabled body of Christ, as a critical metaphor, is useful in a constructive theological work centralizing the (disabled) body. The metaphor enables us to analyze other metaphors of bodies and challenge ideas of ideal bodies of societies, churches and human beings. As a metaphor for the church it includes every-body and confirms that "normal" bodies, like disabled bodies, are subject to contingency.
Transfigured Bodies: Wendell and Eastern Christian Iconography
Maria Truchan-Tataryn, University of Saskatchewan
This paper explores the relationship between Susan Wendell’s notion of transcendence and the Eastern Christian tradition of iconography. Wendell presents a notion of transcendence that is a product of her bodily experience. Her embodiment catalyzes a transformation of identity. The Eastern Christian understanding of iconography subverts the Cartesian dichotomy of mind/body and presents a renewed humanity within its bodiliness. Iconography represents a perspective that demonstrates that corporeal reality is the medium through which the human/divine encounter takes place. Iconography represents body, even rejected body, as the necessary vehicle for transcendence. Wendell uses a Disability Studies perspective to interrogate constructions of self as interdependent community. So too traditional iconography presents an implicit theology of inclusive community, which must continually reach out to the disenfranchised in order to strive towards wholeness.
Panel: Academic Relations Task Force - Academy, University, and Faith Community: Teaching Religion at Religiously Affiliated Institutions
Stephen R. Haynes, Rhodes College, Presiding
William J. Cahoy, St Johns University
Mary Todd, Concordia University
Bill J. Leonard, Wake Forest University
Annette Moran, Carroll College
Ted Grimsrud, Eastern Mennonite University
Keith J. Wilson, Bringham Young University
According to the AAR’s recent census, over half the religion programs in North America are located at religiously affiliated institutions (RAIs). What do we know - or think we know - about life in these departments? How, if at all, does institutional mission affect hiring, orientation, teaching, research, or promotion? What special expectations accompany the study of religion at RAIs? What is the texture of these places and why do so many scholars of religion teach in them? Panelists will address issues such as the effects of Ex Cordae Ecclesiae at Roman Catholic colleges and universities, the politics of affiliation and disaffiliation at traditionally Southern Baptist colleges, and the possibility of doctrinal dissent at Mennonite and Missouri Synod Lutheran institutions.
Panel: Public Understanding of Religion Committee - Religion and Public Policy: Embryos, Stem Cells, and Clones
Dena S. Davis, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Presiding
James F. Childress, University of Virginia
Ronald M. Green, Dartmouth College
Moira McQueen, University of Toronto
Laurie Zoloth, San Francisco State University
In the last decade, governments have been faced with a number of policy challenges raised by advances in biotechnology: Should scientists be allowed to use public monies to experiment on embryos? How should we balance the anticipated benefits of this research against the destruction of the human embryo, given the latter’s contested moral status? Is human cloning ever justified? What do we mean by "playing God," and why does that concept frighten us? These questions are being contested in both the United States and Canada, with widespread participation by religious bodies. In this session, people involved in the debates over embryonic, stem-cell, and cloning research will discuss the nature and implications of these heated issues. Questions from the floor will be encouraged.
Preparing Scholar-Teachers in the Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University
Theodore Brelsford, Lynn Huber, and Gary M. Laderman, Emory University
This paper describes and offers theoretical and practical reflection on recent and developing strategies at Emory University for preparing doctoral students for teaching careers. Since 1992, Emory has required doctoral students to participate in a program to prepare graduate students to enter the professoriate as competent and confident teachers. The Graduate Division of Religion is currently experimenting with new strategies for fulfilling this intention. These strategies include a new Teaching Mentors Program funded by a grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and a revised seminar on Teaching Religion. This paper addresses three interrelated questions regarding 1) critical reflection on teaching, 2) implicit curriculum, and 3) curricular, pedagogical, and instructional knowledge, each from the three perspectives (administrator, religious education scholar/teacher, and graduate student) of the authors and presenters of this paper.
Student Responses to a Teacher’s Religious Goals
Michael Barnes, University of Dayton
Teachers often have a religious or theological agenda in the classroom, as opposed to an academic purpose. Even at a religiously affiliated university, however, most of the students say that neither they nor their parents choose the university mainly because of its religious affiliation. This is a clue to a source of student disinterest in some introductory or required courses. The teacher’s own theology controls the atmosphere of the course, inhibiting critical perspectives on certain points. A course that is clearly academic, and which includes appreciative analyses of the ideas of critics of religion, can deepen the students' religiousness even while making the course material much more interesting to them. Those attending the session will be given a survey to test how valid this claim is.
"You Want Me to Teach What?": A Survival Guide for Teaching outside of Your Academic Training
Sandra L. Gravett, Appalachian State University
Teaching undergraduate students religion often requires a broad, general knowledge of religious studies as a discipline as well as facility with a variety of religious traditions. Many graduate programs, however, train students only in highly specialized fields and leave emerging professionals to figure out how to negotiate this gap on their own. What results for the new faculty member? Chaos. With performance reviews gauging progress toward tenure looming, the pressure to teach effectively while also publishing can grow quickly. This session will unfold around several major themes: (1) Making the Course Syllabus Work For You; (2)Locating and Utilizing Academic Resources, Syllabi, Assignment Ideas; and (3) Learning what you need to know to teach in a new area. The presentation will include skeletal syllabi, sample assignments, and other resources, but will also be focused on participants sharing their own strategies and on generating our own "survival guide."
Cultivating Mutual Respect for Effective Teaching and Learning in the Study of Religion
Kristin Scheible, Harvard University
In this paper, I will discuss concrete tactics, especially for teachers early in their careers or for those teaching outside their areas of expertise, that facilitate the establishment of respect in the classroom. I will examine mutual respect as the basis for a successful pedagogy, especially in the field of Religion, and consider how to cultivate mutual respect by making implicit contracts with the students explicit. Explicit contracts, such as assignments and due dates, can be articulated in the syllabus, but implicit contracts, such as "who does the talking," are often assumed or negotiated throughout the semester. I believe that establishing an ethic of mutual respect explicitly, rather than implicitly, at the outset of any class creates a dynamic for effective teaching and learning.
Apokatastasis Panton Redux: Loss and Restoration in the Poetry of Czeslaw Milosz
Maria Tattu Bowen, University of Portland
Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz has spent most of his ninety-one years dwelling self-consciously between memory and eschatology. Not only is the Lithuanian-born Milosz no stranger to the quotidian losses experienced by those realizing the mixed blessing of old age, Milosz is also a survivor of the occupation of his home country; of the 1917 Russian Revolution; and of the collapse and destruction of Warsaw before and during World War II. This paper will explore a contradiction lying at the heart of Milosz’s poetry: his fierce refusal to lose the creatures and things that he loves, even while acknowledging that lose them he must. Further, it will examine Milosz’s poetic response to such losses: his attempts to enliven lost objects again in text and to employ a poetic sense of time recalling Augustine’s "A present of things past; a present of things present; and a present of things to come."
The Language of Loss, the Loss of Language: DeLillo on Religion, Terror, and Mourning
J. Heath Atchley, Alfred University
This paper is a meditation on Don DeLillo’s portrayal of loss in his novel, The Body Artist. This short book is about a performance artist who desperately tries to use the non-sensical language of a vagrant as a medium for staying in touch with her dead husband. In this work, DeLillo constructs a language of mourning that instead of memorializing its object as something that has passed, evokes presence through absence by disrupting the relationship between words and time. This presence is not the lost object (the dead husband) but is the event of an affirmation of both loss and language. DeLillo thereby both depicts and constructs something of a ritual--not one that represents an original event, but a singular ritual that repeats the rupture of an uncontainable loss.
Twice Lost: The Deaths of the Unconverted in Harriett Beecher Stowe and Robert Lowell
Peter J. Thuesen, Tufts University
The death of the poet Robert Lowell (1917-1977) twenty-five years ago this year provides a timely occasion for reflections on the religious vision of a man who was, according to critic Jay Martin, preoccupied with death and who "gave the richest expression that twentieth-century poetry has to offer of the varieties of the experience of loss and mourning." This paper examines Lowell’s grappling with his Puritan heritage, particularly his interest in Jonathan Edwards, and argues that in using the Puritan fear of dying in an unconverted state as a literary theme, Lowell resonates deeply with another New England literary great, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896). The paper outlines a number of important intellectual and biographical parallels between Stowe and Lowell, and explores how their common interest in Edwards relates to the essential ambiguity of their religious positions.
Laughter and the Holocaust: Risibility as Resistance in Elie Wiesel’s Gates of the Forest
Jacqueline A. Bussie, University of Virginia
Although the mere juxtaposition of laughter and the Holocaust engenders an immediate hermeneutic of suspicion, this essay proposes a radical reinterpretation of laughter as an ethically and theologically responsible, rather than reprehensible, response to Holocaust tragedy. Via a
careful exegesis of Elie Wiesel’s fictional narrative Gates of the Forest, this paper argues that the
laughter of the marginalized can function as an invaluable mode of ethical and theological resistance in the face of radically negating oppression that has ruptured both language and traditional frameworks of belief. In conversation with Hasidic/Jewish thought, the essay concludes that ethically, laughter interrupts the system and state of oppression, and ruptures oppression’s paralysis by creatively positing an alternative mode-of-being-in-the-world. Theologically, laughter attests to the suffering believer’s paradoxical, language-crippling struggle to hold both the narrative of faith and the narrative of negativity in dialectical relationship, thereby resisting despair, disbelief, and uncritical hope.
"‘Til the Mourning Comes": Working through Loss in Holocaust Documentary Films
Oren Stier, Florida International University
This paper addresses the dynamics of mourning the Holocaust as depicted in two documentary films built in large part from videotaped survivor testimonies. The films, Witness: Voices from the Holocaust and The Last Days, depict narrative and visual engagements with the processes of coming to terms with the past. These processes are marked at times by feelings of guilt and melancholy, complicating the presumption of a mourning process at the heart of the testimonial enterprise. The Last Days further complicates the testimonial narrative by staging the filmed return of survivor-narrators to Holocaust sites where survivors are depicted engaging in rituals of mourning. Thus, a contrast is established between two models for mourning the Holocaust. In Witness, an arrested, unfinished, or deferred mourning is depicted, while in The Last Days, a contemporary return to the landscape of loss suggests, visually, a long-delayed engagement with or even completion of the mourning process.
A Cosmopolitan in Colombo: Hikkaduve Sri Sumangala’s Nineteenth-Century Transnational Buddhism
Anne M. Blackburn, Cornell University
Focusing on the case of Hikkaduve Sri Sumangala, a leading monastic figure in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Sri Lanka, I explore the nature of Buddhist contacts between Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia and East Asia. As the first incumbent of an innovative institution for higher education in Colombo, Sumangala influenced the nature of lay and monastic curricula on the island and played an active role in Buddhist responses to an increasingly active and hostile Christian presence, and was among the first to use new print technology for the island’s Buddhist community. Looking at Sumangala’s contact with other Asian Buddhists I attempt to map the nature of external influences on Sri Lanka’s newly urban Buddhisms during a period of "high colonialism." I thus provide evidence at odds with the prevailing view that Sri Lanka’s new urban and "modern" Buddhist forms emerged primarily as a response to Christian and Theosophical models.
Monk Travels and the Politics of Textual Production in Colonial Cambodia
Anne R. Hansen, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
This paper examines how Buddhist values are defined and generated in particular historical moments, analyzing several vernacular texts produced in colonial Cambodia as local sites of interaction with two forms of cosmopolitan discourse: the notion of the Pali "canonical tradition," mediated by Siamese Buddhist reformists, and French colonial imperial and modernist ideologies, as they impacted French constructions of how Buddhist education in Cambodia should be carried out. The analysis focuses on two inter-related features of local interpretations of Buddhist values. First, an examination of the movement of monks and texts between Siam and Cambodia demonstrates why and how the "local" must more accurately be understood as a complex array of forces interacting both inside and outside of a particular locality.
Thoughts and Genealogy of Ultranationalists Strongly Influenced by Buddhist Philosophy: The Exchange of Japanese Nationalists and Ceylonese Buddhists
Kosei Ishii, Komazawa Junior College
Since the end of the World War II, the Kyoto School has been criticized for providing the ideological underpinnings for the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere by employing Buddhist philosophy. At the same time, they were blamed by the ultranationalists for being too liberal and individualistic during the wartime. In my paper I consider the criticism of the Kyoto school of Buddhist philosophy by such Buddhists ultranationalists as Kawai Kiyomaru, Kimura Shigeyuki, Inoue Ukon, and Mitsui Koshi. I will examine their unique interpretation of the thought of Shinran and Dōgen and their role in the formation of the Genri Nipponsha (Japan Principle Society). I will go on to show how their ultranationalistic interpretation of Buddhism shaped both their understanding of the predicament of Buddhism in colonial Asia, particularly in India and Sri Lanka, and their interactions with other Asian Buddhists, for example, Dharmapāla.
Paper, Ink, Bone, and Stone: Mapping Buddhism in an Age of Empire
Richard Jaffe, Duke University
The creation of modern forms of Buddhism in such Asian countries as Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, and Japan have most frequently been discussed in terms of internal national developments or encounters with the West. In this paper I examine the role of new knowledges of South and Southeast Asian Buddhism in the reconfiguring of Japanese Buddhist identity during the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In particular, I will focus on how such Japanese Buddhists and intellectuals as Shaku Sōen, Shaku Kōnen, Nanjō Bun'yū and Itō Chuta helped reposition Japanese Buddhism in Asia through the importation of South and Southeast Asian Buddhist art and architectural forms. I will consider how the creation of hybrid Buddhist artistic forms in Japan, ranging from polylingual calligraphic scrolls to what the award-winning architect, Itō Chūta referred to as the "imperial crown style" of architecture, tied Japanese Buddhism to its Asian past, while affirming its superiority.
Panel: Ritual Levity, Ritual Play in South Asian Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu Traditions
Daniel R. Gold, Cornell University, Presiding
Corinne Dempsey, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
William P. Harman, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Rachel Fell McDermott, Barnard College
Tracy Pintchman, Loyola University, Chicago
Selva Raj, Albion College
Whitney Sanford, Iowa State University
Elizabeth L. Wilson, Miami University
Jonathan Z. Smith, University of Chicago, Responding
It is common to associate religious ritual with the solemn, the sober, and the serious. However, this session is devoted to the notion that play and levity are often a deliberately central component of ritual, either explicitly or implicitly. Focusing on theoretical bases from Eliade, Huizinga, J.Z. Smith, and Driver, among others, seven panelists will present studies of rituals in Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam in which much of the thrust of ritual events finds its thematic base in a playfully serious or a plaintively ludic perspective on social relations, gender relations, institutionalized conventions, and oppressively disturbing human structures. Although the papers address religious traditions indigenous to South Asia, we will suggest that the implications go far beyond one geographic region. One of the discipline’s most visible theorists of ritual will respond to the full written versions that, in the panel itself, will be presented only in 12-minute summaries.
Ethics of the Borderlands: Blurring the Boundaries of National Identity to Include a Recognition of Others
Molly Hadley Jensen, Vanderbilt University
After September 11, the United States increased efforts to secure national borders and restrict the permeability of national boundaries. Border town residents complain that barriers erected separate them from "sister communities" and border patrol agents describe the difficulties of policing vast boundaries. Border security policies reflect a particular understanding of national identity and boundaries that border town residents and patrol agents belie. This paper will (1) detail the understanding of national boundaries and identity evident in these "security" measures (as well as immigration and "free trade" practices) and suggest that this view of national identity corresponds with a view of moral selfhood as autonomous and disembedded (2) identify ways that life in the borderlands challenge dominant understandings of national identity and corresponding views of moral selfhood and argue that their observations recommend a Buberian relational understanding of the moral self.
Democracy and the Good: Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Pursuit of the Good in the Political Realm
David True, Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education
This paper is concerned with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s normative interpretation of American democracy. It argues that unlike contemporary alternatives in Protestant ethics, King’s political ethic supports both the pursuit of the good and dissent. The paper considers King’s vision of God, his understanding of human beings, his ethics, and finally his public polices. For King, God is actively working in history for a just social order in which all human beings are recognized and respected as persons. The dignity of persons warrants the moral principles of equality and freedom that in turn press for a democratic polity. King’s conception of equality as entailing distributive justice and equal of opportunity is key to the paper’s argument. For King, equality is a religiously inspired democratic principle that functions as a substantive good that respects diversity and dissent.
Islam and Social Criticism in the Aftermath of September 11
Richard B. Miller, Indiana University, Bloomington
Fearing that Muslims might be scapegoated for the attacks of September 11, many persons argue that terrorism is not the "true face of Islam." I will examine 3 arguments that provide grounds for assessing Muslim terrorism but that dissociate Islam from terrorism: an essentialist, economic, and relativist argument. The first claims that Muslim terrorists distort Islamic doctrine; the second claims that religious belief is incidental to the causes of Islamic terrorism; the third claims that we must stand in the shoes of Muslim terrorists before condemning their conduct. Each of these arguments provides something of an apology for political Islam. As an alternative, I will propose a version of a human rights argument, claiming that Muslim terrorism is wrong because it violates natural duties, and that Muslim extremists should respect rights even if they lack grounds for endorsing them.
The Right to Flee and to Seek Refuge: Mispredications in the Oceanic Contexts
Purushottama Bilimoria, Deakin University, Melbourne
The paper is about one of the fall-outs from the Sept 11 crisis: the attitude towards asylum seekers/refugees from Asia and Asia Minor and other war-torn regions, and their handling by Australian and Asian leaderships: the dramatic change from a humanitarian to a quasi-reactive response calls for a decisive explanation, and squaring up with human rights commitments/or neglect in this sunny part of the world. A curious addition is how peaceful Pacific regions (but who also have their own internal problems) have been drawn into this imbroglio in the fine turn of phrases that evoke terrorism’s carry-over. What is the ethics of globalized [dis]regard for refugee status seekers even before it is established whether they are genuine or not? My paper will focus simply on the latter with some narratives and images illustrating the lowering of political-public ethics.
Truth and Selectiveness: Muslim-Christian Dialogue in the Balkans
Antonia Atanassova, Boston College
This paper examines a new collection of the lives of Orthodox Christian martyrs during the Ottoman period in the Balkans (1437-1860) which was first made available in English in 2000. In analyzing the texts I seek to, 1) describe succinctly the extent of knowledge that each religion, Christianity and Islam demonstrates in its view and treatment of "the other," and, 2) reflect on the capacity of each group to communicate with their neighbor and/or opponent and consequently, its willingness to pursue a mutually respectful dialogue for the future.
Christmas in the Qur’an: New Evidence Regarding the Christian Sources of the Qur’anic Nativity Traditions
Stephen J. Shoemaker, University of Oregon
It has long been recognized by Western scholars that the Qur’an depends heavily on numerous early Christian apocrypha for its accounts of the lives of Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist. The Qur’anic traditions of Jesus' Nativity, however, present a peculiar combination of early Christian traditions, for which there was no known Christian parallel for a long time. Recent discoveries in the fields of ancient Christian literature, liturgy, and archaeology, however, have now combined to reveal a local Jerusalemite tradition that was a likely source of this early Islamic tradition. This is particularly important inasmuch as it presents compelling evidence that at least this one Qur’anic tradition likely came into being not in southwest Arabia, but only after the conquering Arabs had come into contact with the local traditions of Christian Palestine.
The Coptic Neo-Martyr John of Phanijoit: The Re-conversion of an Apostate Christian "Deceived by Lust of a Saracen Woman" (c.1210)
Jason R. Zaborowski, Catholic University of America
A little-known Coptic text, the Martyrdom of John of Phanijoit, sheds light on Coptic conceptions of Muslims in thirteenth-century Egypt. The text is a late Coptic work surviving in one extant manuscript, with almost no other attestations in Coptic Christian literature. Scholars have gone little beyond editing and translating the text, and outlining its potential for further inquiry. This paper focuses on the martyrdom’s description of John’s conversion to Islam and his reconversion to Christianity, in the contexts of Ayyubid Cairo and neo-martyr literature. The paper shows how this text develops a topos common to neo-martyr literature: conversion attributed to sexual desire. This topos is a nexus for moral descriptors. Designating Muslims as "fornicators," "adulterers," and "lawless," the martyrdom generally omits theological explanations. The text suggests that John is part of a thirteenth-century trend of apostasy in the Coptic church, and that his death achieves purification from moral failure.
Neither Fish Nor Fowl: The Conception of Islam in Classical Canon Law Sources on Commensality
David Freidenreich, Columbia University
Canon law collections of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries contain several texts that address the issue of whether Christians are allowed to share food with non-Christians. These canons, as understood by the earliest classical commentators, address the two primary categories of non-Christians known to canon law: Jews (with whom commensality is prohibited) and pagans (with whom commensality is permitted). Yet commentators were also interested in determining whether Christians were allowed to eat with Muslims, and tried in various ways to fit Islam into the existing legal categories. After originally considering "saracens" to be no different than pagans, canonists came to recognize that Islam shares fundamental characteristics with Judaism, yet they generally persisted in calling Muslims "pagan." The development of legal opinions regarding Christian commensality with Muslims offers valuable insights into notions of "the other" and the changing conception of Islam within the ecclesiastical elite of the High Middle Ages.
Panel: Author Meets Critics: Sarah Barringer Gordon’s The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America
Philip L. Barlow, Hanover College, Presiding
Kathleen Flake, Vanderbilt University
Richard Ostling, Associated Press Stephen J. Stein, Indiana University, Bloomington
John F. Wilson, Princeton University
Sarah Gordon, University of Pennsylvania
This session brings a group of scholars together to comment on Sarah Barringer Gordon’s The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America. The Mormon Question explores the impact that debates and conflicts over polygamy had on constitutional law, understandings of religious freedom, the separation church and state, and states' rights.
Panel: War and the Religious Traditions
William J. Wainwright, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Presiding
James T. Johnson, Rutgers University
Sallie B. King, James Madison University
Wars have been fought and opposed in the name of religion. Some traditions have formulated sophisticated doctrines carefully specifying the conditions under which violence can and cannot be legitimately exercised. Other traditions reject violence altogether. This panel explores this theme by examining just war and jihad traditions, classical Chinese attitudes towards war and peace, and classical and contemporary Buddhist perspectives on war and violence.
Panel: Doing Our First Works Over: White Theologians and Ethicists Talk about Race
Elizabeth M. Bounds, Emory University, Presiding
Karin Case, Union Theological Seminary, New York
Robin Hawley Gorsline, Brooklyn, NY
Jennifer Harvey, Union Theological Seminary, New York
Sally MacNichol, Union Theological Seminary, New York
Aana Vigen, Union Theological Seminary, New York
Dwight N. Hopkins, University of Chicago, Responding
This panel is one response to the demand that white scholars make racism a starting point in their work. Numerous salient issues must be addressed when white theologians and ethicists consider the issue of race. The panel analyzes the nature and workings of race, racism and white supremacy-uncovering and correcting common assumptions often embedded in white scholarship. The presentations argue that the appropriate conversation topic is not "race" but "white supremacy," explore the phenomenon of "white blindness," and the imperative of reparations. They offer narratives by "race traitors" as resources for strategies of resistance, and methodological practices for an ethic of "white listening." The objective is to address historical, structural, and methodological challenges presented by white supremacy and to demonstrate that addressing these challenges creates entry points for white people to undertake a long, difficult journey of discovery into a new world of theological and ethical truth-seeking and truth-telling.
Panel: Judaism in and Jewish Responses to John Milbank’s Radical Orthodoxy
Leora Batnitzky, Princeton University, Presiding
Steven Kepnes, Colgate University
Randi Rashkover, York College of Pennsylvania
Peter Ochs, University of Virginia
John Milbank, University of Virginia, Responding
This panel explores various Jewish responses to John Milbank’s radical orthodoxy as well as the relation between Judaism and Christianity in Milbank’s theology. Milbank claims that only Christianity knows an originary peace beyond violence and that postmodern Jewish philosophy remains mired in a nihilistic ethic. How does this claim relate to Christianity’s historical role in perpetuating anti-Jewish violence? How do Milbank’s theological claims about a postmodern Christian particularity relate to Jewish claims about chosenness? Does Milbank’s appreciation for the self-critical capacity of the Hebrew Scriptures challenge the doctrine of supersessionism? More philosophically, how might Milbank’s attempts to ground Christian community in practice relate to recent Jewish philosophical discussions of Jewish law? What does Milbank’s focus on neo-Platonism mean for conceptions of the relation between Judaism and Christianity to the western canon?
Goddess in Korea
Hyun-Kyung Chung, Union Theological Seminary, New York
I have just published three books on the re-emergence of Goddess in Korea. I will talk about why I want to make a shift from "explaining God" to "expressing Goddess" in my theological journey. I will describe the first Goddess festival in a sacred mountain in Korea where I played the role of priestess. I will also ask the question: Why suddenly is there a re-emergence of Goddess in Korea in a secular feminist cultural movement? Then I will introduce ancient Korean Goddesses as they are rediscovered by contemporary Korean women scholars. Finally, I will reflect on the spiritual significance of Goddess for Korean women, with attention to the issues of suffering and evil.
>From Jerusalem to Auschwitz and Back: The Shekhinah among Women during the Holocaust
Melissa Raphael, University of Gloucestershire
Post-Holocaust theologians have often claimed that God had to hide his face from Jewry during the Holocaust as intervention would have impugned the freedom considered to be a logical and ontological prerequisite of human existence. The Shekhinah (the traditionally female image of the indwelling presence of God) offers a way to figure the presence and activity of the female divine and the human(e) within the historical process. Biblical, rabbinic and feminist traditions of the Shekhinah as present to Israel in its suffering signal her presence in Auschwitz where women bore the refractive image of her face. If the divine presence does not dwell in a fixed sanctuary but settles wherever the "tent" is carried, then the Shekhinah may be found within the camp sisterhoods or relational "tents" to whose restorative power the women’s Holocaust memoir literature substantially testifies.
Goddess, God-She, and Process Philosophy
Carol P. Christ, Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual, Athens, Greece
Feminist theologians and thealogians have criticized the transcendent, dominant and domineering male God of traditional theologies and philosophies of religion. Process philosopher Charles Hartshorne said that "the idea of a mother, influencing, but sympathetic to and hence influenced by her child and delighting in its growing creativity and freedom" is a more appropriate way of understanding divine power than the "tyrant conception" of traditional theism. Process philosophy envisions divine power as embodied, sympathetic, and deeply involved in and with changing life. Process philosophy thus values qualities traditionally associated with femaleness, and also with vulnerability and weakness. Process philosophy’s God is appropriately envisioned as God-She or Goddess, yet its notion of "dual transcendence" enables it to avoid the pitfalls of essentialism. Process philosophy can help thealogians shape alternatives to traditional understandings of immanence and transcendence and to think differently about suffering and death.
Bonhoeffer on Truth Telling: Relevance for Reconciliation after Harm
Nancy Berlinger, The Hastings Center, Garrison, NY
This paper will discuss the relevance of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s fragmentary 1943 essay on truth telling, plus related material from Ethics and "After Ten Years," to contemporary discourse on reconciliation, within the context of U.S. hospitals' efforts to change their organizational culture around truth telling with respect to the disclosure of medical error to injured patients. Among topics to be explored will be the potential for Bonhoeffer to serve as a theo-ethical resource for chaplains, ethics educators, and others who seek to create and promote model practices of truth telling and reconciliation within the complex culture of the hospital. The paper will also address two topics relevant to the use of Bonhoeffer’s work in efforts to promote cultural change: earlier readings of Bonhoeffer by medical ethicists; and the use of Bonhoeffer as a theo-ethical resource by clergy associated with the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Bonhoeffer, Bauman and Theology of Community
Jacqui Stewart, University of Leeds
This paper arises from a concern with the fragmentation of contemporary western society and its effects on Christian realisation of community. In my paper I wish to explore Zygmunt Bauman’s demonstration of how the politics of contemporary society discourages the formation of community, and to use Bonhoeffer’s understanding of community-creation to suggest new strategies for building "church." The relational ontology advanced by Bonhoeffer in Sanctorum Communio leads to his understanding of community as collective person. His account of how the Spirit acts to create such community is innovative and directly relevant to the problems described by Bauman. In my paper I will apply these insights from Bonhoeffer to the issues described by Bauman, in the hope of finding new directions for the construction of church community today.
Reconstructing the Doctrine of Reconciliation within Politics
Ralf Wuestenberg, University of Heidelberg
The paper explores new methodologies to identify the connections between "ultimate and the penultimate things" (Dietrich Bonhoeffer), that is, between religion and politics. On the basis of the example of "reconciliation" the shortcomings of classical theories such as the doctrine of the "two realms" and the doctrine of the royal sovereignty of Christ for a theological understanding of modern political thought are highlighted. "Reconciliation" is a term used both in politics, with reference to past political transitions, such as South Africa after apartheid, and as an eschatological concept in dogmatic discourse. How do these concepts connect and relate to each other? How do we identify and define the connections between the political reconciliation and teh eschatological concept of reconciliation? On the basis of Bonhoeffer’s political ethic the paper attempts to initiate a new kind of dialogue between politics and religion by reconstructing the doctrine of reconciliation in the political sphere.
Remembering, Re-learning: Placing Ancestral Wisdom in the Academy
Ines M. Talamantez, University of California, Santa Barbara
This paper analyzes the effects of imposed pedagogies on Native American Religious Studies. Drawing on Indigenous theories as elements for countering colonization and missionization, this presentation will focus primarily on Navajo and Apache religious traditions.
Eating Locust at Onondaga: Indigenous Responses to United States Terrorism
Philip P. Arnold, Syracuse University
In 1779 George Washington ordered General Sullivan to exterminate the Haudenosunee (Iroquois) by destroying their villages and fields throughout New York state. By the spring of 1780 the Onondaga, who were the central fire of the Haudenosunee confederacy, were starving. They returned to the ruins of their longhouses and crops. From the woods, however they heard an intense humming sound. It was the locust that came out of the ground. Never having seen them before and starving the Onondaga ate the locusts in great quantities - it was the locusts that saved them from the United States. The Onondaga understand that the locusts were a gift of the Creator. Every 17 years the locusts reappear and out of respect and admiration the Onondaga eat them and tell their children of the attempted extermination of their people. 2001 was the thirteenth appearance or hierophany of the locusts.
yUdjEhanAno^ so^KAnAno^ ("We Yuchi People, We Are Still Here")
Richard Grounds, University of Tulsa
This presentation addresses the on-the-ground issues in indigenous language preservation by describing the successes and challenges for the Yuchi language revitalization efforts. This unique language isolate’s current critical status represents the common struggle for the majority of indigenous languages in what is now called North America. The beauty and power of the language in its intrinsic alterity to European colonial languages and the strength of the half-dozen remaining elders gifted with the language will be set against the history of assault and loss as the community quietly keeps alive its ancient heritage.
Panel: Editors Meet Critics: Religion and Justice: A Reader in Latina Feminist Theology
Francisco Lozada, University of the Incarnate Word, Presiding
M. Shawn Copeland, Marquette University
Timothy M. Matovina, Loyola Marymount University
Rita Nakashima Brock, Oakland, CA
Benjamin Valentin, Drew University
Daisy L. Machado, Texas Christian University, Responding
Jeanette Rodriguez, Seattle University, Responding
This panel will explore the newly published volume Religion and Justice: A Reader in Latina Feminist Theology. This volume adds the theological contribution of Latinas to the broader feminist theological discourse. Panelists will explore the theological implications of this groundbreaking text, as well as situate the volume in light of contemporary theologies.
Embodiment of Belief: Symbolic Struggle in the San Francisco Dyke March
Elizabeth Currans, University of California, Santa Barbara
In this paper I examine Take Back the Night Marches that occur yearly on university campuses nationwide and Dyke Marches (in particular, the San Francisco Dyke March) that occur in conjunction with annual Gay Pride events as feminist rituals. Political marches are an exceptionally visible and memorable method for working towards social change that can bring a message to a large audience in a brief time. They are politics performed. Participants exercise both freedom of speech and freedom of assembly as guaranteed by the US constitution while challenging gender and sexual norms. Marches composed of primarily, if not solely, women, couple transgressive feminist political claims with a transgression of the masculine public sphere. Public performances exhibit also deep commitments to a set of values and therefore provide a fruitful site for investigating the links between belief and political action.
Safety in Home? Gender, Race, and Religious Fundamentalism
Andrea Smith, University of California, Santa Cruz
While backing many of the policies of the Christian Right, the Bush administration
simultaneously co-opts the rhetoric of both LGBT and feminist organizations by claiming to
liberate the world from the homophobic and sexist practices of non-Christian fundamentalism. Consequently, many mainstream feminist and LGBT organizations, particularly anti-violence
organizations, have applauded the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan as "liberating" Arab women from
the repressive policies of the Taliban. Similarly, these organizations often argue that either one
must support the homophobic and sexist policies of the Taliban, or you must support bombing in
Afghanistan and other countries. In this paper I will argue that progressive mobilization against
religious fundamentalism must take place from anti-imperialist, anti-colonial framework,
particularly as the term "fundamentalist" becomes increasingly racialized.
In the Sweet Bi and Bi: The Politics of Bisexuality
Miri Hunter Haruach, New College of California
Using the criteria of genitalia to include and develop partnerships and relationships with members from either sex leads to a psychological and psychic split that is based on culture, politics, religion and societal pressures. Through social conditioning, we are all denied permission to experience the complete range of our sexual identity. Experiencing intimacy with individuals of both sexes leads to the unfolding of our personal wholeness. This wholeness can form a bridge between gay/lesbian and heterosexual communities and end the discrimination and hatred of the "sexual other." Using womanist methodology, I will speak from the standpoint of my own identity development as a bisexual, informed by my ethnic identity as an African American as well as well as by my middle class economic status and peer pressure. Topics addressed include socialization, the psychology of difference, passing as straight and passing as lesbian/gay, and ethnic/cultural stereotypes of bisexuals.
Method in the Study of Mysticism and the Esoteric
Arthur Versluis, Michigan State University
In my recent article "Method in the Study of Esotericism," in Esoterica IV(2002): 1-15, I outline the major methodologies recently proposed for the study of Western esotericism, including under this rubric such currents of thought as alchemy, astrology, Kabbalah Jewish and Christian, secret or semi-secret societies like Rosicrucianism or Freemasonry, and my own specialty, the theosophy of Jacob Böhme (1575-1624). In this companion paper, I outline the history of phenomenological approaches to the study of religion like those of the Groningen school as they relate to the study of mysticism, looking in particular at potential problems and benefits in phenomenological approaches. I use as a case for study the work of contemporary Catholic mystic Bernadette Roberts, and argue that the study of mysticism is by definition also the study of the phenomenon of the esoteric.
Toward an Anthropology of Consciousness
Willem Zwart, University of Colorado, Boulder
Current methodological debates in the study of mysticism appear to be dominated almost entirely by the essentialist versus contextualist schools of thought, as outlined in the various volumes of essays edited by Robert Forman and Steven Katz respectively. However, there is a lot more to mysticism, and to the study of mysticism, than the question of whether or not there is such a thing as "pure unmediated experience," or a "pure consciousness event." In order to do full justice to the subject of mysticism and to individual mystics I will propose a new methodology for the study of mysticism, which I refer to as the "Anthropology of Consciousness," borrowing from the fields of anthropology and consciousness studies.
A Post-Kantian Perspective on Recent Debates about Mystical Experience
Martin T. Adam, McGill University
Academic discussion of mystical experience has presupposed a model of experience that is broadly Kantian in character, and this in two regards. First, it has adopted Kant’s division between intuition and understanding -- in the form of a distinction drawn between "experience" and "interpretation." Through the former of each of these pairs, an object is said to be given; through the latter it is said to be conceptualized. Secondly, thinkers have presupposed the distinction of "noumenon" and "phenomenon" (Hick: 1977) This paper questions the appropriateness of both presuppositions. Situating my arguments in the context of the recent constructivist - essentialist debate, I suggest thinkers on both sides have not been sufficiently critical in their employment of Kantian terminology (Stace:1960, Katz:1978, 2000).
The Mystical Embrace: Desire and the Body in Eckhart and Eriugena
Willemien Otten, Utrecht University
Following the recent criticisms by Turner and McGinn, this paper relates the tension between kataphatic and apophatic mysticism to the parallelism between the cosmic and the anthropological in Eriugena and Eckhart. The paper’s specific aim is to replace the debate about experience vs. consciousness with one about anchoring or grounding the divine as typical of medieval mysticism. For Eckhart, the overriding importance of the son’s self-birth (parturitio sui) in the human soul is such that it acts as an incarnational contraction of the creation of the cosmos. Incarnation in Eriugena, following Maximus Confessor here, is a kind of incrassatio, a material distentio, as a result of which the cosmos takes on a unique theophanic quality. For both authors personal and cosmic embodiment as the locus of mystical desire requires self-actualization as a condition for the return to God.
Neopagan Movements in Lithuania and Latvia
Michael F. Strmiska, Miyazaki International College
An interesting development in the post-Soviet religious landscape of the Baltic states has been the rise of Neopagan movements focussed on the reinterpretation and reinvigoration of old, pre-Christian religion as preserved in Baltic folklore and mythology. This paper will examine the current situation of Neopagan movements in Lithuania and Latvia.
Varieties of Nature in Modern Paganism
Cat McEarchern, University of Stirling
Modern Paganism is often defined as a nature religion. This paper will examine some of the varied ways in which Pagans define "nature," and how it is used as a negotiable concept in Pagan religiosity and the academic study thereof. Looking at tensions between various ideas of what it means to be a nature religion will help to uncover some of the assumptions created by such terminology, as well as show why such terminology came into being.
Al-Qaeda as a New Religious Movement
J. Gordon Melton, Institute for the Study of American Religion
Al Qaeda, often seen as merely a secular terrorist organization, is more fully understood as a recent addition to the community of Islamic Revivalist organizations, the first of which, the Muslim Brotherhood, emerged in Egypt in the 1920s. The Revivalist movement is distinguished by its rejection of traditional interpretations of Islamic law in the Sunni and Shi"a traditions with an emphasis upon individual guidance taken directly from the Qur’an and Hadith. Al Qaeda was born in the midst of the Revivalist community as a new statement of its developing worldview. This paper traces the emergence of the elements of the worldview that underpin Al Qaeda’s life and program, including its violent activities. The religious life of Al Qaeda is integral to the commitments to fight the evils that have been identified through the twentieth century and provide a rationale for action up to an including assassination, revolution, and mass homocides.
Scientific History and Catholic Theology: The Impact of the French University on the Modernist Crisis
Harvey Hill, Berry College
Agitation for greater corporate autonomy swept through the French university at the end of the nineteenth century. The ideological backbone of this move to achieve greater autonomy for the secular university was a growing appreciation for science, including historical science. The emphasis on autonomous historical science had two major implications for religion in France. First, the history of religions began to supplant theology. Second, autonomous historical science was increasingly important in efforts to offer a secular moral education to French children. In general, the Catholic reaction to these developments was hostile. But Catholics like Alfred Loisy sought, unsuccessfully, to integrate the historical study of religion and Catholic theology. My paper argues that Loisy’s eventual excommunication stemmed in part from his inability to bridge the growing divide between the historical study of religion practiced in the secular university and the Thomistic theology dominant in the Church.
The Test Case of Psychology: Science and Religion in the Nineteenth Century
M. Gail Hamner, Syracuse University
This paper analyses what counts as science and what counts as religion (theology) in the nineteenth-century university through the example of the newly developing science of psychology. Using the particular analyses of Charles S. Peirce and William James, the paper demonstrates how the university structure limited James’s ability to combine religious and scientific perspectives in his research and teaching. Peirce, working mostly outside the university structure maintained a theorization of knowledge that is wholistic and non-reified. For James, the university did not refuse the religious or theological perspective but housed it under philosophy and moral values.
Augustine on Human Embodiment and Communication
Robert P. Kennedy, St. Francis Xavier University
The purpose of this paper is to challenge the consensus that Augustine saw the necessity to use language as resulting from the fall. I argue that Augustine changed his mind on this question when he changed his interpretation of the nature of Adam and Eve’s bodies in Paradise. Augustine’s views on pre-lapsarian communication between human beings arise from and depend on his views on the nature of the human body. In his early "On Genesis against the Manichees," Augustine held that Adam and Eve did not have to communicate by means of signs because their bodies were spiritual. However, in his later commentary "On Genesis Literally Interpreted," Augustine states that Adam and Eve were created with""animal bodies." Hence, it would have been necessary for Adam and Eve to use signs in order to communicate with each other even before the fall.
The Gift of Destiny: Augustine, Anselm, Henry James
M.B. Pranger, University of Amsterdam
In this paper I focus on the notions of gift and perseverance as representing the aporia of Augustine’s concept of predestination. Taking as my point of departure that a fresh look on this matter may benefit from a circumlocutory approach. I first turn to Anselm’s De casu diaboli. In it Anselm condenses the Augustinian problem of the non-perseverance of the devil to a subtle blend of logical impossibility and rhetorical and anthropological absurdity. Next I discuss Henry James’s The Golden Bowl as a telling example of Anselm’s argument. Just as Anselm’s devil is proven to have refused the gift of life before it was given to him, so James’s "golden bowl" symbolises the refusal of life without the latter at any time being given. Finally, I explore the possibility of the Anselmian-Jamesian analysis of the notion of "gift'shedding some light on the Augustinian problem of predestination and perseverance
Reading Augustine’s Corpus: Confessional Hermeneutics and the Cosmological Body
William Robert, University of California, Santa Barbara
Jean-François Lyotard uses phenomenology to produce an imaginative reading of Augustine’s Confessions that probes the confessant’s subjectivity in philosophical and religious terms. The human and the heavenly come together in his exploration of "the inner human" who, in the scriptive act of confessing, turns himself inside out through the movement of conversion. In that same movement, the body and soul are grafted together as soul-flesh (the inside is now outside) thanks to the inner self-embrace that comes from loving God (X.6.8). Lyotard’s reading of Augustine’s self-reading stands as a source upon which this essay builds as it investigates the complex relationship between hermeneutics and the body in the Confessions-a relationship the essay claims is intricate and inextricable and one which bears important theological weight.
Loving and Despising the Body: The Ambivalence of Death in Augustine’s Good Creation
Nicole Roskos, Drew University
In dissolution--the dying of old cells to replace new ones, the production of fecal matter for nutrition, the transformation of detritus and cadavers into food for other creatures--lies a basic ecological mantra: life feeds off life; it must die in order that it live. However, human death remains ultimately "abject" (in Kristeva’s sense) to the Christian tradition. Death remains the final enemy to overcome. This paper will examine the paradoxical tension between Augustine’s celebration of the "good" creation and an ultimate rejection of the dying and suffering aspects of the body in his vision of the City of God.
Evil, Vampires, and Religious Symbolism
Justin Holcomb, University of Virginia
The popular imagination of vampires conjures up a vast assortment of images, ranging from that of Bela Lugosi’s cloaked pale figure surrounded by a misty fog to those battled in the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This paper analyzes the symbolic power of vampires in various mediums of popular culture. From the story of Plogojowitz in 1725 to contemporary pop-culture, the face and actions of vampires have undergone a drastic transformation in popular culture. This change reflects a new set of fears, understandings of evil, and discourses on sexuality. This paper examines the transformation of the vampire in popular culture, through its prominence in literature, movies, and television. Yet, some basic concepts remain the same- vampires wish to prey on others to bring the innocent into their evil world of the undead.
Jesus Christ, Action Hero: Christianity Battles Evil in the Canadian Horror Film Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter
Laurel Zwissler, University of Toronto
The Canadian film, Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter, positions itself as a Christian testament. The film contains irreverent transliterations of traditional Christian symbols into contemporary cultural currency. It is through this play that the film validates Jesus Christ as a universal hero. This project places Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter in the context of independent, Candadian horror films and discusses how this marginal position provides the film with opportunities to explore Christianity’s relationship with popular culture in creative and adventurous ways. Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter both reflects Canadian popular culture and cultural representations of Christianity, and contributes to them. It is the clear linking of Jesus with heroism through the use of familiar, cultural references that validates and legitimizes his Christian message. Because he is a proven hero, his theology has meaning.
Left Behind with Harry Potter
Paul Custodio Bube, Lyon College
In recent years the Left Behind and Harry Potter novels have become major best sellers. In spite of their obvious theological differences, marketing displays suggest that they share a common readership. Why is that? I will analyze how these two series understand the nature of evil and how evil should be fought. Part of the answer may be that these two series do share a similar ethical perspective regarding the nature of evil. In both series, evil is personified and powerful so that it is clearly recognized by the reader and the stories' heroes, even if not by all the secondary characters. I will argue that the similarities run deep and point to the characteristics that make both series attractive to popular culture. Similarities notwithstanding, I believe that there are differences in the apocalyptic assumptions behind each series which do have some important moral consequences that we should not ignore.
The Fall from Eden, Critical Theory, and the Teletubbies
Brian M. Britt, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
My analysis of the Teletubbies brings the Genesis story together with critical theory, in order to demonstrate how the Teletubbies, who love humans even more than each other, fulfill the Frankfurt School’s most dire warnings about the decline of human freedom and dignity in the world of the culture industry. For the Teletubbies, there is no greater desire than to watch videos of real children, which they do every episode with profound excitement. Incarcerated in a camp masquerading as a nature park, the Teletubbies carry consumer culture to its logical extreme; their innocence is the total disempowerment that comes with a life without discomfort, challenge, or adventure. My paper will conclude with a discussion of the use of biblical myth for critical theory and the capacity of contemporary culture to illuminate biblical tradition.
Panel: Discussion of Richard Kearney’s The God Who May Be: The Hermeneutics of Religion
Jeff Kosky, Bucknell University, Presiding
Jeffrey Bloechl, College of the Holy Cross
Nicholas Constas, Harvard University
Serene Jones, Yale University
Craig Nichols, Boston University
Richard Kearney, Boston College, Responding
Discussion of Richard Kearney’s The God Who May Be, which offers new proposals on thinking about God, time, and the experiences and events of faith. Kearney’s position places him in discussion with Ricoeur, Derrida, Marion, Levinas and others, and his argument draws widely on the theological and philosophical traditions.
Confucius on Horseback, 2002: Governing by Virtue in Globalizing China
Thomas Selover, University of Saskatchewan
In this auspicious year of the Horse, the Chinese leadership is invoking traditional Confucian "governing by virtue" to deal with, and hopefully ride into glory on, a rapidly changing economic and social situation. The paper, based on research in China in 2001-2002, addresses three issues. First is the domestic debate over the rule of virtue vs. the rule of law. What is virtue, who has it, how is it cultivated? Second is China’s new global diplomacy, styling itself as the virtuous advocate of negotiation and harmony. Third is the emerging possibility of a Confucian-style consensus on the virtues of religion in contemporary China.
Wang Yang Ming’s Liang-Chih and the Freedom of Conscience
Peter T. C. Chang, Harvard University
This paper examines the Neo-Confucianist Wang Yang Ming’s doctrine of liang-chih (conscience) and explores how it can inform the contemporary East Asian human rights discourse on the Freedom of conscience. I begin by stating the two basic principles of the freedom of conscience: voluntarism and pluralism. I will then evaluate Wang’s relocation of moral authority to the inner self, i.e., liang-chih. This shift, I will argue, re-represents the Confucian self as morally autonomous, thus affirming voluntarism. I will then identify in Wang’s ethical theory a category of thoughts and actions that are deemed "morally wrong, but blameless." This, I suggest, allows Wang to judge some thoughts and acts as morally wrong, yet on account of their blamelessness, accommodate their existence, and hence, tolerating pluralism. This paper seeks to confirm Wang’s doctrine of liang-chih as affirming voluntarism, tolerating pluralism, and thus supportive of the freedom of conscience.
Religious Resources for Environmentalism in Indonesia
Christine E. Gudorf, Florida International University
This paper proposes three current environmental issues in Indonesia (logging, the Jakarta floods of 2002, and Balinese coral reef destruction) and examines the responses of the religions recognized in the Indonesian Constitution (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Confucianism). Their approach tends to be rational/moral, rather than theological/experiential: concern for political corruption is the lens through which virtually all the recognized religions view environmental protection. The conclusion of the paper is that many decades of failing to recognize, and until 1998 even legally banning the rites of, the multiple indigenous religious traditions of the Indonesian peoples under the Sukarno and Suharto regimes, have severely the restricted the most likely sources of religious environmental sensitivity in Indonesia.
The Allegory of Paris in Walter Benjamin’s Arcades
Roland T. Boer, Monash University
In moving from the book on the German play of mourning (Trauerspiel) to the Arcades book (Passagen-Werk), Benjamin developed his understanding of allegory from description of the work of others (the Baroque writers) to that of his own. Drawn out of a long history that has biblical allegory as a major feature, Benjamin’s reading of Paris becomes a vast allegory. In the effort to overcome the recurrence of myth that characterizes capitalism, especially that of Paris, Benjamin develops a number of categories such as waking from the dream, a violent blasting out of history and the dialectical image. Allegory becomes the method of doing so. However, such an allegory is caught in the theology that is an inescapable part of such a method, a theology that serves to replicate precisely those myths that Benjamin sought to overcome.
Remembering Gunga: Urban Space and Hindu Ritual
Chelva Kanaganayakam, University of Toronto
This paper examines the use of Hindu ritual in diasporic cultures in order to trace its problematic relation to the myths from which it traces its origin, and the social role it seeks to accomplish. The dichotomy between ritual and myth is at least partially a consequence of the way in which urban spaces are configured. Land and landscape shape religious practice in ways that are often complex and even contradictory. Using "urban'spaces such as Toronto, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur where Hindu ritual is prevalent, and drawing attention to the literature produced in these locations, I argue that concepts such as multiculturalism and hybridity often mask deep ambiguities caused by the intersection of urban space and religious practice. Interrogating the effect of space and geography on religion and ritual becomes a way of understanding the way in which the notion of tradition is shaped and understood in diasporic cultures.
Two Tales of a City: K#363;kai and Dōgen on Religious Activity within/without Kyoto
Pamela D. Winfield, Temple University
This paper considers how two eminent Buddhist clerics regarded the cosmopolitan center of Kyoto, Japan during the ninth and thirteenth centuries CE. It juxtaposes the writings and activities of these historically distinct figures to demonstrate the complementary positions of engaging in the acute politico-religious tensions of the capital city. Both K#363;kai and Dōgen were recognized in their day not only as the respective founders of the esoteric Shingon and Sōtō Zen schools of Buddhism in Japan, but also as master poets and model calligraphers. This paper will examine how each used his considerable artistic and rhetorical talents to integrate or separate his new lineage from the specific historical, political and religious contours of Kyoto at the time. The issue of the city as a reality to be negotiated - either positively as a support for practice, or negatively as a hindrance to practice, will thereby be brought into high relief.
Between Conrad’s London and Sacred Space
Wesley A. Kort, Duke University
I shall describe the principal characteristics of the London constructed by Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent and argue both that this London is an adequate image of what modern culture considers to be "profane space" and that "profane space" operates in cultural and spatial theory as a "fact." This "factual profane" provides the basis for various constructions of sacred space, whether sponsored by religious or by secular interests, by political or aesthetic temperaments. I shall argue that such sacred spaces are vulnerable because the profane is no less a projection or construction than the sacred. I shall argue that sacred space requires, instead, a theory of positive human place-relations. Beginning with Conrad, I shall suggest what such a theory would include.
A Theological Defense of Syncretism: The Contemporary City and Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses
Graham Ward, University of Manchester
Given the contemporary city, its structure, its ideality, its governance and its vision is founded upon both secularism and liberal humanism, I would wish to discuss what happens to the city in the light of the present collapse of secularism and liberal humanism. In so far as the dominant themes of liberalism (universalism, egalitarianism, progressivism) are founded upon a secularised or demythologised Christianity, I would then wish to comment upon the role theology (not just Christian) can again play in reconceptualising the city. I will base the second part of this discussion around a reading of Rushdie’s Satanic Verses.
Between Space and Practice: The Risk Literature of Mahatma Gandhi and Arundhati Roy
Clara Joseph, University of Calgary
Mahatma Gandhi’s HindSwaraj (1909) and Arundhati Roy’s PowerPolitics (1999) are literary works with a mission; they persuade artistically, to convert. These works bring imagination to expert data to define the genre of "risk literature" which expounds on the risks of industrialization and globalization. Gandhi’s and Roy’s vision of religion in terms of the punya-bhumi (holy-land) impels them to challenge many urban practices as ultimately defiant of that punya-bhumi. Thus non-violence is a major creed with Gandhi, and the horrors of nuclear weaponry enter Roy’s plots. Again, both Gandhi and Roy--one from the colonial era, the other, the post-colonial--respond in eerily similar ways to the big dams. This paper is an interdisciplinary project that relates social theories of risk society to world literatures of resistance/prophecy that specifically address conditions of industrialization and globalization. It analyzes the literary narrative that analyzes what practices of urbanization do to religious space.
Public Theology, Economics, and "Sacred Space": The Theology/Economics of D. Stephen Long and Bernard Lonergan
Stephen Martin, Seton Hall University
This paper compares two recently published approaches to economic ethics and the corresponding relationship of religion/theology to the social sciences. While D. Stephen Long’s Divine Economy: Theology and the Market (2000) is mostly theology and Bernard Lonergan’s Macroeconomic Dynamics: An Essay in Circulation Analysis (1999 ) is mostly economic theory, they share similar critiques of existing theological economic ethics and both point the way to alternative approaches. Nevertheless, their highly different methodologies and theological assumptions make Long and Lonergan only dialectically comparable, though their goals are quite the same - the religious and social construction of, in John Milbank’s terms, a complex, public, yet "sacred space" in which humans justly organize economic society in conjunction with God’s salvific presence in history. However, after investigating Lonergan’s macroeconomics, I find it evidence that Lonergan’s methodology is more adequate to the tasks of economic ethics, and of integrating economic theory into public theology.
An Ethic of Accountability: NAFTA, Free Trade, and Labor Rights
Ken Estey, New York, NY
A major critique of economic globalization is the lack of accountability to the people who are most severely affected by the policies and programs that implement free trade. This presentation will explore whether the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), the labor side agreement for NAFTA, which came into effect on January 1, 1994, fulfills the criteria for an ethic of accountability. These criteria include the ability of workers to practice in a concrete way self-determination on the job, the labor movement’s ability to agitate effectively for its own claims and overall, whether workers are enabled to participate in the structures that affect their overall life chances and choices.
Globalization and Corporate Social Responsibility for Human Rights: The Case of Myanmar
Lucinda J. Peach, American University
The enhanced power and authority of corporations in the wake of globalization has paradoxically facilitated their ability to evade government regulation while simultaneously imposing more responsibility on corporations themselves for behaving ethically, including with respect to human rights. In addition to a marked increase in corporate involvement in "social responsibility" activities such as codes of conduct, ethics programs, and so on, in recent years increased media attention and public awareness about the unethical practices of corporations in the regions where they operate has fueled the rise of campaigns by consumer protest and other non-governmental organizations ("global civil society"). In this paper, I will argue that a new conception of "corporate personhood," one which draws on relational conceptions of personhood developed by American Pragmatists, feminist theorists, and Buddhist thinkers, is necessary to deal effectively with emerging issues of corporate social responsibility, especially for human rights.
Toward an Ethic of Embedded Economy? The World Faiths in Dialogue with the Institutions of Globalization
Scott T. Kline, McGill University
Recently, many of the world’s religious faiths and organizations have called on the institutions of globalization to take responsibility for their role in hindering local participation in decision making processes, in promoting cultural homogeneity, and in contributing to ecological crises. Drawing on the work of Jürgen Habermas and Iris Marion Young, this paper examines a series of recent meetings between religious leaders and high-ranking officials of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund; and the role of religious leaders and scholars in the 2001 and 2002 meetings of the World Economic Forum. The primary question that this paper addresses is the extent to which these meetings can foster an ethic embedded economy.
Conceptions of Self and Modes of Connection: Comparative Soteriological Structures in Classical Chinese Thought
Mark Allen Berkson, Hamline University
This paper provides a comparative study of a specific problem concerning the self and ethics: the boundaries between the self and others and the ways that specific traditions prescribe either expanding or contracting/eliminating the self. I focus on differences between Confucian notions of expanding the self to encompass larger contexts and relationships, and Zhuangzi’s concept of forgetting the self. Both ideas center upon the making of connections - the Confucians connecting self to self, and Zhuangzi connecting nature to nature. I then contrast Zhuangzi’s account of losing the self with that of the Christian saint (as described in the work of Edith Wyschogrod). The paper culminates with a typology of three models: self for the sake of others, selflessness for the sake of others, and selflessness for the sake of skillful living.
Anthropology and the Categories of Comparison: Hegel on Tradition
Thomas A. Lewis, University of Iowa
This paper proposes philosophical anthropology as a category for comparison through an examination of Hegel’s potential contribution to theories of comparison as well as his anthropology, with a focus on the process through which traditions are inherited. I begin by discussing the prospects for and challenges to comparison raised by Hegel’s philosophical system. I argue that Hegel suggests a model for comparison that identifies larger frameworks, within which various positions can be seen as providing alternative responses to a common, overarching problem. Using philosophical anthropology as such a framework, I employ this strategy to interpret Hegel’s account of habituation as structuring the process through which we take on the ethical and religious norms and practices of the culture in which we live. I conclude by considering important parallels between Hegel’s account and those of Xunzi and classical rabbis.
Self, Subject, and Chosen Subjection: The Case of Rabbinic Ethics
Jonathan Schofer, University of Wisconsin, Madison
This paper examines the scholarly categories needed for the study of early rabbinic ethics. Ancient rabbis had no terms that correspond with either "ethics" or "self" in the senses that the words have today, so an enquiry into "rabbinic ethics" requires an encounter between ancient thought and modern theory. I begin by presenting several passages of rabbinic ethical literature to exemplify the discourse and imagery that I examine. A key point is that rabbinic self-formation centers upon the student choosing relations of subordination to external authorities - the sage, the tradition of Torah, and God. Then, I present theoretical accounts of "ethics," "self," and "subject" that illuminate this case. I draw upon diverse scholars that include Charles Taylor, Emile Benveniste, Paul Ricoeur, and Michel Foucault. I conclude by discussing the relevance of my formulations for other cases examined in the panel, including early Confucians and Daoists.
Constructive Comparisons: Preliminary and Final Ends in Comparative Religious Ethics
Aaron D. Stalnaker, Georgetown University
On the basis of extracts from a larger comparative study of Augustine of Hippo and the early Confucian Xunzi, this paper explores the relation between two different goals in the comparative philosophy of religions: accurate readings of distant figures in their own complex contexts, and the constructive use of the ideas (and/or practices) of such thinkers in contemporary reflection. There seems to be no necessary relation between these goals, and so my own sense that we should give precise, historically accurate readings of ancient figures can have the status merely of a hunch about what will produce the most fruitful comparative reflections. (Against this view, religious traditions are replete with examples of "inspired misreadings" that bore significant intellectual fruit.) Furthermore, even if one is committed to fastidious historical readings, this provides no reason finally to shy away from "taking ideas out of context" for the purposes of contemporary philosophical bricolage.
Cuban Catholics as Elite Facilitators of a Pan-Latina/o Movement in the Archdiocese of Atlanta
Chad Seales, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
In this paper, I examine the presence of Cuban Catholics in Atlanta from the late 1950’s to 2000. Focusing on their organizational involvement, I argue Cuban Catholics were elite facilitators of a pan-Latino movement in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia. Because of two main factors, socio-economic status and political opportunity, Cuban Catholics in Atlanta created spaces for the construction of a Cuban identity rooted in the transnational symbol of Our Lady of Charity, patroness saint of Cuba. In this way, their organizational activities were consistent with the diasporic nationalism of Cuban Catholic exiles in Miami that Thomas Tweed documented in Our Lady of the Exile (1997). However, in an Atlanta diasporic context defined more by black/white discursive relationships than Hispanic contestations, Cuban Catholic identity construction demonstrated an affinity with a pan-Latino movement, expressed most clearly in Cuban devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe as patroness of the Americas.
Secularisation Is Alive and Well and Living in Australia
Michael C. Mason, Australian Catholic University
The debate on religion and modernisation has taken an interesting new turn since the mid-nineties. Casanova proposes that today’s "public religions" play an important role in the modern world, through their participation in debates on social ethics. Berger, leading former proponent of the "secularisation thesis", recants, and argues instead for the "desecularisation of the world" and the need to explain the uniqueness of European secularity. Opponents of secularisation theories deploy a new weapon: rational choice theory. Against all these, Bruce defends a moderate version of secularisation theory. This paper presents both a theoretical and an empirical case for a revised seclarisation thesis. Theoretically, "desecularisation theory" is shown as flawed historically, sociologically and logically. Empirically, the revised secularisation thesis is tested by application to Australia, utilising Census and survey data. Findings show that secularisation, far from being unique to Europe, is powerfully shaping religious change in Australia.
Minority Religions and the Politics of Multiculturalism
Malory Nye, University of Stirling
This paper will explore the ways in which religious diversity is perceived and constructed within contemporary society - with specific reference to a juxtaposition of academic conceptualisations of difference, and the ways in which legal and political debates in the UK have applied such differences. The academic taxonomy between "new" and "ethnic" religions belies the structural similarities between the two (as politically minority groups), as well as the importance of ethnicity in both new and ethnic religions. Furthermore, the distinction encourages a "divide and rule" approach in which States favour some groups (eg Sikhs, Jews, and Hindus), whilst disadvantaging others (eg Moonies, Scientologists, and other "cults"): a distinction described in rather stark terms as between principal and crank religions, or otherwise in terms of a "big league" of acceptable religious groups (i.e. those identified as "world religions" - ethnic religions), set against those who are outside the fold (new religions).
Elements of Pluralism in a Contemporary Black Church: God and Identity at Liberation In Truth, Unity Fellowship Church, Newark, NJ
Aryana Bates, Drew University
Being openly lesbian and Black requires of a person a certain plurality and flexibility in relationship to religion. For the women I interviewed as part of my recent anthropological study of religious practice among Black lesbians who are building church community in Newark, NJ, religion functions as a medium through which they express their agency. For them this is a spiritual practice, an affirmation of their personhood, a pursuit of meaning and purpose in life, a relationship with God/Spirit, and "an appreciation for the intangible mystical wonder of being.... (West, 1999)" Their understanding of spiritual agency presupposes critical awareness of, and to varying degrees, resistance to the systemic restrictions represented in homophobia, religious intolerance, racism, and class strife. The women insist on the fluidity of identity and are oriented toward fostering whole self over and against the fragmenting influences of, in particular, societal racism and social and religious homophobia.
Panel: Imagination in Medieval Islamic Thought
Diana Lobel, Boston University, Presiding
Scott C. Alexander, Catholic Theological Union
Vincent J. Cornell, Duke University
Aaron William Hughes, University of Calgary
Steven M. Wasserstrom, Reed College
Elliot R. Wolfson, New York University
This session proposes to revisit, rethink, and reexamine the role and function of the imagination in medieval Islamic thought. Although each panelist will briefly describe the role of the imagination in a particular individual, the bulk of each paper will be devoted to an in-depth analysis of what the imagination allows that individual to do. How, for example, did medieval philosophers and mystics approach the imagination? What did this faculty allow them to do? How do they define it in relation to the intellect? What are some of the theoretical moves that the author makes? Most importantly, what is the relationship between the imagination and concepts such as wahdat al-wujud, ilham, wahy, etc?
When Toronto Jews Became White
Irving Abella, York University
Diversity of Routes and Roots: Russian and Israeli Immigrants in Toronto
Rina Cohen, York University
The Jewish Revival in Downtown Toronto: Twenty Years Later
Stuart Schoenfeld, York University
Jewish Scholarship in Toronto
Alex Pomson, York University
Traditional Rituals among the Shona of Zimbabwe: Transforming Effect for Peace upon African Politicians
Gwinyai Muzorewa, Lincoln University
African traditional religion is one of the three major religions in Africa, and is practiced in most countries South of the Sahara. Although Christianity and Islam are also saturated with rituals, this study will focus on an analysis of the transforming power of various rituals amongst the Shona of Zimbabwe. In the three case studies analyzed, the respective participants experienced transformation because of having gone through a particular ritual. The study established that transformation takes the form of 1) historical identity, where the participant develops an authentic sense of one’s family lineage, role, identity and purpose; 2) intellectual identity, where the participant becomes aware of ideological values; 3) social identity, where the participant goes through a political conflict resolution. In each case, ritual provides the participant with both a certain identity and transforming experience, resulting in a new ontological mode.
Peace Building through African Traditions among the Pastoralist People of Kenya
Samuel K. Elolia, Emmanuel School of Religion
The purpose of this paper is to identify African traditional methods for mediating peace in the face of conflict. The study takes the specific cases of pastoralist communities in Kenya, namely the Pokot and the Marakwet. The two groups found themselves locked up in constant conflict between 1992-2001. The conflict came to a climax in March 12, 2001 when armed Pokot warriors descended on the Marakwet community of Murkutwo and killed over 50 people some of whom are known to this author. The central focus of the paper is to discuss old but yet new approaches to peace building efforts from the grassroots level. These alternatives were resorted to after other attempts from civil society had reached a level of desperation. The traditional methods proved to be imaginative discourse with a high probability for conflict transformation.
A Negotiated Settlement: Why Was South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Samuel Paul, Fuller Theological Seminary
The paper focuses on how governments deal with human rights violations committed by former regimes. This issue dominated South African politics after Nelson Mandela took office as President in 1994. As part of the negotiation process for democracy, the outgoing National Party wanted blanket amnesty for perpetrators of Apartheid crimes. The African National Congress (ANC), however, wanted a Truth Commission. The ANC¹ goal was for a peaceful transition to democracy, with the desire to reconcile with their former enemies and bring healing to a scarred and fragile nation. This paper first reviews how South Africa accomplished national healing through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Second, South Africa provides a model for countries facing similar issues by analyzing the lessons learned from commissions elsewhere.
Osun Osogbo in America: A Religious Peaceful Co-existence
Adewale A. Kuyebi, University of Manitoba
This paper is devoted to explaining how Osun religion came to America and the Caribbean countries. This involves the connection that African religions have with slavery and colonization. We will ask why the African slaves in American and Caribbean countries stuck to their traditional religions, especially Osun. This will demonstrate the importance of Osun in Santeria. We will also examine how and why Osun is drawing many followers to itself from around the world today and ask how the Internet is shaping Osun worship. Finally, we will address the impacts of African music, arts, and psyche on African religions. We will not only argue that the African religions have been syncritized into and directly influenced the Western Religions, but also that African religion still retains its identity and uniqueness in American countries. We will conclude by enumerating how this work contributed to the study of religion in Africa and America.
Panel: Teaching Asian/American/Religions: What, Why, and How
Elijah Siegler, University of California, Santa Barbara, Presiding
Sharon Kim, Occidental College
Greer Anne Wenh-In Ng, University of Toronto
Richard H. Seager, Hamilton College
Duncan Williams, Trinity College
Russel Jeung, Foothill College, Responding
The challenges to teaching courses in Asian American religions are numerous, not least of which is the sheer variety and amount of material possible to cover. White convert Buddhists, fourth generation Catholic Filipino-Americans, and new Muslim immigrants from Pakistan may seem to have little in common; and yet could or should they all be included in a course on Asian-American Religions? This panel will be an opportunity to pool resources, and engage in a conversation on topics such as Asian/American Religions Class as a coherent field of inquiry, the importance of teaching Asian/American Religions, and pedagogical approaches to teaching Asian-American Religions, especially theoretical issues in the field of Asian American religions. (For example, is the field of "Asian American Religions" commensurate with the field of "Asian Religions in America?" What is the role of other disciplines-ethnic studies, theology, history of religions, cultural studies-in shaping the field?)
The Impact of Daoist Liturgy on the Pantheon of Chinese Popular Religion
Shin-yi Chao, University of British Columbia
This paper explores the impact of Daoist ritual performances on popular religion through vernacular fiction by focusing on a cult that centered on, but not limited to, a deity called the Perfected Warrior (Zhenwu). Daoist priests have composed and canonized numerous scriptures in his reverence. The cult developed far beyond a mono-deity cult and included a substantial body of deities functioning as his protégés who are identifiable. The best example of Zhenwu as a head of a cohort of deities is The Journey to the North, a vernacular fiction composed at the turn of the seventeenth century partially for an evangelic purpose of promoting the Zhenwu cult. With the Zhenwu cult as an example, this paper suggests that Daoist liturgical performances made a distinct impact on narration and plotting of vernacular literature, which in turn contributed to forming the pantheon of popular religion.
The Emplacement of the Five Perfect Scripts in Early Lingbao Ritual
Julius Tsai, Stanford University
In the communal rites of Daoism, the emplacement of the Perfect Scripts in Five Tablets to effect the construction of the altar is a fundamental preparatory ritual procedure. Focusing on ritual texts of the Six Dynasties, I trace the development of the practice in two ritual contexts: Lingbao transmission rites and the suqi or Nocturnal Invocation. Through this examination I focus on: early connections with immortality-seeking and imperial practice at the sacred mountains; the evolving systems of altar space that provide the symbolic and practical context for the emplacement; and how the emplacement of the Perfect Scripts fits into an overall strategy, chiefly authored by Lu Xiujing (406-77), to fit the Lingbao scriptural and ritual corpus into a "mediate" position in relation to the Celestial Masters and Shangqing lineages.
Bridging the Gap Between "Philosophical" and "Religious" Taoism
Brian Hoffert, North Central College
In an influential essay entitled "What is Taoism?" Herrlee G. Creel argues that the English term "taoism" refers to two distinct traditions: one that evolved out of the philosophical musings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, grounded on the principle of wu-wei; the other rooted in an immortality cult that sought as its ultimate goal the indefinite perpetuation of the physical body, which according to Creel had no connection to Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu until around the 1st century BCE. Although this sharp distinction between "Philosophical Taoism" and "Religious Taoism" was widely accepted in its time, a rather different perspective is evolving through the efforts of a new generation of Sinologists. My paper explores the role of "apophatic" (self-emptying) meditation as a means to the attainment of "ultimate awakening" in the Chuang Tzu in an attempt to help bridge the gap between wu-wei and the pursuit of immortality.
Panel: Feminist Engagements with Systematic Loci
David S. Cunningham, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Presiding
Katie Geneva Cannon, Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education
Amy Plantinga Pauw, Louisville Presbyterian Seminary
Leanne Van Dyk, Western Theological Seminary
To identify oneself as both "systematic" and "womanist"/"feminist" provokes certain methodological questions. What do feminist reconstructions have to offer to systematic theology, and in what ways are they incompatible with it? How do the traditional doctrinal loci impede feminist insights, and how does engagement with systematic loci inspire such insights? The members of this panel represent a working group of several Reformed scholars who engage the work of systematic theology with womanist and feminist concerns. The panel will begin with presentations on three traditional doctrinal loci, including grace, the Church, and the sacraments. The presentations will be followed by a response; the floor will then be opened to discussion of the methodological issues raised.
Christian Churches and Canadian State, Hand in Hand in Guilt and in Remorse: Bringing Justice to the First Nations of Canada
Alain Durocher, Graduate Theological Union
In this paper, I examine five different statements of apology, confession, or reconciliation made by four Canadian churches and the government of Canada to Canada’s Native populations. These public statements all acknowledged the colonial and imperial attitudes that both government and religious denominations adopted in the establishment and organization of the residential school system designed exclusively for Native children. I will use in-depth qualitative interviews with informants on both sides of this issue and analyze statements of apology, confession, and reconciliation in light of the models discussed by Nicholas Tavuchis, Martha Minow, Susan Alter, Donald W. Shriver, Elazar Barkan, and Roy L. Brooks. Beyond Tavuchis' critical stand about the expression of guilt and remorse in collective apologies, I will demonstrate that these specific instances of public apologies -- despite their intentions -- to a large extent simply reproduced the very model of abusive power that they confessed to and condemned.
Sacred Land, Communal Sovereignty: The Limitations of "Religion" as a Constitutional Construct
Kathleen M. Sands, University of Massachusetts, Boston
This paper analyzes the futility of land claims based on the Free Exercise clause, which became fully evident in Lyng vs. Northwest (USSC, 1988). First Nations' assertions of the sacrality of communal land cannot be reconciled with "religion" as a modern Euro-American construct. From its inception, "religion" functioned to desacralize land, establish the sovereignty of the property-holding individual, and legitimate the modern state as secular. The paper first recalls the historical context in which Europeans and Euro-Americans produced "religion," then recalls the violence through which Native American traditions have been hammered into "religion." In conclusion, I suggest alternative ways of conceiving the land claims and the "religious" claims of First Nations.
Lighting Up the South - Plugging Up the North: A Canadian Church Response
Will J. Friesen, Fresno Pacific University
Thirty years ago, as the Churchill-Nelson Rivers hydro diversion project was about to flood their traditional hunting, fishing, and trapping grounds, five Aboriginal communities in northern Manitoba were struggling to understand their "promised" place in the Canadian ethnic and cultural mosaic. The paper examines the ethical perspectives on economic development of four Christain churches that formed the Interchurch Task Force on Northern Flooding in January 1973 to initially support the people of South Indian Lake, and eventually four other Aboriginal communities affected by the diversion project. The involvement of the task force revolved around the views of its members concerning justice and government responsibility. In this paper I unfold the method and aims of justice as they were articulated by the task force in its initial struggle to defend and represent the five Aboriginal communities.
Decolonizing Bodies: Defiance and Rebellion Against the Canadian Nation-State
Denise Nadeau, San Francisco Theological Seminary, and Alannah Young, University of British Columbia
The colonial dynamic with Native peoples in Canada is maintained through a discourse and policies of nationhood that define who belong and who is an "outsider" in the nation. The everyday violence of exclusion and racism contributes to the desacralization of both colonizer and colonized bodies. Drawing from Native feminists (Andrea Smith, Linda Tuhiwai Smith), transnational feminists (Sherene Razak) and ecofeminists (Ivonne Gebara), we argue that the decolonization project needs to include religious/faith-based strategies that resacralize the body, affirm belonging, and support defiance and rebellion. This paper examines somatic spiritual practices developed in an interfaith program for Native women in the inner city of Vancouver, B.C. This program is a collaboration between a Euro-Canadian Christian woman and an Anishnabe Cree woman and we reflect on the tensions and challenges of transnational alliances between women from colonized and colonizing nations.
Commodification, Classification, and Contestation in the South Asian Gift
Maria Heim, California State University, Long Beach
This paper considers South Asian discourses on the gift and the particular ways in which the gift object becomes the site for construing religious ideology and identity among medieval Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. I connect South Asian gift theories to recent discussions of the gift, stimulated by Mauss and developed by critical theorists, on the ways in which persons and things reciprocally define each other’s value. The gift is a context for assessing the status and dignity of the donor and the recipient. The paper takes seriously taxonomic choices that order and rank the appropriate types of gifts to argue that the material economies of gift-giving track religious and moral
Michel Despland on Modernity and (Material) Economies of Religion
Steven Engler, Mount Royal College
Michel Despland’s Les Hiérarchies Sont Ébranlées (1998) makes valuable theoretical and methodological contributions to the study of religion. Despland examines changes in "the religious economy" in nineteenth-century France. He argues that post-revolutionary God language helped to construct a new order that valued messy negotiations of equality over the rigid hierarchies that had previously been legitimized and naturalized by appeals to divine order. He aims to help "place religion at the centre of historical study of political and social changes." This paper will argue that his success in this endeavour is due primarily to a sustained analysis of the material dimension of religious economies (asymmetrical exchange relations, reciprocity, and conceptions of sacrifice). The consistent interplay between symbolic and material economies of religion produces a robust and nuanced account of the key role that religious language played in this new moralization of social and
The Certainty of Scientific Creationism
Finbarr Curtis, University of California, Santa Barbara
Scientific creationists appropriate the sociology of knowledge to support their claim that evolution is as "religious" as creationism while creationism is as "scientific" as evolution. The differences between creation and evolution are due not to empirical findings but to assumptions dictated by incommensurable worldviews. Thus, creationists have used a relativist strategy in order to defend absolutist claims. But while creationists claim Biblical certainty, they employ scientific jargon and take pragmatic risks to prove creationism. The creationist closed system creates an evidentiary labyrinth to negotiate the internal contradictions of its interpretive framework. The incommensurability between evolution and creationism risks devolution into commensurability: it is produced by discourse as creationism mimics science to establish its difference. Incommensurability between competing truth claims is not the natural outcome of an accidental collision of two cultures with different worldviews, but is a carefully constructed trope integral to rhetorical and political strategies within social discourse.
The Other and the Possibility of Utopia
Richard S. Weiss, University of Chicago
In their narrative eulogies of a South Indian Tamil race, Tamil non-brahmans claim to be the autochthons of India, contrasting themselves to South Indian brahmans who they describe as foreigners from the north. I will examine the role of the Other in the construction of social identity by looking at Tamil revivalist writings of the twentieth century. In the history they tell, the presence of the Other explains all that is wrong with contemporary Tamil society, a logic that dictates a political solution: if the Other is extinguished, the perfect society can be reestablished. I will argue, against the logic of this formulation, that while these narratives of Tamil ethnic history demonize an Other as the destroyer of a pure, utopian Tamil society, that in fact it is the very presence of the Other which allows Tamils to imagine a perfect society at all.
Ukraine Is with Us - "Understand Ye Churches and Submit": Canadian Ukrainian Orthodox Phyletism and Its Influence on Greco-Catholicism, 1916-1991
Peter Galadza, St. Paul University
>From its beginnings until recently, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada has espoused a phyletistic credo which, in the words of one of its chief ideologues, Metropolitan Ilarion Ohienko, made it the only Church worthy of Canadian-Ukrainians' loyalty. This stress on "Ukrainianism" became so pronounced that by the early 1950s (a period of heightened national sentiment), the (Ruthenian) Greco-Catholic Church felt compelled to change its very name in order to compete with its Orthodox counterpart. Very little has been written on the pressure felt by Greco-Catholics to don an ethno-national mantle. Even less has the operative Orthodox theology, and in particular ecclesiology, driving this shift, been analyzed by theologians. Until recently, at the operative level, it was almost axiomatic that "Ukrainian Orthodox Church," and thus "Ukrainian Catholic Church" meant "a Church for Ukrainians."
Father Nicholas Shumsky: Dual Loyalties, One Life
Myroslaw Tataryn, University of Saskatchewan
The paper will chronicle the life of the Ukrainian priest Nicholas Shumsky highlighting the major issues affecting Ukrainian immigrants to Canada between the World Wars which intersect with his biography. Shumsky’s career as a Ukrainian Catholic and, subsequently, Orthodox priest is integrally linked with: the issue of the treatment of Ukrainians in Canada during the First World War; the controversy over married priests; the conflict within the community between the Church and Ukrainian nationalists; and the defection of many Ukrainian Catholics to Orthodoxy. The paper will present archival material, not previously studied. Using Ann Swidler’s "toolkit" model of how culture/religion can serve to structure action in unsettled periods, the paper will argue that Shumsky’s life is in fact a demonstration of one man’s attempt to use his faith to create meaning and value in a totally new cultural setting.
>From Deification to Assimilation: The Evolution of Holiness
Harriet Luckman, Fairfield University
This paper will be a historical survey of the evolution of the notion of holiness in the Christian tradition. Focusing on what it means to be holy, and what type of holiness is acknowledged as worthy of a canonized Roman Catholic saint, this paper will move from the early Christian notion of deification to the contemporary understanding of assimilating the teachings of Christ in one’s every day life. The paper will be divided into three main sections: early Christianity, medieval spirituality, and contemporary understandings of how one lives a virtuous life.
Male Brides and Lions: Mithraism and Masculinity in the Roman Empire
Ayse Tuzlak, Skidmore College
The Mithraic mysteries seem to have provided an unusual avenue for the formation and reinforcement of gender roles in the Roman world. Though Mithraists presumably had some measure of power and respect in the outside world, they were still drawn to an organization that allowed them to "be men" in a new way, safely hidden from the world of law and public performance. As Maud Gleason cogently argues, the identities of Roman males were constructed and reinforced in public, through oratory, but the case of Mithraism suggests how they may have been nuanced in private meetings as well.
The Representation of Same-Sex Monastic Cohabitation and Companionship in the Christian East: A Narrative Eros Reconsidered
Derek Krueger, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
A range of texts endorses same-sex monastic cohabitation in the Christian East, including the Life of Rabbula, the Apophthegmata Patrum, Theodoret of Cyrrhus’s Religious History, Leontius of Neapolis’s Life of Symeon the Fool, and John Moschus’s Spiritual Meadow. While the stories considered problematize the use of sexuality as a paradigm for interpreting representations of eros and intimacy, the monastic eros at play in these accounts is another species of desire, which both seeks and sustains fulfillment in cohabitation. The pattern of cohabitation itself encodes desire even as it seeks to compensate for it. The men and women in these stories also become objects of reader desire, as the texts make an example of mutual devotion. While the tales considered do not converge toward a single form, their narration and manipulation of eros calls for a reconsideration of the representation of monastic intimacy and erotics.
Like a Virgin: Sacrifice and Gender Transformation in Perpetua’s Passion
Isabelle Kinnard, College of William and Mary
The story of Perpetua, a heroic martyr narrative, suggests through its language of tenderness and modesty, that this matrona has been transformed back into a virgin girl by the time of her death. I will argue that this transformation is explained as the symbolic significance of her dreams and visions in prison is examined from a new perspective. First, I contend that this martyr narrative-in form, at least, Perpetua’s diary-- testifies not to Perpetua’s conception of her own sexual identity, but rather, to the normative conception of female sexual identity held by the editor of this diary, a representative of Perpetua’s Christian community. Second, I will turn to an analysis of Perpetua’s third dream, in which she first changes from female to male, next wrestles with and defeats a naked Egyptian, and finally enters the Gates of Life, as the symbolic key to this transformation.
Beauty Embraced and Eclipsed in the Saundarya Lahari
Francis X. Clooney, Boston College
In 100 verses the Saundarya Lahari, the medieval praise song, praises Devi as consort of Siva and as world-foundation and world-ruler, as the energy pervading the tantric chakras and rising as kundalini through them, as represented indirectly in yantric designs and secret mantras, and as the beautiful focus of liberative visualization. Commentators elaborate underlying tantric references to yantra and mantra, chakra and kundalini, and by literary analysis highlight the interaction between theoretical and pragmatic thealogies of bliss and the aesthetics of beauty. Though not a twenty-first century thealogy, the Saundarya Lahari stimulates a rethinking of gender that is relevant in Hindu and wider contexts. Traditional expectations are taken seriously, but unsettled so as to complexify and privilege appearance, physicality, and relatedness, in a thealogy that neither imitates nor denies honored theological positions.
Sita Rasois and Shakta Pithas: A Feminine Reclamation of Mythic and Epic Proportions
Phyllis Herman, California State University, Northridge
One effect that the Ramakatha has had on the culture and civilization of India is the sacralization of particular places and spaces. One of the more interesting modern instances are the many extant Sita Rasoi shrines. In two important Ramayana "locales," Ayodhya and Chitrakut, Sita Rasois and Shakta Pithas coexist. The two descriptions of feminine sacred space intersect and are related through their connections to Sita, food and cooking. The Rasois and the Pithas manifest the power of Sita as an eminent source of providence and nurturence. As such, it is not in the name of Sita’s abnegation but her self-agency that the daily kitchen work of women can be reclaimed as, and transformed into sacred ritual.
Vedic Metaphor and Feminist Ethical Thought
Laurie L. Patton, Emory University
This paper argues that it is possible to remain simultaneously committed to feminist perspectives and Hindu classical texts. The task is neither apologetics nor misappropriation of ancient myth for equally problematic feminist purposes. Rather, using categories from Mimamsa and other Indian philosophical traditions, Vedic metaphor can be a source of constructive Hindu feminist thinking. Mark Johnson has argued that metaphor can provide an inspiring basis for complex ethical thought. Following his lead, as well as those of the traditional philosophers, I examine certain carefully chosen cases-Vedic hymns involving abortion; miscarriage; marriage; and female participation in the sacrifice (RV 10.85; 1.179; 10.162). I show how Vedic metaphorical images could be used as authoritative resources in the service of the lives of women today.
Female Gurus and the Divine Feminine
Karen Pechilis Prentiss, Drew University
The study of modern Hindu female gurus contributes to the scholarly discussion on relationships between women and the Goddess in that these gurus can be viewed as embodiments of the Goddess. In some cases, this embodiment is made explicit in the actions of the guru; in most cases, it is a predominant way for devotees to articulate their understanding of the nature and significance of the guru. Significantly, the identification of female gurus with the Goddess posits a direct relationship between human women and the Divine Feminine, both in terms of the guru’s identity and the guru’s relationship with her followers. This direct relationship offers a locus for the constructive study of tradition, feminism, theaology, and sociology in Hinduism. Of particular importance is the guru’s embodiment of both the universal and the particular; this paper will discuss the continuities and contradictions in locating gender within this dynamic.
Liberation and Lokasangraha: The Teleological Significance of Biogenesis and Diversity in Shakta Ontology
Rita Sherma, Claremont Graduate University
Contemporary examinations of the Divine Feminine in Hinduism have mainly centered on the possibility of inherent potential for application to feminist models of gender parity. Yet, the truly distinctive insights implicit in thealogies of the Divine Feminine (Shakti) may lie elsewhere. That is, there may be important implications of Shakta ontology and cosmology, yet unexamined, for teleological encounters between religion, contemporary science, and environmental ethics. I explore these issues from the perspective of doctrines of Shakti in Tripura Rahasya, Devi Mahatmya and other texts. Shakta cosmology’s doctrine of radical divine immanence suggests that the matter/energy continuum is imbued with self-will and the potential for spontaneous biogenesis, inherent as bio-potentiality. I present how this impacts Hindu ethics towards the biosphere and show how emerging theories of complexity resonate with such a vision which provides a third way out of the ongoing dilemma in the science-religion dialogue regarding intelligent design.
Kierkegaard and Baudelaire: Empathy, Irony, and the Religious
Edward K. Kaplan, Brandeis University
Readers of Kierkegaard and his contemporary, Charles Baudelaire, often felt their most cherished values attacked. Baudelaire’s poetry, prose poems, criticism and theory of modernity are animated by contradictions between the esthetic and the ethical, between radical inwardness and compassion for others. Like Kierkegaard, Baudelaire expresses those contradictions indirectly, with what I call ethical irony, a risky Socratic provocation of the reader. That is why he is often considered to be primarily the poet of evil, celebrating sin and ugliness, rather than as an ironist and religious seeker. Kierkegaard’s study and performance of esthetic idealization, seduction, and sadness in Either/Or and The Sickness unto Death help interpret Baudelaire’s dialectics of religious and ethical insight as structured by his poetry. Kierkegaard’s categories elucidate Baudelaire’s desire to deny death and create ideal worlds, versus his agonizing acceptance of finitude, temporality, imperfection, and human sanctity.
Kierkegaard: Prophet of the New Media?
Lissa McCullough, Muhlenberg College
Kierkegaard was the first major thinker to confront the media’s new mass-making power in the mid-nineteenth century. He viewed the newspaper as an organ devised by a leveling age to reduce everyone to the same consciousness, making each indistinguishable from the next. Concrete individuals are leveled into the abstract collectivity of the public, where their existential vitality and ability to act is neutralized. The individual can identify with the public only by "becoming a third person." Kierkegaard battled the "objectivity" of abstract reflection, an objectivity perversely removed from the lived existential context of the human subject. The mass is real only qua pure abstraction and nonentity. The power it exercises is negative, absorptive: the power to engulf and neutralize any positive will to action, bringing about the end not only of the individual, but of social and political relations, properly speaking, inasmuch as community is grounded in communicative relationship.
Søren Kierkegaard, C.S. Lewis, and the Present Age: On the Literary Critique of Media, Culture, and Character in Modernity
Brian C. Barlow, Brenau University
This paper draws on the literary methods of Søren Kierkegaard and C.S. Lewis to develop a constructive critique of media, culture, and character in modernity. SK establishes the framework for the critique through an analysis of crucial concepts worked out in Two Ages. SK is concerned to confront what he terms the "confusion of the present age" in a time of rapidly changing social, cultural and political dynamics. Lewis is shown as another single individual who chose to respond both polemically and creatively to the ongoing demoralization of the modern era and its nihilistic effects. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series will serve as a test case for the explanation of how SK’s and his own categories can be employed in elucidating the promises and (possible) pitfalls of mass marketing for popular consumption, either in literary, radio, or video modalities.
Pragmatism as Ethical Polytheism
Mark Hadley, Western Maryland College
In a recent essay, Richard Rorty interprets Pragmatism as a form of "Romantic Polytheism." Polytheism in Rorty’s sense does not mean belief in a variety of nonhuman authorities or beings, but entails a tolerance for the variety of human ideals and the abandonment of the pursuit of a single ideal or idea which would make sense of the diversity of human experience and give persons a single and universal sense of purpose. My essay will argue that Rorty’s provocative reading of pragmatism as a form of polytheism goes astray in its aestheticizing and privatizing of religion. Rorty has misread the classical pragmatic tradition, especially the work of William James, by substituting poetry for traditional forms of religious expression and relegating religious claims to the private sphere. Pragmatism, I will argue, can be correctly read not as romantic polytheism, but as a form of ethical
Rorty and Rauschenbusch on Religion and Reform
Thomas W. Simpson, University of Virginia
This paper explores how Walter Rauschenbusch’s theology and activism evade his grandson Richard Rorty’s narrow conceptions of religion and theology. Rorty’s polemic against religion and theology obscures basic similarities between his own pragmatism and the social gospel theology of his grandfather. Rorty and Rauschenbusch share a melioristic optimism, focusing on the need to harness dormant human energies for social change; they see enemies of social justice in escapist and otherworldly forms of thought and faith; and they seek a restructuring of the social, political, and economic orders that will mitigate cruelty and oppression. These similarities expose deficiencies in Rorty’s conceptions of religion and theology, deficiencies that, I argue, unnecessarily alienate potential co-workers in Rorty’s effort to revitalize democracy and the American left.
Kenneth Burke’s Natural Piety and the Shaping of Identity
Beth Eddy, Princeton University
This paper examines Kenneth Burke’s writings on piety. Burke, a religious naturalist indebted to George Santayana, gives an account of piety that can include secular as well as traditionally sacred loyalties to the sources of personal well-being. Though Burke’s understanding of piety owes much to Santayana, Nietzsche and Freud influence his account of natural piety as well. Burke emphasizes how natural pieties inform both religious activity and criticisms of religion. Critiques do not lack pieties of their own; they are oriented around pieties different from the ones they criticize. Burke aims to show that ritual activity and its literary correlate, rhetorical style, can help integrate religious pieties and their valid criticisms into naturalized religion.
Occult Eroticism: Black Magicians, Yellow Journalists, and Sex Cults in the 1920s
Bradford Verter, Princeton University
Drawing upon an extraordinary pulp memoir, Marion Dockerill’s My Life in a Love Cult, this paper examines the discursive construction of spiritual and erotic deviance in the 1920s. On the one hand the furor over "sex cults" was a creation of the flamboyant journalistic practices promoted by publishers such as Pulitzer and Hearst, who fueled a moral panic over shifting gender norms, and a populist critique of moral degeneration among the elite. But the representations of the mass media were not wholly fictional. Dockerill’s memoir and other documents reveal the extent to which esoteric practice served as a venue for autonomous expression and erotic experimentation. Existing in creative dialectic, journalists and occultists identified sex as both political and a spiritual act and developed a praxis of esoteric sensuality defined by its transgressive repudiation of normative religious models.
The "Funky'side of Religion: Religion, Media, and the Supernatural in the Ethnographic Narratives of United States Adolescents
Lynn Schofield Clark, University of Colorado, Boulder
In much of the literature on young people and religious development, television, film, and other forms of narrative fiction have been understood as direct competitors to the traditional beliefs and values of organized religion. Employing data from an ethnographic study, the paper discussed five different ways in which the stories of the afterlife, the supernatural, and the paranormal in the entertainment media become an important context through which contemporary teens understand religious beliefs. Building upon cultural studies perspectives, the paper therefore demonstrates how the entertainment media function as one element of what folkloricist Gillian Bennett termed the "traditions of belief'shaping religious understandings especially among those young people with few ties to formal religion.
Who’s in Charge of Heaven?: The Afterlife, Film, and Ethics
James H. Thrall, Duke University
Whatever contemporary force concern about the after-life may or may not have in coercing ethical behavior, the topic of "what happens after'still recurs as a subject for popular film. Such recent productions as After Life (Kore-eda Hirokazu, 1998), What Dreams May Come (Vincent Ward, 1998), Ghost (Jerry Zucker, 1990), and Defending Your Life (Albert Brooks, 1991) play with individual and social anxieties about how to live "now" in preparation for "then." To varying degrees the films acknowledge the disappearance of comforting meta-narratives, or consider new ones. With even eternity up for construction, representations of authority in the after-world serve in particular as a filmic vocabulary for considering the bases of ethics for the living. Along the way, other questions of the function of mourning, loss, and memory inevitably arise.
Social Mobility and Cultural Dissonance in a Transnational Mexican Pentecostal Church: A Case Study of the Dallas Mission
Bobby C. Alexander, University of Texas, Dallas
This paper offers an ethnographic case study of how Pentecostal doctrine, moral practice, ritual, and church organization as a mutual aid society encourages economic and social mobility within the emerging democracy and evolving capitalism in Latin America and established democratic capitalism in the United States. The paper focuses on La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World), a transnational Mexican Pentecostal church, and its Dallas mission. The paper shows how Pentecostalism develops behaviors that transfer to family, work, and community and encourages mobility within the wider social orbit, beginning with individual initiative, self-discipline, and participation in decision making of this religious organization. The paper concludes by considering how mobility and, attendant with it, assimilation into secular culture, challenge church members' allegiance to Pentecostal beliefs, values, and practices, as well as doctrines and practices that are unique to La Luz del Mundo.
El Milagro Esta en Casa: Gender in a Migrant Pentecostal Church
Lois Lorentzen, University of San Francisco
This presentation analyzes the appeal of Pentecostalism for new migrants to the San Francisco Bay Area; the paradoxical characteristics of Pentecostalism as both countercultural and oppositional, as well as upholder of the status quo; and, shifts in gender roles encountered in this Pentecostal space. The paper reflects findings from a year of fieldwork and a year of in-depth interviews at a storefront, Pentecostal working-class, Spanish speaking church with a high percentage of new migrants.
Where Are the Poor: An Ethnographic Study of an Ecclesial Base Community and a Pentecostal Church in Cuernavaca Mexico
Philip Wingier-Rayo, Chicago Theological Seminary
The Ecclesial Base Communities (CEB) and the Pentecostal church in Mexico are both engaged in ministry with the poor. While both are experiencing increasing impact upon society, they have very different approaches. This paper enters into the dialogue on the similarities and differences between CEB and Pentecostalism in Latin America. Ethnographic research on one CEB and one Pentecostal church in Cuernavaca, Mexico explored the lives of these two faith communities to learn how they work with the poor and the impact of their ministry upon their members. Although the two ecclesial movements are located in close proximity in a working-class neighborhood, the author concludes that the participants in the CEB tend to be better established, more educated and slightly more solvent economically than their Pentecostal counterparts. Nevertheless both movements have a similar impact in raising self-esteem, reading and verbal skills and thus generally contributing toward the democratization of Mexican society.
"In My Flesh I Will See God": Ritual and the Role of the Body in the Transmission of Religious Knowledge
Rebecca Sachs Norris, Merrimack College
This paper examines communicational and symbolic aspects of ritual gesture as well as the role of the body in the transmission of religious knowledge, drawing from Christian and Islamic examples. The body learns sacred qualities and states through gesture, posture and image as well as directly through other people. This polysemic and immediate communication depends on the unmediated nature of the body’s knowledge of the world. Posture and gesture convey meaning to the participant through sensation, emotion, ideas, memory, proprioception and kinesthesia. Movements and positions of the body handed on through ritual and tradition convey not only the outer manifestations of a culture but also inner ideals and experiences, and an individual’s experience of body and self cannot be separated from enculturated concepts of human identity and relation to the transcendent. Intentional use of ritual gesture may thus be viewed as a language that conveys sacred meanings and experiences.
Dear Gifts/Grave Gestures: The Huron Feast of the Dead
James B. Jeffries, University of California, Santa Barbara
Drawing from ethnographic and archeological materials of seventeenth-century New France, this paper will examine the Huron burial ceremony, the "Feast of the Dead." Roughly every ten years, various Huron communities simultaneously exhumed and transferred their dead to a common gravesite. The paper will argue that the Huron engaged in rituals of individual sacrifice and expenditure during the ceremony-feasting, speech-making, burning, and burying-in order to affirm the collective bond of the entire nation. In the ossuary the material and symbolic tribute that a village deposited was converted into tribute to the other Huron villages. This paper will show that burial tributes were processed in aesthetic forms in order to produce and amplify the gesture of giving. The participants dressed their bodies with ornaments and dressed their actions in formal arrangements. Likewise, for the dead, their dedications were sung, their exploits were danced, and their bones
Jewish Women’s Seders: A New Ritual Practice
Sonia Zylberberg, Concordia University
This paper presents part of a larger ethnographic study of women’s seders. These contemporary rituals originated in North America in the 1970’s, and are currently performed in a wide variety of communities that span the denominational affiliations and include a wide variety of practices. This paper examines the demographics and texts associated with the rituals, and is based on original research conducted both in Canada and the United States. Some of the questions addressed in the analysis include: Who attends the seders? How does the Canadian data compare with the American information? In what ways are these seders different from the traditional rituals? In what ways are the texts different from the traditional haggadahs? Does this data suggest that the rituals function as catalysts for changing traditional rituals?
Walking the Cosmos: Rituals of Participation
Barbara Laishley, University of Pittsburgh
The growing emphasis on cultural diversity and movement toward religious tolerance has created a need to find a more adequate way to consider the spiritual state of Americans. Through my research on the labyrinth I have found that the labyrinth is an arena that attracts a broad spectrum of beliefs in a wide array of ritual practices. I argue that the reason the labyrinth can be used in such a variety of spiritual and religious rituals is that it functions like a cosmos - an orderly, integrated universe that explains and justifies the seen and unseen world. I will use examples of rituals from two contrasting cosmologies to argue that when individuals engage in rituals on the labyrinth they essentially "walk the cosmos" and become active participants in their own orderly universe.
What American Educators Need to Know about the "Toronto Model" of Catholic Higher Education
Frederick G. Erb, III, Pennsylvania State University
The University of Toronto is well known for having produced "leading edge'scholarship in Catholic theology, philosophy, and history--especially in the areas of medieval and neo-scholastic thought. How this rarified environment could have flourished for decades within the ivy fortress of a publicly supported university is the subject of this paper. Equally important is the present condition of Catholic studies at Toronto. This paper describes theological education at Toronto-focusing on the history of the University of St. Michael’s College, while touching on the controversial beginnings of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, and the recent "Christianity and Culture Program" at Toronto. The paper suggests ways in which this "toronto model" might serve as an inspiration for American public research universities whose leaders may wish to inaugurate Catholic studies into the curriculum.
Jeunesse Etudiante Catholique: From a Catholic Québec to Catholics in Québec
Indre Cuplinskas, University of Toronto
The few historical studies devoted to Jeunesse Etudiante Catholique (J. E. C.) have considered this student organization primarily as an unwitting John the Baptist to the Quiet Revolution. Less attention has been paid to the Catholic roots of J. E. C., a branch of specialized Catholic Action seeking to transform in a Christian manner the student milieu. One of the organization’s most significant tools to this end was the journal "JEC/Vie étudiante". Its run from 1935 to 1964 corresponds to a time of crisis and change in Québec. Thus, the publication can be regarded as a stage upon which a number of dramas can be observed, not the least of which is the drama of the Catholic Church.
"Qui Perd Sa Langue, Perd Sa Foi": The Rise and Decline of Francophone Canadian Catholicism in New England
Regina A. Boisclair, Alaska Pacific University
The growth and decline of French Canadian Catholicism is a significant facet of twentieth century New England. This study explores how parishes, schools, religious orders, hospitals, institutions of higher education, shrines, and benevolent societies emerged to accommodate the religious needs and sensibilities of francophone Canadian immigrants. It discusses how "la survivance"--an ideology transposed from nineteenth century Quebec--informed and united francophone communities throughout New England. It reviews significant controversies such as the Sentinellist Movement. French-Catholicism institutions flourish in New England throughout the first half of the twentieth century but the need for francophone institutions declined by 1960. U.S. born "Franco-Americans" no longer grounded ethnic pride in francophone Catholic institutions and many institutions became predominantly Anglophone. American Catholicism is once again called to minister to significant numbers of immigrants in languages other than English. The study concludes with observations pertaining to similarities and dissimilarities between this history and contemporary ministries.
Rethinking Western New York: The Burned Over District from the Canadian Border
Amy Lorion, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
The concept of a "Burned-over District" in nineteenth-century western New York has dominated study of the region’s religious history since Whitney Cross popularized the metaphor in The Burned-Over District (1950). Although this metaphor has inspired many valuable works, it also has emphasized evangelical Protestant religions, revivals, and NRMs at the expense of peoples, events, and religions outside its purview. Study of the region, then, offers a range of new stories, and new perspectives on traditional stories. A focus on the Canadian border, in particular, offers insight into a western New York distinct from that of the "Burned-over District": once migration from--and to--the north is considered, Catholicism becomes a significant influence, New France and Canada become central, westward expansion becomes just one facet of activity, and war becomes common. This paper reconsiders the story of the Burned-over District from this viewpoint of the Canadian border, focusing on Catholicism.
Schleiermacher’s Theory of Human Affect
Thandeka, Williams College
My proposed paper analyzes Schleiermacher’s theory of affect as an important but poorly understood aspect of the anthropological assumptions that underlie his practical theology. To this end, I will discuss his theory of affect from three perspectives: (1) as Affektenlehre, the intentional use of music and the arts in seventeenth and eighteenth Europe to engender human passions and affections, (2) as philosophical theology in Descartes analysis of The Passions of the Soul (1649), and (3) as practical theology in Schleiermacher’s own analysis of human affect and its laws of physical motions explained in his early work On Freedom, in the Glaubenslehre, and in the Brief.
The Distinctiveness of the Lord’s Supper within the Cultus
Elizabeth W. Corrie, Emory University
Schleiermacher describes the "distinctiveness" of the Lord’s Supper as one in which "the fellowship of believers with each other" and "the fellowship of each with Christ" come together in an "undivided and exclusive immediacy." Moreover, this "effect flows directly and undividedly from the Word of institution." Out of such descriptions, this paper highlights the importance of the Lord’s Supper in the life of the Church from two perspectives. From the perspective of Schleiermacher’s theory of religious communication, the Lord’s Supper represents the highest form, in which Christ’s own words deeply affect the consciousness of the congregation. From the perspective of Schleiermacher’s understanding of the redemptive role of Christian fellowship, the Lord’s Supper brings individual Christians into union with each other and into fellowship with Christ. The Lord’s Supper therefore plays an indispensable role within the life of the Church and stands as the climax of public
Practical Theology as Theology of Religion
Wilhelm Graeb, Humboldt University
Schleiermacher calls Practical Theology a technical discipline: it has to do with practical knowledge and skills in the professional practice of the church. Schleiermacher develops this understanding of the discipline in his "Lectures on Practical Theology." This, however, is just one side of Schleiermacher’s understanding of Practical Theology. In his Kurze Darstellun he hints at another side of Practical Theology, one which insists that Practical Theology connects Theology as a whole to human life. Such an understanding brings Practical Theology more closely together with ethics--both Christliche Sittenlehre and Philosophische Ethik. For Schleiermacher, the Christian life is a specific symbolic form of lived religion. Hence, to understand his Practical Theology, we must go back to his ethical understanding of religion as "individuelles Symbolisieren.
Dharma Centers and Peace Rituals in Republican China (1914-1934): Tibetan Lamas Teach the First Wave of Chinese Laity
Gray Tuttle, Harvard University
The modern global spread of Tibetan Buddhists and their teachings started in China. Almost unknown to Western commentators on the Tibetan Buddhist encounter with modernity, so many of the familiar features of the globalization of Tibetan Buddhism (dharma centers, foreign lay adherents, public esoteric rituals) were first enacted in China from 1914-1934. The tremendous popular support for Tibetan Buddhist teachers and practices by Chinese Buddhists was probably the single-most important factor in the incorporation of Tibet in the modern Chinese imagination of the nation. This potent, though unintended, consequence of the popularity of Tibetan Buddhist rituals and practices in Republican China was not easily accomplished. The first challenge to this reception was introducing the modern conception of "Buddhism." Convincing Chinese Buddhists that Tibetan Buddhist teachings were not alien to their culture but part of a global religion called "Buddhism" helped make these teachings acceptable to the Chinese.
Renewing Religious Practice in a Tibetan Village of Post-Reformed China
Yinong Zhang, Cornell University
Set in a contemporary social and political background of post-reformed China this paper is focused on the changing process of Tibetan religious practice in an Amdo-Tibetan village in northwest China. I will examine two factors that are crucial in this process: first, the local Tibetan’s memories about the religious legacies and rituals as well as related history; second, the triangular relationship with Chinese state power and local Muslim population, as the second largest ethnic group in this area next to the Tibetans. At the same time this changing process is also viewed as a productive process that will shed new light on such notions as ritual, religion, and identity in a new context of modernity.
Cultural Continuity and Change among Tamang Thangka Painters in the Kathmandu Valley
Sharon J. Hepburn, Trent University
Images of the Buddha are mass-produced in Nepal. In this paper I consider how in two cases some Nepalese, who are part of greater Tibetan culture, interface with Buddha images in the markets and media of modern Nepal: first, in the workshops that produce thankgas for the tourist market, and second, as the images of the Buddha are created for film, specifically in the case of Bertolucci’s Little Buddha. I argue that although there are clearly some cultural and social discontinuities as these Nepalis interact with the people, markets, and things of "modernity", how they interact, and how they think of those interactions, is often based in preexisting cultural logics and accompanying forms of social organization. Particular focus here is given to the belief in the power of words and images beyond their literal meaning. This paper is based on research in the Kathmandu Valley between 1990 and 1993.
Reformers vs. Traditionalists in Transnational Tibetan Buddhism
Abraham Zablocki, Cornell University
This paper examines the conflict between reformers and traditionalists in contemporary Tibetan Buddhist practice. It seeks to understand how the emergence of new global religious networks have shaped Tibetan Buddhist responses to modernity in exile. In particular, the paper explores the tension between those Tibetan Buddhists who seek to modernize the religion and those who seek to preserve it, each in response to the experience of diaspora. In examining this tension, the paper argues that these competing visions of the future of the religion are linked to very different appeals to transnational Buddhist constituents, and that the tension between satisfying the religious aspirations of both non-Tibetan converts and Tibetans themselves is an increasingly delicate issue within transnational Tibetan Buddhism. Finally, the paper examines the ways in which some transnational Tibetan Buddhist organizations are generating hybrid solutions that blend traditionalist and reform elements, often within an explicitly modernist frame of explanation.
Panel: Hospitality as Haute Couture: Womanist Interdisciplinary Designs for Theory and Praxis
Patricia-Anne Johnson, Califonia State University, Long Beach, Presiding
Stacey Floyd-Thomas, Brite Divinity School
Sandra J. Hayes, Iliff School of Theology, University of Denver
Lehlohonolo Montjane-Malete, Topsfield, MA
Yolanda Yvette Smith, Yale University
Hospitality as Haute Couture: Womanist Interdisciplinary Designs for Theory and Praxis will feature an interdisciplinary approach to Womanist epistemology. The panel, which will be comprised of "Second Generation" junior Womanist scholars will utilize, as the basis for the discussion, N. Lynne Westfield's text, "Dear Sisters: A Womanist Practice of Hospitality." Specifically, the conversation and presentations will emphasize a discussion of "design" as the prototype for developing practices and processes of resilience, hospitality, gathering, communion, and sacramentality. The panel will critically examine the notion of "hospitality" as "historically fashionable" within the African-American community, the Black Church and the home.
Panel: Yogācāra Buddhism in Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Joe Wilson, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, Presiding
Mario D'Amato, Hampshire College
William S. Waldron, Middlebury College
John P. Keenan, Middlebury College
Dan Lusthaus, University of Missouri, Columbia
The seminar explores Buddhist Yogācāra philosophy and its roots in India, East Asia, and Tibet, focusing on Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan texts. This, our final year, focuses on interdisciplinary examinations of the relation and potential import of Yogācāra Studies for other fields (for example, philosophy, psychology, hermeneutics, and the sciences).
Performing the Crucifixion as Healing Spectacle: Cult, Class, and Gender in the Case of the German Stigmatic Therese Neumann
Ulrike Wiethaus, Wake Forest University
The German stigmatic Therese Neumann (1898-1962) gained international fame as popular healer and caretaker of the dead. This paper will present a feminist analysis of the clash of contradictory narratives that tried to articulate the meaning of Neumann’s stigmatic spirituality. On one hand, Neumann could draw on a gynocentric heritage of female stigmatics, and continued a genealogy of women healers reaching back to the women mystics of the Middle Ages, especially the Beguines. My analysis confirms several findings of anthropologist Susan Starr Sered’s cross-cultural work on women-dominated religions, but it also challenges her theory that women-dominated religions in patriarchal cultures reinforce traditional gender roles instead of transforming or challenging them. I wish to argue that Neumann transgressed gender binaries and ritually created a sacred third gender, neither traditionally female nor male.
Ancestors as Healers in Japanese Buddhism
Paula K.R. Arai, Carleton College
Based upon ethnographic data, it is clear that ancestors, or dead "Buddhas," play a vital role in Japanese Buddhism and they are a focus for healing power. Hence, no clear boundary exists between the therapeutic and religious. The identity of the dead in the construction of the self and how it bears upon the healing process are key factors in the analysis of this phenomenon. Two types of rituals will illustrate this: ancestor memorial rites performed at a home altar and the Jizo Nagashi, a ritual performed at a lake with all participants riding on a large boat where they send off rice-paper images of Jizo in memory of a deceased loved one. One of the project’s considerations is how research methodology relates to the distinctive cultural formation of self. Thus, connections between the Japanese relational construction of self-identity and the ramifications for field methodology will be examined.
Healing Waters: Sacred Springs and Wells in Ireland
Suzanne J. Crawford, University of California, Santa Barbara
Sacred wells in Ireland serve as powerful locations of temporal and cultural hybridity, between contemporary experience and historical continuity, between an indigenous past and a Christian present, between the living and the dead, and the saintly and the sick. They continue to act as the destination of pilgrimages for those seeking the healing of loved ones, forgiveness from the dead, and strength from saints and spirits. This paper examines the indigenous significance of such locations in their pre-Christian past, their later baptism into the Christian tradition, and, in particular, the contemporary way in which these sacred springs and wells have been once again baptized into a new (post)modern and transnational faith. The paper draws from historical analysis and contemporary ethnography to discuss their significance as healing locations, and as spaces that affirm a continuity between the living and the dead, between the emigrant and her or his ancestors.
Obeah: Mystery of Iniquity, or a Caribbean System of Medicine
Nathaniel S. Murrell, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
In this paper, Murrell revisits some powerful stereo-typed images of Obeah in the media and Afro-Caribbean religious literature to do four things: 1) Define Obeah as a Caribbean creole religious sytem of healing, magic, and black resistance; 2) delineate the essential tenets and practices of Obeah; 3) show that Obeah is not a distinctly black thing, but is a system of magic and medicine practiced across social strata and racial ethnic and interfaith lines; 4) demonstrates that Obeah practice and pharmacopeia are much more benign, commonplace, and mainstream phenomena than popular opinions suggest.
"Stories in My Neighbour’s Faith": A Canadian Model for Teaching "Lived Religion" in the Intro Course
Madeline Duntley, College of Wooster
"Stories in My Neighbour’s Faith: Narratives from World Religions in Canada" is a paperback collection of religious lifestories by 24 ordinary Canadians of a variety of faiths, ranging from Mennonite, to Bahai, to Muslim. This project was the brainchild of Canadian author Susan L. Scott and the United Church of Canada. It asks each Canadian to frame a portion of his/her religious lifestory by using a sacred story, scripture, song, legend from his/her own religious tradition. I have designed a "faith story interview assignment" modeled on and utilizing this text that can be easily integrated into one’s existing introductory religion courses. This project shows students the phenomenological and experiential dimensions of faith tradition and sacred story and provides a model for interreligious friendship, dialogue, and understanding. I have collected 300 interviews, and students claim this project to be the most valuable part of the introductory religion course.
Being the Text: Hybridised Identities and Teaching Comparative Religion
Tinu Ruparell, Liverpool Hope University College
The problem of whether the "Other can speak" is an ongoing one for teachers of comparative religion or interreligious dialogue. Critics of trans-boundary discourses highlight the epistemological and political difficulties arising from the putative comparison of incommensurable religious traditions. This paper proposes a method that both overcomes these obstacles and allows for more authentic comparisons through harnessing the dialectic of metaphor in order to redescribe the self. Built on the alterity inherent in mitigated incommensurability and using the redescriptive power of metaphor, this method results in a liminal, hybridised (ir)religious identity whereby the comparativist partially becomes the religious "text" under study. Understanding oneself as the other in this way enables comparisons which neither decontextualise the traditions being compared nor obscure the power relations involved in the comparative project. Moreover this method injects a pedagogically useful autopoetic/autobiographical element in comparative religion courses.
Applying Theories and Models of Learning Technology in Religion Studies Classrooms: Two Cases
Johannes Strobel, University of Missouri, Columbia
In this paper, we will present a brief overview of existing theories and models in the field of Learning Technology. We show how they may impact Religion Studies by showing two constructivist learning environments we developed for two religion studies classes ("Modern Perspectives in Religion" and "Introduction into the New Testament"). We will reflect on the subject area and the impact of cognitive flexibility theory in fostering students to study complex subjects by facilitating their development of multiple perspectives. We conclude with lessons we learned and perspectives for the field of Religion Studies.
Strategies for Teaching Intersubjectivity: Spiritual Perception and the Natural World
Belden C. Lane, Saint Louis University
Courses on Nature and Religion try to communicate Buber’s understanding of the natural world as not simply an "it" over which human subjects exercise dominion, but as an integrated whole in which we all participate as subjects. Phenomenologist Edmund Husserl used the term "intersubjectivity" to speak of how the so-called "objective world" has a way of participating in our human perception of it. How do we introduce students to multiple ways of knowing, breaking out of conceptual boxes that have limited modern Western thought? What exercises and strategies for occasioning new modes of perception can be employed in teaching? Equally as important is the question of how students can also be invited to "think with" the classical religious traditions in asking about resources for environmental consciousness. In Christianity, for example, how are traditional doctrines of the Trinity, Christology, the church and sacraments to be re-appreciated and re-thought in this light?
Acting Religious: Theatre as a Pedagogical Tool for Religious Studies
Victoria Rue, St. Lawrence University
This paper introduces teachers of religious studies and theology to the use of feminist theatre as a pedagogical tool. While speech exercises and improvisation have been helpful for M.Div. students in preaching classes, the pedagogies of feminist theatre have been largely under utilized in religious studies. Theatre and its techniques offers students methods to engage material by embodying it. While conventional teaching stresses analysis and critical thinking by lecture and class discussion, enactment offers somatic learning. Students understand, analyze and evaluate texts from a feminist hermeneutic. A feminist hermeneutic is a useful approach in my courses because it understands context, character and the power of the text to interact with the reader. It is thus helpful in a course involving creative interpretation of the text through enactment. Students learn to create and improvise authors/characters, memorize and enact texts.
Panel: What is Visual Culture? And What Does It Have to Do with the Study of Religion?
S Brent Plate, Texas Christian University, Presiding
Erika Doss, University of Colorado, Boulder
Gretchen Buggeln, Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, DE
Philip Lutgendorf, University of Iowa
Roberto R. Lint-Sagarena, University of Southern California
Jane Naomi Iwamura, University of Southern California
The term "visual culture" has become a popular phrase in scholarship over the last ten years, showing up in departments of art history, film and media studies, anthropology, and literature, as well as gender and ethnic studies. And it is an increasingly vital term in studies of religion. Still, there remains some confusion about what the term means--whether it names the emergence of a new discipline, a new methodology, a new area of enquiry, or some combination of the three. Our panel will attempt to set out some preliminary definitions of visual culture, and then further ask what its relevance is for the study of religion.
Writing the Past and Rewriting the Present in Sri Lankan Buddhist Manuscripts
Stephen C. Berkwitz, Southwest Missouri State University
This paper will examine how techniques associated with writing Buddhist vamsa texts in premodern Sri Lanka assumed a role in fashioning new images of subjectivity and community when composed and copied. We will look at instances wherein the writing of history in a manuscript form resulted in a vision of the past marked by fluid narratives and select literary conventions. A consideration of the practices and constraints of Sri Lankan manuscript culture forces us to rethink how the past could be used as an ethical resource through which the authors and scribes of Buddhist histories constituted themselves as virtuous persons. In addition, we will reflect upon how manuscript production and transmission resulted in a proliferation of stereotyped tropes and expressions that demonstrate a greater interest in the responses of contemporary devotees than in the fidelity of historical representations of the past.
Locating Meaning: The Written Text as a Physical Presence in the Tibetan Buddhist World
Damchö Diana Finnegan, U of Wisconsin-Madison
Along with the considerable energy devoted to understanding the verbal content of Buddhist texts, Tibetan Buddhists have focused a good deal of attention on written texts as material objects. Indeed, the tradition provides remarkably explicit instructions as to how its written texts should be approached and handled physically. Approaching the texts in the prescribed manner establishes distinctive relationships between persons and texts. The practices related to the handling of physical texts reflect and promote a particular vision of how knowledge is created, and encourage persons to orient themselves towards the source of that knowledge to learn from it, but also to gain other goods, social and material. This paper argues that in their very physicality, written texts constitute a source of power in the Tibetan Buddhist world that is rooted in complicated ways not only in the texts linguistic content, but also, and importantly, in the world around the text.
Merit-Making Media: Pali Manuscripts from Northern Thailand
Daniel Marc Veidlinger, University of Chicago
The northern Thai kingdom of Lan Na experienced a Golden Age that spanned from the middle of the fifteenth to the first quarter of the sixteenth centuries. In this paper, I take some initial steps towards constructing a model of the conditions under which Pali palm-leaf manuscripts were made and the ways they were used during this period. Based upon an analysis of scribal colophons, marginal corrections, ornamentation and the caliber of the writing, I present some of the discursive and cultic uses to which manuscripts were put in this region. I show that a full understanding of manuscript culture must consider the use of these items not only for study and recitation, but also as objects of worship and merit making.
The Fluid Boundaries of Buddhist Manuscripts: Towards an "Indefinite" Edition
Natalie Gummer, Beloit College
The textual history of the Suvarna(pra)bhasottamasutra records multilingual manuscript evidence for no less than nine different Sanskrit versions of the sutra, ranging from eighteen to twenty-one chapters in length. The radically fluid and idiosyncratic processes of manuscript production and transmission through which these versions were produced indicate the necessity of rethinking that fundamental category of Buddhist sacred literature, the sutra. As both a means and an end to this inquiry, I examine how the complex processes of composition, transmission, accretion, and deletion intersect with processes of interpretation by particular communities and individuals. Recognizing that textual production and transmission in any medium of communication is a process of interpretation transforms our understanding of textual history and our own place within it, and demands that we consider alternative methods for studying and representing the fluidity of Buddhist manuscript culture.
The Four Marks of the Gopis’ Tears
John Stratton Hawley, Barnard College, Columbia University
My purpose is to display four traits of religious weeping that emerged in papers presented on this theme at the AAR in 2001, and to do so in a genre they did not anticipate: the weeping that engulfs the women of Krishna’s Braj homeland when he deserts them for other women or another place altogether. The four traits are these: (1) religious tears are generally not spontaneous; (2) they are means of communication; (3) they are gendered--usually gendered female; and (4) they are about death.
"No Power of Speech Remains": Tears and Transformation in South Asian Majlis Poetry
Amy C. Bard, Columbia University
This paper elaborates on the transformative power of tears, a theme introduced in last year’s panel on weeping. My poetic selections illustrate how the South Asian Shī’ī; Muslim mourning assembly (majlis) effects transformation by producing, investing, and recycling tears. Majlis poems depict tears as the only water in a desert of thirst-stricken children; a substance mixed with henna powder to anoint a soon-to-be-widowed bride; the sun in a weeping cosmos; and a realm of grief beyond words. Tears shed by modern-day mourners who absorb these images are in turn collected by the holy figures Fātimah and Zainab as treasured pearls, evidence of devotion to the lineage of the Prophet Muhammad. In both poetic text and performance context, weeping distills complex conflicting, sometimes intangible components of the tragedy of Karbalā into touchable, tasteable, visible, and audible entities. Moreover, as multivalent metaphors, and as surrogates for speech, tears are themselves fundamentally mutable.
"Make My Stony Heart Gush Forth Fountains": Holy Tears in Eastern Christianity
Kimberley C. Patton, Harvard University
The tradition of "holy tears" in Eastern Orthodox Christianity represents a rich, ancient, and ritually differentiated realm. As well as the predictable practice of female lamentation, often in emulation of the grief of the Theotokos, at least three other forms of weeping are found in hagiographical literature, devotional theology,and in the sacramental life of the Church: 1) the sorrow of pity for the fallen state of the world; 2) the tears that signify and effect repentance, opening the doors of reconciliation to God; and 3) the passionless condition of spiritual weeping. Although quintessentially human, holy tears are understood as a divine charism or gift. Holy tears are far less a symbol of a condition than they are an efficacious vehicle for the radical change of that condition.
Panel: Continuities and Discontinuities in the History of Christianity
Amanda Porterfield, University of Wyoming, Presiding
Elizabeth A. Clark, Duke University
Ronald L. Numbers, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Hans J. Hillerbrand, Duke University
E. Brooks Holifield, Emory University
This panel, made up of former presidents of the American Society of Church History, will address the question of what constitutes continuity and discontinuity in the history of Christianity. Each panelist will present insights from his or her own studies and experience in the field. The discussion will then be opened to the ongoing questions of how history, which stresses change and contingency, sheds insight onto Christianity with its claims of enduring belief.
Simplicity Naturalized: Distinguishing Religious from Scientific Uses of Epistemology
Jonathan Gold, University of Chicago
Why do atheist scientists remain unconvinced even when religious philosophers appeal to scientific epistemologies? The paper distinguishes between religious epistemologies, which require completeness and finality, and scientific epistemologies, which accept the flux of scientific knowledge. The paper criticizes Plantinga on the evidence for evolution and Swinburne on simplicity as proof of God’s existence. Imagining Swinburne arguing with an atheistic, scientific rationalist, we see significant divergences in intuitions as to "simplicity". In fact, simplicity is only a meaningful criterion in the context of an evolving, shared knowledge set. The universe itself need not be simple. Scientific epistemologies ought to allow that we may someday understand what today we cannot even imagine answering. By comparison, religious epistemologies-which tend to require that a complete and final doctrine be established today-are necessarily impatient.
The Epistemology of Religious Experience
Laura Weed, College of Saint Rose
This paper will examine practices for certifying authenticity in religious experience as they are articulated in several religious traditions. It will explore the Roman Catholic rules for progress on the mystical path as specified by St.Benedict, St. Teresa of Avila, and others. I will compare these doxastic practices with the Kyoto School Zen criteria for religious progress as articulated by Keiji Nishitani and Nishida Kitaro, and with doxastic practices outlined and used, both traditionally and in the contemporary setting,in the Yoga and Advaita Vedanta schools of Hinduism. Across all of these traditions, I will look for both similarities and differences among disciplines, and rules for practitioners, as well as criteria for judgments of authenticity, acceptability and unacceptability for claims about religious experience. I will show that there are patterns of synergy among the various traditions that legitimate claims that the practices are analogous, while inviting ecumenical dialogue on disanalogous points.
Beyond Belief: The Nature of Creedal Affirmation
Jerome Gellman, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
In this paper, I identify a cluster of positive epistemic attitudes to a proposition and apply them to the nature of creedal affirmation. I take issue with Aquinas’ conception of creedal affirmation as necessarily expressing an individual belief. We should recognize a performative dimension in creedal affirmations that is both sincere and yet similar to play-acting.
Two Religious Ethics of Belief: Immanuel Kant and Thomas Reid
Andrew Chignell, Yale University
Kant and Reid were eighteenth-century contemporaries who took two very different attitudes towards belief in the supersensible. Kant is anti-mystical and anti-rationalist on this score: no one, he thinks, has cognitive access to facts outside the realm illumined by our sense-perceptual experience-including facts about God and the will. Any claims to the contrary (Swedenborg’s, for instance) must be submitted to the "discipline of critique." Thus, Kant’s epistemological ethic is one of suspicion and vigilance. Thomas Reid, on the other hand, recommends an attitude of trust, at least towards those beliefs that we find ourselves naturally disposed to in the course of quotidian or even religious experience. My aim in the paper is to elaborate and compare these two ethics of belief-both of which I think are at bottom religious ethics. I will also discuss some of the ways in which these ethics are manifested in contemporary religious thought.
Panel: Sufism and the State
Marcia Hermansen, Loyola University, Chicago, Presiding
David Buchman, Hanover College
Devin DeWeese, Indiana University
R. Michael Feener, Reed College
Rob Rozehnal, Duke University
Omid Safi, Colgate University
This session proposes to explore dynamics between various aspects of Sufism and the State across a broad range of Muslim societies in history. With attention to both Sufi texts and concrete historical contexts, each paper will address ways in which Sufism has related to political developments in distinct times and places. The interactions of Sufi doctrines, practices, and institutionalized orders with complex systems of political power will be examined through a series of cases from the medieval and modern histories of Muslim societies in the Middle East, as well as in Central, South, and Southeast Asia. The marked differences in sites and sources--as well as the diverse approaches to these materials--will serve to illustrate the great internal diversity of Sufi traditions and the ways in which even its more esoteric dimensions have been inextricably involved in the this-worldly historical processes of Islamization, state formation, and, more recently, modernization.
Spinoza and the Persistence of Religion
Micahel Rosenthal, Grinnell College
Spinoza is often seen as a central figure in the development of the radical enlightenment. In particular, some commentators have claimed that Spinoza desired to abolish traditional, revealed religion and that his critique of Scripture in the Theological-Political Treatise was the first step toward that end. In this paper, I shall criticize these claims and argue instead that Spinoza understood religion as an enduring feature of human life. I shall examine the emotional, political, and intellectual aspects of Spinoza’s theory of religion, and conclude that in each respect Spinoza has something to offer contemporary theory of religion and Judaism in particular. Specifically, I shall develop the idea that the emotions are central to his account of religion, both for the individual believer, the religious institution, and for the state.
Ethica or Religio: The Two Concrete Possibilities for Founding the Modern State
Idit Dobbs-Weinstein, Vanderbilt Univeristy
Spinoza’s Ethics is commonly (mis-)understood as an independent metaphysical work radically distinct from his political writings. Hence the importance of Spinoza’s vehement critique of religion for understanding the Ethics is generally ignored. Similarly, the philosophical significance of the genealogy of religious prejudice, the most powerful affect, has been occluded or erased. This approach fails to account for (1) why the Ethics is an ethics; (2) what, if any, are the relations between ethics and political philosophy; and (3) why Spinoza’s political philosophy requires a rigorous critique of religion. This paper focuses on the latter question. Following an analysis of Spinoza’s psychology of the affects, especially of religious prejudice, I demonstrate the extent to which Nietzsche and Freud are Spinoza’s heirs although he remains more radical than they. I conclude by arguing that Spinoza’s psychology offers deeper insight into the persistent intransigence of prejudice in politics than any other yet proposed.
Did Spinoza Get Ethics Right?
Heidi Ravven, Hamilton College
In the Ethics Spinoza argues for the affectivity of all thinking. He bases this claim on an account of the mind as the consciousness of the body. Convinced that the mind must be put back into nature, he proposes that thinking is just as accessible to causal explanation as extended nature is. Thinking, emotions, and bodily desires he argues, are at root, expressions of the striving (conatus) of the organism for organic homeostasis. This striving for dynamic stability and internal coherence in a world of constant and often dramatic change, in turn forms the biological basis for ethics. Is Spinoza right? I argue that recent discoveries in neuroscience and cognitive psychology (e.g., of Antonio Damasio, Edward Hundert, and George Lakoff) bear out Spinoza’s central psychological claims. If Spinoza’s version of ethical naturalism is correct, is there any remaining role then for Judaism or any religion in the ethical life?
"Is It Not a Delight When Good Friends Come from Afar?"
Ann Mongoven, Indiana University, Bloomington
I invite classical Confucian accounts of friendship into constructive anachronistic dialogue with evolving paradigms of friendship in Anglo-American and Christian feminism. Confucians intimate connections between friendship and ritual life, friendship and improvisation, external friendship and interiority; friendship and kin relationships; friendship and social life more broadly. Taken together, Confucian motifs challenge feminist tendencies to consider friendship voluntary and contractual, and they helpfully nuance reflection on equality and reciprocity. The simultaneous complementarity and contrast between ancient Confucian and modern feminist accounts invites attention to different historical sources in western traditions than have been highlighted by contemporary feminists.
When Men Are Wives and Women Are Kings: Using Santeria Ritual Practice to Deconstruct Notions of Gender
Mary Ann Clark, University of Houston
I will explore concepts of gender using the Yoruba (African philosophical concepts embedded in contemporary Afro-Caribbean Santería) practice in the United States. Because these concepts are not based on the Western philosophical tradition they bring exciting new viewpoints to our discussion. Within this religious complex all the deities are "male" relative to their devotees who are "female." However, particularly during possession events, priests take on the "gender" attributes of their deities without regard for their own anatomical sex/gender. This leads to the question, what does "gender" mean in such a fluid environment? This paper will integrate the work of Oyèrónké Oyéwùmí (The Invention of Woman) and Ifi Amadiume (Male Daughters, Female Husbands), who suggest that the lack of gender in West African languages leads to different perceptions of human relationships, with a discussion of the gender ambiguities observed within Santería religious practice.
Mindfully Surpassing Mind-Body Dualisms
Anne C. Klein, Rice University
Anne Klein will draw upon Tibetan Buddhist conceptions of mindfulness and Tibetan medical tradition to expose subtle mind-body dichotomies in western feminism. She seeks to offer a more constructive account of subjectivity that escapes the "mind-body problem"-a problem she believes continues to plague feminism despite the explicit feminist critique of such mind/body dichotomy. She will show how the complex and fluid integration of mind and body implicit in Tibetan Buddhist conceptions, meditative techniques, and medical practice can, by contrast, highlight the lingering influence of a mind-body dyad in feminist thinkers such as Martha Nussbaum, and can point to more constructive accounts of subjective intelligence.
"The Substance of Things Hoped For": Rev. Leon Sullivan, the Great Society, and the Creation of the Opportunities Industrialization Center Movement, 1964-74
Juan Floyd-Thomas, Texas Christian University
My paper addresses Rev. Leon Sullivan’s struggle to create the Opportunities Industrialization Centers (OIC) within the context of Johnson’s "Great Society" conflict with the post-1965 civil rights establishment. Recognizing the dire need for job training among minorities in the inner-city during the 1960s, the OIC eventually created nearly 3 million jobs for the urban poor in the US and internationally since its inception. As the pastor of a prominent urban black church in Philadelphia, Rev. Sullivan used his clout as Baptist minister and civil rights activist to develop a program that not only surpassed government programs but also vastly outstripped King’s "Poor People’s Campaign" and the SCLC’s "Operation Breadbasket". This project illustrates how the Black Social Gospel tradition inspired Sullivan to improve the lives of America’s urban populace by creating the OIC as a means of filling the gap left by ineffective civil rights leadership and nonexistent federal
A Decade of Rage: Race, Religion and Sexuality in Black America, 1990-2000
Michelle Johnson, Claremont Graduate University
Black rage during the last decade of the twentieth century was fueled by denial, specifically, the denial of the realities of race, religion and sexuality. The researcher argues that researchers, scholars and oral traditions, have engaged in a complicitus perpetuation of denial that has rendered a generation of Black people in America with a self perception that is faulty and fictitious. In addition, this has caused a perception of Black Americans by others that is often erroneous and ill founded. Consequently, the result of centuries of denial about race, religion and sexuality has created an ethos of Black communal rage that manifests itself in intra-cultural and intercultural alienation. An investigation of the interlocutors of race, religion and sexuality as lived experiences in Black America provides a method for discovering links that lead to a new awareness and unapologetic appreciation of Black rage.
"That All May Be One": A Critical Review of the United Church of Canada’s Policy Against Racism
Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa, Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto
The United Church of Canada has a long tradition of attempting to address the concerns of racial and ethnic minorities within its fold. The effort may be described as the Church’s anti-racism praxis, that is to say, action against the problem of racism informed by values from a wide range of sources. In the year 2000, the General Council of the United Church endorsed a formal statement against racism called That All May Be One. My paper will evaluate the policy statement in light of current anti-racism theory and practice, the Church’s anti-racism tradition and the Faith it confesses.
Overcoming Barriers to Adequate Palliative Care for Terminally Ill Patients
Jennifer E. Beste, Yale University
Despite Canadian physicians’ strong affirmation of respect for terminal patients’ autonomy, most Canadians still lack access to adequate palliative care. Barriers to palliative care I propose, stem from a sharp dichotomy between the goal of medical specialties to eradicate disease and prolong life and the objective of palliative care to attain the best quality of life by attending to patients' physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. I argue that, in order to decrease suffering for terminally ill patients, the philosophy of palliative care ought to be embraced as the overarching objective of medicine. Within this alternative paradigm, balancing the burdens and benefits of aggressive curative therapies and their side effects is the central objective. As patients become better equipped to formulate broader hopes not solely contingent upon improvement of their condition, they and their families will be more likely to experience closure and even joy through a more meaningful dying process.
Medical Error and the Culture(s) of Forgiveness
Nancy Berlinger, The Hastings Center, Garrison, NY
My proposed paper will discuss the epistemology of forgiveness after medical error, in the context of the Institute of Medicine’s recent report on the prevalence of medical error in U.S. hospitals (To Err is Human, 2000) and the subsequent focus by healthcare regulators and policymakers on medical error as a major healthcare problem. Drawing upon Jewish and Christian biblical sources, Christian ethics, contemporary bioethics literature, sociology of medicine, medical anthropology, ritual studies, and empirical data, the paper will identify the religious roots of secular forgiveness rituals in contemporary medical culture; address cross-cultural issues, e.g., by recognizing that "forgiveness" is not a universal metaphor and identifying appropriate metaphors in other traditions; and propose a theory of forgiveness that is inclusive of the perspective and needs of the injured patient. While the paper will focus on medical error within U.S. hospitals, data and models reflecting Canadian perspectives will be incorporated as appropriate.
Towards a Theological Understanding of Procreative Liberty: The Case of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
Margaret R. McLean, Santa Clara University
Procreative liberty is a principal ethical framework in the States for thinking about reproductive technologies, including the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Strong moral presumption is given to the right of parents to create the offspring they desire-for example, a child of a particular sex or without a particular disease-producing gene. This view of procreative liberty as a parental negative claim-right leads to an ethic sensitive to current desires but generally unresponsive to future concerns. However, the goal of preimplantation genetic diagnosis is precisely to affect future generations and requires new ways of envisioning reproductive freedom. This paper offers critical theological analysis of the right to procreative liberty and its use as a normative standard regarding preimplantation genetic diagnosis. A model of the right to procreative liberty that is particularly sensitive to the future and "how the coming generation is to live" is proposed.
Religion, Ethics, and Public Health: Connections, Themes, and Applications to the Problem of Violence
M. Christian Green, University of Chicago
The September 11 terrorist and bioterrorist attacks on America have drawn new attention to violence and public health. In this paper, I, first, outline the conclusions of a recent project that brought religious congregations together to address community violence and what this might suggest for discussions of larger forms of violence. Second, I define violence as a problem of broken relations and imbalance between individual and community. Third, I discuss violence as a relational and public health problem replicate a central tension at the heart of bioethics and the tension between autonomy and justice which bioethics has only recently begun to consider on a global scale.
Ritual in Republican China: Creating Citizens for a Modern Nation
Jennifer Oldstone-Moore, Wittenberg University
Ritual (li) has long been at the heart of the transmission of the Confucian program for the transformation of self and society. In 1934, Chiang Kai-shek attempted to reinvigorate China through the New Life Movement using Confucian principles reinterpreted for the needs of a modern nation. Although his attempt was to create a citizenry from the masses and to increase Chinese prestige in the eyes of foreigners, his primary conceptual tool for this work was the li as transmitted through the "96 Rules." Studies of the NLM have dismissed the sincerity of Chiang’s commitment to Confucianism. This study, however, shows that the NLM’s mode of transformation is in keeping with programs of imperial China such as xiang yue (community compacts), texts such as Xiaoxue (Elementary Education) and the Sacred Edict, and the kinds of ritual found in the Record of the Rites.
Searching for Yan Hui: Transmission and Transformation in Early Confucian Traditions
Jeffrey L. Richey, Berea College
Presentations of Confucius’ disciples in the Lunyu (Analects) are multiple and divergent. Appearances of one disciple in particular, Yan Hui, are intriguing because of their diversity. Yan Hui is presented both as a spiritual athlete and exemplar, and as a disciple whose attachment to Confucius is unusually and uniquely intimate. In other passages, however, he is less prominent or even absent altogether. This paper approaches the problem of innovation and transmission in Confucian traditions by focusing on whether and how images of Yan Hui represent transmissions of historical memory as well as innovations in the construction of a spiritual lineage. By tracing the ways in which different presentations of Yan Hui won or lost favor with different redactors of the Lunyu, it is possible to see how competing presentations of important figures such as Yan Hui reflect competing spiritual lineages within the pluralistic Confucian traditions of the Warring States period.
"Home-Schooling" as a Contested Concept in Early Confucianism
Jane Geaney, University of Richmond
In early Confucian texts, transmission and innovation are matters of particular concern to parents. Indeed, in the Lunyu, respect for one’s dead father is strictly understood to mean transmission without innovation. Thus, it is appropriate to approach transmission and innovation in early Confucianism from the perspective of the parent/child bond. This paper examines two contrasting early Confucian views of the value of paternal involvement in a son’s education. In some passages in the Xunzi, education seems to be precisely what the father devotes himself to in order to teach his sons to be filial. In other passages in the Mencius, it seems to produce the very alienation from the father that it is meant to prevent. The paper attempts to illuminate these tensions about in the father’s role in his son’s education, by contrasting them to the apparently un-conflicted maternal
>From Honoring Parents to Feeding Them: The Transformation of Lowly Yang into Exalted Gongyang in Early Medieval China
Keith Knapp, The Citadel
Early Confucians incessantly reiterated that xiao ("filial piety") is not yang ("nurturing"). Early medieval (AD 25-600) authors, on the contrary, usually equated the two. They did so by reconfiguring yang as the concept of gongyang ("respectful nourishing"), which meant feeding parents in an exalted manner. Early medieval authors repackaged and promoted yang in this way because it served their immediate political and social needs. The early medieval period witnessed the collapse of strong central government, and the emergence of powerful individual families as weighty political and social players. The message of gongyang was appealing to this new elite because it enhanced family solidarity by stressing that nothing was more important than one’s family, and that junior members of the family should sacrifice their personal interests on behalf of the extended family.
"Bounded Openness": Jones’s Approach to a Feminist Christian Systematics
Cynthia Rigby, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
I explore Serene Jones’s engaging approach to relating feminist theory and Christian theology, concentrating on her commitment to "bounded openness." What binds and what opens, when feminist theory and Christian theology meet? What are we bound to and what are we open to? When is "binding" or "opening" oppressive, and when liberative? Feminist thinkers have commonly presented Christian theology as that which binds us to kyriarchal structures and feminist theory as that which opens us to the possibility of human flourishing. Jones problematizes this, insisting that Christian theology can at certain points open us to flourishing where feminist theory binds us to hopelessness. But Jones also defies a simplistic association of "openness" with "flourishing" and "boundedness" with "oppression." Ultimately, I argue, Jones’s approach is bounded by womens’s experiences, and this boundedness is precisely what drives her open exploration of Christian theology.
Mirror, Mirror: Reflections of the Self in Feminist Theory and Christian Theology
Rosemary P. Carbine, Saint Mary’s College, South Bend
This paper distills and evaluates a theological anthropology that takes shape when Serene Jones uses Luce Irigaray’s speculumed mirror and ethics of envelopment and wonder to refract theological categories from a Reformed feminist perspective. As I discuss, when Jones uses feminist theory to reenvision human nature through the lens of "strategic essentialism,'she participates in an emerging "weak postmodernist" trend widely shared among feminist theologians to craft relational claims about human nature that can sustain universal standing while preserving differences in and among women. Elaborating on and setting Jones within this trend allows me to investigate whether her theology of sin and grace successfully renarrates women’s personhood in a way that celebrates women’s differences without undoing their subjectivity altogether. As I will argue, grace bequeaths an enveloped integrity to women fractured by sin, but, ultimately, grants them sanctified sameness at the expense of mapping out kaleidoscopic paths to women’s flourishing.
Communities of Accountability: Serene Jones’s Feminist Theory and Christian Theology
Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, Drew University
Serene Jones’s book has one of the clearest proposals of feminst theory I have ever seen. Her way of marrying feminist theory and theology makes it clear that theology has to make use of other disciplines like critical theory and philosophy, to be able to remain alive and contribute to the well-being of the human community and the world. Serene’s clear commitment to church is refreshing and makes clear the need we all have for communities of faith to be also communities of accountability.
Beyond Manu: Dharmaśāstra as Historical Scripture
Donald R. Davis, University of Michigan
Interest in the genre of Hindu scripture known as dharmaśāstra has largely focused on the widely known Laws of Manu. In this paper, I will argue that we must look beyond Manu to the other major and minor texts of dharmaśāstra in order appreciate the value that dharmaśāstra has for historical studies of religion and law in South Asia. To that end, I will discuss a minor, regional dharmaśāstra text entitled Laghudharmaprakāśikā that has significant implications for the way in which we understand dharmaśāstra as a whole. Three sections of the text dealing with adoption in matrilineal communities, adultery inquests, and special rules for people in Kerala will provide support for the argument that dharmaśāstra often addressed contemporary issues and regional differences and embedded new forms of ritual and legal standards within its interpretive structure.
Reading Dharmaśāstra as Aesthetics
Maria Heim, California State University, Long Beach
My paper considers the religious uses to which Dharmaśāstra material has been put in its long and complex history in India, focusing on its appearance in literature and in anthologies produced by medieval kings and their courts. By considering the intertextuality of epic, purānic, and Dharmaśāstra texts, we can appreciate the aesthetic dimensions of religious literature in Brahmanical Hinduism and the ways it transmitted the values of elite culture. I argue that rather than seeing Dharmaśāstra texts as legal or quasi-legal documents, it often can be more fruitful to appreciate their aesthetic qualities and appeal as described in the texts themselves. The symbolic power of demonstrating mastery of the norms and etiquette of Brahmanical culture in different genres of texts was deployed for various culture-making purposes: establishing kings, connecting local places to cosmopolitan sensibilities, and conveying the refinement of elite culture against competing religious visions.
"Rise Up and Fly!": The Songs of Women and the Play of the Lord in Śaiva Siddhānta Philosophy
Anne E. Monius, Harvard University
In the study of the South Indian philosophical school known as the Śaiva Siddhānta, virtually no scholarly attention has been paid to the first of the fourteen canonical works composed in Tamil: the Tiruvuntiyār, a text whose name and import have remained something of a mystery. This paper will examine the significance of the Tiruvuntiyār in terms of both its inclusion in the Tamil philosophical canon and its unique literary form. Structured as a song sung by young women playing a game perhaps akin to shuttlecock, the Tiruvuntiyār transforms a classical, secular song genre into a locus of theological reflection. How does this gendered and colloquially flavored literary form serve to express a philosophically sophisticated vision of the divine?
When Heaven Is for Sinners: The Mahābhārata’s Literary Approach to the Problem of Suffering
Emily Hudson, Emory University
This paper argues that suffering is a central theme in the Mahābhārata. An investigation of whether the epic provides an answer for why this suffering takes place, that is whether it provides a theodicy, uncovers three different responses on the part of the epic. First is its consideration of fate as a theodicy. A second is that Krishna is responsible. In this paper, I argue that the epic rejects both fate and Krishna as a viable theodicy and addresses the issue in a more radical fashion: through its literary technique of narrative strategies.
Only as Much Land Reparation as Possible?
Iain S. Maclean, James Madison University
This paper argues that without adequate and far-reaching reparations, including immediate land redistribution and long-term policies, national reconciliation will remain an elusive goal in nations who have recently formed National Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. How reparations are understood and implemented (or not as the case might be) will be examined comparatively, focusing on the Latin American (Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador) and South African cases, though not ignoring the North Americas. Specific attention will be given to the question of land distribution. The role of churches in calling for reparations, in particular for landless peasants and indigenous peoples of the Americas will be addressed.
Pilgrimage as Package Tour: Early Modern Pilgrimage Confraternities at Sagami Oyama
Barbara Ambros, Harvard University
The paper examines the confraternities involved with the Oyama pilgrimage in Sagami. Stressing the relationship between mendicancy and pilgrimage, scholars of Japanese religion have often stressed the anti-social aspects of travel and pilgrimage’s potential to challenge and subvert temporal authority. During the height of pilgrimage activity in Japan, i.e., during the Tokugawa period, it remains a fact that pilgrimages were remarkably orderly events: pilgrims typically traveled with village- or neighborhood-based confraternities; and throughout their travels they were housed and fed by innkeeper-proselytizers who enjoyed longstanding ties to the confraternities. The example of the Sagami Oyama pilgrimage confraternities demonstrates how careful site management and pilgrimage networks contributed to strengthening rather than undermining social structures and led to the commodification of pilgrimage as an early modern form of religious experience, and as a precursor of modern
Keikoin: Ise’s Tokugawa Convent
Diana E. Wright, Western Washington University
This paper examines the Tokugawa state’s use of religious institutions to insert itself into the spiritual domain (physical and otherwise) of religious activity in Japan. In 1609, the newly-established Edo line of Tokugawa shoguns strengthened their control over the Imperial line through Bakufu sponsorship of Keikoin, a Tokugawa Buddhist convent located within the precincts of the Ise Shrines. Rather than seeing the "people’s pilgrimages" to Ise, themselves so representative of the Edo period, as simply tropes of popular protest against the Bakuhan state, these gatherings can now be understood more broadly as part of the shogunate’s effort to legitimate itself through physical and metaphysical control of potentially troublesome organizations. Indeed, by appointing women intimately connected to the Tokugawa family as the Keikoin convent’s head clerics, the shogunal line effectively countered and on occasion even overwhelmed any influence that Ise’s high priestesses might have generated for their Imperial relatives.
Buddhist Crime and Women in Tokugawa Japan: Nyobon and Early Modern Religiosity
Nam-lin Hur, University of British Columbia
This paper sheds light on the Bakufu’s control over the public and private lives of Buddhist priests by examining Buddhist crime and women in Tokugawa Japan. In Tokugawa Japan, the state could execute, imprison, or banish Buddhist monks who "slept with women" (nyobon). Excepting those belonging to the True Pure Land (Jōdo Shin) denomination, Buddhist monks were strictly forbidden to marry, until 1872. Legal actions against nyobon demonstrate the "early modern" nature of Buddhism’s affiliation with the Bakuhan state, in which ethical norms, public authority, gender and sexuality, and social engineering become entwined in an example of the state at its apparent strongest when acting in the religious arena. By analyzing trial cases of nyobon, this paper explores how the Law of the King and the Law of Buddha interacted, and the paper thereby sheds light on the early modern construction of sacred religious domains and notions of Buddhist justice.
Divination as Cultivation
Janine Tasca Sawada, University of Iowa
This paper examines certain interpretations of divination that became popular during the last decades of the Tokugawa period. In the early-nineteenth century and within the world of fortune-telling, leaders arose who criticized the traditional fatalistic perspective that had long informed prognostication practices and the diviner-client relationship. These reformists did not completely deny the validity of the traditional styles, but instead astutely transformed them by introducing a novel emphasis on the power of the client while retaining much of the traditional lexicon. This pioneering breed of diviners exploited the popular appeal of the fortune-telling act, which again traditionally placed the client in a passive position, and drew on stocks of religious knowledge to formulate methods of active self-improvement used by individuals with backgrounds that spanned all classes. The paper gives special attention to the ideas of and practice advocated by Mizuno Nanboku (1757-1834), popularly considered the father of modern Japanese physiognomy.
Millennialism in the Age of Revaluation
Paul Corey, McMaster University
This paper will consider the viability of a millenarian ethos in the aftermath of twentieth century genocide and in the wake of September 11. First, it will explore the secular and religious manifestations of millennial violence over the past century. Second, it will consider two possible responses to millenarian violence through the work of Jacques Derrida and Jean Baudrillard. Derrida, I will argue, is attempting to correct millennialist excesses by formulating a reconstituted millennialism of his own. Derrida’s new millenarianism appears in his account of the "messianic." Baudrillard, on the other hand, is attempting to restore "equilibrium" by pointing us towards an ethos that is radically void of millennial hope. Baudrillard’s understanding is rooted in his claim that evil is ineradicable. I will argue that the tension between Derrida and Baudrillard is representative of a general stress within out late-post-modern situation.
Apocalyptic Interpretations of September 11
Michael Christensen, Drew University
Immediately following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, new age numerologists, Christian apocalypticists, and even investment futurists began to interpret the numerical significance of September 11 in relation to global terrorism. This paper analyzes seven sets of apocalyptic/millennial interpretations of September 11 events in popular culture, including: 1) numerological significance of September 11, 2) scriptural applications of the holy Qur’an, 3) fundamentalist Christian Prophecy, 4) citations from Nostradamus, 5) astrological conjunctions, 6) Tarot card readings, and 7) Hebrew Bible codes. Many numerological assertions related to September 11 are debunked through historical research and logical reasoning, and others accounted for through Jung’s theory of synchronicity. The conclusion reached suggests that apocalyptic interpretations of disaster (including September 11) fit an historical pattern of social behavior during "apocalyptic time."
Marks of the Beast: Evangelical Apocalyptic Fiction, Identity, and the Internalization of Evil
Glenn William Shuck, Rice University
Despite the remarkable economic prosperity of the 1990’s, at least in the popular imagination, Americans purchased enormous numbers of Evangelical prophecy novels that specialized in depictions of the impending, pre-millennial sufferings of those "left behind" after the "Rapture"--or the removal of the redeemed by Christ. This pessimism might appear counterintuitive, as the New Economy, driven by rapid technological development, materially enhanced the lives of many. The economic expansion, however, also revealed cultural fissures indicating deeper concerns about the self and its place in the technological matrix. Evangelical prophecy writers responded with texts that while deceptively banal, nevertheless made the incomprehensible aspects of the emerging global culture appear familiar to their readers, depicting a world in which evil could be personified, and humans could regain control over their futures. The need for such mythological explanations of evil has become even more acute after the traumatic events of September 11.
The Religion of Usamah bin Ladin: Terror as the Hand of God
Jean E. Rosenfeld, University of California, Los Angeles
The religion of al-Qa’ida, a transnational network of jihadist cells and complex groups dedicated to overthrowing the hegemony of Muslim and Western regimes that have divided and demoralized the Muslim nation (ummah) is innovative, deviant, rare, and dangerous. Its founder, Usamah bin Ladin, assumes the charismatic, authoritative mantle of a messiah type. He does not claim to be a savior in religious, Islamic terms, but in political revolutionary terms. He calls recruits to sacrifice themselves in acts of destruction of designated enemies in order to bring about the ultimate salvation of a pure Islamic world. He invokes the symbols, archetypes, and nomenclature of the seventh-century Companions of the Prophet Muhammad as the template for a transformed and unified Islamic civilization. Understanding the religion of bin Ladin is essential to formulating an optimal response to its acts of holy terror.
True and False Prophecy at the Millennium: The Case of September 11
Wendy Love Anderson, Saint Louis University
The debate over true and false prophecy became intertwined with Christian millennialist responses in the aftermath of September 11. Prophecies from Scripture and from historical figures (e.g. Nostradamus), along with the predictions of contemporary prophets and gurus, were cited and debated at length online almost instantaneously. But September 11 had a double-edged impact on prophecy: prophets who had predicted it correctly found their reputations made, and new curiosity about about prophecy offered them a potential market for their ideas, but the widespread tendency to place September 11 within apocalyptic and millennialist scenarios from the New Testament meant that false prophets were also to be expected. Debates about the truth and falsehood of prophets and prophecies formed a major part of the millennialist response to September 11, and they extended across denominational boundaries, briefly becoming part of mainstream discussion on the Internet and across the English-speaking world.
Panel: The Real Presence in the Lord’s Supper - A New Proposal
Katherine Sonderegger, Virginia Theological Seminary, Presiding
George Hunsinger, Princeton University
This session will consider a new proposal for understanding the traditional Reformed affirmation of the "Real Presence" of Christ in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Responses will be offered from a Reformed, a Roman Catholic and a Lutheran perspective. Open discussion of the various points raised will follow.
On Philosophical Quicksand: A Closer Look at Huchingson’s Model of the Pandemonium Tremendum
Taede A. Smedes, University of Groningen
This paper reacts to James Huchingson’s book Pandemonium Tremendum: Chaos and Mystery in the Life of God. In this book a metaphysical model is proposed of how God not only created our orderly cosmos from a primordial chaos, but is still active in it through a constant stream of variety. However, two tensions in this model are identified: the tension between God’s (continuing) action and God’s kenosis, and a tension between Huchingson’s model of creation and the notion of self-organization. These tensions are ascribed to Huchingson’s use of scientific and theological concepts taken out of their respective contexts, as if science and religion were on the same level. As such, this paper wants to argue for a plural approach, trying to keep the scientific and the religious perspectives separated though related through the concept of "resonance."
Tremendous Metaphysics? Kybernete, Emergent Probability, Spirit, and James Huchingson
Paul L. Allen, Concordia University
In this paper, I note significant features of James Huchingson’s metaphysical theology of God in Pandemonium Tremendum that are important for the natural science - theology exchange. I go on to suggest a fuller development of three notions that are key to his proposal. A more full-fledged sense of the human kybernete, emergence and the spirit of God would deepen Huchingson’s theology of God. Huchingson’s proposal is progressive both for its augmentation of process thought and his affirmation of a God who is active in the universe. Borrowing from Jean Ladrière, Bernard Lonergan and Philip Clayton respectively, I suggest modifications to Huchingson’s theological metaphysics in terms of the self-transcendence of the human kybernete, the reality of emergent probability in a critical metaphysics, and the work of God accomplished
The Divine Matrix and Pandemonium Tremendum
Joseph A. Bracken, Xavier University
James Huchingson indirectly retrieves in Pandemonium Tremendum one of the classic themes in Western mysticism: namely, the distinction between the impersonal (or transpersonal) Godhead and God as a personal being. Using contemporary communications and systems theory, he explores the idea of a primordial chaos as a necessary condition for God’s creation of the world. Yet he admits that his scheme is deficient on several counts. The assumed ontological subordination of God to the Pandemonium Tremendum clashes with traditional Christian belief and worship. In addition, the link between "variety" and "information" in his theory is uncertain. This author argues that a suitably revised understanding of the God-world relationship according to Alfred North Whitehead could allay these misgivings and allow for a more orthodox, Trinitarian understanding of the God-world relationship while still preserving the originality of Huchingson’s notion of the Pandemonium Tremendum as primordial chaos.
Panel: A Theology of Desire: In Memory of Charles E. Winquist
Jeffrey W. Robbins, Lebanon Valley College, Presiding
G. Chad Snyder, Elon University, Presiding
John D. Caputo, Villanova University
Edith Wyschogrod, Rice University
Mark C. Taylor, Williams College
Theresa Sanders, Georgetown University
James B. Wiggins, Syracuse University
This session will celebrate the theological legacy of Charles E. Winquist, author most recently of Desiring Theology (Chicago, 1996) and Surface of the Deep (Davies Group, 2002). Winquist will be remembered not only as a pioneer in postmodern, deconstructive theology, but also as a theoretician of religion committed to the critical, interrogative value of theological thinking to the field of Religious Studies. Winquist’s work spans the period of three decades, helping to mark the changing cultural context in which the culture of secularity pressures a reconfigured theological outlook and urgency. His insistence that a desiring theology is a desire for a thinking that does not disappoint continues to open new possibilities for strategies of thought responsive to an age of cultural and religious pluralism. The panelists will speak to these themes as they help to memorialize the passing of their friend, colleague, and teacher.
Panel: Sisters in the Wilderness: Grappling with Delores Williams’ Womanist God-Talk
Renee K. Harrison, Emory University
Emily Holmes, Emory University
Ba Sean Jackson, Emory University
Veronice Miles, Emory University
A. Nevell Owens, Emory University
Meghan T. Sweeney, Emory University
Dianne Stewart, Emory University, Responding
Delores Williams, Union Theological Seminary, New York, Responding
Delores Williams’ Sisters in the Wilderness is undoubtedly one of the most influential and provocative expressions of womanist constructive theology. Since its publication in 1993, Sisters in the Wilderness has been heralded as a definitive text in womanist theological discourse for its innovative analysis of Black women’s oppression and rigorous theological critique of the androcentric approaches to theological method assumed by Black male theologians. Through categories such as surrogacy, survival-quality of life and wilderness Williams examines the socio-historical experiences of Black women in North America and constructs what she calls an identification-ascertainment hermeneutic to discover suppressed connections between the biblical Hagar narrative and African American women’s struggle for survival. This panel will present critical interrogative, dialogical and constructive theological responses to some of the most salient motifs in Williams’ theological project, including the topics of wilderness experience, theological sources, anthropology, theism and the survival/liberation dialectic in Williams’ womanist theology.
A Religious Response Veiled in a Presidential Address: A Theological Study of Bush’s September 20, 2001 Speech
Caryn D. Riswold, Illinois College
The speech met the moment. The moment was like none experienced before. The speech transformed a presidency and rallied a nation. But, what was this pivotal response to a critical moment in American history? Was it a call to a just and holy war? Is God really on the president’s "side"? This paper will analyze the speech delivered by President George W. Bush on September 20, 2001, to a joint session of Congress and to a troubled nation as a speech that depends on intimations of righteous indignation, a clear demarcation of good and evil, and a God who is not neutral. I will look at the religious themes overtly and subtly stated in this speech, to discern what was actually a religious response to a global crisis that took the form of a presidential address.
September 11 as Dharma Teacher: A Buddhist Perspective
Kenneth L. Kraft, Lehigh University
The terrorist attacks of September 11 afford teachers of Buddhism a rare opportunity to illumine several of the tradition’s most central concepts. September 11 serves as a "teachable moment" because it was dramatic, unexpected, painful, widely shared, and disruptive of previously held assumptions. This paper offers post-September 11 interpretations of five Buddhist themes: interdependence, impermanence, awakening, compassion, and nonviolence. The events of that day also raise important questions for the emerging field of engaged Buddhist studies. For example: Can contemporary Buddhists affirm nonviolence in ways that are nuanced enough to accommodate the complexities of the modern world? The passengers on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania presumably used violent means to subdue the hijackers, but in doing so they probably prevented greater violence. What forms of violence, if any, are justifiable in combatting terrorism?
A Gandhian Perspective on the Terrorist Crisis
Joseph Prabhu, California State University, Los Angeles
I lay out and examine three moral responses to the events of September 11: first, all-out aggressions; second, just war thinking; and third, Gandhian nonviolent resistance. After dismissing the first, I consider the claims of the second and judge them to be ethically deficient. I do this first by contextualizing just war theory and then by seeing whether its norms are met by the specific circumstances of the war in Afghanistan. Next I explore the nature and scope of Gandhian nonviolence, correcting some common misunderstandings. I attempt to show how it is a morally better and practically more effective strategy in the present conflict. Consideration of these responses brings up the more difficult question of defining the nature and scope of terrorism. I distinguish between two kinds of terrorism, overt and structural, and argue that when one considers both, the ascription of responsibility becomes more complex than is usually supposed.
Abraham, Agamemnon, Bush and Bin Laden: Franz Hinkelammert Illuminates Popular Theologies of Human Sacrifice
Laura L. M. Crawford, Chicago Theological Seminary
The events of September 11 have evoked abundant rhetoric of sacrifice. Leaders of two opposing forces, George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden have called their followers to be willing to die in order to achieve the deaths of their enemies. As a model for understanding this glorification of death I propose the theory of Franz Hinkelammert. He utilizes, on the one hand, the stories of Oedipus and Agamemnon and, on the other hand, the story of Abraham and the teachings of Jesus and Paul to provide two distinct ways of viewing law and sacrifice.
Panel: A Dialogue Between Canadian and United States Feminist Scholars of Religion on Strategies for Responding to Militarism
Sponsored by the Status of Women in the Profession Committee
Janet R. Jakobsen, Barnard College, Presiding
Amila Buturovic, York University ,
Judith Rebick, Associated Press
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, University of Florida.
The Status of Women in the Profession Committee is committed to creating opportunities for feminist scholars to speak out on issues of public concern. As a follow-up to last year’s discussion on faith based initiatives, we have organized a dialogue about the connections between violence against women, local cultures of violence, and the larger international questions of conflict from a religious perspective.
How to Do Things with Translations: Methodological Reflections on Early Chinese Buddhist Texts
Jan Nattier, Indiana University, Bloomington
>From the mid-second century through the mid-third century C.E., dozens if not hundreds of Indian Buddhist scriptures were translated for the first time into Chinese. Many of these early works have been lost, and many others assigned to this initial period in later catalogues are of doubtful authenticity. Yet even after eliminating such doubtful texts we are left with a rich collection of translations that can be reliably dated to this formative period. Drawing primarily on the Buddhist scriptures produced by Zhi Qian (fl. c. 220-252 CE), a prolific translator whose works were widely read (and indeed, often plagiarized) by both Buddhists and Daoists, I will explore some of the methodological issues involved in mining early Chinese translations both for information on the initial stages of the appropriation of Buddhism in China and for clues to aspects of Indian Buddhism for which no other sources have survived.
Just How Much Sanskrit Do I Need? Sakya Pandita on Buddhism in Tibetan Translation
Jonathan C. Gold, University of Chicago
In his Entryway Into Scholarship (Mkhas 'jug), Sakya Pandita (Sa-pan, 1182-1251), argues that the unique context of Tibetan Buddhism, wherein the main authoritative texts are translations, requires that scholars protect the dharma against the corrosive tendencies of its recent shift in linguistic and cultural context. When Sa-pan analyzes differences between the dharma’s Tibetan and Sanskrit versions he bolsters his own vision of the intellectual and promotes the development of Sanskrit literary studies in Tibet. Only interpreters familiar with the linguistic and literary conventions of India can recover the scripture’s original "speech intention" (brjod "dod) and "well known" (grags pa) meaning through the Tibetan translation. Sa-pan’s arguments describe a wide range of linguistic and hermeneutic difficulties facing Tibetans. This paper addresses its title question to Sa-pan’s treatment of: changes in phonetics and grammatical forms; special translation terminology; translators' techniques; common mistakes in translation; and unexplained names and literary tropes.
The Idea of the Esoteric: Using Theories of Translation and Metaphor to Explore the Propagation of Esoteric Buddhism in Tang China
Charles D. Orzech, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
The translation of Esoteric Buddhism to China marked the last great influx of South Asian religion to East Asia, and the monk Amogha played a greater role than any other in this process. Though Esoteric Buddhism was South-Asian in origin it was skillfully deployed by Amogha to suit his Chinese patrons. Amogha’s retranslation of several important texts affords us a "laboratory" to study this encounter. Extending earlier work I bring to this "laboratory" the results of recent theories of translation (Lefevre, Nida, Stewart) and metaphor (Lakoff, Johnson). Using these theories I examine Amogha’s use of traditional terminology (such as mingwang, "brilliant king," to render vidyārāja or vidyārājnī) charged with the ideology of the Chinese sage king.
Translation Strategies of the Mongols: The Past and Present
Vesna A. Wallace, University of California, Santa Barbara
This paper contrasts old translation strategies and theories of the Mongols, which played a prominent role in the development of Buddhism in Mongolia, with the Mongols’ present attempts at developing a new Buddhist culture by translating Buddhist scriptures and prayers into the contemporary Mongolian language. The main differences between the old system of translation and the contemporary translation activities in Mongolia lie in their methods of translation, in the choice of the text, and in the language and adequacy of translations. These differences are chiefly due to the loss of the tradition of classical Buddhist learning during a long period of the suppression of Buddhism in Mongolia by the communist Chinese and Soviet regimes. The old tradition of providing the literal translations of the foreign Buddhist terms in classical Mongolian or leaving them non-translated has created a difficult challenge for contemporary Mongolian translators unfamiliar with the old, classical terminology.
"National Pride Is Abomination in the Sight of God": Early Pentecostal Dissent from American Patriotism and the Long Road Forward
Paul N. Alexander, Southwestern Assemblies of God University
The intent of this paper is to bring to our attention the pentecostal resources that could help us to avoid being caught up in the sweep of patriotism that divides the world into antagonistic competitors. The current state of American pentecostalism is one of extreme nationalism that is often not aware of its one sidedness. Great pride is taken in pentecostals who have achieved great positions of "power." But this strikes at the heart of the true grace of the pentecostal movement that has been so successful around the globe among the dispossessed and marginalized. The argument of this paper will move from historical overview of anti-patriotic rhetoric, to an examination of the current uncritical nationalism among American pentecostals, to suggestions for practices that can possibly reverse the tide and establish solidarity with the human family around the globe.
United States Catholic Discipleship and Citizenship: Patriotism or Dissent?
Kristin Heyer, Boston College
Debate has arisen in recent years regarding the appropriate public role for religion in the United States. This paper will show that it is permissible on Christian grounds to participate in public life and that it is possible to do so in ways respectful of democratic liberties. It will then explore how the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. "takes theology public" in different ways, contributing to the common good in ways that reflect both patriotism and dissent. Finally it examines different Catholic responses to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan (in the immediate aftermath of September 11) to illustrate the tensions between discipleship and citizenship as well as the potential role for religious dissent or critique, even in times of war.
Tongue in Check: Bakhtin, Taliban Terror, and Anabaptist Pacifism
Crystal Downing, Messiah College
Mikhail Bakhtin situated ethics upon the necessity of "becoming," which occurs only by way of engagement with the Other. For Bakhtin, one cannot be fully known apart from the Other, who provides perspectives that the autonomous self cannot attain. This paper addresses how, in light of September 11, we might theorize openness to the Other without opening ourselves to the consequences of others' destructive ideology. It will present parallels between various pre-Modern sensibilities of the Taliban and those of Old Order Anabaptist groups in order to consider how the construct of "Otherness" might promote pacifism rather than terror.
"God Bless America": Patriotism and Political Theology
Alan Revering, Harvard University
The political theology of Johann Baptist Metz provides a uniquely helpful perspective for thinking about September 11, 2001, and about the American popular response. This catastrophic event reveals the importance of Metz’s central category of "interruption." Two common reactions - "Everything has changed," and "Why do they hate us?" - are interpreted in the light of Metz’s work. The ubiquitous slogan "God bless America" is analyzed in two ways: as a simple assertion of "political religion," which must be clearly criticized, and as the expression of a genuinely religious plea, which can be welcomed and even nurtured. In the wake of this dramatic historical discontinuity, political theology calls forth an openness to deep changes in the way we talk about war and other great questions of human life.
Whether Patriots, Too, Can Be Saved?
George D. Randels, University of the Pacific
This essay construes patriotism as uncritical zeal and devotion to a country, and thus as something clearly rejected within the Christian tradition. Loyalty to a country, however, can indeed be acceptable from a Christian perspective. Contrary to some understandings, loyalty is neither a duty nor a virtue, but a passion. Crucial to loyalty is an understanding of when it is appropriate, as well how different loyalties compare when they conflict. From the standpoint of Christian ethics, loyalty to Church takes priority over loyalty to state, and appropriate loyalty to state can never proclaim "my country right or wrong," the way that patriotism does. Clearly, dissent holds a prominent place in Christian ethics. Options are not restricted to "exit, voice, or loyalty." In fact, dissent is an important part of loyalty. Furthermore, dissent is not necessarily disobedience to the state. Obedience to the state is at best a prima facie obligation.
Ineffective or Insidious?: French Catholic Missionary Impact on Native Women in Louisiana Territory In the Eighteenth Century
Michelene Pesantubbee, University of Colorado, Boulder
Although French Catholic missionaries were in the Lower Mississippi Valley for seventy years, many historians and French colonial officials of the time argue that French Catholics had a negligible impact among indigenous peoples. In this paper I argue that French Catholic missionaries contributed to significant changes in the lives of indigenous peoples that, in turn, led to the suppression of Choctaw women’s roles. The missionaries not only brought a Catholic message to indigenous peoples, they also served as diplomats and intelligence gathering agents for French military and civilian authorities. As agents of the French colonial government, missionaries participated in diplomatic rituals that put them in uncomfortable proximity and relationships with native women. Their purposeful distancing from native women as well as their religious teachings affected Choctaw ideas about women and diplomatic and military rituals that eventually led to the loss of the ideal of Beloved Woman among the Choctaw.
No Longer a Black Robe: Isaac Jogues and the Clash of Visionary Cultures in the Jesuit Missions in Seventeenth Century New France
Steven T. Hoskins, Trevecca Nazarene College
This paper investigates the missionary vision and work of the Jesuit Isaac Jogues and his work among the Huron and Iroqois Indians in seventeenth Century New France. It specifically explores his rejection of a "colonialism" approach to missionary work and instead, his use of the missionary theory of Adaptation developed by Roberto de Nobili in India a generation before. Jogues gave up his Jesuit Black Robe and dressed, lived, ate, spoke and participated in the faith life of the Native Americans he ministered to. The paper focuses on the clash of the two very distinctive religious cultures, Jogues’ and the Native American religious culture he found, and in particular in the way they employed dreams to facilitate and communicate their understanding of the Divine.
The Algonquin Perception of Jesuits as Shaman in Early Seventeenth-Century Quebec
Emma J. Anderson, Harvard University
The recognition that Algonquin peoples in early seventeenth-century Quebec often perceived missionary Jesuits through the cultural lens of shamanism helps to explain otherwise puzzling contradictions in the sources, and aids our understanding of why Jesuit rhetorical and ritual actions often had very different effects than they anticipated. Jesuit engagement with Algonquin religious specialists was intended to demarcate theological and moral distinctions between Jesuits and shaman as religious actors. However, contestive engagements of this nature only served to reinforce the already pervasive tendency of Algonquins to perceive the Jesuits as similar to rather than different from their own indigenous religious specialists: that is, as powerful, ambiguous figures who had both the means to harm and to heal. Such a perception led to a paradoxical Algonquin understanding of baptism: while the dominant interpretation of the sacrament stressed its deadliness, another interpretation saw it as a healing ritual that could restore life.
Weaving a Tangled Web: Indian Intermarriage in the Nineteenth-Century Spanish Catholic Missions of California
Quincy Newell, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Though they disagree on the relative merits (or evils) of the mission system in California, scholars who study the missions all view the missions and their inhabitants as essentially removed from the social, political, economic and cultural network that connected indigenous groups in California. However, the continuing practice of intermarriage between tribal groups both inside and outside the missions suggests that Indians in the missions did not see themselves as separated from the web of political alliances that existed outside the missions. In fact, they had the power to manipulate that web through their own actions-in this case, through their marriages. Given the continued diplomatic use of intermarriage between Indians at the missions and the fragmentary evidence that the Indians viewed intermarriage with the Spanish in the same way, we must consider the possibility that the Indians used intermarriage with the Spanish to create political alliances between societies.
The Auto-Immunity of the Philosophy of Religion: Onto-Theology, Historical Difference, and the Construction of Indic Religions
Arvind Mandair, Hofstra University
The return of "religion" to the centre of politics in India and the diaspora may, it will be suggested, demonstrate a failing of the mainly secular discourses of modern Asian Studies and post-colonial theory. Through a rigid distinction between the religious and historicism, they continue to overlook the role of ontotheology in mediating key shifts in colonial Indology and the appropriation by the indigenous North Indian cultures of an ontotheological frame of thinking in responding to colonial rule. The paper explores a possible engagement between philosophy of religion and post-colonial theory by focusing on the relationship between "religion" and historical difference. A different version of this encounter occurs in Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. These illuminate the developing relationship and interdependence between the fledgling disciplines of philosophy of religion and Indology, and the continued lack of engagement between philosophy of religion and the history of (Indic) religions.
Uneasy Intersections: Postcolonialsim, Feminism, and the Study of Religion
Grace M. Jantzen, University of Manchester
This paper will explore how some of the shifts enacted by gender-critical perspectives in relation to philosophy of religion might inform an engagement by philosophy of religion with postcolonial discourse. In light of women’s struggles against masculine paradigms for the right to articulate and do philosophy, it is of central importance that scenarios involving the imposition of normative "Western" conclusions be avoided. Transformation will also only be possible where there is greater self-awareness of the multiplicity of voices from both "within" and "elsewhere" that articulate the oppressions which western philosophy of religion has imposed upon them. While it is impossible to predict the precise shape of any transformation, this will more than likely involve a questioning of the prioritization by philosophers of religion of monotheism and of epistemological questions and "beliefs". A transformation will also reinforce the necessity of considering the ethical and political ramifications.
Postcolonial Theory and the Philosophy of Religion: Reflections on Philosophy "After the Age of Europe"
Richard King, University of Derby
What do Postcolonial theory and the Philosophy of Religion have to say to each other? Not so long ago the juxtaposition of these two fields in the same academic conversation would have seemed strange and inappropriate. However, there is an increasing realization that ingrained European narratives of "truth" and "knowledge" can no longer remain insulated from a postcolonial and multi-cultural critique. This paper discusses the potential relationship between the two and ways in which they might mutually inform and enhance scholarship within their respective fields. How might the "philosophy of religion" "remodel" itself in a postcolonial context and is this a viable, or desirable, aim? Is comparative philosophy "dead in the water" or is it the only way in which philosophy of religion can renew itself? Conversely, what can contemporary postcolonial theory learn from the study of religions in its attempt to theorise "after the age of Europe" (Cornel West)?
The Impropriety of Philosophy of Religion and the Possibility of Transformation
Paulo Goncalves, University of London
This paper will argue that, in the absence of either a unified concept of "philosophy" or of "religion", the philosophy of religion is a discipline that, despite often looking po-faced, lacks all propriety. It will be suggested that this lack of propriety should not be interpreted as a loss of a fundamental essence, but rather as an acknowledgement of the multiple contexts in which the discipline has been articulated, and thus of the fundamental impact of temporality on though and hence of the possibility of transformative thinking. This signifies that in the engagement with difference which would occur in an encounter between philosophy of religion and postcolonial theory, a questioning of its own identity and an acknowledgement of its own plurality is as important for such an encounter as a renewed attentiveness to the plurality and difference of the "other".
A Map of Spirituality and Religion in the Workplace
Douglas A. Hicks, University of Richmond
Scholars of business management and organizational leadership have taken strong interest in spirituality and religion in the workplace. In critical dialogue with management theorists, the paper maps how leaders and followers negotiate religion, in its diverse and even divisive forms, in the workplace. The paper distinguishes the individual-level issues of particular employees who express faith commitments in the working sphere from the institutional-level issues of creating workplace structures that enable (or do not enable) all persons to be treated with equal respect. At the individual level, the paper distinguishes between the tradition-based (Christian, Buddhist, etc.), New Age, individualistic approaches to bringing personal faith expression to the workplace. The institutional analysis maps the dangers of producing or permitting marginalization through the institutional expressions of religion or spirituality. These analytical distinctions add clarity to the roles of religion and spirituality in one dimension of market life.
Negotiating Business and Religion: Amish Women Entrepreneurs and the Marketing of Cultural Tourism
Beth Graybill, University of Maryland and Mennonite Central Committee
How are Amish women business entrepreneurs in Lancaster County, Pa., negotiating traditional gender roles and separatist religious values while being part of a contemporary business marketplace catering to tourists? Using participant-observation and ethnographic research with Amish women who run small business enterprises, I explore the role religion plays in negotiating cultural boundaries, a complex dynamic for female entrepreneurs, since most Amish women’s business ventures (serving home-cooked meals to tourists; running greenhouses and operating shops selling quilts, crafts and baked goods) are located on the home property. Thus, such boundaries as public vs. private, insider vs. outsider, and work vs. family are more easily blurred. What are the daily tensions, balancing acts, and creative compromises for women in this cultural negotiation between business and religion? My study illustrates the struggle that many people face in holding on to traditional religious values amid economic pressures and forces of change in the workplace.
Religion: Resource and Resistance in the Workplace
Ken Estey, New York, NY
In the context of the overall expansion of work time in the United States, do religious practices within a work day serve as a form of resistance to this type of corporate hegemony? The guiding question is whether different forms of resistance reinforce such corporate expansion by providing a non-threatening outlet for workers or whether religious practices actually hinder this expansion through a direct challenge to corporations.
Panel: The Kumbh Melā : When the Divine Meets the Mundane
T.S. Rukmani, Concordia University, Presiding
Mathieu Boisvert, Université du Québec à Montréal
John Earl Llewellyn, Southwest Missouri State University
James G. Lochtefeld, Carthage College
Kama MacLean, La Trobe University
William Pinch, Wesleyan University
The objective of this panel is to sketch an overall view of what has become the largest pilgrimage of the world, the Kumbh Melā. This panel aims to cover aspects far beyond these two themes. The panel will begin with the viewing of the 55 minute documentary entitled Threshold, filmed during the 2001 Kumbh Melā of Pray&257;g. This will enable us to contextualize the event and to go beyond the stereotype of the mela as an ascetic fair. The documentary Threshold will be situated in the context of the recent history of competing media images of the Kumbh Melā as a spectacle and as a site of political contest. Discussion will take place to clarify the role and the implications of the various participants at the Kumbh mela.
Humanity as God’s Caliphs: A Growing Overlap of Reformism and Islamism on Human Rights Discourse?
David L. Johnston, Yale University
In this paper I approach the ongoing debate about Islam and human rights using the Islamic notion of humankind as God’s trustee (khalifa, or "caliph") on earth. From Muhammad 'Abduh on, one can trace an inclusive interpretation of this concept (the reformist current), while from Mawdudi and Sayyid Qutb on, one witnesses a narrowing of the definition of the human caliphate to the Islamic umma (the islamist current). I intend to show that: a) this concept is central to three of the main official Muslim declarations on human rights in the last thirty years, that b) this fact reflects a sort of reformist consensus on the human caliphate, and finally, that c) at least some islamists are coming around to the inclusive view. The data from the last category come in part from my interviews with two Palestinian islamists, Sheikh Ahmad Yasin (Gaza) and Sheikh Nizar Rāmadan (Hebron).
Panel: Textual Reasoning at the AAR: Rational Rabbis
Peter Ochs, University of Virginia, Presiding
Menachem Fisch, Tel Aviv University
Shaul Magid, Jewish Theological Seminary
Elizabeth Shanks Alexander, University of Virginia
Aryeh Cohen, University of Judaism
A reading of Berakhot 19b (the metivi sugya) in light of the theoretical approach of Menachem Fish, Rational Rabbis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997). This session is cosponsored by the Society for Textual Reasoning. Prof Fisch's paper will be posted by July/August 2002 on the website of the Society for Textual Reasoning. Responses by Profs. Alexander, Cohen, and Magid will be posted on the website by late September, 2002. In the AAR session, Fisch will offer a 10 minute summary of his argument, followed by briefer summaries of the respondent papers. Then, the panel will lead text study of Berakhot 19b, which study will itself occasion all debate and discussion among the panelists and among the audience-participants as well.
Some Epistemological and Hermeneutical Dimensions of the Doctrine of the Created Qur’an
David Vishanoff, Emory University
The Mu’tazili theologian ‘Abd al-Jabbār (d. 415/1024) contended that the Ash’ari defense of God’s eternal speech undermined its epistemological value. He sought to ensure the Qur'an’s reliability as a source of law by arguing that it is one of God’s acts, a created piece of evidence from which humans are to infer God’s will. This view had three consequences for his hermeneutics. First, the Qur’an cannot communicate in the same manner as human speech. Second, interpretation consists in reducing all the different forms of Qur’anic speech to indicative statements about the legal values of acts. Third, the Qur’an cannot be ambiguous. Contemporary discussions of Islamic legal and interpretive theory have paid little attention to such questions about the nature and function of the language of revelation.
Al-Zamakhsharī’s (d.1144CE) Use of an Earlier Source, Al-Zājjāj’s (d.ca.922CE) Ma’ānī l-Qur’an, in His Qur’an Commentary, Al-Kashshāf
Andrew J. Lane, University of Toronto
In the supplement to Brockelmann’s Geschichte der Arabischen Litteratur, it says that the Qur’an commentary, al-Kashshāf, composed by the Mu’tazilite grammarian and man of letters, Mahmūd b. ‘Umar al-Zamakhsharī (d.1144CE), is "based mainly on al-Zājjāj." Al-Zājjāj (d.ca.922CE), a ninth-tenth century grammarian, composed more than a dozen known works, only a few of which have survived. One of these is a Qur’an commentary entitled Ma’ānī l-Qur’an, to which GAL is undoubtedly, though not necessarily exclusively, referring here. To show that the Kāshshāf is based mainly on al-Zājjāj would be to go beyond the scope of this paper. However, al-Zamakhsharī did rely on al-Zājjāj when composing the Kāshshāf, for he refers to him directly by name on more than thirty occasions. In this paper, al-Zamakhsharī’s use of al-Zājjāj’s Ma’ānī l-Qur’an is explored, in order to see how he uses this earlier source and what it means when he writes "al-Zājjāj said."
Public Qur’anic Recitation and the Sonic Contestation of Islam in Contemporary Egypt
Michael Frishkopf, University of Alberta
This study aims to show how Qur’anic recitation (tilawa) can express and promote divergent interpretations of Islam. Many authors portray tilawa as unchanging. Indeed, the sacred text itself is immutable, and rules (tajwid) governing pronunciation, starting, relative syllable durations, pause, and stopping are sacrosanct. But other sonic parameters (including melody, register, and pacing) outside tajwid remain relatively flexible, enabling contrastive recitation styles to emerge. These sonic aspects of Qur’anic recitation constitute free variables, which may respond to social and historical circumstances, or participate in forming them. I argue that this flexibility enables Qur’anic recitation to function as a non-discursive strategy in the battle over Islamic authenticity in Egypt today.
A Systematic Theological Theory of Truth in Kathryn Tanner’s Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity
Christine Helmer, Claremont School of Theology
In this paper I propose to look at the issue of truth as it pertains to Kathryn Tanner’s book Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity. Truth has emerged as a serious topic in recent philosophical discussion, and it is beginning to generate interest in theological circles. In contrast to these discussions tending to focus exclusively on one account of truth, I argue that a theological theory of truth is complex, composed of various accounts that are related in precise ways to each other. In the paper, I will tease out the complex notion of truth operating in Tanner’s book in view of both the formal requirements concerning theological truth as a science, and the truth claims peculiar to the subject matter of systematic theology. Accounts of truth to be discussed are truth as coherence, truth as correspondence, truth as a social notion and truth as a communal search of science (Wissenschaft).
Community of Argument and Community of Gift: Kathryn Tanner’s Incipient Ecclesiologies
Amy Plantinga Pauw, Louisville Presbyterian Seminary
The church emerges in Kathryn Tanner’s book Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity as both a community of argument and a community of gift. As a community of argument, the church requires a radically decentralized power structure and a deep capacity for self-criticism. These qualities seem dispensable in a church that is primarily a community of gift, in which the church’s liturgical life is central and growth in Christian faith comes more by grateful reception than by ongoing argument. As they now stand, Tanner’s two images for the church are in tension. But this tension can be theologically productive, because both images are necessary for an adequate ecclesiology.
Postmodern Culture and Christian Doctrine in Kathryn Tanner’s Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity
Ian Curran, Emory University
Tanner brackets apologetic concerns in order to demonstrate the distinctive shape of Christian doctrine and life. Her book is built around the person and work of Christ but also gives substantial attention to the Trinity, the doctrines of creation and the human being, sin and grace, ethics and eschatology. It reclaims the patristic theological heritage as a primary resource for contemporary theology. Yet what is seemingly absent from Tanner’s book is some explanation of how her previous treatment of methodological issues in Theories of Culture fits into her current project. How are method and doctrine related in Tanner’s thought? This paper seeks to answer this question by reading Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity in light of Tanner’s earlier work on postmodern culture theory. I demonstrate that the present book makes good on the promise shown by its predecessor in Tanner's oeuvre.
Who Speaks for ATR?
Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton, University of Virginia
Most Africanists today perceive the notion of a unitary "African Traditional Religion" as a misleading invention (Shaw 1990; Ray 2000). The essentialist implications of the term obscure the vast diversity and dynamism evident in indigenous belief and practice across the African continent (Hackett 1991). Recently, however, some African scholars, advocates, and practitioners of indigenous religions have openly embraced the notion of a universal ATR, criticizing western attempts to fragment the phenomenon as a "colonizing move" (Prah, personal interview, 2000). This paper seeks to question how we conceptualize African indigenous religion(s) in light of competing voices within the movement to revitalize ATR in post-apartheid South Africa. Three overlapping sets of agents are discussed: 1) educated activists who struggle to promote understanding and official recognition for ATR; 2) "spiritual entrepreneurs" who market African therapies for well-to-do clients; and 3) healers and groups who practice various forms of ancestor veneration and mediumship.
Truly Astonishing Gods: Gods in the Fictive Universe of Ben Okri
Mabiala Kenzo, Canadian Theological Seminary
The Nigerian Ben Okri is a leading African novelist. His work, acclaimed for the grace of its style and the mastery of the techniques associated with postmodern and postcolonial literature, offers one a window into the harsh reality of contemporary Africa. This paper explores the author’s depiction of the Gods in this universe of constant struggle. Two major observations emerge from the study. First, in his fictions, Ben Okri initiates an inter-religious dialogue that extends, beyond Christianity and Islam, to African traditional religions. Second, the paper also calls attention to the marginal role the Gods play in the narrative. The paper indeed suggests that this marginalization reflects the actual marginalization of Gods in the life of Africans. This observation, which goes against the grain of the wide spread myth of the incurably religious African, lends support to the claim made by Eloi Mitogo in his Dieu peut-il mourir en Afrique?
A Call to Repentance: An African Christian Response to Crisis
Emily J. Choge, Fuller Theological Seminary
What happens when tender parts of our being are touched by untold tragedy? When misfortune strikes suddenly as it did on September 11? What is it that prepares us for such difficult times? Where do we go to find hope and restoration for the building of community and individual lives? I would like to suggest that within the African world view there were practices that build resilience, brought hope in the midst of tragedy and pointed people again towards the future. I would like to highlight three practices the rite of passage or circumcision, community response and repentance.
Nigerian Civil Government and the Application of Islamic laws: Can Conflict Lead to Accommodation?
Sodiq Yushau, Texas Christian University
Since the return of the civilian government to Nigeria in May 1999, the role of religion in the society has become very controversial. In this work, I will present a short history of Islamic laws and the reasons why the Northern states resort to and seek the application of Islamic laws in their states at this particular time in our political history. The reasons whey the Federal Government of Nigeria does not immediately crush or object to such an application will be discussed. I will then critically analyze the arguments of those who support and oppose this application. As long as there are Muslims in Nigeria, the appeal for the application of Islamic law will always arise. Both Muslims and non-Muslims are destined to develop a means of accommodation. Without such a development, our peaceful con-existence is fraught with danger.
Panel: Asian and Asian American Sacred Texts in a Pluralistic Context
Rita Nakashima Brock, Oakland, CA, Presiding
Tat-Siong Benny Liew, Chicago Theological Seminary Nikky Singh, Colby College
Khiok-Khng Yeo, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Mark T. Unno, University of Oregon
The identification and definition of sacred texts is a critical practice for Asian Americans. It is a practice reflected in the recognition of pluralism by and among Asian Americans, and as a principle it shapes the constitution of identity and the character of religious experience. The papers in this session will take up the notion of "sacred text" broadly; where text and textuality include various forms of expression, from the literary to the rhetorical to the political to the bodily. A central feature of the discussion will be the interplay of culture, identity, and modes of interpretation in determining how these forms of expressions are constitutive of 'the sacred' and textuality within the Asian North American context.
The Souls of Black Folks: W. E. B. Du Bois and the African American Folk Tradition
James Anthony Noel, San Francisco Theological Seminary
In this paper, I examine the use, problems, and paradoxes of the African American folk tradition in W. E. B. Du Bois’s life and thought. Du Bois’ Souls of Black Folks can be seen not only as a phenomenology of blackness but, also, as a literary invocation of the subjectivity it elucidates. Dubois’ Black sensibility (expressed in his notion of "double-consciousness") emerged not only from his encounters with whites but, additionally, through his identification with the southern rural Blacks whom he posits as the folk--the black norm. Du Bois discovered his vocation in identifying with the subjects of his study--in Souls he constructed himself and Black folks. This paper also seeks to identify the methodological implications of its observations for Black Theology and the Study of Black Religion.
W. E. B. DuBois and the Paradigm of Black Christian Scholarship
James H. Evans, Colgate Rochester Divinity School
The image of the black scholar in the United States was forged in heated, post-Reconstruction era political debates, the epistemological/cultural debates engendered by Charles Darwin and Karl Marx, the aesthetic debates around an emerging African-American formal literary tradition, and, to some extent, amid the successes and failures of the white, feminist intellectual movement. Concurrently, the male, European-American academy also helped frame the structure of the black academy. The major intellectual figure in the defining the image of the black scholar and the black academy was W. E. B. DuBois. In my essay, I examine: scholarship in the life and works of DuBois, particularly regarding how race and culture influence the development of his prodigious intellect and sustained scholarly reflection, in dialogue with pressing academic problems faced by African American scholars today; and I explore his notion of black scholarship as an unintentional paradigm for black Christian
Du Boisian Doubleness vs. Binary Blackness: On the Need to Read the Two as Too Few in Black Struggles for Liberation
James W. Perkinson, Ecumenical Theological Seminary
In this essay, I track various twentieth century employments and embezzlements of Du Bois’ articulation of "blackness" as "double-consciousness," highlight the dangers involved in thinking the racial mathematics of reified duplicity, underscore the continuing fecundity of Du Bois’ formula for postcolonial scholarship across the globe, and finally detail what continues to be the dilemma for a liberation theology committed to crafting blackness into an eloquence and augury of spirited creativity and irrepressible dignity. Du Bois’ delineation of black experience as an on-going initiation into the mysteries of an unstable bifurcation can work to check subtle or not-so-subtle temptations to essentialize blackness in black theology "s valorization of black cultural creativity. Du Bois’ smooth subtlety in raiding European philosophical figurements like a renegade sorcerer, using offense as defense, playing Hegelian dialectic back into its own oppositional positioning of blackness, serves as emblem for how to survive being an enigma.
Soul-to-Soul: From W. E. B. Du Bois to C. Eric Lincoln: Moving Toward a Sociology of the Black Condition and Religious Identity in the Twenty-first Century
Ralph C. Watkins, Augusta State University
In Where We Stand: Class Matters, bell hooks wrote, "More and more, our nation is becoming class-segregated. The poor live with and among the poor-confined in gated communities without adequate shelter, food, or health care-the victims of predatory greed…No one safeguards the interest of the citizens there." hooks’ findings have overwhelming implications for the black community. Social class has always been an issue in the black community but at one time the social elite fought on behalf of the working poor, from black churches. This class divide, exacerbated by the notion of difference among African Americans, is being fueled by middle class suburban black mega-churches' prosperity gospel. This paper explores this social phenomena, via W. E. B. Dubois and C. Eric Lincoln as sociological markers and theoretical lenses in to help understand what happened, what is happening and what will happen amid black, religious identities across class lines.
Thornton C. Kline, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
In Xunzi’s Confucian conception of moral cultivation, it is through participation in the ritual order that we acquire and develop the ability to perceive actions and characters in moral terms, eventually becoming proficient in our judgments of their value. Proficiency in making moral judgments rests on what can be fruitfully described as a set of developed intuitions. Xunzi, in contrast to Mengzi, believes that these intuitions are acquired and refined through ritual performance, rather than existing prior to and being further developed through ritual participation. This paper focuses on the Xunzi’s understanding of the psychological dimensions of ritual practice in order to draw out a more specific map of the process by which ritual participation leads to the development of definite intuitions. These intuitions act as reliable guides for moral action by allowing us to see and judge actions and people in terms of virtue and vice.
Wang Yangming and Warranted Belief
David Tien, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
In this paper, I explore whether the cognitive and affective faculty the Ming dynasty Confucian thinker Wang Yangming (1472-1529) calls the liangzhi (variously translated as "innate knowledge" or "pure knowing") can serve as a source of warrant for the beliefs produced by the liangzhi. In contemporary epistemology, warrant is commonly construed as the feature that distinguishes mere true belief from knowledge. One of the prevailing versions of warrant is grounded on the theory of proper functionalism. Ultimately, I question the universal applicability of the conception of warrant as proper function. I demonstrate how a consideration of Wang’s religious and moral epistemology highlights certain aspects of the current conception of warrant that require modification.
Li Zhi’s (1527-1602) Conception of the Mind and His Radical Views on Gender Relations
Pauline C. Lee, Stanford University
The late Ming iconoclastic thinker Li Zhi (1527-1602) is best known for his innovative and deeply influential literary theory. His views on literary theory are commonly traced back to his creative conception of the mind, what he referred to as the "child-mind" tongxin. An aspect of Li’s conception of the child-mind that has received relatively little if any scholarly attention is the relation between the child-mind and Li’s radical views on gender. In this paper, I will describe Li’s conception of the child-mind by comparing and contrasting it to Wang Yangming’s conception of "pure knowing", and then proceed to show how Li’s child-mind provides justification for his belief that men and women are equal. In my conclusion, I will argue that by gender equality, Li means that men and women are identical in their intellectual and spiritual capacities.
Ghettoizing Gender: Genderless Male and Gendered Female and the Pedagogical and Ethical Implications in Evangelical Seminary Education
Melissa (Wyndy) Corbin, Ashland Theological Seminary
In spite of the presence and participation of women in evangelical seminaries, gender in course content and pedagogy is ghettoized for two primary reasons. First, gender is a constructed category applied to women, while males are assumed to be genderless. There is ambivalence toward feminism and an overt suspicion of "gender bias" as that which erodes the objective truth claims of biblical Christianity even as women’s experiences are privileged as different and unique and men’s experiences are viewed as normative and objective. Second, gender receives very little analysis in course content. When gender is explored, it is offered as a qualifying perspective by women scholars and students, while male gender retains an epistemic privilege in biblical interpretation and theological study. The ethical implications of ghettoizing gender are the silencing of students, primarily women, the constraining of issues for theological, moral and spiritual reflection, and male gender bias in evangelicalism.
Living on the Boundary: Women’s Experience in the Evangelical Academy
Nicola Hoggard-Creegan, Bible College of New Zealand, Christine D. Pohl, Asbury Theological Seminary
This paper is drawn from a work in progress by Nicola Hoggard-Creegan and Christine Pohl. Living on the Boundaries is a study of academic women in theology, biblical studies, church history, ethics and missions who identify, or once identified, themselves as evangelical. We speak of "boundary" because this study attempts to describe the faith world, theological convictions, and social space of women who are in a sense bilingual, in feminism and in evangelicalism, and for whom there are strong ties of loyalty and identification with movements that are often defined against each other. The paper is structured in three parts; the first names and describes the space, the second looks at strategies for survival on the boundary, and the third considers some of the ecclesiological consequences for evangelicalism and the wider church of recognizing the women who speak and work from the boundary.
The Impact of Gender Issues on Teaching Religion in Evangelical Colleges and Universities
Heather Ann Ackley Bean, Azusa Pacific University
In the early twentieth century, evangelical Protestant women were instrumental in ministry and Christian education in the United States and in world missions. Such women even founded, presided over, and taught at evangelical institutions of higher learning, some of which are still operating today. However, as these institutions grew, women’s administrative and academic leadership was restricted. At present, while many evangelical Protestant colleges and universities have a predominantly female student body, women continue to be underrepresented on the faculty and in the administration. This paper will explore both the reasons for this underrepresentation and its impact on both male and female students. Using biblical and theological concepts of the imago dei, sin, redemption, and sanctification, evangelical Protestant institutions are in a unique position to propose a healing understanding of gender roles, sex roles, and human sexuality to the church as a whole and even to the larger society.
Panel: Syncretism: The Religious Contexts of Christian Beginnings in Korea by David Chung (SUNY 2001) and Christ and Caesar in Modern Korea (SUNY 1997) by Wi Jo Chang
Young-chan Ro, George Mason University, Presiding
Eun Hee Shin, University of Toronto
Hearn Chun, McCormick Theological Seminary
Anselm K. Min, Claremont Graduate School
Andrew Sung Park, United Theological Seminary
Sunju Chong, Chicago Theological Seminary
Wi Jo Kang, Wartburg Theological Seminary, RespondingKang-nam Oh, University of ReginaChristianity in Korea has experienced remarkable growth and shaped and transformed Korean society and culture in profound ways. At the same time, Christianity has also undergone a notable transformation, producing a uniquely Korean form of Christianity. In this regard, the Korean Religions Group devote one session to two scholars’ books on the theme, Korean Transformation of Christianty and Christian Transformation of Korea: Syncretism by David Chung (SUNY Press 2001) and Christ and Caesar by Wijo Kang (SUNY Press 1997). These two books discuss Korean Christianty from the perspectives of history of religion (Syncretism) and social and political history of Korea (Christ and Caesar) respectively.
The Concept of Masculinity in Men’s Studies
Jean-Francois Roussel, Unviersity of Montreal
I maintain that the issues of heterosexual men emerge from a locus that is different from that of women.
Esto Vir!: Masculinity, Christianity and American Secondary Education
Kevin Lewis O'Niell, Harvard University
Esto Vir! [Be a Man!] is the motto of a small, all-male Roman Catholic high school located in a quiet Midwestern suburb of Missouri. For the last 100 years, this school has committed itself to the project of turning each one of its adolescent students into both a man and a Christian. Yet, these two projects have never been completely distinct. Church sermons, formal class curricula, and extracurricular activities simultaneously create masculinity and Christianity as indistinguishably interconnected categories: a young male cannot become a man without becoming a Christian and, conversely, an adolescent male cannot become a Christian without becoming a man. This historically located, socio-religious phenomenon raises an important question for the study of religion: how does Christian rhetoric in all-male parochial secondary schools contribute to the cultural production of masculinity as a cultural category within the American context?
Playful Parenting: The Burden and Promise of Horace Bushnell’s Christian Nurture
David Hadley Jensen, Manchester College
Horace Bushnell’s classic work, Christian Nurture, continues to exert a profound influence on the American religious imagination. As a rich exposition of the spiritual life and edification of children, it fed the growth of the Sunday School movement and continues to lie at the heart of many popular conceptions of childhood growth and development. Despite Bushnell’s claim that parenting was a shared privilege, the bulk of this privilege fell squarely on the mother’s shoulders. In effect, Bushnell distances fathers from the organic web of relationships that sustain the human family.
The Body in Correspondence
Geoffrey McVey, Miami University
The interrelationship of terrestrial and celestial bodies forces a reconsideration of body construction. If each body is multiplied and reflected through external signs, the boundaries of human bodies are in question. This paper draws upon the work of Marsilio Ficino to address the question of what, in these texts, constitutes a body. Ficino emphasizes universal bonds of desire through which the powers of celestial bodies may be seduced into the service of humanity, with correspondences acting as intermediary bodies. In those parts of his commentary on the Symposium where he describes the process of love as a dislocation of images from the beloved to the lover, he seems to dislocate the identity of lover and beloved: the body of the lover is emptied, and becomes only a mirror for the beloved. I argue that the "body in correspondence" is never fixed, but a changing creation that is foreign to itself.
Nature’s Body in Chartrian Philosophy
Willemien Otten, Utrecht University
Alan of Lille shows us Nature as a personified maiden defiled by human misbehaviour. His Plaint of Nature marks both the end of a development and the beginning of a new one. Whereas in the early Middle Ages the cosmos was seen as endowed with divine splendor, from the 12th century onwards a kind of emancipation of Nature appears to set in. This leads to the difficult middle position which Nature holds in Chartrian philosophy: she may feel rightfully offended by humanity but part of her guilt seems to be her own doing, as she no longer obeyed God’s command. The paper will focus on Nature’s central role in the cosmos, which combines an Augustinian notion of sin as disruption with a Timaean sense of harmony and symmetry. The paper will also focus on the sexual overtones in the portrayal of Nature and her female body.
The Body in the Twelfth Century Chartrian Thought of William of Conches
Peter Ellard, Siena College
This paper will examine the interplay between William of Conches’ scientific understanding of the human body and his Neoplatonic metaphysics. After a brief outline of the philosophical, theological and scientific context of the first half of the twelfth century we will offer an overview of William’s metaphysics. This section will be followed by an examination of William’s "scientific" writings on the human body. We will explore how the body was thought to physically exist, sense, move and grow. We shall also see how the human body was viewed in relationship to the earth as a body and the planets and stars as bodies. Finally, we shall attempt to bring these two perspectives together by looking at William’s understanding of the relationship between the human body and human soul. We shall note that this integration has a cosmic corollary in the relationship between the world’s body and the world soul.
The Resurrection Body and the Body of Paradise
J. Warren Smith, Duke University
The resurrection body and the Body of Paradise in Gregory of Nyssa examines the way in which Nyssen understands the body of the resurrection to be both a restoration of the body of Adam and Eve in Eden and at the same time a body which fulfills humanity’s eschatological destiny, i.e., the actualization of the image of God intended by God before the creation of the first human beings. By comparing Nyssen’s account of the body in De Hominis Opificio with his other accounts of the soul’s dominion over the body and of the resurrection of the body in De anima et Resurrectione I want to offer several possible models by which to understand the body at the beginning of creation and the potential benign coexistence of the rational and non-rational faculties of the soul.
A Hell for Liberals?
Chris Hinkle, Harvard University
Liberal Christianity has replaced a traditional fear of Hell with a fear of the doctrine itself. An examination of the theological arguments used to support contemporary universalism suggests that liberal Protestants should reconsider the viability of some conception of Hell, developing an alternative both to dogmatic orthodoxy and to secular skepticism.
The Attraction of Hell: Reading Paradise Lost through the Theology of Jonathan Edwards
James P. Byrd, Vanderbilt University
Some of the most vivid portrayals of hell in the English language came from John Milton and Jonathan Edwards. Reading Milton’s poetic description in comparison with Edwards’s theological reflections renders a poignant view of the variety and development of the Reformed doctrine of hell in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Milton and Edwards are surprising in that, despite their Puritan theologies, their descriptions of hell and Satan are more renowned than their descriptions of heaven and Christ. This paper explores issues that Milton and Edwards engaged in their presentations of hell, including the place of hell in theodicy.
Restricting Reprobation: Reflections on Questions of Perdition and Church Practice
Scott Collins-Jones, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
The very idea of hell can be a stumbling block to would-be Christians, or to believers who have difficulty reconciling the notion of a loving God and an eternal place or state of punishment. Reformed theology, with its strong notion of God’s predestinating grace, might feel the sting of the doctrine all the more. Warfield, Barth and Newbigin offer three different ways to conceive of a broad salvation where grace is by and large triumphant over the gates of hell. Like any constructive theology worth its salt, each of the above ways of thinking about a restricted reprobation has important implications for church practice. This essay will seek to highlight the positive contributions of Warfield, Barth and Newbigin, at the same time pointing out some concerns about their implications for church practice.
Classic Reformed Thinking about Hell
Douglas McCready, Roslyn, PA
This paper will examine the classic Reformed teaching about hell and final judgment in light the attacks of September 11, 2001. The classic Reformed understanding of final judgment and hell rests on two premises: human responsibility before God and human rebellion against God’s commands. Both are universal conditions and incur divine wrath. Calvin and later Reformed theologians traced this belief to the biblical writers. This understanding includes the doctrines of original sin and eternal punishment. Assuming the inherited guilt of original sin and the human predisposition to imitate that sin, classic Reformed thought does not ask what people must do to earn hell. Assuming hell to be the punishment for human sin, it asks what can be done to save humans from the consequence of their sin. More recently, Reformed theologians have raised questions about duration of punishment and whether hell will be populated.
Meaning, Cognition, and the Recalcitrance of the World
Gustavo Benavides, Villanova University
Rappaport distinguishes between "cognized" and "operational" models. "Cognized" refers to the systems of meaning created by human actors, whereas "operational" refers to the organization of nature. Rappaport’s point is that there is a correlation between the discrepancy between the cognized and the operational models and the endangerment of the individuals who generate the cognized models. Readers of Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity, will look in vain for those terms. The tension between meaning and reality does make an appearance in Rappaport’s final work, but this important insight seems to have lost the importance it once had. This presentation seeks (1) to reclaim the distinction between cognized and operational models; (2) to understand the reasons that may have led Rappaport to relegate this issue to the last pages of the book; (3) to discuss the role that cognized systems such as religions play in the degradation of ecosystems.
Sacred Places: The Interplay of Religion, Environment, and Climate in Ancient Times
Nancy McCagney, University of California, Santa Barbara
My powerpoint presentation studies the interplay between religions and environments, illuminating the significance of human relations with the natural world in the history of religions. It compares desert, forest, river, glacial, and tropical influences on religions. The evolution of homo sapiens sapiens in Africa and our outward migrations account for shared religious rituals like the circle dance. Desert traditions formed during prolonged drought interspersed with rainy respites show changing conceptions of god, creator of the natural world. Forest religions evince the influence of shamanism and hunting internalized as meditation and non-violence. River religions responded in opposing ways - adapt and seek higher ground or control floods and drought with massive irrigation projects requiring centralized administrative bureaucracy. Glacial religions rewarded movement, survival mechanisms exemplified by great spirits such as clouds. The world’s religions arose during times of dramatic climate variation during the post-glacial warming period that continues with increasing rapidity today.
Sanctifying the Earthly and Cosmic Bodies of Siva in the Land of Srisailam: An Ecoreligious Study
Prabha C. Reddy, Northwestern University
Srisailam, one of the famous Saiva pilgrimage sites of India, presents an interesting case for examining how ecology and religion together play a dominant role in the transformation of this hill-town into an ecologically-serene, religiously-sacred, and theologically-liberating location dedicated to Siva. I address three major issues in this paper. First, from an ecological perspective, what contributing factors led to Srisailam’s becoming a sacred site for Siva’s earthly dwelling? For what ecological reasons, did religious teachers choose Srisailam as their spiritual home? Second, what are the ways in which the Saiva religion contributed to the conversion of a remote mountain-town into a living Saiva pilgrimage center? The final issue raises a question challenging the ecoreligious values upon which Srisailam was founded. In the view of deforestation and the loss of biological species in recent decades throughout India, what role does Srisailam play in preserving the natural resources of Andhra region.
Fra. Satan and the Horrified Bishops: The Role of the Clergy in the Ustashi Genocide and in the 1991-1995 Balkan War
Juan A. Herrero Brasas, California State University, Northridge
My presentation explores the roles of the lower and the higher (Catholic) clergy in the genocidal terror that took place in the Croat-dominated Balkan region at the time of the Ustashi regime (1941-1945), and during the recent Balkan war. The evidence of involvement in the atrocities on the part of the lower clergy is discussed, as well as the historical conditions that gave rise to such a phenomenon. Also, the situation, discourse, and activities of the hierarchy during the Ustashi regime (a matter of much controversy) is analyzed and contrasted with their discourses and activities in the 1991-1995 war. A peculiar socio-religious phenomenon in present-day Hercegovina is also analyzed against this historical background. Some tentative conclusions are offered.
God’s Love and Women’s Love: Prison Chaplains Counsel the Wives of National Socialist Perpetrators
Katharina Von Kellenbach, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
This paper explores the connection between Christian theological statements about God’s love and forgiveness and prison chaplains' expectation of women’s love for convicted perpetrators. Based on letters between clergy, prisoners and their wives, I want to explore the role of female love in the salvation and moral development of the "hardened souls" of former SS-men. Women’s role in "softening" and moralizing the souls of men had dubious moral and spiritual consequences for women. The Christian call for unconditional love and forgiveness stabilized men through the crisis of capitulation, imprisonment and prosecution but did little to encourage confrontations with the horrors of the Holocaust. It defeated feeble attempts among women to wrestle with the difficult emotional and political task of extricating themselves from co-responsibility. A feminist revision of love must incorporate the criterion of justice. Love that is not enlightened by justice becomes destructive of self and other.
Religious Elements of the Ottoman-Armenian Conflict
Rachel Payne, Boston University
Looking first at the country of Turkey and its Muslim origins that resulted in the formation of the Ottoman Empire, the goal of this essay is to pinpoint religious catalysts that caused the eruption of violence in a state touted for its long-suffering tolerance with regard to the subject minority groups living within its borders. As the focus shifts to Armenia, the paper will discuss the passionate claims made by Armenians about their victimized status living as Christians under the authority of an Islamic theocracy, their betrayal at the hands of intervention-minded, self-serving foreign powers, and their undying dedication to attaining their independence. The paper will emphasize the various effects of the religious differences between Turks and Armenians, their cultural interaction with each other in the Ottoman Empire, the results of missionary efforts and how external religious factors distorted the basic issues.
Complicity, Resistance, Agency: Reading Memoirs of German Theologians
Björn Krondorfer, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Reading memoirs written after 1945 by German male theologians who were adults during the National Socialist regime helps to understand personal motivation and justifications of men who otherwise tend to conceal the "writing self" in their theologies. In the context of post-Shoah Germany, such a "subjektverbergung" (concealment of subjectivity) deflects from questions of what it means to do theology in the land of perpetrators. By looking at three select memoirs-Walter Künneth’s Lebensführungen (1979; born 1901), Helmut Thielicke’s Zu Gast auf einem schönen Stern (1984; born 1908), and Hanns Lilje’s Memorabilia (1973; born 1899)-I will show how these theologians portray themselves and their country as having been victimized, and how such a discursive strategy of victimization (rather than, for example, of complicity) obscures moral agency and thwarts compassion for the suffering of those who were the victims of Nazi genocidal persecutions.
Aporia or Excess? Two Strategies for Thinking R/revelation
Robyn Horner, Australian Catholic University
According to Derrida, a gift is only a gift where it is free and present, yet is no longer free as soon as it is present. The gift thus has an aporetic constitution: in it, conditions of possibility meet with conditions of impossibility in a manner that cannot be recuperated by phenomenological reduction. This thought of the gift outside the range of phenomenology seems to mirror a thought of God, or grace, intent on freeing God or grace from the positive content that an understanding of r/Revelation seems to demand. The attempt to explore this idea is helped by a look at Jean-Luc Marion’s response to Derrida’s thought of the gift. Drawing especially on Marion’s recent "De surcroit," which appears closer to Derrida than earlier works, I will contend that the singularity of Revelation can only be thought by way of a mdeditation on the "trace."
The Believer and the Sophist
Walter James Lowe, Emory University
"It seems to me that the religious renaissances of today are philosophy of religion, not religion." The achievement of deconstruction may be to subvert Adorno’s distinction and show the fruitfulness of doing so. Yet his protest has bite in suggesting that theology, if it is possible and legitimate, might constitute an Other vis-a-vis philosophy of religion. I address this question in two parts. First I argue that Derridean deconstruction opens a way beyond the twentieth century impasse of analogia entis versus analogia fidei. Derrida’s "text" links to the sublime in that both of these contextualize while neither is contextualizable. This forms the basis for reflection on the relation between philosophy and theology, around the notion of an "analogy of contextualization." A second, more scriptural step pursues this theme into a theological appropriation of the philosophy of "event" developed in Lyotard’s study of the Freudian notions of Nachtraglichkeit and the Law.
Hope without Hope? A Phenomenological Critique of Derrida’s "Messianic" Expectation
James K.A. Smith, Calvin College
Derrida offers a hope that is Marxist "in spirit" insofar as it is a hope for justice. In "Foi et savoir," he specifies this as a "justice, which I distinguish from law, [which] alone allows the hope, beyond all "messianisms," of a universalizable culture of singularities" -which is to say, hope for a "democracy to come." However, based on what I describe as a "logic of determination," Derrida is critical of concrete, determinate hopes. In this paper, I sketch a phenomenology of hope in order to specifically argue that Derrida’s hope lacks determination, and that as a result is disqualified, in a sense, from functioning as genuine hope. More specifically, my goal is to critique Derrida’s position (on what I might descibe as "Derridean grounds") in order to show that determinacy per se cannot disqualify particular hopes; indeed, hope must be determinate and cannot be otherwise.
Robert Gibbs, University of Toronto
Derrida joins an important group of twentieth century Jewish thinkers in exploring the ethical implications of an epistemology that Rosenzweig termed "messianic." Truth is unrealized in the present but offers an interruption and a criticism of the present. This truth we do not "have" but is to come is a recurring theme in thinkers ranging from H. Cohen to Bloch, Benjamin, Scholem, Rosenzweig, and Levinas. It is in relation to Levinas’s claim for a past that was never present that Derrida takes up the thematics of memory and historiography, particularly in "Archive Fever." The challenge of the past takes both Levinas and Derrida "towards the outside" of history, in a judgment upon history.
Pragmatism and Beyond: Richard Rorty and Paul Tillich in Dialogue
Marc Boss, Institut Protestant de Théologie
During his long career, Tillich engaged in fruitful conversations with several generations of American pragmatists. From his early readings of William James in the 1920s to his later discussions and contacts with John Dewey and Sidney Hook, Tillich’s vision of pragmatism presents, at least in its most appreciative aspects, some astonishing similarities with Richard Rorty’s neopragmatism. Rorty himself emphasized these similarites in a critical confrontation with Hook, one of Dewey’s most prominent disciples. This paper intends to determine how far these similarities reach according to Rorty, and what the limits or weaknesses of Rorty’s neopragmatism from Tillich’s ontological standpoint might be. The main sources used to answer these two questions are Rorty’s essay, "Pragmatism without Method" (1983), and the record of a brief discussion about the virtues of pragmatism that took place between Tillich and Rorty in the early 1960s.
Bakhtin and Tillich
Peter Slater, University of Toronto
Bakhtin and Tillich responded to similar Neo-Kantian, Marxist-humanist trends in literary theory and theology respectively. Bakhtin’s anti-formalist critique of Saussure emphasized differences between self and others in concrete, dialogical contexts, notably those of Dostoievski’s novels. Dialogism better explains shifts in symbolic meaning than Tillich’s essentialistic definitions do. But Tillich’s "method of correlation" mostly avoids monological dogmatics. His emphasis on dynamics over form and style in art and architecture accords with Bakhtin’s aesthetics. Both found existentialism too individualistic. Bakhtin lacked Tillich’s ontological conception of the daimonic, but was more pluralistic. Despite his Lutheran theologia crucis, Tillich’s mystical streak resonates with Bakhtin’s Orthodox allusions to grace and transfiguration. Tillich saw himself "on the boundary." Bakhtin considered all boundaries permeable. Both discerned in secular situations echoes of "ultimate concern" or "response."
Framing, Fragmenting, and Freud (?): Models of the Self and Faith Formation in Paul Tillich and Iris Murdoch
Jonathan Rothchild, University of Chicago
Examining Paul Tillich’s appropriations of art and psychoanalysis, my paper probes conceptions of the self and faith formation. I engage Tillich with philosopher Iris Murdoch, for her notion of the flawed self and retrieval of moral ontology resonate with Tillich’s sensibilities. I argue that Tillich and Murdoch are unique thinkers who, despite their divergence on significant points, can redress the general inadequacies of postmodern models of self and faith formation because they reconfigure banal pictures of the self into dynamic conceptions of human be-ing. Their appeal to art and psychoanalysis reify the tension between the fragmentary character of existence and the transcendental status of human essence. They contribute to contemporary discussions of the self and faith formation because--in contrast to thinkers who privilege narrative or the primordial claims of the other--they mediate between the importance of theoretical transformative models and the relevance of the vicissitudes of the situation.
Critical Psychology and Ultimate Concern: Paul Tillich’s Answer to Faith in the Postmodern World
Britt-Mari Sykes, University of Ottawa
Paul Tillich’s definition of faith as ultimate concern can be translated and salient for theories such as critical psychology in exploring the nature of postmodern faith. This paper proposes several possible answers to, and dialogue with, critical psychology from the perspective of Tillich’s religious philosophy on the issue of faith in postmodern times. Does ultimate concern erode in a world of rapid technological change and globalization? Does a concept of ultimate concern erode under the assertion by critical psychology that there is no stable centered self? How would Tillich’s concept of ultimate concern approach the psychological assertion that a preponderance for self-determination or self-actualization in the west diminishes the values of, and need for, "collaboration, caring and social justice."
Santification as Transubstantiation and the Liturgical Recovery of the Church as the Object of Holiness
J. Douglas Harrison, University of Southern California
Recent Christian ecclesiologies (post Vatican II) have recovered "the Church" as an object of interest for theological reflection but most scholarship has remained more speculative and interpretive than pastoral and instructive. In other words, scholars show interest in creating or engaging church typologies rather then pursuing what it means to enact, or peform the Church. This paper recommends that the right approach to understanding a "wesleyan" ecclesiology is to aproach it from "liturgical theology." The object of Liturgical theology is most concerned with the enactment or performance of the Church as the Church rather than discussing interpretive values of the "Church’s that exist" (which lack degrees of normative or pastoral import). The Church is the subject of God’s sanctification.
Maintaining Denominational Solidarity : The Dangers of Blueprint Ecclesiologies in Recent Methodist Statements
Tim Macquiban, Oxford Brookes University
This paper will investigate the ecclesiological understandings of British, American and World Methodist statements as discussed in recent Methodist writing, particularly the work of British scholars in the Called to Love and Praise report and the discussion and commentaries on this arising out of a conference in Oxford sponsored by the Wesley & Methodist Studies Centre. This is driven by a koinonia-dominated ecclesiology that focuses on the distinctive Methodist emphasis on connexionalism. Moreover, this paper will investigate the suggestion that Methodism is guilty of producing within its official reports idealistic blueprint ecclesiologies rather than owning the concrete realities of its diverse nature arising from the different cultural contexts of churches in the World Methodist communion.
A Wesleyan Approach to Communion Ecclesiology
Karen D. Scheib, Emory University
Recently, "communion ecclesiology" has attracted the interest of Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant theologians engaged in ecumenical dialogue about the nature of the church. The Wesleyan tradition has not figured prominently in this discussion. This paper explores points of correspondence between Wesleyan and communion ecclesiology and suggests distinctive contributions Wesley’s tradition might make to the emerging vision. Historic Wesleyan interests intersect at several points with communion ecclesiology: 1) a turn to Patristic sources for a vision of the church, 2) a balance between individual piety and corporate salvation, 3)location of the origin of the church in the love of the Triune God for humanity, and 4) the centrality of Eucharist. A Wesleyan engagement with communion ecclesiology can help us to clarify our own tradition and enhance our participation in ecumenical dialogue about the church.
Holy Church, Holy People: A Wesleyan Exploration into Congregational Holiness and Personal Testament
Dean G. Blevins, Trevecca Nazarene University
The postmodern emphasis on social location and community reveals an enlightenment preoccupation with individualistifc expressions of holiness or sanctification within modern Methodism and particularly the American Holiness Movement. Unlike the Apolstles Creed, too often modern Wesleyans have focused on "one," holy, persons rather than One, Holy Church. Wesley himself often concentrated on the life of holiness within the individual. Is there, however, a resident holiness ecclesiology within Wesley’s corpus, actual or implied, when read in light of contemporary investigations into the nature of the Church and the social construction of persons? Can holiness be expressed as a specific aspect of ecclesiology? How would personal expressions then relate to a communal/congregational articulation of holiness? This paper proposes to investigate the nature of a Wesleyan holiness ecclesiology that takes seriously the call to first be a Holy Church and then Holy people.
Judicial Mimesis of Theological Rhetoric: Rosenberger v Rector and the Case of Legal Transubstantiation
James McBride, New York, NY
In Rosenberger v Rector (1995), the Supreme Court held that the use of the Student Activity fund (SAF) of a state university to support an evangelical student group’s newspaper did not violate the First Amendment establishment clause. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy recast the case from one of establishment to free speech jurisprudence. The facts remained the same but the underlying substance was changed due to what Kennedy called the "metaphysical" nature of the SAF. This paper analyses his rhetorical argument that mimes the theological trope of transubstantiation and uses the work of Victor and Edith Turner to show how the Court’s opinion, as a performative speech act, functions as a ritual to move participants and readers alike from one reality to another.
Roman Law and Concepts of Religious Diversity
Hans G. Kippenberg, University of Bremen
Understanding Roman law is crucial to understanding religious diversity in Europe. Christian Emperors and Catholic bishops adopting the Roman legal tradition in late Antiquity and in the Middle Ages implicitly also established a particular model for religious diversity. When the ancient public corporate status of an association (collegium) was transferred to the Christian church, the accompanying Roman notions superstition, maleficium, magic/ witchcraft, heresy got official power too. How to understand the effects of these categories on the religious history? Some argue that the result has been persecution of religious groups and annihilation of religious practices. Others argue that these categories contributed to preserving religious dissent by excluding it from the public sphere. This paper argues that Roman law helped establish a structural double-track of religions in Europe and that European laws still reflect this structure by distinguishing between establishing religion and the free exercise of religion.
Dancing with the Devil, Walking with Jesus: The Multiple Conversions of Women on Death Row
Garen Murray, Graduate Theological Union
This paper will examine the ways in which discourses of gender and religion are used in order to create and recreate the condemned woman. Women on Death Row in the United States often undergo a number of "conversion" experiences from the time of their arrest to the time of their execution. They are masculinized and paganized by prosecutors and the media to secure a conviction, and feminized and christianized by themselves and supporters in order to seek a reprieve. The case of Karla Faye Tucker (executed by the State of Texas in 1998) and others will be used to look at the complex and inter-related ways in which these "conversions" enact gender and religion, how these discourses interact with the law, and to raise questions about criminalization and sexualities.
The European Court of Human Rights, Legal Pluralism, and Religious Freedom
James T. Richardson, University of Nevada, Reno, with Alain Garay, Paris, France
This paper analyzes the meaning of recent decisions of the ECHR that are based on Article 9, which guarantees religious freedom. No ECHR case had been decided on the basis of Article 9 prior to 1993, meaning that the ECHR had gone nearly 40 years without any decision finding a violation of Article 9. The Kokkinakis case in 1993 involving a Jehovah’s Witness from Greece who had been found guilty of a criminal charge involving proselytizing was the first such instance of an Article 9 violation being found by the Court. Since 1993 there have been a number of other Article 9 cases decided in favor of the plaintiff, suggesting that the ECHR may be becoming more willing to assert itself in ways that over-ride Member Country sovereignty and promote a situation of legal pluralism in Council of Europe states. Possible reasons why this may be the case are suggested.
American Lectures in the History of Religions: Sufis and Hindus: Sixteenth-Century India
Willard Oxtoby, University of Toronto, emeritus
Islam introduced something novel to Indian history: the notion of a tightly boundaried religious community. Both doctrine and practice distinguished Muslims from others, in a society otherwise characterized by a fluidity of identity. The term "Hinduism" as a label for an aggregate of non-Muslim practice in India came into use only later, during British rule in India. But India also contributed something novel to Islamic history: the experience of being a minority ruling over a population that on the whole did not convert to Islam. The synthesizing politics of the emperor Akbar form part of the picture, but a major theme is the sense of irrelevance of religious boundaries in the vernacular devotional poetry of both Muslims and Hindus. God, it appeared, might be beyond the difference between temple and mosque. The specific Indian experience provides entrée to more general issues regarding religious boundaries and claims for the potential unity of religions.
Panel: Committee on Teaching and Learning and the Wabash Center Teaching and Learning- Is Teaching Graduate Students How to Teach Just a Fad?
Stephen C. Berkwitz, Southwest Missouri State University, Presiding
Rebecca S. Chopp, Colgate University
Malcolm David Eckel, Boston University
James Harlan Foard, Arizona State University
Richard A. Rosengarten, University of Chicago
The future success of the field of religion in higher education depends very much upon good teaching. While many institutions and individual scholars voice support for excellence in teaching, most graduate programs train their students to conduct research but offer little in the way of pedagogical training. This panel will consider the benefits and constraints in preparing graduate students for classroom teaching. Panelists will discuss their views on graduate training in pedagogy and share their experiences in teaching masters and doctoral students how to teach. This panel will encourage and engage in open discussion with the audience.
Panel: Crossing Borders: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Canada
Barbara A.B. Patterson, Emory University, Presiding
Mathieu Boisvert, Université du Québec à Montréal
Pamela Klassen, University of Toronto
Janet McLellan, Wilfrid Laurier University
William C. James, Queens University
Michel Desjardins, Wilfrid Laurier University
This panel will explore current teaching and learning practices in and/or related to Religious Studies in Canadian institutions of higher education. The papers will build on current discussions about the scholarship of teaching, addressing theoretical and pragmatic questions, issues, and techniques. The comparative angle of this panel is especially significant as teaching and learning becomes an increasingly global conversation. Insights into the dynamics and contributions of specific Canadian contexts and cultures shaping teaching and learning will be emphasized. Panelists will reflect a broad range of approaches and fields including Buddhism, immigrant studies, Canadian indigenous groups, sociology of religion, textual studies, and ritual studies. In addition to presentations, there will be opportunities for discussion and sharing of ideas and specific practices.
Surviving Death: Reflections on Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter
Elias Kifon Bongmba, Rice University
In this paper, I will argue that the Senegalese writer, Mariama Ba’s celebrated work, So Long a Letter is a deeply religious text because Rāmatoulaye (main Character) draws strength from her Islamic faith when her husband dies and is thus able to deal with the loss of her husband. Islam also provides her a platform for a feminist critique of the tradition. This presentation will also situate So Long a Letter as a Senegalese and African Woman’s appropriation of Islam, as well as her rejection of the misuse of Islamic traditions by a patriarchal system. In this respect, I will highlight survival as a sub theme, arguing that Rāmatoulaye uses Islam to help her survive betrayal by her husband, the loss of her husband, and dismiss pressures placed on her to submit to custom and remarry.
Form Criticism and the Romantic Poet: Reading William Blake’s Apocalypse
Rachel Wagner, University of Iowa
An awareness of biblical hermeneutical techniques can greatly enhance one’s appreciation of the intersection between literature and theology in William Blake’s epic poem Jerusalem. In this poem, Blake appropriates a number of the formal elements of the genre of apocalypse, but he transforms apocalyptic imagery dealing with the relationship between God and humans. Whereas in biblical apocalypses, humans are dependent upon God to intervene into history and bring salvation, in Jerusalem, salvation is achieved only by the recognition by all the entities within Albion of their fundamental equality. Through the utilization of specific formal elements of the genre of apocalypse, Blake demonstrates his belief that humans are their own saviors and that salvation will be achieved only through a rebirth of imaginative powers in England.
Ontological Security as a Basis for Forgivenes in Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
Helen Benet-Goodman, University of Virginia
Cat’s Eye, a novel by Margaret Atwood, reviews the life of Canadian artist Elaine Risley as she visits Toronto to prepare for a retrospective showing of her paintings. This paper focuses on how a vision of the Virgin Mary establishes a measure of ontological security for Elaine, thus enabling her to forgive the injuries inflicted on her as a child. The religious basis of this security provocatively suggests that actions such as forgiveness may require an ontological stability that the postmodern self cannot provide on its own. The novel, however, resists this religious basis even as it depicts it, providing an psychological explanation for the vision that the plot
Russell Banks and the Hermeneutics of Grief
John Utz, Duke Divinity School
In his novel The Sweet Hereafter, Russell Banks illustrates the impossibility of interpreting profound human loss and yet represents the interpretive process itself as evidence of meaning that endures in the face of death. This paper considers Bank’s work as a literary response to loss and its role in the construction of individual and communal identity.
Trying to Be Grown: Reading Black Women’s Fiction for the Serious, Responsible, Psycho/Sexual/Ethical Voice of Black Adolescent Girls
Jacqueline J. Lewis, Drew University
Womanist scholars across disciplines often use fiction to identify truths about Black experiences. They recognize that Black women writers are moral agents and conveyors of Black community values. For these scholars, then, fiction is often a safe space in which to wrestle with issues of sexuality and relationship. It is my thesis that a methodology for reading Black women’s fiction for the sexual/relational values of Black adolescent girls will yield an analytical tool that will help professionals listen for the authentic psycho/sexual/ethical voices of Black adolescent girls themselves. Further, listening for their authentic, serious and responsible voices supports the self-authorization of Black girls, as they "try to be grown" and manage their own desire. For this study, I will analyze four texts--The Bluest Eye; Breath, Eyes, Memory; By the Light of My Father’s Smile; and Brown Girl, Brownstones, using resources from literary criticism, womanist ethics and psychology.
Incarcerated Traditions: Hawaiian Ethnicity in a Mainland Prison
Gregory Bruce Johnson, University of Chicago
The paper will address the way tradition is reclaimed and accelerated by incarcerated Hawaiian prisoners in Oklahoma, far removed from the homeland. It will examine, through fieldwork interviews, the forms and means by which "home" acquires significance for those to whom all but its memory is removed.
"Osho": Transnationalism and Tantric Sex, from East to West and Back Again
Hugh B. Urban, Ohio State University
This paper on "Osho" will examine the creation of a transnational "spirituality" movement, documenting the emigrations of the Indian guru to the U.S. and back to the homeland. It will attend especially to the role of spiritual sex in his appeal and charisma, and to the gains and transformations in status acquired through each transnational passage.
Afri-Brazilian Dance or Aerobics without Orixás?: The New Form of Colonialism
Sam D. Gill, University of Colorado, Boulder
The presentation will focus on dance and the appeal of "traditional" dance seminars in the U.S. context, as they seek both to present their culture of origin and to fulfill customers’ expectations of the exotic and authentic. The paper argues that such consumer-oriented "tradition" represents a new form of commodification and neo-colonialism.
Diasporic versus Homeland Versions of Authenticity and the Questions of "Ritual Failure"
Paul Christopher Johnson, University of Missouri, Columbia
This paper takes the case of the Garifuna of the Caribbean to examine the meaning of migration for religion and the reconstructions of authenticity. It compares homeland and diaspora versions of authenticity and argues that these are contested, here especially addressing the question of "ritual failure."
On Viraha Bhakti: The Contemporary Ethical Implications of a Classical Hindu Theme
Thomas B. Ellis, Bucknell University
The work of J. L. Mehta presents a significant new use of a classical Hindu resource in the contemporary Continental discussion of ethics. When juxtaposed with the "messianism" of E. Levinas and J. Derrida, Mehta’s interpretation of viraha bhakti ("love-in-separation") significantly discloses an alternative critique of phenomenology. As J. D. Caputo points out, Levinas and Derrida present an ethics predicated on the other still to come. While intended to displace the phenomenological subject’s putatively violent reduction of the other’s alterity, I suggest that this messianic construct remains bound to the phenomenological horizon, that is, the horizon in which phenomena come to presence. Mehta’s reading of viraha bhakti in direct contrast suggests that the other’s presence is not a delayed arrival; rather, the other (e.g., Krishna) intentionally withdraws from the self (e.g., the gopi). Accordingly, Mehta’s interpretation of the classical Hindu theme of "love-in-separation" contributes directly to contemporary ethical debates.
Ethics of War in Early Buddhist Suttas
Matthew Kosuta, Universite du Quebec
Buddhism and pacifism are generally thought to go hand in hand. A quick survey of Asian history will show that Buddhist states are anything but pacifist. How do we interpret this: as a perversion of the Buddha’s teaching, as Buddhists responding to the necessity of worldly life, or can we find actual scriptural support for military endeavors? This presentation summarizes the conclusions drawn in my Ph.D. thesis Ethics of War in Early Buddhist Suttas. Several key suttas of the Pali Canon were analyzed by using both Buddhist ethical behavior as taught in the Canon, and modern theories on ethics of war. The primary goal of this study was to establish an early Buddhist ethics of war. The secondary goal was to introduce this ethic into the modern debate on the ethics of war, a debate that is dominated by Western theological and political theories.
Moral Copper Rule: A Confucian-Daoist Proposal for Global Ethics
Huang Yong, Kutztown University
As the traditional ethical theories have largely been developed to deal with relationships among people of the same religious, cultural, and ethnic groups;, today there is an increasing need for a new ethics that is appropriate to the new interpersonal relationships, i.e. relationships among people with different religious, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. In this paper, I shall propose what I call "moral copper rule:" "do unto others what they would like to be done upon them (and its negative expression: "don’t do upon others what they would not like to be done upon them"), as an alternative to the so-called moral golden rule, "do upon others what you would like to be done upon you," and silver rule, "don’t do upon others what you would not like to be done upon you." I shall do so by primarily drawing on the rich resources of the Confucian and Daoist traditions.
Pagan and Christian Dynastic Strategies: A Comparative Approach
Anne Kurdock, University of Manchester
This paper considers marriage alliances among the later Roman aristocracy from an anthropological perspective. Using gender analysis and other interpretive methods, it explores the collective ambitions and aspirations served for each of the two partner households by offering one of its junior members as bride or groom to a marital union. The question of religious identity is taken seriously both as a matrix for self-understanding and self-representation, and as an important alternate network of allegiance. Individual members of the household wished to be perceived as paying tribute to one another and as contributing to the honor of the gens. The cluster of inscriptions for and by the Christians Sextus Claudius Petronius Probus, Anicia Faltonia Proba, and their children will serve as a case study, and will be compared to the less well-known but equally well-documented case of Anicius Auchenius Bassus and his wife Turrenia Honorata.
Early Christian Household Manuals: Mapping the Matrona’s Authority
Kate Cooper, University of Manchester
This paper considers conduct manuals for Christian wives from the late fourth to early sixth centuries as a source both for Christian Marriage as an ideal, and also for the concrete scope for identity and authority allowed by the role of married female head of household. These women were encouraged to adopt a rhetorical strategy which uses the assertion of humility as a guarantee of moral authority. By juxtaposing the prescriptive texts with the documentary evidence we will establish the contours of the domus as a platform for female agency. Considering epigraphic and other evidence for married Christian women as agents, particularly in the context of religious and civic patronage, we will delineate the boundaries and dynamics of the matrona as the public, feminine persona of the familia, exploring the paradox of women as highly public icons of "the private" as a key to understanding the household manuals themselves.
Domus, Family, and Inheritance: The Family House in Late Ancient Rome
Julia Hillner, University of Manchester
This paper asesses the legal and epigraphic evidence for understanding of the social meaning of the concepts of domus and familia in the later Roman empire. It will explore legal and epigraphic sources to illustrate that the concrete domestic arrangements of the documented late Roman aristocratic families were more fluid than one might expect. Legal historians have traditionally believed that each familia was based in a single physical property designated as its principal domus. However, phenomena such as female heads of households, frequent buying and selling of property including what seems to be the kin group’s principal residence, and smaller quasi-"nuclear" kin groups living apart with their dependents appear in both pagan and Christian contexts. Thus ideas of household and family were not static. This has important implications for our assessment of how Christianity affected Roman family relations, and means that marriage could effectively signal establishment of an independent
Early Christian Familial Regrouping and the Social Politics of Rome: Romans 16 and the Libertini Portraits
Mary Rose D’Angelo, University of Notre Dame
This paper brings together the libertini portraits from Rome with Romans 16 as a way of investigating the social conditions under which people in antiquity - more specifically, people in the city of Rome- created new family groupings. This specialized set of funerary portraits from Rome from the first century BCE and the first century CE manifests the impulse on the part of freedpersons to remold and/or create anew and the web of familial relations destroyed by enslavement. These portraits record a claim to legal and moral citizenship that responds to and indeed colonizes Augustus' family values campaign. The figures greeted by Paul in Roman 16 shared, if not exact the social location, the ambiguity of status and culture evident in the libertini portraits. The familial groupings they create likewise appeal to and challenge the social and sexual mores of their context, and particularly of imperial propaganda.
Panel: Philosophy of Religious Rituals
Kevin Schilbrack, Wesleyan College, Presiding
Thomas P. Kasulis, Ohio State University
Steven D. Kepnes, Colgate University
Thornton C. Kline, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Michael Raposa, Lehigh University
Although the emerging field of ritual studies is extremely interdisciplinary--a meeting place for anthropology, sociology, psychology, history of religion, performance theory, and even biogenetic structuralism--one discipline that it almost never draws on is philosophy. Philosophers of religion, in their primary focus on religious beliefs, return the favor and for the most part ignore religious practices. This panel seeks to overcome this divide. We aim to make the case that the study of rituals can shed light on problems in philosophy of religion and that tools in philosophy of religion can be of significant benefit to the study of rituals. In particular we see the phenomenological attention to embodiment, the pragmatist understanding of thoughtful practice, the centrality of moral cultivation in Confucian philosophy, and the uses of liturgy in Jewish philosophy as representing valuable resources for the philosophical study of religious ritual.
Pacific Pluralism: The Working Model
David Machacek, University of California, Santa Barbara
The working model that has emerged from the Santa Barbara study of religious pluralism in Southern California includes two dimensions of religious identity formation. Internally, members and leaders of immigrant religions negotiate the ways in which American culture is consistent or inconsistent with the group’s values and traditions. Externally, religions negotiate a public image, which represents the way they wish to be perceived by other Americans. Additionally, the value in U.S. society of social and cultural capital retained from the country of origin and of that achieved in the U.S. by the group suggests a tentative explanation of variance in patterns of identity negotiation.
>From Confucian Korea to Protestant America: The Gendering of Confucian Status and Christian Identity in the City of Angels
Todd Perreira, University of California, Santa Barbara
The present study explores how Korean American Christians in Los Angeles negotiate status and identity in a gendered context across the generations. Whereas, in Korea to become a Christian meant to become Westernized, among first generation Korean Americans, the majority of whom where not Christians prior to migration, to become Christian in America meant to become "Confucianized." Over the past two decades, the phenomenal growth of the Korean Christian church in America has created a powerful public space for re-inscribing the very Confucian values and patriarchal authority widely criticized and rejected in Korea today. Far from promoting rapid assimilation to an American way of life, the immigrant Korean community has incorporated a Confucian ethos into the body of the Protestant American church that has wide-ranging implications for the kinds of strategies 1st, 1.5, and 2nd generation women and men employ in negotiating status
The Catholic Project of Multiculturalism in Los Angeles
Kathleen Garces-Foley, University of California, Santa Barbara
Since the early 1990’s the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has been moving toward a multicultural model of immigrant incorporation, which stresses "unity in diversity" and strives for integration of its very diverse membership. Unlike the parallel-parish or church-within-a-church model, in which ethnic groups operate in isolation from one another, the multicultural parish is a space for interaction and fellowship across cultural lines. This paper examines the impact of multiculturalism on the two largest immigrant groups in the archdiocese: Filipinos and Latinos. On the basis of interviews with religious leaders and archdiocesan personnel and observation of major religious events, this paper describes some of the strategies Filipino and Latino Catholics use to negotiate their place within the multicultural parish and a multicultural America.
Integration versus Isolation: The Challenge of Islamic Education in Southern California
Vincent F Biondo, University of California, Santa Barbara
Islamic Education is a potential site of conflict between American and Muslim beliefs and values. Islamic schools are designed to maintain a specific ethnic-religious identity, and also as a redress for the failure of the U.S. public school system. At the same time, recent American Muslim immigrants, reflecting broader changes in American society at large, are part of a growing movement for religion to play a more active role in public life. This paper explores: the differences between Islamic and non-Islamic schools, why Muslim parents choose one over the other, how Islamic Schools in L.A. are different from Islamic schools in the Muslim world, what this says about a new and distinct American Muslim identity, what the public schools are doing to accommodate Muslim students, what American Muslims are doing to improve the public schools, and finally, the compatibility of Islam and Western secular humanism.
Fast/Food: Consumption and Transgression in Vrat Katha
Robert Menzies, University of Iowa
This paper will demonstrate that the rules of fasting and the consumption food in the stories associated with vrats (domestic rituals primarily performed by women) articulates a relationship with the divine. Ostensibly, these rules suggest a mechanical perception of the universe in which correct ritual performance is the key and any benefits that accrue are directly attributable to following the rules. However, every rule has exceptions and these exceptions suggest that performance with purity of intention outweighs precision of action. By examining fasting and eating as presented in these stories we can see that it is the intention of the devotee and their relationship with the deity that is primary, not ritual precision in accordance with perceived universal laws.
Do Not Try This at Home: On Some Theravada Buddhist Stories of Excessive Giving
James Egge, Eastern Michigan University
The medieval Theravada Buddhist story collection Sihalavatthuppakarana contains several stories that condone unbounded generosity to Buddhist monastics, even at the cost of significant harm to the donors and their families. We can understand these stories' place in the tradition by recognizing that they combine at least three metaphors for religious giving that are distinguished in older Pali literature: giving as heroic generosity, giving as sacrificial worship, and giving as exercise of ascetic detachment. Using Lakoff and Johnson’s theory of metaphor, I argue that Sihalavatthuppakarana’s attempt to use these merged metaphors to structure the act of almsgiving illustrates the possible dangers of a literal interpretation and institutional reification of religious metaphor. I further note that although these stories are beyond retrieval for most present day readers, to read against these stories follows in a venerable Buddhist tradition of questioning acts of irresponsible giving.
Food Fights: Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain Dietary Polemics in South India
Katherine Ulrich, DePauw University
This paper considers the ways in which different religious communities deploy food and eating habits to critique rival religious groups. A variety of Tamil literary genres such as bhakti poetry and epics make vegetarianism, meat-eating, cannibalism, and manner of eating central subjects in their polemics about other groups and in their assertions of their own group’s superiority. This paper suggests that such "food fights" contribute to the construction of communal boundaries through attention to bodily boundaries.
Eliminating Bad Karma through Food Offerings: Buddhist Practice and Pre-Buddhist Precedents
Elizabeth L. Wilson, Miami University
Buddhist literature presents several accounts of how the Buddhist elder Mahakashyapa went out of his way to receive highly unpalatable food from a poor female donor. In eating such food in preference to what more fortunate donors offer him, Mahakashyapa favors disadvantaged donors and allows those who have little to give to enjoy the fruits of being a generous donor. The paper notes that in some cases Mahakashyapa’s selectivity is praised and in other cases, it is condemned as a violation of the rule that alms should be taken from all, without discrimination. Discussion refers to Indian theories of the gift and explores the extent to which Buddhist food offerings can be understood to perpetuate Vedic models of sacrificial giving and to resonate with Hindu notions about food as a means by which to transfer inauspiciousness or impurity.
Rabbinic Judaism and the Science Wars
Steven Goldman, Lehigh University
It will be argued here that two fundamental characteristics of Rabbinic thought are relevant to explaining why traditional Judaism has not been a combatant in the "science wars" as Christianity has been. In sharp contrast to Christianity, Rabbinic thought has for 2000 years been committed to the view that symbols are to be interpreted metaphorically, not as icons or as images of that which they symbolize. The truth of a theory is thus instrumental, not revelatory. Furthermore, the subordination of the intellect to the will is deeply rooted in Rabbinic ideology. People are vulnerable to corruption by desire, but not by the mind. Thus, existential commitment, for example, commitment to a life based on Torah values, is a matter of will shaping desire; the intellectual is after the fact. On this ground, too, therefore, Orthodox commitment is compatible with products of intellectual activity that conflict logically with beliefs.
Panel: The Work of Gregory Baum: An Appreciation
Paul F. Lakeland, Fairfield University, Presiding
Harold Wells, University of Toronto
Carolyn Sharp, St. Paul University
Derek Simon, McGill University
The panelists will offer critical assessments of various aspects of the work of Gregory Baum, distinguished Canadian Roman Catholic theologian and ethicist. Gregory Baum will respond.
Human Nature in Judaism and in Evolutionary and Neuropsychology: Implications for Traditional Ethics and Morality
Solomon Schimmel, Hebrew College
This paper explores some of the challenges posed by the findings and theories of evolutionary psychology and of the neuropsychology of consciousness, to traditional Jewish understandings of the ability to exercise control over thoughts, feelings and behaviors, the source(s) of ethical and moral values, and human moral responsibility and accountability. Many would argue that the traditional and the modern conceptions of the essential nature of what it is to be "human" are diametrically opposed such that there is no room for constructive dialogue between modern psychology and traditional Jewish religious anthropology. I explore whether this is indeed the case, and whether or not there might be a constructive way in which traditional views can be meaningful even to those who accept the modern biological-psychological view of the "human" as more plausible than the traditional one.
>From "Competition" to "Comparison" and Beyond: Exploring the Novel Relationship between Science and Judaism in the Work of R. Soloveitchik
Jacob Meskin, Hebrew College
This paper argues that R. Soloveitchik’s work offers a new model for the relationship between science and Judaism. Departing from the model of "competiton" (evaluating how Jewish truth-claims stack up against scientific truth-claims), R. Soloveitchik develops a model I call "comparison", wherein we compare the activity and thinking of the scientist with the activity and thinking of the Jewish religious thinker, in order to gain a deeper understanding of Judaism from understanding what the scientist is doing. I analyze this move, and also its considerable ramifications in R. Soloveitchik’s own Jewish religious thinking. I also explore the challenge contemporary philosophers, sociologists, and historians of science pose to R. Soloveitchik’s approach, and suggest creative, productive, and religiously appropriate ways his approach might incorporate this challenge.
Religion and the State in the Ontario Separate Schools Debate
Christopher C. Brittain, Atlantic School of Theology
Among current projects focused on deconstructing the category "religion" is a tendency to problematize the secular/religious distinction by arguing that it is simply the product of the distinctive history of the Western nation-state. Some scholars argue that the modern secular state has legitimised itself by establishing a boundary between the authority of the secular public sphere and the privatised sphere of the individual religious believer, all in the name of preserving social peace against religious fanaticism and violence. This paper will examine this re-reading of the religion/secular distinctions (especially as developed by Asad, Colas, Cavanagh, and Milbank) through an examination of the "separate-schools" controversy in Ontario politics in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. It will question the attempt to label the secular state a mere "religious fantasy," and will highlight the significance this trend has for the study of religion.
>From Apartheid to Democracy: A South African Model of Religious Pluralism Embracing Diversity, Inclusivity, and Community
Samuel Paul, Fuller Theological Seminary
Intense negotiations between the Afrikaner National Party and the African National Congress gave birth to South Africa becoming a democracy in 1994, and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as its first Black President. Since Christianity has always been a decidedly dominant influence to this country, this paper will elucidate the elitism and exclusivism of this religion through its support of apartheid. The paper reviews the principles that now govern church-state relationship and argues that it is not a separation of church and state, because South Africa confidently seeks to uphold neutral religious practices in conformity with the egalitarian foundations of its new Constitution. It is not a secular state either because religion is not perceived as a taboo. The paper will examine, evaluate, and critique the American establishment and free exercise clauses against the 1996 South African constitution and other African countries' constitutional provisions relating to religious freedom.
Trade Unions, Labour Law, and the Employment Status of Clergy: What Principles Should Inform the Churches' Practice?
Esther D. Reed, University of St. Andrews
Traditionally, clergy in the UK have not normally enjoyed "employee'status for the purposes of the law. As a result, they are generally excluded from basic employment rights including protection from unfair dismissal, family-friendly, and collective rights. The employment status of the clergy and their access to employment rights is under review in the UK. Under Section 23 of the UK Employment Relations Act 1999, the UK Government has the power to extend the scope of employment protection legislation to those not previously classed as employees. The Government is expected to publish a discussion document by late Spring 2002, followed by firm proposals for change in 2003. This paper investigates theological and practical issues that arise: (a) Should churches welcome the possible extension of employment rights or regard it as an interference with ecclesial freedom? (b) Should clergy join trade unions? (c) What principles should inform good employment practices?
"Long to Reign over Us"? Church, State, and Monarchy: The Changing Shape of Religious Establishment in Britain
Martyn Percy, Sheffield University
The year 2002 marks the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The 50th anniversary of her accession is causing a number of theologians, political commentators and church leaders to question the role of the monarchy in relation to religion, the shaping of the nation and the Commonwealth, and the more general questions of statecraft and establishment. Seen from various perspectives, an established church can be a form of religious elitism; an acceptable mode of representation where one church represents a wide variety of faith interests in political and national life; an outdated hegemony that owes more to privilege and capital than to faith; or a necessary and contingent part of the State that enables vital ethical questions and transcendent values to be referred to at most levels of society. This paper sketches the contours of the debate, chronicling the main arguments and their social, theological and political origins.
Falling in Love with the Inner Other: An Ethnography of the Israel Experience Program
Faydra Shapiro, Wilfrid Laurier University
This paper narrates the field relationship using the trope of the love story, one in which the researcher gets to know, accepts, and finally "falls in love with" her inner other. The ethnography itself explores a popular rite of passage for young North American Jewry, the Israel Experience Program. As an academic engaged in ethnographic research and a member of the community under study, I had access to the confusing, exhilarating, bi-focal perspective of the "native" or "indigenous" anthropologist. My research field had also become a personal site of exploration, struggle, and learning in which me and my native within got to know each other and became increasingly more comfortable together. This paper investigates the process of doing that research and the relationship between studying others and learning about selves.
The Problem of Religion in the Ethnographic Study of Culture: Fieldwork Experiences among British Hindu Communities
Malory Nye, University of Stirling
My focus here is the paradox between (1) the contribution that ethnography makes to the study of religion, and (2) the problematic issue of locating religion within an ethnographic study of culture. Using fieldwork experiences among British diasporic Hindu groups, I argue that this cannot be resolved without first refining and rethinking our conception of what religion "is". Fieldwork on religious cultures is not necessarily about "experiencing experiences", but about discerning certain cultural practices defined by others as "their religion". However, the issue of defining or conceptualising religion is best approached ethnographically. That is, the rich contribution that fieldwork can make to contemporary debates within religious studies is the blending of empirical and theoretical issues. In doing so, the writing of religion does not essentialise the category but instead places it in the context of particular habitus, how people do a wide range of cultural practices that are "religious".
Constructing Experience: Comparative Ethnographies of Mata Amritanandamayi’s Mission and the Focolare Movement
Fiona Bowie, University of Wales, Lampeter
This presentation compares the ways in which "experience" is constructed within the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission and the Focolare Movement. Both of these contemporary religious movements, founded and led by women, are global in their outreach and combine elements of traditional Hindu and Christian teaching, respectively, with extensive use of modern technology and communications. Both also use the notion of "experience" as a key element in the recruitment and formation of devotees or members. Individuals are taught to see the world through a particular lens that anticipates the intervention of the divine in their lives and that has the potential to give meaning to even the humblest of everyday occurrences. The discourse of experience within these organisations is viewed in the context of the fieldwork relationship between the ethnographer and subject, in particular in relation to studying a group as an insider as opposed to an outsider.
Allegations of Violence in Early Arabic Christian Apologetics against Islam
David Vila, John Brown University
The writings of the Arab Christian apologists Theodore Abu Qurrah, Habib ibn Hidmah Abu Ra’itah, and `Ammar al-Basri, respectively a Melkite, a Jacobite, and a Nestorian are important examples of how Arab Christian communities in the first Abbasid century wrote apologies against Islam. In my paper I demonstrate that one element of their apologies that has been almost entirely neglected in contemporary discussions of early Christian-Muslim relations is the presence of allegations of violence by Muslims against Christians. Sprinkled throughout the apologetic treatises of these authors one finds allegations that the Muslim are dealing more or less harshly with the Christian minority populations living under their rule. As such these texts also offer support for the thesis that the surviving accounts of Christian martyrs under Islam can fruitfully be viewed as one element in the development of a Christian apologetic against Islam.
Sharpening the Doctrine of God: Theology between Christianity and Early Islam
Telford Work, Westmont College
Islam’s encounter with Christianity in Arabia and, after the Conquest, in the Byzantine Eastern Empire, caused dramatic epistemological crises for both traditions that have formed them in lasting ways. The sustained polemics between Christians and Muslims since the rise of Islam have sharpened central doctrines in both traditions. The Qur’an and several works of John of Damascus are featured literary examples that sharpen Muslim and Christian doctrines of God and images. The Muslim sidelining of Jesus and other messengers in order that God’s unity not be compromised is a manifestation of Muslim depth grammar that is sharpened, even formed, by its encounter with Christians. So is its aniconic theology, which reacts not only to polytheistic image-worship but Christian iconodulia. Likewise, in response to Muslim critiques, Christians nuanced and hardened their doctrines of Trinity and their various Christologies, and articulated a Christian case for the Chalcedonian practice of images.
Latina/o Pentecostalism in Newark, NJ: An Experience in Shattered Preconceptions
Otto A. Maduro, Drew University
>From the Fall of 1999 to the Spring of 2002 a small team of researchers studied Latina/o congregations and their pastors in Newark, NJ. Our research (contextual and comparative) resulted in the shattering of several preconceptions -- ours and/or of the professional, academic and religious milieus of which we partake such as the assimilationist or isolationist role of pentecostalism in the lives of immigrant individuals and families; the resistance of pentecostals to social critique and transformation, as well as to the creation of "pragmatic'social services; the recent and/or transient membership of pentecostal churches; patriarchy and sexism in these congregations; the authoritarian, hierarchical or anti-democratic ethos of pentecostalism; and a "fundamentalist" orientation, among others. Intriguing and unexpected findings reveal the variety, richness, and complexity of pentecostalism; including its positive impact on Latina/o communities in the United States.
Social Mobility and Cultural Dissonance in a Transnational Mexican Pentecostal Church: A Case Study of the Dallas Mission
Bobby C. Alexander, University of Texas, Dallas
This paper offers an ethnographic case study of how Pentecostal doctrine, moral practice, ritual, and church organization as a mutual aid society encourage economic and social mobility within the emerging democracy and evolving capitalism in Latin America and established decmoractic capitalism in the United States. The paper focuses on La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World), a transnational Mexican Pentecostal church, and its Dallas mission. The paper shows how Pentecostalism develops behaviors that transfer to family, work, and community and encourage mobility within the wider social orbit, beginning with individual initiative, self-discipline, and participation in decision making of this religious organization. The paper concludes by considering how mobility and, attendant with it, assimilation into secular culture, challenge church members' allegiance to Pentecostal beliefs, values, and practices, as well as doctrines and practices that are unique to La Luz del Mundo.
God: Banquete de los Sentidos
Angel Mendez, University of Virginia
Mexican writer Laura Esquivel, in her splendidly written book, Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water For Chocolate), uses food as a symbol and driving force for creating rich stories and characters. A young and intense woman, Tita, is the principal character of the novel and cook par excellence. Somehow, Tita not only masters the culinary arts of baking, sautéing and creating sumptuously tempting recipes, she also magically, sensually, and deliciously infuses her very self into the exquisite dishes she prepares. Her food is an extravagant expression of taste, textures, smells, colors, sounds; it is a lavish linguistic system of self-communication. In this essay, we shall have a little "taste" and "digest" a particular passage of a meal from this novel in order to explore the metaphor of food/nourishment as a paradigmatic expression of Christian theology’s - particularly Hispanic theologians' - delight in the knowledge of God’s love.
Kenneth Davis, O.F.M., Conv., St. Meinrad School
Many Catholics have little understanding of the close relationship between religion and healing common to virtually all Hispanics. To begin to bridge that cultural gap, this proposal attempts to disseminate some of the theoretical dimensions that undergird many traditional Latino/a approaches to health and illness. It is those unifying, conceptual elements that I term naturalismo. Furthermore, this specifically Hispanic approach to alternative medicine is resurgent among even the more acculturated. Hence, although naturalismo literally means "naturalism," it points to the traditional, often premodern perceptions about health and illness common to most U.S. Hispanics Catholics as described below. Note, however, that just as the specific practices of Hispanic popular Catholicism differ by ethnicity, geography, and acculturation yet still share certain beliefs about the divine, so the particular practices of traditional Hispanic health ways are often distinct while sharing certain unifying relio-cultural elements here termed naturalismo.
Panel: Lesbian Wraiths: Cosmological Themes in Filmic Representations
Emily Erwin Culpepper, University of Redlands, Presiding
Jane Caputi, Florida Atlantic University
Peggy Schmeiser, University of Ottawa
Marie Cartier, Claremont Graduate University
L. J. Tessier, Youngstown State University
Whether seemingly positive or negative, filmic representations of lesbian eroticism reveal the complex play and crises that are evoked when women's myth, imagery and desire collide. Although courses and research relating to women and film, as well as religion and popular culture, now enjoy considerable support in academia, the religious significance of lesbian depictions on screen remains largely unexplored. Whether in front of or behind the camera, the lesbian in film has come to signify both denigration and victory. Panelists will discuss how boundaries and simple sacred/secular binaries become more complex and fluid when the materialization of lesbian bodies reveals previously hidden depth dimensions. Such explicit and implicit cosmological themes will be explored in a variety of films, including Fire, Mulholland Drive, Watermelon Woman, Entre Nous, Basic Instinct, and Diabolique, in addition to the Canadian film Night is Falling, which will be screened on an evening prior to this discussion.
Panel: Millennialism and Violence: Lessons from the Year 2000 for a Post September 11 World
Jeffrey Kaplan, University of Helsinki, Presiding
David Rapaport, University of California, Los Angeles
E. Randolph Daniel, University of Kentucky
Michael Barkun, Syracuse University
Eugene V. Gallagher, Connecticut College
Dick Anthony, Richmond, CA
This panel will examine the complex of questions that arise from the perception among governments, state security agencies, and the popular press that the turn of the second millennium would occasion outbreaks of millennial violence. Little of note took place. In hindsight, we know now that the real threat came not from western millenarian groups but from an Islamist movement that targeted airports crowded with holiday travelers. These Islamists went by a lunar calendar that did not reflect the turn of the chronological millennium. This panel will delineate some of the key contextual issues arising from the Year 2000 fears from both a global political perspective and from the perspective of the academic study of religious violence.
Two Turning Points in Modern Theology: Troeltsch and Tillich
Jean Richard, University of Laval
On the basis of Troeltsch’s Glaubenslehre (1912-1913) and Tillich’s Dogmatik (1925), this paper intends to show the similarities and the differences between these two prominent theologians of the last century. Both tried to address the situation of their own time, but their assessment of that situation differed greatly. Troeltsch proposed a critical adjustment of the Christian faith to the cultural and social environment of his time, which he considered to be the modern world; but Tillich, at the beginning of the twenties, was aware of a new era, along with a new kairos, beyond modern bourgeois society.
Troeltsch and Tillich: Christians Seeking Religion Outside the Churches
Mary Ann Stenger, University of Louisville
Ernst Troeltsch and Paul Tillich analyzed the relationship between Christianity and other religions as well as religion outside the churches. Both analyses rest on their understandings of personal religion in relationship to culture as well as the absoluteness of Christianity. These insights will be applied to the contemporary issue of Christians seeking personal religion outside the churches, with special interest in non-Christian religions. Troeltsch and Tillich address the decline of institutional churches and the irrelevance and relevance of the Christian message in their own times. They recognize religious meaning and truth outside the churches and offer a theoretical basis for the parity of world religions while retaining some personal conviction of Christianity’s superiority. Although neither anticipated or encouraged religious searching that combines elements from more than one tradition, they did argue that the future of Christianity and other religions was centered in their inner, spiritual dimensions and their ongoing plurality.
Being and History in Tension: Troeltsch and Tillich on Ontology and Dogmatics
Garrett E. Paul, Gustavus Adolphus College
Troeltsch’s 1912-13 Heidelberg Lectures on Dogmatics and Tillich’s 1925 Dresden Lectures on Dogmatics, both published posthumously, represent works in progress by theologians struggling to come to terms with massive historical and cultural changes before and after the First World War. They are alike in their emphasis on God as Being, but differ (1) in Troeltsch’s emphasis on history and Tillich’s emphasis on ontology, and (2) Troeltsch’s emphasis on God as irrational Will and Tillich’s corresponding emphasis on the divine existentiality (Existentialität). This paper will explore how Tillich used ontology and existentialism to come to grips with the upheavals of postwar Germany, but neglected history in so doing.
Being at Home with Oneself in Daki Menan
Barbara Jane Davy, Concordia University
Daki Menan, land of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai in northern Ontario, is contested terrain. Amongst the bears, the old growth forests, wilderness enthusiasts, industry lobbyists, the Anishnabai, and other residents, who has the right to be here? Emmanuel Levinas’ radical sense of responsibility leads him to argue that one does not have the right to speak on one’s own behalf, because one does not have the right to be or to claim anything for oneself as one’s own in ethical subjectivity. However, he also argues that justice requires that I speak on behalf of the other. For Levinas, in ethics one must respond to call of the other. One is obligated to the other not in an abstract sense but as "me." Applying Levinas’ understandings of ethics and justice to the situation in Daki Menan places me under accusation, and requires a response of academic activism.
Activism Is What We Do Everyday
Laurel D. Kearns, Drew University
Joanna Macy questions how activism can be considered something separate from what we do everyday, and this seems especially true of those ecological scholars. This paper argues that one cannot be anything other than activist when "working" (an inadequate term) on issues related to ecology. For this discussion, I will focus on the broad interdisciplinary field of ecology and religion to show how in the very act of being scholars, we are being activists, albeit in differing ways. I will pay particular attention to why the question of being an activist even needs to be raised within the academy. Drawing upon the work of feminist and ecological thinkers and examples from my own research on religious and spiritual activism, the paper ends with a discussion of how the ethnographer is changed. As an ethnographer of religious and spiritual activists, I cannot be in relationship with them, and not act.
At the Intersection of Advocacy and Academics: Green Studies at the Graduate Theological Union
Whitney Bauman, Graduate Theological Union
As in many areas of study, advocacy and academia seem sometimes to be at odds in the field of world religions and ecology. In truth, they are fundamentally interrelated. Using the experience of a faculty, student, and staff group (at the Graduate Theological Union)--whose mission is to affect changes that reflect awareness of the issues at the intersection of ecological degradation and social injustices at the educational/philosophical, institutional/physical-structural, and communal/bioregional levels--as a case-study, I argue that action provides opportunities for deeper reflection upon "green" issues in religious scholarship and that education provides opportunities to take better-informed actions.
Chemistry, Religion, Water, and Ecojustice
Laura Hobgood-Oster, Southwestern University
"There is a toxic canal that flows behind a small colonia located outside of Matamoras." Ethnographic research, cultural studies of religion and environmental chemistry rarely combine in the academy. But, there is a toxic canal that flows behind a small colonia located outside of Matamoras, Mexico. This situation and this place require research that is holistic and interdisciplinary in ways rarely envisioned or attempted. It is complex beyond imagining. In order to understand the cultural and environmental dynamics that continue to create the situation the laboratory of the chemist and the fieldwork of the cultural anthropologist in religion are required. Humanos Derechos is a colonia with a population of approximately 20,000 people. The research design consists of investigating the nature of the pollutants in the water supplies, particularly a canal that flows through the colonia, and determining the impacts/effects of religious organizations working in the colonia.
Panel: Baseball, Religion, and American Culture: A Panel Discussion of The Faith of Fifty Million: Baseball, Religion, and American Culture
Douglas Ottati, Union Theological Seminary, Virginia, Presiding
Randall Balmer, Barnard College, Columbia University
Donna Bowman, University of Central Arkansas
Joseph Price, Whittier College
Christopher Evans, Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Responding
William R. Herzog, II, Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Responding
This session investigates the relationship of baseball to the "soul" of America, through a panel discussion of the recent book, The Faith of Fifty Million: Baseball, Religion, and American Culture. The book explores how baseball as a symbol of American cultural identity accentuates the role of religion in American life. The core of the book's argument is the assertion that baseball is a symbol of a pervasive historical ideology that America was (and is) at the center of a chosen millennial covenant with God. The book wrestles with how baseball as a form of "religion" highlights the themes of American exceptionalism, individual virtue, and serves, in some instances, as a symbol of social transformation. The panel participants offer a discussion and critique of the book and also an opportunity to relate American "faith" in baseball to the Canadian embrace of ice hockey as that nation's 'national pastime.'
Panel: Wesleyan Perspectives on Ethics
K. Steve McCormick, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Presiding
Theodore R. Weber, Emory University
Ronald Stone, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
This panel session of the Wesley Studies Group will explore Wesleyan perspectives on ethics by examining the works of Theodore Weber and Ronald Stone. Theodore Weber will present his work, Politics in the Order of Salvation: Transforming Wesleyan Political Ethics, and Ronald Stone will present his work, John Wesley’s Life and Ethics. Afterwards, a handful of Wesleyan scholars will respond to Weber and Stone’s work.
The Textual History of the Linji lu: The Earliest Recorded Fragments
Albert F. Welter, University of Winnipeg
The purpose of the current presentation is to examine the evolution of teachings attributed to Linji, starting with fragments appearing in (1) the Zutang ji, (2) the Zongjing lu, and (3) Jingde Chuandeng lu, and (4) the Tiansheng Guangdeng lu. This full version was later rearranged and reissued as (5) the Zhenzhou Linji Huizhao Chanshi yulu. The presentation will focus on the fragments of Linji’s teaching appearing in documents (1), (2), and (3), comparing the fragments to each other, and to how they are rendered in the standard, final form of Linji’s teachings in documents (4) and (5). I am particularly interested in examining the discrepancies, with an eye toward the extent to which factional considerations may have played a role, as documents (1), (2), and (3) were compiled by non-Linji faction members.
Jeong Dojeon and Gihwa: The Chan-Confucian Conflict in the Late Goryeo and Early Joseon
Chuck Muller, Toyo Gakuen University
The confrontation between Neo-Confucianism and Seon Buddhism, which has its earliest origins in the tracts of Hanyu (768-824), reached its culmination in Korea in the writings of Jeong Dojeon (1342-1398) and Gihwa (1376-1433). My presentation will briefly introduce the historical and philosophical background for this pivotal event in Korean intellectual history, and then follow with an analysis of some of the essential positions proposed, respectively by Jeong and Gihwa. I will show that despite their ostensive positions as representatives of distinct and opposing traditions, that when seen from a broader perspective, they can both be shown to be participating in the same metaphysical and logical paradigms. In the final analysis, they both criticize each other for the same faults: inconsistency between what is taught and what is actually practiced, and inconsistency from the perspective of essence and function.
The Rules of Zen Studies
John R. McRae, Indiana University, Bloomington
Over the past several years of teaching and researching the identity formation of the Zen traditions, I have developed a set of intentionally ironic/paradoxical pronouncements intended to convey serious methodological truths about the evolution of corporate religious identities in the highly genealogical context of East Asian culture. The rules are: (1) It’s not true, and therefore it’s more important (referring to the significance of mythopoeic transmission being greater than that of journalistic accuracy; (2) lineage agendas are as wrong as they are strong (referring to the polemical role of lineage assertions in establishing factional identity); (3) precision implies inaccuracy (referring to the role of precise dates and places, etc., as literary tropes); and (4) romanticism breeds cynicism (referring to the evil alliance between Zen apologists and Chinese historians). In the paper,I will endeavor to explain these rules with maximal reference to the errors of scholars other than myself.
Attitudes towards Cannonical Authority in Early Chan
Mario Poceski, University of Florida
This paper examines the evolving attitudes towards canonical authority in early Chan, and the ways those attitudes shaped the construction of Chan movement’s distinct identity. The real break, we are told, came with the Hongzhou School, which under the leadership of Mazu (709-788) took an iconoclastic turn that was predicated on a wholesale rejection of the ideals, doctrinal tenets, practices, and institutions of earlier Chinese Buddhism. My paper presents a critique of such one-sided interpretations by locating the evolution of early Chan’s attitudes towards canonical authority within the larger religious context of early Tang, and by providing a new explanation of the Hongzhou School subtle shift in outlook that involved an innovative approach to rapprochement with canonical authority rather than an outright repudiation of it.
A Case Study in Daoist Influence and the Formation of Chan Identity
Youru Wang, Rowan University
This paper examines how mainstream Chinese Chan assimilates Daoist thought to form its identity. Different from general studies of Daoist influence on Chan, this examination uses a case study to demonstrate strategies of such assimilations and formations. The case study is about
how the soteriological notion of change functions in the Chan deconstruction of Buddha-nature. My investigation will start with how Chan masters expound this underlying thesis of change. I will first examine Huineng’s notion that dao must flow freely (tongliu). Then I will investigate the Hongzhou notion of following along with the movement of all things or circumstances (renyun). Both notions reflect profound Daoist, especially Zhuangzian, influence. However, from Huineng’s use of the Daoist term tong to Hongzhou’s use of renyun, we can see the evolving strategies from the assimilation of Daoist thought to the formation of Chan ideological identity-the incessant play of difference in Chan Buddhist thought.
Virtual Pilgrimage, Virtual Adoration: Roman Catholic Devotions in the Internet Age
Maryellen Davis, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
This paper explores the intersection of Catholicism and the Internet, at sites where worship and pilgrimage are transformed by technology. At The Monks of Adoration Chapel online, internet users participate in the perpetual adoration of "the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist" that is updated every minute, twenty-four hours a day. These internet-savvy monks provide a service to Catholic web users by transmitting a real-time image of their Eucharistic chapel for virtual worship. This paper investigates the following questions: What is the relationship between the divine power veiled in the consecrated Host and the Catholic who worships on the Web? How does the experience of virtually "being there" and "worshiping there" in the non-place of the web shrine affect the adherent’s perception of his/her encounter with the "Real"? How has the Internet transformed possibilities for visual, temporal, and spatial exchange between Catholics and the Divine?
Meeting the Other in Cyberspace: Interreligious Dialogue on the Internet
Katherine G. McCarthy, California State University, Chico
Academic analysis of religion on the Internet is a growing field, but as of yet there are no significant studies of the scope or character of online interreligious encounter. After an overview of online dialogue, this paper focuses on Beliefnet.com, the largest for-profit multifaith site on the Web. Drawing on dozens of dialogue threads, interviews with the site’s founders, and analysis of its commercial purposes and links, I critically examine (1) who is participating in this virtual dialogue; (2) how online dialogue differs from traditional interreligious encounters and whether or not the former seems to be delivering on its promise of greater religious convergence and cooperation; (3) how this mode of interfaith dialogue might challenge established scholarly models of understanding religious diversity; and finally (4) how the overt commercialism of the Internet generally and this site specifically might shape the development of American understandings of religious difference.
Is It the Form or the Substance? Moving toward a Theory of the Mediation of Religion in Cyberspace
James Caccamo, Loyola University, Chicago
Most of the studies in the relatively new topic of Internet mediation of religion have been what could be called "comparative morphologies": comparisons of similar-looking online and offline religious practices with the goal of deciding which are better. Dialogue on the question, however, is at an impasse because there is no common or plausible criteria for evaluating online religious material based on external features and descriptions. This presentation attempts to move the discussion of the Internet mediation of religion beyond this impasse by proposing an alternative methodology. The author asserts that the first step toward understanding internet religious mediation is identifying the key underlying features that make any kind of religious mediational practice possible. The author proposes several key features (symbolic exchange, encounter, performance) and demonstrates how they can be used to help us better identify and evaluate the mediational power of online
Women, Death and Chiasmatic Complexities in gCod
Michelle Sorenson, Columbia University
My paper engages the thought of Ma-gCig Lab-gron (1055-1153), the female philosopher-adept who systematized gCod methodology and praxis in Tibet. The dearth of sustained critical study of her philosophy, praxis and contributions to the male-dominated Prajnaparamita commentarial tradition reinforces conventional gender constructs. gCod may be read as an investigation of epistemological and ontological descriptions of the "self," of "subjectivity," and of death as existential closure against conventional readings which are informed by fears of the female body and fears of death. Rather than being macabre and bizarre aspects of the praxis, offerings of the psycho-physical constituents enact the fundamental philosophy of gCod: recognizing and severing the habituations which threaten existential closure, or the death of being. An appreciation of the resonances of death and the body in gCod practice are aligned with limitations on the interpretations of women and erroneous reifications of binarized gender identities in Buddhism.
The Scripture on the Past Vows of Dizang Bodhisattva: Female Practice of Filial Piety and Buddhist Afterlife Beliefs in Medieval China
Zhiru Ng, Pomona College
To date, scholarly perception of medieval Chinese Buddhist afterlife is still largely defined by the Ghost Festival and the Mulian myth with its mother-son relation. To expand on this understanding, this paper examines the Scripture on the Past Vows of the Bodhisattva Dizang, which speaks of Dizang’s past lives as an exceedingly filial daughter who braved the hells to save her deceased mother. The parallel with the Mulian story is undeniable, but the mother-son relation is here replaced by the mother-daughter relation. The emergence of this alternate model of Buddhist filial piety, I argue, must be understood in relation to the interactive dynamics between two competing Buddhist funerary cults in medieval China: the Ghost Festival versus the Dizang cult. Within this interactive dynamics, the articulation of the mother-daughter model carried significant doctrinal, gender, and social implications that helped shape Dizang worship as a cult of the dead and the afterlife.
Fleshy Morality: Managing the Misdeeds of Mu Lian’s Mother in Late Tang China
Alan Cole, Lewis & Clark College
This paper is a close look at the various symbolic and moral orders that are brought to bear in the construction of the character of Mu Lian’s mother, Qi Ting, as depicted in the late Tang (618- 907) bian wen version of the story of how "Mu Lian Saves His Mother." Close-reading the narrative, I will describe how her character serves as a quilting place to negotiate several sets of competing dualities: Buddhist/Confucian, public/private, monastic/familial, male/female, spiritual/somatic, and patrilineal/extra-lineal. After sketching the interaction of these various dyads, I"ll try to explain how the tensions in the narrative are played out
and then resolved into a workable and comprehensive moral order. Thus, the task of the paper will be to understand how it is precisely by way of the richly deviant figure of Qing Ti that the widely different symbolic orders of medieval China were woven into a new inclusive format.
The Rhetoric of Inclusion: Rationalizing the Spirituality of Women in Kamakura Buddhism
Mark L. Blum, State University of New York, Albany
Japan inherited a Mahayana Buddhist tradition that, despite its univeralist ideals, was unambiguous in its depiction of women as threatening to monks and burdened with so many spiritually inferior qualities as to make their hope of attaining liberation all but impossible. There are, nevertheless, signs of Japanese attempts to include women in the spiritual landscape of Buddhist emancipatory literature written throughout the Heian period. Unable to justify women’s attainments doctrinally, such recognition only took the form of biographical records at that time. In the Kamakura period, however, we see explicit attempts to theorize why women are not inferior to men, and in some cases there are even assertions of their superiority. This rhetoric
of female equality is an important, yet overlooked, aspect of the new forms of Buddhism that emerged in the Kamakura period
Women in Buddhist Heaven
Mariko Namba Walter, Harvard University
Despite the fact that major Mahayana texts such as the Lotus Sutra and the Pure Land sutras claim that no women exist in Buddhist heavens, an opposing view is found in such early Buddhist canonical texts as (1) Aksobhyatathagatasyavyuha sutra or A ch’u fo kuo ching (tr. 186 C.E.), (2) Mi le p’u sa shang sheng tou shuai t’ien ching (tr. 455 C.E.), and (3) Abhidharmakosasastra or A p’i ta mo chü she lun (tr. 568 C.E.). In these texts, for example, women reside in various heavens as a wife or heavenly musician. These women in Buddhist paradise seem to enjoy a rather this-worldly family life with a husband and children, having been born through rather "asexual" conduct of parents. I examine the role of women in these texts and delineate the historical development in the position of women in Buddhist paradise.
Panel: Historicizing Sacrifice
Carol S. Anderson, Kalamazoo College, Presiding
Robert M. Baum, Iowa State University
Kay A. Read, DePaul University
John Rundin, University of Texas, San Antonio Gregory Spinner, Central Michigan University
Katherine Ulrich, DePauw University
This panel will examine evidence for several sacrificial traditions from widely different times and places. Rather than trying to force them into a preconceived abstract perspective on sacrifice, it will try to locate specific pieces of evidence in their historical context. There will be presentations on Vedic butchery of sacrificed animals; on how ancient Athenians in the courts and assembly referred to individual's sacrificial practices as evidence of good or bad character; on Medieval Jewish interpretations of ancient ritual practice; on the historical contexts of Aztec human sacrifice and its interpretation by the Western scholarly tradition; and on the multiple roles that sacrifice plays among the Diola of Senegal.
Panel: History of the World Christian Movement by Dale Irvin and Scott Sunquist
Craig D. Atwood, Moravian Theological Seminary, Presiding
Leslie Callahan, University of Pennsylvania
Valerie Karras, St. Louis University
Jane E. Merdinger, Catholic University of America
Maureen A. Tilley, University of Dayton
Andrew Finlay Walls, University of Edinburgh
Dale Irvin and Scott Sunquist's book, History of the World Christian Movement aims to be a general history of Christianity that is truly global and ecumenical in scope. Assisted by an advisory committee with representatives from many Christian churches, the authors have attempted to produce a text that can be widely used because of its balanced presentation. The first volume ends in 1453, reflecting the importance of eastern Christianity's history rather than a Western perspective that divides history at the Reformation. The panel will evaluate this work from their own areas of expertise and then open up discussion about the question of Christian history in general. Is there such a thing as a single history of Christianity or can we only discuss Christianities? How should we deal with the biases that churches have toward their history and the history of Christianity itself?
Goodbye, Mysterium Tremendum: What’s So Scary about Studying Religion and Emotion?
John Corrigan, Florida State University
Emotion was - and for some scholars still is -inexplainable. It has been viewed as irreducible, and, as such, a legitimate foundation for interpretations of religion that wish to leave room for the mysterious, inexplicable, and transcendent. Some academic study of religion defends itself against the charge of reductionism by leaving room in interpretation for the indefinable, by granting emotion an unqualified, primary, and ultimately indeterminate role. Neglect of the analytical study of emotion in much of the literature of religious studies has not been merely an accident or oversight. In many cases it has been a part of the self-sustaining nature of religious scholarship itself, which consistently has deployed claims for the uniqueness of its subject even as it went through the steps of critically dissecting it, demonstrating the rational structures of its working, and, most importantly, constructing a discourse of its sympathy with other aspects of culture.
The Greatest of These: Emotion Work, Feeling Rules, and the Christian Experience
Timothy Nelson, Northwestern University
Using sociologist Arlie Hochschild’s concepts of "feeling rules" and "emotion work," I argue the fundamental importance of understanding emotions and their place in the Christian life. Perhaps more than any other world religion, Christianity is founded on the idea of relationship-relationship between persons of the trinity, between individual believers and, most fundamentally, between believers and their God. Implicit in the construction and maintenance of the believer’s relationship to God are particular understandings of appropriate (and inappropriate) emotion-both in their feeling and in their expression. In fact, while belief has often been considered the cornerstone of religion, the Biblical passage alluded to in my talk’s title points to the insufficiency of belief (and piety) without proper emotion within the Christian tradition itself.
The Academic Study of Emotion in the Study of Indian ReligiousTraditions
June McDaniel, College of Charleston
This paper will discuss the relationship of emotion and "the primitive," the problems of Freudian reductions of religious emotion, and the differences between theological and non-theological approaches in work on Hindu understandings of religious emotion.
Collective and Individual Religious Emotions: The Locus of a Problem in the History of the Study of Religion
Gary L. Ebersole, University of Missouri, Kansas City
Ever since the Enlightenment, the subject of emotions in the study of religion has provoked responses characterized by a profound ambivalence. In part this ambivalence has manifested itself in the dramatically different evaluations scholars have offered of collective versus individual emotion(s) and emotional displays. This paper will survey selected, but representative, examples of the conflicted discourse on religious emotion, ranging from members of the Scottish Enlightenment to the romantics and from Burke to Rudolph Otto and Eliade. I will demonstrate that the discourse on religious emotions has always been interwoven into broader cultural discourses of gender, race, ethnicity, and class. It has also deployed in various ways the powerful dichotomies of primitive/civilized, irrational/rational, individual/collective, spontaneous/manufactured, and authentic/inauthentic. Finally, the paper will demonstrate the ways in which the political views of scholars have informed their discussions of religious emotion.
Reconstructing Madhyamaka as Transcendental Argument
Daniel A. Arnold, University of Chicago
There has long been debate about how best to understand Madhyamaka philosophy. Particularly in light of characteristically Mādhyamika claims to have no "thesis," many would characterize it as a species of relativism or skepticism. This paper will argue that the "thesis" question is best reframed as having to do with different kinds of justification, and that the logically distinctive character of Mādhyamika arguments is usefully clarified if they are understood as transcendental arguments. The focal point for this reading is an exchange between Candrakīrti and an unnamed epistemologist (probably Dignāga) in the first chapter of the Prasannapadā. It will be argued that Candrakīrti’s refusal of the epistemologist’s demand for justification ought to be understood as a principled refusal -- i.e., one that is coherent with (and possibly required by) Candrakīrti’s characteristic concerns. This is clarified by viewing Candrakīrti’s circumvention of these demands as a transcendental argument against skepticism.
Error, Change, and Rule-Following in Religious Rituals
Carl Andrew Seaquist, University of Pennsylvania
A review of recent research on religious rituals shows that we currently do not have a good way to conceptualize rules governing ritual in such a way as to allow for rituals to be performed, but incorrectly. Similarly, theories that provide a strict principle for the individuation of rituals have problems accounting for diachronic change or for variation in ritual across a culture region. This paper considers two recent theories: those of Humphrey and Laidlaw (The Archetypal Actions of Ritual, Oxford 1994) and Israel Scheffler (Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 1993; Symbolic Worlds, Cambridge 1997). It then considers ethnographic evidence for contemporary Hindu practice and historical evidence for Vedic ritual to demonstrate that theories of ritual do need to account for ritual error.
Reflecting Reality: Critical and Foundational Aspects of Indian Yogacara Epistemology
John Cha, Gustavus Adolphus College
This paper will investigate what I consider to be critical and foundationalist aspects in Indian Yogacara epistemology. The analysis here will revolve around two sets of distinctions: 1) the epistemic difference between erroneous cognition (bhrânti) and veridical perception (jñâna), and 2) the doctrinal distinction between conventional truth (samvritti-satya) and ultimate truth (paramârtha-satya). I will argue that the Yogacara have on the one hand, a critical epistemology in so far as their philosophy articulates the conditions for both the construction of illusion and the possibility of awakening. On the other hand, Yogacara philosophy is epistemologically foundationalist in that the goal of transforming the noetic structure of consciousness is grounded in doctrinally authoritative expositions of Reality (tathatâ).
On Resisting Gnosticism
Brad J. Kallenberg, University of Dayton
The topic "epistemologies in religious traditions" makes the assumption that whatever an epistemology is, a tradition needs to have one in order to achieve respectability. But such an assumption flies in the face of recent complaints that "epistemology" itself is an invention of Enlightenment thinkers that obscures the participatory nature of religious knowing. By challenging the hegemony of the knowledge-as-seeing metaphor, and thus calling into question the urgency of searching for religious epistemologies, this paper will utilize both philosophical (e.g., Wittgenstein, Pierre Hadot) and theological (Aquinas, Rowan Williams, Gavin D"Costa) precedents to argue that religious practice and knowledge are internally related.
Moving towards A Liberation Psychology: Young African American Males and Exposure to Violence
Tina Houston, Fuller Graduate School of Psychology
Exposure to violence in schools, communities, and neighborhoods is rampant in large urban settings, and can result in varying distress reactions. Given current violence and homicide rates amongst and against young African American males, they are often placed at disproportionately higher levels of risk. Research suggests that the ability to make a meaningful narrative of this exposure is an essential factor for recovery. Ones’ spiritual beliefs potentially provide an opportunity to make meaning of, and to moderate the effects of violence. This theodicy is not a new finding for communities who have struggled with injustice, oppression, and violence. Historically African Americans have turned to spirituality as a means of liberation and have left this great untapped legacy to their descendants. This paper utilizes this legacy and its rich theological resources in conjunction with western psychology to synthesize a framework for interacting with African American youth exposed to violence.
Sects, Lies, and Videotape: Black Theology Project in a British Prison
Robert Beckford, University of Birmingham
This paper describes the development and outcome of a dialogue between Black theologies of liberation and Black offenders in Birmingham prison, England in 2001/2. The purpose of the dialogue was twofold; firstly, to rework Black theological thought and practices in response to Black male incarceration in Britain and secondly to offer theological resources for the redemption of Black male prisoners. Over a 12-month period back theological ideas were explored, challenged and reconfigured in dialogue with a group of Black male offenders serving short-term sentences for a variety of non-violent offences. The context of the dialogue was informed by ideas and practices from critical pedagogy, critical race theory and black theology. The paper argues that in order to become more relevant and impact the vast majority of working class and working poor within African diasporan communities, cultural studies, political economy and political action must feature in Black theological reflection.
Don’t Bring Me No Bad News: African American Women, Prisons, and Welfare Reform
Garen Murray, Graduate Theological Union
African American women are the fastest growing segment of the US prison population. While Euro-American woman are the largest US population receiving welfare in terms of sheer numbers, African American women and are the largest US population receiving welfare in terms of percentages of the population, outdistancing all other populations. This paper suggests that these two statistics are intimately linked: both the carceral and welfare systems function as disciplinary violence against Black women. Using the work of Foucault, supplemented and corrected by the narratives and theories of African American women, I demonstrate the connection between incarceration and welfare receipt, and the violence they produce against Black women. I also seek to uncover sites of liberation from the prison and welfare systems in the stories of African American women.
Embodied Liberation (Jivanmukti) in the Yogavāsistha
Andy Fort, Texas Christian University
There is no question that the Yogavāsistha has its own unique perspective. It contains more Buddhist (particularly vijnanavada) and Puranic ideas (but less Upanisadic material) than other Yogic Advaita texts. Further, as Walter Slaje has pointed out, the Yoga here is more oriented toward cessation (nirodha) of mentation than Patanjali’s eightfold discipline. The Upaśama Prakarana (on Cessation, book five) contains many of the most important passages relevant to the idea of embodied liberation. These themes include the relationship between the world and human bondaye, that knowledge alone leads to liberation, the need for utter detachment while still acting in the world, the variety of liberated beings, the nature of bodiless liberation (videhamukti), and the mental and consciousness states (vāsanas) of the libereated being. I will argue that while still drawing from Advaita themes, the Yogavāsistha presents its own variety of Yoga-tinged Advaita Vedanta.
Līlā and Cūdālā: Two Women of Loving Wisdom in the Yogavāsistha/Moksopaya
Arindam Chakrabarti, University of Hawaii, Manoa
This paper draws from two important stories about noble women in the Yogavāsistha. The first one, Queen Līlā, explores the past and future alternative realities through which her recently deceased husband lived and died in three different physical spaces. Her immortal love brings her husband back to life. The second one, Queen Cūdālā, has to assume the form of a male teacher in order to awaken her spiritually complacent husband from his dogmatic slumber and his futile attempts at asceticism. The couple spends the rest of their lives in loving union discharging their royal duties in blissful nonattachment. This story in particular demonstrates to Rāma that he can be fully engaged in the ways of the world while performing his duties as king. This paper will draw out controversial lessons about the role of wise and caring women in society as envisaged in the Yogavāsistha
The Story of the World Within the Rock: Elements, Senses, and World Creation in the Yogavāsistha
Christopher Chapple, Loyola Marymount University
In the sixth book of the Yogavāsistha, the sage Vasistha narrates his own encounter with consciousness (Śiva) particularly as seen in relationship with the great goddess (śakti) in the form of Kali. This paper will explore the relationship between this dramatic narrative and the significance of the world-building elements (tattvas) as found in the Sāmkhya system. This particular section is noteworthy because Vasistha is telling Rāma about his own meditation experiences, and in the process instructing Rāma how to meditate in succession on the different tattvas of the Sāmkhya system. By gaining intimacy with the fundamental functions of nature through the senses and with the most primal forms of the expression of nature in the form of the five elements, Vasistha describes in detail how experiences of meditation can be directly related to the more elaborate aspects of the Saiva philosophical world view.
Is the Yogavāsistha Life Negating? The Story of Karkatī
Menaha Ganesathasan, University of Hawaii, Manoa
Hindu thought has often been criticized as world negating and life negating. The reality of the world is denied and thus, it is often argued, ethical considerations cease to matter. In the Yogavāsistha, the world is considered analogous, even identical, to a dream. However, in this text, ethics remains of utmost importance. The enlightened being is a maha-karta (great doer of actions), a maha-bhoktta (great enjoyer), and a maha-tyagi (great renouncer). Karkatī becomes a doer of good deeds by plaguing the evil ones, a great enjoyer by living the good life each day in the king’s palace, and a great renouncer by acting for the greater good and no longer out of selfish hunger. The Yogavāsistha does call into question the fixity of the world. However, rather than devaluing ethical
>From Resentment to Freedom: Celebration of the Body in the Yogavāsistha
Matt MacKenzie, University of Hawaii, Manoa
In book I, chapter 18 of the Yogavāsistha, Rāma laments his own embodiment. "this pitiable body composed of veins, arteries, and nerves is... a source of pain." He takes the body to be "completely filled with impure substances and afflicted with ignorance." However, in book IV, chapter 23, the body is compared to a beautiful city, "a source of infinite delight" for the wise, even a "vehicle of wisdom." How are we to understand these contradictory stances toward embodiment? How does Rāma move beyond his objectification and rejection of the body to see that the body can be an aid to liberation as well as a blissful city in which to live? I will argue that certain transformative experiences within the text demonstrate how the celebration of an avowedly ephemeral embodiment is linked to the text’s ideal of liberated, engaged being in the world.
Sufis in a Shaker Village: Bring the Kids Life in the Abode of the Message, a Contemporary Sufi Community in Upstate New York
Peter Ellard, Siena College
This paper is on the Abode of the Message, a contemporary Sufi community founded by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in 1975. It will first explore the vision of Pir-Vilayat and Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan, the spiritual source of the community. The second section of the paper will examine the lives of the people in the community; those that dance in the meditation hall, work in the communal kitchen, and till the soil of the organic farm. This will include an investigation into what draws people to the Abode and what keeps them there, an examination of what Sufism means to the members of the community, and an exploration of their ritual life, including The Dance of Universal Peace. An underlying issue this paper will cover concerns how the children fit into this Sufi Community and what effect life the community has had on the raising of children in modern America.
Sharing Saints, Sharing Sites: Sufism in Punjab with and without Muslims
Anna Bigelow, University of California, Santa Barbara
This paper explores how Sufis and their shrines continue to activate the religious landscape of Punjab even after Partition. Although few Muslims remain in Indian Punjab, Islamic sites are visited and worshiped by local communities of all religious faiths. By comparing several different types of shared sacred sites, and the various narratives and practices of the Sikh, Muslim and Hindu faithful visiting them, a picture of a truly rich inter-religious experience and expression emerges. Whereas inter-religious interactions at places such as Ayodhya and Jerusalem are flashpoints for conflict, these sites perform the opposite function, enabling cooperation, coexistence and communication between diverse religious traditions and social groups. Through a detailed analysis of the perceptions and practices of the devotees, the ritual specialists, and the general community, it emerges that these places provide locations for exchanges and communications between religious faiths as well as between the devotees and the saint.
The Articulation of Ibadi Identity in Modern Oman and Zanzibar
Valerie J. Hoffman, University of Illinois
Scholars outside Oman often identify Ibadi Islam as a moderate form of Kharijism, because Ibadism indeed developed from that sect, although Ibadis insist that they are not Khawarij. Omani rule in East Africa brought Ibadis into close contact with Sunni Muslims, prompting new articulations of the distinctiveness of Ibadism from Sunnism. The incorporation of Oman and Zanzibar into the sphere of British influence and the simultaneous development of pan-Islamic movements and Arab nationalism led to new Ibadi assessments of their relationship with other Muslim sects in a progressively non-sectarian direction. This paper, based on a study of manuscripts read in Oman and Zanzibar as well as published works, will examine the development of the articulation of Ibadi identity in Oman and Zanzibar from the rule of Sayyid Sa"id ibn Sultan (1805-1856) until the present.
Sufism and Modernity: The Budshishiyya and the Moroccan Francophone Milieu
Mark J. Sedgwick, American University, Cairo
Sufism is in eclipse in the contemporary Arab world, at least in comparison to the roles it played before the mid nineteenth century. This is most true in the case of contemporary Arab elites, which know little of Sufism but routinely condemn it as un-Islamic, primitive, and possibly as dangerously fanatical. One of the few Sufi orders that has succeeded in "breaking through into modernity" -- or breaking through the barrier of these misconceptions -- and attracting a significant following from a contemporary Arab elite is a Moroccan order, the Budshishiyya. The purpose of the paper is to examine the reasons for the Budshishiyya’s success in the Moroccan Francophone milieu and in France, in "bringing [Francophone Moroccans] back to their roots" in the words of one of the order’s senior officials.
Questioning the Dichotomous Concept of Religion: The Case of Secularist Turkish Alevism
Markus Dressler, New York University
Post-orientalist debate on "religion" has thoroughly questioned the applicability of the western concept of religion outside the Christian context. One aspect of the critic focuses on the normative presumption that religion has to be kept distinct from politics and that the religious, in fact, can be clearly separated from the political. The case of the Turkish Alevi community provides this critic with empirical evidence. Modern Alevis appear not only as supporters of secularism but even legitimize this support by embedding symbols of secularism into their religious narrative. The paper will argue that this is not only due to historical reasons, but also due to certain characteristics of the Alevi worldview. This worldview is structured around the idea of the immanence of God and a concept of "interior" (bat’n) and "exterior" (zahir) that is incompatible with a dichotomous notion of sacred-profane as presumed by the western concept of religion.
Panel: The Intersection of Practical Law and Philosophical Theory: Maimonidean Responsa concerning the "Other"
Kenneth Seeskin, Northwestern University, Presiding
David Novak, University of Toronto
James Diamond, University of Waterloo
Albert Friedberg, University Of Toronto
The panel will be concerned with the theoretical underpinnings of Moses Maimonides’ legal decisions in his capacity as a celebrated authority on practical rabbinic law.Halakhic responsa specifically dealing with relationships between Judaism and outsiders such as other religions (e.g. Islam, Christianity); heretical sects (Karaites) and gender (in the exclusively male dominated process of halakhic decision making the female can be considered as "other" as well) will be examined for their wider philosophical import. Whether discussing the permissibility of deriving benefit from wine produced by Moslems or the efficacy of a prayer quorum which includes Karaites, Maimonides’ responsa are informed by a philosophical ethos which emerges from other writings such as the Guide. His responses to strict halakhic queries are not mere applications of halakhic criteria and categories but, as the panel will demonstrate, are guided by overarching theories of jurisprudence which are paramount in his formulations.
Three Theologies of the Land of Israel: Covenant, Commandment, and Energy
Alon Goshen-Gottstein, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Land of Israel has been a centerpoint for Jewish theology throughout Israel’s existence. The paper will explore three models for understanding the religious significance of the land of Israel. The first model is the biblical model, grounding the meaning of the land in a covenantal framework. The second represents the rabbinic period, that sees a decline in covenantal thought. The land represents the world to come, and is appreciated for its value in terms of the commandments and their fulfillment. The third model is that of Jewish spirituality, particularly as expressed in hassidic writings. This model recognizes a tension between the land as a concrete reality and the land as a spiritual reality. The basis for this third understanding is energetic.
Homeland as Borderland: A Theological Investigation of Territoriality
Michael Nausner, Drew University
In this paper I argue for a theology of the (border)land, which on the one hand cherishes the geographical and cultural situatedness of Christian life, but on the other hand resists any easy correlation between Christian and territorial identity. Informed by Edward Saids warning to rely on supposed (territorial) entities and Benedict Andersons description of nationalism as imagined community, I challenge the conflation of religiosity and territoriality, agreeing with Katherine Tanner that Christian social existence is without a territorial homeland. Homi K. Bhabhas postcolonial analysis of boundaries as privileged fields of meaning and Sam Gills anthropological alternative description of territory as net of tracks are used together with Susan Friedmans juxtaposition of roots and routes in order to construct a Christian theology of the (border)land, that challenges the understanding of territories as homogeneous wholes, and instead negotiates (at) boundaries and follows divergent traces across the land.
The Attitude of Regard: Learning Theological Lessons about the Land from Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams
Sally Matless, Harvard University
While Barry Lopez’s subject matter in, Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape, is the role of imagination and desire in our perceptions of the Arctic landscape, the implications of his insights apply broadly to human perception/ conception, and are most profoundly relevant to how we "see" God and "the land." Lopez’s vision challenges the theologian, who, unlike Lopez himself, is not content to abandon the concept of "God" and its potential value. The paper argues that Lopez’s recommendation of an "attitude of regard" provides an opportunity to critically assess our pre-conceived "geographies" of the "terrain" of God’s conceptual nature, and to re-conceive that "territory" as immanent in all living matter. I will conclude that this "attitude" is critical for apprehending the dignity of all life, and provides a way to maintain the mystery of God and to see "attending" to "the land" as a form of worship.
Standing, Emplaced: Theological Modeling, Emplacement, and a Marsh in the Middle of Junkyards
Forrest Clingerman, University of Iowa
How can we find the religious meaning of a place? Using Nahant Marsh (an area in Davenport, Iowa, that has gone from shooting range to Superfund site to urban wetland reserve in the last decade) as an example, I will explore the concept of emplacement-akin to Ricoeur’s "emplotment"-as a structure for a theological understanding that can account for scientific and reflective methods of viewing "the land." I will delineate the meaning of emplacement as part of the creation of a theological model of the Marsh. This will rely on a discussion of theological models found in the works of Scharlemann, Klemm, and Klink. The paper then will delve theologically into the fourfold emplacement of Nahant Marsh: as place of resource, ecological place, aesthetic place, and place of community. Through this, we find the divine in the midst of simultaneous flourishing and destruction of the Marsh.
Survival of the Closest: Gender and Agency in Holocaust Resistance
Tam Parker, University of the South
This paper examines the rhetorical construction and representation of women’s agency in Holocaust victim resistance. I focus upon Charlotte Delbo’s Auschwitz and After which describes the performance of surrogate familial relations between women prisoners. In Delbo’s memoir, we hear a recounting of death and survival in which individual volition and will power are displaced by interpersonal aid and the failure of aid as its moral axis. The maintenance and disruption of camp-familial relation suggests an axiological schema wherein solidarity and care are the foundations upon which individual will falters or abides. This analysis seeks to redress trends within victim morality scholarship that emphasize the capacity of choice as the defining variable between muselmanner and survivor. The final section of this paper will address the ways in which in my usage and perhaps in Delbo’s text itself, the rhetoric of mutuality serves to console the reader where no consolation is possible.
Genocide or Gynecide? Japan’s "Military Comfort System"
Nami Kim, Harvard University
This paper demonstrates how feminist analysis can shed new light on the study of genocide as well as war crimes against women by examining various scripts - scripts of denial, scripts of universalization, and scripts of nationalism including scripts of genocide - which discursively construct Japan’s "military comfort system" differently producing different effects. This paper argues that all these scripts fail to take into account "comfort women" by producing various effects including leveling effects. One of the leveling effects of these scripts is to erase sex/gender difference within the same ethnic group emphasizing ethnic/racial ramifications rather than sexual, physical, and mental violence inflicted on "comfort women." This paper argues that only a feminist analysis takes into account differences in sex/gender, ethnicity, nationality and class, claiming the "military comfort system" as a war crime against humanity and women’s rights as human rights.
Double Vision: Feminist Ethnography and Women’s Subjectivity in Holocaust Studies
Janet L. Jacobs, University of Colorado, Boulder
Based on research at the Holocaust sites of Auschwitz and Majdanek, this paper problematizes the role of the feminist ethnographer in observing, studying and analyzing women in genocidal memory. Over the last two decades, the fields of both anthropology and sociology have interrogated the questions of subjectivity and objectivity in the research setting as these issues of epistemology have informed the development of feminist theory and practice. With respect to gendered studies of the Holocaust, an as yet unexplored dimension of this feminist discourse is the role that gender and ethnicity play in the re-witnessing of atrocities for the purpose of research. This paper thus investigates two significant aspects of feminist methodology: 1) the moral responsibility that "research witnessing" brings to Holocaust remembrance; and 2) the problem of multiple "vision" for feminist ethnographers who are both the subject and "object" of study.
Gender Violence and Genocide During La Violencia in Guatemala
David Tombs, Trinity College, Dublin
Political violence during the thirty-six-year civil conflict (1960-96) in Guatemala resulted in 200,000 deaths. In the period known as La Violencia (1978-85) state terror against indigenous communities in the western highlands reached unprecedented levels of ferocity. This paper presents the tentative conclusion of the Archdiocese of Guatemala’s Recovery of Historical Memory project, and the more forceful conclusion of the UN Commission of Historical Clarification, that during the worst years of the counter-insurgency strategy (from 1981 to 1983) the repression of Mayan communities amounted to genocide. In the light of the Archdiocesan and UN reports-as well as work on rape and genocide in other conflicts-the paper discusses gender violence in Guatemala as a key component of genocide in the state terror strategy. It concludes with an examination of attempts to prosecute Generals Romeo Lucas Garcia (1978-82) and Efrain Rios Montt (1982-83) on genocide charges.
A "Living Buddha" in Asian America: Looking for the Dilowa Gegen Khutukhtu
Rüdiger V. Busto, Stanford University
This paper recounts the biography of the Dilowa Gegen Khutukhtu and my ongoing research into reconstructing his career in the United States. The presentation traces his career from Mongolia to Johns Hopkins University, his life among the displaced Kalmyk Mongol community in the 1950s; the controversy over Buddhist leadership in the Kalmyk Mongol community; his appearances on university campuses, and finally his death. Framed within the reconstruction of the Dilowa’s life the paper argues: 1) That the historiography of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in the United States can be interpreted as a selective hagiography; 2) That the Kalmyk Mongol community as a "forgotten" Asian American community suggests new ways for thinking about Asian American racialization and Asian American history; 3) That salvaging the Dilowa Gegen Khutukhtu and the Kalmyk Mongol community narratives contributes to a more comprehensive and complex Asian American religious
The Culture of Indian Christianity in North America
Elizabeth Cameron Galbraith, Coe College
At the 1999 meeting of the Bishops and Religious Superiors of the Eastern Catholic Churches in North America, the main issue discussed was the growing concern over challenges faced by Eastern Catholics living in North America. Leading figures were concerned that the present time is one of urgency for many Eastern Catholic immigrants with regard to the survival of their own traditions and forms of worship. Eastern Catholics, who find themselves a minority in a cultural milieu that consists of a majority of Western Catholics with little or no appreciation for Eastern Catholic traditions and practices, find it increasingly difficult to remain faithful to their liturgical heritage abroad. This paper, which is based upon field research amongst Indian Catholic communities both in Asia and North America, examines what might be considered the plight of Eastern Catholic traditions in the West, with specific reference to Indian Catholic communities in Canada.
The Asian American Jewish Experience: Insights from a National Study
Patricia Y. C. E. Lin, Institute for Jewish and Community Research, San Francisco
Asian-American Jews can be categorized in the following way: those who converted to Judaism; those who were adopted as children from Asia and were raised by white Jewish-Americans and those who are the product of an Asian/white-Jewish relationship. Thanks to the adoption of girls from China and the intermarriage/interpartnership of white Jews and Asian-Americans, as well as the number of people who are converting to Judaism, whether because of purely spiritual reasons or in conjunction with marriage, it appears that the number of Asian-American Jews will grow exponentially in the coming years. This paper details the beliefs, practices and experiences of this growing community, and will address questions such as how is Asian and Jewish identity negotiated in these groups? Are some more likely to be religiously Jewish while others more likely to be culturally Jewish only? How do these experiences compare with other minority Jewish populations, e.g. African-American Jews?
To Be Chinese, Canadian, and Daoist: Semi-Adhesive Identities at the Taoist Tai Chi Society of Toronto
Elijah Siegler, University of California, Santa Barbara
The Taoist Tai Chi Society (TTCS) founded in Toronto in 1970 is the largest Daoist group in the Western Hemisphere and the international headquarters in Toronto’s Chinatown is one of the few Asian-American religious institutions to be integrated. My paper will be the first scholarly examination of this important Asian-American religious institution, and through interviews with its Chinese-Canadian membership, the concept of "adhesive identities," as formulated in Fenggang Yang’s study of Chinese Christians in America, will be re-evaluated. Being "Daoist" and "Canadian" mean something very different than being "Christian" and "American," respectively. Results will show multiple identities at the TTCS are less adhesive and more refracted.
Jesus Walking in the Congregation: Language and Bonhoeffer’s Incarnational Preaching
David L. Barnhart, Vanderbilt University
Although Barth and Bultmann have dominated the twentieth century with their homiletical models, Bonhoeffer’s homiletic has more in common with the modern homiletics of Craddock, Buttrick, Troeger, and others. This paper will trace some of the key homiletical trends in the twentieth century in order to show how Bonhoeffer’s theory represents a continuation of, and a break from, the Barthian/Bultmannian models of preaching. It concludes by asserting that Bonhoeffer’s homiletic represents a shift that would not be felt entirely until the end of the twentieth century. It also asks why, since his homiletic theory was so different, do his sermons not demonstrate any significant rhetorical shift from Barthian/Bultmannian preaching?
The Hearing Mind: Bonhoeffer on Wisdom and Folly
Rachel Muers, University of Cambridge
Folly, identified by Bonhoeffer as "more dangerous to the good than evil", is understood in his work as an inability to listen or exercise discernment, and is contrasted with the "hearing mind" of the wise. Drawing out the implications of this depiction of folly, and using philosophical accounts of listening and feminist theological discussions of sin, I argue that to overcome folly requires a radical reconfiguration of the communicative environment. Both the nature of, and the conditions of possibility for, such a reconfiguration are suggested in Bonhoeffer’s christology - with the concepts of the "weak Word" and of God’s act of hearing, and with the designation of creaturely reality, ordered towards Christ, as "penultimate".
The Work of Conscience in Bonhoeffer’s Homiletic: From Heidegger to Levinas
Wesley D. Avram, Yale University
Bonhoeffer’s classically Reformed/Lutheran strong affirmation of the revelatory ontology of Christian preaching, that preaching the Word of God is the Word of God, is theologically interpreted and phenomenologically grounded in light of the phenomenolgy of conscience articulated in his Ethics. Read in conversation with Emmanuel Levinas’s me-ontological philosophy of language, this phenomenology of conscience is seen to potentially trace the rhetorical work of proclamation in Christian preaching and make philosophical sense of the theological claim underlying Bonhoeffer’s homiletic. These connections will be drawn in hopes of illuminating the philosophical and theological significance of Bonhoeffer’s homiletic, informing contemporary homiletic theology,and suggesting unexplored avenues between theology and rhetoric.
Panel: A Retrospective of Julia Ching’s Works on Confucianism and Comparative Religions
Mark Csikszentmihalyi, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Presiding
Lionel M. Jensen, University of Notre Dame
On-cho Ng, Pennsylvania State University
Ellen Zhang, Temple University
John A. Tucker, East Carolina University
Robert C. Neville, Boston University
This panel session is devoted to an evaluation of the works of the late Julia Ching, a scholar distinguished not only by her prolific scholarly output but also her broad range of scholarship. Trained as a scholar of Chinese Confucianism, she was nevertheless preoccupied with two interrelated larger issues: the cross-cultural horizons of ideas, and the theistic and religious conception of Chinese thought. Ching was much concerned with exploring the meanings and significance of the juxtaposition and commingling of Confucianism and Christianity, as well as the religious dimensions inherent in the Chinese world of thinking. To properly assess the contribution and value of Professor Ching's variegated and polysemic scholarship, this panel assembles a group of scholars whose own works address many of the issues near and dear to her: East-West intellectual exchanges, religious and mystical orientations in Confucianism, and the Confucian-Christian dialogue.
Juxtaposing Christian Discernment with Strategic Decision Theory
André L. Delbecq, Santa Clara University and Elizabeth Liebert, San Francisco Theological Seminary
The joint paper will report a scholarly effort to juxtapose Christian Discernment with current Strategic Decision Theory. Examining research that shows that half the time strategic decisions by organizational leaders fail, we will suggest how Christian discernment can be understood by leaders attempting to enable organization action in complex modern settings, and may provide a partial offset to many of these leadership challenges. But even more important will be an exploration of how Christian Discernment can discover the movement of the Spirit in this central leadership challenge. We will report on how this effort to bridge the gap between discernment and strategic decision theiory has been recieved by both seminary students and corporate executives. In closing a specific expample of changes in ecision maker behavior and subsequent organizaitonal outcomes will be provided.
Work as Spiritual Practice: Spirituality in Organizational Life
Michael Skelley, DePaul University
This paper distinguishes three models for relating spirituality and work. "spiritualities" of the workplace are rooted in the dominant culture’s values of consumerism and materialism and are generally dehumanizing and socially irresponsible. Spiritualities for the workplace are explicitly based on religious traditions. They have the potential to be prophetic but are often dismissed in the workplace as incredible or irrelevant. Spiritualities in the workplace emerge from the experience of organizational life and focus on practice. They foster practices that are credible and accessible in the workplace, that can transform organizational tendencies towards control, competition and fragmentation, and that can foster commitment to non-attachment, collaboration, and the common good. The paper develops one way of approaching spirituality in the workplace by examining three work/spiritual practices: mindfulness, dialogue and discernment. Paper draws from scholars in management theory, organizational change and economics.
Spirituality and Management: Lovers and/or Irreconcilable Foes?
Margaret Benefiel, Andover Newton Theological Seminary
Spirituality and management, once thought incompatible, have in the past decade fallen in love, with over fifty books on spirituality and management appearing in the last ten years. Concerned that this popular literature rests on unfounded assumptions, management scholars study spirituality in the workplace using social scientific research methods, asking, "How does spirituality affect organizational performance?" Behind these studies lies a dilemma: Management scholars bring the discourse and method of organizational science to bear on their questions about spirituality in organizations. However, such an approach leaves many important questions unaddressed because the discourse of spirituality differs fundamentally from the discourse of organizational science. Recent discussion about definition and method in the field of Christian spirituality illuminates the issues left unresolved by management scholars. This paper will address the dilemma of the apparent irreconcilability of spirituality and organizational science.
Ascension: The Absence and Presence of Christ
Ann M. Caron, St. Joseph College
In this paper I propose to continue a conversation on the question of the significance of the doctrine of Christ’s ascension initiated by Douglas Farrow in his work, Ascension and Ecclesia. To address the question of the doctrine of the ascension I will explore the theme of the absence and presence of Christ in two authors writing on Catholic eucharistic theology, namely, David N. Power’s, Sacrament The Language of Giving and Nathan Mitchell’s Real Presence The Work of Eucharist. My goal is bring the doctrine of resurrection - ascension back into an expanded understanding of incarnation, before examining the contributions Nathan Mitchell and David Power each make to the question of the absence and presence of Christ in eucharist. Finally this paper invites us to consider a place for an apophatic theology of mystery embedded in the very celebration and theology of eucharist and in the doxa of Christian living.
Descent into Hell, Ascension, and Ubiquitarianism
David R. Law, University of Manchester
Taken together, descent into hell and ascension constitute the universalization of Christ’s significance and the recognition that Christ is present to all who have faith in him: the dead, the living, and those who are yet to come. Thus understood, these two doctrines provide us with the basis for a constructive re-evaluation of Luther’s ubiquitarianism: Christ’s humanity is not universalized in the ascension, as Luther claimed, but his divine reality is made eternally present to us. But this universalization of the divine presence of Christ is complete only when we allow the Word to become flesh within us through our faith in and commitment to Jesus as Lord. In this sense Jesus' humanity is indeed ubiquitous in so far as we allow our humanity to become transformed by his divine presence. Christ’s humanity becomes ubiquitous in so far as our humanity becomes Christ-like through faith in the Risen Christ.
The Apocalyptic Verticality of Christ’s Descent and Ascension: Balthasar’s Christocentric and Trinitarian Eschatology as Political Theology
J. David Franks, Boston College
Christ’s descent into hell and ascension into heaven occupy a crucial role in Hans Urs von Balthasar’s theology. This essay presents Balthasar’s treatment of these themes, especially as found in the final volume of his Theo-Drama (The Last Act), and illustrates the fruitfulness of that treatment for contemporary systematic theology by indicating how it can revitalize political theology. My discussion of political theology will take as its point of departure a comparison of Balthasar and Johann Baptist Metz. In the process, I will have occasion to challenge the emerging consensus that Balthasar’s theology is somehow inimical to political theology, a consensus that is most visibly associated with those who proceed under the banner of Radical Orthodoxy.
Touching Transcendence: Sexual Difference and Sacrality in Derrida’s Le Toucher
Ellen T. Armour, Rhodes College
Of longstanding interest to me are the connections I find in Jacques Derrida’s work between thinking the sacred after or beyond ontotheology and issues of sexual and racial difference. Several elements in Le Toucher: Pour Jean-Luc Nancy connect its broad theme (touch) with figures of sexual difference. My paper will focus on Derrida’s discussion of touch in Levinas’s philosophy and within Christianity (especially in the gospels' portrayal of Jesus). In both cases, touch becomes the route to transcendence and even figures AS transcendence. Female figures play prominent roles in these scenes. What can these discussions offer as resources for rethinking the links between sacrality and sexual difference, particularly when brought into conversation with other texts of Derrida’s where these thematics are prominent?
"The Desert in the Desert": Nomad, Refugee, Anchoress
Grace M. Jantzen, University of Manchester
Derrida considers "the desert in the desert" a place from which perspectives can be achieved and resistance begun, a place of both temptation and gift. I juxtapose Derridean comments on the desert with events in actual contemporary deserts, interpreting this conjunction through the story of two desert dwellers of Christian late antiquity: Zossima and Mary of Egypt. The complacent monk encounters a harlot in the "desert in the desert" and her voice is for him the (unlikely) voice of God. This encounter becomes the context for removing complacency, gaining new perspectives, and developing resistance strategies. Yet the monk seems preoccupied with death and other worlds, not this world and emergent problems of society.
El Tocado: Sexual Irregularities in the Translation of the God (the Word) in Jesus
Marcella Althaus-Reid, University of Edinburgh
The challenge is a marginal one in order to find how God avoids a normative divine destiny by a process of incarnation. God in Jesus is an exercise of epistemological transgenderism, in the way that an emerging sense of unmanifested divine identity follows the urge of a "coming out" of God in the Messiah. This process reminds us of translation. God (The Word) is translated into the texture of Jesus. Therefore, we can consider that Jesus may be an irregular sexual translation of God, manifested in an urge to contradict God’s destiny of transcendence. Re-reading the Bible from a poor Latin American perspective, and a sexual dissident one, God may be seen as transgenderist, in the sense that there is a complexity in the divine identity which reflects fluidity, overcomes continuity and introduces variance in social identities.
Sacramental Sexuality: Drinking Blood in the Age of AIDS
Timothy R. Koch, Boston University
This paper will consider what it means for gay men in an age of AIDS to hear that the ultimate religious act, that of Holy Communion in which a body is eaten and blood is drunk, is something that if done in any other context would be unsafe and counter-recommended. Taking the three main schools of Christian interpretation of the Eucharist (memorial service, consubstantiation, and transubstantiation) as mirrors for reflecting on how we construct and interpret our own sexuality, this study will then explore the most radical of these - transubstantiation - as a model not only for interpersonal sexual relationships, but also for how we organize for personal and political liberation.
"Before the Eyes of All Israel": Public Sex in the Bible
Ken Stone, Chicago Theological Seminary
"Public sex" is a controversial topic within contemporary LGBT communities. Building upon feminist critiques of the "public/private'split, queer analyses of public sex question whether sexual matters can be restricted to a private realm of intimacy. Such a question is important for religion since religious expression has also frequently been relegated by modernity to the private sphere. Yet biblical representations of sexual contact are arguably incompatible with attempts to consign sex to a private realm. In such representations sexual acts are often used to communicate public messages among men. The biblical deity, far from critiquing this economy of sex, participates in it through the giving and taking of wives (in, e.g., II Samuel). Biblical sex is in many cases non-monogamous sex; and while recognition of this fact will not resolve contemporary disputes, it may encourage gay men who identify with biblical traditions to engage those disputes more directly.
Resisting the Mechanisms of Self-Deception: A Call to Liberation for Gay Roman Catholic Clergy
David Mellott, Emory University
This paper will explore some of the mechanisms of self-deception that have become institutionalized in the Roman Catholic seminary system and the impact of these mechanisms upon gay seminarians and priests. Inspired by Robert Jay Lifton’s "the Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide" I will briefly explore a process of numbing and doubling that occurs during the formation of Roman Catholic clergy. Roman Catholic seminarians and priests are subtly, but deeply shaped by mechanisms of self-deception which the church and seminary perpetuate in order to disempower Roman Catholic clergy from speaking the truth about who they are and what they truly believe. Drawing upon my own experience of participating in and resisting these mechanisms I will propose in this paper ways to liberate gay seminarians and clergy and to empower them to oppose the powers that seek to keep them disoriented, powerless, and silent.
Gay and Orthodox?: Sexual Orientation and Return to Tradition
Yaakov Ariel, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Some gay men have chosen to embrace tradition and join an observant Jewish environment. While Orthodox rabbis would not explicitly grant legitimacy to same-sex relations, outreach rabbis encouraged gays to embrace tradition, assuring them that it was better to follow tradition even if they were unable to observe all the commandments. Many in the Orthodox community seem to have adopted a "don’t ask" attitude, which allows gays to maintain their privacy. Some gay men found the close-knit Orthodox community to be friendly and to serve as a surrogate family. The dynamics of Jewish gay Orthodoxy shed light on how men negotiate between what seems at first glance to be almost contradictory values and find a home in a community that officially does not accept their lifestyle.
Panel: Celebrating the Centennial of William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience
G. William Barnard, Southern Methodist University, Presiding
Ellen Kappy Suckiel, University of California, Santa Cruz
Ann Taves, Claremont School of Theology
Eugene Taylor, Harvard University
Osborne Lorentzen, State University of New York, Morrisville
The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), William James's Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion at the University of Edinburgh, still in print in several editions after one hundred years, remains one of the most influential books in the literature of American religious thought. For decades it rivaled Freud's Moses and Monotheism as the primary text in psychology of religion courses, and editors of the Modern Library edition claim it has been one of their most enduring best sellers. This year marks the centenary of James's pioneering work and members of the Mysticism Study Group and the Person, Culture, and Religion Group celebrate with a stellar array of William James scholars, each of whom has dealt in substantive ways with James's mature philosophy and psychology of religion. The essential tension in the work remains the conundrum of mystical awakening, its influence on the person, and the cultural context of this experience.
Panel: A Native American Theology: A Critical Review and Analysis
Michelene Pesantubbee, University of Colorado, Boulder, Presiding
Jace Weaver, Yale University
Christine Helmer, Claremont School of Theology
Chris Jocks, Dartmouth College
John Milbank, University of Virginia
Ines M. Talamantez, University of California, Santa Barbara
Clara Sue Kidwell, University of Oklahoma, Responding
Homer Noley, National United Methodist Native American Center, Responding
A panel from the fields of Native American Studies, Religious Studies, and Systematic Theology will offer a critical review of the recently published, A Native American Theology, by Clara Sue Kidwell, George Tinker, and Homer Noley. The purpose of this book is to reconstruct Christian theological concepts from Native American worldviews. The book also proposes new categories within Christian theology incorporated from Native American traditional religions. Responses from the book authors will follow. The panelists will assess this book in terms of its implications for non-Christian traditional indigenous spiritual practices and non-indigenous Christian theology. Some themes to be covered include, to what extent does attempts to develop Native theologies homogenize distinct tribal spiritual practices? Do attempts to indigenize Christianity simply facilitate the imperial project of Christianizing Native communities? Do Native theologies fundamentally challenge western Christian theological paradigms? How do we assess the political and theological implications of such a project?
Kathryn Lofton, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"Behave your way to success" is one of the oft-repeated maxims regularly cited by Oprah Winfrey and her cohort of guest psychologists, columnists, and spiritual gurus. This paper will argue that the products of the Oprah Winfrey empire (her daily television show, her website, and her monthly magazine) prescribe among its consumers a unified practical ideology, an ideology manifested in specified, routine acts. This presentation will focus on reading, writing, and buying as regularly prescribed Oprah practices. Primary to my interests is the issue of cultural production. How do we, as religious studies scholars, categorize products of mass culture? In definitions of religion, where does the Oprah phenomenon fall? Through a study of her prescribed practices, I hope to encourage disciplinary questions about the objects of our study, and the categories of our own explication.
Religious Studies and Sex-Positive Feminism: An Ethnographic Study of Women Strippers
Catherine Roach, University of Alabama
Why does a woman strip naked before men in a club? Eighty thousand dollars a year provides part of the answer, but money is not the sole motivation, nor the sole job benefit, according to the strippers themselves. This paper derives from a book-length study of women who work as exotic dancers in America and Canada. The paper asks when and to what degree stripping is a positive thing for the women who do it. Under what circumstances is the profession of exotic dancer empowering to women economically, sexually, and emotionally? The paper focuses on questions central to Religious Studies (particularly the fields of women and religion and of religion and popular culture): questions about ethics, value systems, and whether there is a sacred backstory of goddess spirituality that forms part of the appeal of stripping. Overall, the project explores ambiguities in the stripping experience through interviews with strippers themselves.
Muscular Christianity, Commerce, and Literary Value: The Case of Harold Bell Wright
Erin Smith, University of Texas, Dallas
Christian novelist Harold Bell Wright (1872-1944) was one of the five best-selling authors in early twentieth-century America. His books outsold almost every other novel, religious or secular, published before the first World War. Although a household name in his day, he is almost unheard of in our own. Wright’s absence from literary history can be explained--in large part--because he embraced a model of authorship that was both blatantly commercial and blatantly evangelical, a model at odds with the self-consciously literary (modernist) model of authorship that became dominant in the early twentieth century. Wright wrote Westerns that espoused a "muscular Christianity," converted many of his novels into screenplays for Hollywood films featuring actors like John Wayne and Gary Cooper, and published essays about Christianity in muscle magazines. This paper engages issues related to: (1) gender and religion; (2)religion and the marketplace; and (3) "lived religion" in America.
Sporting Heroic Bodies in a Christian Nation-at-War: Fighting the Evil Axis in the Lord’s Gym
Claudia Schippert, University of Central Florida
Examines heroic bodies post-September 11 in a nation-at-war, I ask what is the place of religion and religious bodily practice in this context? Building on explorations of complex gender representations in professional bodybuilding, I study the layers of representation, practices, and discursive implication of the Christian exercise chain, the "Lord’s Gym". I establish trans-disciplinary connections between feminist and queer theories and gender studies within "religion and popular culture" on the one hand, and sports-history and sociological interpretations of bodily and sporting practices in contemporary culture on the other hand. For all the ways the Lord’s Gyn explicitly displaces its missionary impulse outside the gym, observations point to a rich tapestry of religious practices and ideologies that materially produce Christian bodies within a gendered matrix in contemporary US culture.
Complexity, Intimacy, and Social Location
Vaughan McTernan, Beloit College
This paper considers the impact of social location on models of chaos and complexity in order to argue for the importance of categories such as race, gender and class in shaping more productive cosmological models. It asserts that in theology and science, teleological models that progress forward from the time of creation towards an idealized, specified end have kept categories such as race, gender and class at arms length. Such teleologies have an impact upon whether or not social location affects or is incorporated into the construction of cosmologies. This paper demonstrates, through my analysis of the work of Suchocki, Butler, Polkinghorne, Barbour and others, that categories of social location are vital to the construction of adequate cosmological models in our time.
>From Chaos to Cosmos: Taoistic, Whiteheadian, and Neuroreligious Perspectives
Sang Bok Lee, Northwestern University
The author articulates "from-chaos-to-cosmos" model from the interdisciplinary perspectives: (1) Taoistic, (2) Whiteheadian, and (3) neuroreligious. From the Taoistic perspective, the author presents four hermeneutic approaches: (1) a mind-body communication model, (2) a wholistic approach, (3) a multicultural model, and (4) an approach of the limbic system (a model of homeostasis). In the wholistic model, central metaphors such as Yin-Yang, polarity and "chaos" are presented in terms of nonlinear and cyclical process of ecology. Cognitive and perceptual processes in the human brain are explicated by using Whiteheadian metaphysics. Whiteheadian process models are compared with those of Taoism. Neuroreligious or neurotheological perspective demonstrates two modes of making sense of God: analytical mode (the left-side brain) and the imaginative mode (the right-side brain). The concept of scientific analogy is applied for the interdisciplinary method
Whose Science and Whose Religion? Anybody Left Out?
Barbara Strassberg, Aurora University
The dialogue between science and religion has been conducted primarily by a limited range of representatives of the sciences and the religions. In this paper, I examine how this selective set of dialogue partners affects the results of the dialogue itself and how this narrow range of participation influences the relationship to the wider social worlds of the religions and the sciences, to the web of social relations that constitute the world of dialogue. From this examination, I will propose a model for understanding a productive dialogue embedded in a wide cognitive and emotional capital and in moral competence. The expansion of cosmoliteracy, geoliteracy, ecoliteracy, and socio- and cultural literacy, including knowledge of diverse religious and ethical systems, by means of complex systems of communication and transportation, opens new potentialities for the dialogue between science and religion.
Lakota Rock Art, Ritual, and Altered States of Consciousness (ASCs)
Alexandra Witkin-New Holy, Montana State University
Within the past 15 years connections between rock art (i.e. petroglyphs) and shamanism have been verified leading researchers’ attention to ASCs. Neuropsychological research on ASCs explains certain rock art while ethnography and collaboration with the artist’s descendants can help establish the meanings of rock art. Shamans produced rock art during and after trance experiences. The three stages of trance are universal and wired into the human nervous system, though the meanings given to the trance aspects and their rock art representations are culturally determined. My paper discusses the basic theory of rock art and ASCs applying and developing the theory within the specifics of Lakota rituals and rock art focusing on the yuwipi ceremony, the hanblecheyapi (vision-quest), and wiwanyank wacipi (Sun Dance). My paper suggests the need to integrate ritual studies theory into the theory of rock art and shamanism, and to foreground ASCs in ritual studies.
Rites of Passage: The Role of Perspective and the Historian
Susan Marks, University of Pennsylvania
This paper responds to entrenched ideas about rites of passage (ROP) that obscure historical research. In examining weddings, I have found that nothing in the ROP model helps describe the perspective(s) from which a wedding may be experienced. Bourdieu does offer an alternative model, renaming a ROP as an act of institution. He does not pursue other perspectives, however, or the possibility of comparing points of view. Mishnah Qiddushin 1.1 describes a ROP from an outsider or institutional perspective. For instance, it does not consider the bride’s perspective. It could not otherwise equate the acquisition of a bride by intercourse with the giving of money or a writ. By exploring the implications of this text from other perspectives, I suggest that by naming a textual rite a "ROP," or a step in a ROP, the historian can inadvertently obscure incomplete transitions.
Re-w/riting Signifying Structures: Efficacy and Meaning in a Goddess Spirituality Rite
Kristy Coleman, Claremont Graduate School
My paper proffers an approach to understanding the ritual-based tradition of Goddess spirituality. I draw on ritual and semiotic theory to construe the effect of replacing "God" with "Goddess" as virtually impossible to underestimate as opposed to the view that the rituals and spiritual practices associated with Goddess spirituality empower solely at the level of fantasy.
In addition to employing arguments that attest to the efficacy of ritual practice for altering or retaining worldviews, through poststructuralist theory I propose that some Goddess spirituality rituals engage in creating and incorporating an alternative symbolic system, in particular, by disrupting and transforming Western culture’s phallocentric system of representation.
Jacques Derrida’s writings on the transcendental signified (a never existing yet "originary" center of signification) take us into the intricacies of signification in ways that can be used to further interpret ritual symbolism, especially in interpreting rites that replace "God" with "Goddess."
Sacrifice and Purity: The Twisted Fortunes of Related Ritual Structures
Jonathan Klawans, Boston University
This paper surveys treatments of purity and sacrifice by major theorists of ritual over the past century. The current treatment of these structures, especially in commentaries on Leviticus, is influenced by both M. Douglas and R. Girard. Douglas appreciates purity as a complex symbolic structure, while Girard derides sacrifice as a primitive vestige. Similarly, C. Lévi-Strauss viewed totemism positively and sacrifice negatively. A century ago, however, W. Robertson Smith and E. Durkheim treated sacrifice with relative sympathy and dismissed taboos with derision. It will be argued that the Victorian approach, with its disdain for taboo and appreciation of sacrifice, reflects religious and civic attitudes then prevalent. The current approach, in turn, also reflects contemporary religious and popular agendas. It will be suggested that methodological consistency (as opposed to uniformity) may help scholars avoid falling into the trap of treating related ritual structures in such disparate ways.
The Lure of Faith: Tillich’s Understanding of Faith and Whitehead’s Lure of God
Luis G. Pedraja, Memphis Theological Seminary
According to Tillich, the grasping of our ultimate concern in the act of faith defines our being, transforming us in the process without abrogating our freedom. While Whitehead does not address faith directly, he grants that faith has ontological value and transformative power. In addition, God works in creation through persuasion, luring us toward self-transcendence while not abrogating our freedom, transforming us in the process that constitutes our being. Using a variation of Tillich’s method of correlation, this paper correlates Whitehead’s philosophical understanding of the lure of God to Tillich’s understanding of faith as being grasped by the ultimate to provide an initial opening to the development of a theology of faith and a framework for developing a Latino/a understanding of faith, particularly in connection to popular religion and the peoples' "faithful intuition."
Tillich on the Actuality of God as Apprehended by Faith
Edgar A. Towne, Christian Theological Seminary
The paper will show that Tillich offers a credible yet non-foundational account of how persons living in any age may believe in God. This will be done by reference to the religious life function, to God as inescapable depth, ground, and power of being, and to his view of the historically emergent religious "symbol," which mediates the actuality of God. Tillich is post-modern in the way he can account for faith associated with diverse world-pictures. The post-modern will be defined as a mood tolerant of such diversity and as a sensibility that regards the boundary between art and reality as permeable. Yet faith in God is not without dissonance. With the aid of Paul Ricoeur and Robert Scharlemann the dialectic in faith will be explored with regard to "second naivete" and "broken'symbol.
Rhythmicity and the Relocation of Tillich in Postmodern Theology
Loye Ashton, Boston University
Tillich’s theological work has often been viewed as an antecedent to postmodern liberal theologies and thus critiqued by postmodern radical theologies as merely a product of modern metaphysics, seen as serving to promote, rather than curtail, individualistic consumer-driven secularism based on a scientific model of rationality for understanding faith. This paper argues that Tillich’s system is more properly located outside of either main approach (postmodern liberal or postmodern radical) due to its inherent association with a third option built upon the metaphysical principle of "rhythmicity," a specialized understanding of the Platonic and process notions of harmony integrating dynamism into the pattern of enduring identities. This paper illustrates Tillich’s connection to rhythmicity through his idea of the polarities of ontological elements as well as his understanding of the functions of life and its infusion by the Spirit.
God as Dynamic Ontological Creativity: Exploring the Possibilities for a Tillichian Process Theology
John J. Thatamanil, Millsaps College
This paper argues that a fundamental rapprochement between Tillichian theology and process thought is taking place. This paper is a first step in the process of sketching how best to combine the central insights of each tradition. I will, following Robert Neville, argue that God must be understood as a dynamic ontological creativity which gives rise to the many. Such an approach removes lingering elements of substantialism in Tillich’s thought. On the other hand, insisting that the dynamic creativity must be understood as being-itself rather than as a being critiques traditional process theisms. This paper will critically compare and assess R. Neville, J. Bracken and J. Berthrong each of whom moves in the direction called for herein. Construing being-itself as ontological creativity and ontological creativity as being-itself not only removes endemic difficulties in both traditions but will also generate more fruitful possibilities for an engagement with non-dualistic Eastern traditions.
Mutuality: The Spirituality of Teaching
Michael Battle, Duke University
What is it that I do when I teach theologically in a secular university? Even more particularly, how do I teach spirituality in a university setting? In this paper, my goal for the audience is to see the paradox of teaching theologically in a university setting that is legitimately afraid of the abuses done in the name of theology. Like other kinds of teachers, theological teachers must no longer be ashamed of "our" particular discourse in the university. The challenge becomes how to teach theologically in a manner to help students see the surprising reality of mutuality between teacher and student. What is it that I do when I teach theologically? In a nutshell, when a teacher teaches theologically she produces (does) mutuality. As theological teachers, our essential product is mutuality. This claim carries the burden of producing mutuality between student and teacher and between individual and community.
Teaching as Theological Practice: Co-creating in the Classroom
Caryn D. Riswold, Illinois College
In order to understand teaching as theological practice, we must examine the activity of teaching, the theology that it practices, and the definition of practice that enables such a moniker. I will construct an understanding of teaching as co-creative activity: working with God in the world for the purpose of the divine vision. I will show how, in the details of the practice of teaching, we embody part of that vision for human life. I will suggest that understanding teaching as theological practice in this way imbues the practice with dignity, responsibility, authority, and hope. Integrating Philip Hefner’s theoretical concept of the created co-creator with Craig Dykstra and Dorothy Bass' concrete treatment of the nature and purpose of practices, this paper will conclude by suggesting that teaching as theological practice is part of the work of God in the world: co-creating in the classroom.
Teaching Theological Reflection in Field Education: A Meta-Reflection
Jane Maynard, The Church Divinity School of the Pacific
The purpose of this proposal is to reflect upon difficulties I have encountered in teaching students' methods of theological reflection applied to actual experiences of ministry. In this presentation, I shall apply three methods of theological reflection I currently teach to a case drawn from my own teaching. This case will be chosen to illuminate typical challenges I have experienced in teaching theological reflection. The methods I shall use for reflection include the Education for Ministry (EFM) method, Thomas Groome’s shared praxis method, and Don Browning’s practical theological method. I shall recruit my co-teachers' input into the reflective process. In my conclusions, I shall explore the strengths and weaknesses of each method in light of this exercise and consider the implications for my teaching praxis that are suggested by each reflective method and by the exercise taken as a whole.
Teaching/Creative Writing as Parabolic Theology: A Case Study
Faith Kirkham Hawkins, Candler School of Theology/Emory University
How can creative writing prompt theological reflection as well as articulate it? And how can one teach a course incorporating theology, religious reflection, and creative writing? The paper explores these questions through consideration of a titled "Creative Expressions of the Sacred in Ordinary Life." After describing the course goals and format, I examine the ways in which creative writing exercises focused on ordinary experience enabled students to engage in "parabolic" theological reflection, similar in form, function and effect to the parables of the New Testament. Drawing upon vignettes from daily life, showing the presence of the divine rather than telling it, students communicated their experience of divinity and reflected upon the multivalent nature of divinity and religious experience. I conclude by suggesting ways that creative writing exercises can be used in a wide variety of religion and theology courses in order to promote theological reflection.
Teaching Theological Reflection Well, Reflecting on Writing as a Theological Practice Lucretia B. Yaghjian, Weston School of Theology
While much has been written about "doing" theological reflection, little has been written on the process and protocols of writing it. In this paper I probe the writing of theological reflection as a rhetorical process and a theological practice. First, I situate theological reflection broadly within a "correlation" model, adapted for theolgical writers. Second, I identify two "generic'styles of theological reflection papers, the pastoral reflection paper, and the systematic reflection paper, and describe my use of them to introduce students into the wider discipline of theological writing. Third, I follow a student writer’s progress from the first to final draft of a one-page pastoral reflection paper as she struggles to write theological reflection well, and constructs a working theology as she writes it. Finally, I offer the theological reflection paper as a strategic example of the dynamic interplay between learning to write theology and writing to learn theology.
Not mere written words: Perspectives on the Language of the Lotus in Medieval Japan
Jacqueline I. Stone, Princeton University
Japan’s medieval period saw the emergence of distinctive arguments concerning the language of the Lotus Sûtra. Developing in Tendai and Nichiren Buddhist lineages, these discourses were prompted by a rethinking of the status of language in light of "original enlightenment" thought; by responses to Zen claims to represent a "wordless transmission"; and, especially among followers of Nichiren (1222-1282), by efforts to assimilate to the Lotus Sûtra the powers associated with such incantatory practices as mantras and dharanis. Though explicitly sectarian, these discourses shed light on medieval Japanese thinking about religious language more generally. This paper will explore three arguments concerning, respectively, the soteriological function of scriptural language, the relationship of discursive text to contemplative insight, and the thaumaturgical power of the Lotus Sûtra’s words to instill Buddhahood in insentient objects. These arguments also suggest how medieval Japanese Buddhist discourses about language were related to doctrinal, institutional, and ritual concerns.
The Body of Time and the Discourse of Precepts
Mark Unno, University of Oregon
Two of the more prominent, interweaving themes of Medieval Japanese Buddhist discourse during the eleventh and twelfth centuries were that of mappo, the Dharma’s final age of degenerate decline, and the revival of the kairitsu, the monastic precepts based on the classical Dharmaguptaka Vinaya rooted in early Indian tradition, as a means of rectifying the corrupted conditions of the Buddhist community. The problem with this was that mappo represented a problem of almost cosmic proportions, said to last ten thousand years. Thus, even though the mind could envision enlightenment beyond the constraints of mappo, the body seemed firmly entrenched in it. One can see in the discourses and practices of one prominent monk of that time, Myoe Koben, the complexity and challenges of attempting to overcome this chasm between history and eternity, the body and the mind.
Context as Weapon: The Keepers of Buddhist Orthodoxy versus the Snake in the Grass-Roots
Laurie Cozad, University of Mississippi
The redactors of orthodox texts have a tremendous influence over the ways in which audiences perceive mythical/historical characters. They exert this influence through the creation of various scenarios that function to render their protagonists sympathetic and their antagonists diabolical, or put more succinctly, through contextualization. When engaged in contextual analyses, scholars often treat orthodox texts as self-contained entities, thus decreeing that the issue of context pertains only to the internal logic of the text itself. While choices concerning the ways in which a character might be contextualized obviously stem from the redactors' narrative goals, sometimes these goals extend well beyond the limits of the page. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to examine the Buddhist Pāli literature, particularly the Mahāvagga and the Jātaka Tales, c. 1 - 400 CE, in order to explore the ways in which their redactors use context to hinder a burgeoning tradition of snake worship.
Poetics, Emptiness, and Mind-Only: On Myôe’s Poems and the Yogacara Theory
Ryuichi Abe, Columbia University
In this study I attempt to illustrate the importance of the Yogâcâra doctrine for Myôe‚s practice of composing poems. I discuss the question from the following three perspectives. 1. Myôe‚s autobiographical poems in which he finds the Lañkâvatâra Sûtra as the principal source of his poetic inspiration. 2. The waka-dharani theory advocated by leading poets and aestheticians in the age immediately following Myôe‚s departure. 3. The intellectual, cultural, and political implications of Myôe’s grounding of his poetic composition in the Yogacara doctrine.
Awakening and Language: Indic Theories of Language in Japanese Esoteric Buddhism
Richard K. Payne, Graduate Theological Union
Mantra recitation forms the self-identified core of Japanese esoteric Buddhism. It was transmitted through China to Japan as part of a larger, more complex whole of ritual praxis. This included not only the idea of mantra as efficacious, but also an understanding of their place in ritual practices and an understanding of language. This paper will examine the Indic theories of language that formed the background to the extraordinary uses of language found in Japanese esoteric Buddhism, e.g., mantra and dharani. Far from being an abstract philosophy of language, these understandings were essential to the ways in which mantra and ritual were conceived to be conducive to awakening. While at times mantra and esoteric ritual have been dismissed in the Western literature as "magical" practices, the broader discursive field provided by the Indic background demonstrates the complex interconnection between religious practice, epistemology, and discussions of the nature of the Buddha.
Foolishness in Christ: Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic Perspectives
Svitlana Kobets, University of Toronto
In my paper I argue that East Orthodox and Latin Churches perceived, endorsed and validated concept and phenomenology of foolishness in Christ in very different ways. The main question that I opt to answer is whether the Western concept of foolishness in Christ and the Western definition of its behavioral paradigm are congruent to those found in the East. To this end I offer a comparative analysis of these two religious traditions, highlighting their differences and similarities. I show that despite occasional similarities in behavioral patterns of Eastern and Western fools in Christ their phenomenologies spring from different premises; that their textual endorsements are very distinct; and that their places within respective Churches are radically different.
Jesus and Other Palestinian Martyrs: Crossing Muslim-Christian Boundaries in Bethlehem
Lance D. Laird, Evergreen State College
Based primarily on 1995-1996 ethnographic field research in Bethlehem, West Bank, I examine the shared discursive space of Islamic, Christian and secular nationalist symbols and narratives of martyrdom in contemporary Palestinian society. The Israeli military occupation of Bethlehem, intermittent peace negotiations and warfare provide the context that shapes the normal processes of selective appropriation of religious tradition among Palestinian Christians and Muslims, particularly the selective emphasis on symbolic persons. I provide examples of various ways in which Palestinian Muslims and Christians employ symbolic narratives of martyrs in the construction of multiple identities and group boundaries on the national, communal and personal levels of discourse. I argue that the Islamic symbolic language of martyrdom is refracted in political discourse and popular practice, so that it includes a wide spectrum of "secular" and "Christian'symbols, including the (theologically problematic) crucifixion of Jesus.
The Ministry of Fire: Firedancing and Ritual Empowerment on the Balkans
Antonia Atanassova, Boston College
My essay examines aspects of ritual firedancing in the southern portion of the Balkans while seeking to prove that Christian culture has incorporated elements from popular pagan religiosity that ultimately function to enhance its appeal and the practical application of its ministry. In his recent book Firewalking and Religious Healing (1989) Danforth has argued that that firedancing is a phenomenon which gives ordinarily vulnerable members of the community the resources to work as healers, evangelists, and popular performers in an effort to improve upon their marginalized status. I would like to redirect his argument into considering firedancing not only a form of religious healing and social empowerment, but as a phenomenon of social interaction in which lay people and particularly women, assume the attributes of public ministry refused to them by the official Christian establishment.
The Riddle of Ishtar’s Shoes: The Religious Significance of the Footprints at Ain Dara from a Comparative Perspective
Paul Thomas, University of Missouri, Kansas City
The presence of large carved footprints in the Iron Age temple at "Ain Dara" has puzzled many scholars. While tentative proposals concerning the cultural significance of these footprints have been advanced, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over this topic. Much of the tentativeness and uncertainty arises from a lack of comparative evidence from the Ancient Near East. This paper seeks to demonstrate the utility of a comparative method in the absence of contemporary cultural evidence by analyzing carved footprints in religious contexts ranging from India, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Greco-Roman Mediterranean, Central American to the modern myth of Bigfoot. Analysis of the footprint motif in these religious contexts reveals common features that help explain the form and function of the footprints at "Ain Dara".
Manly Fortitude and Womanly Weeping: Male Grief in Late-Antique Autobiographical Accounts of Bereavement
Richard Layton, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Ancient consolatory literature privileged what writers identified as masculine traits, prompting the bereaved to serve as examples of manly fortitude, and to mourn according to the dictates of the masculine faculty of reason. In three autobiographical accounts of grief by late-antique men--Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and Libanius--each writer reports a loss of self-control that displayed exactly the "feminine" qualities deplored by consolatory literature. This paper will explore this disparity, and will argue that each writer consciously transgresses the rigorously defined codes of consolatory literature. These male autobiographical accounts intentionally invoked traditional feminine representations, and the putative breach of convention was aimed at the recovery of "womanly" characteristics that were part of traditional lamentation rituals, but diminished in consolatory literature.
Ignatius of Antioch: The Persuasive Power of Performance
Alexei Khamine, Drew University
This paper investigates the performative strategies by which Ignatius both establishes authority and shapes his audience. Ignatius' triumphant journey to Rome is but a prelude to his "gladiatorial" performance. His self-representation as a gladiator fully employs the language of self-debasement and propitiatory sacrifice reminiscent of the gladiator’s oath. It is precisely the abjection of freedom that gives the gladiator a position of extraordinary authority. Thus, Ignatius establishes the locus of authority with an eye to shaping an audience who is to perform according to his script. He does so by conveying the images of perfect performance of his audience subjected to the scrutinizing eye of Christ. Ignatius employs multifaceted sensory images to set the ideal model of unity within a Christian community. This unity is patterned after the unity between the Father and Christ, participation in which Ignatius is so eager to realize through his heroic performance in the arena.
Overcoming Hell, Death, and the Devil: Deathbed Devotion to the Passion in the Ars Moriendi of the German Reformation (1519-1528)
Austra Reinis, Princeton University
This paper demonstrates that devotion to the passion of Christ is a persistent theme in the German Reformation ars moriendi of the time period 1519-1528. This theme continues the Late medieval tradition of deathbed meditation on the passion, at the same time as it reinterprets the purpose of such meditation according to the Reformation doctrine that one is justified by grace through faith. The sources used in this paper include ars moriendi works by both North German and South German theologians of the time period 1519-1528.
"In the Destruction of the Flesh, the Spirit May Be Saved": The Execution Sermon and the Ritual of Salvation
Muriel Schmid, Universite de Neuchatel
Looking at execution sermons from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in New England, a time when executions were still public, this paper will suggest that the staging of death depended on the minister’s words to become a redeeming experience for the community. The elements of the ritual of penitence were, therefore, of central importance: call for conversion based on God’s law, confession of sins, and declaration of forgiveness. However, as it will be shown, the full achievement of the ritual, and its healing process, was linked to the conversion of the whole community. This latter aspect will serve as a basis for interrogating the modern practice of capital punishment.
Complicating the Borders of the "Old Religious Right": Aimee Semple McPherson and the Battle for America’s Future
Matthew A. Sutton, University of California, Santa Barbara
In the 1930s, Canadian immigrant Aimee Semple McPherson joined forces with California’s Director of the State Department of Social Welfare in a battle against political heresy. She entered the fray against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Upton Sinclair who promised to "End Poverty in California" with her own answer to the era’s economic turmoil, convinced that welfare reform should be led by fundamentalist churches. My paper argues that contrary to popular and scholarly wisdom, fundamentalists did not resign from politics in the 1920s after the infamous Scopes Trial, as historians have long believed. Equally significant, McPherson and her following numbering in the hundreds of thousands, while theologically conservative, were as dedicated to a wide array of social services for the poor as were their more liberal social gospel counterparts. Particularly noteworthy was their radical racial and ethnic inclusiveness, which belies simplistic, dated depictions of the "Old Religious Right" as fascist and anti-Semitic.
Sister Aimee?: Aimee Semple McPherson and the Construction of Femininity
Quincy Newell, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Early twentieth-century evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson hardly fit the traditional gender norms that she espoused. Throughout her autobiography This is That (1919), McPherson described herself as a dignified, feminine woman, but subordinated this identity to her identity as an evangelist ordained by God. Yet even as she rejected traditional feminine roles in favor of a public ministry, McPherson fused her role as an evangelist with the traditional image of the godly mother, portraying herself as a mother to her public. McPherson’s ability to transfer this ideal to the public sphere depended on the conviction that the end times were near and therefore that biblical passages about "sons and daughters prophesying" were applicable to the present times. McPherson’s construction of gender thus highlights the interplay between religious beliefs and gender norms, demonstrating that conservative religious views do not always correspond to conservative social norms.
Taking It to the Street: The Gospel Cars of Aimee Semple McPherson and Martha Moore Avery
Priscilla Pope-Levison, Seattle Pacific University
In the summer of 1917, two ornamented gospel cars sporting evangelistic paraphernalia and personnel might very well have passed each other on New England’s highways. A bystander observing these cars in near proximity would have no doubt been startled by the contrast in their ornamentation. These decorative cars projected very different messages. One car boasted simple, well-worn phrases, such as "Jesus saves" or "Get right with God;" the other featured a quote from George Washington on one door and a hymn refrain from the Archbishop of Boston on the other. This paper will explore the decision-centered, eschatological message of one gospel car in contrast to the patriotic Catholic message of the other. It will then delve more deeply into these dissimilar evangelists who both happened to be women - Aimee Semple McPherson and Martha Moore Avery.
Panel: Virginity, Death, and Subjectivity in Feminist Philosophy of Religion: Françoise Meltzer’s For Fear of the Fire: Joan of Arc and the Limits of Subjectivity
Amy M. Hollywood, Dartmouth College, Presiding
Ellen T. Armour, Rhodes College
Thomas A. Carlson, University of California, Santa Barbara
Cleo McNelly Kearns, Princeton University
Edith Wyschogrod, Rice University
Françoise Meltzer's For Fear of the Fire: Joan of Arc and the Limits of Subjectivity argues that Joan of Arc's life and death exemplify the silencing of the female subject and the metaphorization of woman as/and death that enables masculine subjects to evade death's reality (and in this case, even more strongly, the reality of Joan's murder). Meltzer thus uses certain aspects of Joan's life and death as a template through which she reads the postmodern preoccupation with and putative nostalgia for an intact and transparent body, the bodily gift of martyrdom, and the certainties of faith. Panelists Ellen Armour, Thomas Carlson, Cleo Kearns, and Edith Wyschogrod will assess Meltzer's work, exploring the challenges it presents to contemporary philosophy of religion and the possibilities it opens for feminist philosophy of religion. Professor Meltzer will respond.
Local Registers of Sakta Tantrism in Kerala Goddess Worship
Sarah Caldwell, Harvard University
Hindu religious practice in Kerala is deeply infused with Sakta tantrism. This paper explores three different dimensions of Saktism in Kerala: a Sanskritic Brahmanical text tradition that encodes Sri Vidya mantras within a mythic recounting of the deeds of the fierce goddess Bhadrakali; rituals of the martial Nayar and Ambalavasi (temple-serving) castes, who depict the Devi Tripurasundari as a female warrior and lineage ancestress; and mountain-dwelling groups whose practice emphasizes ghosts, blood sacrifice, magic, and sorcery, and who offer meat and alcohol to the goddess at her shrines. By focusing on three different social registers of religious actors and texts, this essay elucidates how divergent values inherent in Sakta practice and theology are emphasized by different communities worshipping the goddess in the same geographic locality. Implications of this local case study for the history of tantric traditions are suggested.
The Dance of Power: Blood and Possession at the Heart of the Mandala
Jeffrey Stephen Lidke, Bard College
Beginning with the events of the recent assassination of Nepal’s King Birendra Sah Deva, this paper links bloods sacrifice to mandala-ideology in a case-specific examination of the interface of vernacular and Sanskritic traditions in Tantric contexts. Classical Sanskrit texts like the Nepala-Mahatmya link Nepalese kings with Durga Mahisamardini, the slayer of demons. This equation incorporates the widespread understanding of the Kathmandu valley as a Durga-mandala, with the king at its center, surrounded and fed by a religio-cultural network predicated on blood sacrifice, particularly during the festival of Dasein. However, this ritualized mandala-network is not solely a political tool manipulated by elites, reflecting only the Sanskritically informed traditions of the kings; rather, it has also been appropriated and transformed up by Nepal’s vernacular traditions, which have challenged, appropriated and engaged Nepalese kingship since its inception.
The Stinking Fruit in the Garden of Love: The Ambivalent Place of Tantra in Colonial Bengal
Hugh B. Urban, Ohio State University
The category of "tantra" has an ambivalent place in Western and Indian imaginations. Infamous for its use of sexuality and caste violation, Tantra has been a source of moral repugnance and tantalizing allure. This ambivalence became acute during colonial rule. This paper will examine the role of Tantric sexual practices in the Kartabhajas or "Worshippers of the Master." Emerging around Calcutta at the turn of the nineteenth century -- the Kartabhajas reflect the anxiety surrounding Tantra in the early years of colonial rule. The Kartabhajas' practice of Tantric sexual rituals is described with the metaphor of the "stinking fruit in the garden of love." The Kartabhajas demonstrate the ways in which Tantric traditions are rooted "in the flesh" -- that is, deeply embodied in real social, political and cultural contexts, and the ways in which these traditions change historically in response to social and political forces.
The Guru’s Tongue: Metaphor, Ambivalence, and Appropriation in Vaisnava Sahajiya Traditions of Bengal
Glen Alexander Hayes, Bloomfield College
This paper examines the religious metaphors and imagery of seventeenth-century Bengali Sahajiya texts to show not only the local flavor of a vernacular Tantric tradition, but also how Sahajiyas appropriated aspects from both the devotional theism of Gaudiya Vaisnavism and older schools of monistic Tantrism and alchemy. Salvation, for Vaisnava Sahajiyas, was gained literally in the flesh through yogic and devotional rituals involving flesh, sexuality, senses, organs, bodily substances, and realms located "within" the fleshly vessel. Their practices reflect the context and language of greater Bengal. For example, the Sahajiyas typically envision a subtle-body system of rivers and ponds, not the better-known cakras and channels of most Sanskrit-based Tantric schools, reflecting the geography of riverine and deltaic Bengal. Using insights developed by scholars of the contemporary study of metaphor, this paper will also explore the inherent tensions between the worldviews of both bhakti and tantra.
"When Rapture Was Intense": Sufi Writings of Aishah al-Bauniyah
T. Emil Homerin, University of Rochester
Aishah al-Bauniyah (d. 922/1517) left behind a rich legacy as one of the greatest woman authors in Islamic history. By any standard, Aishah’s religious writings were extensive, but for a pre-modern woman, they were simply extraordinary. While a number of women were respected scholars and teachers in medieval Islam, they rarely composed works of their own. Aishah, however, was a prolific author and probably wrote more Arabic prose and poems than any other woman prior to the twentieth century. In this presentation, I will review Aishah’s life and literary legacy, and focus on mystical elements in several of her poems and in her al-Muntakhab fi Usul al-Rutab, a Sufi compendium. This latter work, in particular, testifies to Aishah’s extensive reading on Sufism, and records some of the mystical writings circulating in Sufi circles of her day.
The Soul as Barzakh: Mullâ Sadrâ’s Theory of Human Becoming
Maria Massi Dakake, George Mason University
One of Mullâ Sadrâ’s most important contributions to Islamic philosophy is his theory of trans-substantial motion (al-harakah al-jawhariyyah), which posits the possibility of change or motion in the very substance of an entity. In Sadrâ’s own view, this theory solves many of the metaphysical problems other philosophers have faced, one of which is the proper understanding of the human soul--which for Sadrâ is a "holy" and "subtle substance"--and its process of moral and metaphysical becoming. In this paper, we focus on Sadrâ’s discussion of this issue in al-Hikmah al-muta`âliyyah, as we examine the ways in which he applies his theory of trans-substantial motion to the notions of "soul" and "spirit" in order to solve two metaphysical problems in particular: 1) the question of the pre-existence of the soul prior to its origination in time and 2) the Islamic
Ahmad Al-Ghazzali and the Beginnings of the Persian Sufi Love Tradition
Joseph Lumbard, Yale University
In the early period of Sufism, love (hubb) is sometimes discussed in terms of God’s love for human beings. But is most often conceived of as an intense fire focusing one’s aspiration (himma) on God alone. But in later Persian Sufism, passionate love (`ishq) becomes the central term of an extensive metaphysics. All aspects of ontology, cosmology, psychology and soteriology come to be discussed in terms of a threefold relationship between love, lover and beloved. This paper examines the important role of Ahmad al-Ghazali in the transformation from hubb to `ishq. It discusses his personal and textual relationship with both the Sufi tradition and Arabic and Persian love poetry, and demonstrates how he drew upon these various traditions and wove them into an innovative expression of mystical love which forever changed the course of Persian Sufism and Persian Sufi literature.
Biography as Literary Genre: The Struggle for Authority in Shi’i Rijal Texts
Liyakat Takim, Vanderbilt University
The paper will initially discuss the importance of biographical texts as a literary genre and the important function that such literature played in the doctrinal underpinning of the diverse theological and legal schools that emerged in the eighth and ninth centuries of Islamic history.
The paper will examine the biographies of the disciples of the imams, and will discuss the literary devices that were employed to accentuate the process of idealization of these disciples. In the last section, the paper will demonstrate how biographical dictionaries were used in the polemical disputes that underscored the doctrinal developments of different schools in the eighth century. By comparing and contrasting Sunni and Shi"i tarajim (biographical notices) on two figures, the paper will demonstrate how biographical texts can confer authority.
Deception and Intrigue at the Fatimid Court: Altercations in the Eleventh-Century Ismâ’lî Da’ah
Elizabeth R. Alexandrin, McGill University
Based primarily on the autobiography of an Ismâ’lî missionary (dâ’) in eleventh-century Cairo, the Sîrah al-Mu’ayyadiyyah, this paper delves into the question of the emergence of divisive power factions at the court of the Fatimid ruler, al-Mustansir, prior to the Turkic Seljuq invasions of Baghdad. Court struggles resulted in the murder and execution of the Fatimid ruler’s two key advisors but also in the eventual appointment of al-Mu’ayyad fî al-Dîn al-Shîrâzî (d. 1078 C.E.) as the chief missionary (dâ’î al-du"at) and religious instructor of the Cairene Ismâ’îlî community and the Fatimid da’wah.
Al-Mu’ayyad’s autobiography is a frequently overlooked source for the religious history of mediaeval Cairo. This paper will also address, in corroboration with material from Gil and Goitein’s works on the Cairo Genizah documents, the Karaite Jewish vizier al-Tustarî’s prominent position at the Fatimid court of al-Mustansir and his fostering of stronger relations with the Ismâ’îlî missionary al-Mu’ayyad.
Musical Esthetics in the Eighteenth-Century Synagogue
Daniel Katz, Judiska Församlingen
Under the influence of the Enlightenment, different communities, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Italian, desired to have western music in the synagogue. Their goal was not to give their services a Christian flavor, but to give the music of the Christians a Jewish flavor, to absorb and transubstantiate it into a Jewish context. However, it is forbidden to play musical instruments on Shabbat. We will examine three methods for achieving this goal without violating the prohibition. Some communities actually used instruments. Elsewhere, the permitted voices succeeded in taking on the characteristics of the forbidden instruments in order to enjoy instrumental music without actually having it. We will hear familiar examples of classical and Baroque music as well as an unfamiliar style of liturgical singing, which can be partially reconstructed from cantorial manuscripts of the period.
Kissing Kabbalists: A Mystical Gesture between Men and with God
Joel Hecker, Reconstruction Rabbinical College
This paper surveys the various representations of the gesture of kissing in the Spanish kabbalah of the late 13th century. As in Christian mysticism, kabbalistic kisses entail unions between mystic and God and, in the context of human love and friendship, a participation in the divinity. When kabbalists kiss each other the kisses serve one of three functions: as paternalistic embrace and appreciation of a student’s performance; as an act of mystical reception of the Torah delivered by the homileticist; and, as a mark of the affective experience of the mystical moment. Lastly, kissing serves at the juncture between apophasis and cataphasis. At times it serves as an apophatic moment, leading to the dissolution of the boundary between self and other or self and God. At other times, however, it stands as a cataphatic moment, when kabbalists affirm their social roles, as a seal of the normativity of the everyday.
Idolizing the Imageless: The (Anti-)Redemptive Remove in Shoah-Relating Works of Art
Barbara E. Galli, McGill University
An affinity transpires between the redemptive aspect of art as espoused by Peter Kivy with respect to absolute music and the explicitly anti-redemptive suggestions faced by James E. Young in his several major studies of Holocaust art. Kivy argues that listening to absolute music, that is, to an artform without content, involves the actualization of an ontological and epistemological move from pain to pleasure, from unclarity to illumination, from bad to good. Young suggests the paradox that only anti-redemptive moves are viable and proper to Shoah-related art. In light of the foregoing, and built upon the scaffolding of Rosenzweig’s theory of art, two compositions by Canadian composer, Brian Cherney, "In Stillness Ascending" and "shekhina," and two poems by hermeneut of Jewish mystical texts, Elliot R. Wolfson, "to walk without trace" and "outside/in" will be studied.
The Sin of Becoming a Woman: Male Homosexuality and the Castration Complex in Lurianic Kabbala
Shaul Magid, Jewish Theological Seminary
This essay explores the cosmic mapping of the male homosexual act (mishkav zakhar) in the kabbalistic theosophy of Rabbi Isaac Luria and his circle (16th century Safed). It examines the cosmic gender transformation that occurs via male-male coitus and its biological implications as enacted through the reincarnation of a male soul in a woman who, as a result of being spiritually a man, cannot bear male children. These kabbalists tacitly acknowledge what Judith Butler calls the "plasticity of gender" and the ways in which performative acts affect the constitution and "sexing" of the human soul. Using Freud, Jacques Lacan, and Butler, I argue that the Lurianic sexing and de-sexing of both male and female cosmic potencies reflects a fear of castration and the identification of gender through a phallocentric lens.
Divorce: Gender, Judaism, and Canadian Multiculturalism
Norma Baumel Joseph, Concordia University
On August 12, 1990, the Governor General of Canada signed an amendment to the divorce act into law. After years of advocacy, Canadian Jews had successfully established the appropriateness of federal participation in Jewish divorce acts. This entanglement, shocking to both those who advocate separation of Church and State and those who champion Jewish isolationism, was presented as a case for multiculturalism. Unequivocally, it was championed to amend an ancient tradition’s gender inequity. This paper presents the legal implications, the political process and long term implications. It will chronicle the role of the activists especially that of the women. Finally, it will explore issues of insider/outsider and scholar-activist. I was the consultant, scholar, activist and lobbyist for this bill. I was concerned with the interface of ethics and Jewish law and politics and religion. In living and writing about it, I live on the borderland of insider and outsider.
"The Whole World Opened Up": Three Women in Canadian Theosophy
Gillian McCann, University of Toronto
Feminist scholars have postulated the liberating effect of alternative religious traditions of women in Britain and the United States. Alternative religions such as Theosophy, Spiritualism and Christian Science, all of which were founded by women, allowed women to play leadership roles and to speak in public, activities not possible in mainstream religious or political institutions. No parallel work has been done on women involved in alternative religion in Canada. This paper will examine the effect of the spiritual/philosophical tradition of Theosophy on the lives of three Canadian women in the early part of the twentieth century. This study will attempt to determine if Theosophy contributed to an expanded role and sense of self for Canadian women as it did in the United States and Britain.
The Participation of Women in the Contemporary Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Vivian Olender, University of Manitoba
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada (UOCC) cannot remain isolated from the concerns of modern Christian North America. Traditionally, UOCC women were limited to childbearing and preserving the ethnic heritage. This role of women as "culture bearer" has detracted from their involvement in the work and ministry of the church. What changes have been implemented to stop the perpetuation of sexism, undermining the credibility of the UOCC to offer theosis to all? Is there a response to the discourse of feminist theology: inclusive language/symbols, the invalidity of gender-specific roles, women’s ministry and ordination to the priesthood? What attempts have been made to revise liturgical customs which demean women, do not reflect the true nature of the church in Jesus Christ and the ontological equality of women and men as bearers of the divine image? Are women encouraged to take part in decision-making processes of the church in accordance with "sobornost"?
Authority, Gender, and Sexual Orientation within the United Church of Canada: A Postmodern Analysis
Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd, University of Winnipeg
The United Church of Canada first ordained women in 1935, but did not unconditionally approve the ordination of married women until 1964. In 1988 the United Church agreed that candidates would be considered for ordination and commissioning regardless of their sexual orientation. Concerns about women during the debates in the early 1960’s paralleled the concerns about lesbian and gay people in the late 1980’s. In this presentation I will outline these parallels that I have discerned within period sexuality documents, archival research, and my own experience as a lesbian United Church minister and as a member of Affirm United, a support and advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people within the United Church. In addition, I will be referring to the analyses of other Canadian theologians and ethicists, including Pamela Dickey Young, Clark Saunders, Roger O’toole, Douglas Campbell, Harold Wells, and Thomas Bandy.
Spirituality and the City: Models of Moments in Japanese American Reflection
Madeline Duntley, College of Wooster
Urban Seattle’s Japanese American Protestant Christians leave a remarkable record of spiritual reflection (many previously untranslated documents) that consistently gravitates toward the paradoxical themes of a) insularity and diversity and b) dispossession and possession. We can chart this progress through time because Japanese American Seattleites tend to record and collect spiritual reminiscences from three separate chronological periods roughly thirty years apart: the early immigration period in the 1910s; the Minidoka experience of 1940s (WWII incarceration) ; and the 1970s period of activism and Pan-Asian awareness. This paper will argue that these models and moments of spiritual reflection are normative for the community because they are commonly and consistently employed over time and thus have contributed much in the formation of devotional practice, religious identity, and civic duty in this multicultural city’s Japanese American community.
Overt and Covert Shinshu: The Rhetoric of Secrecy in Contemporary Secretive Shinshu Confraternities
Clark Chilson, Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture
In Gifu Prefecture in 1998 I met K-san, a leader of a secretive Shinshu confraternity who teaches that there are two types of Shinshu: omote (overt) Shinshu that is readily accessible to the public, and ura (covert) Shinshu that is only open to those who are "brought by hand" (tebiki). K-san is not unique. Throughout central Japan today, many others like him lead confraternities that meet in undisclosed places by instructing them in Ura Shinshu, which consists of a secretive rite that supposedly leads to instant buddhahood and rebirth in the Pure Land. These teachers claim that they must keep Ura Shinshu secretive because it is easily corrupted, especially by Shinshu clergymen. In this paper, I will show how the concepts of ura and omote are used in Ura Shinshu confraternities and argue that their secrecy is a pedagogical means for giving structure to their teachings.
A Christian Spirituality of the Public Realm
Douglas S. Hardy, Nazarene Theological Seminary
Lofland’s (1998) social-psychological analysis of the "public realm" dimension of cities makes the case for the co-presence of and interaction with strangers or "categorically-known others' unique to urban social environments as indispensable ingredients to the development of positive tolerance of diversity. However, cultural trends toward privatization, reflecting antiurban bias, lead to structured attempts to shrink the public realm in North American cities, threatening this critical form of relationship. In this paper, Lofland’s analysis becomes a lens for exploring the formation and practice of Christian spirituality in the city. The potential for a contemporary Christian spirituality of the public realm to serve as rhetorical warrant for reversing the privatizing trends in North American urban planning, architecture, and religious life is articulated.
The Impact of Cultural History on Expressions of Christian Spirituality in San Antonio, Texas
Eilish Ryan, University of the Incarnate Word
San Antonio, Texas, is a multicultural city. Since the roots of Hispanic history and culture in San Antonio predate the admission of Texas to the United States, many Spanish and Mexican cultural and religious traditions are embedded in the city’s present culture and spirituality. This paper will trace the history and contributions of Hispanic culture in San Antonio, using the resources of the Institute of Texan Cultures and research completed by Virgilio Elizondo and Timothy Matovina, Gilberto Hinojosa, and others. The paper will proceed to a more analytical study of a number of particular Hispanic religious and cultural practices, which are also embraced by the broader population of the city, in order to better understand their impact on the formation and practice of Christian spirituality in the area.
Kino Kazuyoshi on Making Fantastic Absolutes Ordinary
George Tanabe, University of Hawaii, Honolulu
Kino Kazuyoshi is one of the most popular writers on Buddhism for lay persons. Kino is a lay person whose public presence is entirely through the written and spoken word. Although he has organized the Shinnyo Kai, the Thusness Association, and sponsors religious activities, he is primarily a lecturer and author blessed with the ability to explain difficult ideas clearly. He belongs to a small but influential group of lay professional teachers. While these writers have tremendous influence in forging public understanding of Buddhist teachings, they have mostly been ignored as subjects of study. In this paper, I will show how Kino explains the cosmology of Buddhist sutras, and doctrinal absolutes such as eternity and thusness. I will also sample some of the responses Kino receives from his audience, and examine what people understand of his explanations. My sources will be a selection of Kino’s books, and his regular pamphlet.
Soteriology and Social Action: From the Case Study of Hoonji, a Nichiren Buddhist Temple in Japan
Ranjana Mukhopadhyaya, Tokyo University
Through the study of the Nichiren Buddhist temple Hoonji I examine the modern application of Buddhist soteriology, especially in the context of social action. The social engagement of Hoonji is mainly in the area of education and social-welfare activities. For Hoonji, participation in social welfare activities is an alternative way to practice their teachings, which are the practice of the Lotus Sutra (the basic doctrine of Nichiren Buddhism) and the application of the Bodhisattva Way. This "social application" of Buddhist teachings is accompanied by new readings of traditional scriptures, with increasing emphasis on aspects of Buddhist philosophy that are congruent with contemporary ideas and social conditions. Hoonji has summarized the Lotus Sutra as the practice of three virtues: Compassion, Sincerity and Perseverance. This re-interpretation of traditional Buddhist teachings has not only provided an easily comprehendible doctrine to Hoonji’s followers, but also become the guideline for the temple’s social action.
Blurring the Lines: Buddhist Responses to the Changing Place of the Dead
Mark Rowe, Princeton University
The current crisis over insufficient grave space along with new funeral and burial choices are allowing the Japanese to reject centuries-old burial customs and are posing serious challenges to the traditional family-grave system and the Buddhist hegemony over death. Communal grave societies, the Association for a Women’s Monument, high-rise ossuaries, and a growing acceptance of scattering ashes, all speak to changing conceptions of how the dead are to be treated and where they are to be located. Ashes are now being scattered in oceans, forests, and even in people’s own gardens, indicating a blurring of the boundaries, both spatial and social, between the living and the dead. This paper explores the contemporary debate over the treatment and location of the dead. In particular it will focus on Buddhist reactions and adaptations that reshape or extend doctrinal concepts and traditional social patterns.
What’s Wrong with the World and How to Fix It: The Teachings of the Tendai Kaihogyō Ajari
Stephen Covell, Princeton University
Practitioners of the kaihogyō, the most demanding of Tendai sect practices, are known as living Buddhas by the faithful. Their writings reach large audiences and can be found at bookstores across Japan. Yet, their teachings are ignored by Buddhist studies scholars, and are critiqued by scholar-priests as lacking in Buddhist erudition. This is because scholars tend to focus on classical texts and founding figures. These "classical" teachings play an important and formative role in the study and practice of Tendai today. Nevertheless, they are only one part of a much broader base of material that needs to be examined in any discussion of the teachings of contemporary Buddhism. Drawing on the writings of the kaihogyō practitioners, videos, Tendai newsletters and web-based materials, I will bring to light the teachings of contemporary Tendai and analyze the striking similarities of these teachings to those of the many of the New Religions.
Christianity and the New Religions of Korea
Don Baker, University of British Columbia
One of the features of modern Korea that distinguishes it from pre-modern Korea is its religious diversity and complexity. Shamanism, Buddhism and Confucianism, which had dominated religious life on the peninsula before 1900, have now been joined not only by vibrant Protestant and Catholic Churches but also by many new religions. Those new religions, which number over 200, often combine organizational and theological concepts from Christianity with ethical terminology and ritual practices inherited from more traditional religiosity. In my paper, I will focus on several of the larger new religions in Korea today to show how they are both modern and traditional, and that many of their modern traints are the result of Christian influence on contemporary Korean religious culture.
Sunny Spring and Thriving Trees: Christianity and Confucianism in Korea, 1884-1910
Sung Deuk Oak, Boston University
This paper shows the Confucianized features of early "Korean" Christianity, not only in its theoretical and theological orientation, but also in its polity and liturgy. Mapping the areas and grounds of negotiation between North American Protestantism and Korean Confucianism at the turn of the twentieth century is the main concern of this paper. Both the first generation of North American missionaries and Korean Christians argued that Christianity came to Korea not to destroy Confucianism but to fulfill its longings and aspirations. Although they criticized the practical results of Confucianism, their fundamental attitude toward Confucianism was courtesy and their basic idea was "fulfillment theory." They found points of contact with Confucianism in its three ontological concepts of Heaven, Earth, and humanity. Korean Christianity asserted that it would let Confucianism bear abundant fruits. In turn Christianity needed the beautiful tree of Confucianism to produce fruits
Redefining the Notion of Self-Sacrifice for the Maturity of Christian Korean Women
Sumi Jeung, University of Tennessee
This proposal explores a possible way for women in the Korean Presbyterian Church to live a more authentic Christian life, by redefining their traditional understanding of self-sacrifice. At the same time, this proposal explores the effective role of discernment in Ignatian spirituality as a meeting place of self-fulfillment and self-sacrifice in the religious life of Korean women. In the context of such discernment, I will argue that in order to give oneself authentically, one needs to go through a process of self-differentiation from fused relationship, as Robert Kegan understands the dynamic in this developmental psychology. Yet, the goal is not to isolate or totally disengage oneself, but to relate to others genuinely. From this view, the negation and underdevelopment of self in Christian Korean women, which are caused by distorted socio-religious contexts, will be reviewed and reconsidered.
Framing Zeus’s Daughters: From Frankenstein’s Bride to Dr. Aki Ross, the Female Symbolic in Three Male Creation Stories
Janet Helen Tulloch, Carleton University
This paper discusses the evolution of the female symbolic in three films which present male creation stories: 1) "the Bride" in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Dir. James Whale; 2) "Rachel", the advanced replicant in Blade Runner (1982), Dir. Ridley Scott; 3) "Dr. Aki Ross" in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001), Dir. Hironobu Sakaguchi. Within a masculinist text the female symbolic, as manifested by these female cyborgs, is thought to be created primarily for the male gaze, passive not active, and unable to think for itself. An examination of the female characters in these films would suggest otherwise. These "daddy’s girls" prove to be resistant subjects within an overheated patriarchy, either by subverting the desire of their male creators or, as with Dr. Ross, saving the planet through the spiritual power of female-Gaia energy.
The Vertigo of the Image
Gerard Loughlin, University of Newcastle
Starting with a discussion of Nolan’s film Memento, this paper explores the structure of desire as constituted through the distance that appears in the most intimate relationships, a vertiginous depth. The paper explores the parallels between cinematic and religious images (icons), discerning a structure of withdrawing in both, that attracts the gaze of the viewer. However, only the icon - viewed in an economy of devout looking - offers true distance, because imaging distance itself, that alone draws the viewer beyond melancholy for what is unobtainable. This economy of looking/desiring is that of the Christian Trinity, when the believer/viewer participates in the Spirit and desires/sees the Son, in whom the Father withdraws. When the disciple looks on the face of the Lord she is attracted by the utter distance of the divine glory, as is the lover when she be/holds her beloved, who is never her possession, but always another.
Bewitching the Box Office: Harry Potter and Religious Controversy
Rachel Wagner, University of Iowa
The fervor surrounding J. K. Rowlings’ series of Harry Potter books has also embraced Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the film based on the first book. Some of the central questions raised in this debate involve various opposing perspectives: Is Harry Potter a product of fantasy or an invitatation to "real" occult practices? Is Harry Potter either a secular or a religious phenomenon? What is the function of the Harry Potter books, if any, in shaping childrens' moral values, especially in regard to the battle between "good" and "evil"? Whatever side we end up on, the shape that this debate takes forces us as a society to question more carefully our stance toward the alternative religious traditions represented (however imperfectly) in Rowlings’ books, to determine what function literature and imaginative film play in childrens' lives, and to wrestle more concretely with the issue of separation of church and state.
Reconstructing the Witch and Reflecting Wicca: Fantasy and Reality in the Witch Films of the Twentieth Century
Joanne Pearson, The Open University
During the course of the twentieth century, the image and identity of the "witch" has reappeared in alternative religions. In contemporary pagan religions, and alternative spirituality, women identify strongly with the image of the witch. Yet the witch, though a familiar figure in society, is generally regarded as a dangerous remnant from the middle ages or as a monster from horror movies. Witchcraft has featured in films from the beginning of the twentieth century, and has appeared in a multitude of genres, including pseudo-documentaries, historically-informed films, horror movies, comedies and, recently, films which attempt to portray an accurate representation of contemporary Wicca - The Craft (1996) and Practical Magic (1998). This paper will discuss how such films construct the witch and/or reflect Wicca in terms of fantasy and reality, focusing specifically on whether film can be read as initiating a new cinematic response to the diversification of religious belief.
When the Master Is Not Master: The Critique of Enlightenment in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
J. Heath Atchley, Alfred University
Set in nineteenth-century China, Ang Lee’s recent film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, takes places within an ostensibly Buddhist context. Though there is no explicit depiction of Buddhism in the film, the Chinese martial arts traditions that figure so prominently in this work are intimately connected to Chan Buddhism. Also, from the film’s beginning the notion of Enlightenment plays a key role in the development of its plot. A subtle reading of the film, however, can show how it offers a filmic critique of Enlightenment, both as a religious concept associated with Buddhism and as a broader concept associated with mastery in virtually any form (religious, martial, political). This paper argues that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon puts forth a novel image of this concept. According to this image, Enlightenment does not necessarily produce mastery, as is conventionally thought. Instead, Enlightenment paradoxically eschews mastery and critiques the knowledge that supports it.
Panel: Where and How to Publish? A Practical Forum on Getting Your Work in Print
Jana Reiss, Publishers Weekly, Presiding
Daisy Maryles, Publishers Weekly
Lynn Garrett, Publishers Weekly
Phyllis Tickle, Publishers Weekly
All scholars understand the need for getting their work published. But where and how should you publish? In this session, the religion editorial staff of Publishers Weekly, who together have more than 80 years of publishing experience, offer tips on how to place your work. Here is an opportunity to learn more about the nuts and bolts of publishing, and how you as an author are affected. Panelists will explain the important differences between academic, trade, and religious publishing houses, and help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of various publishing situations. They will also offer tips on how to write a query letter, how to pitch your work so that it will attract an editor’s attention, and how to understand a publishing contract. They will give an overview of how the market’s expansion has opened up new opportunities in religious and scholarly publishing.