Companion to Pastoral Care in the Late Middle Ages: 1200-1500 by Ronald J. Stansbury (Brill's Companion to the Christian Tradition: Brill Academic Publishers) The study of pastoral care in the middle ages has seen a resurgence in recent years. Scholars are now approaching this subject less from their respective ecclesiastical or parochial biases and more out of an effort to understand the significant role pastors (secular and religious) had in the shaping of medieval society at large. This book explores some of the new ways scholars are approaching this topic. Using a variety of sources and disciplinary angles: theology, preaching, catechesis, confessional literature, visitation records, monastic cartularies and the like, these studies show the many and varied ways in which pastoral care came to play such an important role in the day to day lives of medieval people. More
Religion and Emotion: Approaches and Interpretations by John Corrigan (Oxford University Press) (Hardcover) Over the past decade interest in emotion has developed very substantially across a number of academic disciplines, including religious studies. This anthology of recent papers is the first collection to address the relation of religion and emotion. Each of the selected pieces is a foundational interpretative essay in the renaissance of the study of religion and emotion. The authors examine attitudes toward and expressions of emotion in a wide range of religious traditions and periods, through various textually based, historical, and ethnographic approaches. Among the themes considered are the relation of emotion to moral or religious norms, the role of emotion in faith, religious emotion as a performance of feeling in ritual contexts, and the relation of emotion to religious language. Specific topics range from filial emotions and filial values in medieval Korean Buddhism to weeping and spirituality in sixteenth-century Jewish mysticism. A substantial introduction places the essays within the broader context of the study of emotion and elucidates the major themes of the book. This volume provides a much-needed introduction to this growing area of study and will be a valuable resource for scholars and students of comparative religion, anthropology, and psychology.
Excerpt from Editors Introduction: The essays collected in this book is a remarkable interweaving of emotional life with morality, especially on the manner in which emotionality expresses, reinforces, is shaped by, and challenges social and moral orders. In this volume the settings for religious emotion vary widely, from medieval Europe and Japan to nineteenth-century Korea and twentieth-century Melanesia and India. An assortment of religious traditions is represented: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and indigenous religions. Much of the analysis in these various studies would comport with the observation of William A. Christian Jr. in Chapter i that "People in society produce their own stimuli—entertainment in the form of theater, games, celebrations, religious rituals—that provoke necessary emotions, whether laughter and fun, tension and release, or weeping and sorrow." Christian explores the "economy of sentiment" underlying religious weeping in Spain in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. For Christian, Spanish weeping was a learned behavior, and expression of emotion in the religious context accordingly was a matter of individual discernment of cultural expectations for feeling and of the effectiveness of theological ideas and social mores in organizing the timing and expression of emotion in tears. Religious weeping expressed feeling, but at the same time it served as a means to produce a desired emotional state. The public performance of weeping at various times in the annual Catholic calendar was a collective testimony of religiously licit feeling toward God, and the expectation of the performers was that God would respond benevolently.
The investigation of culturally shaped emotional performances in religion has borne fruit with regard to a number of religious traditions. Another body of research illustrates the manner in which the display of emotion in ritual settings, or the depiction of emotion in religious literature, challenges, rather than cooperates with, dominant social mores. In a study of Sufi emotionality, Helene Basu details, in Chapter 2, the way the emotional element in the religious life of Indian Sufis is fundamental to the construction of resistance to traditional social hierarchies. Basu shows how groups of low status manipulate culturally derived understandings of emotion in such a way as to lay claim, through their emotionality, to the pinnacle of social status, and how religious ritual facilitates the performance of such status reversal. Her exposition of the complex nature of local Sufi ritual, where numerous ideological threads—good and evil, male and female, hot and cold, and so forth—are interwoven, reveals both the clarity and ambiguity of a culture of religion and emotion. Her study also exemplifies how a focus on emotion can lead to the discovery of previously unsuspected linkages among the various elements of religious ritual. For Basu, the subversive aspect of religion consists of emotional experiences and cognitions interwoven in the liminal contexts of ritual, where status reversal takes place.
Another challenge to the social order framed by religiously grounded conceptualization and performance of emotion is represented in a study of religious literature and family structure in Korea. In Chapter 3, Ja Hyun Kim Haboush demonstrates how the depiction of emotion in Buddhist-based popular literature provided a framework for challenging Confucianist insistence on primogeniture and resistance to female filiality. Engaged by Koreans as myth, that literature was embraced as counter-hegemonic discourse and served to delegitimate a dominant Confucian worldview. Its effectiveness in so doing rested on the fact that although it shared with the Confucian worldview a valuation of filial emotion, it depicted love of one's parents in such a way as to critically confront the social logic of Confucianism, to advance a view of the social consequences of filial emotion that Confucianist policy disallowed. Haboush, in focusing on characterizations of emotion in religious literature, is able to identify key contradictions in Korean social life and to demonstrate how ideals and imagery drawn from one religious tradition can be marshaled both to reinforce and to undermine another.
The place of emotion in religious literature is likewise the subject of Debora K. Shuger's study of Renaissance literature in Chapter 4. Shuger aims squarely at the view of the history of Western thought as a struggle between philosophy as the pursuit of truth, and rhetoric as sophistic discourse characterized by emotional play. Offering the example of Renaissance sacred rhetorics—religious writings published between 1500 and 1700—Shuger argues that emotion, taken to be a key element of religious experience, was linked with knowledge in premodern epistemology. Sacred rhetorics were important because they were conceived as the means by which knowledge that was hidden from the mind was made visible. Rhetorical writings, through their appeal to the emotions, allowed persons to fully apprehend truth that was otherwise only vaguely sensed. Religious writings opened pathways to truth by sparking the imagination with images that "make what is unseen accessible to both feeling and thought." Emotion accordingly was fused with argument. In the sacred rhetorics, emotion and knowledge were "mutually dependent," joined in the perception of truth and the judgment of propositions, and thereby equally represented in the construction of moral visions.
The association of emotions with cognition likewise is the subject of Harvey Whitehouse's analysis of Melanesian initiation rites in Chapter 5. The "rites of terror," that is, the ordeals undertaken by initiates, are for Whitehouse more than simple cognitive processes in which the transmission of religious knowledge takes place through a transaction between teacher and pupils. Drawing on psychological research supporting the daim that events are better remembered if they are emotionally rich, and emphasizing the collective aspect of initiation rites—initiates together with their supervisors—Whitehouse argues that "extreme emotions and cognitive shocks become intertwined" in the rites of terror, leaving a "flashbulb memory" of the events. In this way the proceedings form an occasion of collective revelation for all involved, leaving a powerful 1 and living residuum of images (of persons and particular events) that continuously shape religious and political community.
For Shuger, images that appealed to the emotions were the portal to philosophical truth for Renaissance religious writers, and for Whitehouse, the formation of commanding images in initiation rites came about through the combination of emotional and cognitive elements in those events. In Chapter 6, Steven M. Parish, in a study of the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley, proposes, like Shuger, that emotions are judgments and, like Whitehouse, that emotions engage people more powerfully with their world and "prepare people to be agents. The experience of emotion mediates engagement with life, priming social actors to find meaning in events and experiences . . . readying them to act." Like Whitehouse, he views emotion as more than cognitive judgment, as more than moral discourse. In proposing a middle ground between theories that decontextualize emotion (i.e., in favor of universal psychological/physiological processes) and those that disembody it (i.e., those that focus exclusively on its cultural embeddedness), he argues that the Newar feel moral evaluations as well as experience them cognitively. For Parish, moral emotions are moral judgments in the sense that feelings embody moral evaluations. Persons do not form judgments based solely on their understanding of social norms, but actually feel the pain of shame or remorse in their moral orientations. The heart, nuga: as the center of emotional life, actually hurts, flutters, and sinks. Through this embodiment of emotion and moral judgment, Newars frame a worldview, they "ethicize and sacralize mind, emotion, and self and come to know themselves as moral beings."
Like Parish, Gary L. Ebersole, in Chapter 7, complicates our understanding of the relationship between emotional expression and moral discourse. In a study of ritual weeping, he observes the tendency of some researchers to vie the tears of other peoples and times through a lens ground by the ideas and cultural assumptions of their own situations. This inclination to universalize the meaning of tears, especially with regard to the moral dimensions of weeping, sometimes includes a view of ritual weeping as faked behavior. Ebersole criticizes such projects as shortsighted, first of all, for their inability to recognize how actors exploit ritual weeping for their own purposes—how they turn cultural expectations into legitimations for personal rather than collective ends—and second, for how they depersonalize those who participate in ritual weeping, rendering them passive players, emotionally disconnected as they go ' through the motions of a collective drama. He proposes that ritual weeping be viewed as "symbolic activity that marks out the existence or the breach of social and/or moral relationships" so that some weeping might be understood as resistance to social norms, rather than performance of them. Or, as in the case of filial emotion in Korea, weeping may have contested meanings. For Ebersole, the moral discourses represented in incidences of ritual weeping are complex, at times even contradictory, and consist of meanings framed by personal interests as well as social expectations.
The fact of variant meanings of an emotional performance is directly addressed in Chapter 8 by Paul M. Toomey in observing three bhakti traditions at Mount Govardhan. Arguing that bhakti devotionalists objectify emotion as food, Toomey takes a forthrightly constructivist position, and as such his approach shares much with Basu's. But where Basu focuses on evidence of conceptual correspondences across an extended sample of contexts—cosmic, gender, social status, and so forth—to strengthen her claim for coherency among seemingly diverse aspects of religious life, Toomey takes a more explicitly comparative tack. He organizes his study in such a way as to account for variations in the construction of the emotional component of religious pilgrimage. He analyzes how emotion is objectively represented in the ritual of eating, which includes all aspects of setting, menu, preparation (including the identity of the preparer), calendar, duration, and consumption. Material aspects of religious culture, especially icons and food, are associated with emotion as repositories for it, in fact serving as a reservoir for emotion that is transmitted to devotees in the course of the food ritual. In consuming food, persons take into themselves holy emotion supplied to them by the deity. Toomey then shows how variations in the experience of emotion—as motherly love, erotic passion, and so forth—rest on differences in the background of the performers, determined by their membership in one or another of a particular sect of pilgrims.
The association of emotion with material substance is present in many religious traditions. The identification of emotion with food, as in certain cases of bhakti devotionalism, and the association of shame with the pain of the heart among the Newars are two examples of the ways certain aspects of emotionality and morality are materialistically coded. In her analysis of emotion in Bengali religious thought in Chapter 9, June McDaniel writes about the way emotion is "substantial rather than conceptual" in Indian traditions, one part of the Indian universe that is experienced as networks of continually flowing substance. Emotion is not a passive response to the world, but an active engagement in it, a matter of aesthetic and spiritual self-making, in which per-sons arrange emotions (raga, colors) as paints on a canvas as they construct the "subtle body," or ideal self. McDaniel's interpretation is grounded in analysis of language, especially with regard to the complexes of metaphors that are deployed by Indians in addressing various aspects of emotional life. And, like several of the other authors whose work is represented here, she stresses the difference between Western and Indian approaches to emotion, in particular the Indian focus on intense emotion as opposed to the everyday.
Elliot R. Wolfson in Chapter 10 also focuses on extreme emotion in writing
about sixteenth-century Jewish mysticism. In his exploration of the emotional dynamics underlying the Kabbalists' ecstatic journey to the heavenly realms, Wolfson proposes that weeping served as the focal point for a complex of religious ideas and behavior. Sixteenth-century Jews linked ecstasy with esoteric knowledge and cultivated weeping as an "ecstatic technique" that would gain them that knowledge. Wolfson invokes testimony from the diary of a Jew from that period, Hayyim Vital, arguing that Vital viewed weeping as both the avenue to ecstatic experience and a means to knowledge. Weeping opened the gates of the higher realms, and as such was associated with the ascent of the soul. In this study, Wolfson also demonstrates the manner in which ideas about gender, the phallus, seminal emissions, the symbolism of the eye, sleep, and death were interwoven in Kabbalists' views of the meanings of ecstatic weeping. The picture of Jewish mysticism that emerges is one in which emotional experience itself is the goal of the mystical ritual of weeping, as well as the means by which the soul makes its ascent and obtains gnosis. The performative aspects of mystical emotionality accordingly stand side by side with the acquisition of religious knowledge in this form of Jewish mysticism.
The focus on a single individual, such as Hayyim Vital, can reveal some-thing of the complexities and subtleties of emotional life that the investigation of collective emotional experience cannot. Moreover, in certain cases it is possible to situate an actor within a historical context in such a way as to illustrate that person's creativity in negotiating overlapping individual and collective frameworks for emotional life. In Chapter ii, Catherine Peyroux sets out to describe the "affective world of Frankish nobility" through an analysis of St. Gertrude's furor. Gertrude's anger is linked to her rejection of a suitor proposed to her by her parents. By demonstrating the location of Gertrude's emotionality within the world of feeling of the seventh-century nobles, with particular attention to Gertrude's self-understanding of her betrothal to Christ, Peyroux is able to explain the intensity of Gertrude's response, its religious meaning, and the appeal of the story to her subsequent hagiographers. Gertrude's rage at her parents' presentation to her of a prospective husband reveals both her devotion to God, whom she takes as her only true husband, and her realization that she will open herself to the charge of adultery should she agree to the marriage her parents have arranged. Working from a hagiographic text, Peyroux examines the various possible meanings of the furor therein described on the way to concluding that the saint's rage was in fact taken by her community as a sign of her status as the beloved spouse of Christ. For those who knew her as abbess and for those who engaged The Life of St. Gertrude, her anger represented her religious identity as the bride of Christ, her authority as a spiritual leader, and her keen grasp of the socioemotional codes of the Frankish aristocracy.
Just as cultural codes govern the emotional lives of persons as they interact in various social settings; certain cultural assumptions about emotional aspects of self can frame a group's understanding of the relationship between humans and superhuman beings. Charlotte E. Hardman, in observing Lohorung Rai in Nepal, notes how emotion saturates the relationships of Lohorung with the powerful spirits of ancestors (sammang). In the relatively seamless world of people, nature, sammang, society, mind, body, past, and present, emotion experienced by the sammang is also experienced by the Lohorung. Because of the interconnectedness of all phenomena, the anger of sammang, which can be the result of persons' transgression of social codes for behavior, is also experienced by Lohorung, usually as physical pain or misfortune, such as a landslide. Just as the social expression of anger is accepted and even encouraged by Lohorung in certain situations, so, too, are maladies engendered by the angering of sammang understandable as part of the dynamics of emotion on a grand scale. The "emotion rules," as it were, are not merely social, they are cosmic. By focusing on emotion as a key to understanding Lohorung conceptualizations of morality, self, and the superhuman, Hardman is able to demonstrate the profundity of the linkages among those aspects of Lohorung culture, and contribute as well to discussions about the embodiedness of emotion alongside its construction in culture.
By linking various aspects of religion—ritual, authority, community, ideas, and other features—to a new center, the study of religion and emotion promises to disclose meanings previously hidden. Thus far, research has taken shape as an assortment of approaches and themes. Like most new academic ventures, it enjoys the luxury of relative freedom from confining academic discourses and, in the absence of a tradition of investigation that maps and authorizes specific terrain, it can explore where it wishes.
The study of religion and emotion is in an early stage, well-begun but still finding its feet, and not yet invested in a secret language, an exclusivistic discourse that identifies it as a field of study and reduces its view to a handful of official themes. To realize its ample possibilities, however, it eventually will have to generate classifications of its subject matter and develop linkages among its various foci. But in the course of that enterprise, it must avoid doctrinaire taxonomies. It must look beyond disciplinary boundaries in theory and method. It must remain sensitive to the differences and similarities between culturally constructed standards for emotion and the actual emotional experiences of people. The research represented in this volume exemplifies some of the most promising approaches to religion and emotion, but it by no means exhausts them. Other studies framed by theological and philosophical concerns, and especially the work of neuroscientists, will make their own contributions to the development of this area of study. The consequences of all of this research may be far-reaching. As investigation of religion and emotion from all of these perspectives progresses, it is likely to challenge current paradigms for the study of religion, and it may lead to the reconsideration of the study of religion as a whole.
Divine Therapy: Love, Mysticism and Psychoanalysis by Janet Sayers (Oxford Medical Publications: Oxford University Press) Many debate whether religion is good for our health. Starting with this question, Janet Sayers, author of Mothering Psychoanalysis and Freudian Tales, provides a fascinating account of today's psychotherapy.
Divine Therapy is told through love stories. They highlight the risks and healing transformations of what some call 'at-one-ment' with another in love, mysticism, art and psychoanalysis. Sayers movingly explores this by drawing on the philosophical and psychological writings of William James, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Sabina Spielrein, Simone Weil, Erich Fromm, Paul Tillich, Viktor Frankl, Melanie Klein, Adrian Stokes, Marion Milner and Donald Winnicott. She ends with one of the major figures of current psychoanalysis, Wilfred Bion, and with the insights of his followers, notably Christopher Bollas, Neville Symington and Julia Kristeva.
Illustrated with love letters, pictures, biographical details and case histories, Divine Therapy tells an intriguing chronicle of science, religion and therapy that also constitutes an engaging overview for students, specialists and general readers alike.
Poets note the illuminating insights of oneness with another in love. So too do many others, including psychotherapists. But something strange and unnerving is happening. Born of love, psychotherapy is recovering it together with religion. Once wary of talking about love, psychotherapists and psychoanalysts are again talking about it. Once wary of religion, indeed often downright hostile to it, they are now becomingly increasingly friendly towards it.
In telling something of how this has come about, Divine Therapy tells a love story, or collection of love stories to dip into as you will. Together they recount the love inspiring those contributing to making therapy what it is today. In telling their stories Sayers quotes extensively from love letters. She also draws on other details of their lives. Most of all she dwells on these contributors' published writing about love, psychology, mysticism, and religion.
In doing all this Sayers draws more on men's than on women's writing, such is the continuing effect of men's social dominance, both now and in the past. Also symptomatic of this dominance is her using "he"; "his"; "him", and other male words to stand, generically, for both sexes whenever she cannot find a way of avoiding cumbersome non-sexist language. Like those whose work she recounts, Sayers also talks about "health" and "illness"; and about "doctors" and "patients"; thereby reflecting the continuing medicalization of the spiritual and psychological distress for which people seek help, despite reservations, as she indicates throughout, and raised long ago against this practice by several of those with whose work she presents.
There are good reasons not to medicalize women's and men's unhappiness. There are also good reasons not to equate psychoanalysis with psychotherapy or with religion. Nevertheless Sayers does so in certain respects — indeed it is one of my major aims in this book to bring all three together. Above all Sayers demonstrates that, like religion, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy seek to animate or reanimate the psyche or soul of their recipients through the medium of the psychoanalyst's or psychotherapist's oneness with his or her patients. This entails the oneness that lies at the heart of mystical and religious experience, and also at the heart of falling in love, making love, and being in love. For many it may involve experiencing oneness with God or with another as divine.
But this, of course, is a contradiction. It is, at best, a fiction to imagine oneself to be one with another, mortal or immortal, finite or infinite, personal or impersonal, human or divine. So struck was Freud by this contradiction that he dismissed it as an illusion. He diagnosed it as a defensive retreat to what he variously called "the oceanic feeling" or "primary narcissism" of earliest infancy. One of his first and most influential followers, Karl Abraham, described it as the essence of manic grandiosity and paradoxically, as also the essence of melancholic despair. Abraham's analysand and colleague, Melanie Klein, described it as regression to a "phantasy" of "projective identification" characteristic, she said, of our developmentally earliest "paranoid–schizoid" state of mind.
Long before these psychoanalysts thus questioned the oneness with another which many writers over the centuries have equated with love and with religious experience, the philosopher Hegel deplored this implied conflation of love with religion. Writing at the height of the early nineteenth century Romantic revolution in European art and literature, he complained that "this secular religion of the heart"; as he described love, "now unites itself with religion every way". True to his philosophy of dialectics, he wrote of the contradictions of love. He drew attention to the fact that love's aims, as he put it, "cannot be achieved in a concrete reality without collisions, because the other relations of life assert their demands and rights":
In being about love, as well as about religion, this book is also about what Hegel called love's collisions. They are graphically evoked by Epstein's statue, Jacob and the Angel, a photo of which graces the cover of the book and is displayed in London's Tate Britain Gallery. A note beside the statue explains:
Jacob, the Old Testament patriarch whose twelve sons founded the twelve tribes of Israel, was a central figure in Judaism. The Book of Genesis describes a mysterious crisis in his life, when he wrestled all night with a divine stranger, an angel, whom he almost overcame . . . The angel of the Bible story was able to restrain Jacob only by dislocating his hip, and the moment portrayed seems to be just after that, with the angel supporting Jacob who has collapsed. This was the moment when Jacob under-stood that he had been fighting against God.
So much do fighting and collisions with God, and also with love, bruise and batter us, that many say we are better off without them. Of love, one might cynically ask, like the television comic Lily Tomlin, "If love is the answer, could you rephrase the question?" Love's collisions might tempt us to dismiss it, as some feminists do, as nothing but a snare and delusion, a mystifying source of women's (and men's) complicity in their oppression.
One might say the same of religion. Just as considerable damage has been done in the name of love, so too considerable damage has been done in the name of religion. At best, it is said, religion is a sop. It is an opium of the people. Thank goodness, say some, that (as the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is often quoted as saying) "God is dead". But is God dead? Is religion — theistic or non-theistic — gone? Not at all. It still wrecks havoc and does dreadful harm. Its effects can be cataclysmic. But it can also be a force for good. Islam and other religions remain a major source of inspiration, across the world, of women's and men's struggles for freedom.
Far from being dead, religion is alive and well. There is also mounting evidence that religion is good for our physical and mental well-being. So considerable is this evidence that it has persuaded researchers working for the World Health Organization in Geneva to seek ways of refining items assessing women's and men's spiritual, religious, and personal belief to measure its correlation with measures of their overall quality of life. But is religion — or holiness — good for our quality of life, well-being, and physical or mental health? And if it is, what are the implications for therapy?
It was with this last question that Sayers originally began to think about this project. In seeking answers she returned to lectures given in Edinburgh in 1901 and in 1902 by the Harvard psychologist, William James, brother of the more famous novelist, Henry James. Sayers recounts how William James' love of his father, wife, and later of a young woman, Pauline Goldmark, as well as other biographical factors contributed to his arguing in his Edinburgh lectures that religion can heal what he described as "the divided self" of "the sick soul" through love of, and oneness with, the goodness of God mediated through the unconscious.
This takes Sayers on to Freud's discoveries about the unconscious. Arguably these were inspired in large part by Freud's love of a fellow-doctor, Wilhelm Fliess. Sayers recounts Freud's discoveries of means of accessing the unconscious through what he described as "free association" and through the "transference-love" and defenses against love evoked in patients by their doctors and psychoanalysts. In detailing this Sayers also details Freud's rejection of religion and religious or mystical experience as contrary to the scientific pursuit of truth by psychoanalysis, not least the truth of sex and love.
Jung, by contrast, was much more friendly to religion. As Sayers explains, he was also more friendly than Freud to the healing effects of counter-transference feelings evoked in doctors and psychoanalysts by their patients. In this, Sayers argues, Jung was inspired by the love of one of his patients, Sabina Spielrein. Ironically, however, although Jung emphasized the beneficial effects of the mutual influences of patients and their doctors or psychoanalysts on each other in bringing about their healing oneness with God and other archetypes, as he put it, in the collective unconscious, Jung lost sight of the dyadic – I/Thou – character of women's and men's relation to God. Like William James, Jung emphasized the therapeutic effect of oneness with God; but whereas James said that this oneness is mediated by the unconscious, Jung argued that it involves oneness with God in the unconscious.
This assertion goes against the tenets of all established religion and mystical experience. The dyadic character of this experience is particularly well brought out in the religious and autobiographical writing of the political theorist and activist, Simone Weil, to whom Sayers next turns. Through Weil’s writing, she eloquently and movingly highlights recovery from self-alienation through mystical experiences of oneness with God. Weil equated God with what Plato called goodness, and thereby very much emphasized the dyadic character of religious experience as a relation, oriented by what she called the light of love, to what is entirely outside, prior to, and beyond us.
Jung's version of religion and psychoanalysis not only overlooks this dyadic character of religious experience but is also authoritarian – or at least that is what the sociologist and psychoanalyst, Erich Fromm influentially argued. Fromm's offers several alternatives to Jungian model. There is a humanist version of religion and psychoanalysis, as well as the parallels he draws between psychoanalysis and Buddhism as means of achieving spiritual enlightenment.
Ironically however, Fromm, like Jung, also tended to lose sight of the dyadic character of religious experience. Arguably he developed an overly individualistic version of psychoanalysis and religion. Fromm's New York colleague, Paul Tillich, whose existentialist account of religion and psychoanalysis was particularly influential, chided him for this. Sayers explains Tillich's theory and recounts his theory of the healing of self-division through grace involving accepting being accepted by another recognized as separate and different in being infinite, immortal, and divine.
Sayers illustrates the application to therapy of the philosophy of existentialism, pioneered by Heidegger and developed by Tillich, as further developed by the Viennese psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. Sayers describes how, in forging what he called "logotherapy" from religion and psychoanalysis, Frankl was inspired by his own spiritual transformation from soulless meaninglessness through recalling his love of his wife, Tilly, when they were both imprisoned in concentration camps during the Second World War.
Frankl, however, was arguably over-optimistic in his approach to therapy. Certainly he emphasized love and said little about hate. Not so Melanie Klein.
She very much emphasized both in her account of psychoanalysis as means of transforming self-division and self-fragmentation through oneness with another internalized as loving, loved, and good. She drew parallels between this and Christian rites and rituals. But, as Sayers documents, she was generally hostile to religion, both in her early work in pioneering child analysis, and in her later secular account of the transformations wrought by psychoanalysis, in which she tended to focus more on inner than on outer reality. This imbalance, however, was very much put to rights by her follower, the art critic, Adrian Stokes, with whose work Sayers accordingly turns.
Adrian Stokes emphasized healing oneness with what he called the "object–otherness" of art. This insight takes Sayers to consider the work of the artist and psychoanalyst, Marion Milner. Like Stokes, she too emphasized the healing effect of marrying inwardness with outwardness. In this, as Sayers illustrates with many examples, Milner drew on insights acquired through experiments with mysticism which she applied in her own self-analysis, in her work in child analysis, and in incorporating art therapy into her psychoanalytic work with adults. In doing so she emphasized the healing effect of recovering the illusion of oneness with another involved in being in love and in religious or mystical experience, previously dismissed by psychoanalysts as a defensive retreat to childhood ways of feeling and thinking.
But where does the illusion of oneness with another, and where do our illusions and dreams generally first come from? This question brings Sayers to the work of the psychoanalyst and pediatrician, Donald Winnicott, and to his account of our illusions first being inspired, or at least fuelled, through our mothers' oneness with us as babies enabling our mothers to imagine and thereby feed our illusions with details of what is actually there. This in turn, said Winnicott, fosters the development of what he described as "a transitional space", in which we begin to recognize ourselves as both one with, and separate from others and the world around us. This is also the space, Winnicott wrote, of "religious feeling":
Winnicott was not particularly religious. Nor was the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Wilfred Bion, whose work Sayers next seeks to explain. Like Winnicott, however, Bion also emphasized the oneness of psychoanalysts with their patients as main means of transforming their soul or psyche, as one could put it, from thing-like deadness to spiritual aliveness. Bion likened this oneness to what he called the mystic's "at-one-ment" with "ultimate reality" or "O". He arrived at this theory through insights about treating patients suffering with psychosis. These insights themselves, Sayers argues, were initially inspired by Bion's love of a young woman, Francesca, who became his wife.
True to the wariness of psychoanalysts about talking about love, few of the above-mentioned psychoanalysts say much about it in their published writing about psychoanalysis and religion. The leading feminist and literary theorist, Julia Kristeva, however, says a great deal about love. She is one of the most prominent people currently resurrecting love, within psychoanalysis, in association with religion. She insists that the love of psychoanalysts for their patients, akin to Christ's injunction to love one's neighbor as oneself, is central to the oneness through which, she says, the analyst gives semiotic meaning to the patient's symptoms. The psychoanalyst, she says, thereby heals the phobias, psychoses, melancholia, soul sickness, pathological guilt, anorexia, or autism that can result from experiencing oneself not as spiritually alive but as driven by a meaningless instinct, drive, will, or thing. Kristeva likens the transformation achieved in psychoanalysis through love to the transubstantiation of the body and blood of Christ into bread and wine in Holy Communion, and to the iconography of the Madonna and infant Christ of the Russian Orthodox religion in which she first grew up in Bulgaria.
Kristeva's account of love, religion, and psychoanalysis concludes Sayers survey of mysticism and love dynamics as represented in some psychoanalysts and which tensions lay the groundwork of what is best in today's integration of psychotherapy with psychoanalysis, mysticism, and religion.
Godly Fear: The Epistle to the Hebrews and Greco-Roman Critiques of Superstition
by Patrick Gray (Academia Biblica No. 16.: Brill Academic Publishers) To what
extent was early Christianity viewed as superstition by its contemporaries?
Superstition was the standard category in Greco-Roman antiquity for defaming
religion, and to situate early Christianity in its Mediterranean milieu it is
necessary to understand what this label meant to those who used it. Fear is the
defining element of superstition according to writers like Plutarch, who regard
the emotion as a fundamental human problem. Fear is likewise a recurring motif
in the Epistle to the Hebrews, whose author holds up
as a Christian ideal yet also employs language which evokes fear in the starkest
of terms. This work examines the articulation of Christian faith in Hebrews in
the context of ancient debates about the propriety of fear.
Contents: Acknowledgements, Note on Texts and Translations
Chapter One: Introduction, The Question:
or “Godly Fear”?
Self-Definition in the Early Church: Christianity as Superstition; Plutarch
and the Epistle to the Hebrews: A Common Milieu; New Testament Studies and
the History-of-Religions School; Contextualization, Comparison, and
Plutarch and the New Testament; The Greco-Roman Background of Hebrews: The State of the Question
Chapter Two: Plutarch and Superstition, Introduction, Terminology, Latin, Greek, Plutarch on Superstition in the Moralia and the Lives: Typical or Atypical? The Role of Fear in Plutarch’s Religious Thought, Hellenistic Analyses of the Emotions, Platonic Antecedents, Aristotle, Stoicism, Epicureanism, Summary; Plutarch on Superstition as Inappropriate Fear, The Question of Authenticity, Plutarch’s Argument: Summary and Analysis, Superstition and the Emotions, Positive and Negative Fear, Fear of Death, Atheism and Superstition Compared: Theological and Practical Aspects, Piety as a Mean, Conclusion
Chapter Three: Freedom from Fear as a Christian Ideal in Hebrews, Introduction, Fear of Death (Heb 2:15), Sources of Fear of Death, Subjective Quality of Fear of Death, Scope: Whom Does Fear of Death Affect? Assessment: Is Fear of Death Morally Culpable? Prescription: How to Be Free From Fear of Death, “Help in Time of Need”: Jesus the Great High Priest, Priesthood as Fraternity: Brotherly Love and “The Order of Melchizedek”, “Confidence” before God: ΠΑΡΡΗΣΙΑ in Hebrews, Confidence as Members of God’s Household (Heb 3:6, Confidence Before the Throne of Grace (Heb 4:16,) Confidence in the Heavenly Sanctuary (Heb 10:19–31), The Clean Conscience (Heb 10:19–25), Apostasy and the Forfeiture of Confidence (Heb 10:26–31), The Reward of Confidence (Heb 10:35), Fearlessness in the Face of Earthly Dangers, Withstanding Persecution, Heb 10:32–39, Heb 11:32–38, Heb 13:6, Defiance of Human Authorities: Moses’ Fearlessness (Heb 11:23–28), Reinterpreting Adversity as God’s Education (Heb 12:5–11), Conclusion
Chapter Four: Reverence and Awe: Fear as an Appropriate
Response to God in Hebrews, Introduction,
Jesus’ “Godly Fear” (Heb 5:7,) What Does Jesus Pray For and How Is He “Heard”? The Exemplary Function of Jesus’ Submission, Fear as a Concomitant of Revelation and Worship (Heb 12:18–29), Moses’ “Fear and Trembling” at Sinai (Heb 12:21), Worship in the Last Days: “Reverence and Awe” (Heb 12:28–29), Conclusion Chapter Five: Conclusions; Bibliography, Index of Modern Authors, Index of Ancient Authors, Index of Biblical Texts
Patrick Gray, Ph.D. (2002), Emory University, is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
To determine the extent to which the form of Christianity one finds in Hebrews would qualify as superstition in Plutarch's eyes, one must begin by setting out Plutarch's construal of what it means to be superstitious. This is the task taken up in chapter two after the scholarly frame of reference within which the topic is to be pursued has been established. A survey of the lexical data in Latin will show the areas of confluence with and divergence from the Greek vocabulary employed by Plutarch to describe superstition. A brief but comprehensive review of the use of cognates of superstition in Greek will reveal the range of traits and dispositions covered by this term used by Plutarch in his treatise. His usage fits relatively comfortably within the tradition of philosophical critique of religion and touches on all the recurring indicators of superstition current in the Hellenistic period. By far the most pervasive in this depiction of the superstitious shared by Plutarch and his contemporaries is the element of fear. Because Plutarch locates the core of superstition in the emotions, his work will be examined in the context of the analyses of the emotions in the philosophical traditions with which he is in dialogue. After this erns on the main schools of thought, attention will turn back to Plutarch and De superstitione. This final section of the chapter summarizes and provides detailed commentary on the essay, with special attention to the way he views ft (especially fear of the gods), how these views cohere with those found elsewhere in his immense corpus, and what basic assumptions compel him to pass such harsh judgment on superstition.
Because fear is the core component of superstition according to Plutarch and other Hellenistic authors, who regard the emotion as a fundamental human problem arising in both sacred and secular contexts, chapters three and four look in detail at the various occurrences of this motif in Hebrews. Chapter three examines passages in Hebrews which advocate freedom from fear as a desirable and attainable ideal for the Christian. Of particular concern to the author is fear of death, a theme of recurring interest to the moral philosophers whose ideas inform Plutarch's characterization of superstitious fear. The causes of and remedy for fear of death according to Hebrews will be interpreted as an integral component of the author's christological presentation, as will the way in which he puts forward "confidence" as the obverse of fear in the believer's approach to God. Once the nature of this "vertical" relationship between God and the individual is established, those passages will be examined which seek to inculcate a posture of fearlessness on the horizontal plane, that is, in circumstances where earthly circumstances and other humans appear to pose a threat to the well-being and emotional equilibrium of the believer. The nexus of belief, feeling, and action, familiar from Hellenistic analyses of the emotions, also underlies the author's mode of argument and helps to clarify his views on the place of fear in the life of faith.
Chapter four concentrates primarily on two passages (Heb 5:7; 12:18–29) where apparent manifestations of fear signify a disposition the author regards in a quite positive light, and by that token may make him and his readers susceptible to a charge of superstition. One passage celebrates the "godly fear" of the human Jesus, while the other speaks approvingly of this same quality of "reverent awe" as a fitting accompaniment of thanksgiving and worship offered to God under the new covenant inaugurated by Jesus' sacrifice.
A final chapter draws together the key insights of the preceding chapters, returns to the question posed at the outset of the study, and reflects briefly on the complexities involved in formulating an answer.
To sum up, while the various schools of thought informing Plutarch's critique of superstition argue over points of theory and practice, they agree on a basic level on a number of core issues. On the structure of occurrent emotions, Aristotle and especially the Stoics, who carry on a vigorous intramural debate, go to great lengths to understand what constitutes an emotional response. Virtually every Greek writer, Epicurus included, recognizes the physical component of emotions but locates their root cause in cognitive or mental operations and the substantive beliefs, judgments, and opinions into which these processes crystallize, in stark contrast to reductionistic analyses in the fields of neuropsychology, biochemistry, and psychopharmacology. The shape of a person's beliefs plays a far greater role in determining emotional disposition than does body temperature or the balance of humors.
Aristotle is the most optimistic about the role of the in the good life, though he is also wary of their irruption at the wrong time and in the wrong form, and tries accordingly to distinguish, for example, true from counterfeit courage. The Epicureans heartily affirm the pleasant passions, seeking them as the highest good. But because these are usually fleeting and cause pain upon withdrawal, true pleasure consists in knowing one's human limitations and living calmly within them. Coping with emotions, because they develop out of one's beliefs about the world, involves education, or re-education in many cases since traditional beliefs are so often mistaken and hence responsible for unhealthy emotions. These must be stripped and replaced with a right view of the world and of the nature of the good, which in turn vary according to the school. For most of these thinkers, their appraisals of fear fit within this general framework. Plato and Aristotle reserve a place in their systems for appropriate forms of fear. They regard fear of shame in a positive light because it promotes civic responsibility. Aristotle also accommodates feelings of fear within his account of virtue. Brave men experience rational fear, though only on momentous occasions. Only when the end is a truly good one does reason demand fearlessness in the face of extraordinary pain or impending doom. The Stoics concur on this point but are more discriminating when it comes to circumstances in which fear is permissible. Virtue is the highest good, therefore vice alone is to be feared. Their qualifying remarks make plain the fact that, here again, belief as to the good distinguishes disapproved fear from its corresponding approved eupathic disposition.
While each school promulgates a theory of the emotions on the basis of core beliefs about ultimate reality, it is evident that, with the exception of Plato, the emphasis in their accounts is on the practical, ethical aspect. To varying degrees, the emotions are inconvenient because they disrupt the smooth flow of a happy life and are suspicious because they are at odds with a normative conception of virtue. Rational or not, the type of fear these philosophers discuss is an unpleasant feeling that usually signals some deficiency in the cardinal virtue of courage. It may or may not have death or the gods as its object. Little or no specifically religious element attaches to it except in a negative sense. Plutarch takes over this philosophical estimation of fear, makes certain modifications, and applies it to popular religious beliefs and observances in his essay on superstition.
The motif of fear pervades the argument in Hebrews at almost every turn, even when the explicit language is missing. Its place among the author's chief concerns is further suggested by his coordinated discussions of Christian "confidence" and his editorial decisions in such passages as the retelling of the Moses story in 11:23-28. Sources of fear fall into two broad categories: "natural" fear, which includes the ordinary human desire to avoid physical pain, economic deprivation, humiliation, and the like; and "supernatural" fear, the primary manifestation of which is fear of divine judgment after death. Between these two heuristic categories there is, not surprisingly, some degree of overlap. Fear of death, though primarily concerned with what comes after death in Hebrews, naturally participates in both types. In one form or another, thanatophobia and its effects drive the arguments the author tailors to his audience, who have "not yet" had to withstand persecution to the point of bloodshed (12:4). Fear in Hebrews is itself an undesirable state and usually serves as an indicator either of potential peril or of disordered priorities.
The author's approach to fear is not like that of the school philosophers who assert that it is a ready indicator of superstitiousness and that the emotion has no rational or legitimate basis. He is closer to the more balanced approach one finds in Aristotle in his analysis of the conditions giving rise to fear and his proposed solutions to the problem it presents. The contours of the letter's Christology fit especially well within a theological and paraenetic program designed to achieve an ideal of fearlessness. Because of the specific claims about the nature of the Christ event, the theological aspect has profound "practical" implications. No longer does "natural" fear excuse one from moral responsibility for capitulation to human forces seeking to dishonor God. This kind of fear bears an inverse relationship to faith, "without which it is impossible to please God" (1 l :6).
So in one respect, that is, in its insistence that fear is no longer an appropriate component of human engagement with the divine, Hebrews is in agreement with Plutarch. But the qualifier "no longer" would likely be the stumbling block for a contemporary Greek because it points to what has become known as "the scandal of particularity." Fearlessness is an achievable goal only because of what has transpired with Christ and not because it was a mistake ever to believe that fear once had any objective grounding. In an imaginary debate, then, one can see Plutarch complaining that Hebrews hasn't gone far enough in expunging fear and has in fact compounded the problem by granting legitimacy to those beliefs underlying the gravest fears in the first place. And to this Hebrews might respond that fear cannot be so easily explained away, and that Plutarch wants the brand of Protestantism whose credo, in the critical summary of H. Richard Niebuhr, can be reduced to this: "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross." In spite of attempts to dispel his readers' fears, then, it is hard to imagine his sermon earning the approval of the author of De superstitione.
D. H. Lawrence quotes Heb 10:31 (RSV) verbatim in the opening line of his poem, "The Hands of God," only to follow it with a second line suggestive of the sometimes ambivalent reactions to the prospect of becoming a child of God in the Letter to the Hebrews: "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God/But it is a much more fearful thing to fall out of them." The poem closes with a cry for salvation from "ungodly knowledge": "Let me never know myself apart from the living God!" The primary aim of the author of Hebrews is to assist his readers in experiencing "boldness" by showing them how their brother and high priest has neutralized the most pervasive causes of fear—namely, judgment by God and abuse at the hands of humans. But in order to help them learn who they really are in God's eyes, he must draw on a register of language in some respects expressive, even evocative, of a form of fear. Analyses of this language in Hebrews, however, frequently exaggerate the degree to which it connotes craven terror. The author generally avoids such vocabulary, preferring to use terms which accentuate the individual's recognition of and submissiveness to the will of God. Jesus models this disposition for his siblings, learning the full meaning of obedience to God from the fearful things he suffered. Some measure of trepidation is not only permissible, it is entirely appropriate when confronted with the auspicious events connected with the new covenant, so long as it does not lead one to seek consolation anywhere other than in the living God.
Despite the author's insistence upon the once-for-all character of Christ's sacrifice and the way in which it renders superfluous all apotropaic rites aimed at deflecting God's wrath, in the final analysis Hebrews leaves intact the basic premise that the divine can in any fashion be a legitimate source of fear. In fact, God alone—not persecution, not material deprivation or physical abuse, not even death—is truly fearful. The idea appears in a more straightforward fashion throughout the OT, as when Isaiah writes, "Do not fear what this people fears, nor be in terror. But the Lord of Hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your terror" (Isa 8:12-13).26 According to Hebrews, the believer has to travel through fear, not around it, to come out on the other side. This notion, far from allaying any suspicion on other grounds that Christianity is an example of superstition, effectively confirms it for pagan observers after Plutarch who come into direct contact with Christian thought: it is a decidedly good thing that there is no longer any need to be afraid, but the Christian solution comes at the expense of creating a problem where there should not have been one in the first place.
While Plutarch recognizes the possibility that the deity may feel "that he must no longer help us in the same way, but in a different way," and rebukes those who "yearn for the riddles, allegories, and metaphors" as preferable to the simpler, more direct oracles of first-century Delphi (Pyth. orac. 407F, 409C-D), there is of course no sure way of knowing how he would have reacted to God's novel way of speaking and acting through a son (Heb 1:1-2).27 It is one thing to acknowledge a theological principle and quite another to agree upon a specific instance of that principle at work. It is of the essential nature of special revelation that its content or significance is inaccessible to or unanticipated by unaided reason. Accordingly, it is not possible to tell how a person might have responded to the novel claim that only Jesus—his life, death, resurrection, and priestly office in heaven—relativizes the fearfulness of any earthly danger and does away with all need to be afraid of God's wrath. Like most thinkers in antiquity, the author of Hebrews finds the old to be trustworthy and is cautious about anything new, yet in common with the rest of the NT authors, he cannot bring himself to deny that something new has happened and that it is the work of God. He bends over backwards to show how Jesus, while representing God's new way of dealing with humanity, nonetheless fits perfectly with the divine plan related under the old covenant. But rather than downplaying it for apologetic purposes, the distinctive solution to the problem of fear in Hebrews actually underscores the scandal of particularity that the Christian message has caused since its very beginning.
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