Ethics In The World Religions edited by Joseph Runzo, Nancy M. Martin (Oneworld) Bringing together original articles from renowned philosophers and religious scholars, this thought-provoking book considers the ways in which the world faiths offer resources for resolving modern ethical issues and conflicts.
Featuring work from such well-known authorities as Keith Ward, Vasudha Narayanan, Elliot Dorff, and William LaFleur, this volume examines the role of ethics in all the major religious traditions, from Confucianism to Christianity. Covering topics such as the Buddhist approach to organ transplants and the Islamic perspective on gender issues, it is an exciting collection that combines textual and traditional sources with current debate to create a detailed but accessible study.
Designed for students, scholars and the general reader alike, Ethics In The World Religions is not only a definitive guide to religion and ethical issues, but also offers the key to a more harmonious future, showing how mutual religious understanding can help to resolve the most difficult of conflicts.
Editor's summary: As we move into the twenty-first century, there is a need to affirm both commonality and difference in religious perspectives on ethical issues. Religious differences need not be a "problem" to be eliminated but may rather be a source of expansion and creative interchange, as important as biodiversity for our mutual flourishing. Christian liberation theologies, engaged Buddhism, and the nonviolence of Gandhi all prefigure what must be a part of religion's increasing role in this new millennium, as an active force for social change.
In the first volume of this series, entitled The Meaning of Life in the World Religions, John Hick suggests that religions offer a source of "cosmic optimism" -- a deep source of hope in the face of the world's struggles. And Huston Smith echoes this, suggesting that, by addressing life's most fundamental problems and most profound suffering and by offering the greatest possible hope, religion provides the greatest possible motivation to solve these problems and also posits the unequaled support of divine grace. Keith Ward further suggests that those of us who are religious will do well both to recognize that we all travel toward similar transformations of our individual selves into people marked by "wisdom, compassion, and bliss" who act in care for others rather than for self alone, and to agree to travel together encouraging our hopes and supporting shared ethical action grounded in our different but not necessarily conflicting senses of ultimate purpose and meaning. Though religion may not be an absolutely necessary ingredient for a meaningful life, these scholars affirm the unparalleled power of a religious perspective to give greater meaning, hope, and motivation -- all deeply needed in our world today.
The essays in , Ethics In The World Religions take up the challenge of inter‑religious understanding and examine the ethical resources offered by the world religions. The volume begins with an exploration of the fundamental connection between ethics and religion and the possibilities and difficulties of understanding and finding agreement across traditions. Joseph Runzo sets the framework for the discussion by analyzing the nature of ethics and the relation of the moral life to the religious life. He argues that "metaphysics drives ethics," and explores the manner in which people from different religious traditions and thus with different metaphysics might reach ethical agreement. To that end, he defines the moral point of view and addresses what place religion might have in a global ethic. Keith Ward then explores the possible basis for such a global ethic, identifying benevolence, truthfulness, liberty, and justice as basic shared moral values, though they may be interpreted differently across religious traditions. The most important contribution of religions to the search for a universal ethic, he argues, is in terms of both the emphasis within religious traditions on the need to overcome ego‑centeredness and the affirmation that these highest values are not only arrived at by human reflection but are truly grounded in reality itself.
James Kellenberger then explores the nature of moral diversity, setting forth a notion of moral pluralism that parallels John Hick's religious pluralism and arguing for the pre‑eminent importance of relationships as the ground for moral decision making, a theme that will be picked up in other chapters as well. According to him, a fundamental affirmation of basic human relationships lies at the heart of the religious perspective and the religious motivation for ethical action. This theme of relationality is developed in subsequent chapters with respect to the ethics of individual traditions and in relation to issues such as the ethics of transplants and the need for an ecological ethic. And indeed an increasing focus on relationality will undoubtedly also be a dominant theme in inter-religious encounter in the twenty-first century.
The wider questions of religion and ethics having been delineated, the next section of the volume focuses on specific religious traditions in both the West and the East. Elliot Dorff offers a comprehensive look at ethics and morality in Judaism, exploring the Jewish version of Divine Command theory and the values that shape individual Jews, the Jewish community, and Jewish ethical decision making -- the integrated and positive understanding of the body which ultimately belongs to God, the meaning of all people being created in the image of God, and the importance of family, education, and community. Zayn Kassam then turns to the Islamic tradition, exploring the resources for ethical decision making within Islam, particularly with regard to matters not addressed directly in the Qur'an. She then takes up two issues that specifically harm women within some Islamic cultures and which are often justified as "Islamic" -- female genital mutilation and honor killings -- and shows both how culture and religion become entangled and how, using fundamentally Islamic strategies of ethical decision making as well as the Qur'an, these practices might be challenged.
The latter two essays in this section address Christianity. Nathan Tierney explores traditional understandings of the soul in the face of the challenges of modern science, advocating a non-reductionist evolutionary notion of the self in a move to heal the split between the spiritual and the material, the body and the soul, and to affirm the interrelationality of the human -- a fundamental shift in worldview which would have serious and important implications for Christian ethical practice. Philip Rossi analyzes the redefinition and relativizing of life's meaning in contemporary society, leaving little room for other-directed action and little motivation for ethical living in a culture of unconcern. He then suggests that Christianity and other religious traditions must offer a voice of challenge in the midst of this crisis of indifference through a re-imagining and reawakening of an awareness of the spiritual dimension (and higher callings) of human beings and of a Transcendent Reality beyond the human.
Having examined aspects of ethics and religion in the West, we then turn to the East. Vasudha Narayanan details the concept of dharma as it relates to ethics in Hinduism and examines how the laws recorded in dharma shastra texts play out in real life situations, specifically in the context of renunciation and reproduction. Dale Wright turns to Buddhism and the cultivation of the six perfections (generosity, morality, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom) that characterize the ideal Buddhist and are epitomized by the lay bodhisattva Vimalakirti. He demonstrates in a powerful way how Buddhist understandings of dependent co-origination shape notions of ethical responsibility through the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, who claimed a responsibility for the beating of Rodney King by police in Los Angeles in 1991. Christopher Key Chapple then introduces us to Jain purification practices and vows, undergirded by a deep commitment to nonviolence. Ethical concerns for other beings drive these Jain ascetic practices, and their nonviolence extends also to a nonviolent approach to those holding other religious views, as the example of Haribhadra makes dear, and to a commitment to fight violence on a global scale. In the final chapter in this section, John Berthrong gives us a window onto the current conversations within Confucianism as adherents ask themselves what shape their tradition will take in the coming century. A fundamental call for the active development of "concern‑consciousness" in addition to "civility" emerges from recent gatherings in China.
Having explored these separate traditions, we then turn to the ways in which different religious traditions might challenge and assist each other in the face of pressing ethical concerns. Daniel Smith-Christopher examines the strategies used by Jews, Christians, and Muslims as they look to their own scriptures for support for nonviolence, suggesting that the Christian strategy of developmental evolution from violence to nonviolence within the tradition may not be the best -- sawing off the branch on which one is sitting so to speak -- and that the uncovering of elements of nonviolence throughout the history of the tradition, including the early Hebrew scriptures (as he finds in Jewish and Muslim commentaries), appears a more promising strategy.
William LaFleur explores the issue of organ transplantation in medical ethics, showing how Christians and Jews in American readily and almost unquestioningly embraced this practice in the 1960s (in spite of earlier understandings of a connection between the bodily integrity of a corpse and resurrection and considerable differences between the two traditions with regard to attitudes toward the body, as Elliot Dorff makes clear in chapter 4). LaFleur clearly demonstrates that the issue is not so cut and dried, by contrasting it with Japanese Buddhist/Confucian opposition toward cadaveric transplantation, fundamentally in terms of the violation of relationships, and through careful examination of the actual arguments given for it, particularly by Joseph Fletcher, identifying organ donation as the epitome of agape or unconditional love in the Christian case.
Vrinda Dalmiya takes the opposite tack, addressing a problem within feminist care ethics of "caring" action potentially contributing to the selfsacrifice and oppression of the care‑giver. She draws on classical Indian traditions to enrich the understanding of care, through a retelling of several episodes from the classic Hindu epic of the Mahabharata and a detailed examination of a parallel term to Western notions of care -- anukrosha. In so doing, she offers an alternative vision of autonomous and uncoerced action that strengthens rather than denigrates the individual and radically alters the way moral imperatives play out, again with an emphasis on the fundamental importance of relationships in ethical considerations.
In the final section of the volume, Brian Hebblethwaite, Mary Evelyn Tucker, and C. Ram-Prasad explore the global implications of particular traditions. Hebblethwaite begins by offering a comprehensive account of the discussions within Christianity over whether there is a genuine Christian social ethic at all and then what might be unique about it and where common ground might be found with other religious ethics and with secular ethics. He concludes with an exploration of the place of religion generally and Christian ethics specifically in the context of global ethical consensus and action. Mary Evelyn Tucker addresses the environmental crisis and explores how the fundamental understandings of the nature of the world in terms of the holistic qi (matter-energy or vital force) and the structuring principles of li found in Confucianism might provide useful insight for the restructuring of human attitudes toward the non-human world which is essential to creating a global environmental ethic. The volume concludes with C. Ram-Prasad's explication of the Jaina doctrine of anekantavada or "multiplism" as a possible way to approach inter-religious understanding and moral pluralism with an ethic of toleration and nonviolence.
In their exploration of the confluence of religion and ethics, the essays in this volume contribute significantly toward advancing these newest directions in inter-religious understanding -- the generation of ethical insight when issues are viewed from alternative religious worldviews, the deepening perception of the fundamental relationality of humans and the world embedded in and affirmed by the teachings of diverse religions, and the exploration of the specific and vital contribution that the world's religions might and indeed must make in the realm of ethical action in our increasingly global world.
Crossing Boundaries: Ethics in the History of Mysticism edited by G. William Barnard, Jeffrey J. Kripal (Seven Bridges Press) is an important and significant book in the study of religion that addresses the present growing interest in the history, philosophy, and phenomenology of mysticism. The book represents the high level of original, sometimes radical, but responsible thinking about mysticism now being done by the best minds in the subject. What, if anything, does the mystical have to do with the ethical? Why do mystical traditions so often dramatically cross the ethical boundaries set up by a particular society? "Crossing Boundaries" explores critical issues such as these through a series of original essays on the mystical traditions themselves (from Kabbalah to Chinese religion) and on some of the most pressing theoretical issues and theorists (from Bergson to Schuon) of the twentieth-century study of religion.
Editor summary: SEVERAL YEARS AGO, Jeffrey Kripal and I began attending a series of conferences sponsored by the Forge Institute, an organization founded by Robert K.C. Forman for those interested in mysticism and spirituality, both academically and existentially. During these conferences, which were relatively small and informal gatherings of scholars and professionals, one topic of discussion inevitably generated the most heated discussion among the participants: the relationship between mysticism and ethics. For hours, we would argue back and forth, struggling to articulate and defend often dramatically different understandings of the complex interweaving of mysticism and ethics. As the dust settled in the aftermath of these academic sparring matches, it became possible to make out the rough outlines of several primary foci of contention, perhaps best phrased as a series of interrelated questions…
In chapter 1, "Debating the Mystical as the Ethical; An Indological Map," Kripal first offers a detailed and provocative exposition of some of the most important figures in the modern academic debate on the relationship between mysticism and ethics, focusing on seven seminal figures: Albert Schweitzer, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, R.C. Zaehner, WT. Stace, Arthur Danto, Agehananda Bharati, and James Horne. He further comments on how the intersection of mysticism and ethics is affected by four recent developments in contemporary thought: (t) anthropological discussions of cultural variations in the understanding of the boundaries of the self; (z) feminist, psychoanalytic, gender, and gay theories (what Kripal terms "the return of the body"); (3) academic discussions of the problematic behavior of several prominent guru figures in Western culture; and (4) the environmental movement. Finally, Kripal makes explicit what was already present in the interstices and margins of his lengthy and subtle analysis: his own multifaceted position. According to Kripal, mystical experience (in particular, monistic mysticism) is in tension with any socially structured ethical system, especially subsequent to the rise of individualism that took place after the Enlightenment. Kripal also argues that, while mystical experiences are not inherently immoral, they are, nevertheless, often induced by immoral means or are catalyzed by tragic life experiences.
In chapter 2, "Debating the Mystical as the Ethical: A Response," I offer a rejoinder to Kripal's essay by pointing out the structural difficulties (as well as the strengths) of his position. My own alternative perspective on the interrelationship between mysticism and ethics can be summarized in the following manner: (t) Many mystics affirm a vision of "cosmic optimism," even while simultaneously affirming the reality (on some level) of evil and suffering; (z) The nondualism advocated by many mystical traditions (a nondualism that is not identical to a rigorous monism) promotes a type of "both/and" thinking that provides space for both individual responsibility and attunement with a level of reality deeper than the personality; (3) The thrust of profound mystical experiences is frequently toward positive psychological transformation, even if this transformation may be less visible than the eye‑catching scandals associated with some recent spiritual teachers; (4) The transformative effect of mystical experiences is not guaranteed, but rather is dependent upon factors such as intent and social context; (s) There is, potentially at least, a great value to the contemplative life and/or the practice of spiritual techniques, even if this mode of praxis does not stress, at least overtly, the value of social change; and (6) The antinomian behavior of mystics can have several possible explanations. For instance, the mystic (even one who is supposedly quite "advanced") might simply be deluded or narcissistic. Or the antinomian behavior of the mystic may actually be quite appropriate to the situation, and may be, under the surface, guided by profound wisdom and love. I conclude my response with a critique of the work of R.C. Zaehner and Arthur Danto (as presented by Kripal) and then briefly note several overarching similarities in the ethical positions articulated in various mystical traditions.
The second section of Crossing Boundaries contains chapters that are historical or cultural in nature. These essays focus on case histories drawn from different religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese religions) in order to provide some concrete exemplifications of the complexities intrinsic to any serious study of the intersection of mysticism and ethics.
In chapter 3, "Beyond Good and Evil: Hypernomianism, Transmorality, and Kabbalistic Ethics," Elliot Wolfson offers a sustained, detailed immersion into Kabbalistic literature. Wolfson demonstrates that Jewish mystical thought affirms the social and ritual structure of Jewish law. He notes that the very attempt by Jewish law to divide the world into that which is permissible and/or encouraged and that which is forbidden, emerges from, and is a reflection of, the ontological structure of the Godhead itself, with its polar distinctions between good and evil, male and female, justice and mercy. Wolfson points out that human life, according to the Kabbalah, is understood to be, ideally, a reflection of these divine attributes. As Wolfson goes on to suggest, however, the nature of the Godhead is also such that this dualistic structure is in significant tension with the underlying unity that is also present within the divine. Therefore, within Kabbalistic texts, the question arises; How can an ethical life based on the radical differentiation between what is good and what is evil not be undercut by the mystical experience of the coincidence of opposites discovered in the heart of the Godhead? How can the mystical telos to transcend the dualistic limitations of good and evil not lead, inevitably, to antinomianism? Wolfson asserts that, for Kabbalists, the mystically fueled existential engagement with the limits of the law leads not to antinomianism, but to hypernomianism, where the thrust to surpass the law is always in tension with the need to fulfill it, thereby extending the law itself beyond its own limits. According to Wolfson, hypernomianism established the limits of the law at the very moment in which those limits are exceeded. From this perspective, breaking the law, at least in certain instances, itself paradoxically affirms the law, and a great deal of social good is created by that behavior which is seemingly unlawful. Hypernomianism, in this way, is not anarchy, but anarchic lawfulness; it is transmorality rather than immorality. Wolfson finishes his chapter, with a discussion of the link between speech and ineffability, drawing upon postmodern theories about the paradoxical relationship between speech and silence, presence and absence.
In chapter 4, "Above the Law: Mysticism and Antinomianism in the High Middle Ages," Richard Woods focuses on the complex interaction between mysticism and antinomianism in the late Middle Ages. Woods argues that mystics, such as Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerete Porete, and Meister Eckhart, did not advocate heresy and lawlessness, but rather exerted a moderating influence on the social order of the time. Radical segments of several new religious movements (such as the peasants of the Swabian Ries, the Almaricians, and the advocates of the Free Spirit) were, however, in the true sense of the word, antinomian. Because these radical new religious movements appealed to the authority of various mystics to legitimize their revolutionary demands, the church and civil authorities were prompted to repudiate mysticism, a move, according to Woods, which in all likelihood served to intensify rather than curtail the social unrest of the period. Woods suggests that while, on a superficial level, similarities can be found between the rhetoric of the mystics and the revolutionary proclamations of the radical dissenters, in reality, their messages were profoundly different. While both advocated radical freedom, the mystical stress on self‑transformation and social transcendence differed profoundly in structure and intent from the revolutionary call for the destruction of social structures promulgated by the radical antinomians. Woods, in the final section of his essay, not content simply to describe the historical and theological parameters of the complex intersection of mysticism and antinomianism in the late Middle Ages, also draws upon the work of various modern social theorists (Robert K. Merton, Bryan R. Wilson, and Peter Berger) as well as developmental psychologists (Lawrence Kohlberg and James Fowler) to explore various theoretical explanations for this conflation of mysticism and antinomianism.
In chapter 5, "The Infinity of Desire: Love, Mystical Union, and Ethics in Sufism," Michael Sells investigates R.C. Zaehner's characterization, in Hindu and
Muslim Mysticism, of the Sufi mystic Abu Yazid al‑Bistami (also known as Bayezid). Sells examines Zaehner's argument that Bayezid converted to the Advaitic monism of Sankara, critiquing Zaehner's claim that Bayezid's conversion to monism led to ego‑inflation and contempt for ethical norms and contributed to the degradation of Islamic mysticism. Through a detailed reading of the most controversial texts of Bayezid, Sells show how Zaehner misunderstood and misrepresented the texts and obscured evidence that contradicted his misreadings. He then uses the Bayezid texts both to reconsider the role of love in Sufism (an element Zaehner claimed was borrowed from Christianity), and to probe into the relationship between mystical union and transgression in Islam. He also notes how the Bistami sayings interacted with neighboring mystical traditions, including Vedanta, Buddhism, and Jewish Merkevah mysticism. Sells concludes his chapter with a series of wide‑ranging reflections on the place of ethics in mysticism, as well as some cautionary comments on the importance of a recognition of the complexities inherent in any scholarly attempt to assess the ethical value of any tradition's mystical beliefs and practices.
In chapter 6, "Seeing Inside and Outside the Goddess: The Mystical and the Ethical in the Teachings of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda," Jeffrey Kripal focuses on the tension between mysticism and ethics found in the teachings and practices of the famous turn‑of‑the‑century Bengali mystic, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and his equally famous disciple Swami Vivekananda. In many ways, the chapter is a test case for exploring Paul Hacker's thesis that Vedantic monism is fundamentally incompatible with the attempt made by modern Hindu mystics to ground a "love thy neighbor" ethic in monistic consciousness. Kripal also explicates Hacker's second thesis, which states that Swami Vivekananda appropriated his monistically grounded ethical stance, not from traditional Indic texts, but from Western scholars and philosophers. Kripal points out that Swami Vivekananda's ethical and social activism is, at best, in tension with the mystically inspired ethical and social indifference of his guru, Ramakrishna, noting that Ramakrishna consistently downplayed the value of social reform in favor of mystical ecstasy. Kripal also emphasizes, however, the paradoxical nature of the interaction between Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, noting that both positions have value, simultaneously, even if their different outlooks are not easily reconcilable.
In chapter 7, "The Lack of Ethics and the Ethics of Lack in Buddhism," David Loy points out that a subtle, yet significant, tension simmers beneath the seemingly straightforward connection between mysticism and ethics found in Buddhism. Historically, while earlier forms of Buddhism equated enlightenment with ethical purity (e.g., an arhat is defined as someone who cannot violate the precepts), later schools of Buddhism began to stress that enlightenment might well lead the bodhisattva to actions that are socially condemned, even if his or her actions were understood to always flow out of a wellspring of compassion and wisdom, and were seen to serve the greater good of sentient beings. Loy goes on to explore the ethical ramifications of nondual consciousness‑how the potential for ethical freedom and spontaneity that emerges from a dissolution of the sense of separate self and an experiential awareness of an ongoing, dynamic interconnection with all things can be co‑opted by the explicit normative standards of the ruling class and the state (e.g., in Japan, where the samurai's Zen awareness was at the service of loyalty to his lord). For Loy, the early Buddhist stress on noninjury of others is in stark contrast to the Japanese samurai warrior, who is helped by his Zen training to die, and kill, better. Yet Loy also stresses the potential ethical value of nondual consciousness, noting that it can lead to compassion and responsibility for other beings, as well as minimizing the compulsiveness that underlies many forms of unethical behavior.
In chapter 8, "The Sage in the World, the Perfected without Feelings: Mysticism and Moral Responsibility in Chinese Religion," Livia Kohn notes that, according to the woridview of classical China, the universe is a manifestation of the Tao, and as such, is inherently good and harmonious. Therefore, the spiritual master, as one who has realized this Tao, is one who effortlessly acts in accordance with this cosmic oneness, and naturally radiates this inherent goodness (a goodness that transcends conventional social morality) to others. As such, the mystic therefore is not moral, but transmoral. Kohn goes on to describe how this fundamental cluster of Chinese beliefs manifests themselves in different ways. For instance, Chinese texts (particularly in Confucianism, neo‑Confucianism, and philosophical Taoism) delineate the beneficial social impact of the transmoral activity of the "sage in the world"; other texts note the egoless, cosmically attuned, socially aloof, natural way of living of the "perfected one" (so prominent in medieval Taoism) that inspires others to find perfection; and finally, still other texts describe the magical, healing, joyous, whimsical activity of the utterly free "immortals" (the central mystical figure of religious Taoism). Kohn does not shy away from indicating some potential ethical problems inherent in these three mystical ideals, but she also notes how these issues are, at least implicitly, addressed within the Chinese tradition itself.
The third section of Crossing Boundaries contains chapters that are theoretical in nature. These essays, while not divorced from the "embodied" specificity of the historical and cultural studies (in the same way that chapters in the second section will inevitably contain at least tacit philosophical implications), pursue cross‑cultural comparisons, construct well‑argued and stimulating positions on a range of controversies germane to the area of mysticism and ethics, examine the philosophical perspective of important philosophical thinkers, and critique several seminal scholars whose thought (and behavior) is crucial to this field of inquiry.
Chapter 9, "Vital Intuitions: Henri Bergson and Mystical Ethics," begins the more explicitly theoretical reflections of this section with my examination of the work of the turn‑of‑the‑century French philosopher Henri Bergson. Perhaps most famous for Creative Evolution, a strikingly original neovitalistic work that posits a cosmic life force as the impetus propelling evolution forward, Bergson also wrote insightful texts on the nature of time, consciousness, and free will (Time and Free Will). the relationship between mind and body (Matter and Memory), and the dynamic interplay between mysticism and ethics (The Two Sources of Morality and Religion). In this chapter, I critically examine the major tenets of Bergson's thought, giving special attention to aspects of his work that, I claim, provide fertile philosophical soil for a creative re‑envisioning of what I term "mystical ethics." For example, I explore Bergson's emphasis on fluidity and moral freedom, his notion of intuition as an inner alignment with the ceaseless movement of life, and his passionate advocacy of mystics as ethical exemplars. While I critique certain areas of Bergson's thought, such as his privileging of Christian mysticism and concurrent blindness to the mystical depths of tribal peoples and certain other non‑Christian traditions, I also underscore the significant contributions made to philosophical discourse by this often ignored and overlooked thinker.
In chapter 10. "Ethics and the Experience of Happiness," Jonathan Shear contrasts two major philosophical strategies in ethics: the development of individual character and the articulation of principles and criteria by which good and bad actions can be distinguished. Shear notes that the character‑oriented approach
to ethics itself can be divided into two contrasting stances: an "external" orientation that focuses on outer behavior and an "internal" orientation that emphasizes the ethical ramification of a disciplined cultivation of expanded states of consciousness. Shear's discussion is primarily focused on the latter "state‑of‑being" approach to ethics, emphasizing in particular two centrally important modes of mystical experience: "pure consciousness" (a state of awareness that lacks internal content‑Le., an "emptiness" or "void") and "pure positive affect" (a state of pure bliss, joy, and inner fulfillment). Shear argues that these two types of mystical experience are not culture specific, but instead are virtually identical in every major mystical tradition. Shear's investigation of the qualities of "pure positive affect" becomes the basis for his subsequent delineation of some problems Western ethics often has in defining the parameters of "happiness." For Shear, the "pure positive affect" found in mystical experience is not only an example of happiness that is not linked to external possessions or status, but it is also immediately experienced as a supreme value in and of itself. According to Shear, as people become fulfilled internally through these experiences, they, like saints and sages, find themselves less compelled to seek external fulfillment of their desires. This naturally helps them avoid actions that conflict with their ethical beliefs, and also enhances their ability to fulfill their civic and moral duties. Shear also, in a way that is similar to Loy, notes the ethical implications of the mystical state of "pure consciousness," linking it with an increase in responsiveness to, and compassion for, others. For Shear, the character‑oriented approach to ethics, especially its "state‑of‑being" subset, compliments the more formal criterial ethical systems and can serve to promote, not only the development of compassion and courage in individuals, but also an increased enjoyment of life.
In chapter ii, "Amoral Trickster or Mystic‑Saint? Spiritual Teachers and the Transmoral Narrative," Michael Stoeber contrasts two types of overarching ethical narratives: one posits, as an ideal, a mystical realization of identity with an utterly amoral ultimate reality, and the second stresses the supreme value of a mystical realization of oneness with a transmoral ultimate reality. Stoeber points out the problems of the former position, noting that if a mystical tradition (such as Advaita Vedanta) postulates a Real which is essentially amoral, then it is difficult to understand why liberated beings within that tradition would necessarily act morally. To illustrate these problems, Stoeber comments on the ethical ramifications of the behavior of several modern spiritual teachers‑focusing in particular on one contemporary guru figure: Adi Da. Drawing upon previous work by Georg Feuerstein, Stoeber outlines various rationalizations for the shocking behavior of those spiritual teachers who Stoeber calls "amoral tricksters," pointing out not only some of the dangers and philosophical problems that accompany such rationalizations, but also the difficulties inherent in making accurate ethical assessments of the behavior of those who claim to be spiritual adepts. Stoeber goes on to claim that those spiritual adepts who act out of positive concern for their disciples are typically transmoral, rather than amoral, in their ethical stance in that they postulate a transmoral Real that influences one's moral life in a positive direction. He notes that while they may act in a way that transcends conventional moral guidelines, these spiritual teachers do not claim, even within their own narrative understanding, that they have license to do absolutely anything (e.g., murder children). For Stoeber, the activity of these transmoral "mystic‑saints," driven as it is by an underlying concern for the welfare of others, is most adequately justified vis‑a‑vis a narrative in which transcendent reality is understood to be not simply nondual, but also, in some fashion, good. Such a transmoral narrative involves a creative fusion of theism and monism, and is articulated by figures such as Aurobindo Ghose, Ramanuja, Jacob Boehme, Meister Eckhart, and Jan Van Ruysbroek.
In chapter 12, "A Dance of Masks: The Esoteric Ethics of Frithjof Schuon," Hugh Urban offers a detailed, and eyeopening, account of the beliefs and practices of a spiritual community that revolved around Frithjof Schuon, a scholar of comparative religion and an advocate of the "perennial philosophy." Schuon began a religious community in Bloomington, Indiana, as a traditional Sufi order, but the community transformed over time into an eclectic synthesis of apocalyptically tinged religious practices, centering around a ritual dance. In this dance, Schuon would sit naked in the center of a circle of thirty dancing naked female disciples, then move to the periphery of the circle to embrace each of the women, and finally, return to the center of the circle. Urban not only analyzes the symbolism of this ritual and its purported links with the Sun Dance of the Sioux, but also discusses how Schuon legitimized this unorthodox ritual behavior by distinguishing between the exoteric, conventional level of ordinary understanding and morality, and the esoteric, transmoral level of knowledge and action granted to those who have been initiated into a higher Truth. Urban delves into Schuon's metaphysical doctrines (which have been praised by a number of respected academic scholars of religion), and then examines Schuon's personal life and religious community, with an emphasis on his ritual dance and its sociopolitical implications. Urban concludes the chapter with an intriguing discussion on the role of secrecy, esotericism, and ethics, commenting as well on the ethical implications of the scholarly study of religion itself.
In chapter 13, "Of Ethics and Mysticism: Concluding Reflections," Purushottama Bilimoria responds to the previous chapters, drawing upon his own training as a comparative ethicist both to present an overview of some significant moments within the historical development of Western and Eastern ethical thinking and to locate some of the discrepancies and possibilities that show themselves within the gaps and spaces of ethical and mystical discourses. Bilimoria asks us to consider the essentially modernist structure and tone of the discussion within this text, noting the ways in which its basic categories and assumptions are infused with the Enlightenment values of reason, universalism, and concern for the individual. Without denying his own very real and very contemporary ethical concerns (especially those involving "natural and human rights" issues, which are themselves drawn from classical views on natural law and brought into sharper focus by modern rational‑humanist critiques), Bilimoria prompts us to think again, from both a premodern and a postmodern perspective. The result is an "open ending" in which the mystical traditions can speak to us again today, not as infallible sources of revelation and truth, but as powerful ethical resources of transcendence, deconstruction, and radical criticism.
Finally, in the Afterword, Kripal closes Crossing Boundaries with an eloquent, passionate reflection on the frequently problematic, conflictual relationship between scholars of mysticism and the mystical traditions whose esoteric secrets they seek to uncover, noting the numerous ways in which such scholarship is itself a type of transgressive, yet deeply ethical, action, a type of activity that, at times at least, mirrors the deconstructive, apophatic negations that are so prominent in the words and actions of the mystics themselves.
Both Kripal and I recognized from the start that no one contributor would be able to deal, in any depth, with the full range of the issues that arise with any detailed study of the relationship between mysticism and ethics. Nonetheless, we were gratified to discover how, as Crossing Boundaries took form as a complex whole, it was able to provide a forum for a wide variety of fascinating reflections on the numerous questions that arise with any tough‑minded investigation of the interplay between mysticism and ethics. We were also delighted, as editors, to see how all of the authors, in their own unique fashion, were willing to cross beyond their own boundaries: to look beneath the surface, to go beyond the obvious, to dare to take an unpopular stand, to create controversy, to raise problems. This text is not intended to lead the reader to philosophical closure; instead, our hope is that Crossing Boundaries generates lively, passionate, wellargued debate and that it stimulates further thinking within the academy. This is not a "safe" textopen it prepared to be provoked, disturbed, and intrigued.
Contents: Jeffrey J. Kripal: Debating the Mystical as the Ethical; G. William Barnard: Debating the Mystical as the Ethical: A Response; Elliot R. Wolfson: Beyond Good and Evil; Richard Woods: Above the Law; Michael Sells: Sufi Love Mysticism and the Infinity of Desire; Jeffrey J. Kripal: Seeing Inside and Outside the Goddess; David R. Loy: The Lack of Ethics and the Ethics of Lack in Buddhism; Livia Kohn: The Sage in the World, the Perfected without Feelings; G. William Barnard: Vital Institutions; Jonathan Shear: Ethics and the Experience of Happiness; Michael Stoeber: Amoral-Trickster or Mystic-Saint? Hugh B. Urban: A Dance of Masks; Jeffrey J. Kripal: Afterward
Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom: Eroticism and Reflexivity in the Study of Mysticism by Jeffrey J. Kripal (University of Chicago Press) This book is attempting to tranform the deep structures of religious studies by self-reflexivity invoking the subjective experience of the scholars as well as the author, suggesting links to bring religious rexperiences and spectulation within the postmodern critique of the real, the self and the erotic. The book may vary well trigger some deep confessional statements of belief and realization within the community of religious scholars it is addressed to and also cause some serious rethiing of what the mystic are really talking about. Kripal says this is “a book about secrecy, which, perhaps appropriately, appears nowhere in the title of the book. Clearly announced or hidden, however, both eroticism and mysticism are surrounded and implicated in innumerable esoteric discourses and modes of experience. To write of either the mystical or the erotic, then, is also inevitably to write about the esoteric, about what I will call, in an intentionally open and multivalent fashion, the secret. A few words about secrecy, then, seem more than appropriate as we begin.”
Author summary: The philosopher and ethicist Sissela Bok and the literary critic Roger Shattuck, among many others, have written eloquently about the human experience of secrecy, in literature, government, science, art, and religion.' Shattuck has explored in particular the theme of "forbidden knowledge" in Western literature, that mythic and literary motif about forms of knowledge that are at once dangerous, strangely seductive, potentially liberating, and oftentimes destructive. From Adam and Eve in the garden, who dared taste the forbidden fruit only to know immediate sexual shame (secret knowledge and sexuality are entwined from the very beginning in the Western monotheisms) and quick exile from paradise at the hands of an angry and seemingly jealous God (hence the early Christian gnostics, who, in a relevant twist on the story, hailed the serpent as the true hero of the story and decried God as a petty obstructer of knowledge), through the scholar‑wizard Faust, who sold his soul to the devil in order to know all, to the monstrous, murderous, and yet somehow touching Frankenstein monster, to modern science with its atomic bomb and human genome project, human beings have been acutely aware that culture and life itself depend, at least partly, upon how we approach forms of knowledge and truth that are felt to be somehow forbidden, secret, hidden, out of bounds.
Bok has explored these same themes, but on a much broader canvas and with a less literary and more specifically ethical or philosophical lens. How, she asks, are we to discern the ethics of concealment and revelation in the innumerable instances‑secret societies, Catholic confession, psychotherapy, the trade secrets of the corporate world, police surveillance and undercover work, artistic expression, gossiping, scientific experimentation, social science research, and investigative journalism‑in which human beings keep or reveal secrets? For Bok, secrecy is not something tangential or superficial to human existence, but ontogenetically integral to identity itself. We presume that infants, for whom the world is essentially one, know or keep no secrets. Only with the development of a relatively stable identity or ego can the phenomenological experiences of an "inside" and an "outside" develop and, with them, the experience of psychosocial boundaries and hence the need of controlling the flow of information across those same boundaries. Secrecy, then, implies psychological differentiation, that is, a self (or, more likely, a collection of selves) set apart and protected from the rest of the natural and social worlds. Such a psychological, indeed ontological understanding of secrecy allows Bok to avoid prejudging secret practices as inevitably deceptive, negative, or suspicious. But neither does she ever lose sight of secrecy's constant ability to degenerate into a cover for harmful deception, various forms of abuse, solipsistic delusions, self‑deceptions, and premeditated lies (and perhaps it is no accident that her earlier book was on lying)? For Bok, human identity, freedom, and sanity itself are determined largely by how we negotiate with an always adaptable discretion some working balance between the two extremes of pure openness or absolute transparency and total solipsism or complete secrecy. It is never a matter, then, of always or never keeping or telling secrets, but of choosing discretely which secrets we tell or seek out and under what social circumstances.
I come to the same subject after two decades of being schooled in the telling, keeping, and conscious breaking of secrets, and hence my reading of such authors as Shattuck and Bok is a rather after‑the‑fact exercise of trying to make sense of myself and my writing‑we are always, as Freud taught us so well, secrets even to ourselves, and so we need others and, even more strangely, our own self‑expressions to understand ourselves. My training in the art of secrecy occurred largely within three Western cultural institutions, all of which focus in different ways on the positive speaking of secrets: the Catholic sacramental practice of confession and spiritual direction, the secular therapeutic discipline of psychoanalysis, and the academic practice of "professing" the truth as one perceives it. In each of these practices, first encountered and carried on, I might add, within the nurturing sacred confines of a Catholic seminary community, I was encouraged to tell all, or almost all. Significantly, the first two disciplines (confession and psychoanalysis) focused, like some moral microscope, on the vagaries, intricacies, and powers of sexuality and their undeniable connections to the spiritual life I found all around me and sensed so strongly working within me. As I will tell the story shortly, to speak and integrate such secrets within my conscious emotional and intellectual lives was to be profoundly challenged, religiously transformed, and physically healed. To speak the secret here was something excruciatingly difficult but also eminently positive. It was about truth.
Still, for all its power and beauty, there were real limits to what could be said within my faith tradition. Like any other identity, religious identities and their attending traditions need boundaries, which often become walls. I thus grew frustrated and sought more freedom to speak and to think. Encouraged by my spiritual mentors in the seminary, I found that freedom within the academy, where one is actively encouraged to say what one thinks, as long as one can support such claims with evidence and a convincing defense of one's method‑that is, how exactly one arrived at one's conclusions. Here is an entire culture that exists, ideally anyway, for the sake of professing the truth, comfortably or uncomfortably.
All three disciplines (spiritual direction, psychoanalysis, and the intellectual life), moreover, were intimately bound up with a fourth esoteric technology of Western cultural history‑the mystical life, that is, the quest for a felt and transformative union with the divine. Etymologically speaking, the mystical (mustikon) is quite literally "the secret," "the hidden." Although it is certainly filled with its own secrets , perhaps one of the defining features of the mystical life is its collapsing of the inside and the outside, a kind of fusion or boundary crossing that recognizes no ultimate differentiation from the rest of the universe, be it naturally or culturally defined. If human identity can develop and survive only through processes of psychic differentiation, here we have an ultimate denial of differentiation and, with it, an irrepressible desire to speak and write secrets, that is, to cross those boundaries and transgress those assumed customs, identities, and protective measures that give security to the ego, all the while affirming both the potential terror and suffering of this process and the power of this most radical of denials‑the denial of (ultimate) difference itself. There can be no secrets in deep communion or unity, for a secret demands at least two separated selves. On this level, at least, the mystical is a kind of complete and troubling, even scandalous transparency
It was this quadruple training‑at once deeply religious and deeply suspicious‑that made my hermeneutical encounters with the published "public secrets" of a Bengali textual corpus virtually inevitable and produced my first book, Kdlis Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna, a psychoanalytically informed study of the erotic mysticism of the Hindu saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836‑1886). But none of these cultural practices‑not confession, not spiritual direction, not psychoanalysis, not Christian mysticism‑prepared me for the cross‑cultural and theoretical complexities of what it would mean to study and write about someone else's secrets (another mystical denial of difference), even if (a) these were not private at all but were in fact published in texts available to quite literally millions of readers, and (b) they would soon become my secrets as well, as the texts transformed my own psyche, body, and life. The heart of the present book is the story of the latter hermeneutical‑mystical process and how it informs my theorizing about the history of mysticism. It is about a kind of manic creative possession, a mildly dissociative trancelike state that was first induced by a hermeneutical encounter with the Bengali texts and out of which I would later think and write and speculate, "speculation" here understood not as a kind of groundless guessing, but as a type of intuitive visionary experience (speculare, "to see") in the necessary mirror (speculum) of the texts as both other and self.
It is difficult for me not to think of my thought as a kind of secret, at once alluring, beautiful, and necessary to tell, and yet also as something somehow to be feared, censored, denied, even slandered. This, after all, is precisely the way my thought has been received (or, more accurately, not received) in some circles. I am conscious, in other words, of participating intimately and historically in the esoteric discourses I set out to study. I am aware of what it feels like not only to reveal a secret but also to become one. I know it is a bold claim, but I nevertheless feel that this total hermeneutical experience of writing about and experiencing a series of secrets can legitimately be called "sacred," for it manifests all the characteristics about which Rudolf Otto wrote so eloquently to give some voice to the "numinous consciousness" of attracting mystery and repelling terror that has defined humanity's encounter with the divine from antiquity' More to the point, this experience has taught me, in a deeply physiological way, about the sense of transcendence and sacrality that arises from revelations of sacred secrets, what Bok calls "intrusions into the sacred" and Georges Bataille, more accurately and traditionally, I think, referred to as transgressions of a taboo, transgressions, he thought, that were integral and necessary to any genuine entrance into the sacred as that mystical continuity or oneness that respects no social code and honors no moral distinction. How closely, then, I can identify with the insight of Don Cupitt, who understands classical mysticism as a kind of "subversive and transgressive writing" performed in order "to write their way and ours to a condition of personal religious happiness. That, anyway, is how it has been for me.
Vishnu on Freud's Desk: A Reader in Psychoanalysis and Hinduism edited by T. G. Vaidyanathan (Editor), Jeffrey J. Kripal (Oxford University Press) traces some of the colonial, postcolonial, and postmodern complexities of psychoanalytical thought as it has been variously applied to Hinduism. From Girindrisekhar Bose's pioneering reflections on the Indian Oedipal wish and the colonial positioning of early psychoanalytic practice in India, to postcolonial cultural criticism and contemporary clinical case studies, the collection spans close to a century of creative, sometimes radical, and always controversial thought about the psychological and theoretical riches of Hinduism.
Ecstasy: Mysticism, Sexual Difference, and the Demands of History
(Religion and Postmodernism) by Amy Hollywood (University of Chicago Press)
The Soul as Virgin Wife: Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart by Amy Hollywood (University of Notre Dame Press)
Straight from the Heart: Reflections from 20th Century Mystics by Dick Ryan (Crossroad) presents writings from Christian (primarily Catholic) spiritual leaders of the last century. In this brief collection, he includes pieces by "official" (i.e., ordained) thinkers such as Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, M. Basil Pennington and Robert Morneau, as well as laypersons like W.B. Yeats and Joyce Rupp. Feminist theologians Joan Chittister and Elizabeth Johnson crop up often. The "mystics" of the title is a bit of a stretch, since the collection is arranged according to themes such as suffering, prayer, justice and faith, and does not typically attempt to describe focus on union but rather spirituality.
Postcolonialism, Feminism and Religious Discourse by Laura E. Donaldson, Pui-Lan Kwok (Routledge) (PAPERBACK) Contributors examine white feminist theology's misappropriations of Native North American women, Chinese footbinding, and veiling by Muslim women, as well as the Jewish emancipation in France, the symbolic dismemberment of black women by rap and sermons, and the potential to rewrite and reclaim canonical stories.
Editors Summary: The interactions among colonialism, gender, and religion constitute some of the most significant and contradictory forces influencing our world today. Although some scholars have addressed "race, gender and sexuality in the colonial contest", and others "the postcolonial Bible, "2 few have seriously engaged all the members of this critical trilogy. These intellectual projects establish crucial connections between religion and colonialism, or gender and colonialism; however, each would greatly benefit from a more expansive critical perspective incorporating all the threads in this intricate web. The importance of the trio informing this anthology is amply demonstrated in the arena of global politics. For example, the rise of religious fundamentalisms in the United States and in formerly colonized countries has negatively impacted the ability of women to use family planning and control their own reproduction, exercise their right to travel, and receive an education. Ironically, women themselves are often key players in the fundamentalist game. According to postcolonial theorist Ania Loomba, in India "women like Sadhvi Rithambara and Uma Bharati have stridently mobilised for Hindu nationalism by invoking fears of Muslim violence. In other words, women are objects as well as subjects of fundamentalist discourses, targets as well as speakers of its most virulent rhetoric.” This example also highlights how, in the larger historical arena, women's intellectual, psychological, and political positions under the regimes of colonialism, gender, and religion have often been contradictory, since women exist both as colonized patriarchal objects and colonizing raceprivileged subjects."
The widespread use of sexual violence as a strategy of conquest and the role of religion in facilitating such violence provides another compelling argument for the importance of colonialism, gender, and religious discourse. Sexual violence as a strategy of North American conquest has been welldocumented, and the legitimation of rape continues in contemporary video games of conquest such as Custer's Revenge. Here, players assume the persona of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer (killed with his men at the battle of Little Big Horn) and receive points each time they rape an Indian woman.' The widespread use of rape by Serbian (Christian) forces against Bosnian (Muslim) women also emerged from the historical crucible of colonialism, gender, and religious discourse. While the media representation of the conflict often reduced it to a simplistic form of "ethnic cleansing," the current conflicts in Bosnia in fact represent a much more complicated reality. The area now known as Bosnia‑Herzegovina has suffered multiple conquests over the centuries, including those by the Roman Empire, Austria‑Hungary, and, in the throes of World War II, the Axis powers, who invaded and dismantled it. However, one of the most important episodes of colonization involved the fifteenthcentury conquest by the Ottoman Empire, since it was during this era that many Slavs converted to Islam. The conflicts in Bosnia consequently embody much more than race hatred; they also manifest overtones of the Crusades, in which triumphalist Christians declared war upon Muslims to ensure the dominance of their theological beliefs. As the editors of Remembering Conquest.: FeministlWomanist Perspectives on Religion, Colonization, and Sexual Violence note, "It is critical that we understand the roots of colonialism, the ways in which sexual violence was and is used to promote and sustain it, and the intersection with religious doctrine, teaching and practice.”
Since the introduction of gender as a category critical to the study of religion, the feminist study of religion in the United States‑done mostly by Euro‑American women‑has been preoccupied with the relationship between culturalreligious traditions and the sex/gender system. Feminist scholars interested in postcolonial studies might address race, gender, and sexuality in the context of colonialism, but ignore the critical importance of religion to these dimensions. And, although a number of books have been published on postcolonial studies of the Bible and religion, they have not included gender as an integral part of their analysis.' Without critical atten
tion to colonial representation and epistemic violence, feminist scholarship in religion has the danger of replicating the colonial gaze in the name of serving a feminist agenda. Likewise, any discussion of colonialism and religion must recognize that gender asymmetry was (and still is) a dominant metaphor for describing the colonizers and the colonized, domination and submission.
The contributors of this multicultural and multireligious anthology explore how postcolonialism and feminism might challenge and transform the fields of religion, ethics, and liberation theologies. They write from different academic backgrounds and cultural heritages: Native American (Cherokee), Chinese, Batswana, Turkish, Jewish, AfricanAmerican, and Euro‑American. In the religious academy, where there are few opportunities for scholars to work across religious traditions, the inclusion of such a diversity of scholars in one volume is a cause for celebration. The coeditors are deeply grateful for the commitment of the contributors, some of whom they did not know before this project, as well as for their solidarity and their early encouragement of this project. Readers will notice that the authors write in different styles and engage a wide range of materials: religious texts, women's literature, field interviews, historical archives, critical theories, and even rap music. Together, they form a mosaic with varying colors and different textures as well as geometrical shapes. Perhaps the strength of the anthology is the fluid manner in which the pieces move throughout a broad range of historical inquiries, anecdotes, and close readings of literature and theory.
We the coeditors of this volume‑Laura Donaldson and Kwok Pui‑lancome from very different social locations and educational backgrounds. We have known one another for several years, collaborating together in professional gatherings and working on projects concerning the implications of postcolonialism for religious and gender studies. Laura is Cherokee and Scotch‑Irish and was trained in the fields of American Indian and English literature', religion, and women's studies. She comes not only from a long line of Cherokee Methodist women whose Christian faith testifies to their acculturation, but is also descended from the Chickamauga band of Cherokee‑so named for their ancestral territory just north of present‑day Atlanta, Georgia ‑who fiercely resisted both the white "civilizers" and their Holy Book. Such contradictory intersections of colonialism, gender, and religion run very deep in Laura's family as well as in Cherokee history. Indeed, Native women often became the special target of missionaries, especially in matrilineal cultures like the Cherokee where family and clan identities are passed from mothers to their children. Isaac Baird, who served at the Odanah, Wisconsin mission of the Presbyterian Church, articulates this strategy in an 1883 letter: "The girls will need the training more than the boys & they will wield a greater influence in the future. If we get the girls, we get the race."e Many Cherokee (and other Native) women did respond positively to the message of Christian workers, but this seldom promoted getting the race." Some used the power of their new positions as Christians to redress the imbalances caused by white contact, while others adapted Christianity to their traditional roles as intermediaries.' At the very least, then, Native women's appropriation of the Christian faith must be seen as attempts to forge a new postcolonial identity out of the "cultural bricolage" available to them in a postcontact world.' However, this colonial context and its material legacies are very different than those experienced by Kwok Pui‑lan.
Pui‑lan prefers to put her family name, Kwok, in front of her given name to honor her Chinese heritage. She was educated in the areas of theology, Chinese studies, gender, culture, and society. Unlike the settler colonialism that Laura experienced, Pui‑lan grew up in Hong Kong where the Chinese, who made up 97 percent of the population, were ruled by the small minority of British colonial officials and their collaborators for 155 years. In 1800 the British Empire consisted of 1.5 million square miles and 20 million people. By 1900 the Victorian Empire was made up of 11 million square miles and about 390 million people. In the 1920s the West controlled almost half of the world's territories and total population." English was the only official language in Hong Kong until 1971, which meant that many people who arrived as refugees after World War 11 could not even read government notices or file official forms. The majority of high school students attended schools in which they had to communicate with their Chinese teachers in English. Puilan experienced firsthand the missionaries' and colonial officials' deployment of Christianity to justify their superiority and facilitate colonial rule. A pioneer in Asian feminist theology, she has critiqued Western imperialism, lifted up the subjugated voices of Asian women, and challenged the complicity of white women in colluding with the colonial stance. With Laura and other feminist scholars from the Third and Fourth Worlds, she has introduced postcolonial theories to the study of the Bible and religion.
Coediting this volume has allowed us to share our different
experiences with colonialism and to learn from our colleagues how postcolonial
theory may be applied to their experiences or fields of studies. Because we
believe that it is important not to elide such differences, the rest of the
introduction will retain our two distinct voices and present our related
perspectives on the uneasy intersections of postcolonialism, feminism, and
religious discourse. The separation of our voices illustrates that these topics
can be broached from vastly different entry points.
The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion by Joseph Campbell, edited by Eugene C. Kennedy (New World Library) A reissued editon--now with a new index--of one of the world-famous scholar's most popular books, delineating his basic understanding of mythology and religion. Focusing and drawing on the interplay between the universals and their localized expression in cultures throughout the world, Campbell leads readers on a search for a new mythology which encourages a oneness of humanity and all creation. Illustrated.
Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor by Joseph Campbell, edited by Eugene C. Kennedy (New World Library) is a compilation of previously uncollected essays and lectures by Joseph Campbell that focus on the Judeo-Christian tradition. Here Campbell explores common religious symbols, reexamining and reinterpreting them in the context of his remarkable knowledge of world mythology. According to Campbell, society often confuses the literal and metaphorical interpretations of religious stories and symbols. In this collection, he eloquently reestablishes these metaphors as a means to enhance spiritual understanding and mystical revelation. With characteristic verve, he ranges from rich storytelling to insightful comparative scholarship. Included is editor Eugene Kennedy's classic interview with Campbell in The New York Times Magazine, which brought the scholar to the public's attention for the first time.
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