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From the invocation to Aphrodite in fr. 1, the gods are a constant force in the world evoked in Sappho’s poetry. Chapter 15 of The Cambridge Companion to Sappho examines cultic and religious presences from a literary point of view.
This article traces the evolution of a kabbalistic prayer supplication that was designed to purify male Jews from pollution caused by improper seminal emission. In doing so, it focuses on the metaphysical rationale behind it, its function, and its metamorphosis from a highly technical practice into a mainstream devotional practice. It addresses how notions of sexual pollution (qeri) were contextualized in Lurianic Kabbalah and how they were later embedded in kabbalistic manuals and prayer books. Furthermore, the article examines Jewish-Christian and inner- Jewish debates that emerged in connection with the effects of spilling semen in vain. Special attention is paid to possible social factors that may have impacted the increased anxiety about male bodily fluids and “misguided” desires. In addition to the available research on the theological and general historical background of the prohibition of wasting seed, the following analysis offers a microhistory of this short yet highly influential text.
This chapter considers how the English Reformation was, or, mostly, was not recalled in official liturgical documents. The first section surveys the evolution of calendars of saints from the 1530s to the version that became fixed in the Book of Common Prayer from 1562 onwards, which included a great many ancient and medieval commemorations but none from later than the thirteenth century, and cites alternative commemorative models which Tudor regimes could have embraced but chose not to. It then discusses why the Book of Common Prayer so pointedly ignored the upheavals of the Reformation, unlike the Scottish Book of Common Order, arguing that this reflects the need to unite a bitterly divided nation through ‘common prayer’ which was also an act of oblivion. The final section traces how a new myth of the English Reformation was created by occasional services of national prayer during Elizabeth I’s reign, a myth in which the Reformation’s central event was Elizabeth’s own accession, providentially delivering her people from Mary Tudor’s tyranny. This myth faded from the liturgy with the queen’s death, to be replaced by a new liturgical emphasis on popish cruelty based around a new commemoration.
This chapter asks where and how Rome (and, by extension, polemics self-consciously characterized as reactions against Rome) figures in efforts to determine what the living owe to the dead, and what the dead can do for the living. Latin occupies a controlling position within this inquiry; so, too, do texts that cast the world of the living as the home of the dead; so, finally, do Reformation-era debates about the soteriological stakes of praying for the dead. These topics span a period of time in which Rome is the gravitational centre of a sequence of massive upheavals in vernacular piety and attendant debates about the relationship between the living and the dead. The chapter argues that interpreting these debates as facets of the fact of Rome alerts us to the role that the human voice plays in probing the limits of mortality and the nature of the human as such.
Religious concerns, manifested in thought and behaviour, have a complex, bidirectional and sometimes conceptually overlapping relationship with mental health and mental disorder. Psychiatry, concerning itself with what is measurable in research, and with the relief of distress in clinical practice, has a different perspective on these complex interrelationships than does theology or religion. That which is transcendent, and therefore not measurable, is often important to patients, and sometimes distress may (theologically) be a sign of human well-being. The giving of careful attention to transcendence and distress may variously be conceived of as prayer, religious coping or clinical care. Applications of research to clinical practice, addressing as they do a sensitive and controversial boundary between psychiatry and religion, must therefore be patient centred and culturally sensitive.
Kant is critical of many of the practices of Christianity in his time. But when we appreciate the dynamic relation between rational and revealed religion as Kant conceives them, the apparent opposition becomes more questionable and raises more questions than it answers. Kant’s project in the Religion bears important affinities with the religious philosophy of Moses Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn’s philosophy of church and state and their relation involve a number of radical proposals expressive of Enlightenment religious consciousness. Mendelssohn’s concept of enlightened Judaism bears interesting comparison to Kant’s enlightened reflections on Christianity. Mendelssohn defends a form of evidentialism even more radical that Clifford’s. He also defends a conception of the freedom of religious conscience that inspires Kant’s treatment of that topic in part four of the Religion. Conscience is an important theme in Kant’s moral philosophy, which has special application to religious conscience and the freedom of conscience Kant and Mendelssohn both defend.
In an earlier article we reviewed the latest research on the relationship between religious involvement and mental health, the effects of religiosity on mental health and well-being over time and the impact of religious interventions. Here we focus on clinical applications that may be useful to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. We discuss general clinical applications relevant to all patients (e.g. taking a spiritual history, supporting/encouraging religious beliefs, referring to clergy), violations of clinician–patient boundaries and the need to ensure that religious/spiritual interventions are patient-centred. We describe evidence-based religious interventions and how to identify appropriate patients for this approach. Finally, we explore situations in which religious beliefs and practices may be a problem, not a resource, and make recommendations on how to address such cases. Case vignettes illustrate clinical situations that mental health professionals are likely to encounter. Although the focus is on the North American context, we note how practice and culture in the UK may differ.
All religions describe spiritual experience as pleasant, and the goal of the religious pursuit as profoundly joyful. But many religions also condemn sensory pleasures and the desire for objects of pleasure. In this book, Ariel Glucklich resolves this apparent contradiction by showing how religious practices that instill self-control and discipline transform one type of pleasure into the pleasures of mastery and play. Using historical data and psychological analysis, he details how the rituals, mystical practices, moral teachings, and sacred texts of the world's religions act as psychological instruments that induce well-being. Glucklich also shows that in promoting joy and pleasure, religion also strengthens social bonds and enhances an individual's pursuit of meaning.
This chapter explores when the government’s religious speech violates the EstablishmentClause, which commands that the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” It examines how courts and commentators have identified at least three different approaches to this question. Under the noncoercion principle, we focus on the effects of the government’s religious, specifically asking whether it coerces listeners’ religious belief or practice. Under the nonendorsement principle, we ask whether the government’s speech endorses religion in ways that communicate a message of exclusion to nonadherents. Finally, under the neutrality principle, we turn to the government’s purposes, asking whether the government seeks to advance religion through its speech. The chapter then applies these approaches to a range of problems involving the government’s prayers, religious displays, and its statements that reflect religious animus. It closes by briefly considering when constitutional challenges to the government’s speech are justiciable—that is, when the federal courts have the constitutional power to decide them—a question to which later chapters will return.
This chapter examines to what extent the personality and teaching of Jesus influenced his disciples to continue his cause post Easter. Jesus was a man of compassion and authority. In contrast to the prophet John, he was a healer, and a highly successful one. His championing of the ‘love command’, the second commandment, was a legacy inherited by the early church as evidenced by both Paul and James’ teaching. He is remembered for ministering to the marginalized, the less favoured in Judean society, which included the physically and mentally infirm, and the poor, and sat down at table with them. Jesus’ prayer life underpinned his mission. He encouraged his disciples to pray to God as their Father, just as he did, and with absolute trust. The Gospel portrayal of Jesus’ inner life is reinforced by the fact that both Acts and the canonical Epistle of James bear witness to his emphasis on prayer. Moreover, James demonstrates the reality, importance, and individuality of Jesus’ wisdom teaching, something to be treasured and emulated. Vitally, this teaching on wisdom and especially prayer primed the disciples for the resurrection appearances, and sustained them in the establishment of the early church.
Aleksei Shakhmatov proved over a century ago that the Rus Primary Chronicle combines two separate traditions about Prince Vladimir’s conversion: one about a Greek philosopher who travels to Kiev and another about the prince’s baptism following the siege of Cherson. The problem that Shakhmatov never treated, however, was why these two passages were redacted together in the first place. Chapter 5 examines this problem and argues that the redactions were made for liturgical reasons so that the chronicle would show Prince Vladimir establishing Christianity in Kiev much like the Byzantine rite shows ‘the apostle Constantine’ establishing it in the Roman Empire. The prince does precisely those things that the sainted emperor does in the hymnography: he converts because of a miracle and conquers his enemies with the ‘image of the Cross’. A detailed parsing of the liturgical elements reveals, moreover, that Vladimir imitates the deeds of Constantine in a rather unexpected way: he performs the liturgical roles prescribed for a bishop during the celebration of the divine liturgy. This discovery allows for the provocative new hypothesis that the Rus Primary Chronicle—when understood in its native liturgical context—actually depicts Prince Vladimir as the first bishop of Rus.
The strong eschatological vein portrayed in Jesus’ teaching raises questions concerning the nature and degree of instability being experienced by the inhabitants of Galilee and Judea. This chapter evaluates the documentary evidence for discontent at the time of Jesus, against a backdrop of foreign invasions and conquests over five hundred years. There is substantial evidence that there was discontent among the people: the cumulative evidence from Josephus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, certain apocalypses, and the Evangelists, especially the literarily distinct Gospels of Mark and John, supports this. After the Feeding of the Five Thousand clearly a large crowd wanted Jesus as their leader, even their king, and tried to coerce him into this, but he was not interested. His focus was on God and the implementation of his kingdom through discipleship. As an apocalyptical and eschatological prophet Jesus believed that God’s rule was in the process of happening, and he is remembered as warning about judgement to come for the unrepentant. His ministry centred on the welfare of the poor, and their inclusion in the coming kingdom.
This chapter, on beauty, explores the desirability and splendor of creatures as a participation in divine beauty and goodness. It is, at heart, an exploration of what to love, and how to love it. In the words of an ancient prayer, the message is one of loving God 'above all things, and in all things'. As a contrasting position, we consider the vision of the Swedish Lutheran theologian Anders Nygren. Unlike his appeal for us to sever love for God from love for creatures, the vision in this chapter is integrative. The tendency is considered, all the same, for human waywardness in how we love, and the order of our loving. While the reality of sin and the need for restraint are recognised, the characteristics of a 'participatory spirituality' are seen not to be founded on denial or rejection: what Martin Buber calls one of 'subtraction ... or reduction'. The focus for the chapter is for the most part what could be called the beauty of goodness. It concludes with a discussion of the participatory character of aesthetic beauty.
The final chapters of this book look at how a participatory outlook can inform and has informed a vision of the world and what it means to live, act, pray, and seek God in it. This, the first of these chapters, considers knowledge and knowing in participatory terms. Knowledge is seen as a participation of the knower in the known, or a sharing from the known to the knower. This undergirds a 'realist' epistemology, in that knowing rests on the reality of the thing that is known. That said, it also stresses the creaturehood and particularity of the knower and the manner of knowing: that which is known comes to be in the knower in the manner of the knower, whether we are talking about our knowledge of an animal, of a plant, or of God. In the case of God, most of all, the knower never exhausts the depths of what is known. That also applies, however, although to a different degree, in the knowledge of even mundane things, since their deepest reality is a participation in God, which confers a creaturely form of inexhaustibility. In these ways, much of this chapter is an exploration of 'intra-finite participation': about how one creature participates in, or donates to, another. It closes with a discussion of the relation between reason and revelation.
This article explores the development of domestic devotion in the Georgian Church of England through an examination of the manuals of prayer produced and circulated for both personal and family use throughout the eighteenth century. Alongside more well-known works, including Edmund Gibson’s Family Devotion and Robert Nelson’s Companion for the Festivals and Fasts, it pays attention to the diverse material provided for private and household devotion and its relationship to The Book of Common Prayer. The article highlights the key themes that were expressed through this literature, the spirituality that it fostered, and the sources on which it drew. It reveals how greater awareness of this material can deepen our understanding of how Georgian Anglicans prayed and what they were encouraged to pray for.
This paper shows how contemporary believers are negotiating a new identity of Islamic piety in Bulgarian Muslim communities. Driven by communal memory of repression and contemporary Islamophobia, Bulgarian Muslims have created communities of practice (Wenger 1998), participatory groups that share a common interest in learning more about their faith. Communities function on multiple levels: there are small pockets of Islamic activity at the local level, and at a broader level, an imagined community of Bulgarian-speaking Muslims connected to an imagined global Islamic community, the ummah. The practices examined here include face-to-face activities, such as learning to read the Qur'an and prayers in Arabic, learning Islamic principles and practice, and talking about faith in mosques and homes in Bulgaria. This paper also examines virtual practices, such as discussing faith on social media. The article focuses on women's and girls’ Qur'an reading groups and discussions about wearing hijab, and it examines an online mixed-gender discussion of daily prayers. Such grassroots practice of Islam fosters a newly articulate and participatory version of religion, embracing and encouraging believers’ literacy and knowledge, activism, and agency. The mutual goals, repertoires, and activities of this community of practice create a sense of commonality and cohesiveness, while leaving room for some diversity of focus.
A typological reading allows us to see that Margaret's early-medieval Latin passio, the Mombritius version upon which most later vernacular versions of her popular legend ultimately drew, is a tightly structured figural meditation on the theme of baptism and the sacraments of initiation. Examination of the prayers, the liturgically allusive gestures, and the symbolic elements of the whole narrative reveals a powerful female figure who “presides” over her own ordeal and with her prayers transforms the instruments of torture into baptisms by blood, fire, and water. This narrative's deep structure may offer further insight into Margaret's appeal as a patroness of childbirth.
This article focuses on Karl Barth's mature doctrine of baptism, as it is developed in the final part-volume of the Church Dogmatics. Published in 1967 (English translation in 1969) as a fragment of the ethics of the doctrine of reconciliation, Barth's theology of baptism is not without its controversy. Among the critiques that the baptism fragment has generated, one of the most significant concerns is over its presentation of the relation between divine agency and human agency. The formal division in the baptism fragment (and its sharp distinction between ‘Spirit baptism’ and ‘water baptism’) is taken to imply an uncharacteristic separation of divine agency and human agency, which renders his doctrine of baptism inconsistent with other areas of his thought. The argument proposed in this article, however, is that better clarity as to what Barth is theologically up to in the baptism fragment can be gained by reading his mature theology of baptism in connection with his theology of prayer. Barth's theology of prayer is rich and extensive. Although very present across all of his writings, his thinking on prayer (and indeed the Church Dogmatics itself) culminates in an intriguing set of meditations on the petitions of the Lord's Prayer. Although unfinished, these lectures on prayer were published posthumously as The Christian Life in 1976 (English translation 1981). Together with his doctrine of baptism and his unwritten doctrine of the Lord's Supper, the finished lectures on prayer would have formed the ethics of reconciliation. Importantly, Barth insists that baptism and the Lord's Supper were to be understood not only in the context of prayer but actually as prayer, as ‘invocation’. Rooted in the motif of ‘correspondence’, which is deployed at a number of key points throughout the Church Dogmatics, Barth's theology of invocation is based on a highly participative account of the divine–human relation: divine agency and human agency ‘correspond’ in the crucible of prayer. From the perspective provided by his writings on prayer, invocation and the motif of the ‘correspondence’ of divine and human agency, this article revisits the critique that Barth unduly separates divine and human agency in the baptism fragment.
Berber in the Sahara and southern Morocco, and several West African languages including Soninké, Mandinka and Songhay, all refer to the five Islamic daily prayers using terms not derived from their usual Arabic names, and showing striking mutual similarities. The motivation behind these names has not hitherto been explained. An examination of Islamic sources reveals that many correspond to terms attested within Arabic from an early period but which have passed out of use elsewhere. Others, with a more limited distribution, reflect transfer from a time-keeping system widely attested among Berber-speaking oases of the northern Sahara. These results demonstrate that the variant prayer terminologies attested in the ḥadith reflect popular usages that were still commonplace at the time when North Africa was conquered, and underscore the conservatism of non-Arabic Islamic religious terminology in and around the Sahara.