Imagine that you meet a very old man who—you eventually realize—knows literally everything. Imagine that he explains for you the great mysteries of life: quantum physics, evolution, God, gravity, light psychic phenomenon, and probability—in a way so simple, so novel, and so compelling that it all fits together and makes perfect sense. What does it feel like to suddenly understand everything?
You may not find the final answer to the big question, but God's Debris might provide the most compelling vision of reality you will ever read. The thought experiment is this: Try to figure out what's wrong with the old man's explanation of reality. Share the book with your smart friends, then discuss it later while enjoying a beverage.
It has no violence or sex, but the ideas are powerful and not appropriate for readers under fourteen.
With publication of The Religion War, millions of long-time fans of Scott Adams' Dilbert cartoons and business bestsellers will have to admit that the literary world is a better place with Adams on the loose spreading new ideas and philosophical conundrums.
Unlike God's Debris, which was principally a dialogue between its two main characters, The Religion War is set several decades in the future when the smartest man in the world steps between international leaders to prevent a catastrophic confrontation between Christianiy and Islam. The parallels between where we are today and where we could be in the near future are clear.
According to Adams, The Religion War targets "bright readers with short attention spans-everyone from lazy students to busy book clubs." But while the book may be a three-hour read, it's packed with concepts that will be discussed long after, including a list of "Questions to Ponder in the Shower" that reinforce the story's purpose of highlighting the most important-yet most ignored-questions in the world.
While attending services and various small group meetings at her local branch of the Vineyard, an evangelical church with hundreds of congregations across the country, Luhrmann sought to understand how some members were able to communicate with God, not just through one-sided prayers but with discernable feedback. Some saw visions, while others claimed to hear the voice of God himself. For these congregants and many other Christians, God was intensely alive. After holding a series of honest, personal interviews with Vineyard members who claimed to have had isolated or ongoing supernatural experiences with God, Luhrmann hypothesized that the practice of prayer could train a person to hear God’s voice—to use one’s mind differently and focus on God’s voice until it became clear. A subsequent experiment conducted between people who were and weren’t practiced in prayer further illuminated her conclusion. For those who have trained themselves to concentrate on their inner experiences, God is experienced in the brain as an actual social relationship: his voice was identified, and that identification was trusted and regarded as real and interactive.
Astute, deeply intelligent, and sensitive, When God Talks Back is a remarkable approach to the intersection of religion, psychology, and science, and the effect it has on the daily practices of the faithful.
From the Hardcover edition.
Gerald G. May, MD, one of the great spiritual teachers and writers of our time, argues that the dark 'shadow' side of the true spiritual life has been trivialised and neglected to our serious detriment. Superficial and naively upbeat spirituality does not heal and enrich the soul. Nor does the other tendency to relegate deep spiritual growth to only mystics and saints. Only the honest, sometimes difficult encounters with what Christian spirituality has called and described in helpful detail as 'the dark night of the soul' can lead to true spiritual wholeness.
May emphasises that the dark night is not necessarily a time of suffering and near despair, but a time of deep transition, a search for new orientation when things are clouded and full of mystery. The dark gives depth, dimension and fullness to the spiritual life.
Newberg and d'Aquili base this revolutionary conclusion on a long-term investigation of brain function and behavior as well as studies they conducted using high-tech imaging techniques to examine the brains of meditating Buddhists and Franciscan nuns at prayer. What they discovered was that intensely focused spiritual contemplation triggers an alteration in the activity of the brain that leads us to perceive transcendent religious experiences as solid and tangibly real. In other words, the sensation that Buddhists call "oneness with the universe" and the Franciscans attribute to the palpable presence of God is not a delusion or a manifestation of wishful thinking but rather a chain of neurological events that can be objectively observed, recorded, and actually photographed.
The inescapable conclusion is that God is hard-wired into the human brain.
In Why God Won't Go Away, Newberg and d'Aquili document their pioneering explorations in the field of neurotheology, an emerging discipline dedicated to understanding the complex relationship between spirituality and the brain. Along the way, they delve into such essential questions as whether humans are biologically compelled to make myths; what is the evolutionary connection between religious ecstasy and sexual orgasm; what do Near Death Experiences reveal about the nature of spiritual phenomena; and how does ritual create its own neurological environment. As their journey unfolds, Newberg and d'Aquili realize that a single, overarching question lies at the heart of their pursuit: Is religion merely a product of biology or has the human brain been mysteriously endowed with the unique capacity to reach and know God?
Blending cutting-edge science with illuminating insights into the nature of consciousness and spirituality, Why God Won't Go Away bridges faith and reason, mysticism and empirical data. The neurological basis of how the brain identifies the "real" is nothing short of miraculous. This fascinating, eye-opening book dares to explore both the miracle and the biology of our enduring relationship with God.
From the Hardcover edition.
Peter Rollins knows one magic trick—now, make sure you watch closely. It has three parts: the Pledge, the Turn, and the Prestige. In Divine Magician, each part comes into play as he explores a radical view of interacting with the world in love.
Rollins argues that the Christian event, reenacted in the Eucharist, is indeed a type of magic trick, one that is echoed in the great vanishing acts performed by magicians throughout the ages. In this trick, a divine object is presented to us (the Pledge), disappears (the Turn), and then returns (the Prestige). But just as the returned object in a classic vanishing act is not really the same object—but another that looks the same—so this book argues that the return of God is not simply the return of what was initially presented, but rather a radical way of interacting with the world. In an effort to unearth the power of Christianity, Rollins uses this framework to explain the mystery of faith that has been lost on the church. In the same vein as Rob Bell’s bestseller Love Wins, this book pushes the boundaries of theology, presenting a stirring vision at the forefront of re-imagined modern Christianity.
As a dynamic speaker as he is in writing, Rollins examines traditional religious notions from a revolutionary and refreshingly original perspective. At the heart of his message is a life lived through profound love. Just perhaps, says Rollins, the radical message found in Christianity might be one that the church can show allegiance to.
In order to unearth this truth, Rollins prescribes a radical and wholesale critique of contemporary Christianity that he calls pyro-theology. It is only as we submit our spiritual practices, religious rituals, and dogmatic affirmations to the flames of fearless interrogation that we come into contact with the reality that Christianity is in the business of transforming our world rather than offering a way of interpreting or escaping it. Belief in the Resurrection means but one thing: Participation in an Insurrection.
"What Pete does in this book is take you to the edge of a cliff where you can see how high you are and how far you would fall if you lost your footing. And just when most writers would kindly pull you back from edge, he pushes you off, and you find yourself without any solid footing, disoriented, and in a bit of a panic…until you realize that your fall is in fact, a form of flying. And it's thrilling."
--Rob Bell, author of Love Wins and Velvet Elvis
"While others labor to save the Church as they know it, Peter Rollins takes an ax to the roots of the tree. Those who have enjoyed its shade will want to stop him, but his strokes are so clean and true that his motive soon becomes clear: this man trusts the way of death and resurrection so much that he has become fearless of religion."
--Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Leaving Church and An Altar in the World
“Rollins writes and thinks like a new Bonhoeffer, crucifying the trappings of religion in order to lay bare a radical, religionless and insurrectional Christianity. A brilliant new voice—an activist, a storyteller and a theologian all in one—and not a moment too soon.”
--John D. Caputo, Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion Emeritus, Syracuse University
“What does it mean when the Son of God cries out, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me’? Brilliantly, candidly, and faithfully, Rollins wrestles here with that question. You may not agree with his answers and conclusions, but you owe it to yourself and to the Church at large to read what he says.” --Phyllis Tickle, author, The Great Emergence
"Excellent thinking and excellent writing! I hope this fine book receives the broad reading it deserves. It will change lives, and our understanding of what religion is all about!"
-- Rohr,O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation; Albuquerque, New Mexico
Fantasy role-playing games do share several functions in common with religion. However, religion—as a socially constructed world of shared meaning—can also be compared to a fantasy role-playing game. In fact, the claims of the moral entrepreneurs, in which they presented themselves as heroes battling a dark conspiracy, often resembled the very games of imagination they condemned as evil. By attacking the imagination, they preserved the taken-for-granted status of their own socially constructed reality. Interpreted in this way, the panic over fantasy-role playing games yields new insights about how humans play and together construct and maintain meaningful worlds.
Laycock’s clear and accessible writing ensures that Dangerous Games will be required reading for those with an interest in religion, popular culture, and social behavior, both in the classroom and beyond.
New to This Edition*Revised and updated with the latest theories, methods, and empirical findings.*Many new research examples.*Restructured with fewer chapters for better “fit” with a typical semester.*More attention to the differences between religion and spirituality*Covers emerging topics: genetics and neurobiology, positive psychology, atheism, and more.
Filled with many examples, Judas Syndrome gives concrete ways to prevent people, even other Christians, from hurting you and the role that faith can play in changing them and helping you avoid the pain that these relationships often bring. Although sometimes we suffer as a result of our own shortcomings and missteps, placing our trust in Christ's message of love provides the gateway to the life God intends for us. In other words, faith can really save us—a faith, however, that is not easily undertaken on a daily basis or one that can be sustained alone.
In this down-to-earth book, Ben Connelly sure-handedly guides us through the intricacies of Yogacara and the richness of the “Thirty Verses.” Dedicating a chapter of the book to each line of the poem, he lets us thoroughly lose ourselves in its depths. His warm and wise voice unpacks and contextualizes its wisdom, showing us how we can apply its ancient insights to our own modern lives, to create a life of engaged peace, harmony, compassion, and joy.
In fourth-century India one of the great geniuses of Buddhism, Vasubandhu, sought to reconcile the diverse ideas and forms of Buddhism practiced at the time and demonstrate how they could be effectively integrated into a single system. This was the Yogacara movement, and it continues to have great influence in modern Tibetan and Zen Buddhism. “Thirty Verses on Consciousness Only,” or “Trimshika,” is the most concise, comprehensive, and accessible work by this revered figure.
Vasubandhu’s “Thirty Verses” lay out a path of practice that integrates the most powerful of Buddhism’s psychological and mystical possibilities: Early Buddhism’s practices for shedding afflictive emotional habit and the Mahayana emphasis on shedding divisive concepts, the path of individual liberation and the path of freeing all beings, the path to nirvana and the path of enlightenment as the very ground of being right now. Although Yogacara has a reputation for being extremely complex, the “Thirty Verses” distills the principles of these traditions to their most practical forms, and this book follows that sense of focus; it goes to the heart of the matter—how do we alleviate suffering through shedding our emotional knots and our sense of alienation?
This is a great introduction to a philosophy, a master, and a work whose influence reverberates throughout modern Buddhism.
Tao Jiang argues convincingly that such questions are inherently problematic because they frame their interpretations of the Buddhist notion largely in terms of responses to modern psychology. He proposes that, if we are to understand alayavijnana properly and compare it with the unconscious responsibly, we need to change the way the questions are posed so that alayavijnana and the unconscious can first be understood within their own contexts and then recontextualized within a dialogical setting. In so doing, certain paradigmatic assumptions embedded in the original frameworks of Buddhist and modern psychological theories are exposed. Jiang brings together Xuan Zang s alayavijnana and Freud s and Jung s unconscious to focus on what the differences are in the thematic concerns of the three theories, why such differences exist in terms of their objectives, and how their methods of theorization contribute to these differences.
Contexts and Dialogue puts forth a fascinating, erudite, and carefully argued presentation of the subliminal mind. It proposes a new paradigm in comparative philosophy that examines the what, why, and how in navigating the similarities and differences of philosophical systems through contextualization and recontextualization."
Timothy Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, addresses the frequent doubts that skeptics, and even ardent believers, have about religion. Using literature, philosophy, real-life conversations, and potent reasoning, Keller explains how the belief in a Christian God is, in fact, a sound and rational one. To true believers he offers a solid platform on which to stand their ground against the backlash to religion created by the Age of Skepticism. And to skeptics, atheists, and agnostics, he provides a challenging argument for pursuing the reason for God.
Timothy Keller's latest book, God's Wisdom for Navigating Life, will be available from Viking in Fall 2017.
In an integrated tour de force, Wandering God explores the meaning of Paleolithic art, the origins of social inequality, the nature of cross-cultural child rearing, the relationship between women and agriculture, and the world view of present-day nomadic peoples, as well as the emergence of “paradoxical” consciousness in the philosophical writings of the twentieth century.
Prayer...meditation...speaking in tongues. What do these spiritual activities share and how do they differ? Why do some people believe in God, while others embrace atheism? From the ordinary to the extraordinary, beliefs give meaning to the mysteries of life. They motivate us, provide us with our individual uniqueness, and ultimately change the structure and function of our brains.
In Born to Believe, Andrew Newberg, MD, and Mark Waldman reveal -- for the very first time -- how our complex views, memories, superstitions, morals, and beliefs are created by the neural activities of the brain. Supported by groundbreaking original research, they explain how our brains construct our deepest convictions and fondest assumptions about reality and the world around us. Using science, psychology, and religion, the authors offer recommendations for exercising your brain in order to develop a more life-affirming, flexible range of attitudes. Knowing how the brain builds meaning, value, spirituality, and truth into your life will change forever the way you look at yourself and the world.
New to This Edition
*Two chapters on cross-cultural issues.
*Chapters on spiritual goals, emotional values, and mindfulness.
*Reflects significant theoretical and empirical developments in the field.
*Many new authors and extensively revised chapters.
*Robust index amplifies the volume's usefulness as a reference tool.
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title
In recent years there has been a surge of interest in trauma, trauma theory, and its application to the biblical text. This collection of essays explores the usefulness of using trauma theory as a lens through which to read the biblical texts. Each of the essays explores the concept of how trauma might be defined and applied in biblical studies. Using a range of different but intersection theories of trauma, the essays reflect on the value of trauma studies for offering new insights into the biblical text. Including contributions from biblical scholars, as well as systematic and pastoral theologians, this book provides a timely critical reflection on this emerging discussion.
Features:Implications for how reading the biblical text through the lens of trauma can be fruitful for contemporary appropriation of the biblical text in pastoral and theological pursuits Articles that integrate hermeneutics of trauma with classical historical-critical methods Essays that address the relationship between individual and collective trauma
Focusing on the Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam, Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement, and a number of congregations of Ethiopian Hebrews, Judith Weisenfeld argues that the appeal of these groups lay not only in the new religious opportunities membership provided, but also in the novel ways they formulated a religio-racial identity. Arguing that members of these groups understood their religious and racial identities as divinely-ordained and inseparable, the book examines how this sense of self shaped their conceptions of their bodies, families, religious and social communities, space and place, and political sensibilities.
Weisenfeld draws on extensive archival research and incorporates a rich array of sources to highlight the experiences of average members. The book demonstrates that the efforts by members of these movements to contest conventional racial categorization contributed to broader discussions in black America about the nature of racial identity and the collective future of black people that still resonate today.
theory" of religion - that belief in God is merely a product of man's
desire for security - Professor Vitz argues that psychoanalysis actually
provides a more satisfying explanation for atheism. Disappointment in
one's earthly father, whether through death, absence, or mistreatment,
frequently leads to a rejection of God.
A biographical survey of influential atheists of the past four centuries
shows that this "defective father hypothesis" provides a consistent
explanation of the "intense atheism" of these thinkers. A survey of the
leading defenders of Christianity over the same period confirms the
hypothesis, finding few defective fathers. Vitz concludes with an
intriguing comparison of male and female atheists and a consideration of
other psychological factors that can contribute to atheism.
Professor Vitz does not argue that atheism is psychologically
determined. Each man, whatever his experiences, ultimately chooses to
accept God or reject him. Yet the cavalier attribution of religious
faith to irrational, psychological needs is so prevalent that an
exposition of the psychological factors predisposing one to atheism is
Brain, Consciousness, and God is a constructive critique of neuroscientific research on human consciousness and religious experience. An adequate epistemology—a theory of knowledge—is needed to address this topic, but today there exists no consensus on what human knowing means, especially regarding nonmaterial realities. Daniel A. Helminiak turns to twentieth-century theologian and philosopher Bernard Lonergan’s breakthrough analysis of human consciousness and its implications for epistemology and philosophy of science. Lucidly summarizing Lonergan’s key ideas, Helminiak applies them to questions about science, psychology, and religion. Along with Lonergan, eminent theorists in consciousness studies and neuroscience get deserved detailed attention. Helminiak demonstrates the reality of the immaterial mind and, addressing the Cartesian “mind-body problem,” explains how body and mind could make up one being, a person. Human consciousness is presented not only as awareness of objects, but also as self-presence, the self-conscious experience of human subjectivity, a spiritual reality. Lonergan’s analyses allow us to say exactly what “spiritual” means, and it need have nothing to do with God.
“This book makes a seminal contribution to the psychology of religion and is on the cutting edge of the growing interest in the spiritual dimensions of human beings. Daniel Helminiak writes knowledgeably about neurobiology, psychotherapy, philosophy, and even psychedelic experience. His chapter on the ‘God’ concept is a tour de force and worth the price of the entire book. Once I started this book, I could barely put it down.” — Stanley Krippner, Saybrook University
“This is an amazing book. It is both lucid and brilliant. Deeply informed by Bernard Lonergan’s systematic treatment of human knowing as a composite of experience, understanding, and judgment, Daniel Helminiak masterfully places study of spirituality within the self-transcending dimension of the human mind and in so doing differentiates and interrelates neuroscience, psychology, spirituality, and theology.” — Ralph W. Hood, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
“In this book, magnificently and comprehensively Helminiak struggles toward an integrated perspective on the unfolding of the universe. Focused on humanity, his topic is actually the origins and dynamics of human yearning. As best he can, he meets contemporary theorists on their own ground and repeatedly nudges their thinking toward a more coherent position. The result cuts both ways. It challenges students of Lonergan who underappreciate natural and social processes, and it challenges natural and social scientists who seek a science of mind while subtly sidestepping their inquiring selves. Yet Helminiak presents only a seedling. Its full bloom would be Lonergan’s new, global, omnidisciplinary science, envisaged in Method. It does, indeed, qualify as Patricia Churchland’s sought ‘real humdinger of a solution.’” — Philip McShane, author of Randomness, Statistics and Emergence
“Intense, yet lucidly clear, this work by Daniel Helminiak provides a sequel to Michael H. McCarthy’s The Crisis of Philosophy. Helminiak turns a laser on the crisis and not only exposes significant counterpositions, but also offers a solution using the intellectual epistemology of Bernard Lonergan. Worth a read by anyone seeking real explanation rather than mere description, this work invites readers to be weaned from picture-thinking to claim the reality of their intelligence, whatever their field.” — Carla Mae Streeter, Aquinas Institute of Theology
The Varieties of Religious Experience is certainly the most notable of all books in the field of the psychology of religion and probably destined to be the most influential [one] written on religion in the twentieth century' said Walter Houston Clark in Psychology Today. The book was an immediate bestseller upon its publication in June 1902. Reflecting the pluralistic views of psychologist-turned-philosopher William James, it posits that individual religious experiences, rather than the tenets of organized religions, form the backbone of religious life. James's discussion of conversion, repentance, mysticism, and hopes of reward and fears of punishment in the hereafter--as well as his observations on the religious experiences of such diverse thinkers as Voltaire, Whitman, Emerson, Luther, Tolstoy, and others--all support his thesis. 'James' characteristic humor, his ability to put down the pretentious and to be unpretentious, and his willingness to take some risks in his choices of anecdotal data or provocative theories are all apparent in the book,' noted Professor Martin E. Marry. 'A reader will come away with more reasons to raise new questions than to feel that old ones have been resolved.'
Whether readers are devout believers or distant seekers, The Idolatry of God shows that we must lay down our certainties and honestly admit our doubts to identify with Jesus. Rollins purposely upsets fundamentalist certainty in order to open readers up to a more loving, active manifestation of Christ’s love.
In contrast to the usual understanding of the “Good News” as a message offering satisfaction and certainty, Rollins argues for a radical and shattering alternative. He explores how the Good News actually involves embracing the idea that we can’t be whole, that life is difficult, and that we are in the dark. Showing how God has traditionally been approached as a product that will render us complete, remove our suffering, and reveal the answers, he introduces an incendiary approach to faith that invites us to joyfully embrace our brokenness, resolutely face our unknowing, and courageously accept the difficulties of existence. Only then, he argues, can we truly rob death of its sting and enter into the fullness of life.
Dr. Lloyd explores the esoteric side of Carl Jung and reveals the connections between Jung’s pivotal theory of individuation, i.e. the journey to wholeness, and the powerful, visionary myths told by the pioneers of the psyche, the Gnostics. He details what happens to a person who is on the road to wholeness, how the person will change, and how a new divine-human identity will be born into the world as a result of undertaking this transformational odyssey.
-KIRKUS DISCOVERIES Review -
Did Carl Jung’s principles of psychology have Gnostic origins? A Marine Corps Ph.D. explores the complex mystical possibilities.
Lloyd splits his expansive hypothesis of the soul’s journey into three vital steps (preparation, undertaking and re-birth) in discovering Jung’s “path to wholeness.” He credits Jung with saving his life by way of unlocking his imagination (the soul’s voice) and spiritual mindset. The author familiarizes readers with the Gnostic religious movement, practitioners of an intensely spiritual inner exploration, who believed that humans are not bound to experiences solely of the body and mind. His literary gift to Jung is these comparative ruminations, all exuding a great amount of imagination and provocative thought. Running parallel to the author’s spiritually progressive interests is his adventuresome interaction with and “imaginal dog” named Gold, who discovers two seeds of knowledge. The first rediscovers the “spark of divine life,” whereby humans are one and the same with God, and the second amplifies Jung’s individuation theory that the human ego must relate to the unconscious mind to achieve psychological health. Unerringly throughout his narrative, Lloyd grafts Gnostic myths with Jungian wisdom. He focuses on the psychic creator and “king of the material world” Demiurge in association with second-century Gnostic visionary Valentinus, whose tragic myth of Sophia tells of a restless female deity who travels outside of herself searching for wholeness rather than looking inward, and her ultimate repentance. Comparatively, Jung also writes of humans who restrict themselves to their five senses rather than tapping into the core strength of their imaginative visions where “uncanny experiences” might spring forth. As Lloyd (and Gold) survey principles of higher consciousness, the self, the transformative life-cycle process, and the concluding Syrian lyrical myth “Song of the Pearl” as they are juxtaposed against Jung’s theories, the author also cites Gnostic challenges to contemporary religious beliefs as in the re-imagined genesis of Jesus of Nazareth. Most interestingly, Lloyd inserts Jung into his narrative to quiz his arbiters as to whether they have the “desire to discover the mystery” of their existence.
Unfiltered hokum for some, but those who are open to it will find much-needed nourishment and direction for their searching souls.
--Nielsen Business Media, 770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 646-654-7277 fax 646-654-4706 email@example.com
But man, according to George E. Vaillant, M.D., is great. In Spiritual Evolution, Dr. Vaillant lays out a brilliant defense not of organized religion but of man’s inherent spirituality. Our spirituality, he shows, resides in our uniquely human brain design and in our innate capacity for emotions like love, hope, joy, forgiveness, and compassion, which are selected for by evolution and located in a different part of the brain than dogmatic religious belief. Evolution has made us spiritual creatures over time, he argues, and we are destined to become even more so. Spiritual Evolution makes the scientific case for spirituality as a positive force in human evolution, and he predicts for our species an even more loving future.
Vaillant traces this positive force in three different kinds of “evolution”: the natural selection of genes over millennia, of course, but also the cultural evolution within recorded history of ideas about the value of human life, and the development of spirituality within the lifetime of each individual. For thirty-five years, Dr. Vaillant directed Harvard’s famous longitudinal study of adult development, which has followed hundreds of men over seven decades of life. The study has yielded important insights into human spirituality, and Dr. Vaillant has drawn on these and on a range of psychological research, behavioral studies, and neuroscience, and on history, anecdote, and quotation to produce a book that is at once a work of scientific argument and a lyrical meditation on what it means to be human.
Spiritual Evolution is a life’s work, and it will restore our belief in faith as an essential human striving.
Though Spiritual Emotions is rigorous in its focus on the inner structure of Christian character, it is nonetheless readable and is laced with many narrative examples. The book will be immensely useful for Christian ethicists, psychologists, pastors, and counselors.
Contributors discuss how a “good death” is conceived within the major religious traditions of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Chinese religion, and Aboriginal spirituality. A variety of real-world examples are presented in case studies of a Buddhist hospice center in Thailand, Ugandan approaches to dying with HIV/AIDS, Punjabi extended-family hospice care, and pediatric palliative care. The work sheds new light on the significance of religious belief and practice at the end of life, at the many forms religious understanding can take, and at the spiritual pain that so often accompanies the physical pain of the dying person.
Why We Dance introduces a philosophy of bodily becoming that posits bodily movement as the source and telos of human life. Within this philosophy, dance appears as an activity that humans evolved to do as the enabling condition of their best bodily becoming. Weaving theoretical reflection together with accounts of lived experience, this book positions dance as a catalyst in the development of the brains, compassion, ritual proclivities, and ecological adaptability characteristic of human beings. Aligning with trends in new materialism, affect theory, and feminist philosophy, as well as advances in dance and religious studies, this book argues that dancing has a vital role to play in reversing the trajectory of ecological self-destruction along which human civilization is racing.
The book of Numbers is the narrative of a great failure. What should have been for the Israelites a brief journey from Mount Sinai to the Holy Land becomes a forty-year death march. Both before and after the devastating report of the Spies, the narrative centers on the people’s desire to return to Egypt, to undo the miraculous work of the Exodus. At its heart are speeches of complaint and lament, expressing a profound existential skepticism. But by contrast, in the narrative of the book of Numbers that is found in mystical and Hasidic sources, the generation of the wilderness emerges as one of extraordinary spiritual experience, receivers of the Torah to the fullest extent, fed on miracles and nurtured directly by God: a generation of ecstatic faith, human partners in an unprecedented conversation with the Deity. Drawing on kabbalistic sources, the Hasidic commentators on the book of Numbers depict a people who transcend prudent considerations in order to follow God into the wilderness, where their spiritual yearning comes to full expression.
This view of the wilderness history invites us into a different kind of listening to the many cries of distrust, lament, and resentment that issue from the Israelites throughout the book of Numbers. Is there a way to integrate this narrative of dark murmurings, of obsessive fantasies of return to Egypt, with the celebration of a love-intoxicated wilderness discourse? The question touches not only on the language the Israelites speak but also on the very nature of human utterance. Who are these people? Who are we who listen to them? What effect does the cumulative trauma of slavery, the miracles of Exodus, the revelation at Sinai, have on a nation that is beginning to speak? In Bewilderments, one of the most admired biblical commentators at work today posits fascinating answers to these questions through the magnificent literary, scholarly, and psychological analysis of the text that is her trademark.
From the Hardcover edition.