Drawing on the work of psychologists Walter Mischel and Yuichi Shoda, Nancy E. Snow argues that the social psychological experiments that philosophical situationists rely on look at the wrong kinds of situations to test for behavioral consistency. Rather than looking at situations that are objectively similar, researchers need to compare situations that have similar meanings for the subject. When this is done, subjects exhibit behavioral consistencies that warrant the attribution of enduring traits, and virtues are a subset of these traits. Virtue can therefore be empirically grounded and virtue ethics has nothing to fear from philosophical situationism.
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.
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
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.
Published in association with the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School based at the University of Southern California.
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.
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 shapedtheir 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.
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.
"These compact vigorous essays constitute Dr. Jung's most sustained interpretation of the religious function in individual experience."-Journal of Social Philosophy
For centuries scholars and rabbis have wrestled with the biblical narrative, attempting to answer the questions that arise from a plain reading of the text. In The Murmuring Deep, Avivah Zornberg informs her literary analysis of the text with concepts drawn from Freud, Winnicott, Laplanche, and other psychoanalytic thinkers to give us a new understanding of the desires and motivations of the men and women whose stories form the basis of the Bible. Through close readings of the biblical and midrashic texts, Zornberg makes a powerful argument for the idea that the creators of the midrashic commentary, the medieval rabbinic commentators, and the Hassidic commentators were themselves on some level aware of the complex interplay between conscious and unconscious levels of experience and used this knowledge in their interpretations.
In her analysis of the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah, Abraham, Rebecca, Isaac, Joseph and his brothers, Ruth, and Esther–how they communicated with the world around them, with God, and with the various parts of their selves–Zornberg offers fascinating insights into the interaction between consciousness and unconsciousness. In discussing why God has to “seduce” Adam into entering the Garden of Eden or why Jonah thinks he can hide from God by getting on a ship, Zornberg enhances our appreciation of the Bible as the foundational text in our quest to understand what it means to be human.
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.
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 book, Andrew Newberg explores the latest findings of neurotheology, the multidisciplinary field linking neuroscience with religious and spiritual phenomena. He investigates some of the most controversial—and potentially transformative—implications of a neurotheological approach for the truth claims of religion and our understanding of minds and brains. Newberg leads readers on a tour through key intersections of neuroscience and theology, including the potential evolutionary basis of religion; the psychology of religion, including mental health and brain pathology; the neuroscience of myths, rituals, and mystical experiences; how studies of altered states of consciousness shed new light on the mind-brain relationship; and what neurotheology can tell us about free will. When brain science and religious experience are considered together in an integrated approach, Newberg shows, we might come closer to a fuller understanding of the deepest questions.
How do trances, visions, prayer, satori, and other mystical experiences “work”? What induces and defines them? Is there a scientific explanation for religious mysteries and transcendent meditation? John Horgan investigates a wide range of fields—chemistry, neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, theology, and more—to narrow the gap between reason and mystical phenomena. As both a seeker and an award-winning journalist, Horgan consulted a wide range of experts, including theologian Huston Smith, spiritual heir to Joseph Campbell; Andrew Newberg, the scientist whose quest for the “God module” was the focus of a Newsweek cover story; Ken Wilber, prominent transpersonal psychologist; Alexander Shulgin, legendary psychedelic drug chemist; and Susan Blackmore, Oxford-educated psychologist, parapsychology debunker, and Zen practitioner. Horgan explores the striking similarities between “mystical technologies” like sensory deprivation, prayer, fasting, trance, dancing, meditation, and drug trips. He participates in experiments that seek the neurological underpinnings of mystical experiences. And, finally, he recounts his own search for enlightenment—adventurous, poignant, and sometimes surprisingly comic. Horgan’s conclusions resonate with the controversial climax of The End of Science, because, as he argues, the most enlightened mystics and the most enlightened scientists end up in the same place—confronting the imponderable depth of the universe.
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.
New to This Edition:
*Reflects many years of scientific and theoretical advances.
*Chapters on psychological theories, personality, and physical health.
*New organizing concepts: religious meaning systems and the multilevel interdisciplinary paradigm.
*Additional pedagogical features, including end-of-chapter "Take-Home Messages" and engaging topic boxes.
*Descriptions of cutting-edge research methods.
*Increased attention to multicultural issues.
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
—Virgina Kirkus, Kirkus Reviews
The result of this unique exchange is a useful guide for understanding the nature of consciousness--useful both to other spiritual seekers and to formally trained psychologists. It is also a celebration of the Dance of Life--which, in the words of Ram Dass, is the "only dance there is."
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.
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.
Belief begins in the brain. Under the sway of powerful internal and external influences, children understand their environments by imagining at least one creative and intelligent agent, a grand creator and controller that brings order and purpose to the world. Further, these beliefs in unseen super beings help organize children’s intuitions about morality and surprising life events, making life meaningful. Summarizing scientific experiments conducted with children across the globe, Professor Barrett illustrates the ways human beings have come to develop complex belief systems about God’s omniscience, the afterlife, and the immortality of deities. He shows how the science of childhood religiosity reveals, across humanity, a “natural religion,” the organization of those beliefs that humans gravitate to organically, and how it underlies all of the world’s major religions, uniting them under one common source.
For believers and nonbelievers alike, Barrett offers a compelling argument for the human instinct for religion, as he guides all parents in how to effectively encourage children in developing a healthy constellation of beliefs about the world around them.
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 necessary.
In recent years theologians and biblical scholars have begun to delve into the insights that come from the application of psychology to biblical texts. While these methods continue to be useful and popular, nowhere have the ???foundational??? texts in the field been collected.
Wayne Rollins and Andrew Kille, who have both published and taught widely in the area of psychological biblical criticism, have assembled an excellent guide for those interested in this fascinating topic. Included in this anthology are articles from across the landscape, spanning over one hundred years and including such authors as Franz Delitzsch, M. Scott Fletcher, Max Weber, Walter Wink, and many other scholars.
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 Pentecostalism in America, author R. G. Robins offers an accessible survey of Pentecostalism in the United States, providing a clear, nontechnical introduction and making this complex and rapidly changing movement comprehensible to the general reader. A historical approach to the topic is presented, guiding the reader through the theological, social, and liturgical variants within American Pentecostalism and its major branches, organizations, and institutions; the movement's relation to its offspring; as well as how Pentecostal groups compare to parallel movements in contemporary American Christianity.
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.
Absence of myth may seem obvious: evidenced by our lack of cult and ritual, and by our de-animated natural world, as well as in the emergence of conceptual thought and psychological awareness, which could only arise with the dissolution of a prereflective (mythic) mode of being-in-the-world. But what appears to be straightforward becomes complicated when myth is intentionally conflated with thought and reflection, usually in the attempt to cultivate a “mythic consciousness” that aims to restore meaning to life and assuage the spiritual malaise of contemporary culture.
Myth cannot rest in peace. It must be continually unearthed, redefined, and recontextualized such that modern and postmodern notions of myth are made to substitute for something that has never been experienced, only imagined.