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2 - The Christology of Niceness: Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Jesus Novel, and Sacred Trivialities

Edited by Leigh E Schmidt and Sally M Indiana University Press ePub


Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Jesus Novel, and Sacred Trivialities


It is taken for granted today that niceness is one of Jesus' defining traits; but not everyone is happy about this fact. Paul Coughlin recounts in his self-help book, No More Christian Nice Guy (2005), how he grew up with the iconic image of “Jesus [as] the Supreme Nice Guy,” an image that he blames for creating passive and spineless Christian men. “We choke on a Victorian Jesus, a caricature that has turned men into mice.” Instead, he calls for a dissident Jesus, one who loves a “good fight.”1 This dismissal of niceness is not unique to the evangelical Christian press. The literary critic Terry Eagleton, in his introduction to the Verso edition of The Gospels, insists that Jesus is “no mild-eyed plaster saint but a relentless, fiercely uncompromising activist,” who “is interested in what people do, not in what they feel.”2 Where Eagleton and Coughlin want a more virile Jesus, one more invested in action than feeling, the Pauline turn in recent continental theory finds Jesus a rather pathetic figure, not worthy of serious analysis. Giorgio Agamben, for instance, begins his study of Paul's Letter to the Romans by quoting Jacob Taubes's wry observation that “Hebrew literature on Jesus presents him in benevolent terms—as ‘a nice guy.’”3 Jesus' niceness serves a productive function: it creates Paul's complexity as a messianic thinker within a Jewish tradition. As an iconic figure of niceness, Jesus still sacrifices for the sake of others: in this case, for the sake of Paul's theological depth.

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ONE Veiling, Fashion, and Social Mobility: A Century of Change in Zanzibar • LAURA FAIR

Edited by Elisha P Renne Indiana University Press ePub

“The Veil” has never been a static thing, nor have its use and meaning been firm. In this chapter, I explore changes in veiling habits in Zanzibar over the course of more than a century, illustrating both how and why the veil has changed over time. Though “the veil” is often condemned in the West as a sign of women’s subordination, here I illustrate that in Zanzibar women have often used the veil to assert both their freedom and their economic might. The bulk of this chapter examines changes in veiling fashions over the course of the twentieth century, but I begin with a brief discussion of a more recent trend to illustrate that the uses and meanings attributed to the veil worn by women in the Isles of Zanzibar—which includes two large islands, Unguja and Pemba, and several smaller ones which came to be known collectively as Zanzibar—are often completely hidden from casual observers in the West.

At the turn of the twenty-first century a new veiling fashion was increasingly seen on the streets and in the markets of Zanzibar. Suddenly, it seemed, growing numbers of women were donning the niqāb, choosing to cover their faces entirely when in public rather than wearing the more common buibui, which left their faces open, or the more casual kanga,thrown over the top of the head and draped over the shoulders and chest. Where did this new style come from, I wondered? And what was the impetus for this change? (Plate 1).

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Medium 9780253007872

CHAPTER 2: The Art of Lamenting: The Cult of the Madonna Addolorata at Santa Maria dei Servi

Getz, Christine Indiana University Press PDF

Chapter 2


The Art of Lamenting

The Cult of the Madonna Addolorata at Santa Maria dei Servi

“At the Cross her station keeping, stood the mournful

Mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last.”

—attributed to Jacopo da Todi 1

In his 1612 colloquy over the tears shed by the Blessed Virgin upon the death of her son, the Servite theologian Arcangelo Ballotino exhorts his readers to consider not only the suffering of Christ but also that of his mother. Ballotino gives voice to the Virgin’s desire to perish with her son rather than endure the intense pain of watching him suffer, and invites his readers to simulate her anguish mentally:

Christian Soul, consider how intense the sorrows that Jesus, the Son of God and the child of Mary, suffered in death, for the cry imitates the intensity of the pain; wherefore if Christ cried out in as loud a voice in death, it was because his sorrows were most intense. Consider still how painful were the troubles of

Mary, who was not able to form a word for the great sorrows that consumed her heart. She repeated only these words: Child, my Jesus; Jesus, my son, would you allow me to die with you?2

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Medium 9780253347640

18. Education

Malcolm Bull Indiana University Press ePub

THE ACCREDITATION MOVEMENT of the 1930s was a key moment in Adventist education. Thereafter, church schools and colleges were primarily concerned with preparing students for professional careers, and Adventist teachers, particularly those in higher education, became increasingly preoccupied with their professional standing. This bred a skeptical spirit toward the Adventist tradition, which, during the middle decades of the twentieth century, paralleled that of the church’s doctors.

In assessing the effects of this, it is tempting to believe that the Adventist educator has always been in tension with other sections of the church. But the relationship between Adventist teachers and, for example, church leaders has not been quite so simple. For most of the denomination’s history, educators and leaders have shared the same presuppositions about Adventist education and have been equally responsible for the development of the church’s school system. When disagreements have broken out, they have normally been over the teaching community’s desire to take the denomination’s commitment to academic endeavor to its logical conclusion, and the leadership’s unwillingness to accept the consequences of policies they have themselves instituted.

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Medium 9780253007889

1 Is There an "African" Islam?

Roman Loimeier Indiana University Press PDF


Is There an “African” Islam?

The Diversity of Islam in Africa

Sometimes, old patterns of thought die hard. Even in the most recent literature on Muslim societies in Africa, such as Coulon and Cruise O’Brien (1988), Evers-Rosander and

Westerlund (1997), or Quinn and Quinn (2003), it is possible to find the concept of an

“African” Islam or, in French, Islam “Noir.” This African Islam is presented as peaceful and syncretistic, accommodating, and less orthodox than “militant Arab Islam.” The discussion of Muslim societies and Islam in Africa has to take into account, however, that there is no uniform and singularly “orthodox” form of Islam, either in Africa or in the Islamic world as a whole. The continent is not only much too vast to harbor just one continental expression of Islam, but African historical experiences with Islam have also been much too diverse to support the notion of a single, African Islam. When visualizing the expansion of Muslim societies in Africa in geographical terms and their multiple entanglements, the force of this argument becomes immediately clear.

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Medium 9780253009661

7 Division and Continuity, 1920s to 1960s

Ian N. Gregory Indiana University Press ePub


The Boundary Commission of 1925 confirmed the territorial settlement of Partition. Ireland would remain divided. In many ways Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State had the same central problem at the start of this period: the 1921 treaty had created two states, but it had not created two nations.1 Religious geographies had determined the spatial extents of both jurisdictions, but the choice for both the north and south was how to forge their own identities and the extent to which these identities would be defined by the sectarianism of their geneses. The new formalized division of Ireland was, as we have seen, about more than just religion—it closely reflected the social and economic divisions of the island as well. A second challenge was thus to develop their separate economies. A final question was whether Partition would mark a new beginning for Ireland or whether it would simply continue the trends that had been developing since the mid-nineteenth century.

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Medium 9780253011367

4 Summoning in Secret: Mute Letters and Veiled Writing

Emilio Spadola Indiana University Press ePub

The occult “science” which enables the magician to call up jinn and make them do his bidding by invoking them by name and by writing down mysteriously arranged letters, figures, words, and numbers, is widespread in the East, but the Maghrebins are reputed the most learned and skillful in it.

—Edward Westermarck, Ritual and Belief in Morocco

A TELEVISION ADVERTISEMENT FOR Morocco’s state-owned telecommunications network, Maroc Telecom, during the month of Ramadan, 1424, centered on the familiar Muslim scholar and authority figure, the fqih (Ar. faqih), in his local role as a Quranic schoolteacher. The advertisement opened with the fqih, plump and avuncular in white robe and red fez, strolling through a luminous nighttime suq, gathering wooden writing tablets and reed pens—those nostalgic technologies of premodern elementary education based on recitation and repetition—and then entering the little schoolroom where his bright and shiny pupils, boys and girls, await him, seated on mats in the old style. As he begins his lesson, one boy with a cell phone texts another; the second, receiving the message, turns to the first and winks—their secret communication confirmed. But the fqih at the front of the room catches the exchange and beckons the boys to show him this novel instrument. In classical education fuqaha were strict disciplinarians who meted out beatings for inattention, but here he eyes the boys with pleasant curiosity, and all the children, obedient but familiar, now gather round him, sit in his lap and drape over his shoulders in affectionate intimacy. The fqih holds the cell phone, reading the screen with a smile. The commercial fades to an image of the cell phone resting atop the wooden board inscribed with ink—the displacement of the old technology by the new complete.

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Medium 9780253013866

13. Ritualized Figuration in Special African American Yards

Edited by Akinwumi Ogundiran and Paula S Indiana University Press ePub

Grey Gundaker

The larger, the more human, the less technical the problem of practice, the more open-eyed and wide-viewing the corresponding method. I do not say that all things that have been called philosophy participate in this method; I do say, however, that a catholic and farsighted theory of the adjustment of the conflicting factors of life is—whatever it is called—philosophy.

JOHN DEWEY ([1910] 1997: 44)

This paper explores the placement and ritualized use of statuary of animals, religious figures, and mythic beings in special African American yards to contribute to the philosophical “adjustment of the conflicting factors of life” (Dewey [1910] 1997: 44). Practitioners who make these yards call the spaces around their homes “yards” and view them as exceptional; certainly, they are not typical of African American domestic landscapes. Figuration in these yards is ritualized because, by drawing on a stable visual and material repertoire and recurring spatial practices, practitioners work toward, as John M. Janzen puts it, “the amplification of layers and layers of meaning, . . . [and] the addition of more lines of communication to those normally used between individuals” (1992: 174).

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Medium 9780253318992

Chapter 9. The City Dwellers

Felicitas D. Goodman Indiana University Press ePub

Humans have lived in cities almost as long as they have in villages. But cities have probably been different from villages from the start. Since this point may not be generally accepted, and since what happens with respect to religious behavior in the city as the last of the human adaptations to emerge is of special interest to us as urbanites, I will include some references to ancient cities here as well. The difficulty is, of course, that no outsider, such as a foreign anthropologist, did any participant observation in the cities of ancient Mesopotamia, and what written records we have are for the most part boastings of the rulers, so I cannot quote any ethnographic material. But historians have made some educated guesses, which might be at least of some value within a comparative framework. We are better off with ancient Rome, where we have a wealth of manuscripts, political speeches, essays, personal letters, and literary creations that give us a pretty good idea about those topics that interest us here.

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Medium 9780253009524

10. “Crazy for the Goddess”: A Consuming Relationship

Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger Indiana University Press ePub



Veshalamma and Pujaramma articulate some of the benefits of entering a ritual relationship with the goddess; in their narratives, it would seem that these benefits outweigh the troubles they may experience because of this relationship. However, as the narrative fragments of the personal narratives of the female devotee of Gangamma in this chapter will suggest, there may be times when an intimate relationship with Gangamma may, in fact, be “too much to bear.”

Gangamma is a restless goddess who traditionally moves too much to accept a permanent dwelling and thus is perhaps not present enough, in one place for long enough, to establish a devotional relationship with most worshippers who interact with her. However, in her Tirupati temples, Gangamma is more stable than she is on village boundaries. Here, when female householders have particular needs, throughout the year they make vows to light a specific number of oil lamps (dipam) for a specific number of Tuesdays and/or Fridays at her temple or to cook pongal for her in her temple courtyards, asking her to fulfill their desires. The relationships between these women and the goddess are primarily ritual/material transactions: Gangamma needs food and other services, and her worshippers need something from her (a husband, fertility, health of or employment for their children). Few householders maintain her at home; her ugra nature requires a level of nearly full-time service very few women have time, energy, or even inclination to give.

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Medium 9780253357144

3. Eternity

Hugh J. McCann Indiana University Press ePub


If the argument of the last chapter is correct then the phenomena of the created world owe their entire existence to God as creator, and can therefore be expected to be guided in every detail by divine providence. Some would wish to claim that exercises of free agency on the part of rational creatures should be counted as exceptions to this rule—a possibility we shall begin to consider in chapter 4. The present chapter is devoted to another possible exception: it is sometimes held that even if all that takes place within the temporal realm is subject to God's will as creator, time itself is not. Rather, God is a being who exists in time just as his creatures do, and he like us is subject to the limitations this entails. Traditional theologians would for the most part have emphatically rejected such a view. They took the claim that God is eternal to mean that God is completely outside of time, of which he is in fact the creator.1 Time is not a necessary existent. It is an aspect of the world of change and as much in need of an explanation for its being as the world itself. So only if God created time could he justly be called the creator of heaven and earth. Moreover, they reasoned, only if the divine nature transcended the limitations of time could God have full comprehension of what for us is the future, and enjoy the sovereignty and immutability they thought appropriate to the divine essence.

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Medium 9780253204530

5. The Play of Perspectives

Meir Sternberg Indiana University Press ePub

The Lord knows, and Israel shall know.

Joshua 22:22

The foregoing analysis has sufficiently brought out the constants in the Bible’s fourfold structure of point of view. We can now take a closer look at the areas left free for manipulation—relatively free, that is. As well as accommodating a great many local interests and adjustments, the variations are themselves systematic—hence distinctive—in that they proceed from built-in discrepancies between the similar and alignments between the opposed. How this enriches the play of perspectives, conferring on it a value beyond the bare necessities of doctrine, may be gathered from the following relations of variety in unity and unity in variety.

It is a nice question whether God’s status is more problematic in biblical discourse or in the biblical world. In the narrative, after all, he figures as both inspiring originator and individual viewpoint, as object and subject of representation, as maker of plot and agent, as means and end, as part and reason for the whole. In arranging his relations with God, therefore, the narrator operates under peculiar constraints. To remove the film of familiarity from his predicament, imagine a loyal general driven to employ in the vanguard of his army the king for whom he fights. How to play the master while remaining a subject? How to expose the embodiment of one’s cause to the dangers of battle without losing the war? How to exercise military command without encroaching on political strategy? How to perform the tasks to which one’s sovereign will not stoop?

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Medium 9781609942922

Notes on Sources

Metcalf, Franz Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub


Traditionally, the words in the suttas assembled in the five nikayas (“groups” or “collections”) are accepted as the ipsissima verba, the actual words of the Buddha. So, when we quote from any text that has the word Nikaya in its title, we are quoting the Buddha directly.

We also quote from many other sutras and texts not in those collections. Two of these sources, the Bodhicharyavatara and the Dhammapada, deserve special mention here.

The Bodhicharyavatara is a book-length poem written by the monk Shantideva over a thousand years ago. Unusually for a Buddhist text, it attends closely to the needs and troubles of us householders. That is, we folks who work instead of meditate for a living. For this reason, we quote the Bodhicharyavatara often and recommend it highly.

The Dhammapada is an early compendium of many short phrases and teachings of the Buddha. It is both powerful and pithy—a rare combination. The Dhammapada is one of the most beloved texts in the Buddhist tradition, and one of our favorites, as you can see in this book.

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Medium 9780253342935

5 Construction of Treblinka

Yitzhak Arad Indiana University Press ePub

The construction of Treblinka death camp began after Belzec and Sobibor were already operational. The expertise gained in the building and in the killing operations in the other two camps were applied in the planning and construction of Treblinka. It became the most “perfected” death camp of Operation Reinhard.

The Treblinka death camp was located in the northeast section of the General Government, not far from Malkinia, a town and station on the main railway, Warsaw-Bialystok, and close to the railway Malkinia-Siedlce. It was built in a thinly populated area near the village of Wolka Okranglik, some 4 km from Treblinka village and train station. The site chosen for the camp was wooded and naturally concealed from both the Malkinia-Kosov road to its north and the Malkinia-Siedlce railway, which ran to its west. Near the camp’s southwest boundary, a rail spur connected Treblinka station with a gravel quarry in the region that had been worked before the war. In the spring of 1941, the Germans decided to exploit the quarry for raw materials for the fortifications then being constructed on the Soviet-German line of demarcation, and in the summer of that year they established Treblinka I penal camp, to which they brought 1,000–1,200 Polish and Jewish detainees for forced labor. This camp, like the entire region, was under the authority of the Warsaw area SS and Police Leader (SSPF).

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Medium 9780253010001

4: Night, Faith, and Evil

Ó Murchadha, Felix Indiana University Press ePub

Every aesthetic which simply seeks to ignore…[the] nocturnal sides of existence, can itself from the outset be ignored as a sort of aestheticism.

—Hans Urs Von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord, vol. 1

IN PRAISE, IN giving glory, things are understood in their singularity, in their unwordliness. The light of the world can no longer dull that singularity; the entity shines forth and fixes vision on the singular alterity of its being. Yet in John, Christ talks of himself as the “light of the world” (John 8:12), and Matthew and Paul talk of Christians as lights for the world. This discourse of light, the discourse of a light of and for the world, is one which nonetheless denies the worldliness of that light, refuses the Platonic, metaphysical account of light. Such a denial and refusal implies a reinterpretation of night as not the time of readjustment from light (cavernous) to light (worldly), but as revelatory. It is revelatory not just of Christ but of the “least of these,” the singularity of the creature saved from its relativization in the world, saved for its own absolute being. Nothing in that being—not its dark materiality—is foreign to that light. Yet, the singularity of being of the entity places it before the light as its own origin from which it may turn. This turning is now not from the things of the intellect to those of the senses, not then a turning from one aspect of one's being to another, but a turning away from the very source of one's being. Judeo-Christianity opens up that radical possibility, that possibility of sin, i.e., of evil as a turning away (per-version) not from the world, but from the radiant shining forth of the origin of being in the self and in others.

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