Tag Archives: Christianity

Bradford & Horton, “Mixed Blessings”

Mixed BlessingsIn May, the University of British Columbia released Mixed Blessings: Indigenous Encounters with Christianity in Canada by Tolly Bradford (Concordia University of Edmonton) and Chelsea Horton. The publisher’s description follows:

Mixed Blessings transforms our understanding of the relationship between Indigenous people and Christianity in what is now Canada.

While acknowledging the harm of colonialism, including the trauma inflicted by church-run residential schools, this book challenges the portrayal of Indigenous people as passive victims of malevolent missionaries who experienced a uniformly dark history. Instead, the authors — scholars in history, Indigenous studies, religious studies, and theology — illuminate the diverse and multifaceted ways that Indigenous communities and individuals across Canada have interacted, and continue to interact, meaningfully with Christianity.

Ranging widely across time and place, these insightful case studies explore why some Indigenous people — including prominent leaders such as Louis Riel and Edward Ahenakew — historically aligned themselves with Christianity while others did not. It also plumbs the processes and politics involved in combining spiritual traditions and reflects on the role of Christianity in Indigenous communities today.

MacCulloch, “All Things Made New”

In September, Oxford University Press will release All Things Made New: The Reformation and Its Legacy by Diarmaid MacCulloch (Oxford). The publisher’s description follows:

All things made newThe most profound characteristic of Western Europe in the Middle Ages was its cultural and religious unity, a unity secured by a common alignment with the Pope in Rome, and a common language – Latin – for worship and scholarship. The Reformation shattered that unity, and the consequences are still with us today. In All Things Made New, Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of the New York Times bestseller Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, examines not only the Reformation’s impact across Europe, but also the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the special evolution of religion in England, revealing how one of the most turbulent, bloody, and transformational events in Western history has shaped modern society.

The Reformation may have launched a social revolution, MacCulloch argues, but it was not caused by social and economic forces, or even by a secular idea like nationalism; it sprang from a big idea about death, salvation, and the afterlife. This idea – that salvation was entirely in God’s hands and there was nothing humans could do to alter his decision – ended the Catholic Church’s monopoly in Europe and altered the trajectory of the entire future of the West.

By turns passionate, funny, meditative, and subversive, All Things Made New takes readers onto fascinating new ground, exploring the original conflicts of the Reformation and cutting through prejudices that continue to distort popular conceptions of a religious divide still with us after five centuries. This monumental work, from one of the most distinguished scholars of Christianity writing today, explores the ways in which historians have told the tale of the Reformation, why their interpretations have changed so dramatically over time, and ultimately, how the contested legacy of this revolution continues to impact the world today.

Geffert and Stavrou, “Eastern Orthodox Christianity”

Eastern Orthodox Christianity.jpgIn May, Yale University Press released Eastern Orthodox Christianity: The Essential Texts by Bryn Geffert (Amherst College) and Theofanis Stavrou (University of Minnesota). The publisher’s description follows:

Two leading academic scholars offer the first comprehensive source reader on the Eastern Orthodox church for the English-speaking world. Designed specifically for students and accessible to readers with little or no previous knowledge of theology or religious history, this essential, one-of-a-kind work frames, explores, and interprets Eastern Orthodoxy through the use of primary sources and documents. Lively introductions and short narratives that touch on anthropology, art, law, literature, music, politics, women’s studies, and a host of other areas are woven together to provide a coherent and fascinating history of the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition.

Dunn, “A History of Orthodox, Islamic, and Western Christian Political Values”

In September, Palgrave Macmillan will release “A History of Orthodox, Islamic, and Western Christian Political Values,” by Dennis J. Dunn. The publisher’s description follows:

The book reveals the nexus between religion and politics today and shows that we live in an interdependent world where one global civilization is emerging and where the Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 12.29.47 AMworld’s peoples are continuing to coalesce around a series of values that contain potent Western overtones. Both Putin’s Orthodox Russia and regions under the control of such Islamist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda resent and attempt, in a largely languishing effort, to frustrate this series of values. The book explains the current tension between the West and Russia and parts of the Muslim world and sheds light on the causes of such crises as the Syrian Civil War, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and acts of terrorism such as 9/11 and the ISIS-inspired massacres in Paris.  It shows that religion continues to affect global order and that knowledge of its effect on political identity and global governance should guide both government policy and scholarly analysis of contemporary history.

“The Crusade in the Fifteenth Century” (Housley, ed.)

In June, Routledge released “The Crusade in the Fifteenth Century: Converging and Competing Cultures,” edited by Norman Housley (University of Leicester). The publisher’s description follows:

Increasingly, historians acknowledge the significance of crusading activity in the fifteenth century, and they have started to explore the different ways in which it logo-rt-cshaped contemporary European society. Just as important, however, was the range of interactions which took place between the three faith communities which were most affected by crusade, namely the Catholic and Orthodox worlds, and the adherents of Islam. Discussion of these interactions forms the theme of this book. Two essays consider the impact of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 on the conquering Ottomans and the conquered Byzantines. The next group of essays reviews different aspects of the crusading response to the Turks, ranging from Emperor Sigismund to Papal legates. The third set of contributions considers diplomatic and cultural interactions between Islam and Christianity, including attempts made to forge alliances of Christian and Muslim powers against the Ottomans. Last, a set of essays looks at what was arguably the most complex region of all for inter-faith relations, the Balkans, exploring the influence of crusading ideas in the eastern Adriatic, Bosnia and Romania. Viewed overall, this collection of essays makes a powerful contribution to breaking down the old and discredited view of monolithic and mutually exclusive “fortresses of faith”. Nobody would question the extent and intensity of religious violence in fifteenth-century Europe, but this volume demonstrates that it was played out within a setting of turbulent diversity. Religious and ethnic identities were volatile, allegiances negotiable, and diplomacy, ideological exchange and human contact were constantly in operation between the period’s major religious groupings.

 

Salonen, “Papal Justice in the Late Middle Ages”

In April, Routledge released “Papal Justice in the Late Middle Ages: The Sacra Romana Rota,” by Kirsi Salonen (University of Turku).  The publisher’s description follows:

This is a study of the history and function of the highest ecclesiastical tribunal, the Sacra Romana Rota, from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. Despite its 9781472482266importance for Christendom and in contrast with other important papal offices, the activity of the Rota has never been thoroughly investigated on the basis of archival sources, in large part due to the vast source material and the perceived “difficulty” of the subject. This book fills this significant gap by explaining how the Rota functioned-its organization, the phases of a Rota process, everyday practices at the tribunal-and the kinds of issues it handled, where the processes originated from and how long they lasted. The study demonstrates that the Rota dealt with a range of cases much broader than has previously been acknowledged, whilst also confirming that the tribunal mainly oversaw litigation over benefices. The results of this research reveal the true role of the Rota and its significance for Christians from the middle ages to the dawn of the Reformation.

Eire, “Reformations”

In June, Yale University Press releases Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 by Carlos M. N. Eire (Yale University). The publisher’s description follows:Reformations

This fast-paced survey of Western civilization’s transition from the Middle Ages to modernity brings that tumultuous period vividly to life. Carlos Eire, popular professor and gifted writer, chronicles the two-hundred-year era of the Renaissance and Reformation with particular attention to issues that persist as concerns in the present day. Eire connects the Protestant and Catholic Reformations in new and profound ways, and he demonstrates convincingly that this crucial turning point in history not only affected people long gone, but continues to shape our world and define who we are today.

The book focuses on the vast changes that took place in Western civilization between 1450 and 1650, from Gutenberg’s printing press and the subsequent revolution in the spread of ideas to the close of the Thirty Years’ War. Eire devotes equal attention to the various Protestant traditions and churches as well as to Catholicism, skepticism, and secularism, and he takes into account the expansion of European culture and religion into other lands, particularly the Americas and Asia. He also underscores how changes in religion transformed the Western secular world. A book created with students and nonspecialists in mind, Reformations is an inspiring, provocative volume for any reader who is curious about the role of ideas and beliefs in history.

“Religion, Migration and Identity” (Frederiks & Nagy, eds.)

In September, Brill Publishers will release “Religion, Migration and Identity: Methodological and Theological Explorations,” edited by Martha Frederiks (University of Utrecht) and Dorottya Nagy (Protestant Theological University in Amsterdam). The publisher’s description follows:

Scott, “Spiritual Despots”

Spiritual DespotsIn July, the University of Chicago Press will release Spiritual Despots: Modern Hinduism and the Genealogies of Self-Rule by J. Barton Scott (University of Toronto). The publisher’s description follows:

Historians of religion have examined at length the Protestant Reformation and the liberal idea of the self-governing individual that arose from it. In Spiritual Despots, J. Barton Scott reveals an unexamined piece of this story: how Protestant technologies of asceticism became entangled with Hindu spiritual practices to create an ideal of the “self-ruling subject” crucial to both nineteenth-century reform culture and early twentieth-century anticolonialism in India. Scott uses the quaint term “priestcraft” to track anticlerical polemics that vilified religious hierarchy, celebrated the individual, and endeavored to reform human subjects by freeing them from external religious influence. By drawing on English, Hindi, and Gujarati reformist writings, Scott provides a panoramic view of precisely how the specter of the crafty priest transformed religion and politics in India.

Through this alternative genealogy of the self-ruling subject, Spiritual Despots demonstrates that Hindu reform movements cannot be understood solely Continue reading

Pope Francis in Armenia

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Pope Francis and Patriarch Karekin II of the Armenian Church (Crux)

Last weekend, Pope Francis made an apostolic journey to Armenia, a small, landlocked country of three million in the South Caucasus, bordering Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The official motto of his journey was “Visit to the First Christian Nation,” a reference to Armenia’s being the first state to adopt Christianity as its official religion, in 301 A.D., a matter of great national pride. Only a small percentage of Armenians are Roman Catholics; more than 90% belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a member of the Oriental Orthodox communion. Yet Francis received an enthusiastic reception from the Armenian Church hierarchy, the government, and the everyday people who crowded his public events. It’s worth focusing on the reasons for the warm welcome, and on the diplomatic and ecumenical significance of his journey.

Armenia is in a rough neighborhood. To the east, the country is locked in a frozen conflict with Azerbaijan, a majority-Muslim country, over Nagorno Karabakh, a region populated by Christian Armenians that seeks independence from Azerbaijan. A ceasefire has been in effect for about 20 years. In April, Azerbaijan renewed the conflict; Armenians successfully resisted the Azerbaijani attack, and the ceasefire was restored, but nerves remain on edge. To the west, Azerbaijan’s ally, Turkey, another Muslim-majority nation, has closed its border with Armenia, preventing needed economic development. To the north, relations with Georgia are peaceful but mixed; Georgia has its own breakaway regions and leans towards Azerbaijan in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The only strategic partner Armenia has in the region is its neighbor to the south, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which, somewhat surprisingly for outsiders, cooperates with Armenia on a number of issues. Armenia also has close relations with Russia. Indeed, the US typically thinks of Armenia as Russia’s proxy in the Caucasus. But the situation is more complicated than that. Russia plays both sides of the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh—it sells weapons to Armenia and Azerbaijan–and Armenians increasingly distrust it. As I say, a rough neighborhood.

The pope’s visit was a welcome sign that the outside world, and especially the West, has not forgotten Armenia. Even more, in Armenia, Francis once again went out of his way to use the word “genocide” to describe the massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey during World War I. Before the visit, the Vatican had suggested Francis Continue reading