Vocab for REL 419 at UA-Myth Ritual And Magic
Vocab for REL 419 at UA-Myth Ritual And Magic
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716 Journal of the American Academy of Religion would have con icted with other of Edwards s theological commitments To af rm the salvation of the heathen on the grounds of moral sincerity alone would have conceded the argument to the Arminians and deists on the freedom of the will and was a position perilously similar to that taken by Edwards s opponents in the communion controversy 144 145 However McDermott s reconstruc tion of Edwards s views on nonChristian religions moves so frequently between analysis and interpretation that he often appears to attribute to Edwards a stance on the salvation of the heathen that clearly goes beyond what he consistently maintained on the means of grace throughout the course of his career In Reli gious A ections which McDermott identi es as his most important theological treatise Edwards clearly articulates the position that conversion requires both the infusion of a new disposition and the sincere confession of Christ 74 If God in his sovereignty saves a few without this explicit profession they are for Edwards but the exception that proves the rule Ava Chamberlain Wright State University Purifying the Earthly Body of God Religion and Ecology in Hindu India Edited by Lance E Nelson State University of New York Press 1998 366 pages 2495 This collection of twelve essays is a welcome addition to the small but grow ing literature on the relationship between religion and environmental concerns in South Asia Focusing on the symbol systems that underlie attitudes and be haviors toward nature in Hindu India 6 Lance Nelson brings together a meth odologically diverse array of articles that examine religious resources for address ing the severe ecological problems India now faces Clearly there are no easy answers In charging each of his contributors to address the potentially negative effects of Hindu belief and practice on the environment as well as the positive Nelson has crafted a balanced volume sobering in both its complexity and its sparing optimism The rst six essays explore textual and theological materials for their possible contribution toward an environmentalism rooted in Hindu vocabulary Chris topher Key Chapple s Toward an Indigenous Indian Environmentalism pro vides an overview of the history of environmental activism in the United States and India noting the several ways in which ecoactivists in India have long ap pealed to traditional religious sensibilities 20 Chapple highlights in particu lar the potential signi cance of Hindu traditions of world renunciation and the ethic of selfrestraint they embrace to any Indian discourse of ecology In The Ecological Implications of Karma Theory Harold Coward explores the possi bilities for revisioning the panIndian theory of karma to forge an ecofriendly ethic of interconnectedness and personal responsibility Arvind Sharma s Attitudes to Nature in the Early Upanisads recovers the appreciation for the natural world Book Reviews 71 7 voiced by two ancient and authoritative religious texts more often cited for their insistence on renunciation and transcendence of the natural world Striking a more somber note through careful interpretation of philosophical texts from the in uential school of Hindu philosophy known as Advaita Vedanta Lance Nelson The Dualism of NonDualism Advaita Vedanta and the Irrele vance of Nature corrects the assumption of many Euro American ecological theorists that an intellectual commitment to nondualism necessarily yields an environmentally sound attitude toward nature While the classical texts of Advaita Vedanta are often cited by scholars seeking in Hinduism a reverence for nature Nelson convincingly demonstrates that far from embracing the natural world Advaita displays a fear of nature change and multiplicity 66 Rita DasGutpa Sherma s essay Sacred Immanence Re ections of Ecofeminism in Hindu Tantra locates a potentially important alternative to this worlddenying ethos of Advaita the tantric focus on s akti a divine feminine power that animates the universe Continuing the attempt to locate more world embracing visions from within the Hindu fold Patricia Y Mumme Models and Images for a Vaisnava Environ mental Theology The Potential Contribution of Srivaisnavism examines a theological tradition native to southern India noting particularly its depiction of the earth as the body of the lord the vision of the deity s activity in the world as lild or play and the myth of Varaha Visnu s earthly incarnation as a boar who saves the earth from destruction as potentially productive resources for an indigenous environmental discourse The second set of six essays based on recent eldwork paints a complex pic ture of attitudes toward the natural world that are at once both uniquely Hindu and highly localized It is interesting to note as well that most of the textual re sources cited in the rst six articles the Upanisads the Yogas tras the philo sophical treatises of Advaita Vedanta to name but a few are barely in evidence here replaced by more frequent references to devotional songs and mythologi cal texts such as the Puninas Ann Grodzin Gold s Sin and Rain Moral Ecology in Rural North India demonstrates the intricate connections drawn among de forestation increasing drought and human morality by the inhabitants of a small Rajasthani village In this complex web of relations connecting weather and moral order landscape and human behavior Gold highlights a number of themes that will recur in later essays including the notion that environmental abuse is merely a symptom of diminished human morality and an almost universal denigration of India s modern secular government as unable to combat environmental pol lution or anything else effectively In On the Ethics and Aesthetics of Recy cling in India Frank I Korom explores a major impediment to recycling in In dia the association of garbage with those at the very bottom of the caste hierarchy Through examination of the work and lives of two Hindu artists who use recycled materials in their work Korom calls for the development of a new aesthetic re valuation of trash as useful and potentially even beautiful Comparing the Australian Aboriginal practice of walkabout to Hindu pil grimage David Kinsley Learning the Story of the Land Re ections on the Lib erating Power of Geography and Pilgrimage in the Hindu Tradition re ects on 718 Journal of the American Academy of Religion a theme touched on by a number of contributors that the sacralized world of the Hindu pilgrim may well obscure ecological concerns for the earthmade sacred is capable of purifying itself without active human intervention In his study Theology and Ecology at the Birthplace of Krsna Bruce M Sullivan surveys initiatives both Indian and international to ght pollution in that area of north central India known as Vrindavan the pastoral boyhood home of Lord Krsna In analyzing the manner in which organizations such as ISKCON deliberately uti lize theological language to raise ecological awareness Sullivan also raises press ing questions Will such appeals to traditional Hindu concepts remain vitally relevant as India rapidly readjusts itself to modern western in uences Does fo cusing on the sacred landscape doom the more secular regions of India to fur ther environmental stress Turning toward southern India Vijaya Rettakudi Nagarajan The Earth as Goddess Bh Devi Toward a Theory of Embedded Ecologies in Polk Hinduism considers the gendered practice of kolam the drawing of elaborate designs by women in rice our at thresholds intended both to honor the goddess and to ward off the evil eye as a potential source for a localized or embedded environmental ethic Noting the ways in which the god dess of the earth Bh Devi is both honored through kdlam practices and at the same time treated as dumping ground Nagarajan concludes that practices that sacralize the earth do so only intermittently and can simultaneously be ecologi cally af rming and act as licenses to pollute 285 This theme of nature made sacred as a doubleedged sword leading to respect and even reverence for the natural world but also generating the ethos that earth river and forest can heal and purify themselves is further developed in Kelly D Alley s detailed look at the various religious and secular attempts to ght pollution in the holy river Ganga Idioms of Degeneracy Assessing Gang s Purity and Pollution Echoing Gold s analysis of natural decay tied to human moral decay Alley focuses on the widely diverse and often competing explanations of the river s pollution from the scienti c analysis of water content to local priestly interpretations that tie river pollution to the breakdown of traditional morality Among the diverse set of groups voicing an interest in cleaning up the river there is little agreement and much suspicion indeed as Nelson remarks of this study if ever one were to need a warning against simplistic thinking when it comes to the implications of reli gion for ecology this should surely suf ce 342 This volume offers no facile answers to the Indian environmental crisis yet its very value lies in the many resources it pinpoints and the questions it raises concerning the possibility of viable indigenous responses to impending ecologi cal disaster In addition to the themes outlined above other challenges to a uniquely Hindu environmentalism lurk at the margins of much of this work questions that could perhaps be pursued in further volumes Certainly as Sullivan notes in his study of Vrindavan the relevance of traditional religious ideals to a rapidly mod ernizing and westernizing Hindu population needs to be taken up for further con sideration Do the texts surveyed in the rst part of the book and the language of deity and mythic landscape referred to throughout retain any signi cance for the most rapidly expanding population of consumerpolluters namely the urban middle class One also wonders about the place of the environment in modern Book Reviews 719 Hindu fundamentalism s call to return to traditional religious ideals and prac tices Given the increasing communal tensions that such a call has produced in India can the overwhelmingly highcaste Sanskritic leanings of the rst six es says remain politically viable options for modern Hindu environmentalist dis course Puri ing the Earthly Body of God is a rich and signi cant work readily accessible to students and thought provoking for anyone interested in the nexus of religion and ecology Anne E Monius University of Virginia The Embodiment of Bhakti By Karen Pechilis Prentiss Oxford University Press 1999 265 pages 5500 A great amount of study rsthand inquiry with members of the tradition work with Tamil texts and direct observation of religious life in South India has gone into this book Discussions throughout the book of the works of schol ars who have contributed important concepts and categories to the modern study of Tamil bhakti also re ect extensive research into the existing secondary mate rials and indicate much thought about their relative merits All these dimensions seamlessly combine to make The Embodiment of Bhakti a highly accomplished work on a fascinating and complex topic Early in her book Karen Pechilis Prentiss argues well that bhakti in this case meaning Saiva bhakti in Tamil Nadu especially involves a theology of embodi ment In this tradition the bhaktas participating in spiritual relationship with Siva experience bhakti embodied in words actions images of agents who gave it distinctive representation based on their engagement with their own historical contexts and rhetoric 11 The early agents such as the three authors m var of the seminal Saiva song collection T vdram created through their activities and works in the late sixth to early eighth centuries CE the distinctive images of bhakti that were formative for many South Indians of later generations These three poets of the T e39vdram were individuals but the discourses they participated in were collective that is they were relevant to their own circumstances and yet as writers of verses that have been remembered and celebrated for centuries they jointly contributed to a culture of shared ideals and hence were forcefully relevant to the lives of many others In this way the Saiva bhakti ethos over the centuries grew as a cultural reference point characteristic of Tamil heritage Prentiss demon strates By the end of the book having presented carefully documented well reasoned explorations of interpretations of representative lives and practices and the texts and artworks of Saivism Prentiss arrives at an important conclusion She asserts that academic discussions of bhakti that focus on an image of God or on social movements of which there have been many tend to obstruct scholarly recog nition of the pattern of concern with embodiment common to bhakti s propo nents and interpreters 154 Those partial approaches overlook the agents rials Copyright and Use As an 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