The origins of modern religion in human sacrifice, ritual cannibalism, visionary intoxication, and the Cult of the Dead • Explores ancient practices of producing sacred hallucinogenic foods and oils from the bodies of the dead for ritual consumption and religious anointing • Explains how these practices are deeply embedded in the symbolism, theology, and sacraments of modern religion, specifically Christianity and the Eucharist • Documents the rites of Cults of the Dead from the prehistoric Minoans on Crete to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Hebrews to early and medieval Christian sects such as the Cathars Long before the beginnings of civilization, humans have been sacrificed and their flesh used to produce sacred foods and oils for use in religious rites. Originating with the sacred harvest of hallucinogenic mushrooms from the corpses of shamans and other holy men, these acts of ritual cannibalism and visionary intoxication are part of the history of all cultures, including Judeo-Christian ones, and provided a way to commune with the dead. These practices continued openly into the Dark Ages, when they were suppressed and adapted into the worship of saintly bones--or continued in secret by a few “heretical” sects, such as the Cathars and the Knights Templar. While little known today, these rites remain deeply embedded in the symbolism, theology, and sacraments of modern religion and bring a much more literal meaning to the church’s “Holy Communion” or symbolic consumption of the body and blood of Christ. Documenting the sacrificial, cannibalistic, and psychoactive sacramental practices associated with the Cult of the Dead from the prehistoric Minoans on Crete to the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews and onward to early and medieval Christian sects, Earl Lee shows how these religious rites influenced the development of Western religion. In particular, he reveals how Christianity originated with Jesus’s effort to restore the sacred rites of Moses, including the Marzeah, or Feast for the Dead. Examining the connections between these rites and the mysterious funeral of Father Sauniere in Rennes-le-Château, the author explains why the prehistoric Cult of the Dead has held such power over Western civilization, so much so that its echoes are still heard today in our literature, film, and arts.
Sommer utilizes a lost ancient Near Eastern perception of divinity according to which a god has more than one body and fluid, unbounded selves. Though the dominant strains of biblical religion rejected it, a monotheistic version of this theological intuition is found in some biblical texts. Later Jewish and Christian thinkers inherited this ancient way of thinking; ideas such as the sefirot in Kabbalah and the trinity in Christianity represent a late version of this theology. This book forces us to rethink the distinction between monotheism and polytheism, as this notion of divine fluidity is found in both polytheistic cultures (Babylonia, Assyria, Canaan) and monotheistic ones (biblical religion, Jewish mysticism, Christianity), whereas it is absent in some polytheistic cultures (classical Greece). The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel has important repercussions not only for biblical scholarship and comparative religion but for Jewish-Christian dialogue.
To the Victorians, the Chinese were invariably "inscrutable." The meaning and provenance of this impression—and, most importantly, its workings in nineteenth-century Protestant missionary encounters with Chinese religion—are at the center of Eric Reinders's Borrowed Gods and Foreign Bodies, an enlightening look at how missionaries' religious identity, experience, and physical foreignness produced certain representations of China between 1807 and 1937. Reinders first introduces the imaginative world of Victorian missionaries and outlines their application of mind-body dualism to the dualism of self and other. He then explores Western views of the Chinese language, especially ritual language, and Chinese ritual, particularly the kow-tow. His work offers surprising and valuable insight into the visceral nature of the Victorian response to the Chinese—and, more generally, into the nineteenth-century Western representation of China.
Men's Bodies, Men's Gods explores the intersection of body, religion, and culture from the specific perspective of male identities. How are male bodies constructed in different historical periods and contexts? How do race, ethnicity, and sexual preference impact on the intersection of male bodies and religious identity? Does Christianity provide models to cope with the aging and ailing male body? Does it provide models for intimacy between men and women? Between men and men? And, how do men reflect the carnal dimensions of power, abuse, and justice?
Ben Peek's The Godless is the first in the Children Trilogy; an epic fantasy series with a gripping plot and unforgettable characters.The Gods have fallen but their powers live on . . . Fifteen thousand years after the War of the Gods and their corpses now lie scattered across the world, slowly dying as men and women awake with strange powers that are derived from their bodies. While some see these powers as a gift - most call them a curse. When Ayae - a young cartographer's apprentice in the city of Mireea - is trapped in a burning building, she is terrified as a dormant power comes to life within her. The flames destroy everything around her but she remains unscathed - fire cannot touch her. This curse makes her a target for the army marching on her home - an army determined to reclaim the body of the god Ger, who lies dying beneath the city, and harness his power for themselves. Zaifyr, a man adorned in ancient charms, also arrives in Mireea. His arrival draws the attention of two of the 'children of the gods', Fo and Bau, powerful, centuries-old beings who consider themselves immortal. All three will offer different visions for Ayae's powers - and whatever choice she makes will result in new enemies. Meanwhile, as the army approaches ever closer to Mireea, the saboteur Bueralan and Dark, his mercenary group, look to infiltrate and learn its weaknesses. Alone in a humid, dangerous land, they find themselves witness to rites so appalling they realize it would take the Gods themselves to halt the enemy's attack - and even they may not be enough.
This collection of essays, written primarily by Episcopalian scholars, address the broad topic of human sexuality in the context of today's issues. The essays take the forms of narrative, argument, first-person accounts, and theological reasoning.
Following their first contact in 1519, accounts of Aztecs identifying Spaniards as gods proliferated. But what exactly did the Aztecs mean by a "god" (teotl), and how could human beings become gods or take on godlike properties? This sophisticated, interdisciplinary study analyzes three concepts that are foundational to Aztec religion—teotl (god), teixiptla (localized embodiment of a god), and tlaquimilolli (sacred bundles containing precious objects)—to shed new light on the Aztec understanding of how spiritual beings take on form and agency in the material world. In The Fate of Earthly Things, Molly Bassett draws on ethnographic fieldwork, linguistic analyses, visual culture, and ritual studies to explore what ritual practices such as human sacrifice and the manufacture of deity embodiments (including humans who became gods), material effigies, and sacred bundles meant to the Aztecs. She analyzes the Aztec belief that wearing the flayed skin of a sacrificial victim during a sacred rite could transform a priest into an embodiment of a god or goddess, as well as how figurines and sacred bundles could become localized embodiments of gods. Without arguing for unbroken continuity between the Aztecs and modern speakers of Nahuatl, Bassett also describes contemporary rituals in which indigenous Mexicans who preserve costumbres (traditions) incorporate totiotzin (gods) made from paper into their daily lives. This research allows us to understand a religious imagination that found life in death and believed that deity embodiments became animate through the ritual binding of blood, skin, and bone.
Fifteen short chapters explore what happens when we see our bodies as machines to be manipulated, molded, and marketed. Playing God explores some of the horrors taking place in hospitals and labs and provides biblical direction for people wrestling with ethical issues such as: *physician-assisted suicide and the 'right' to die*genetic manipulation*fetal tissue harvesting*in vitro fertilization