Vol 26 No. 2 (2007)
The Role of the Tohunga—Past and Present [+] 135-147
In traditional Maori society before the coming of the white man [pakeha], the spiritual leader [tohunga] was the person who was in communication with the gods and spirits [atua] and who maintained the laws of sacredness [tapu] and regulated the life and events of their village. Because of his great authority and power [mana], the tohunga, his instruments and dwelling were tapu. However, with the coming of the white man with his guns, goods, new diseases, and his ignoring of the laws of tapu, the tohunga was seen as losing his mana. Those who continued to use the traditional methods of healing against the new diseases, often with disastrous results, were regarded as charlatans to the extent that legislation was eventually enacted against any who continued to claim to function as a tohunga. However, emerging out of the Maori wars was a new form of tohunga who had accepted Christianity and combined its teachings with some of the Maori culture and customs. Thus they have become the new Maori spiritual leaders and faith healers, exercising not their own power through the strictures of tapu, but the power of God and his holy angels to heal and restore the Maori to fullness of life.
Reinterpreting the Kwakiutl Hamatsa Dance As an Expression of the Apollonian and Dionysian Synthesis [+] 149-171
In Patterns of Culture , Ruth Benedict appropriates Nietzsche’s distinction between the Apollonian and Dionysian art impulses as the model for her discussion of cultural diversity among North American Indians. However, Benedict’s use of the Nietzschean model not only fails to capture the true ritual significance of the religious or spiritual practices of Kwakiutl Indians of the North West Coast, the result of which portrays the Kwakiutl as primitive savages, but it is also a crude misrepresentation of the Nietzschean model she takes herself to be adopting. While I do not think that Benedict’s position is definitive of current scholarship on this topic, it is my contention that the Apollonian/Dionysian model, properly understood, yields some rather interesting insights into the religio-spiritual practices of the Kwakiutl and so is deserving of further study. This article offers an interpretation of the hamatsa dance of the Kwakiutl Winter Ceremonial as a synthesis of both Apollonian and Dionysian art impulses through which the Kwakiutl construct their ontological and moral worldview.
This investigation contends that postfoundationalist models of rationality provide a constructive alternative to the positivist models of scientific rationality that once dominated academic discourse and still shape popular views on science and religion. Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, has evolved organically into a cross-cultural, cross-contextual, interdisciplinary conversation that can help liberate epistemology—especially theological epistemology—from the stranglehold of Enlightenment foundationalism. U.S. Latino/a theology provides an alternative to the dominant epistemological perspective within academic theology that is in many ways analogous to the organic, conversational epistemology embodied by the Wikipedia online community. Accordingly, this investigation argues that the work of human liberation is better served by liberating epistemology from the more authoritarian aspects of the Enlightenment scientific tradition—especially popular positivist conceptions of rationality.
Between the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the 1735 partial renewal of Protestant toleration, the Huguenots choosing to remain in France were forced to clandestinely practice their religion in the wasteland, or désert, of the Cévennes. Understood within an Old Testament interpretive framework, the Huguenots perceived themselves as the new Israel, which identification was reinforced by their adoption of a covenant theology recognizing only one people of God. Moreover, the decentered character of the désert facilitated direct and universal numinous encounter by its occupants, thereby dissolving traditional boundaries as well as empowering charismata among all those seized by the Spirit. Accordingly, these désert episodes proved instrumental in forging a new Huguenot identity, onto which community members tenaciously clung even following their readmission into French civic affairs.
Nietzsche would regard Levinas’ ethical theology, in which the moral subject is responsible for the oppressed as “other,” as a “slave morality” which derives its moral force from resentment. In defence of Levinas’ ethics I turn to the life and reflections of Jean Améry, Jew, philosopher, atheist, resistance fighter tortured by the Gestapo, survivor of Auschwitz. His life is a “trace” of the tragic inhabiting Levinas’ theology. Améry rejects Nietzsche’s view of resentment. Drawing upon Bataille’s distinctive understanding of sadism, Améry claims that oppression is a pitiable degree of loneliness in the face of the tormentor’s lust for domination. This can be righted if the tormentor, by desiring to reverse this situation, becomes a fellow human being. Améry rejects evangelical forgiveness as a sub-moral abandonment of the oppressed’s responsibility for the oppressor. The historical impossibility of this reversal reveals the tragic destiny of the oppressed and of Levinas’ theology of the “other.”
Anita Maria Leopold and Jebbe Sinding Jensen (eds.) Syncretism in Religion: A Reader New York: Routeledge, 2005. xiii + 402 pp. Paper. ISBN 9780415973618 and London: Equinox: ISBN 9781904768654 255-258
Braun, Willi, ed. Rhetoric and Reality in Early Christianities. Studies in Christianity and Judaism/Études sur le christianisme et le judaïsme 16. Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2005. x + 257 pp Hardcover. ISBN 9780889204621. 261-263
John Sandys-Wunsch. What Have They Done to the Bible? A History of Modern Biblical Interpretation. Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press 2005. xx + 378 pp. Paper. ISBN 9780814650288. 264-266
Marilyn McCord Adams, Christ and Horrors: The Coherence of Christology Current Issues in Theology 4. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2006. 344 pp. Paper. ISBN 978052168600 267-269
Robert J. Topmiller. The Lotus Unleashed: The Buddhist Peace Movementin South Vietnam, 1964–1966. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2006. xii + 214 pp. Paper. ISBN 9780813191669. 270-273