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The Participatory Turn: Spirituality, Mysticism, Religious Studies

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0791476024
ISBN-10: 0791476022
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Editors Jorge N. Ferrer and Jacob H. Sherman make a strong case They impressively articulate an emerging academic ethos in the field of religious studies that challenges the prevalent methodological dominance of the cultural-linguistic paradigm and its reduction of religious phenomena to language and culture If you fancy yourself as something of a gnostic scholar this book is a must read. It will also be of significant interest to anyone wanting to keep abreast of the latest theoretical twists and methodological trends in the academic study of religion. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review
offers a sophisticated and complex look at an emerging orientation that will continue to be part of the internal dialogue within religious studies. As such, Ferrer and Sherman provide a timely contribution that is thoughtful and worthy of debate within the academy for many years to come. Sophia
draws on multiple perspectives to invite the reader into a plurality of spiritual approaches, each a delight in its own way, each preserved with its cultural background intact, and none compared with any others or melted down into one large ingot. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology
an insightful work that explores the profound roots and diverse meanings of the term participation and exhibits ways that it can serve as a key to more adequate study of religious experience, groups, and institutions the team assembled by Ferrer and Sherman show the way toward a potentially radical and meaningful shift in an understanding of things spiritual. CHOICE
The Participatory Turn present[s] a powerfully convincing picture of what may be the most significant philosophical turn since Kant I found it riveting reading which added substantially to my understanding of the world. I thoroughly recommend it. Chris Clarke, Network Review: Journal of the Scientific and Medical Network
This book challenges our thinking in many important and fruitful ways. Resurgence
As Rainer Maria Rilke reminded us, the essential thing is to live our questions now and in the very posing of such questions, this brave and hopeful book offers much not only to the future of Religious Studies but also to the future of religious expression and interreligious dialogue. Tikkun
"What a truly hopeful and beautiful book this is. Skillfully negotiating between the Charybdis of a reductive but precious rationalist contextualism and the Scylla of the profound but not always sufficiently critical religious traditions, these authors propose a new, more dialectical path for the future of Religious Studies a path of participation that recognizes in a rare fashion the truly creative nature of that fundamentally mysterious process of human consciousness we so mundanely call interpretation. Catalyzed by a marvelous opening essay on the history and meaning of this participatory turn, the volume promises to become for a new generation what Katz s and Forman s pioneering volumes were for earlier ones. Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of The Serpent s Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion
In its quiet, careful way, The Participatory Turn is at once a nuanced portrait of a great sea change taking place in Religious Studies and a clear-eyed manifesto on behalf of that change. In their brilliant introduction, Ferrer and Sherman have managed to condense and summarize a vast and complex field, clarified its multitude of diverse strands, and set forth a richly coherent philosophical synthesis. One senses that with this book and the intellectual shift it describes, the academic study of religion has, quite dramatically, come in from the cold. The book delineates a pathway for the discipline to enter back into direct engagement with the great mystery it seeks to illuminate, employing the many critical advances of the past century s scholarship but in a manner that is no longer constrained by the hidden reductionism of many conventional academic assumptions. The Participatory Turn presents an emerging orientation for Religious Studies that is not only cogent and empowering but perhaps even inevitable. Richard Tarnas, author of The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View"

From the Back Cover

Can we take seriously religious experience, spirituality, and mysticism, without reducing them to either cultural-linguistic by-products or simply asserting their validity as a dogmatic fact? The contributors to this volume argue that we can, and they offer a new way: the "participatory turn," which proposes that individuals and communities have an integral and irreducible role in bringing forth ontologically rich religious worlds. They explore the ways this approach weaves together and gives voice to a number of robust trends in contemporary religious scholarship, including the renewed study of lived spirituality, the postmodern emphasis on embodied and gendered subjectivity, the admission of alternate epistemic perspectives, the irreducibility of religious pluralism, and the pragmatist emphasis on transformation--all trends that raise serious challenges to the currently prevalent linguistic paradigm.

The first part of the book situates the participatory turn in the context of contemporary Religious Studies; the second part shows how this approach can be applied to various global traditions, ancient and contemporary, from Western esotericism to Jewish mysticism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sufism, and socially engaged Buddhism.

"As Rainer Maria Rilke reminded us, the essential thing is to `live our questions now' and in the very posing of such questions, this brave and hopeful book offers much not only to the future of Religious Studies but also to the future of religious expression and interreligious dialogue." -- Tikkun

"What a truly hopeful and beautiful book this is. Skillfully negotiating between the Charybdis of a reductive but precious rationalist contextualism and the Scylla of the profound but not always sufficiently critical religious traditions, these authors propose a new, more dialectical path for the future of Religious Studies--a path of participation that recognizes in a rare fashion the truly creative nature of that fundamentally mysterious process of human consciousness we so mundanely call `interpretation.' Catalyzed by a marvelous opening essay on the history and meaning of this participatory turn, the volume promises to become for a new generation what Katz's and Forman's pioneering volumes were for earlier ones." -- Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion

"In its quiet, careful way, The Participatory Turn is at once a nuanced portrait of a great sea change taking place in Religious Studies and a clear-eyed manifesto on behalf of that change. In their brilliant introduction, Ferrer and Sherman have managed to condense and summarize a vast and complex field, clarified its multitude of diverse strands, and set forth a richly coherent philosophical synthesis. One senses that with this book and the intellectual shift it describes, the academic study of religion has, quite dramatically, come in from the cold. The book delineates a pathway for the discipline to enter back into direct engagement with the great mystery it seeks to illuminate, employing the many critical advances of the past century's scholarship but in a manner that is no longer constrained by the hidden reductionism of many conventional academic assumptions. The Participatory Turn presents an emerging orientation for Religious Studies that is not only cogent and empowering but perhaps even inevitable." -- Richard Tarnas, author of The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View

Contributors include G. William Barnard, Bruno Barnhart, William Chittick, Jorge N. Ferrer, Lee Irwin, Sean Kelly, Brian L. Lancaster, Beverly J. Lanzetta, Robert McDermott, Donald Rothberg, and Jacob H. Sherman.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 398 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (July 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791476022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791476024
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,272,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Although a disturbing lifelessness never fails to haunt what scientist-philosopher Lancelot Law Whyte diagnosed as a total obsession with partial ideas, scholars and philosophers have resorted to monolithic explanations of spirituality with dull regularity: It's direct from God. It's linguistic. It's hierarchical, or neurological; culture-bound, or perennial; something your mom or dad told you to conform to.

By refreshing contrast, The Participatory Turn asks: Can we recognize and value many paths to many co-created mansions of the sacred? Can we learn to see the frameworks we apply as furnishing examples of spiritual enactment, of a "participatory turn" toward a true plurality invigorating spiritual life, rather than standing aloof being descriptive or merely explanatory?

For the scholars of this anthology---all of whom engage in a spiritual practice---a participatory turn in religious studies means welcoming in the many facets of exuberant religiosity, including the gendered, the erotic, the sensual, the local, the nonverbal, and, yes, the linguistic too. Emphasizing the interactive nature of embodied spirituality, the participatory set of approaches avoids overarching summations, empirical reductions, and 19th-Century grand conceptual systems to center instead on spirituality as both constructed and revealed, embedded in culture rather than built by it, and resistant to reckless transplantation into artificially imposed grids of competitive elucidation.

Religions and spiritual paths do share commonalities, one of which is that most seek a gradual transformation from narrow self-centeredness toward a fuller participation in the mystery of existence" (p. 138).
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