de la Cruz, “To Which Earthly Categories Do Not Apply”

de la Cruz, Deirdre. 2017.”To Which Earthly Categories Do Not Apply: Spirit Photography, Filipino Ghosts, and the Global Occult at the Turn of the Twentieth Century,” Material Religion, 13(3): 301-328 .

Abstract: In this article I examine an album of spirit photographs published in Barcelona circa 1903. The album comprises two photograph collections, one of photos taken in a studio in Manila, the Philippines, another belonging to Dr. Theodore Hansmann, a German immigrant to the USA who was one of the country’s most ardent advocates and researchers of spirit photography. Apart from their overt share in a genre, it is unclear what connects these two collections and who exactly brought them together. I draw from this ambiguity in order to explore the tension between spiritism as a philosophy and practice that traveled via historically specific colonial routes and were localized to particular political and cultural contexts, and spiritism as a global occult movement founded precisely on the promise of transcending metaphysical and spatial boundaries.

 

Kaell, “Walking Where Jesus Walked: American Christians and Holy Land Pilgrimage”

Kaell, Hillary. 2014. Walking Where Jesus Walked: American Christians and Holy Land Pilgrimage. New York: New York University Press. 

Publisher’s Description: Since the 1950s, millions of American Christians have traveled to the Holy Land to visit places in Israel and the Palestinian territories associated with Jesus’s life and death. Why do these pilgrims choose to journey halfway around the world? How do they react to what they encounter, and how do they understand the trip upon return? This book places the answers to these questions into the context of broad historical trends, analyzing how the growth of mass-market evangelical and Catholic pilgrimage relates to changes in American Christian theology and culture over the last sixty years, including shifts in Jewish-Christian relations, the growth of small group spirituality, and the development of a Christian leisure industry.

Drawing on five years of research with pilgrims before, during and after their trips, Walking Where Jesus Walked offers a lived religion approach that explores the trip’s hybrid nature for pilgrims themselves: both ordinary—tied to their everyday role as the family’s ritual specialists, and extraordinary—since they leave home in a dramatic way, often for the first time. Their experiences illuminate key tensions in contemporary US Christianity between material evidence and transcendent divinity, commoditization and religious authority, domestic relationships and global experience.

Hillary Kaell crafts the first in-depth study of the cultural and religious significance of American Holy Land pilgrimage after 1948. The result sheds light on how Christian pilgrims, especially women, make sense of their experience in Israel-Palestine, offering an important complement to top-down approaches in studies of Christian Zionism and foreign policy.

Dempsey, “Bringing the Sacred Down to Earth”

Dempsey, Corinne G. (2012) Bringing the Sacred Down to Earth: Adventures in Comparative Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Description (from publisher): In Bringing the Sacred Down to Earth, Corinne Dempsey offers a comparative study of Hindu and Christian, Indian and Euro/American earthbound religious expressions. She argues that official religious, political, and epistemological systems tend to deny sacred access and expression to the general populace, and are abstracted and disembodied in ways that make them irrelevant to if not neglectful of earthly realities. Working at cross purposes with these systems, attending to material needs, conferring sacred access to a wider public, and imbuing land and bodies with sacred meaning and power, are religious frameworks featuring folklore figures, democratizing theologies, newly sanctified land, and extraordinary human abilities. Some scholars will see Dempsey’s juxtapositions of Hindu and Christian religious dynamics, many of which exist on opposite sides of the globe, as a leap into a disciplinary minefield. Many have argued for decades that comparison is an outmoded, politically troubled approach to the human sciences. More recently opponents, represented by a growing number of religion scholars, are ”writing back” in comparison’s defense, asserting the merits of a readjusted, carefully contextualized, new comparativism. But, says Dempsey, the inestimable advantages of the comparative method described by religion scholars and performed in this book are disciplinary as well as ethical. As demonstrated in this stimulating book, the process of comparison can shed light on angles and contours otherwise obscured and perform the important work of bridging human contingencies and perception across religious, cultural, and disciplinary divides.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Adventures and Misadventures in Comparison
Chapter 1: The Suffering Indian Nun and the Wandering (Drunken) Irish Priest: Orientalism and Celticism Unplugged
Chapter 2: Arguing Equal Access to an Earthly Sacred: Christian and Hindu Theologies of Liberation
Chapter 3: Making and Staking Sacred Terrain: Rajneeshee and Diaspora Hindu Settlers and Unsettlers
Chapter 4: Embodying the Extraordinary in Iceland and India and the Difference Spirits Make
Postscript: Unanticipated Adventures in Ritualized Ethnography