Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780195397734

The prophet and the reformer

Brigham Young is well known in history as the founder of Salt Lake City, the first governor of the Utah Territory, and a leader in the Latter-day Saint movement. Thomas L. Kane, on the other hand, is not quite as known; he was an attorney born in Philadelphia. However, some would say Kane is the most important non-Mormon in the history of the Church of Latter-day Saints.

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9780190230869

Religion and environmentalism: a Q&A with Mark Stoll

In Inherit the Holy Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism, Mark Stoll explores the religious roots of the American environmental movement. We sat down with him to find out a bit more about his process researching the book, issues in the field, and some tips for aspiring authors.

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Leaving for the Rising Sun

What is ‘Zen’ diplomacy? From Chinese monk to ambassador

In 1654, a Chinese monk arrived in Japan. His name was Yinyuan Longqi (1592-1673), a Zen master who claimed to have inherited the authentic dharma transmission—the passing of the Buddha’s teaching from teacher to student—from the Linji (Rinzai) sect in China. This claim gave him tremendous authority in China, as without it a Zen teacher cannot be considered for leading a Zen community. Considering the long history of interactions between China and Japan, Chinese monks arriving in Japan with teachings, scriptures, relics and such were very common, and were welcomed by Japanese monks and rulers.

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9780199890347 - A Storm of Witchcraft

The Salem Witch Trial judges: “persons of the best prudence”?

On 27 May 1692, Sir William Phips, the newly appointed royal governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, appointed nine of the colony’s leading magistrates to serve as judges for the newly created Court of Oyer and Terminer. When Phips sailed into Boston from London on 14 May, there were already 38 people in jail for witchcraft, and the accusations and arrests were growing daily.

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Is Christian feminism an oxymoron?

Is Christian feminism an oxymoron? For the past century or so, it’s often seemed that way. But it wasn’t all that long ago that many women not only considered Christianity and feminism compatible, but in fact believed each essential to the other. Perhaps no figure makes this case more powerfully than Katharine Bushnell. An internationally-known anti-trafficking activist in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Bushnell repeatedly encountered Christian men who had perpetrated acts of appalling cruelty against women, often without remorse or consequence.

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Heine_ Dogen and Soto Zen

Remembering Buddhas in Japan

Commemoration of the birthday of Sakyamuni Buddha forms an important but relatively small part of a remarkable emphasis on wide-ranging types of memorials that continue to be observed in modern Japan. However, celebrations in remembrance of death, including for all deceased ancestors who are regarded as Buddhas (hotoke) at the time of their passing marked by ritual burial, generally hold far greater significance than birth anniversaries. Buddha’s birthday is celebrated in Japan every year on 8 April.

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9780190226879

Philosophie sans frontières

“East is East and West is West, and ne’er the twain shall meet.” Well, no. Kipling got it wrong. The East and the West have been meeting for a long time. For most of the last few hundred years, the traffic has been mainly one way. The West has had a major impact on the East. India felt the full force of British imperialism with the British East India Company and the British Raj.

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Salamone Rossi and the preservation of Jewish identity

Like other Jewish musicians in later times, among them Ernest Bloch, Darius Milhaud, and Leonard Bernstein, Rossi confronted the problems, in his own time, of preserving his Jewish identity in a non-Jewish environment and of communicating with Jews and Christians in such a way as to be understood and appreciated by both.

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9780190230913

A holding corporation called old America: Charles Mingus’ religious multitudes

You can’t understand jazz without its continual, creative religiosities. But to investigate this association is to encounter the scrambling of format and expectation in terms both musicological and religious. For while it is certainly true that jazz has strong roots in African-American Protestantism, not only do these roots twist in unexpected directions but there are other branches reaching into farther soils as well.

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9780190204341_450

What can we learn from Buddhist moral psychology?

Buddhist moral psychology represents a distinctive contribution to contemporary moral discourses. Most Western ethicists neglect to problematize perception at all, and few suggest that ethical engagement begins with perception. But this is a central idea in Buddhist moral theory. Human perception is always perception-as. We see someone as a friend or as an enemy; as a stranger or as an acquaintance. We see objects as desirable or as repulsive. We see ourselves as helpers or as competitors, and our cognitive and action sets follow in train.

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9780190230869

Celebrating Saint John Muir’s birthday

John Muir practically glowed with divine light in the early 1870s. “We almost thought he was Jesus Christ,” the landscape painter William Keith exclaimed to an interviewer. “We fairly worshipped him!”

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9780199335909

Death and all of his tunes

Whether they be songs about angels or demons, Heaven or Hell, the theme of the afterlife has inspired countless musicians of varying genres and has embedded itself into the lyrics of many popular hits. Though their styles may be different, artists show that our collective questions and musings about the afterlife provide us with a common thread across humanity. Here are some of the songs that best represent this wide range of emotions that many people have about what lies beyond.

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9780198713975_450

Wittgenstein and natural religion

In the philosophy of religion ‘Wittgensteinianism’ is a distinctive position whose outlines are more or less unanimously agreed by both its defenders and detractors. By invoking a variety of concepts to which Wittgenstein gave currency – language games, forms of life, groundless believing, depth grammar, world pictures – the defenders aim to defuse rationalistic criticisms of religion by showing them to be, in the strict sense, impertinent.

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Boko Haram and religious exclusivism

How do violent Muslim groups justify, at least to themselves, their violence against fellow Muslims? One answer comes from Nigeria’s Boko Haram, which targets the state as well as both Muslim and Christian civilians. Boko Haram is infamous for holding two ideological stances: rejection of secular government and opposition to Western-style education.

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9780190230913

Religion in and beyond A Love Supreme

John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, which the famed saxophonist performed live only once, has the distinction of being one of jazz’s most widely celebrated yet imperfectly understood recordings. At its half-century, the devotional piece is seen as the culmination of Coltrane’s “dark night of the soul,” the sound of his heroic overcoming, and his personal entreaty to the divine.

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Crossley_jesus and the chaos of history

Thoughts on the crucifixion of Jesus

As is well known, the death of Jesus was a problem. How do you explain that your elevated hero ended up dead on a Roman cross? Or, as Paul famously put it, “we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to gentiles.” Trying to reconstruct in any detail the historical realities which may (or may not) have generated the story of the Passion is extremely difficult.

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