A History of Religion in 5 1/2 Objects

A History of Religion in 5 1/2 Objects

Bringing the Spiritual to Its Senses

Book - 2014
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Random House, Inc.
A leading scholar explores the importance of physical objects and sensory experience in the practice of religion.
 
Humans are needy. We need things: objects, keepsakes, stuff, tokens, knickknacks, bits and pieces, junk, and treasure. We carry special objects in our pockets and purses, and place them on shelves in our homes and offices. As commonplace as these objects are, they can also be extraordinary, as they allow us to connect with the world beyond our skin.
 
A History of Religion in 5½ Objects takes a fresh and much-needed approach to the study of that contentious yet vital area of human culture: religion. Arguing that religion must be understood in the first instance as deriving from rudimentary human experiences, from lived, embodied practices, S. Brent Plate asks us to put aside, for the moment, questions of belief and abstract ideas. Instead, beginning with the desirous, incomplete human body (symbolically evoked by “½”), he asks us to focus on five ordinary types of objects—stones, incense, drums, crosses, and bread—with which we connect in our pursuit of religious meaning and fulfillment.
 
As Plate considers each of these objects, he explores how the world’s religious traditions have put each of them to different uses throughout the millennia. We learn why incense is used by Hindus at a celebration of the goddess Durga in Banaras, by Muslims at a wedding ceremony in West Africa, and by Roman Catholics at a Mass in upstate New York. Crosses are key not only to Christianity but to many Native American traditions; in the symbolic mythology of Peru’s Misminay community, cruciform imagery stands for the general outlay of the cosmos. And stones, in the form of cairns, grave markers, and monuments, are connected with places of memory across the world.
 
A History of Religion in 5½ Objects is a celebration of the materiality of religious life. Plate moves our understanding of religion away from the current obsessions with God, fundamentalism, and science—and toward the rich depths of this world, this body, these things. Religion, it turns out, has as much to do with our bodies as our beliefs. Maybe even more.

Baker & Taylor
Drawing on insights from poets, philosophers, modern artists, anthropologists and literature, a leading scholar tells the stories of five types of ordinary objects—stones, incense, drums, crosses and bread—that have been used in religious ceremonies throughout history and around the world.

Baker
& Taylor

Drawing on insights from various disciplines, tells the stories of five types of ordinary objects--stones, incense, drums, crosses, and bread--that have been used in religious ceremonies throughout history and around the world.
"A leading scholar brings religion to its senses by exploring the importance of physical objects and sensory experience in the practice of religion Humans are needy. We need things: objects, keepsakes, knickknacks, bits and pieces, junk and treasure. As Brent Plate argues in A History of Religion in 5 1/2 Objects, exploring the stuff of everyday existence is a fresh window into the way humans have formed religious communities, performed rituals, and connected with the realm of the sacred. Beginning with the human desire to connect (evoked by "1/2"), Plate tells the stories of five types of ordinary objects that people have engaged with in sensory, symbolic, and sacred ways: stones, crosses, incense, drums, and bread. These material objects, each of whichstrongly engages one of our five senses, have been used in religious ceremonies throughout human history and across the world. A History of Religion in 5 1/2 Objects shows us that basic, material connections stand at the heart of religious traditions, ashumans quest for meaningful, fulfilling lives. As Plate looks at each of these objects, he traces the history of the world's religions and finds remarkable similarities and recurring themes throughout the millenia. We learn why incense is used by Hindus at a celebration of the goddess Durga in Banaras, by Muslims at a wedding ceremony in West Africa, and by Roman Catholics at a mass in upstate New York. And why stones, in the form of cairns, grave markers, and monuments, became connected with places of memory across the world. A History of Religion in 5 1/2 Objects moves our understanding of religion away from the current obsessions with God, fundamentalism, and science. Religion, Plate shows, has more to do with our bodies than with our beliefs"--

Publisher: Boston : Beacon Press, 2014
ISBN: 9780807033111
0807033111
Branch Call Number: 203.7 P696h
Characteristics: 248 pages ; 22 cm

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