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The Practices of Faith: Worship and Writing (Critical Essay)

Christianity and Literature 2009, Wntr, 58, 2

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What has been characterized as the turn to religion in literary studies has arisen, I believe, at least in part from a recognition among new historicist and cultural studies critics that producing historicized and culturally astute analyses of literary works requires acknowledging more spheres of meaning than those related to race, class, gender, or economics. Under new historicist principles, religion now also functions legitimately as a component of individual and social formations, while cultural studies finds "material religion" a significant part of the production and distribution of cultural meaning. Both fields are also interested in religion as it relates to issues of power. The Christian literary scholar can welcome and learn much from the work now being published on religion and literature. At the same time, he or she will find that much of this work does not constitute Christian scholarship per se, nor does it intend to. On the contrary, because it takes religion as just one more category of culture or identity formation and not as a transforming vision or central perspective, it leaves plenty of room for a more specifically Christian literary critique--or, since "Christian scholarship" itself is difficult to define, for the insights of scholars who, because of their own commitments to the Christian faith, are more likely than critics of other persuasions to approach the evidences of religion in texts and writers in integral rather than reductionist ways. Christian scholars might contribute to the religion-and-literature dialogue in a number of ways, one of which is by focusing on the practices of faith. My own interests lie in the potential intersections between a person's participation in communal worship practices and his / her practices of writing. Those who are not regular church-goers (and perhaps some who are) may see the weekly church service as a rote exercise, stripped of meaning by endless repetition, rendered boring by habitual practice. But careful attention to the meaning, purpose, and perhaps above all, the variety of worship practices or liturgies in the Christian church can reveal the deep textures of individuals' differing commitments and, in turn, the intricacies of faith writing that arises out of these commitments. Understanding these intricacies can prevent generalizations about Christian writers that do not do justice to their individualities. It can also reveal the extent to which devotional writings are built on carefully deliberated principles derived from or shaped in response to the beliefs and practices of a faith community. In an age that has largely accepted the idea of religion as a purely personal matter, such attention to the relationships between the public and private dimensions of faith might prove startling.

The Practices of Faith: Worship and Writing (Critical Essay)
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  • Kategorie: Sprachkunst und Lehrfächer
  • Erschienen: 01.01.2009
  • Verlag: Conference on Christianity and Literature
  • Druckseiten: 9 Seiten
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • Voraussetzungen: Das Anzeigen dieses Buchs erfordert ein iOS-Gerät mit iBooks 1.3.1 (oder neuer) und iOS 4.3.3 (oder neuer) oder einen Mac mit iBooks 1.0 (oder neuer) und OS X 10.9 (oder neuer).


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