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Minding the Spirit

, 416 pages

3 line drawings

November 2004



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Minding the Spirit

The Study of Christian Spirituality

The birth of an academic discipline is a rare event. Even more extraordinary is academia's acknowledgment that spirituality has scholarly as well as personal dimensions. Inquiry and dialogue are the essence of this new discipline, as it paves the way toward a deeper understanding of what it means to be human within the Christian faith.

The twenty-five essays in this volume, originally published in either the Christian Spirituality Bulletin or Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality, offer groundbreaking explorations of Christian spirituality. Arranged under five broad headings, these essays create an insightful dialogue on the questions, methods, and critical approaches implemented by the discipline's top scholars. Topics addressed include the particular intellectual and methodological challenges presented by spirituality as an academic discipline, the self-implicating nature of the study of spirituality, historical perspectives, theological implications, healing as a function of spirituality, and the relationship between aesthetics and spirituality—art and spirit.

Scholars working on either broad or focused themes in spirituality will benefit from this clear and accessible presentation of the salient aspects of the discipline. In their insight and historical and methodological content, these essays provide valuable tools for students and teachers of spirituality and related fields, in their insight and historical and methodological content. This volume speaks to all who practice and study spirituality from any religious or secular perspective, encouraging reflective and open dialogue with one of humanity's major religious traditions.

Contributors: J. Matthew Ashley, Thomas Berry, Mark S. Burrows, Douglas Burton-Christie, Lawrence S. Cunningham, Lisa E. Dahill, Elizabeth A. Dreyer, Mary Frohlich, Belden C. Lane, Elizabeth Liebert, E. Ann Matter, Bernard McGinn, Meredith B. McGuire, Mark McIntosh, Barbara Newman, Walter H. Principe, Don E. Saliers, Sandra M. Schneiders, Philip F. Sheldrake, Jon Sobrino, Wendy M. Wright

Elizabeth A. Dreyer is a professor of religious studies at Fairfield University in Connecticut and the author of Earth Crammed with Heaven, The Cross in Christian Tradition, and Passionate Spirituality. Mark S. Burrows a is professor of the history of Christianity at the Andover Newton Theological School and editor of Biblical Hermeneutics in Historical Perspective.

"This is a collection of 25 articles... Several stand out as particularly helpful in understanding how the study of spirituality has become an academic discipline."

" Minding the Spirit is a splendid opportunity for scholars and lay readers alike to listen in on an extended and engaging conversation by pioneering scholars whose work has given birth to the new field of spirituality. Well crafted and perceptively designed, this volume of lively essays is a major and first-rate contribution to this burgeoning yet youthful field of spirituality."

"Fortunately, we now have in one book the basic documents needed to deal with questions and concerns central to academic study of Christian spirituality. Here the 'founding mothers and fathers' of this new discipline clearly present their convictions regarding such issues as: what distinguishes this field from others? what characterizes its method? how can it be both self-implicating and critical? Written by seasoned faculty, these essays are excellent examples of how to practice what you teach."

"Ably edited... Merits study by all persons who have a serious interest in spirituality."

"I shall be referring to it frequently and recommending it to my students."

"This book is essential for those engaged in the academic study of spirituality."

"The book has a broad appeal to specialists in spirituality and theology, pedagogues, and graduate and upper-undergraduate level students."

"Once I began reading this text, the challenges and depth of thought drew me in. Every chapter contains quotable ideas and captures a bit of the numinous we seek!"

"Not just clever... It goes to the heart of one of the central issues involved in the study of spirituality."

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