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That relation has long been conceived in antagonistic terms, privileging spirit above matter, belief above ritual and objects, meaning above form, and "inward" contemplation above "outward" action. After all, wasn't the opposition between spirituality and materiality the defining characteristic of religion, understood as geared to a transcendental beyond that was immaterial by definition? Grounded in the rise of religion as a modern category, with Protestantism as its main exponent, this conceptualization ...
That relation has long been conceived in antagonistic terms, privileging spirit above matter, belief above ritual and objects, meaning above form, and "inward" contemplation above "outward" action. After all, wasn't the opposition between spirituality and materiality the defining characteristic of religion, understood as geared to a transcendental beyond that was immaterial by definition? Grounded in the rise of religion as a modern category, with Protestantism as its main exponent, this conceptualization devalues religious things as lacking serious empirical, let alone theoretical, interest. The resurgence of public religion in our time has exposed the limitations of this attitude.
Taking materiality seriously, this volume uses as a starting point the insight that religion necessarily requires some kind of incarnation, through which the beyond to which it refers becomes accessible. Conjoining rather than separating spirit and matter, incarnation (whether understood as "the world becoming flesh" or in a broader sense) places at center stage the question of how the realm of the transcendental, spiritual, or invisible is rendered tangible in the world.
How do things matter in religious discourse and practice? How are we to account for the value or devaluation, the appraisal or contestation, of things within particular religious perspectives? How are we to rematerialize our scholarly approaches to religion? These are the key questions addressed by this multidisciplinary volume. Focusing on different kinds of things that matter for religion, including sacred artifacts, images, bodily fluids, sites, and electronic media, it offers a wide-ranging set of multidisciplinary studies that combine detailed analysis and critical reflection.
Introduction: Material Religion-How Things Matter Birgit Meyer Dick Houtman 1
Part I Anxieties About Things
The Modern Fear of Matter: Reflections on the Protestantism of Victorian Science Peter Pels 27
Dangerous Things: One African Genealogy Matthew Engelke 40
Things That Matter: The Extra Calvinisticum, the Eucharist, and John Calvin's Unstable Materiality Ernst Van Den Hemel 62
Part II Images and Incarnations
From Stone to Flesh: The Case of the Buddha Donald S. Lopez 77
Rhetoric of the Heart: Figuring the Body in Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus David Morgan 90
Idolatry: Nietzsche, Blake, and Poussin W. J. T. Mitchell 112
"Has this thing appeared again tonight?": Deus ex Machina and Other Theatrical Interventions of the Supernatural Freddie Rokem 127
Portraits That Matter: King Chulalongkorn Objects and the Sacred World of Thai-ness Irene Stengs 137
Part III Sacred Artifacts
Material Mobility Versus Concentric Cosmology in the Sukkah: The House of the Wandering Jew or a Ubiquitous Temple? Galit Hasan-Rokem 153
The Tasbirwol (Prayer Beads) under Attack: How the Common Practice of Counting One's Beads Reveals Its Secrets in the Muslim Community of North Cameroon José C. M. Van Santen 180
Miniatures and Stones in the Spiritual Economy of the Virgin of Urkupiña in Bolivia Sanne Derks Willy Jansen Catrien Notermans 198
Part IV Bodily Fluids
Fluid Matters: Gendering Holy Blood and Holy Milk Willy Jansen Grietje Dresen 215
"When you see blood, it brings truth": Ritual and Resistance in a Time of War Elizabeth A. Castelli 232
A Pentecostal Passion Paradigm: The Invisible Framing of Gibson's Christ in a Dutch Pentecostal Church Miranda Klaver
Part V Public Space
The Structural Transformation of the Coffeehouse: Religion, Language, and the Public Sphere in the Modernizing Muslim World Michiel Leezenberg 267
The Affective Power of the Face Veil: Between Disgust and Fascination Annelies Moors 282
"There is a spirit in that image": Mass-Produced Jesus Pictures and Protestant-Pentecostal Animation in Ghana Birgit Meyer 296
The FedEx Saints: Patrons of Mobility and Speed in a Neoliberal City Maria José A. De Abreu 321
Part VI Digital Technologies
Enchantment, Inc.: Online Gaming Between Spiritual Experience and Commodity Fetishism Stef Aupers 339
Fulfilling the Sacred Potential of Technology: New Edge Technophilia, Consumerism, and Spirituality in Silicon Valley Dorien Zandbergen 356
In Their Own Image? Catholic, Protestant, and Holistic Spiritual Appropriations of the Internet Ineke Noomen Stef Aupers Dick Houtman 379