Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality

Overview

I desire mercy, not sacrifice. Echoing Hosea, Jesus defends his embrace of the "unclean" in the Gospel of Matthew, seeming to privilege the prophetic call to justice over the Levitical pursuit of purity. And yet, as missional faith communities are well aware, the tensions and conflicts between holiness and mercy are not so easily resolved. At every turn, it seems that the psychological pull of purity and holiness tempts the church into practices of social exclusion and a Gnostic flight from "the world" into a ...

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Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality

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Overview

I desire mercy, not sacrifice. Echoing Hosea, Jesus defends his embrace of the "unclean" in the Gospel of Matthew, seeming to privilege the prophetic call to justice over the Levitical pursuit of purity. And yet, as missional faith communities are well aware, the tensions and conflicts between holiness and mercy are not so easily resolved. At every turn, it seems that the psychological pull of purity and holiness tempts the church into practices of social exclusion and a Gnostic flight from "the world" into a "too spiritual" spirituality. Moreover, the psychology of purity often lures the church into what psychologists call "The Macbeth Effect," the psychological trap that tempts us into believing that ritual acts of cleansing can replace moral and missional engagement. Finally, time after time, wherever we see churches regulating their common life with the idiom of dirt, disgust, and defilement, we find a predictable wake of dysfunction: ruined self-images, social stigma, and communal conflict. In an unprecedented fusion of psychological science and theological scholarship, Richard Beck describes the pernicious (and largely unnoticed) effects of the psychology of purity upon the life and mission of the church.

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Editorial Reviews

Psychology of Religion - David Jimenez-Cardenas
"...Noteworthy and full of insights, Unclean is a recommended reading for anyone interested in the psychological- and theological- aspects of purity in the church..."
The Expository Times - Marion Chatterley
...The value of this book is that it begins a conversation that needs to be explored. Many of the discussions to date about human sexuality have ignored the impact of a disgust reaction on the ways that people respond to those discussions. A more honest recognition of personal response will allow a more honest conversation. For that reason, I am grateful for the contribution this book makes...
Reviews in Religion & Theology - Sue Dickinson
“Beck’s skillful writing and psychological wisdom make this book a thought-provoking read.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608992423
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/4/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 212
  • Sales rank: 374,049
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Beck is Professor of Psychology at Abilene Christian University. This is his first book but he has published extensively in the empirical literature concerning the intersection of Christian faith and psychology.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Mercy and Sacrifice 1

Part 1 Unclean

1 Darwin and Disgust 13

2 Contamination and Contagion 21

Part 2 Purity

3 Morality and Metaphors 33

4 Divinity and Dumbfounding 51

Part 3 Hospitality

5 Love and Boundaries 73

6 Monsters and Scapegoats 91

7 Contempt and Heresy 107

8 Hospitality and Embrace 120

Part 4 Mortality

9 Body and Death 143

10 Sex and Privy 154

11 Need and Incarnation 165

Conclusion: Elimination and Regulation 181

Bibliography 199

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