Spiritual Grammar: Genre and the Saintly Subject in Islam and Christianity

Spiritual Grammar: Genre and the Saintly Subject in Islam and Christianity

Spiritual Grammar: Genre and the Saintly Subject in Islam and Christianity

Spiritual Grammar: Genre and the Saintly Subject in Islam and Christianity

Excerpt

The structure of this book is designed to give readers what they need in order to make sense of two strange and intriguing texts composed by creative writers who were great scholars, devoted teachers, and spiritual guides eager to help seekers as they journeyed toward God. Hoping to reach readers who are keenly interested in the practice of cary theory and its applicability to theology, I have assumed no particular expertise or background. I hope equally to entice students of Islamic thought to read about Gerson and enter his world as to entice students of Christian thought to read about Qushayrī and enter his world.

The introductory chapter poses the question at the heart of this inquiry, namely, the theological significance of the queer literary genre of Qushayrī’s Grammar of Hearts and Gerson’s Moralized Grammar. Thematizing “spiritual grammar,” the Introduction contrasts this hybrid genre with other writings that intermix the spiritual and the grammatical or the religious and the linguistic. It is here that I first begin developing a description of spiritual grammar as a genre based on the metaphor of the self embedded in the grammatical structures of spiritual reality. Through their distinctive mélange of grammatical and religious genres, spiritual grammar blatantly violates what Derrida calls “the law of genre.” the noninvisibility of the genre of such texts makes their stage unmissable, their performance unmistakable, and calls into question the genres of theology and the genders of Christian and Muslim believers—frames of knowledge and being that are commonly transparent and invisible. in this way, the genre of “spiritual grammar” creates a space for the reader to become a certain kind of person, in a certain kind of world.

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