Reverse-Engineering Belonging: A Foucauldian Archaeology of Multiple Religious Identity

By Herman, Peter C. | Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Summer 2013 | Go to article overview

Reverse-Engineering Belonging: A Foucauldian Archaeology of Multiple Religious Identity


Herman, Peter C., Journal of Ecumenical Studies


While comparative theologians struggle to define proscriptively the possibilities for multiple religious belonging and religious pluralism, the adherents of many traditions are already living these seemingly contradictory categories. (1) Although it would be possible to adopt a paternalistic attitude toward these practices and presume that the religious faithful simply do not know what they are doing, it ought also to be possible to read theology off the lived experience of religious practitioners. In systematic attempts to harmonize the apparent contradictions of multiple belonging, appeals are often made to non-Western logic, which does not hold noncontradiction to be foundational to reason. In the case of Christian thought, this seems unsatisfactory, if not a rhetorical impossibility.

I will explore the possibility of "reverse-engineering" the mechanism of multiple religious belonging. Rather than looking first to doctrine to determine whether there is room for multiple religious belonging, I will examine theological claims from those who are already claiming to be multiply religious. I will examine two particular cases. These cases should not be understood as archetypical or normative; rather, they are two well-documented cases of individuals living religiously multiple lives and leaving expressed records of doing--or having done--so.

First, I will look to the Buddhist-Christianity expressed by Paul Knitter, specifically through the book Without Buddha, 1 Could Not Be a Christian. This particular volume exhibits Knitter's reflective self-understanding of what his Buddhist practice has meant for his Christian faith, rather than being an instance of the problem of priority mentioned above. Knitter has maintained throughout that his is a Christianity modified by--but not syncretistically joined to--Buddhism. His explanations focus on the practical aspects of this lived duality without either foregrounding or ignoring their theological implications.

Next, I will look to the Muslim-Christian dual belonging of Ann Holmes Redding, who provides an interesting example, as her dual belonging was officially rejected by her Christian community's hierarchy. Now a former Episcopalian priest, Redding claimed a dual identity with Islam in 2006. Slightly more than a year of controversy followed, with her eventual removal from the pulpit in mid-2007. Redding has not treated this issue at book length herself, but the volume she co-wrote with Jamal Rahman and Kathleen Schmitt Elias--Out of Darkness into Light: Spiritual Guidance in the Quran with Reflections from Jewish and Christian Sources (2)--contains numerous reflections on qur'anic texts from the position of being both Muslim and Christian. In addition to her contributions to that volume, this essay will focus on newspaper and periodical reports from the time of her removal from the rolls of authorized Episcopalian ministry.

Methodologically, these examinations will be closer to the concept of "archaeology" as defined by Michel Foucault than to theological analysis of doctrinal claims to exclusivity. The primary aim here is to establish the actual practice and practicability of multiple--or at least dual--religious belonging. In short, the two central questions examined will be how multiple religious belonging is practiced in varying traditions and how this practiced multiple belonging can relate to doctrinal and institutional claims on the practitioner's religious loyalties. In invoking Foucault, I seek to acknowledge and validate the way in which multiple religious belonging represents a rupture in both traditions claimed by the practitioner. The Foucauldian method will allow a sense of history via sequential ruptures over and against a sense of history as continuous progress to be read from the lives of these two multiply religious authors.

I wish to point out at the onset that these two authors share a common basis as Western Christians seeking and finding religious fulfillment in non-Western religious traditions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Reverse-Engineering Belonging: A Foucauldian Archaeology of Multiple Religious Identity
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.