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Religions, Volume 7, Issue 12 (December 2016)

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Trust at Work: A Study on Faith and Trust of Protestant Entrepreneurs in China
Religions 2016, 7(12), 136; doi:10.3390/rel7120136
Received: 20 September 2016 / Revised: 17 November 2016 / Accepted: 6 December 2016 / Published: 20 December 2016
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Abstract
There is much talk about the trust crisis in China and the possible role of religion in rebuilding China’s moral order. This study is an attempt to examine religion’s impact on the emerging market economy in China, focusing on trust in business relations
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There is much talk about the trust crisis in China and the possible role of religion in rebuilding China’s moral order. This study is an attempt to examine religion’s impact on the emerging market economy in China, focusing on trust in business relations that might be generated by the Christian faith. Based on 43 in-depth interviews with Christian entrepreneurs in China, our study shows that the majority of our respondents tend to be: (1) more willing to be trustworthy after becoming Christians; (2) trusting people who share their faith more than others; (3) perceiving religious persons, regardless of what that religion is, as more trustworthy than the non-religious. Our study shows that religiosity is used by many Christian entrepreneurs as a category to guide their decision-making and that it is significant in stimulating and maintaining trust in and from others. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christianity and China in the 21st Century)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle ‘The Way of Our Streets’: Exploring the Urban Sacred in Three Australian Poems
Religions 2016, 7(12), 138; doi:10.3390/rel7120138
Received: 9 September 2016 / Revised: 4 November 2016 / Accepted: 13 November 2016 / Published: 25 November 2016
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Abstract
This article examines three contemporary Australian poems that concern themselves with matters of the sacred within the modern Australian city. Noting that Australian poetry and the sacred have often been studied in terms of the landscape, the article approaches these poems as part
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This article examines three contemporary Australian poems that concern themselves with matters of the sacred within the modern Australian city. Noting that Australian poetry and the sacred have often been studied in terms of the landscape, the article approaches these poems as part of an undercurrent of spiritual or sacred writing that takes up urban Australian spaces as important and resonant sites. Through readings of Kevin Hart’s ‘Night Music’ (2008), Jill Jones’s ‘Where We Live’ (2007) and Benjamin Frater’s ‘Ourizen’ (2011), the article demonstrates the various ways that contemporary Australian spirituality is poetically expressed in cities such as Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue English Poetry and Christianity)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle A Cognitive Approach to Tantric Language
Religions 2016, 7(12), 139; doi:10.3390/rel7120139
Received: 29 April 2016 / Revised: 20 September 2016 / Accepted: 22 October 2016 / Published: 30 November 2016
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Abstract
By applying the contemporary theories of schema, metonymy, metaphor, and conceptual blending, I argue in this paper that salient cognitive categories facilitate a deeper analysis of Tantric language. Tantras use a wide range of symbolic language expressed in terms of mantric speech and
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By applying the contemporary theories of schema, metonymy, metaphor, and conceptual blending, I argue in this paper that salient cognitive categories facilitate a deeper analysis of Tantric language. Tantras use a wide range of symbolic language expressed in terms of mantric speech and visual maṇḍalas, and Tantric texts relate the process of deciphering meaning with the surge of mystical experience. In this essay, I will focus on some distinctive varieties of Tantric language with a conviction that select cognitive tools facilitate coherent reading of these expressions. Mystical language broadly utilizes images and metaphors. Deciphering Tantric language should therefore also provide a framework for reading other varieties of mystical expressions across cultures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Science and the Study of Yoga and Tantra)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Losing Touch: A Theology of Death for Michael Haneke’s Amour
Religions 2016, 7(12), 140; doi:10.3390/rel7120140
Received: 26 July 2016 / Revised: 7 November 2016 / Accepted: 16 November 2016 / Published: 30 November 2016
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Abstract
This proposed theology of death for Michael Haneke’s Amour, a fraught but poignant piece of cinema, will employ Martin Heidegger’s existentialism to reframe the ethical structure of the film and apply a “lived theology” rejoinder to its perceived hopelessness. The proposal will
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This proposed theology of death for Michael Haneke’s Amour, a fraught but poignant piece of cinema, will employ Martin Heidegger’s existentialism to reframe the ethical structure of the film and apply a “lived theology” rejoinder to its perceived hopelessness. The proposal will address the question of ethics in relation to Haneke’s cinema, in particular his seemingly nihilistic perspective and confrontational style. To do so, it will revisit the film itself and examine the ways that Georges and Anne’s love is tested. Principally, we examine the film’s great question, which—in the filmmaker’s own words—is: “How do I cope with the suffering of a loved one?” With aid from the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, this ‘lived theology’ proposal will attempt to give an account of love’s irrepressible strength in the midst of even astounding suffering. While Heidegger’s ethic of resoluteness calls for interiority and solitude, Bonhoeffer’s account of death more satisfactorily invokes a transcendent summons contained within our own pledges to loved ones. Such a theological reading of Haneke’s Amour will draw two distinct conclusions: first, the film exposes the superficiality of any hoped-for solitude or escape from a loved one’s death, and secondly, it demonstrates that the mutuality of authentic love entails impossible sacrifices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Film and Lived Theology)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Spiritual Dryness in Non-Ordained Catholic Pastoral Workers
Religions 2016, 7(12), 141; doi:10.3390/rel7120141
Received: 11 October 2016 / Revised: 23 November 2016 / Accepted: 28 November 2016 / Published: 2 December 2016
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Abstract
Background: We wondered whether “spiritual dryness” as a specific phase of “spiritual crisis” or insecurity is mostly a matter only of Catholic priests or can also be found in other pastoral professionals. Methods: In a cross-sectional survey, we measured the prevalence of spiritual
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Background: We wondered whether “spiritual dryness” as a specific phase of “spiritual crisis” or insecurity is mostly a matter only of Catholic priests or can also be found in other pastoral professionals. Methods: In a cross-sectional survey, we measured the prevalence of spiritual dryness in non-ordained Catholic pastoral workers, and identified relevant predictors. Results: In a sample of 3.277 pastoral workers, 50% would occasionally experience phases of spiritual dryness, while 13% experience it often or even regularly. There were no significant differences between women and men, professions, or age groups. The best predictors of spiritual dryness were low transcendence perception and a low sense of coherence (both are resources), as well as depressive symptoms and stress perception (both are demands or stressors), which would explain 41% of the variance. Self-efficacy expectation and social support were not among the significant predictors. Conclusion: Both the proportions and the main predictors are similar compared to Catholic priests. It is thus not the underlying profession or vocation and the related life situation or differences in social support, but predominantly specific perceptions, feelings, and attitudes that are related to the phenomenon of spiritual dryness—and these can be found in all pastoral professionals who seriously live their spirituality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Health and Psychology of Religion)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Wang Yi and the 95 Theses of the Chinese Reformed Church
Religions 2016, 7(12), 142; doi:10.3390/rel7120142
Received: 20 September 2016 / Revised: 25 November 2016 / Accepted: 30 November 2016 / Published: 6 December 2016
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Abstract
In August 2015, a group of pastors and elders from an urban house church in Chengdu, Sichuan, posted 95 theses online. This bold move, challenging the state and the Chinese churches has created controversy in China and abroad. The theses address a series
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In August 2015, a group of pastors and elders from an urban house church in Chengdu, Sichuan, posted 95 theses online. This bold move, challenging the state and the Chinese churches has created controversy in China and abroad. The theses address a series of issues on sovereignty and authority with regard to God, the church and the government. This article considers briefly the historical and theological resemblances to Luther’s act, then examines three of the most controversial aspects of the document: its analysis of church–state relations, its rejection of the “sinicization” of Christianity, and its excoriation of the state-registered church. Of these three, the article focuses on church–state relations, since perspectives on the state church and sinicization stem from the same arguments. The article shows how the thinking of this Reformed church and its senior pastor Wang Yi draws on a particular reading of the bible, church tradition, and the role of conscience, and traces these to pastor Wang Yi’s earlier writings and his reading of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Reformed thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christianity and China in the 21st Century)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The One and the Many in Bonaventure Exemplarity Explained
Religions 2016, 7(12), 144; doi:10.3390/rel7120144
Received: 1 September 2016 / Revised: 14 November 2016 / Accepted: 28 November 2016 / Published: 8 December 2016
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Abstract
The category of exemplarity, which holds a central place in Bonaventure’s thought, is in many ways a certain type of solution to the problem of the many and the one. Bonaventure’s account of the relationship between the created many and the uncreated original
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The category of exemplarity, which holds a central place in Bonaventure’s thought, is in many ways a certain type of solution to the problem of the many and the one. Bonaventure’s account of the relationship between the created many and the uncreated original on which they are all based is in many ways like the account that Augustine gives; but he both greatly expands upon the Augustinian account and expands it in directions that prepare for the Christocentrism that will mark the rest of his theological work. This article will explicate Bonaventure’s treatment of this issue on the basis of his two most extended conversations, in the first book of his commentary on Lombard’s Sentences and in the Disputed Questions on the Knowledge of Christ. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plato among the Christians)
Open AccessArticle Returning Home to the Advaitic Self: Svāmī Rāma Tīrtha and His American Audiences
Religions 2016, 7(12), 145; doi:10.3390/rel7120145
Received: 6 September 2016 / Revised: 30 October 2016 / Accepted: 5 December 2016 / Published: 8 December 2016
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Abstract
A recurring theme in the Advaita Vedānta traditions is the necessity of empirical purification through means such as the cultivation of virtues, the study of the Vedas, and so on, even though the transcendental self has never been subject to any form of
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A recurring theme in the Advaita Vedānta traditions is the necessity of empirical purification through means such as the cultivation of virtues, the study of the Vedas, and so on, even though the transcendental self has never been subject to any form of bondage. The traditions seek to mitigate this paradox by employing the vocabulary of a shift across the ‘levels’ of truth—while the worldly self is, empirically speaking, moving towards the goal of realization, from the transcendental perspective, the self never loses its eternal nature. We will explore how Svāmī Rāma Tīrtha (1873–1906) addressed this theme of the recovery of one’s essential self in his lectures to some American audiences between 1902 and 1904. Drawing on some of the vocabularies of Swami Vivekananda, who had presented a ‘Practical Vedānta’ to Western audiences in the late 1890s, Rāma Tīrtha developed an Advaitic form of self-realization that is practically engaged with the world and, according to him, is the spiritual quest of humanity across all boundaries. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Poem as Endangered Being: Lacostian Soundings in Hopkins’s “Hurrahing” and Stevens’s “Blackbird”
Religions 2016, 7(12), 146; doi:10.3390/rel7120146
Received: 13 October 2016 / Revised: 15 November 2016 / Accepted: 25 November 2016 / Published: 8 December 2016
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Abstract
This essay situates the recent phenomenology of French Heideggerean-priest Jean-Yves Lacoste in Être en Danger (2011) in a wider discussion of the sacramentology of “things” to pursue the hypothesis that the being of a poem is endangered—crossed between the concrete and the abstract,
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This essay situates the recent phenomenology of French Heideggerean-priest Jean-Yves Lacoste in Être en Danger (2011) in a wider discussion of the sacramentology of “things” to pursue the hypothesis that the being of a poem is endangered—crossed between the concrete and the abstract, the perceived and the imagined, the object and the thing. Whereas for Heidegger danger entails a technocratic closure of Dasein’s being-toward-death, for Lacoste danger is proper to the being of life. Lacoste offers two “counter-existentials” to show, contra Heidegger, that life simply cannot be being-toward-death all the time: sabbatical experience and art experience. It is to these kinds of experience that poetry clearly belongs. To illustrate what Lacoste means by sabbatical experience, I offer a reading of G.M. Hopkins’s “Hurrahing in Harvest” (1877); to illustrate what Lacoste means by art experience, I turn to Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” (1917). Finally, I conclude that rather than contrast the secular poem with the religious poem it is best to think of all poetry as generically sacramental, i.e., signs and things (signum et res), with religious poetry constituting an excessive pole that is addressed to the sacrament of God (res tantum). The Christian loves the poem because the poem does not make him or her choose between God and things—in light of the Incarnation, an insupportable choice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue English Poetry and Christianity)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Late Bergman: The Lived Experience of the Absence of God in Faithless and Saraband
Religions 2016, 7(12), 147; doi:10.3390/rel7120147
Received: 2 June 2016 / Revised: 27 September 2016 / Accepted: 2 December 2016 / Published: 15 December 2016
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Abstract
Acclaimed as one of the great filmmakers of the 20th century, Ingmar Bergman is for many an arch-modernist, whose work is characterized by a high degree of self-conscious artistry and by dark, even nihilistic themes. Film critics increasingly identify him as a kind
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Acclaimed as one of the great filmmakers of the 20th century, Ingmar Bergman is for many an arch-modernist, whose work is characterized by a high degree of self-conscious artistry and by dark, even nihilistic themes. Film critics increasingly identify him as a kind of philosopher of the human condition, especially of the dislocations and misery of the modern human condition. However, Bergman’s films are not embodiments of philosophical theories, nor do they include explicit discussions of theory. Instead, he attends to the concrete lived experience of those who, on the one hand, suffer from doubt, dislocation, and self-hatred and, on the other, long for confession and communion. In the middle of his career, especially in his famous faith trilogy of the early 1960s, Bergman investigated the lived experience of the absence of God. It is commonly thought that after this period, the question of God disappeared. However, in his last two films, Faithless and Saraband, Bergman explores the lived experience of the absence of God. Indeed, he moves beyond a simple negation to explore the complex interplay of absence. He even illustrates the possibility of a kind of communion for which so many of his characters—early, middle and late—long. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Film and Lived Theology)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Prayer and Religion—Irish Nurses Caring for an Intellectually Disabled Child Who Has Died
Religions 2016, 7(12), 148; doi:10.3390/rel7120148
Received: 30 November 2016 / Revised: 30 November 2016 / Accepted: 10 December 2016 / Published: 15 December 2016
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Abstract
This research paper was presented at the Second International Spirituality in Healthcare Conference 2016—Nurturing the Spirit held at Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin. 23rd June 2016. Historically, nursing has had a sound “spiritual” grounding. However, some contemporary health literature is questioning
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This research paper was presented at the Second International Spirituality in Healthcare Conference 2016—Nurturing the Spirit held at Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin. 23rd June 2016. Historically, nursing has had a sound “spiritual” grounding. However, some contemporary health literature is questioning spirituality’s relevance, and practitioners often shy away from it. This article aims to highlight the findings of a study which, in exploring the nurse’s personal grief relating to caring for a child with an intellectual disability who has died, identified the practice and value of spirituality in nursing practice. A qualitative descriptive research approach was employed. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with eight female nurses who had cared for a child with an intellectual disability who has died. Data was analyzed using Newell and Burnard’s pragmatic approach to qualitative data. Ethical Approval was granted by University of Dublin, Trinity College and the relevant healthcare provider. Eight broad themes emerged from the study. “Prayer and Religion” was a sub-theme of “Focusing on the positive”, which is the main focus of this article, and discussed in depth for the first time. Spirituality and religion plays a key role in the daily lives of many nurses, who further embrace this aspect of their lives when managing dying, death and bereavement. It became evident that spirituality was not merely a reactive strategy, but one underpinning a participant’s core nursing values. Nurse Managers and colleagues should continue to acknowledge, respect and support staff’s spirituality. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Beyond Christian Nationalism: How the American Committee on Religious Rights and Minorities Made Religious Pluralism a Global Cause in the Interwar Era
Religions 2016, 7(12), 149; doi:10.3390/rel7120149
Received: 4 October 2016 / Revised: 7 December 2016 / Accepted: 8 December 2016 / Published: 16 December 2016
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Abstract
During the 1920s and 1930s, the American Committee on Religious Rights and Minorities offered a potent challenge to the view of the United States as a Christian nation. The Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish members of the committee drew on a wealth of interfaith
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During the 1920s and 1930s, the American Committee on Religious Rights and Minorities offered a potent challenge to the view of the United States as a Christian nation. The Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish members of the committee drew on a wealth of interfaith commitments to develop a critique of religious persecution around the world, especially the increasing anti-Semitism across Europe. In an era marked by isolationism, nationalism, and Christian triumphalism, the committee offered a competing vision of pluralist internationalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Living Goddess of Mercy at the Rape of Nanking: Minnie Vautrin and the Ginling Refugee Camp in World War II (1937–1938)
Religions 2016, 7(12), 150; doi:10.3390/rel7120150
Received: 20 September 2016 / Revised: 28 October 2016 / Accepted: 5 December 2016 / Published: 17 December 2016
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Abstract
During the infamous Nanking Atrocity, some Western businesspersons and missionaries established the Nanking Safety Zone to protect about 250,000 refugees. When the Japanese army was pressing on Nanking, Minnie Vautrin, an educational missionary from the United Christian Missionary Society, took charge of the
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During the infamous Nanking Atrocity, some Western businesspersons and missionaries established the Nanking Safety Zone to protect about 250,000 refugees. When the Japanese army was pressing on Nanking, Minnie Vautrin, an educational missionary from the United Christian Missionary Society, took charge of the Ginling College campus. As one of the 25 refugee camps, Ginling provided shelter to about 10,000 women and children in late December 1937—the hardest time during World War II in China. With her neutral identity of American nationality, Vautrin seriously struggled with Japanese soldiers when they were seizing Chinese women for rape from the campus; thus, she helped many women avoid the possible fate of sexual violence and slaughter. The Chinese people promoted her as a “Goddess of Mercy”, in the Chinese language a “Living Buddha” (Huo pu sa) or “Guanyin Buddha” (Guan Yin pu sa). The Chinese central government awarded her the Order of Jade (Cai Yu xun zhang). Drawing from Vautrin’s diaries and other original materials, this paper narrates this Christian female missionary’s moving story in humanism, evangelism, and internationalism. Her devotion to the Chinese refugee women and children made her an eyewitness to the Nanking Massacre, a rehabilitator of refugee sufferings, and a mental and bodily victim of disastrous war. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christianity and China in the 21st Century)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God or for America? Christian Nationalism, the Christian Right, and the Contra War
Religions 2016, 7(12), 151; doi:10.3390/rel7120151
Received: 3 October 2016 / Revised: 4 December 2016 / Accepted: 7 December 2016 / Published: 18 December 2016
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Abstract
This essay uses the concept of Christian nationalism to explore the religious dynamics of the Contra war and U.S.–Nicaraguan relations during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Religious organizations and individuals played crucial roles on both sides in the war in Nicaragua and in the debates
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This essay uses the concept of Christian nationalism to explore the religious dynamics of the Contra war and U.S.–Nicaraguan relations during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Religious organizations and individuals played crucial roles on both sides in the war in Nicaragua and in the debates in the United States over support for the Contras. Evangelistic work strengthened transnational ties between Christians, but also raised the stakes of the war; supporters of the Sandinistas and Contras alike alleged a victory by their adversary imperiled the future of Christianity in Nicaragua. Christian nationalism thus manifested itself and intertwined in both the United States and Nicaragua. Examining how evangelicals and Catholics in the United States and Nicaragua, as well as the Reagan administration, the Contras, and the Sandinistas, used Christian nationalism to build support for their policy objectives sheds light on both the malleability and the power of identifying faith with the state. Having assessed Christian nationalism as a tool and a locus of conflict in the Contra war, the essay then steps back and considers the larger methodological implications of using Christian nationalism as a category of analysis in U.S. foreign relations history. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States)

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Open AccessFeature PaperEssay Geoffrey Hill’s “Hard-Won Affirmation”: The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy
Religions 2016, 7(12), 143; doi:10.3390/rel7120143
Received: 26 July 2016 / Revised: 20 October 2016 / Accepted: 22 October 2016 / Published: 5 December 2016
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Abstract
Sir Geoffrey Hill, long hailed as Britain’s greatest living poet, was devoted to remembering the deceased, those forgotten in the debased din of mass culture—some of them worthy of our emulation, others edifying by their “folly” or “criminality” (Paris Review interview). Hill’s
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Sir Geoffrey Hill, long hailed as Britain’s greatest living poet, was devoted to remembering the deceased, those forgotten in the debased din of mass culture—some of them worthy of our emulation, others edifying by their “folly” or “criminality” (Paris Review interview). Hill’s recent death, on 30 June 2016, presents an apt time to remember his own life-work. In its act of memorial as homage, The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy marks a departure for Hill: whereas his earlier work often rests in ambiguity, Péguy labors through the ambiguity—through characteristically antiphonal tones of voice, rhythms, and images—and concludes in affirmation, a note of hope, which points in the direction of some of his later work. Through all of his complexity, Péguy’s life—like Hill’s poem—conforms to a kenotic, Christological pattern and is thus worthy of our emulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue English Poetry and Christianity)

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