Winner of the Grawemeyer Award in ReligionA Los Angeles Times Bestseller“Raises timely and important questions about what religious freedom in America truly means.”—Ruth Ozeki“A must-read for anyone interested in the implacable quest for civil liberties, social and racial justice, religious freedom, and American belonging.”—George TakeiOn December 7, 1941, as the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, the first person detained was the leader of the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist sect in Hawai‘i. Nearly all Japanese Americans were subject to accusations of disloyalty, but Buddhists aroused particular suspicion. From the White House to the local town council, many believed that Buddhism was incompatible with American values. Intelligence agencies targeted the Buddhist community, and Buddhist priests were deemed a threat to national security.In this pathbreaking account, based on personal accounts and extensive research in untapped archives, Duncan Ryūken Williams reveals how, even as they were stripped of their homes and imprisoned in camps, Japanese American Buddhists launched one of the most inspiring defenses of religious freedom in our nation’s history, insisting that they could be both Buddhist and American.“A searingly instructive story…from which all Americans might learn.”—Smithsonian“Williams’ moving account shows how Japanese Americans transformed Buddhism into an American religion, and, through that struggle, changed the United States for the better.”—Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer“Reading this book, one cannot help but think of the current racial and religious tensions that have gripped this nation—and shudder.”—Reza Aslan, author of Zealot
During the late twelfth to fourteenth centuries, several precursors of what is now commonly known as Shinto came together for the first time. By focusing on Mt. Miwa in present-day Nara Prefecture and examining the worship of indigenous deities (kami) that emerged in its proximity, this book serves as a case study of the key stages of “assemblage” through which this formative process took shape. Previously unknown rituals, texts, and icons featuring kami, all of which were invented in medieval Japan under the strong influence of esoteric Buddhism, are evaluated using evidence from local and translocal ritual and pilgrimage networks, changing land ownership patterns, and a range of religious ideas and practices. These stages illuminate the medieval pedigree of Ryōbu Shintō (kami ritual worship based loosely on esoteric Buddhism’s Two Mandalas), a major precursor to modern Shinto.In analyzing the key mechanisms for “assembling” medieval forms of kami worship, Andreeva challenges the twentieth-century master narrative of Shinto as an unbroken, monolithic tradition. By studying how and why groups of religious practitioners affiliated with different cultic sites and religious institutions responded to esoteric Buddhism’s teachings, this book demonstrates that kami worship in medieval Japan was a result of complex negotiations.
An ethically-based approach to human relations for the media age
Otherness, alterity, the alien—over the course of the past fifty years many of us have based our hopes for more ethical relationships on concepts of difference. Combining philosophy, literary criticism, fiction, autobiography, and real and imagined correspondence, Ann Weinstone proposes that only when we stop ordering the other to be other—whether technological, animal, or simply inanimate—will we truly become posthuman.
Posthumanism has thus far focused nearly exclusively on human–technology relations. Avatar Bodies develops a posthumanist vocabulary for human-to-human relationships that turns our capacities for devotion, personality, and pleasure. Drawing on both the philosophies and practices of Indian Tantra, Weinstone argues for the impossibility of absolute otherness; we are all avatar bodies, consisting of undecidably shared gestures, skills, memories, sensations, beliefs, and affects.
Weinstone calls her book a “tantra”—by which she means a set of instructions for practices aimed at sensitizing the reader to the inherent permeability of self to other, self to world. This tantra for posthumanism elaborates devotional gestures that will expose us to more unfettered contacts and the transformative touch.
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