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Dazzling Bodies

Dazzling Bodies

Rethinking Spirituality and Community Formation

by Richard Valantasis
Publication Date: 23/10/2014
Spirituality is always developed and nurtured in community, and communities have particular spiritualities. Dazzling Bodies promotes practices and performances as the basis for individual and community spiritual formation by analyzing specific experiences and real-life situations in personal and corporate life. Three bodies are delineated as the basis for spiritual formation: the physical body, the social body, and the corporate body. Drawing on theories of communication (semiotics, social semiotics, and narrative theory), the book examines personal and corporate spiritual formation, both by plotting the ways community systems create solidarity, and by analyzing community systems for the modulation of power at work. Dazzling Bodies explores the development of a specific language system for each community, taking the sermon as the primary instrument of community formation. Liturgy and worship receive special attention. A theory of asceticism, based on specific performances, founded in renewed social relationships, and forming an alternative symbolic universe, provides parameters for individual and corporate spiritual formation. ""In this important book, Valanatasis criticizes the dominant understanding of 'spirituality' as addressed to a psychospiritual world within individuals. Instead, he advocates corporate spiritual formation in a liturgical community. Recognizing that 'ideas do not change people; experiences change people, ' Valantasis brings together his academic and pastoral experience as well as his background in Greek Orthodoxy and Episcopal priesthood to describe and illustrate corporate spirituality. Dazzling Bodies should be required reading for Christian clergy and lay people."" --Margaret R. Miles, Professor of Historical Theology emerita, The Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA ""I have been waiting for a book like this for the nearly three decades I have been in parish ministry. All the usual books on congregational dynamics seem to separate the 'fine grained' realities of parish life from any sustained theological reflection, as if our experience of God were mediated to us in some other way than our common life. Valantasis's deep familiarity with ascetical theology and the scheme of the three bodies derived from his years of study and ministry provides a profoundly theological way of reflecting on the richness of congregational life and worship. He shows us how to see the divine brilliance of all our bodies."" --Dan Handschy, rector, Church of the Advent, St. Louis, MO Richard Valantasis is codirector of the Institute for Contemplative Living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Among his books are The Beliefnet Guide to Gnosticism and Other Vanished Christianities (2006), The Making of the Self (Cascade Books, 2008), and The Gospels and Christian Life in History and Practice (2009).
Religion & beliefs
Publication Date:
Wipf & Stock Publishers
Country of origin:
United States

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