After Spirituality: Studies in Mystical Traditions is the first volume in a new series of the same name. The book is devoted to the comparative study of contemporary mysticism, bringing together papers presented as part of the 2008-2009 research group on the sociology of contemporary Jewish mysticism in comparative perspective, convened at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Jerusalem. Chapters written by leading scholars of Jewish, Buddhist and Christian Mysticism address the dramatic global proliferation and transformation of mystical traditions in recent decades. The volume seeks to establish the study of contemporary mysticism on a sound scholarly basis, employing the analytical tools of the social sciences, and using comparative methods in order to gain global perspective. This important volume will be suited for courses on contemporary or classical mysticism, comparative religion, sociology and anthropology of contemporary culture, psychology of religion, Jewish studies and Buddhist studies and social theory.
Contents: Jonathan Garb/Philip Wexler: After Spirituality: Introducing the Volume and the Series - Jonathan Garb: Contemporary Kabbalah and Classical Kabbalah: Breaks and Continuities - Yoram Bilu/Zvi Mark: Between Tsaddiq and Messiah: A Comparative Analysis of Chabad and Breslav Hasidic Groups - Moshe Idel: "The Besht Passed His Hand over His Face": On the Besht's Influence on His Followers: Some Remarks - Philip Wexler: Society and Mysticism - Louise Child: Initiation and Communities of Secrecy in Papua New Guinea, Tantric Buddhism, and Contemporary Serial Drama - Thomas J. Csordas: Sacrament and Medicine: A Comparison of Roman Catholic and Native American Church Confession - David R. Loy: Beyond Transcendence? A Buddhist Perspective on the Axial Age - William B. Parsons: Freud's Last Theory of Mysticism: The Return of the (Phylogenetic) Repressed.
"Philip Wexler and Jonathan Garb have assembled an astonishing collection. Mysticism in society, culture, history, tradition: the contributors' formulations of these interrelated realities address not only contingency but eternity. Juxtaposing remembrance and technology, confession and testimony, secrecy and the sacred, informing politics, sexuality and gender, this volume is 'spreading the wellsprings' and not only of Hasidism. As Wexler suggests, 'symbolic interaction' becomes 'cosmic interaction'. The book - and the important series it inaugurates - promises to achieve nothing less." (William F. Pinar, Canada Research Chair, University of British Columbia)