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For longer than five centuries, Native Americans have struggled to adapt to colonialism, missionization, and government control policies. This first comprehensive survey of prophetic movements in Native North America tells how religious leaders blended indigenous beliefs with Christianity's prophetic traditions to respond to those challenges.Lee Irwin gathers a scattered literature to provide a single-volume overview that depicts American Indians' creative synthesis of their own religious beliefs and practices with a variety of Christian theological ideas and moral teachings. He traces continuities in the prophetic tradition from eighteenth-century Delaware prophets to Western dream dance visionaries, showing that Native American prophecy was not merely borrowed from Christianity but emerged from an interweaving of Christian and ancient North American teachings integral to Native religions. From the highly assimilated ideas of the Puget Sound Shakers to such resistance movements as that of the Shawnee Prophet, Irwin tells how the integration of non-Native beliefs with prophetic teachings gave rise to diverse ethnotheologies with unique features. He surveys the beliefs and practices of the nation to which each prophet belonged, then describes his or her life and teachings, the codification of those teachings, and the impact they had on both the community and the history of Native religions. Key hard-to-find primary texts are included in an appendix. An introduction to an important strand within the rich tapestry of Native religions, Coming Down from Above shows the remarkable responsiveness of those beliefs to historical events. It is an unprecedented, encyclopedic sourcebook for anyone interested in the roots of Native theology.
Labyrinths of Love is an interdisciplinary examination of the self, psyche, and soul, providing a comparative analysis from religious, paranormal research and transpersonal theory perspectives. The book addresses ontological questions regarding the nature of the self in relationship to both psyche and soul, each differentiated to reveal attributes that are transphysical and commonly recognized in most religious traditions. The role of dreams, imagination, and paranormal perceptions, as well, contribute to a more fully realized sense of identity. A constructive use of pansentient ontology illuminates how human identity can incorporate transphysical aspects of self into a meaningful theory of self-development and evolutionary becoming.The work creates a unique synthesis that unfolds what it means to be human and demonstrates a visionary epistemology of the self.
Reincarnation in America: An Esoteric History surveys the complex history of reincarnation theories across multiple fields of discourse in a pre-American context, ranging from early Greek traditions to Medieval Christian theories, Renaissance esotericism, and European Kabbalah, all of which had adherents that brought those theories to America. Rebirth theories are shown in all these groups to be highly complex and often disjunctive with mainstream religions even though members of conventional religions frequently affirm the possibility of rebirth. As a history of an idea, reincarnation theory is a current, vital belief pattern that cuts across a wide spectrum of social, cultural, and scientific domains in a long, complex history not reducible to any specific religious or theoretical explanation. This book is cross-disciplinary and multicultural, linking religious studies perspectives with science based research; it draws upon many distinct disciplines and avoids reduction of reincarnation to any specific theory. The underlying thesis is to demonstrate the complexity of reincarnation theories; what is unique is the historical overview and the gradual shift away from religious theories of rebirth to new theories that are therapeutic and trans-traditional.
Spirituality may be the most contentious and poorly understood dimension of Native American communities today. For generations the religious beliefs and practices of Native Americans have been the subject of public fascination and scholarly inquiry. Unfortunately, this ongoing interest has all too frequently been fueled by facile generalizations, inaccurate information, or inappropriate methods of investigation. Given the legacy of misrepresentation and mistrust, is it possible to fully appreciate the religious meanings and experiences of Native Americans? This volume offers a stimulating, multidisciplinary set of essays by noted Native and non-Native scholars that explore the problems and prospects of understanding and writing about Native American spirituality in the twenty-first century. Considerable attention is given to the appropriateness and value of different interpretive paradigms for Native religion, including both traditional religion and Native Christianity. The book also investigates the ethics of religious representation, issues of authenticity, the commodification of spirituality, and pedagogical practices. Of special interest is the role of dialogue in expressing and understanding Native American religious beliefs and practices. A final set of essays explores the power of and reactions to Native spirituality from a long-term, historical perspective.
In The Dream Seekers, Lee Irwin demonstrates the central importance of visionary dreams as sources of empowerment and innovation in Plains Indian religion.Irwin draws on 350 visionary dreams from published and unpublished sources that span 150 years to describe the shared features of cosmology for twenty-three groups of Plains Indians. This comprehensive work is not a recital but an understandable exploration of the religious world of Plains Indians. The different means of acquiring visions that are described include the spontaneous vision experience common among Plains Indian women and means such as stress, illness, social conflict, and mourning used by both men and women to obtain visions.