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Sacred Matters, Stately Concerns

Thompson, John M. (ed.)

Sacred Matters, Stately Concerns

Faith and Politics in Asia, Past and Present

Series: Washington College Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture - Volume 1

Year of Publication: 2014

New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 234 pp., num. ill.
ISBN 978-1-4331-1263-8 hb.  (Hardcover)

Weight: 0.470 kg, 1.036 lbs

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Book synopsis

Politics and religion have been major forces throughout history, and they still are as anyone who pays attention to current events can see. Understandably, the relationship between religion and politics calls for careful and ongoing scholarly exploration. At the same time, global centers of economic and military power are shifting from being concentrated in the West (Europe and North America) to areas in Asia, the world’s largest landmass and home to the bulk of the world’s population. Indeed, the twenty-first century is already shaping up to be the «Asian century». Perhaps not surprisingly, just as in the West, so in Asia, societies have been – and are still being – shaped by religious and political forces.
Sacred Matters, Stately Concerns: Faith and Politics in Asia, Past and Present examines the complex and intertwined nature of «politics» and «religion» in diverse cultures within Asia, ranging from China and Japan to Indonesia, Pakistan, and India. By their very nature, the essays included here defy easy generalizations about the nature of religion in various societies, forcing us to rethink, and, one hopes, pushing us beyond staid assumptions. Certainly, these essays challenge prevailing views of national/political boundaries in Asia (and by extension elsewhere), and highlight the fact that the «separation of Church and State», a hallmark of the American political system, has rarely been observed in other places and times.
Sacred Matters, Stately Concerns is suitable for use in a variety of courses on Asian history and politics as well as surveys of Asian culture and international relations and comparative/world religion and philosophy courses.


Contents: Doug Oetter: Map Of Asia – John M. Thompson: She skillfully manages the Affairs of State and Sangha: Empress Wu as Chinese Cakravartin – Lisa Grumbach: The Creation of Ritual Meat Avoidance by Japanese State Systems – Ronald Y. Nakasone: Unarigami, Sacred Feminine Voices in Ryūkyūan Polity – LaiYee Leong/Eunsook Jung: Islam and the State in Contemporary Indonesia – Norris W. Palmer: Articulating Religious Identity in the Context of Ayodhya – Chuck Fahrer: The Political Geography of Pakistan: Competing Religious and Ethnic Nationalisms – Warner A. Belanger: Some Preliminary Remarks on ‘State Protection’ Buddhism in Khotan in the Late 8th-Early 9th Centuries – Jeffrey L. Richey: Jackie Chan as Confucian Critic: Contemporary Popular Confucianism in China.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

John M. Thompson is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Christopher Newport University, where he teaches courses in philosophy, religious studies, Asian studies, and the honors program. He earned his BA in philosophy at William and Mary, his Master’s of Theological Studies at Boston University, and did his doctoral work at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, in the cultural and historical study of religion. He is the author of two books as well as numerous scholarly articles, book chapters, and book reviews. Although his primary areas of expertise are Buddhism and East Asian traditions, Thompson has a strong background in Western philosophy and Christian theology. He is keenly interested in the intersection of religion, politics, and violence through history and in cross-cultural interactions both past and present.


Washington College Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture. Vol. 1
General Editor: Joseph Prud’homme