This ethnographic study focuses on the religious imagery and practices of a sample of Buddhist temples and Muslim mosques in the greater Los Angeles area. As a way of expanding interfaith dialogue, it is framed as a conversation between the largely Christian researchers and the seventy-five respondents, who were asked about the images, space, and practices of their religious experience. From the respondents in their various religious settings, it seeks to distill the specific religious imaginations and aesthetic profiles that might be said to characterize their experience--to discover what might be considered the living images of these faiths.
Set in the context of contemporary discussions of the nature of religion and visual culture, this richly textured study of visual and sensory practices in religion raises fundamental questions about the place of belief and ritual practice and the role these play in our increasingly pluralistic religious culture.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"There is a growing body of literature on worship that focuses on concrete images and religious practices, thus 'earthing' a field that often veers toward abstraction. This is a welcome addition to that corpus, which will doubtless deepen our understanding of the richness and complexity of worship in different traditions." --Jeremy Begbie, Duke University
"Making his readers part of a community that longs to know and love the other, Dyrness models the beauty of which he speaks as we discover our own complexities mirrored in the passing on and reimagining of religious traditions of ordinary people. Senses of Devotion is an outstanding example of inclusive theologizing for anyone who wishes to live out the possibility of a united human family made beautiful precisely through difference." --Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, Loyola Marymount University.
"This important study describes encounters and conversations that all readers will want to share and even replicate. Dyrness opens the way, sensitively and wisely avoiding common suppositions, undermining stereotypes, and keeping focused on actual practice as he pursues an eye-opening subject: the nonverbal dimensions of religious practice in other faith traditions. Among the rich rewards this book gives is a better perspective on ourselves." --Robin M. Jensen, Vanderbilt University
William A. Dyrness
William A. Dyrness is Professor of Theology and Culture and Director of the Visual Faith Institute of Art and Architecture at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, and was a founding member of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology and the Arts at Fuller. He is the author of Senses of the Soul: Art and the Visual in Christian Worship (2008) and Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life (2011).