Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mithras & Mithraism

In Our Time has a discussion of Mithraism this week led by Melvin Bragg with Greg Wolf of the University of St. Andrews; Almut Hintze, of the School of Oriental and African Studies, and John North, Acting Director of the Institute of Classical Studies at the University of London.

The first Mithreae occur on the banks of the Danube in the first century CE perhaps connected with the port Ostia. Extending from Hadrian's Wall to the Black Sea, the cult of Mithras offered a sense of help and salvation (perhaps in another life). We see it from the outside so it is had to reconstruct.

An Indo-Iranean god Mithra dates back to 1300BCE from the ANE mentioned in a contract with four deities to whom a king swears to keep a contract. There is a hymn to Mithra in which Mithra is invoked as an object of worship.

In the 70's, scholars challenged a connection between Zoroastrian ideas and Mithraism (posited by Franz Cumont), arguing instead that western Roman accounts e.g. by Porphyry should be examined in their own right. However, the argument of Cumont persists here. Although we have no first person singular accounts, in accounts of Mithraic mysteries and in Mithraea, an important act depicted is the slaughter of a bull.

We know a little about the initiation through seven stages of initiation indicated through revelation, perhaps connected to the seven planets. Men start as a raven and work their way up to the level of "Father" but perhaps few people made it through all seven. Here are some examples of Mithraea today (the picture is one I took of the Mithraeum in Walbrook, London in 2009).

Friday, December 14, 2012

Beauvoir and Beyond: March 2013

Beauvoir and Beyond: Philosophy and Sexual Difference
Abby Kluchin
Barnard Center for Research on Women, 101 Barnard Hall in Manhattan 

(Presented in collaboration with the Barnard Center for Research on Women)
“But if I wish to define myself,” Simone de Beauvoir writes, “I must first of all say: ‘I am a woman’; on this truth must be based all further discussion.” With this declaration—and the publication of The Second Sex in 1953—the question of “woman” becomes a proper topic of philosophical investigation, as Beauvoir demystifies the “eternal feminine” and lays bare the relationship of “masculine” and “feminine” and how they function to construct woman as Other. In the wake of Beauvoir, other feminist thinkers take up many of her questions, but abandon her existentialist presuppositions. In this course, we will examine a set of twentieth century texts that insist on taking woman, gender, and sexual difference seriously. The first half of the course will center around readings from the new unabridged English edition of The Second Sex, in conjunction with relevant primary and secondary literature, including the work of Jean-Paul Sartre and selections from Toril Moi’s Simone de Beauvoir: the Making of an Intellectual Woman. The second half of the course will consider so-called “French feminism” after Beauvoir, a designation that includes figures as diverse as Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Hélène Cixous, Monique Wittig, and Michèle le Doueff. These thinkers diverge in a variety of ways from Beauvoir’s approach. But they continue to insist on the necessity of confronting the question of sexual difference, as well as the theorization and performance of distinctly feminine writing that they term écriture feminine or parler-femme.
Held Thursdays, 7pm
Starts March 7, 2013
Costs $315

Podcast Conversations with contributors to Borderlands of Theological Education

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