Now to turn from the doxa to the poly–polydoxic thinking crosses boundaries of space and time. The essays here draw from geographically diverse traditions, in Africa (Yoruba), East Asia (Neo-Confucianism), South Asia (Hinduism and Buddhism, Jainism), Native North America, and Latin America, in the essays respectively by Coleman, Lee, Thatamanil, Brianne Donaldson, Schneider, and Rivera. From within the western Christian tradition, we receive here sympathetic new readings of old favorites, such as Hegel (Lee), and Augustine (Rubenstein), and an original reading of a lesser-known primed to become a favorite for some: Anne Conway (Keller), a 17th century thinker who herself polydoxically interlinked Cambridge Platonism, Quakerism, Kabbalah and Leibniz. The aim here is not plurality for its own sake, but discerned analogies, parallels, complementarities, potential dialogues across difference. Hyo-Dong Lee and John Thatamanil explore these explicitly as they appear between the Christian trinity and Asian religious thought. But the essays also interrogate each other, if only implicitly. Haloes are a theme for both Roland Faber and Mayra Rivera; Monica Coleman’s reading of Tananarive Due’s novel The Living Blood includes thoughts on hurricanes that speak across the intervening chapters to Colleen Hartung’s reflections on tornadoes; while theft, whether as trickery or tragedy, becomes a bridge of potential conversation between Coleman and Schneider.
But if one idea impressed itself most on this reader, it is that the very notion of identity is itself an artifice that need not draw our allegiance. The essays collectively suggest an analogy between identity and orthodoxy. But if polydoxy is the counterpoint to orthodoxy, what plays that role to identity? These essays offer up a family of terms for what this might be: permeability (Schneider, p. 32); indetermination (Faber, p. 41); “the borderline where the I emerged from its matrix” (Betcher quoting Erik Erikson, p. 76); the membranous (Keller, p. 96); ecstasy, in its most literal sense (Rubenstein); emptiness (Lee, quoting Cheng Yi, p. 130); blindness (Hartung); and Jean Luc Nancy’s term, already via Mayra Rivera: dis-enclosure. Life in the space marked by these terms is something Roland Faber limns for us at the close of his essay. It is not necessarily an easy place to be. It is something like the place Levinas describes before a self that is hears or beholds the approach of the Other. Sharon Betcher suggests it is just from this space that the ligatures of urban conviviality and friendship open up. But what sustains us in this space before that happens or if indeed it fails to happen? Well, in part, words of such essays as these. If, as Laurel Schneider enjoins us to do, and as Monica Coleman demonstrates in her attentions to fiction, we remember “the innate agency of stories” (p. 31), we may find that more emerges from that quarter to sustain than we imagined–and that more than meets the eye is, or can function as, story. The agency of story can even emerge in that holdout of orthodoxy: the creed. I, for my part, have always loved the sound of the Nicene Creed, which is partly story, even if, from my perch in the religious world, I do not pronounce it myself. Perhaps the authors of this volume, in a future collaboration, will share polydoxic readings of that polysemic and polyphonous string of words, whose flowing cadences may indeed reach far beyond the bounds of that orthodoxy they were originally framed to serve.
Polydoxy is cataloged with the call number BR41 .D74 2011, which places it in the old Cornell Room (Level E). Readers of this volume may be interested in the published essays of other TTC’s, listed here, all of which are available in the library. Books of kindred spirit may be found cataloged under these subject headings:
Theology of Religions (Christian Theology)
Christianity and Other Religions
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