Religious intimacy: collaboration, collusion and collision in ritual communication

Laur Vallikivi (University of Tartu)
Eva Toulouze (INALCO Paris)
Art Leete (University of Tartu)
Toomas Gross (University of Helsinki)
Start time:
3 August, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The panel will focus on the expressions of religious intimacy in contemporary religious movements. We will discuss how in human communities as well as in relations between humans and non-humans intimacy becomes a key cultural value and rhetorical device through ritual communication.

Long abstract:

Michael Herzfeld has called the collective space that unites the members of a nation-state into a fellowship 'cultural intimacy'. This space is hard to grasp for outsiders, being dynamic, heterogeneous and often tacit. Partly inspired by Herzfeld's concept, the panel will focus on the expressions of religious intimacy in contemporary religious movements. Intimacy among humans as well as between humans and non-humans is the key value and the main rhetorical device in various ritual settings. For instance, Christianity, like most other 'world religions', is known for its model of transcendence according to which humans have only limited options for using the resources of the distant divine realm in this world. This model is a source of considerable tension. Next to ascetic movements in Christianity, there have always been movements that value the material presence and immediacy of the divine. We would like to discuss how in religious communities and individual lives the verbal and non-verbal ritual acts create the presence of the divine and demonic. We ask how religious intimacy inside a group is achieved and sustained with or against the claims of transcendence. What kind of religious intimacy exists in the religions that do not make a radical distinction between the transcendental and the mundane? How do bearers of animistic, shamanistic and other local traditions create intimacy with the non-human agents in ritual communication? How is social intimacy achieved in mission encounter in which moments of collaboration, collusion and collision are frequent?