Stories and images from the Christian Apocrypha have appeared in popular, or ‘non-ecclesiastical’, settings since the Middle Ages when the various collections of lives of saints, books of hours, mystery plays, and incunabula repurposed apocryphal traditions for devotional purposes. Examples of such use have increased exponentially over the last century, in music (Gustav Holst’s ‘Hymn of Jesus’, Tori Amos’s ‘Original Sinsuality’), fiction (Thomas B. Costain’s The Silver Chalice, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code), television (the ‘Hollywood A.D.’ episode of The X-Files, the Banned from the Bible documentaries), and film (Rupert Wainwright’s Stigmata, Abel Ferrara’s Mary). For the most part, these works, though entertaining, misrepresent and sensationalize the content of the texts, but their value lies not in what they say about ancient texts and traditions but in what they say about the interests and anxieties of their creators and audiences.
The first part of the chapter, ‘Sources’, consists of an overview of various theological accounts of families, drawn from Roman Catholic official teaching, from the Protestant Family, Religion, and Culture project, and from a range of other sources. The second part, ‘Themes’, analyses and compares the sources, allowing standard and contested issues to surface. The issues include the analogy between divine and human persons: the designation of families as domestic churches; whether theology stigmatizes ‘non-traditional’ families; the place of equal-regard love in families and the place of kin within the Kingdom of God; the claim that the family of church is prior to the family unit; the idea of kin altruism; and different approaches to the problem of family form. Finally the Trinitarian framework for thinking about families, and the method and key ideas of the Family, Religion and Culture are endorsed as a basis for future theological thinking about families.
Kevin J. Wetmore Jr.
The historic Jesuit theater represents two centuries of didactic theater in which the Society of Jesus, following both the organizational instructions and Spiritual Exercises of founder Ignatius of Loyola, used theater to inculcate virtue in both performer and audience member while teaching Latin, dance, poise, rhetoric, oratory, and confidence to the students who performed. Jesuit spirituality is inherently theatrical, and conversely Jesuit theater was intended to also be highly spiritual. The dramaturgy and scenography was spectacular and designed to draw audiences who would delight in them and learn the moral lessons the Jesuits hoped to teach while simultaneously drawing them away from a corrupt public theater. This essay considers Jesuit drama and theater in four key aspects: (1) Jesuit spirituality and performative practice; (2) the historic Jesuit educational theater of early modern Europe; (3) Jesuit drama in the missions outside of Europe; and (4) contemporary Jesuits involved in theater.
Linzy Brady and Jolyon Mitchell
How did the relation between Christianity and drama evolve during the long nineteenth century? How were Christian beliefs represented, promoted, and interrogated through drama? What part did Christianity play in the changing kinds, spaces, and genres of theatre? This chapter analyses the creation, production, and reception of a range of dramatic forms, including melodramas, musicals, ‘classics’, comedies, and tragedies, as well as explicitly religious, and later in the nineteenth century, cinematic dramas. Plays by George Bernard Shaw, Leo Tolstoy, and Henrik Ibsen are scrutinized alongside early silent films and the evolving passion and religious plays tradition. The chapter teases out a number of underlying tensions relating to the place of Christianity within popular and respectable theatre, romantic and realistic drama, and theatrical and screen drama. The chapter highlights how Christian beliefs were creatively used by playwrights, actors, and theatre-goers, in theatrical, domestic, and public spaces.
William J. Wainwright
This article discusses the place of mystery in Christian thought and practice. Both Christians themselves and their critics have historically thought that the concept of mystery is central to Christian reflection and Christian worship. It is initially surprising, then, to find that the indices of recent important reference works contain few if any references to mystery. The most important reason for the neglect of mystery may be this. William Alston begins his recent ‘Two Cheers for Mystery’ by observing that ‘contemporary Anglo-American analytic philosophy of religion’ exhibits ‘a considerable degree of confidence in’ its ability ‘to determine what God is like; how to construe his basic attributes; and what his purposes, plans, standards, values and so on are’. No one ‘thinks we can attain a comprehensive knowledge of God's nature and doings. But on many crucial points, there seems to be a widespread confidence in our ability to determine exactly how things are with God.’ And, of course, the more confident one is, the less one will see any need for according the concept of mystery a central place in one's reflections on God. But what if failing to do so distorts these reflections? The burden of this article is that it does.