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The Sacred Desert: Religion, Literature, Art and Culture

ISBN: 978-1-4051-1974-0
232 pages
June 2004, Wiley-Blackwell
The Sacred Desert: Religion, Literature, Art and Culture (1405119748) cover image
The Sacred Desert is a reflection on the role of the desert in theology, history, literature, art and film.

  • An original reflection on the role of the desert in theology, history, literature, art and film.
  • Discusses figures as diverse as Jesus, the early Christian Desert Fathers, T.E. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot, Georgia O’Keeffe, Wim Wenders and Jim Crace.
  • Makes connections across millennia of desert literature.
  • Deepens the reader’s understanding of the desert as a real place, as an interior space, and as a textual site,
  • Concludes with comments on the recent conflicts in Iraq.
  • Written in a readable and engaging style.
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Foreword by David E. Klemm.

Preface.

List of illustrations.

1. Introduction: Meeting Points.

2. The Bible, Schoenberg, and Heidegger.

3. The Desert Fathers: Wandering and Miracles.

4. Time and Memory, Wind and Space: The Desert and Mysticism.

5. Mysticism and Modernity: Thomas Merton meets Don Cupitt.

6. The Literature of the Desert: Travellers and Poets.

7. The Literature of the Desert: Novelists.

8. Artists: Georgia O'Keefe, Bill Viola and Abstract Expressionism.

9. Films of the Desert: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Wim Wenders, Claire Dennis.

10. Desert Theology and Total Presence: Poets William Blake, T.S. Eliot and Yves Bonnefoy meet Hegel and Altizer.

11. Conclusion: Meeting Point.

Postscript: The Desert and the Recent Wars in Iraq.

Bibliography.

Index

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David Jasper is Professor of Literature and Theology at the University of Glasgow, and was the founding editor of the journal, Literature and Theology. He is the author of The Sacred and Secular Canon in Romanticism (1999) and co-editor of The Bible and Literature: A Reader (edited with Stephen Prickett, Blackwell Publishing, 1999) and Religion and Literature: A Reader (edited with Robert Detweiler, 2000).
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  • Offers a fascinating and original reflection on the role of the desert in theology, history, literature, art and film
  • Discusses figures as diverse as Jesus, the early Christian Desert Fathers, T.E. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot, Georgia O’Keeffe, Wim Wenders, Bill Viola, and Jim Crace
  • Makes connections across millennia of desert literature, stretching from the Bible - perhaps still the greatest of our desert texts - through to contemporary experiences of the desert
  • Deepens the reader’s understanding of the desert as a real place, as an interior space, and as a textual site
  • Concludes with comments on the recent conflicts in Iraq
  • Written in a lively and engaging style, this is truly an original work of theology, and a captivating journey through the history of religion.
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“One of the really significant things about this work is how widely Jasper ranges in his exploration of the spiritual meaning of the desert. He considers classic religious sources that have focused their attention on the desert ideal... But he also explores the works of a range of artists, poets, writers, and filmmakers... The result is a playful, interdisciplinary rumination upon the myriad ways the desert has shaped and continues to shape — often by undermining expectations of meaning — the religions imagination. Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above; general readers.”
Choice

"The Sacred Desert is a marvellous and truly integral conjunction of seemingly every dimension of that ultimate desert which is at once our deepest beginning and our deepest ending. Theological and poetic at once, and critical and historical simultaneously, it offers us a vicarious voyage into our most ultimate ground, a ground beyond God but nontheless embodying the totality of the Godhead. If that Godhead is an absolute nothingness, it is a truly actual nothingness, and most actual for us in that desert which is here so powerfully and so comprehensively evoked." Thomas Altizer, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the State University of New York and Stony Brook

"The Sacred Desert provides a journey into the innermost core of the self--where the soul stands alone before an unknown God, who is both darkness and light. David Jasper has written a magnificent theological reflection on the depth of spiritual meaning sought and found by desert pilgrims in literature, art, film, history, and sacred scripture. A tour de force!"
David Klemm, University of Iowa

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