Art may be characterized as religious art by its function. The fundamental function of most religious art is as religious pedagogy to illustrate bodily postures and gestures or a story or dogma of a religious tradition, as do visual symbols and representational imagery. Beautiful ceremonial objects that priests or religious officials employ in a sacramental manner or as part of a religious ceremony, such as illustrated holy books, candelabra, or chalices, have a clearly identifiable religious function.
Other works of art such as Yoruban masks and Navajo sand paintings have a function as ritual art. The positioning or site of a work of art — on an altar or inside a temple — signifies it as religious art. Religious edifices differ in architectural style and function from religion to religion and country to country; however, ecclesiastical, monastic, ritual, and sacred locations include temples, synagogues, cathedrals, monasteries, and mosques as well as tombs and shrines. Oftentimes, patrons, whether individuals, royalty, religious hierarchs, or monastic communities, commission works of art, including but not limited to altarpieces or stained-glass windows, for a specific location.
An artist's comprehension of the scale and siting of the work of art from the time of the commission permits design according to the spatial environment, as with Hubert and Jan van Eyck 's Ghent Altarpiece Other works of art, for example, the sculpture of Athena in the Parthenon or the monumental Buddha at Kamakura, are identified as religious art as their function determines their placement.
Commissions for works of art either for placement or use within a religious environment — whether temple, mosque, monastery, synagogue, or church — or for a religious activity — ecclesiastical, liturgical, sacramental, devotional, contemplative, or catechetical — qualify art as religious art. Patronage of religious art may be the result of a special devotion, a healing, a response to an intercessory plea, or to assuage divine anger.
Throughout the religions of the world, patrons of religious art have included laypeople as well as monastics and religious, the court and aristocracy as well as the lower classes. The artist as the creator of art has a significant role to play in the characterizing of art as religious art. The definition of the artist and of the artist's spirituality varies from religion to religion.
The characteristics and categories by which the artist is defined include descriptions of the relationship between artist and art, between art and personal spirituality, and ultimately, between the aesthetic and spiritual experiences, and are delineated in distinctive fashions within each world religion and culture.
For example, art discloses the character and thereby the spirituality of the artist, according to Daoist and Confucian aesthetics, while an intimacy between artist, art, and spirituality is presumed by Hindu aesthetics, as art is spiritual and the spiritual is expressed through the arts. However, the distinction between artist and art, whereby a nonbeliever could create works for a religious community or environment, is the modern Western position.
Traditionally, even in the West, the normative pattern was that the artist was a believer and practicing member of a religious community for whom the creation of art was a spiritual path. The making of religious art was, then, a form of religious ritual that began with an act, or period, of spiritual cleansing, including intense prayer, abstinence from sexual relations, and fasting. Further a complex but carefully defined rubric of forms, symbols, colors, and motifs was followed; each religious image was a codebook and "earned" the appellation "religious art.
The response to religious art is predicated upon individual faith, pronounced dogma, religious attitudes toward the image, and aesthetic quality projected by the work of art. The operative principle should be that as the embodiment of the sacred, a religious image provides for immediate and permanent access to the deity. Such a response, however, would require the believer's receptivity to the power of images and the primacy of sacred nature. The practical reality is that even one work of religious art can garner a diversity of responses, each of which is dependent upon the believer's preconceptions regarding religious encounter and the image.
For many devotees, such an image is simply the point of initiation toward their individual "goal" to transcend materiality and to ascend to a mystical state of imageless union with the divine. Other believers find such an image to be simply a pedagogical object but not relevant for personal prayer, devotions, or mystical experiences. What is most significant in the human response to religious art is that even a minimal response provides an entry into the experience of or participation in divine power and energy.
Works of religious art, for believers, are not simply material objects but mediators of spiritual energies. Simultaneously as efficacious location and a distancing from devotees, sacred space is created by the presence of a religious image. Recognized as a religious image in many religions, the human body is identified as a reflection of the divine bodies of the gods and goddesses in Classical Greece and as an object of glorification in certain Hindu sects and African traditions.
Thereby, the response of the human body to religious art provides an aesthetic channel for devotions, contemplation, prayer, and worship. As a discrete field of study, art and religion has no singular historic event or scholar to recognize as its formal beginning or founder. From the beginnings of scholarly discourse, critical and academic discussions of art or religion impinged each upon the territory of the other, as reflected in the initial pages of this entry.
These publications, especially Jameson's books and serialized texts, which built upon her renown as an author of museum guidebooks, inaugurated a genre dedicated to the appreciation of Christian art as an exemplar of moral values and good taste. Nonetheless, these texts situated the paintings and sculptures discussed within their historical contexts, carefully described any stylistic or technical innovations, and explained the "lost language" of Christian signs and symbols. Apparently, there was a charisma for Christian art at this time throughout Western Europe and America, as witnessed by the establishment of a variety of art movements — the Academy of St.
Luke in Rome, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in London, and the Nazarenes in Vienna — dedicated to the reunification of art and religion as epitomized in the medieval synthesis. Cultural and language shifts beginning with the Renaissance were formative on this nineteenth-century movement, as the concept of art was transformed from craft and that of the artist to individual creator. These terms were further clarified with the Enlightenment and the Romantic movement, as the Renaissance cult of the artist as an individual, and perhaps a genius, matured into common vocabulary.
The German Romantic philosophers, including J. Fichte , Friedrich W. Schelling , and August Wilhelm Schlegel , built upon the foundations of subjectivity introduced by Immanuel Kant — and the spiritual in art of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Other philosophical and theological influences from Friedrich Schleiermacher — to Charles Baudelaire — to Ralph Waldo Emerson — to John Ruskin — corroborated this transformation toward a spiritualizing of art and toward the establishment of an academic discourse identifiable as art and religion.
This genre of Christian art initiated by Rio, Lindsay, and Jameson was quickly expanded by a variety of ministers, artists, and educators predominantly from England, France, Germany, and then the United States. Their publications included travel diaries, behavior manuals, gift books and annuals, and treatises on the history and symbolism of Christian art; and this genre flourished into the early twentieth century, as witnessed by the popular books of Estelle Hurll, The Madonna in Art and Clara Erskine Clement Waters, Saints in Art Concurrently, the academic study of religion, especially as the history of religions, began to surface in the German university system, while an assortment of cultural events, including the artistic modes of Orientalism and Japonisme in the nineteenth century and the fascination with le primtif in the early twentieth century, the Christian missions into China and Japan, the Chicago World's Fair, the Parliament of World Religions, and the phenomenon of theosophy created a cultural climate of intellectual and popular interest in other religions, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism.
Nonetheless, the lens was Western — so a Western perception of Hinduism or Buddhism as both a religion and a culture. Western scholars and commensurately Western scholarship has privileged this field of study. Students of religion and artists learned about the aesthetics and art of "the other. From its earliest moment, then, art and religion was a multicultural and multireligious form of discourse.
Further developments in the study of art and religion resulted from the breadth of vision among a select group of religion scholars: Rudolf Otto — , Gerardus van der Leeuw — , Mircea Eliade — , and Suzuki Daisetz — ; art historian Ananda K. Coomaraswamy — ; and theologian Paul Tillich — Of this magisterial group, the phenomenologist of religion, Rudolph Otto, and the historian of religions, Mircea Eliade , contributed most significantly to the development of the discrete field of study known as art and religion. In his now classic The Idea of the Holy , Otto identified the connectives between art and religion.
Beyond normative language and rational description, religious experience is initiated by the nonrational modes of communication and sensory perceptions provided by art. Despite his silence on any comparison between aesthetic and religious experience, or the commonalities between religion and artistic creativity, Otto points to the critical importance of the experience of art as a moment of the silence, awe, wonder, and fear encountered before the numinous.
Eliade describes the visualizing of the otherwise invisible sacred through art in a variety of forms and styles in Symbolism, the Sacred, and the Arts . Art is essential to the proper performance of religious ceremonies and rituals. Eliade interpreted art as embedded in the human universal consciousness and in all world cultures and emerging in the artistic visioning and reinterpretation of symbols and images even in the secular art of the twentieth century. Coomaraswamy sought for the commonalities between the spiritual art of East and West, but perhaps his most significant contributions came during his tenure as curator of Asian Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he introduced the concept of "spiritual art" into the vocabulary of curators, museum displays, and special exhibitions.
He furthered the definition of spiritual art when he supervised the acceptance of several of Alfred Stieglitz 's photographs as works of art — the first photographs ever to enter a museum or gallery collection under the rubric of art — into the museum's collection. Van der Leeuw proposed a phenomenology of art and religion in his Sacred and Profane Beauty: The Holy in Art , in which he described how all the arts — dance, drama, poetry, painting and sculpture, architecture, and music — signaled and manifested the presence of the sacred.
His is the only text to expand the discussion comparatively among the arts. Tillich is to be credited with relating contemporary Christian theology with twentieth-century art. His efforts to see and to discuss the connectives between contemporary works of art with both religious and secular themes to the classic masterpieces of Christian art, and as venue for discussing theological issues, opened the door to the serious consideration of the spirituality of modern art. Suzuki's significance to the study of art and religion was his masterful text Zen and Japanese Culture  , in which he introduced his interpretation of the Zen aesthetic to the West.
However, his famed lectures on Zen and Zen aesthetics at Columbia University in the s opened the eyes and the minds of many of New York 's most promising and creative artists, including musician John Cage — , choreographers Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham b. Panofsky's work in deciphering iconography from iconology may be one of the most crucial art historical contributions to the study of art and religion prior to Freedberg's "response theory.
The amorphous nature of the relationship between art and religion as both a topic of investigation and a field of study is paralleled by the oftentimes perceived "flexible" methodologies employed by specialists. The breadth of methodological approaches, technical languages, and questions investigated continue to expand in tandem with the study of religion.
The lacuna of a single or even commonly accepted "core" methodology is irksome at best. The diverse technical vocabularies and methodologies include but are not limited to art history, iconography and iconology, cultural history, church history, ethics, history of religion, ritual studies, comparative religions, and theology. The primary characteristic of art and religion that defies its definition as a normative field of study is that it is fundamentally a multidisciplinary field that is broad in its subject matter, geographic sweep, world religions foci, and technical language.
From its possible "official" beginnings in the mid-nineteenth century into the twenty-first century, art and religion has traversed a variety of methodological formulae and vocabularies, beginning with art history, iconography and symbolism, history of religion, cultural history, theology, philosophy, phenomenology, and iconology, while the foci of a new generation of scholars in the s incorporated the principles and lenses to expand the borders of art and religion into the questions raised by the emerging categories of "the marginalized" and feminism into the s issues of the body and class.
The reception of art historian David Freedberg's groundbreaking study, The Power of Images , defined and traced the history of "response theory," which provided art and religion with an affirmation of its interest in the human, or worshiper's, experience of art. Beginning with the late s, specialized studies with methodologies and languages for material culture, popular culture, performance and display, visual culture, and museum studies were incorporated, sometimes tangentially, into art and religion. These additional disciplinary approaches and topical interests may be interpreted as diffusing the field of art and religion that much more broadly.
However, the reality is twofold: oftentimes these new approaches or fields give a "name" such as Freedberg's "response theory" to an attitude, theme, or subject of art and religion research and investigation; and secondly, the fundamental nature of art and religion is to be inclusive, and to that end, it is a metaphor for religious studies. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to consider whether art and religion as a field without a methodology is an academic nomad or a valid but discrete field of study.
The methodological lacuna for art and religion may be problematic, especially in any attempt to defend its existence as a field of study. However, the range of disciplinary methods and topics ranging from art history to cultural studies to theology to gender studies and beyond has created a multilayered syntax for the research, writing, and discussions of art and religion. Among the fundamental topics for investigation have been the historical relationships between art and religion s ; religious attitudes toward image or icon or idol ; religious attitudes toward the veneration of images; the symbolism of gender in religious art; changing cultural attitudes toward religion and the effect s upon art; changing cultural values toward art and the implications for religion; and the visual evidence for cultural shifts in understanding of gender and the body.
Further, the normative pattern has been that specialists in art and religion operate with the methodological formulae and vocabulary in which they were first trained, and expand, transform, and re-form these in the process of research and writing about art and religion.
From the nineteenth-century "establishment" of art and religion as a focus of study, there are three identifiable investigative categories related directly to the initial or primary lens in which a scholar of art and religion is initially trained: art history, theology, and history of religion. Further, these categorizations to the point of origin within the research — that is, the category of "art-centered investigations" — proceed from art as a primary document; "religion-centered investigations" advance from the religious impulse; and the "art-and-religions-centered investigations" emerge from the comparative study of traditions.
Art-centered investigations begin with a fascination with or spotlight on art, particularly a specific work of art. Critical in this mode of analysis are the topics of the origin of the work of art, the "reading" of the signs and symbols, and recognition of the cultural and historic context as formative in the shaping of the artist and the artistic vision. Students involved in research on Byzantine, medieval, and Renaissance art will quickly learn that the art of those historical epochs is undisputedly difficult to decipher without some study of the history and theology.
During the late s the formal academic concern for the creative process corresponded with more than a comparative analysis of the aesthetic and the spiritual experience. Rather, fascination grew with the code of visual vocabulary and the mode by which images communicate ideas, as seen in the and texts of Rudolf Arnheim b.
Religion-centered investigations emerge from a fascination with or a devotion to the theological impulse or religious character of art. Central to this mode of examination are the topics of the affect of theology or religion on the making and symbolic content of a work of art, and of the cultural interplay between artists and the theological postures of prevalent themes.
Scholars who participate within the frame of "religion-centered investigations" include art historians, church historians, and theologians who typically engage in the study of art and religion from the perspective of one faith tradition, as witnessed by Jane Daggett Dillenberger's books on the style and content of Christian art , John Dillenberger's texts on Christian art in the context of church history and theology and , and John W. Dixon's studies of the theological impulse in Christian art and The creative process for the artist as an act of religious communication of ideas is evidenced in the "religion-centered investigations" of Jacques Maritain 's — work and Nicholas Wolterstorff's study.
Religions-and-art-centered investigations proceed with comparative analyses of at least two religious traditions, with art as the focal point. The process of comparative readings of the same work of art determines the universality of art and of the religious impulse. Comparative studies of symbols and images extend beyond syntax and vocabulary to witness the creative impulse of imagination as it shapes new worlds and formulates new understandings of the human and of the world, which cannot be achieved through language or reason.
Scholars operating within the "religions-and-art-centered" investigations include art historians, historians of religion, and aestheticians who share a passion for comparative study and the desire to learn the vocabulary of signs and symbols, such as Titus Burckhardt's — comparative analyses of Hindu, Christian, and Islamic art and , Coomaraswamy's studies of Christian and Hindu art and religion , and S. Brandon's — books on comparative rituals and iconography Northrop The interpretative critiques raised by those scholars representing "the marginalized" transferred attention from the traditional art being studied to the nature and intent of the questions being asked.
Initially, feminism wielded vast influence in transforming scholarly foci and the methodological formulae. The incorporation of feminist concerns, motifs, methods, and vocabulary in art and religion is evidenced by the work of Margaret R. Miles and Celia Rabinovitch Scholarly interest in the process of seeing, the relationship between art and religious vision on all levels of society, and the role of seeing in the process of making art is emphasized in the new disciplinary visual culture studies by Colleen McDannell and David Morgan and An important reference is the special exhibitions and their catalogues and books, which have begun to focus on issues related to the art and religion of the so-called Third World in the work of Rosemary Crumlin and , Thomas B.
Cummings, and Kenneth Mills As scholars engaged in the study of art and religion continue their perennial quest to answer the critical questions "what makes art religious?
Technology transformed the definition, experience, and study of art with the nineteenth-century invention of the camera, as photography challenged painting into new directions. The contemporary challenges of technology include the advent of computer art, virtual reality , and an environment in which one merely needs to press the right button to encounter masterpieces of art on the websites of major museums. The computer becomes then a mediator between art and the viewer, between art and artist, and between human consciousness and the projection of reality.
The challenge of globalization coincides with religious pluralism as the dominance of Western cultural and religious values appears to be ending as the symbolism and visual codes of Western art are being synthesized with those from other cultural and religious heritages. A new visual vocabulary is emerging from the confluence of religious traditions. Interwoven into this new fabric of the global and pluralistic world are the questions raised about the moral and ethical policies of collecting and exhibiting the sacred art of other cultures, and the issue of repatriation.
Multiple considerations related to the presentation and display of sacred art in a secular or institutionalized setting are significant topics for the study of art and religion, including the issues of function, consecration, and response. Furthermore, and perhaps more significant, globalism and pluralism should assist in erasing the privileged status of Western scholars and Western art within the boundaries of art and religion.
Comparative studies of specific artistic images or motifs might prove to be a positive venue to examine the commonalities and the differences and even the possibility of reformulating the basic vocabulary and issues of this discrete field of study. Another way to consider this serious concern of the presentation of sacred art is the growing awareness that the "objects" being studied are being analyzed, researched, and encountered outside of their original placement and purpose.
Thus, to be inclusive, our analysis must extend to the consideration, if not reconstruction, of the physical space in which the work was originally sited, its function devotional, liturgical, ceremonial, ritual , and the experience of encountering the work for the first time in its "home" place. Art is an imaged reflection, prophecy, and witness to human experience and religious values as well as an expression of culture.
The topic of art and religion continues to entice consideration and to adapt itself to the transformations and permutations of scholarly concerns. The call continues among a new generation of young scholars to define the field and to adopt a methodology. The field of study identified as art and religion continues to survive despite its lack of a recognized methodology or academic vocabulary. Art, like religion, defies categorization and universal definition.
Art and religion are inexorably interconnected throughout human history and human creativity. Apostolos-Cappadona, Diane. Dictionary of Christian Art. New York , Bell, Robert E. Los Angeles , Bernen, Robert, and Satia Bernen. New York, Biedermann, Hans. Translated by James Hulbert. If it satisfy. I have not sought to pull down, but to build up; to remove the rubbish of human inventions from the fair temple of Divine Truth, that men may enter its shining gates and be blessed now and for ever.
I have found it necessary, though painful, to speak of many popular delusions, and expose their fallacy and dangerous character, but have not, I trust, been blind to ' the soul of goodness in things evil," though I have taken no great pains to speak smooth things, or say Peace, Peace, when there was NO peace.
The subject of Book IV. Some of the thoughts here set forth have also appeared in the Dial for — I can only wish that the Errors of this book may find no favor, but perish speedily, and that the Truths it humbly aims to set forth may do their good and beautiful work. Get A Copy. More Details Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about A Discourse of matters Pertaining to Religion , please sign up.
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Be the first to ask a question about A Discourse of matters Pertaining to Religion. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. All Languages. More filters. Sort order. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Theodore Parker. Theodore Parker. At that time the Vedic scriptures were little-known in the West, though there was increasing interest in the philosophy of the Upanishads. He had to travel to London to look at documents held in the collection of the British East India Company.
While there he persuaded the company to allow him to undertake a critical edition of the Rig-Veda, a task he pursued over many years — Scientific American carried his obituary in the edition of 8 December of the magazine. It was revealed that Max Muller had in fact usurped the full credit for the translation of the Rig veda which was actually not his work at all, but of another unnamed german scholar whom Muller had paid to translate the text.
To quote from his obituary in Scientific American , "What he constantly proclaimed to be his own great work, the edition of the "Rig Veda," was in reality not his at all. A German scholar did the work, and Muller appropriated the credit for it. By this he meant that myth transforms concepts into beings and stories. This leads to the terms "deva", "deus", "theos" as generic terms for a god, and to the names "Zeus" and "Jupiter" derived from deus-pater. In this way a metaphor becomes personified and ossified.
These Gifford Lectures were the first in an annual series, given at several Scottish universities, that has continued to the present day. In , he published a translation of the first edition of Kant 's Critique of Pure Reason. He agreed with Schopenhauer that this edition was the most direct and honest expression of Kant's thought.
His translation corrected several errors that were committed by previous translators. The bridge of thoughts and sighs that spans the whole history of the Aryan world has its first arch in the Veda , its last in Kant's Critique. While in the Veda we may study the childhood, we may study in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason the perfect manhood of the Aryan mind. The materials are now accessible, and the English-speaking race, the race of the future, will have in Kant's Critique another Aryan heirloom, as precious as the Veda—a work that may be criticised, but can never be ignored.
Whenever we can trace back a religion to its first beginnings, we find it free from many blemishes that affected it in its later states". He used his links with the Brahmo Samaj to encourage such a reformation on the lines pioneered by Ram Mohan Roy.
In the Lutheran tradition, he hoped that the "superstition" and idolatry, which he considered to be characteristic of modern popular Hinduism, would disappear. The translation of the Veda will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India, and on the growth of millions of souls in that country.
It is the root of their religion, and to show them what the root is, is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last 3, years. India has been conquered once, but India must be conquered again, and that second conquest should be a conquest by education.
Much has been done for education of late, but if the funds were tripled and quadrupled, that would hardly be enough By encouraging a study of their own ancient literature, as part of their education, a national feeling of pride and self-respect will be reawakened among those who influence the large masses of the people. A new national literature may spring up, impregnated with Western ideas, yet retaining its native spirit and character A new national literature will bring with it a new national life, and new moral vigour.
As to religion, that will take care of itself. The missionaries have done far more than they themselves seem to be aware of, nay, much of the work which is theirs they would probably disclaim. The Christianity of our nineteenth century will hardly be the Christianity of India. But the ancient religion of India is doomed—and if Christianity does not step in, whose fault will it be?
In his "What can India teach us? If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power, and beauty that nature can bestow—in some parts a very paradise on earth—I should point to India. If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most full developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant—I should point to India.
And if I were to ask myself from what literature we, here in Europe, we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life, not for this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life—again I should point to India.
Judges of the Supreme Court of India, — The words and images we use have meanings deeply rooted in the past apart from new technical terms, which are often short-lived. The third relationship is one of mutuality when these two "equals" inhabit the same cultural environment in a symbiotic union of inspired nurture. The book was highly influential in those countries and helped shape lasting popular notions of Catholicism there. The bridge of thoughts and sighs that spans the whole history of the Aryan world has its first arch in the Veda , its last in Kant's Critique.
He also conjectured that the introduction of Islam in India in the 11th century had a deep effect on the psyche and behaviour of Hindus in another lecture, "Truthful Character of the Hindus":. The other epic poem too, the Mahabharata , is full of episodes showing a profound regard for truth. Were I to quote from all the law-books, and from still later works, everywhere you would hear the same key-note of truthfulness vibrating through them all.
I say once more that I do not wish to represent the people of India as two hundred and fifty-three millions of angels, but I do wish it to be understood and to be accepted as a fact, that the damaging charge of untruthfulness brought against that people is utterly unfounded with regard to ancient times. It is not only not true, but the very opposite of the truth. As to modern times, and I date them from about after Christ AD , I can only say that, after reading the accounts of the terrors and horrors of Mohammedan rule, my wonder is that so much of native virtue and truthfulness should have survived.
You might as well expect a mouse to speak the truth before a cat, as a Hindu before a Mohammedan judge. The visit was really a revelation to me. That little white house, its setting in a beautiful garden, the silver-haired sage, with a face calm and benign, and forehead smooth as a child's in spite of seventy winters, and every line in that face speaking of a deep-seated mine of spirituality somewhere behind; that noble wife, the helpmate of his life through his long and arduous task of exciting interest, overriding opposition and contempt, and at last creating a respect for the thoughts of the sages of ancient India—the trees, the flowers, the calmness, and the clear sky—all these sent me back in imagination to the glorious days of ancient India, the days of our brahmarshis and rajarshis, the days of the great vanaprasthas, the days of Arundhatis and Vasishthas.
It was neither the philologist nor the scholar that I saw, but a soul that is every day realizing its oneness with the universe. In , at a meeting of the Established Presbytery of Glasgow , Mr.