Wednesday, August 7, 2013

WWE - "All Things Unto Me Are Spiritual": Worship Through Corporeality in Hasidism & Mormonism (Part 1)


Lead me to the truth and I 
will follow you with my whole life
Oh, lead me to the truth and I 
will follow you with my whole life 

- Mumford & Sons, "White Blank Page," Sigh No More (Island/Glassnote, 2009)


My latest addition to Worlds Without End is "'All Things Unto Me Are Spiritual': Worship Through Corporeality in Hasidism & Mormonism (Part 1)," which was co-written with my good friend Allen Hansen (aka "The Smartest Guy in the Room"). The idea for the post spawned from a comment Allen made on my "Holy Water" post:

This reinvention of the sacred is more or less what Hasidism means by worship through corporeality. Mundane acts can be sanctified and transformed, thereby influencing for the better cosmic processes in the divine. A verse commonly quoted was from Proverbs, "In all thy ways know him." That is, everything you do can become an act of worship. One of the examples often cited was the tradition of Enoch the Shoemaker, whose focus on the world of the divine whilst engaged in his work led to his eventual deification. However, Martin Buber paraphrased another Hasidic teaching which more fully resembles the ideals of Zion. "But if I am ‘for myself—if I do not participate with others, if I do not join with them— ‘what am I?’ Then everything in the way of good works which I have wrought alone is less than nothing in the eyes of God, who is the source of all good.” As one Jewish scholar has noted, collective effort can mend a broken world. 

We compare the Hasidic traditions with teachings found in 19th-century Mormonism. It seems that followers of both religions attempted to follow God with their whole lives rather than just the parts conveniently put aside for ritual and prayer.

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