Sacrifice, Debt and Grief
Cleo Kearns

Saturday, May 16, 10am-2pm EST, Online

Sacrifice is a general term for a wide range of religious and secular practices. It’s good to have a sense of that range, and we’ll start there. But we will primarily be considering together here—not without pain—sacrifice defined as a ritual practice involving the killing and dismemberment and/or burning to ashes of living things animal, vegetable and mineral, together with the problematic disposal of the remains. We will then quickly move on to track the fate of sacrifice across time, beginning with its first widespread practice in large agrarian civilizations and so-called ‘big’ religions (Taoist, Vedic, Judaic, etc.) through the various reform movements that make it largely symbolic, (in Buddhism, rabbinic Judaism, and Protestantism, etc.) and on to its relative occlusion and denegation in late capitalism, to be replaced by a sacrificial cult of debt and consumerism that is its parody and shadow. We will be looking both at the psycho-spiritual ramifications of this trajectory and its ethical and political implications, including its relationship to race, gender, class, and animal justice. Prepare to weep.

cleo kearns 2017

FacilitatorCleo Kearns works in the fields of continental philosophy, anthropology and religion.  She is the author of two books T. S. Eliot and Indic Traditions (Cambridge UP, 2008) and The Virgin Mary, Monotheism and Sacrifice (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 2018).  Her current research is on theory of religious sacrifice from Durkheim to Lacan and on contemporary global shamanism.  She teaches classes on shamanism, comparative religion, literature and philosophy both online and onsite and is currently a Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College.

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