Publications of Naumescu, V.
Learning the ‘Science of Feelings’: Religious Training in Eastern Christian Monasticism
In Eastern Christianity novitiate is a period of learning to experience the presence of God in one’s life and the world. Novices follow the hesychast prayer, a mystical tradition that leads them to an experiential knowledge of God. In this paper, I argue that novitiate should be regarded as a complex learning process involving specific assemblages of contextual, cognitive, body-sensory and emotional aspects. By educating their attention and emotion novices learn to see beyond and within reality and thus discover the potentiality of people and thing ‘in the likeness of God’. Religious transmission happens not only through embodied practice and the active acquisition of religious knowledge but, more importantly, through the work of the imagination. Novices’ orientation towards the transcendent requires an expansion of the imaginative capacities beyond their ‘routine’ functioning. Imagination could be thus a key cognitive capacity through which they learn to experience God.
The Case for Religious Transmission. Time and Transmission in the Anthropology of Christianity
Acknowledging the growing interest in issues of religious transmission, this article reviews two promising yet contradictory approaches to religion that could be described as historicist and universalist. It offers an alternative view premised on their convergence in a pragmatic approach that can link the material, contextual, and institutional dimensions of transmission with corresponding cognitive, perceptive, and emotional processes. This perspective recognizes the historicity of religious transmission and its cognitive underpinnings while attending to the materiality of its semiotic forms. The article focuses on the relationship between time and transmission in recent ethnographies of Christianity that show how Christian temporalities influence perceptions of social continuity or rupture and individuals' becoming in history. Within this frame, it examines the case of Old Believers, an apocalyptic movement that emerged out of a schism in seventeenth-century Russian Orthodoxy, to indicate how a pragmatic approach works in practice.
Le vieil homme et le livre. La crise de la transmission chez les vieux-croyants (Roumanie)
In spite of recent critique, anthropology has yet to acknowledge the temporal ontologies that mark its conceptions of cultural transmission, the “continuity thinking” that dominates anthropological investigations. Arguing that any ethnography of cultural transmission should engage systematically with issues of temporality and historicity, I show in this paper how Old Believers, a schismatic Russian Orthodox movement, cultivates an everyday millenarianism informed by distinct temporalities. Stemming from an Orthodox tradition which affirms continuity, Old Believers developed a concrete perception of the finitude of this world and awareness of the apocalyptic moment. In response to historical circumstances they embraced a kenotic conception of Christian life which is embedded in particular modalities of religious transmission.