Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment

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Harvard University Press, 2000 - Religion - 318 pages
‚eoeFaith cometh by hearing‚e ‚e"so said Saint Paul, and devoted Christians from Augustine to Luther down to the present have placed particular emphasis on spiritual arts of listening. In quiet retreats for prayer, in the noisy exercises of Protestant revivalism, in the mystical pursuit of the voices of angels, Christians have listened for a divine call. But what happened when the ear tuned to God‚e(tm)s voice found itself under the inspection of Enlightenment critics? This book takes us into the ensuing debate about ‚eoehearing things‚e ‚e"an intense, entertaining, even spectacular exchange over the auditory immediacy of popular Christian piety.The struggle was one of encyclopedic range, and Leigh Eric Schmidt conducts us through natural histories of the oracles, anatomies of the diseased ear, psychologies of the unsound mind, acoustic technologies (from speaking trumpets to talking machines), philosophical regimens for educating the senses, and rational recreations elaborated from natural magic, notably ventriloquism and speaking statues. Hearing Things enters this labyrinth‚e"all the new disciplines and pleasures of the modern ear‚e"to explore the fate of Christian listening during the Enlightenment and its aftermath.In Schmidt‚e(tm)s analysis the reimagining of hearing was instrumental in constituting religion itself as an object of study and suspicion. The mystic‚e(tm)s ear was hardly lost, but it was now marked deeply with imposture and illusion.
 

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Hearing things: religion, illusion, and the American enlightenment

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The mid-19th-century was a time of religious revival in America, as well as a time of great scientific experimentation, with the science of acoustics developing instruments to aid hearing just as the ... Read full review

Contents

WoodCylinder Stethoscope 1821
2
Hearing Loss
7
Sound Christians
38
Day of Judgment ca 1800
62
Oracles of Reason
78
Acoustic Temple 1805
79
Christianitys Triumph over the Pagan Oracles 1707
93
Calling the Faithful through Speaking Trumpets 1673
107
A Listener to a Modern Oracle ca 1840
122
How to Become a Ventriloquist
138
Voices from SpiritLand
201
A Swedenborgian Angel 1814
206
Angelic Care 1868
226
A Mediums Speaking Trumpet 1915
240
Epilogue 246
304
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