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Religion Orthodox

Praying with the Senses

Contemporary Orthodox Christian Spirituality in Practice

edited by Sonja Luehrmann

contributions by Tom Boylston, Jeffers Engelhardt, Jeanne Kormina, Simion Pop, Daria Dubovka, Angie Heo, Vlad Naumescu, William Christian & Andreas Bandak

Indiana University Press
Initial publish date
Jan 2018
Orthodox, General
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    Publish Date
    Jan 2018
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2018
    List Price

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How do people experience spirituality through what they see, hear, touch, and smell? Sonja Luehrmann and an international group of scholars assess how sensory experience shapes prayer and ritual practice among Eastern Orthodox Christians. Prayer, even when performed privately, is considered as a shared experience and act that links individuals and personal beliefs with a broader, institutional, or imagined faith community. It engages with material, visual, and aural culture including icons, relics, candles, pilgrimage, bells, and architectural spaces. Whether touching upon the use of icons in age of digital and electronic media, the impact of Facebook on prayer in Ethiopia, or the implications of praying using recordings, amplifiers, and loudspeakers, these timely essays present a sophisticated overview of the history of Eastern Orthodox Christianities. Taken as a whole they reveal prayer as a dynamic phenomenon in the devotional and ritual lives of Eastern Orthodox believers across Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.

About the authors

Sonja Luehrmann's profile page

Tom Boylston's profile page

Jeffers Engelhardt's profile page

Jeanne Kormina's profile page

Simion Pop's profile page

Daria Dubovka's profile page

Angie Heo's profile page

Vlad Naumescu's profile page

William Christian is Professor of Political Science at the University of Guelph. He is author of George Grant: A Biography and editor of George Grant: Selected Letters, both published by the University of Toronto Press.

William Christian's profile page

Andreas Bandak's profile page

Editorial Reviews


This collection could well be a principal text in courses on contemporary spirituality and church life. And equally it could be used for retreats and for personal spiritual reading as well. It is a welcome addition to other fine work that explores popular spirituality.

St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly

This volume is as enriching as it is ground-breaking. It will definitely be a companion to students of religion and Eastern Orthodoxy from various disciplines, complementing the theological and historical approaches to Eastern Christianity.

Journal of Orthodox Christian Studies


[T]he contributors to this volume offer a number of valuable insights into questions of personhood, mediation, tradition, authority, publicity, intimacy, belonging, and the theological valences we attach to the human sensorium. Their collective labor demonstrates that Eastern Christianity is rich soil for anthropological inquiry from a number of vantage-points and for a host of theoretical interests.



These essays advance the understanding of Eastern Orthodox spiritual practices from a religious studies perspective, and they will likely stimulate new directions for research and teaching in this largely neglected area.

Reading Religion

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