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Religions, Volume 8, Issue 5 (May 2017)

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Open AccessEditorial Religions Series: “Christian Nationalism in the United States”—Ebook Introduction
Religions 2017, 8(5), 93; doi:10.3390/rel8050093
Received: 9 May 2017 / Revised: 10 May 2017 / Accepted: 10 May 2017 / Published: 13 May 2017
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States) Printed Edition available

Research

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Open AccessArticle The Limits of Machine Ethics
Religions 2017, 8(5), 100; doi:10.3390/rel8050100
Received: 17 March 2017 / Revised: 17 April 2017 / Accepted: 17 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
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Abstract
Machine Ethics has established itself as a new discipline that studies how to endow autonomous devices with ethical behavior. This paper provides a general framework for classifying the different approaches that are currently being explored in the field of machine ethics and introduces
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Machine Ethics has established itself as a new discipline that studies how to endow autonomous devices with ethical behavior. This paper provides a general framework for classifying the different approaches that are currently being explored in the field of machine ethics and introduces considerations that are missing from the current debate. In particular, law-based codes implemented as external filters for action—which we have named filtered decision making—are proposed as the basis for future developments. The emergence of values as guides for action is discussed, and personal language –together with subjectivity- are indicated as necessary conditions for this development. Last, utilitarian approaches are studied and the importance of objective expression as a requisite for their implementation is stressed. Only values expressed by the programmer in a public language—that is, separate of subjective considerations—can be evolved in a learning machine, therefore establishing the limits of present-day machine ethics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the New Technologies)
Open AccessArticle Occupying the Ontological Penumbra: Towards a Postsecular and Theologically Minded Anthropology
Religions 2017, 8(5), 80; doi:10.3390/rel8050080
Received: 30 December 2016 / Revised: 10 April 2017 / Accepted: 24 April 2017 / Published: 28 April 2017
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Abstract
In the wake of the postsecular turn, we propose to reappraise both the religious as studied in anthropology and how anthropologists who have religious or spiritual interests can contribute to an emerging postsecular anthropology. Such an anthropology recognizes the failure of secularization theory
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In the wake of the postsecular turn, we propose to reappraise both the religious as studied in anthropology and how anthropologists who have religious or spiritual interests can contribute to an emerging postsecular anthropology. Such an anthropology recognizes the failure of secularization theory to dissolve the dichotomy between the religious and the secular. We propose that as anthropologists we consciously occupy the ontological penumbra, an ambiguous and plural space in which we engage with various counterparts, both human and nonhuman. This means that we have to be open to the real possibility of the existence of gods, spirits, and other nonhuman entities. These should not only be treated as subjects of study, but also recognized as valid counterparts with whom we can engage in the ethnographic encounter. While this necessitates relinquishing the former privileged position of secular and Western epistemology, it opens up the discipline to a potentially unprecedented ethnographic productivity that is epistemologically and ontologically innovative. Without neglecting its secular heritage, such a theologically minded postsecular anthropology places anthropology in a better position to explore what it is to be human, especially in terms of understanding religious and spiritual experiences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethnography and Theology)
Open AccessArticle Willful Control and Controlling the Will: Technology and Being Human
Religions 2017, 8(5), 90; doi:10.3390/rel8050090
Received: 23 February 2017 / Revised: 1 May 2017 / Accepted: 8 May 2017 / Published: 10 May 2017
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Abstract
One purported benefit of technology is that it gives humans greater control over how they live their lives. Various technologies are used to protect humans from what are perceived to be the capricious whims of indifferent natural forces. Additionally, technology is used to
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One purported benefit of technology is that it gives humans greater control over how they live their lives. Various technologies are used to protect humans from what are perceived to be the capricious whims of indifferent natural forces. Additionally, technology is used to create circumstances and opportunities that are believed to be preferable because they are more subject to human control. In large measure, the lives of late moderns are effectively constructed and asserted as artifacts of what they will themselves to be. This control is seen prominently at the beginning and end of life. Technology is employed to overcome infertility, prevent illness, disability, and undesirable traits, to select desirable traits and increasingly enhance them. At the end of life, late moderns have a far greater range of options at their disposal than past generations: they can choose to delay death, control pain, or end their lives at the time and with the means of their choosing. The greater control that technology offers helps humans to survive and even flourish, but it comes at a price. One such cost is that it tends to reduce humans to being little more than a will confined within a body. The body is thereby effectively perceived to be an impediment to the will that should be overcome. Is this troubling? Yes. I argue that the purported control technology offers often serves as a distraction or blind spot that may prevent humans from understanding and consenting to their good. In making this argument I draw upon the Christian doctrine of the incarnation as a way of disclosing the creaturely good of finitude against which the will should conform rather than attempting to overcome. I also draw upon Iris Murdoch’s and Simone Weil’s concept of “unselfing” as a way of conforming the will with this good. I revisit issues related to the beginning and end of life to draw-out some of the implications of my argument. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the New Technologies)
Open AccessArticle Ecumenism: Rapprochement Through Co-working to Reconciliation
Religions 2017, 8(5), 70; doi:10.3390/rel8050070
Received: 6 February 2017 / Revised: 9 March 2017 / Accepted: 7 April 2017 / Published: 27 April 2017
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Abstract
This paper explores some forms of interaction between the Catholic and Orthodox churches in different contexts. Some of these forms are helpful, but not always efficient, and some are not helpful. Theological dialogues belong to the former category of interactions: they are helpful,
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This paper explores some forms of interaction between the Catholic and Orthodox churches in different contexts. Some of these forms are helpful, but not always efficient, and some are not helpful. Theological dialogues belong to the former category of interactions: they are helpful, but not efficient. Alliances on an ideological basis, for instance on the basis of “traditional values,” are unhelpful, because they polarise the churches internally. This article instead proposes a collaboration in the public domain as an alternative way of rapprochement between the two churches. The Ukrainian Maidan (the revolution of 2014) exemplifies a co-working space, which proved to be efficient for restoring trust between Orthodox and Greek Catholics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Disappearing Human: Gnostic Dreams in a Transhumanist World
Religions 2017, 8(5), 81; doi:10.3390/rel8050081
Received: 25 January 2017 / Revised: 14 April 2017 / Accepted: 18 April 2017 / Published: 3 May 2017
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Abstract
Transhumanism is dedicated to freeing humankind from the limitations of biological life, creating new bodies that will carry us into the future. In seeking freedom from the constraints of nature, it resembles ancient Gnosticism, but complicates the question of what the human being
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Transhumanism is dedicated to freeing humankind from the limitations of biological life, creating new bodies that will carry us into the future. In seeking freedom from the constraints of nature, it resembles ancient Gnosticism, but complicates the question of what the human being is. In contrast to the perspective that we are our brains, I argue that human consciousness and subjectivity originate from complex interactions between the body and the surrounding environment. These qualities emerge from a distinct set of structural couplings embodied within multiple organ systems and the multiplicity of connections within the brain. These connections take on different forms, including structural, chemical, and electrical manifestations within the totality of the human body. This embodiment suggests that human consciousness, and the intricate levels of experience that accompany it, cannot be replicated in non-organic forms such as computers or synaptic implants without a significant loss to human identity. The Gnostic desire to escape our embodiment found in transhumanism carries the danger of dissolving the human being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the New Technologies)
Open AccessArticle Mimesis or Metamorphosis? Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Practice and Its Philosophical Background
Religions 2017, 8(5), 92; doi:10.3390/rel8050092
Received: 12 April 2017 / Revised: 27 April 2017 / Accepted: 27 April 2017 / Published: 12 May 2017
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Abstract
What does Eastern Orthodox liturgy do? Is it a mimetic remembrance of Christ’s acts or about a transformation of the believers who come to worship? This paper explores the larger philosophical worldview within which patristic liturgy emerged in order to negotiate this tension
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What does Eastern Orthodox liturgy do? Is it a mimetic remembrance of Christ’s acts or about a transformation of the believers who come to worship? This paper explores the larger philosophical worldview within which patristic liturgy emerged in order to negotiate this tension between mimetic and transformative aspects of liturgical practice. It suggests that ancient philosophical conceptions of the cosmos and of soul and body underlie and can hence elucidate what Byzantine liturgy does. Liturgy tries to unify soul and body, heaven and earth, in a particular way. Liturgy seeks to transform the human person and the cosmos in such a manner that they come to image and match each other. The introduction to the paper briefly examines some contemporary accounts to show the stakes of the question about what liturgy “does” and the role mimesis and metamorphosis play in this debate. The main part of the paper explores the shared philosophical heritage regarding imitation and transformation, inner and outer, heavenly and earthly in order to understand more fully the background for how liturgy negotiates these dimensions. The conclusion to the paper draws out the implications of this patristic heritage for making sense of what contemporary liturgy does in a broader sense. Full article
Open AccessArticle Development and Validation of a Scale for Christian Character Assessment of University Students
Religions 2017, 8(5), 82; doi:10.3390/rel8050082
Received: 28 February 2017 / Revised: 24 April 2017 / Accepted: 24 April 2017 / Published: 3 May 2017
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Abstract
After the Character Education Act was enacted, providing character classes became a prerequisite in some Korean colleges starting in spring 2017. Keeping in step with these changes, experts researching character education cited the need for the development of character scales. The purpose of
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After the Character Education Act was enacted, providing character classes became a prerequisite in some Korean colleges starting in spring 2017. Keeping in step with these changes, experts researching character education cited the need for the development of character scales. The purpose of the present study is to explore the validity and reliability of the Christian character scale for university students. The participants were 994 students attending a Christian university in Seoul. The original 75 questions were developed from 13 factors, within three domains, from the three Biblical references and Christian universities’ virtuous character traits. These questions were reduced to 39, three per each factor, through the examination of content validity by a validation panel. Twenty-nine questions were finalized through exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis within five factors: relationships with others I—loving and caring, relationship with God, relationships with others II—loving and peacemaking, personal responsibility, and social responsibility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Social Sciences)
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Open AccessArticle How Not to Link the Reformation and Science: Reflections on Brad Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation
Religions 2017, 8(5), 83; doi:10.3390/rel8050083
Received: 3 February 2017 / Revised: 28 April 2017 / Accepted: 1 May 2017 / Published: 4 May 2017
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Abstract
This article evaluates Brad Gregory’s argument in The Unintended Reformation that links the Reformation with the rise of secular science. I provide an overview of Gregory’s claims and make two criticisms, arguing that Gregory’s thesis lacks historical evidence to support it and mistakenly
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This article evaluates Brad Gregory’s argument in The Unintended Reformation that links the Reformation with the rise of secular science. I provide an overview of Gregory’s claims and make two criticisms, arguing that Gregory’s thesis lacks historical evidence to support it and mistakenly implies that retaining the framework of premodern metaphysics would have prevented the rise of scientific naturalism. The paper concludes by pointing to more positive accounts on the connection between the Reformation and science by recent historians. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching the Reformations)
Open AccessArticle Sex, Abortion, Domestic Violence and Other Unmentionables: Orthodox Christian Youth in Kenya and Windows into Their Attitudes about Sex
Religions 2017, 8(5), 73; doi:10.3390/rel8050073
Received: 28 February 2017 / Revised: 2 April 2017 / Accepted: 2 April 2017 / Published: 27 April 2017
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Abstract
This article is based on the results of a survey of Orthodox Youth in Kenya and their attitudes about sex, abortion and domestic violence. This survey was taken of the participants of an all-Kenya Orthodox youth conference held in western Kenya in August
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This article is based on the results of a survey of Orthodox Youth in Kenya and their attitudes about sex, abortion and domestic violence. This survey was taken of the participants of an all-Kenya Orthodox youth conference held in western Kenya in August of 2016. The results give insight into the participants’ sources for first learning about sexual matters, as well as the sources that are preferred today. The youths’ perception of the Orthodox Church’s handling of sexual matters and sexual education is also revealed. Difficult moral issues facing Orthodox Kenyan youth are raised, such as premarital sex, domestic violence, the impact of HIV-AIDS on behavior, and responses to unintended pregnancy, with results providing insight as to how Orthodox youth are navigating the challenges facing them as they grow up into modern life both as Kenyans and as Orthodox Christians. After relating the story told by each set of survey results, conclusions are drawn from each of the issues addressed, with suggestions made as to a way forward, or further questions to pursue. Full article
Open AccessArticle Moral Bioenhancement through An Intersectional Theo-Ethical Lens: Refocusing on Divine Image-Bearing and Interdependence
Religions 2017, 8(5), 84; doi:10.3390/rel8050084
Received: 5 February 2017 / Revised: 19 April 2017 / Accepted: 26 April 2017 / Published: 8 May 2017
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Abstract
This article begins with a brief interrogation of the meanings of moral and virtue. Next, an intersectional Christian theo-ethical lens focusing on humans as divine image-bearers is used to generate critical insights regarding the influence of extreme individualism on approaches to moral bioenhancement.
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This article begins with a brief interrogation of the meanings of moral and virtue. Next, an intersectional Christian theo-ethical lens focusing on humans as divine image-bearers is used to generate critical insights regarding the influence of extreme individualism on approaches to moral bioenhancement. This alternative lens emphasizes the interdependence of life, and the contextual character of moral dispositions. The questions of what it means to be creatures bearing the imago dei and making moral choices, is at the center of this exploration. The author concludes that while there may be justifiable exceptions, for now moral bioenhancements are unwarranted. Moral improvement will be better achieved through more effective educational strategies, and possibly spiritual enhancements, that are geared toward appreciation for the interdependence of all life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the New Technologies)
Open AccessArticle Does Ideological Education in China Suppress Trust in Religion and Foster Trust in Government?
Religions 2017, 8(5), 94; doi:10.3390/rel8050094
Received: 31 March 2017 / Revised: 3 May 2017 / Accepted: 9 May 2017 / Published: 15 May 2017
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Abstract
A major goal of ideological education in China is to promote loyalty to the party-state and to instill atheism among the people. How effective is this ideological education? This article examines the relationship between education and trust in government and trust in religion
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A major goal of ideological education in China is to promote loyalty to the party-state and to instill atheism among the people. How effective is this ideological education? This article examines the relationship between education and trust in government and trust in religion using data from the 2010 Chinese General Social Survey. We find that education is negatively associated with trust in government, while positively related to trust in religion. Our findings suggest that policies aimed at displacing religion in favor of the Communist ideology have largely failed to shape the public mindset; rather, the more educated, the more people tend to trust religion instead of the government. Full article
Open AccessArticle Awe and Artifacts: Religious and Scientific Endeavor
Religions 2017, 8(5), 85; doi:10.3390/rel8050085
Received: 4 February 2017 / Revised: 13 April 2017 / Accepted: 30 April 2017 / Published: 8 May 2017
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Abstract
The article takes as its point of departure the reflections of Henry Adams and Jacques Ellul on the possible gradual replacement of objects used in religious worship with objects used in technological worship, and advances the hypothesis that such a substitution is unlikely.
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The article takes as its point of departure the reflections of Henry Adams and Jacques Ellul on the possible gradual replacement of objects used in religious worship with objects used in technological worship, and advances the hypothesis that such a substitution is unlikely. Using information from psychology, history of religions, and history of science, the perspective proposed is that of a parallel historical analogous development of both religious and scientific attitudes of awe by the use of artifacts carrying two functions: firstly, to coagulate social participation around questions dealing with humanity’s destiny and interpersonal relationships across communities, and secondly to offer cultural coherence through a communal sense of social stability, comfort, and security. I argue that, though animated by attitudes of awe (“awefull”), both leading scientists and religious founders have encountered the difficulty in representing and introducing this awe to the large public via “awesome” artifacts. The failure to represent coherently the initial awe via artifacts may give rise to “anomalous awefullness”: intolerance, persecutions, global conflicts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the New Technologies)
Open AccessArticle Service and Pro-Existence in the Thought of the Romanian Theologian Dumitru Staniloae: A Path for the Orthodox Church Facing the Challenges of Globalization
Religions 2017, 8(5), 95; doi:10.3390/rel8050095
Received: 3 April 2017 / Revised: 6 May 2017 / Accepted: 9 May 2017 / Published: 16 May 2017
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Abstract
“Pro-existence” is a concept developed by 20th century western Christian theologians to describe the service of the Church facing contemporary challenges. The leading Romanian theologian Dumitru Staniloae (1903–1993) took this further by expressing his Orthodox understanding of the relationship between service and pro-existence.
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“Pro-existence” is a concept developed by 20th century western Christian theologians to describe the service of the Church facing contemporary challenges. The leading Romanian theologian Dumitru Staniloae (1903–1993) took this further by expressing his Orthodox understanding of the relationship between service and pro-existence. The article explores Staniloae’s call for Orthodox Christians to serve not only people from other denominations, but those from other religions, as well as atheists. He depicted human pro-existence as an “existential impetus” towards serving the one in need, an impetus that the Orthodox Church should more visibly exercise. In a gentle, non-critical approach, Staniloae argues that the Orthodox Churches concentrated on liturgical service to God, while leaving service to people underdeveloped. The path ahead for the Orthodox Church will be the development of a harmonious multi-level understanding of pro-existence to hear and respond, as a “Serving” Church, to the needs of any human being. Full article
Open AccessArticle Resurrection of the Body and Cryonics
Religions 2017, 8(5), 96; doi:10.3390/rel8050096
Received: 2 February 2017 / Revised: 10 May 2017 / Accepted: 14 May 2017 / Published: 18 May 2017
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Abstract
The Christian doctrine of resurrection of the body is employed to interpret the cryonics program of preserving legally dead people with the plan to restore them when future medicine can effectively address the cause of death. Cryonics is not accepted by mainstream science,
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The Christian doctrine of resurrection of the body is employed to interpret the cryonics program of preserving legally dead people with the plan to restore them when future medicine can effectively address the cause of death. Cryonics is not accepted by mainstream science, and even if the vision is never realized, it is worth the effort to use it as a thought experiment to test the capability of the Christian theological system to address this issue in the unfolding new world of human enhancement. Drawing on the apostle Paul, whose view was based in the Jewish notion of psychosomatic unity, Christian resurrection includes emphases on physicality, radical transformation, and continuity of personal identity. Successful cryonics scenarios can include restoring a person to more or less the same life they had before or, more likely, utilize robotics, tissue regeneration, and other future advances in human enhancement technology to restore one to an enhanced state. Christian resurrection and the more likely cryonics scenario both entail physicality, radical transformation, and continuity of personal identity and, as such, can be understood to be technological expressions of Christian resurrection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the New Technologies)
Open AccessArticle Wealth, Well-Being, and the Danger of Having Too Much
Religions 2017, 8(5), 86; doi:10.3390/rel8050086
Received: 5 February 2017 / Accepted: 26 April 2017 / Published: 8 May 2017
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Abstract
It is impossible for an agent who is classically economically rational to have so much wealth that it is harmful for them, since such an agent would simply give away their excess wealth. Actual agents, vulnerable to akrasia and lacking full information, are
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It is impossible for an agent who is classically economically rational to have so much wealth that it is harmful for them, since such an agent would simply give away their excess wealth. Actual agents, vulnerable to akrasia and lacking full information, are not economically rational, but economists, ethicists and political philosophers have nonetheless mostly ignored the possibility that having too much might be harmful in some ways. I survey the major philosophical theories of well-being and draw on ethics and the social sciences to point out several ways in which, on the most plausible of these theories, having too much, relative to other members of one’s society, might be harmful to oneself (for instance, by making it harder for one to have appropriate relationships with others, or by making it more likely than one will develop undesirable character traits). I argue that because egalitarian policies prevent these harms and provide the advantaged with other benefits (such as access to public goods which help rich and poor alike), egalitarian policies are not as harmful to the rich as is commonly supposed, and may even be helpful to them on balance. I close by discussing the practical implications of this. Full article
Open AccessArticle Knocking on a Saint’s Door, or a Quest for Holiness in a Post-Secular Society
Religions 2017, 8(5), 87; doi:10.3390/rel8050087
Received: 23 March 2017 / Revised: 1 May 2017 / Accepted: 3 May 2017 / Published: 17 May 2017
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Abstract
The article examines Successors (Nasledniki, 2015) directed by Vladimir Khotinenko, illustrating a recent trend in the Russian film-making industry, namely, a rising interest in religious topics. While the Orthodox faith is widely seen by Russian political leaders as a basic aspect
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The article examines Successors (Nasledniki, 2015) directed by Vladimir Khotinenko, illustrating a recent trend in the Russian film-making industry, namely, a rising interest in religious topics. While the Orthodox faith is widely seen by Russian political leaders as a basic aspect of national identity, the Church is also becoming more and more visible in the life of society, with religious holidays and events now receiving a higher profile in the public domain. The article analyzes how these trends shape the public consciousness and are reflected in the cinema production of recent years. Successors, a one location movie focusing on the debate over the role of Saint Sergius of Radonezh in the history of Russia, demonstrates that this 14th-century monk is very much present in the lives and minds of people 700 years later. In turn, this suggests that, under a layer of cynicism and consumerism, there is a growing hunger for holiness in a post-secular society. Full article
Open AccessArticle Religious Diversity in Modern Orthodox Thought
Religions 2017, 8(5), 77; doi:10.3390/rel8050077
Received: 4 January 2017 / Revised: 6 March 2017 / Accepted: 2 April 2017 / Published: 27 April 2017
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Abstract
This essay explores different approaches to non-Christian religions in Orthodox thought, from the early Fathers to the present day. Among modern Orthodox theologians, Georges Khodr and Anastasios Yannoulatos inherit an inclusivist or tolerant attitude to religious diversity from Justin Martyr and other early
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This essay explores different approaches to non-Christian religions in Orthodox thought, from the early Fathers to the present day. Among modern Orthodox theologians, Georges Khodr and Anastasios Yannoulatos inherit an inclusivist or tolerant attitude to religious diversity from Justin Martyr and other early Fathers, while Seraphim Rose represents an exclusivist or intolerant position, characteristic of Tertullian. Philip Sherrard’s thinking on non-Christian religions can be described as religious pluralism, while that of Lev Gillet is close to comparative theology. Despite the absence of formal Orthodox declarations concerning religious diversity, Orthodox thought on the subject since World War II converges around the notions of inclusivism and comparative theology, considering that non-Christian religions are mysteriously “included” in the missions of Christ and the Holy Spirit in the world and that their adherents can achieve salvation as understood in Christianity. Full article
Open AccessArticle Growing Economic Inequality and Its (Partially) Political Roots
Religions 2017, 8(5), 97; doi:10.3390/rel8050097
Received: 13 February 2017 / Revised: 2 May 2017 / Accepted: 2 May 2017 / Published: 18 May 2017
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Abstract
Growing economic inequality fosters inequality in the political processes of American democracy. Since the 1970’s inequalities in earnings and wealth have increased dramatically in the United States creating a higher level of inequality in disposable income than in other developed democracies. The United
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Growing economic inequality fosters inequality in the political processes of American democracy. Since the 1970’s inequalities in earnings and wealth have increased dramatically in the United States creating a higher level of inequality in disposable income than in other developed democracies. The United States also lags behind other rich nations in the way it provides for those at the bottom of the income distribution, and there is no evidence that the opportunities for success promised by the American Dream compensate for inequality in America. Technological and economic developments are significant causes of this growing economic inequality. The role of politics is more controversial, but government policy influences the distribution of income and education by the way it determines government benefits, taxes and the way markets function. For a number of reasons—including, most importantly, the relationship between education and income and the ability of the affluent to make large campaign donations—those who are economically well-off speak more loudly in politics. They are more likely to engage in most forms of individual political participation—not only ones that involve using cash but also ones that cost nothing except time. Moreover, when it comes to political voice through organizations, a professionalized domain dominated by hired experts in which the volume of political voice can be altered to reflect available economic resources, affluent interests are more likely to be organized and active. This essay considers the growing economic inequalities that form an important part of the backdrop for unequal political voice. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Big Data, Ethics and Religion: New Questions from a New Science
Religions 2017, 8(5), 88; doi:10.3390/rel8050088
Received: 30 January 2017 / Revised: 7 April 2017 / Accepted: 3 May 2017 / Published: 10 May 2017
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Abstract
Hopes, fears, and ethical concerns relating to technology are as old as technology itself. When considering the increase in the power of computers, and their ever-more widespread use over recent decades, concerns have been raised about the social impact of computers and about
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Hopes, fears, and ethical concerns relating to technology are as old as technology itself. When considering the increase in the power of computers, and their ever-more widespread use over recent decades, concerns have been raised about the social impact of computers and about practical issues arising from their use: the manner in which data is harvested, the preservation of confidentiality where people’s personal information is concerned, the security of systems in which such data is stored, and so on. With the arrival of “big data” new ethical concerns surrounding computer-based technology arise—concerns connected not only with social issues, and with the generation of data and its security, but also with its interpretation by data scientists, and with the burgeoning trade in personal data. The first aim of this paper is to introduce some of these ethical issues, and the second is to suggest some possible ways in which they might be addressed. The latter includes some explorations of the ways in which insights from religious and theological perspectives might be valuable. It is urged that theology and data science might engage in mutually-beneficial dialogue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the New Technologies)
Open AccessArticle Globalization, Inequality & International Economic Law
Religions 2017, 8(5), 78; doi:10.3390/rel8050078
Received: 7 February 2017 / Revised: 4 April 2017 / Accepted: 4 April 2017 / Published: 26 April 2017
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Abstract
International law in general, and international economic law in particular, to the extent that either has focused on the issue of inequality, has done so in terms of inequality between states. Largely overlooked has been the topic of inequality within states and how
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International law in general, and international economic law in particular, to the extent that either has focused on the issue of inequality, has done so in terms of inequality between states. Largely overlooked has been the topic of inequality within states and how international law has influenced that reality. From the perspective of international economic law, the inequality issue is closely entwined with the topics of colonialism and post-colonialism, the proper meaning of development, and globalization. While international economic law has undoubtedly contributed to the rise of inequality, it is now vital that the subject of international economic law be examined for how it may contribute to the lessening of inequality. To do so will require a shift in the way that we think, in order to address inequality as a problem of an emerging global market society, and how best to regulate that society and its institutions. Full article
Open AccessArticle After Onto-Theology: What Lies beyond the ‘End of Everything’
Religions 2017, 8(5), 98; doi:10.3390/rel8050098
Received: 14 March 2017 / Revised: 11 May 2017 / Accepted: 15 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
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Abstract
This article takes up the onto-theological critique of metaphysics and questions whether onto-theology is not something to evade or overcome, but is inevitable. Consequently, it furthers the exploration of onto-theology by asking, if it is inevitable, then what comes after onto-theology? For the
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This article takes up the onto-theological critique of metaphysics and questions whether onto-theology is not something to evade or overcome, but is inevitable. Consequently, it furthers the exploration of onto-theology by asking, if it is inevitable, then what comes after onto-theology? For the past half-century, onto-theology has been a central concern for philosophy, particularly in phenomenology where one sees a theological turn in order to understand and incorporate what might be beyond, or within, consciousness that does not readily appear to the self. In this turn, one often sees philosophers (and theologians) attempt to craft a post-metaphysical understanding. Resultantly, many of these philosophers herald what I call the ‘end of everything,’ often due to their onto-theological character: from the ‘end’ of philosophy of religion, to the ‘end’ of metaphysics, to the ‘end’ of theology. However, when investigating their findings, one often sees these concepts arise from the grave, perhaps showing that some onto-theological construction is inevitable. This paper proceeds by first giving a brief overview of the philosophers Jean-Luc Nancy, Richard Kearney, John Caputo, and Merold Westphal to propose how onto-theology is still an issue for their philosophies by revealing a necessary link between ontology and empirical reality. It then builds off of this proposal through the work of Joeri Schrijvers to show what might lie ahead of philosophy (and philosophy of religion in particular), arguing that if onto-theology is inevitable then philosophy should turn further into theology to explore how theology deals with this inevitability on an empirical basis. Basically, since theology always already accepts being in default (through concepts like original sin), then how does it help believers cope with this inevitability and how does it focus upon the empirical reality of this ontological gesture. Finally, this paper investigates the work of Colby Dickinson in order to solidify this finding into a programmatic, philosophical framework. Full article
Open AccessArticle New Zealand Nurses’ Perceptions of Spirituality and Spiritual care: Qualitative Findings from a National Survey
Religions 2017, 8(5), 79; doi:10.3390/rel8050079
Received: 17 March 2017 / Revised: 9 April 2017 / Accepted: 19 April 2017 / Published: 26 April 2017
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Abstract
This paper presents the qualitative findings from the first national survey of New Zealand nurses’ views on spirituality and spiritual care. The importance of spirituality as a core aspect of holistic nursing care is gaining momentum. Little is currently known about New Zealand
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This paper presents the qualitative findings from the first national survey of New Zealand nurses’ views on spirituality and spiritual care. The importance of spirituality as a core aspect of holistic nursing care is gaining momentum. Little is currently known about New Zealand nurses’ understandings, perceptions and experience of spirituality. Design: A descriptive online survey. Method: A random sample of 2000 individuals resident in New Zealand whose occupation on the New Zealand electoral roll suggested nursing was their current or past occupation were invited via postcard to participate in an online survey. This paper reports on the free response section of the survey. Findings: Overall, 472 invitees responded (24.1%). From the respondents, 63% completed at least one of the optional free response sections. Thematic analysis generated three metathemes: ‘The role of spirituality in nursing practice’, ‘Enabling best practice’, and ‘Creating a supportive culture’. Conclusions: Spirituality was predominantly valued as a core aspect of holistic nursing care. However, clarity is needed surrounding what constitutes spiritual care and how this intersects with professional responsibilities and boundaries. Participants’ insights suggest a focus on improving the consistency and quality of spiritual care by fostering inter-professional collaboration, and improved provision of resources and educational opportunities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Social Services, Social Justice, and Social Innovations: Lessons for Addressing Income Inequality
Religions 2017, 8(5), 89; doi:10.3390/rel8050089
Received: 8 February 2017 / Revised: 1 May 2017 / Accepted: 2 May 2017 / Published: 10 May 2017
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Abstract
This paper first explores three lessons about income inequality that have emerged in cross-disciplinary study. Second, it relates those lessons to ethical practices in social work and social services, and other ethics of social justice. Third, it briefly examines sample innovations in social
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This paper first explores three lessons about income inequality that have emerged in cross-disciplinary study. Second, it relates those lessons to ethical practices in social work and social services, and other ethics of social justice. Third, it briefly examines sample innovations in social services that hold promise for addressing the three lessons of the income inequality described. Finally, the paper offers reflections on a potential path forward in a quest to mitigate the harm of persistent income inequality and create more equitable systems for those experiencing it. Full article

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Open AccessEssay “And Thou, all-Shaking Thunder…”A Theological Notation to Lines 1–38 of King Lear, Act III, Scene II
Religions 2017, 8(5), 91; doi:10.3390/rel8050091
Received: 16 August 2016 / Revised: 15 February 2017 / Accepted: 8 May 2017 / Published: 11 May 2017
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Abstract
In the dramas of Shakespeare, the madman and the fool speak in prose; wisdom and sanity are properly poeticised. King Lear is no exception: I go some way in providing a theological notation to a crucial moment of Lear’s descent into madness, the
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In the dramas of Shakespeare, the madman and the fool speak in prose; wisdom and sanity are properly poeticised. King Lear is no exception: I go some way in providing a theological notation to a crucial moment of Lear’s descent into madness, the fracturing of his blank verse into prose. Is the storm on the heath a representation of the turmoil of his mind? Or is it a theophany, the manifestation of divine displeasure at human foolishness? Finding between the verse and the prose the theological tradition of Christianity will allow us to negotiate this question and to understand a little more clearly the peculiar wisdom of poetry for Christianity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue English Poetry and Christianity)

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