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Religions, Volume 9, Issue 2 (February 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Comparative studies are today a primary, essential part of the study of religions. By these essays, [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle Work as a Value in the Writings of Rabbi Y.Y. Reines
Religions 2018, 9(2), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020064
Received: 22 November 2017 / Revised: 17 January 2018 / Accepted: 17 February 2018 / Published: 24 February 2018
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Abstract
Religious texts in the Jewish tradition uphold a notion of work as an existential need. It follows that work is of no religious significance in itself. Torah study has traditionally put it at the top of the hierarchy of Jewish values. The approach
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Religious texts in the Jewish tradition uphold a notion of work as an existential need. It follows that work is of no religious significance in itself. Torah study has traditionally put it at the top of the hierarchy of Jewish values. The approach most clearly discernible throughout Jewish history has seen work as a prerequisite to be satisfied in order for the real essentials of life to be addressed; this approach became dominant almost to the exclusion of any other. Nota bene: seen in this way, work is a must, but not a religious value in itself. R. Yitzhak Yaakov Reines (1839–1915), one of the greatest Torah1 scholars of Lithuania, founded the Mizrachi religious Zionist movement in 1902.2 The movement upheld the notion of work as a religious value, not only as an existential need. Bnei Akiva, the youth movement associated with the Mizrachi, emblazoned the motto of “Torah and Labor” upon its banner. The present article sets out to trace R. Reines’ thought and the idea of labor in his theological teaching. His thought continues to have a significant impact on religious Zionists in the State of Israel and throughout the world. Full article
Open AccessArticle Baptism in the Holy Spirit-and-Fire: Luke’s Implicitly Pneumatological Theory of Atonement
Religions 2018, 9(2), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020063
Received: 21 December 2017 / Revised: 11 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 24 February 2018
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Abstract
Historically, theologies of atonement have neglected the Holy Spirit. Luke provides us with an important canonical voice for addressing this neglect. Luke locates Christ’s salvific work within his mission to baptize all flesh in the Holy Spirit and fire. He is to occasion
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Historically, theologies of atonement have neglected the Holy Spirit. Luke provides us with an important canonical voice for addressing this neglect. Luke locates Christ’s salvific work within his mission to baptize all flesh in the Holy Spirit and fire. He is to occasion a “river” of the Spirit through which all must pass, either unto destruction or salvation. Christ must himself pass through this river to be the Spirit Baptizer. He must pass through the baptism of fire on the cross so as to bring others into the blessings of the Spirit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 'The events fulfilled among us': from Luke to Acts)
Open AccessArticle Rethinking Material Religion in the East: Orientalism and Religious Material Culture in Contemporary Western Academia
Religions 2018, 9(2), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020062
Received: 6 December 2017 / Revised: 22 January 2018 / Accepted: 13 February 2018 / Published: 16 February 2018
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Abstract
This paper reviews the historical development of the modern discourse of “Orientalism” and the emergence of material culture as a self-reflexive theoretical transition in the West. Further, it investigates new types of Orientalism in the study of religious material culture. The traditional Orientalist
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This paper reviews the historical development of the modern discourse of “Orientalism” and the emergence of material culture as a self-reflexive theoretical transition in the West. Further, it investigates new types of Orientalism in the study of religious material culture. The traditional Orientalist approach to understanding foreign cultures has been abandoned in Western academia for decades owing to its moral judgment and lack of neutrality. However, an implicit form of Orientalism still exists in contemporary Western academia. Material culture appeared as a new trend in understanding the world as not solely dominated by human beings but also transformed by material objects. Religious material culture, far from explaining the reality of religious phenomena in different cultures, constructs new realities to solve problems in Western intellectual discourse. This is the case with the study of Chinese religions and material life. Full article
Open AccessConference Report Christian Spirituality in Eating Disorder Recovery
Religions 2018, 9(2), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020061
Received: 15 December 2017 / Revised: 1 February 2018 / Accepted: 8 February 2018 / Published: 16 February 2018
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Abstract
Eating disorders are some of the most severe and destructive of all psychological conditions. They are associated with restricted capacities in cognitive, emotional, physical, and spiritual development. This paper provides an examination of the practical application of Christian spirituality as a force for
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Eating disorders are some of the most severe and destructive of all psychological conditions. They are associated with restricted capacities in cognitive, emotional, physical, and spiritual development. This paper provides an examination of the practical application of Christian spirituality as a force for recovery from an eating disorder. Specifically, it expounds the transformative potential in the spiritual qualities of hope, trust, acceptance, surrender, and courage underpinning engagement with evidence-based therapeutic models of care in eating disorder recovery. Full article
Open AccessArticle George Jeffreys: Pentecostal and Contemporary Implications
Religions 2018, 9(2), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020060
Received: 19 January 2018 / Revised: 1 February 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 15 February 2018
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Abstract
The life and work of the Welsh evangelist George Jeffreys resulted in the planting of two denominations in the UK between 1915 and 1962, when he died. The Elim churches continue to this day to be one of the larger classical Pentecostal denominations
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The life and work of the Welsh evangelist George Jeffreys resulted in the planting of two denominations in the UK between 1915 and 1962, when he died. The Elim churches continue to this day to be one of the larger classical Pentecostal denominations in the UK, while the Bible Pattern Fellowship dispersed on Jeffreys’ death. The disputes that led to Jeffreys’ departure from Elim were said to have arisen from his adherence to British Israel doctrine, though his supporters believed they arose from his championing of local church ownership and democracy. This paper considers sociological and other reasons for Jeffreys’ remarkable success in the interwar years and his eventual departure from a denomination he founded. It concludes by reflecting on topics (such as the importance of debate and law) that have relevance for contemporary Pentecostalism. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Virgin Mary in the Early Modern Italian Writings of Vittoria Colonna, Lucrezia Marinella, and Eleonora Montalvo
Religions 2018, 9(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020059
Received: 25 October 2017 / Revised: 22 December 2017 / Accepted: 5 February 2018 / Published: 13 February 2018
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Abstract
The Marian writings of the Roman poet Vittoria Colonna (1490/92–1547), the Venetian polemicist Lucrezia Marinella (1579–1653),1 and the Florentine educator Eleonora Montalvo (1602–1659) present an accessible model of the Virgin Mary in the early modern period that both lay and religious women
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The Marian writings of the Roman poet Vittoria Colonna (1490/92–1547), the Venetian polemicist Lucrezia Marinella (1579–1653),1 and the Florentine educator Eleonora Montalvo (1602–1659) present an accessible model of the Virgin Mary in the early modern period that both lay and religious women could emulate in order to strengthen their individual spirituality. While the Catholic Church encouraged women to accept and imitate an ideal of the Virgin Mary’s character traits and behavior for the good of society, these three women writers constructed a more fruitful narrative of the Virgin’s life and experience that included elements and imagery that would empower women to enhance their personal practice of meditation. Full article
Open AccessArticle Interrogating the Comparative Method: Whither, Why, and How?1
Religions 2018, 9(2), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020058
Received: 15 January 2018 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 26 January 2018 / Published: 12 February 2018
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Abstract
This essay seeks to illuminate the problematics, methods, and dynamics of comparison by interrogating how certain analytical categories in the study of religion, such as scripture and the body, can be fruitfully reimagined through a comparative analysis of their Hindu and Jewish instantiations.
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This essay seeks to illuminate the problematics, methods, and dynamics of comparison by interrogating how certain analytical categories in the study of religion, such as scripture and the body, can be fruitfully reimagined through a comparative analysis of their Hindu and Jewish instantiations. I consider a range of issues that are critical to any productive comparative study, and I reflect more specifically on the principal components of my own comparative method in light of Oliver Freiberger’s analytical framework: the goals of comparative analysis; the modes of comparison; the parameters that define the scope and the scale of the comparative inquiry; and the operations involved in the comparative process, beginning with selection of the specific traditions and analytical categories to be addressed and formulation of the organizational design of the study and culminating in the re-visioned categories and models in the study of religion that constitute the fruits of the comparative inquiry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Methodical Aspects of Comparison)
Open AccessArticle Against Vaiṣṇava Deviance: Brāhmaṇical and Bhadralok Alliance in Bengal
Religions 2018, 9(2), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020057
Received: 29 October 2017 / Revised: 29 January 2018 / Accepted: 4 February 2018 / Published: 11 February 2018
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Abstract
This article sets out to problematise the notion that late nineteenth and early twentieth century Vaiṣṇava anti-sahajiyā polemics can be taken as a definitive index of colonial wrought rupture within Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. It proceeds by (1) drawing attention to oblique, yet unmistakably
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This article sets out to problematise the notion that late nineteenth and early twentieth century Vaiṣṇava anti-sahajiyā polemics can be taken as a definitive index of colonial wrought rupture within Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. It proceeds by (1) drawing attention to oblique, yet unmistakably polemical, forms of response to sahajiyā currents in pre-colonial Gauḍīya literature that are indicative of a movement towards a brāhmaṇically-aligned Vaiṣṇava normativity; and (2) highlighting how this movement towards normativity was further fostered in colonial times by Gauḍīya gosvāmī types, who were often extensively involved in bhadralok Vaiṣṇava domains. Full article
Open AccessArticle Fast, Feast and Feminism: Teaching Food and Gender in Italian Religious Women’s Writings
Religions 2018, 9(2), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020056
Received: 1 November 2017 / Revised: 28 December 2017 / Accepted: 6 February 2018 / Published: 10 February 2018
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Abstract
In the wake of Caroline Walker Bynum’s essential studies on the crucial role food played in the lives of medieval religious women, significant attention has been given to the connection between premodern women’s spiritual practices and eating practices. However, the relationship between religious
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In the wake of Caroline Walker Bynum’s essential studies on the crucial role food played in the lives of medieval religious women, significant attention has been given to the connection between premodern women’s spiritual practices and eating practices. However, the relationship between religious women and food is not limited to body manipulation, inedia or eucharistic frenzy. Indeed, recent critical work has provided accessible translations and critical apparatus necessary for an exploration of food and women’s religiosity that builds on Bynum’s rich foundation and examines the many ways in which women expressed themselves through food, both material and metaphoric. This approach not only allows students to engage with women’s writing through the familiarity and universality of food, but moreover reminds them of the real, living, breathing women behind the texts, thus opening the door to a feminist rereading of texts—not as proto-feminist themselves, but rather in the re-valuing of the substantial contributions of their female authors, who had subtle social awareness, public professional pursuits, and complex and varied relationships with God. Full article
Open AccessArticle Sikh Self-Sacrifice and Religious Representation during World War I
Religions 2018, 9(2), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020055
Received: 5 January 2018 / Revised: 6 February 2018 / Accepted: 8 February 2018 / Published: 10 February 2018
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Abstract
This paper analyzes the ways Sikh constructions of sacrifice were created and employed to engender social change in the early twentieth century. Through an examination of letters written by Sikh soldiers serving in the British Indian Army during World War I and contemporary
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This paper analyzes the ways Sikh constructions of sacrifice were created and employed to engender social change in the early twentieth century. Through an examination of letters written by Sikh soldiers serving in the British Indian Army during World War I and contemporary documents from within their global religious, legislative, and economic context, I argue that Sikhs mobilized conceptions of self-sacrifice in two distinct directions, both aiming at procuring greater political recognition and representation. Sikhs living outside the Indian subcontinent encouraged their fellows to rise up and throw off their colonial oppressors by recalling mythic moments of the past and highlighting the plight of colonial subjects of the British Raj. Receiving less discussion are Punjabi Sikhs who fought in British forces during the Great War and who spoke of their potential sacrifice as divinely sanctioned in service to a benevolent state. Both sides utilized religious symbolism in the hope that Sikhs would again enjoy a level of self-rule that had been lost with the arrival of the British Empire. Full article
Open AccessArticle Transparent Theological Dialogue—“Moseka Phofu Ya Gaabo Ga a Tshabe Go Swa Lentswe” (A Setswana Proverb)
Religions 2018, 9(2), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020054
Received: 29 November 2017 / Revised: 31 January 2018 / Accepted: 9 February 2018 / Published: 9 February 2018
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Abstract
This paper looks into the definition of Setswana proverb: Moseka phofu ya gaabo ga a tshabe go swa lentswe (One must fight impatiently for what rightly belongs to him or her). The proverb is used to express the African thought of transparent dialogue
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This paper looks into the definition of Setswana proverb: Moseka phofu ya gaabo ga a tshabe go swa lentswe (One must fight impatiently for what rightly belongs to him or her). The proverb is used to express the African thought of transparent dialogue that can be applied in theological deliberations; leading to sound theological conclusions adequate to address the corruption in the socio-political landscape. Transparency is explained from the African concept of addressing socio-political struggles. Theology calls for robust dialogue for the alternative society. This calls for understanding of African thought of fighting impatiently for the marginalized and the poor—a mandate that is similar to the church’s calling for liberating the oppressed masses through dialogue with others and communities in context. A special exploration is made through the symbiosis of dogma and kerygma for the incessant intervention of theology on behalf of the silent masses. An appeal is made for liberation theology and mainstream theology to dialogue in order for communities to experience salvation authentically. Full article
Open AccessArticle Impossible Subjects: LGBTIQ Experiences in Australian Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches
Religions 2018, 9(2), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020053
Received: 12 December 2017 / Revised: 20 January 2018 / Accepted: 7 February 2018 / Published: 9 February 2018
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Abstract
This paper is the product of in-depth interviews with 20 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer (LGBTIQ) people who identify, or formerly identified, as members of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christian (PCC) churches. Interviewees typically found themselves confronted with a number of choices (not necessarily
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This paper is the product of in-depth interviews with 20 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer (LGBTIQ) people who identify, or formerly identified, as members of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christian (PCC) churches. Interviewees typically found themselves confronted with a number of choices (not necessarily mutually exclusive): remain closeted, come out but commit to remaining celibate, undergo “SOCE” (Sexual Orientation Conversion Efforts) therapy, or leave. Most left their churches, often after agonising attempts to reconcile their faith and their sexuality. Several of the practices adopted by Australian PCC churches exclude LGBTIQ people from full participation in their own congregations, rendering them “impossible subjects.” Australian Pentecostalism’s surprisingly egalitarian history, wherein the spiritually authorised ministry of women was both recognised and celebrated, suggests another, more inclusive way forward in regard to this vexed issue. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Horrendous-Difference Disabilities, Resurrected Saints, and the Beatific Vision: A Theodicy
Religions 2018, 9(2), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020052
Received: 9 January 2018 / Revised: 2 February 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 9 February 2018
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Abstract
Marilyn Adams rightly pointed out that there are many kinds of evil, some of which are horrendous. I claim that one species of horrendous evil is what I call horrendous-difference disabilities. I distinguish two subspecies of horrendous-difference disabilities based in part on the
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Marilyn Adams rightly pointed out that there are many kinds of evil, some of which are horrendous. I claim that one species of horrendous evil is what I call horrendous-difference disabilities. I distinguish two subspecies of horrendous-difference disabilities based in part on the temporal relation between one’s rational moral wishing for a certain human function F and its being thwarted by intrinsic and extrinsic conditions. Next, I offer a theodicy for each subspecies of horrendous-difference disability. Although I appeal to some claims made by Marilyn Adams for this theodicy, I reject one particular claim. I deny that one must be aware that one participates in a horrendous evil when the horrific event occurs. To develop this point and its relevance for a theodicy for horrendous-difference disabilities, I engage with Andrew Chignell’s work on infant suffering. In doing so, I show that what partly motivates the claim is a time-bias, i.e., near-bias. By rejecting this time-bias, I show how it is possible, given post-mortem life, for persons with profound cognitive disabilities to participate in horrendous evils and how these might be defeated by God. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
Open AccessArticle Who Benefits from Consociationalism? Religious Disparities in Lebanon’s Political System
Religions 2018, 9(2), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020051
Received: 28 November 2017 / Revised: 2 February 2018 / Accepted: 3 February 2018 / Published: 8 February 2018
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Abstract
This study examines the extent to which confessional identities in Lebanon are responsible for shaping individual views toward their government. Specifically, I investigate disparities between religious groups in their perceptions of democracy and democratic principles as applied in Lebanon. Using nationally representative data
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This study examines the extent to which confessional identities in Lebanon are responsible for shaping individual views toward their government. Specifically, I investigate disparities between religious groups in their perceptions of democracy and democratic principles as applied in Lebanon. Using nationally representative data from the Arab Barometer’s survey of Lebanon, I find that when compared to Maronite Catholics, Druze, and Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims consistently give higher evaluations of the democratic condition of Lebanon. When compared to members of other religious groups, Shia Muslims are also more trusting of government institutions and perceive Lebanon to be freer. I find little evidence that the application of consociational theory equally and proportionally represents the political needs of the religious groups intended to be served. Rather, my findings reveal religious disparities in evaluations of democracy and political institutions in Lebanon, supporting critics of consociationalism who argue that consociationalism essentializes group-identity to political disputes. Full article
Open AccessArticle Nurses’ Understanding of Spirituality and the Spirituality of Older People with Dementia in the Continuing Care Setting
Religions 2018, 9(2), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020050
Received: 1 December 2017 / Revised: 1 February 2018 / Accepted: 1 February 2018 / Published: 7 February 2018
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Abstract
This research paper was presented at the Third International Spirituality in Healthcare Conference 2017—‘Creating Space for Spirituality in Healthcare’ at Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin. 22 June 2017. The number of older people living with dementia in Ireland is rising. Dementia
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This research paper was presented at the Third International Spirituality in Healthcare Conference 2017—‘Creating Space for Spirituality in Healthcare’ at Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin. 22 June 2017. The number of older people living with dementia in Ireland is rising. Dementia is prevalent among those residing in the continuing care setting. Nurses have a professional obligation to provide person centred, holistic care, to which spiritual care is a core element, yet often do not. As there are no guidelines in Ireland for spiritual care provision it is open to personal interpretation and application. This study was the first in Ireland to explore how spiritual care is understood by nurses in the context of older people living with dementia in a public, rural, continuing care setting. A qualitative descriptive design was utilized. Following purposive sampling, eight semi structured interviews were conducted in a rural Irish community hospital among registered nurses caring for older people living with dementia. A conceptual framework developed from the findings of a literature review, as well as this research study’s aim and objectives framed the interview schedule and data analysis. Data analysis utilized Newell and Burnard (2011) Thematic Content Analysis. Ethical approval was granted by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the University of Dublin, Trinity College Dublin (TCD). Six key themes emerged from the study—1. Understandings of Spirituality, 2. Assessing spiritual need, 3. Providing spiritual care, 4. The impact of spirituality on quality of life, 5. Barriers to spiritual care and how these are addressed, and finally 6. The needs of staff. This paper presents and discusses the findings of the first theme ‘Understandings of Spirituality’ and its two sub-themes, 1. ‘The nurse’s own understanding of spirituality’ and 2. ‘The nurses’ understanding of spirituality and older people living with dementia.’ It is evident from the findings that there exists a variety of responses with regards to the nurses’ own understanding of the concept spirituality and spirituality for older people living with dementia. Participants placed emphasis on person-centred approaches to understanding and providing for the needs of care recipients’ in this area of care. Most participants acknowledged the positive impact of spiritual care on quality of life for older people living with dementia. Indications for practice suggest the need to develop suitable evidence based professional, person-centred frameworks, guidelines and educational standards for nurses which better equip them to understand spirituality and how this area of need can be properly assessed in partnership with the recipient of nursing practice in the continuing care setting to ensure comprehensive holistic, person-centred practice. Full article
Open AccessArticle Ignatian Inscape and Instress in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “Pied Beauty,” “God’s Grandeur,” “The Starlight Night,” and “The Windhover”: Hopkins’s Movement toward Ignatius by Way of Walter Pater
Religions 2018, 9(2), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020049
Received: 30 December 2017 / Revised: 30 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 6 February 2018
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Abstract
This essay discusses Gerard Manley Hopkin’s notions of inscape and instress, examining their early expressions during Hopkins’s time as a student at and recent alumnus of Balliol College, Oxford, their subsequent development amid Hopkins’s career as a Jesuit novice and priest, and their
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This essay discusses Gerard Manley Hopkin’s notions of inscape and instress, examining their early expressions during Hopkins’s time as a student at and recent alumnus of Balliol College, Oxford, their subsequent development amid Hopkins’s career as a Jesuit novice and priest, and their manifestation in four sonnets composed in 1877. Attention is paid throughout to the likely influence of Hopkins’s Balliol tutor, Walter Pater, as well as the influence of Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises upon Hopkins’s presentation of inscape and instress in his poems. Full article
Open AccessArticle Sacramental Communion with Nature: From Emerson on the Lord’s Supper to Thoreau’s Transcendental Picnic
Religions 2018, 9(2), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020048
Received: 9 January 2018 / Revised: 31 January 2018 / Accepted: 1 February 2018 / Published: 3 February 2018
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Abstract
For both Emerson and Thoreau, ocular attentiveness was a crucial means of at least disposing the soul toward experiencing moments of otherwise unpredictable, ecstatic encounter with the divine soul of Nature. But the eye alone was not the sole sensory pathway toward receiving
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For both Emerson and Thoreau, ocular attentiveness was a crucial means of at least disposing the soul toward experiencing moments of otherwise unpredictable, ecstatic encounter with the divine soul of Nature. But the eye alone was not the sole sensory pathway toward receiving such revelations. Especially in later writing, Thoreau focused special attention on eating and drinking as key bodily—yet also spiritual—modes of experiencing communion with the earth. He applied this sacramental understanding to the several processes of obtaining, preparing, and consuming food, but above all to the thankful appreciation of locally gathered, wild fruits and nuts. Such gifts, freely given, presumably invite “us to picnic with Nature,” thereby dramatizing how “man at length stands in such a relation to Nature as the animals which pluck and eat as they go.” Though Emerson never embraced a comparably sacramental vision of Nature, or showed the same interest in gustatory encounter with wildness, one might interpret his attraction toward other diverse and often spiritualized concepts of communion as a compensatory outcome of his ministerial decision in 1832 to cease administering the Christian church’s sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transcendentalism and the Religious Experience)
Open AccessArticle Evil and Human Suffering in Islamic Thought—Towards a Mystical Theodicy
Religions 2018, 9(2), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020047
Received: 13 December 2017 / Revised: 27 January 2018 / Accepted: 28 January 2018 / Published: 3 February 2018
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Abstract
This paper sheds light on the treatment of the ‘problem of evil’ and human suffering from an Islamic perspective. I begin by providing an overview of the term ‘evil’ in the Qur’an to highlight its multidimensional meaning and to demonstrate the overall portrait
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This paper sheds light on the treatment of the ‘problem of evil’ and human suffering from an Islamic perspective. I begin by providing an overview of the term ‘evil’ in the Qur’an to highlight its multidimensional meaning and to demonstrate the overall portrait of this notion as it is presented in the Islamic revelation through the narrative of the prophet Job. Having established a Qur’anic framework, I will then provide a brief historical overview of the formation of philosophical and theological debates surrounding “good” and “bad/evil” and the origination of Muslim theodicean thought. This will lead us to Ghazālian theodicy and the famous dictum of the “best of all possible worlds” by one of the most influential scholars of Islamic thought, Abu Ḥāmid Ghazālī. The final section of this paper will explore the Sufi/ mystical tradition of Islam through the teachings of one of the most distinguished mystics of Islam, Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī. The conclusion of the paper will attempt to bring about a new understanding of how the so-called “problem of evil” is not presented in Islam as a problem but rather as an instrument in the actualization of God’s plan, which is intertwined with human experiences in this world—an experience that is necessary for man’s spiritual development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
Open AccessArticle Quilting the Sermon: Homiletical Insights from Harriet Powers
Religions 2018, 9(2), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020046
Received: 31 October 2017 / Revised: 25 January 2018 / Accepted: 29 January 2018 / Published: 3 February 2018
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Abstract
Sermons come in a variety of forms. For Harriet Powers, an African American artist and former slave who lived from 1837–1910, sermons took the form of quilts. Unlike most quilts crafted during her lifetime, Powers’ quilts told biblical stories, recounted legends, and carried
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Sermons come in a variety of forms. For Harriet Powers, an African American artist and former slave who lived from 1837–1910, sermons took the form of quilts. Unlike most quilts crafted during her lifetime, Powers’ quilts told biblical stories, recounted legends, and carried messages of divine judgement and hope. This article offers a brief account of her life, a description of her quilts, and a reflection on her spirituality. Rather than approaching her quilts solely as folk art, this essay places them in the African American preaching tradition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race and Religion: New Approaches to African American Religions)
Open AccessArticle Implications of Micro-Scale Comparisons for the Study of Entangled Religious Traditions: Reflecting on the Comparative Method in the Study of the Dynamics of Christian-Muslim Relations at a Shared Sacred Site
Religions 2018, 9(2), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020045
Received: 15 January 2018 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 26 January 2018 / Published: 1 February 2018
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Abstract
This article applies the comparative methodology proposed by Oliver Freiberger to a case study on Christian-Muslim relations at a shared sacred site in Antakya (formerly Antioch), which belongs to Hatay, the southernmost city of Turkey. Specifically, this case study deals with the veneration
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This article applies the comparative methodology proposed by Oliver Freiberger to a case study on Christian-Muslim relations at a shared sacred site in Antakya (formerly Antioch), which belongs to Hatay, the southernmost city of Turkey. Specifically, this case study deals with the veneration of the Muslim saint Habib-i Neccar in the center of the old city of Antakya. Besides discussing some general questions pertaining to the methodical procedure used in the case study, this contribution demonstrates that Freiberger’s comparative methodology is useful and that its application leads to new insights. In refining the methodical toolkit for comparative research, this article will attempt to enhance the proposed model by introducing a set of analytical concepts. To further illuminate the findings of the case study, ‘mimesis’ and ‘fractal dynamics’ will be introduced as analytical concepts suitable for studying the dynamics of interreligious relations and for enhancing the methodical design for future comparative research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Methodical Aspects of Comparison)
Open AccessArticle Against the Grain and Over the Line: Reflections on Comparative Methodology
Religions 2018, 9(2), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020044
Received: 15 January 2018 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 26 January 2018 / Published: 1 February 2018
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Abstract
This article distills theoretical arguments that I advance in Foreigners and Their Food, arguments relevant to a wide range of religious studies scholars. In addition, it makes the case for comparison as a method that sheds light not only on specific comparands
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This article distills theoretical arguments that I advance in Foreigners and Their Food, arguments relevant to a wide range of religious studies scholars. In addition, it makes the case for comparison as a method that sheds light not only on specific comparands and the class of data to which they belong but also on the very boundaries which the comparison transgresses. Through a comparison of Latin Christian and Shiʿi Islamic discourse about the impurity of religious foreigners, I illustrate methods by which religious authorities develop and transmit conceptions of foreigners. I then analyze this case study using Oliver Freiberger’s “Elements of a Comparative Methodology” while assessing the strengths and limitations of Freiberger’s methodical framework. I offer personal reflections on the process of conducting comparative scholarship, advice for those embarking on this demanding yet rewarding approach to the study of religion, and desiderata for further reflection on comparative methodology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Methodical Aspects of Comparison)
Open AccessArticle The Problem of Evil and the Grammar of Goodness
Religions 2018, 9(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020043
Received: 5 January 2018 / Revised: 5 January 2018 / Accepted: 20 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
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Abstract
I consider the two venerated arguments about the existence of God: the Ontological Argument and the Argument from Evil. The Ontological Argument purports to show that God’s nature guarantees that God exists. The Argument from Evil purports to show that God’s nature, combined
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I consider the two venerated arguments about the existence of God: the Ontological Argument and the Argument from Evil. The Ontological Argument purports to show that God’s nature guarantees that God exists. The Argument from Evil purports to show that God’s nature, combined with some plausible facts about the way the world is, guarantees (or is very compelling grounds for thinking) that God does not exist. Both presume that it is coherent to predicate goodness (or greatness) of God. But if Peter Geach’s claim that goodness is logically attributive is cogent, then both arguments fall to the ground. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
Open AccessArticle Reading Religiously across Religious Borders: A Method for Comparative Study
Religions 2018, 9(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020042
Received: 15 January 2018 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 26 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
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Abstract
Oliver Freiberger has done us the great service of drawing our attention to how comparativists do their comparative work. Issues of method—the “methodical aspects”—of course matter greatly in the actual doing of comparison, even if the scholar is not interested in theoretical discussions
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Oliver Freiberger has done us the great service of drawing our attention to how comparativists do their comparative work. Issues of method—the “methodical aspects”—of course matter greatly in the actual doing of comparison, even if the scholar is not interested in theoretical discussions of method per se. One has to know one’s craft, in order to do it well, and to be clear in practice about how to proceed: “How comparison actually works as a method in the study of religion has not been discussed in greater detail so far. With due deliberation we can, as Freiberger suggests, identify and isolate specific methodical problems, effectively confront wholesale criticism, and find opportunities to refine the methodology. His approach also allows committed comparativists to speak in more depth about what we are doing in our research and writing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Methodical Aspects of Comparison)
Open AccessArticle Mystical Body Theodicy
Religions 2018, 9(2), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020041
Received: 1 December 2017 / Revised: 22 January 2018 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
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Abstract
In this paper I develop a new theodicy--Mystical Body Theodicy. This theodicy draws on the Christian doctrine of the mystical body of Christ to argue that some evil can be defeated by a set of three goods connected with increasing the unity of
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In this paper I develop a new theodicy--Mystical Body Theodicy. This theodicy draws on the Christian doctrine of the mystical body of Christ to argue that some evil can be defeated by a set of three goods connected with increasing the unity of humanity through love. This theodicy also helps three other prominent theodicies avoid objections. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
Open AccessArticle Suicidal Ideation and Sense of Community in Faith Communities
Religions 2018, 9(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020040
Received: 11 December 2017 / Revised: 24 January 2018 / Accepted: 26 January 2018 / Published: 30 January 2018
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Abstract
Previous studies have found that religion and spirituality (R/S) are related to less suicidal ideation (SI), fewer suicide attempts and fewer suicide deaths and that an absence of social support is associated with SI, suicide attempts, and suicide death. 745 Catholic, Jewish, and
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Previous studies have found that religion and spirituality (R/S) are related to less suicidal ideation (SI), fewer suicide attempts and fewer suicide deaths and that an absence of social support is associated with SI, suicide attempts, and suicide death. 745 Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant congregants completed an online survey measuring their sense of community (SOC) in their faith community, overall belonging and SI. SOC was weakly related to SI. Congregants attending more than one service per week reported more SI and more importance to feel a SOC. Jewish and Hispanic congregants reported more SI. Unmarried congregants reported lower overall belonging, more SOC and more SI, suggesting that people apportion their sense of connectedness differently. Future studies might examine the relationship of SOC to suicide attempts and deaths and how a faith community might confer SOC differently from a non-religious/non-spiritual community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
Open AccessArticle Comparison as Conversation and Craft
Religions 2018, 9(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020039
Received: 15 January 2018 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 26 January 2018 / Published: 30 January 2018
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Abstract
This essay argues that comparison as a method of study within religious studies is best thought of in two terms: conversation and craft. As a conversation, comparison has its own history, which has included several major shifts. At present, comparative work would benefit
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This essay argues that comparison as a method of study within religious studies is best thought of in two terms: conversation and craft. As a conversation, comparison has its own history, which has included several major shifts. At present, comparative work would benefit from addressing the fact that Euro-Americans dominate the comparative conversation. This dominance limits conversational data, topics, strategies, and participants. At risk is the relevance of comparative work within religious studies. As a craft, comparative work is creative and idiosyncratic, reflecting the apprenticeship lineage in which the comparative scholar has been trained as well as her individual personality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Methodical Aspects of Comparison)
Open AccessArticle Elements of a Comparative Methodology in the Study of Religion
Religions 2018, 9(2), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020038
Received: 15 January 2018 / Revised: 27 January 2018 / Accepted: 27 January 2018 / Published: 29 January 2018
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Abstract
While comparison has been the subject of much theoretical debate in the study of religion, it has rarely been discussed in methodological terms. A large number of comparative studies have been produced in the course of the discipline’s history, but the question of
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While comparison has been the subject of much theoretical debate in the study of religion, it has rarely been discussed in methodological terms. A large number of comparative studies have been produced in the course of the discipline’s history, but the question of how comparison works as a method has rarely been addressed. This essay proposes, in the form of an outline, a methodological frame of comparison that addresses both the general configuration of a comparative study—its goal, mode, scale, and scope—and the comparative process, distinguishing operations of selection, description, juxtaposition, redescription, as well as rectification and theory formation. It argues that identifying and analyzing such elements of a comparative methodology helps, on the one hand, in evaluating existing comparative studies and, on the other, in producing new ones. While the article attempts to present the methodological frame in a concise form and thus offers limited illustrative material, the authors of the other essays in this collection discuss rich historical-empirical cases as they test the frame on their own comparative studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Methodical Aspects of Comparison)
Open AccessArticle Multi-Faith Spaces Uncover Secular Premises Behind the Multi-Faith Paradigm
Religions 2018, 9(2), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020037
Received: 29 December 2017 / Revised: 12 January 2018 / Accepted: 22 January 2018 / Published: 25 January 2018
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Abstract
Multi-Faith Spaces (MFSs) are a relatively recent invention that has quickly gained in significance. On the one hand, they offer a convenient solution for satisfying the needs of people with diverse beliefs in the institutional context of hospitals, schools, airports, etc. On the
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Multi-Faith Spaces (MFSs) are a relatively recent invention that has quickly gained in significance. On the one hand, they offer a convenient solution for satisfying the needs of people with diverse beliefs in the institutional context of hospitals, schools, airports, etc. On the other hand, MFSs are politically significant because they represent the cornerstone of the public religion in Europe today, that is, multi-faith paradigm. Due to their ideological entanglement, MFSs are often used as the means to promote either a more privatised version of religion, or a certain denominational preference. Two distinct designs are used to achieve these means: negative in the case of the former, and positive in the latter. Neither is without problems, and neither adequately fulfils its primary purpose of serving diverse groups of believers. Both, however, seem to follow the biases and main problems of secularism. In this paper, I analyse recent developments of MFSs to detail their main problems and answer the following question: can MFSs, and the underlying Multi-Faith Paradigm, be classified as a continuation of secularism? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
Open AccessReview Religionization of Public Space: Symbolic Struggles and Beyond—The Case of Ex-Yugoslav Societies
Religions 2018, 9(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020036
Received: 31 December 2017 / Revised: 21 January 2018 / Accepted: 22 January 2018 / Published: 25 January 2018
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Abstract
The relationship between religious communities and states in the former Yugoslavia is burdened with socialist heritage, but also with conflicts that ensued after the downfall of the socialist regimes. Although the majority of these countries are defined as secular, the struggles have not
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The relationship between religious communities and states in the former Yugoslavia is burdened with socialist heritage, but also with conflicts that ensued after the downfall of the socialist regimes. Although the majority of these countries are defined as secular, the struggles have not abated. Following the war conflicts, these struggles moved to the political and symbolic level. The formal and informal influence of religious institutions on the secular state and society continues. Since these countries are formally defined as secular and they strive to join the EU, which supports the separation between church(es) and religious communities and the state, with cooperation based on mutual independence and respect, legal solutions are biased towards acknowledging these principles. Nevertheless, the public sphere has become a battlefield in which public space is being occupied, and a particular way of life and values is imposed. The dynamics of symbolic and other struggles in former Yugoslav countries differ as a consequence of different powers and the relationships between specific religious communities within a state. This paper aims to examine the present religionization of public space that has been taking place, despite the fact that the states in question have been declared as secular (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
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Open AccessArticle Evaluation of a Tai Chi Intervention to Promote Well-Being in Healthcare Staff: A Pilot Study
Religions 2018, 9(2), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9020035
Received: 1 November 2017 / Revised: 20 December 2017 / Accepted: 16 January 2018 / Published: 24 January 2018
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Abstract
Whilst healthcare professions are already considered one of the most stressful occupations, workplaces are becoming busier, and the potential for workplace absenteeism and burnout has intensified. There is growing evidence that the mind–body practice of Tai Chi, which originated in China as a
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Whilst healthcare professions are already considered one of the most stressful occupations, workplaces are becoming busier, and the potential for workplace absenteeism and burnout has intensified. There is growing evidence that the mind–body practice of Tai Chi, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health-related problems, such as stress and anxiety, and that regular practice helps to significantly improve wellbeing, attention, focus, and resilience. This intervention provided 12 sessions of Tai Chi for a group of 12 multidisciplinary healthcare workers and was general wellbeing was measured pre- and post-intervention. Using a mixed methods research design, it was discovered that there were statistically significant gains in well-being during this timeframe with results indicating a strong case for further roll out of the program to a larger pool and more extensive study. Full article
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