Religions2016, 7(9), 112; doi:10.3390/rel7090112 (registering DOI) - published 27 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In this essay we return to Walter Benjamin’s notion of messianic time as outlined in his Theses on the Philosophy of History. Messianic time is read with Benjamin’s Sonnette as a “divestment” from historical time. That is, messianic time is a relinquishing of historical time’s formation of identities within late capitalism. Messianism represents that opening which whispers the possibility of bringing asymmetrical accumulation and subjective formation to a standstill. The aim of the essay is thus to push a rereading of Benjamin’s notion of messianic time as subjective divestment from historical time which in turn breaks the uneven distribution of time, accumulation, and the monetary value of market time at work in our current world of global finance.
Religions2016, 7(9), 111; doi:10.3390/rel7090111 - published 25 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Whilst much research has established that religious congregations have a long history of initiating social services that address many and varied community welfare and health issues, little attention has been paid to the process involved in this congregationally-based response as well as little paid to the unique issues that arise such as the role of clergy in their development and operation. Some research has however identified examples of congregationally-initiated programs evolving to the point where their link to their initiating congregation becomes effectively severed. The research reported in this article is drawn from a larger research project that identified a framework for understanding the complex processes by which congregations initiate, operate, and modify their social services. However, it focuses in particular on the resources such congregations can bring to a wider community and the need for intentional strategies to address the risk that such resources may be lost if the link to the congregation is allowed to atrophy. Whilst the more comprehensive framework focuses on an integrated understanding, this article gives specific attention to those issues and strategies relevant to maintaining the link where that is the implicit expectation of the congregation rather than taking it for granted and being surprised when it is found to have gone.
Religions2016, 7(9), 110; doi:10.3390/rel7090110 - published 25 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This paper explores different facets of the character type of the fool in the book of Proverbs and looks at his primary characteristics in the context of some of the main themes of Proverbs. Particular concerns are with the difficulties of parenting a fool and the idea of life as a path full of choices, with problems with communication and with other characteristics of the fool such as not listening to others, a tendency to hasty anger, wiliness and getting into unsuitable social situations. This paper puts this discussion in the context of the wider wisdom quest and its theological themes. It ends with images of the fool from Ecclesiastes and some insights for modern application.
Religions2016, 7(8), 107; doi:10.3390/rel7080107 - published 23 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Modern healthcare research has only in recent years investigated the impact of health care workers’ religious and other moral values on medical practice, interaction with patients, and ethically complex decision-making. Thus far, no international data exist on the way such values vary across different countries. We therefore established the NERSH International Collaboration on Values in Medicine with datasets on physician religious characteristics and values based on the same survey instrument. The present article provides (a) an overview of the development of the original and optimized survey instruments, (b) an overview of the content of the NERSH data pool at this stage and (c) a brief review of insights gained from articles published with the questionnaire. The questionnaire was developed in 2002, after extensive pretesting in the United States and subsequently translated from English into other languages using forward-backward translations with Face Validations. In 2013, representatives of several national research groups came together and worked at optimizing the survey instrument for future use on the basis of the existing datasets. Research groups were identified through personal contacts with researchers requesting to use the instrument, as well as through two literature searches. Data were assembled in Stata and synchronized for their comparability using a matched intersection design based on the items in the original questionnaire. With a few optimizations and added modules appropriate for cultures more secular than that of the United States, the survey instrument holds promise as a tool for future comparative analyses. The pool at this stage consists of data from eleven studies conducted by research teams in nine different countries over six continents with responses from more than 6000 health professionals. Inspection of data between groups suggests large differences in religious and other moral values across nations and cultures, and that these values account for differences in health professional’s clinical practices.
Religions2016, 7(8), 108; doi:10.3390/rel7080108 - published 19 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The archives of African American jazz musicians demonstrate rich sites for studying expressions of religious belief and daily religious practice in public and private arenas, in professional and personal capacities. Highlighting print material from the archives of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899–1974) and Mary Lou Williams (1910–1981), this article examines the ways that these musicians worked to articulate their beliefs in print and to make meaning of their routine practices. Ellington and Williams produced written records of their aspirations for non-clerical religious authority and leadership, novel notions of religious community, and conceptions of quotidian writing tasks as practices with devotional value in the middle decades of the twentieth century. In preparation for his Sacred Concert tours of American and Western European religious congregations, Ellington theologized about the nature of God and the proper language to address God through private hotel stationery. Following her conversion to Roman Catholicism, Williams managed a Harlem thrift shop and worked to create the Bel Canto Foundation for musicians struggling with substance abuse and unemployment. This study of the religious subjectivity of African Americans with status as race representatives employs archival historical methods in the effort to vividly approximate complex religious interiority.
Religions2016, 7(8), 109; doi:10.3390/rel7080109 - published 19 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Jews like Adolf Fischhof and Ludwig August Frankl were prominent participants in the revolution of 1848. Their speeches, poems, and portraits circulated in Vienna and throughout the Empire. With the suppression of the revolution, most of these prominent Jews had to either leave Vienna or retreat to the private sphere. Only in the late 1850s did Jews regain their public presence, starting with the opening of the Leopoldstaedter Tempel in 1858 and the building of the Ringstrasse from 1860 onwards. Many Jews hoped that the new liberal era would grant them civil rights and legal emancipation. Jewish intellectuals and journalists supported this struggle from within and outside the growing Jewish community. An important weapon in their struggle were Jewish newspapers. These newspapers not only provided information, but also served as mouthpieces for different Jewish movements. They featured biographies with portraits (in words and images) of distinguished Jewish leaders (mostly men and a few women), which were supposed to present the social achievements of a certain group within Jewish society to a broader audience. In fact, these portraits served as a form of self-assertion for the publisher as well as for the audience. It projected the message that Jews not only merited emancipation, but also struggled for it on various levels. The paper therefore addresses questions of biography and the (Jewish) identity these portraits at once reflected and shaped.