Open AccessArticle
Divine Politicking: A Rhetorical Approach to Deity Possession in the Himalayas
Religions 2016, 7(9), 117; doi:10.3390/rel7090117 -
Abstract
In North India, political leaders are referred to as netās, and the term netāgirī is broadly and pejoratively used to describe the self-promotion, political maneuvering, and public rhetoric in which politicians engage. However, my ethnographic fieldwork in the state of Uttarakhand, [...] Read more.
In North India, political leaders are referred to as netās, and the term netāgirī is broadly and pejoratively used to describe the self-promotion, political maneuvering, and public rhetoric in which politicians engage. However, my ethnographic fieldwork in the state of Uttarakhand, India, shows that local divinities can also be netās: they vie for their constituents’ support, make decisions that materially impact people’s lives, and threaten to use force in implementing those decisions. These “political divinities” are routinely encountered as possessed dancers in large-scale public rituals in this region. In this article, I focus on how political divinities affect, and are affected by, audiences in tangible and far-reaching ways. I argue that public possession rituals open up a highly charged zone for inherently fluid, situational, and pragmatic negotiations between humans and divinities. While anthropological studies of possession view it as a sociopolitical event that trades in power relations, this article calls for a rhetorical approach to possession, which foregrounds possession as a way of persuading particular audiences of certain ways of thinking and acting in matters of collective importance. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Shelley’s Unknown Eros: Post-Secular Love in Epipsychidion
Religions 2016, 7(9), 118; doi:10.3390/rel7090118 -
Abstract
Whether Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Epipsychidion—a Platonic poem on love addressed to the patriarchally imprisoned Theresa Viviani or “Emily”—receives praise or blame has generally been determined by two focal passages: a secular sermon on free love and a planetary allegorical thinly veiling [...] Read more.
Whether Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Epipsychidion—a Platonic poem on love addressed to the patriarchally imprisoned Theresa Viviani or “Emily”—receives praise or blame has generally been determined by two focal passages: a secular sermon on free love and a planetary allegorical thinly veiling his own imbroglio. This essay re-reads Shelley’s 1821 work drawing on two recent arguments: Stuart Curran’s Dantean call to take the poem’s Florentine narrator seriously as a character, not just as an autobiographical cypher, and Colin Jager’s outline of Shelley’s move beyond the assumptions of his professed atheism after 1816. Based on the poem’s structure and imagery, the paper argues that Epipsychidion critiques the false sense of revolutionary ascent and dualistic escape offered to Emily, who is commodified and erased by the narrator’s egocentric, “counterfeit divinization of eros” (Benedict XVI). Turning from this Radical Enlightenment Platonism, the poem momentarily realizes an embodied, hylomorphic romantic union akin to the Christian nuptial mystery of two becoming “one flesh” (Mark 10:8). This ideal, however, collapses back into solipsism when the narrator cannot understand or accept love as a “unity in duality” (Benedict XVI). This paper thus claims Epipsychidion as a post-secular inquiry into the problem of love whose philosophic limits and theological horizons are both surprising and instructive. It also reclaims Shelley as a phenomenological poet who can open up the world to Christian and non-Christian readers, one whose Platonic and Dantean formation lend him an openness to transcendence and one whose countercultural path through life makes him wary of inhumane appropriations of religion. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Miracles, Media, Mezuzot: Storytelling among Chabad Hasidim
Religions 2016, 7(9), 119; doi:10.3390/rel7090119 -
Abstract
In 1994 the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson, died leaving no successor. His group split into two groups: messianists who maintained that the Rebbe had not died and was Moshiach, the Jewish Messiah, and the non messianists who agreed that the Rebbe [...] Read more.
In 1994 the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson, died leaving no successor. His group split into two groups: messianists who maintained that the Rebbe had not died and was Moshiach, the Jewish Messiah, and the non messianists who agreed that the Rebbe had died. This paper focuses upon a prominent Chabad practice; the role of storytelling. I propose the question, “Whose interests do these stories serve?” Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Lubavitch, I present a number of narratives pertaining to the Rebbe’s miraculous feats. Following his death, stories surrounding the Lubavitcher Rebbe not only bolster his “charisma” but lead to a sense of his continuing presence. These stories are produced predominantly by the messianic faction of Lubavitch and following his death are published regularly on messianic websites. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Legal Protection for China’s Traditional Religious Knowledge
Religions 2016, 7(9), 116; doi:10.3390/rel7090116 -
Abstract
Traditional religious knowledge widely incorporates traditional religious expressions and other forms of traditional knowledge, such as ecological knowledge, medicinal knowledge, elements of languages, and so on. Traditional religious knowledge is a subset of cultural heritage, of which the inheritance and spread have [...] Read more.
Traditional religious knowledge widely incorporates traditional religious expressions and other forms of traditional knowledge, such as ecological knowledge, medicinal knowledge, elements of languages, and so on. Traditional religious knowledge is a subset of cultural heritage, of which the inheritance and spread have attracted considerable attention from the global society. A series of international conventions have been reached to provide an international forum to negotiate the issues concerning the safeguard of traditional cultural knowledge. China has joined several important international conventions. Nowadays, the domestic laws that can be applied in safeguarding traditional religious knowledge include the intellectual property laws, the Law on Intangible Cultural Heritage, and other sui generis rules. Despite considerable achievements, the shortcomings of the existing rules make them insufficient to protect the interests and rights of traditional religious knowledge and prevent its misappropriation. Therefore, China should make further efforts to solve these challenges to optimize the environment for preserving and spreading traditional religious knowledge. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperEssay
Strange Bedfellows: Meditations on the Indispensable Virtues of Confusion, Mindfulness and Humor in the Neuroscientific and Cognitive Study of Esoteric and Contemplative Traditions1
Religions 2016, 7(9), 113; doi:10.3390/rel7090113 -
Abstract
Several recent publications in the study of esoteric traditions have drawn together insights from scholars of religions and philosophy, contemplative communities, metaphor and conceptual blend theories, cognitive sciences, neurosciences, and physical anthropology. These interdisciplinary explorations revolve around contemplative practices (meditation, mindfulness, ritual [...] Read more.
Several recent publications in the study of esoteric traditions have drawn together insights from scholars of religions and philosophy, contemplative communities, metaphor and conceptual blend theories, cognitive sciences, neurosciences, and physical anthropology. These interdisciplinary explorations revolve around contemplative practices (meditation, mindfulness, ritual traditions, etc.). This includes both ethnographic and textual expressions of these traditions. This paper is a response to the questions and insights of some recent articles, books, and two 2015 conference papers, with the specific purpose of contributing to what Glen Hayes (2014) called “the need to develop and ‘new vocabulary’ for this interdisciplinary study” of contemplative and esoteric traditions (Hayes’ call was specifically in reference to Hindu Tantra). To do this, I have referred to some other scientific approaches to which the scholars of esoteric and contemplative communities have not made much mention, and then to offer a form of reflection and meditation on what this new vocabulary and these research projects call us to do: their concepts, logic, and meaning. To this end, I have given some careful attention to the concepts of confusion, mindfulness, humor, and dispassionate vulnerability to help us better understand what we are doing, and where we should go from here. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Psalms 111–112: Big Story, Little Story
Religions 2016, 7(9), 115; doi:10.3390/rel7090115 -
Abstract
This study argues that the juxtaposition of Psalms 111–112 offers wisdom for life. Psalm 111, in stressing God’s mighty deeds of redemption for his people, focuses on the “big story” for the whole people; Psalm 112, in stressing “wisdom,” encourages each member [...] Read more.
This study argues that the juxtaposition of Psalms 111–112 offers wisdom for life. Psalm 111, in stressing God’s mighty deeds of redemption for his people, focuses on the “big story” for the whole people; Psalm 112, in stressing “wisdom,” encourages each member of God’s people in a day-to-day walk, a “little story,” that contributes to the big story of the whole people. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
“None Come Closer to Us than These:” Augustine and the Platonists
Religions 2016, 7(9), 114; doi:10.3390/rel7090114 -
Abstract
This paper reflects on the importance of pagan Platonism to one of its most sympathetic Christian interpreters, Augustine of Hippo. Its goal is to uncover what Platonism meant to Augustine and why it mattered so much to him throughout his long career. [...] Read more.
This paper reflects on the importance of pagan Platonism to one of its most sympathetic Christian interpreters, Augustine of Hippo. Its goal is to uncover what Platonism meant to Augustine and why it mattered so much to him throughout his long career. To that end the essay begins by considering salient developments in the study of Platonism over the last fifty years, with particular attention to several crucial shifts in interpretation and consequent changes in its contemporary representation. It then follows those leads into the study of Augustine, considering closely how he himself described the import of Platonism and what it contributed to his development. Brief consideration is first given to Augustine’s earliest works. Attention then turns to his definitive treatment of the conversionary power of Platonism in Book VII of the Confessions and his later assessment of Platonism in City of God VIII. That inquiry will offer a basis to conclude with some final observations on the interpretation of Platonism in the study of Augustine. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Metaphors in the Wisdom Literature of the Hebrew Bible and Contemporary Art
Religions 2016, 7(9), 106; doi:10.3390/rel7090106 -
Abstract
Biblical wisdom literature is a treasure-trove of powerful metaphors. This article presents a sample of these metaphors and their significant impact on contemporary artwork. The impact is characterized by both appropriation and adaptation, similitude and analogy, respectively. The highlighted metaphors are not [...] Read more.
Biblical wisdom literature is a treasure-trove of powerful metaphors. This article presents a sample of these metaphors and their significant impact on contemporary artwork. The impact is characterized by both appropriation and adaptation, similitude and analogy, respectively. The highlighted metaphors are not merely catalogued but, more or less, analyzed with regard to relevant contemporary artwork. This augments the importance of contemporary biblical literacy analysis and uses it as one of the tools by which it is possible to gauge the impact and interaction, in this case, of the metaphor-world of the wisdom tradition on contemporary art. More importantly, however, this study underscores the relevance of these metaphors for biblical exegesis, hermeneutics, and theology. The analysis of the reception of these metaphors in contemporary artworks undergirds and informs the process of interpretation. The reception of these metaphors in their contemporary art contexts is best understood within the framework of imagery and imagistic language. Metaphor, as a subset of imagery and imagistic language, is foundational for the examined wisdom books, Proverbs, Job, and Qoheleth, and for the relevant contemporary artwork, alike. Moreover, metaphor also constitutes a bridge between the ancient and contemporary context. With this backdrop in mind, this article argues for the necessity of exploring the connections between these wisdom books, metaphor studies, and contemporary artwork. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Messianic Time and Monetary Value1
Religions 2016, 7(9), 112; doi:10.3390/rel7090112 -
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Maintaining the Connection: Strategic Approaches to Keeping the Link between Initiating Congregations and Their Social Service Off-Spring
Religions 2016, 7(9), 111; doi:10.3390/rel7090111 -
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Laughter of Fools: The Relevance of Wisdom in Today’s World
Religions 2016, 7(9), 110; doi:10.3390/rel7090110 -
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The NERSH International Collaboration on Values, Spirituality and Religion in Medicine: Development of Questionnaire, Description of Data Pool, and Overview of Pool Publications
Religions 2016, 7(8), 107; doi:10.3390/rel7080107 -
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Performing, Representing, and Archiving Belief: Religious Expressions among Jazz Musicians
Religions 2016, 7(8), 108; doi:10.3390/rel7080108 -
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) [...] Read more.
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. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Self-Assertion in the Public Sphere: The Jewish Press on the Eve of Legal Emancipation
Religions 2016, 7(8), 109; doi:10.3390/rel7080109 -
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Buddhist Ritual from Syntax to Cognition: Insight Meditation and Homa
Religions 2016, 7(8), 104; doi:10.3390/rel7080104 -
Abstract
The concept of “ritual syntax” is developed by relating it to cognitive studies of ritual, providing a fuller theoretical basis. Developing theoretical grounding requires differentiating between the members of five pairs of concepts: production is not the same as analysis, syntax is [...] Read more.
The concept of “ritual syntax” is developed by relating it to cognitive studies of ritual, providing a fuller theoretical basis. Developing theoretical grounding requires differentiating between the members of five pairs of concepts: production is not the same as analysis, syntax is not the same as semantics, ritual is not the same as the mental, cognition is not the same as the mental, and syntax is not the same as language. These distinctions help avoid overly strong interpretations of the analogy between ritual and language. A discussion of “ritual” suggests that it is best conceptualized in terms of multiple scalar characteristics with degrees of ritualization. Two Buddhist practices, insight meditation and homa, are introduced as instances for the cognitive study of ritual. Syntax involves not simply ordering of elements, but also hierarchical organization of those elements. While syntax allows sentential elements to move within a sentence, ritual tends toward invariance. Invariance seems to contradict the claim that ritual is syntactically organized. However, rituals are often modeled on ordinary activities, producing a kind of “semantic” motivation for invariance. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Envisioning Religiously Diverse Partnership Systems among Government, Faith Communities and FBOs
Religions 2016, 7(8), 105; doi:10.3390/rel7080105 -
Abstract
Recent U.S. policy regarding faith-based organizations (FBO) envisions “partnerships with government” that include both financial and non-financial relationships. This paper explores the current nature of a three-way partnership among faith communities, FBOs and government, proposing ways that government could more effectively partner [...] Read more.
Recent U.S. policy regarding faith-based organizations (FBO) envisions “partnerships with government” that include both financial and non-financial relationships. This paper explores the current nature of a three-way partnership among faith communities, FBOs and government, proposing ways that government could more effectively partner with faith communities and their organizations. I use data from the Faith and Organizations Project and earlier studies of refugee resettlement and social welfare supports. The paper combines research and policy literature with research findings to describe how faith communities organize social services, education, health, senior services and community development through their FBOs, differences among religions and denominations and current forms of partnerships with government. Conclusions provide policy suggestions for U.S. systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Investigation of the Perceptions and Practices of Nursing Students Regarding Spirituality and Spiritual Care
Religions 2016, 7(8), 101; doi:10.3390/rel7080101 -
Abstract
The aim of this research was to determine Turkish nursing students’ knowledge, practices and perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care and to investigate the relationship between their perceptions and their demographics. This study was a descriptive survey conducted at a nursing school [...] Read more.
The aim of this research was to determine Turkish nursing students’ knowledge, practices and perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care and to investigate the relationship between their perceptions and their demographics. This study was a descriptive survey conducted at a nursing school providing degree-level education in the city of Manisa, in the western part of Turkey. The sample of the study consisted of the 400 nursing students. A nursing student sociodemographic form, a form on nursing students’ knowledge and practices of spirituality and spiritual care, and the Spirituality and Spiritual Care Rating Scale were used to collect the data. Half of the students could meet patients’ or individuals’ spiritual needs, and the spiritual care that they gave was most frequently listening, empathy, and psychological support. The research findings were that nursing students’ perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care were “sufficiently” although not “very sufficiently” defined. Being female, being in the second year of education and seeing spiritual care education as necessary were determinants of their perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
‘It’s Not the Money but the Love of Money That Is the Root of All Evil’: Social Subjection, Machinic Enslavement and the Limits of Anglican Social Theology
Religions 2016, 7(8), 103; doi:10.3390/rel7080103 -
Abstract
Maurizio Lazzarato argues that contemporary capitalism functions through two central apparatuses: Social subjection and machinic enslavement. Social subjection equips individuals with a subjectivity, assigning them identities, sexes, bodies, professions, and other markers of identity, along with a sense of their own individual [...] Read more.
Maurizio Lazzarato argues that contemporary capitalism functions through two central apparatuses: Social subjection and machinic enslavement. Social subjection equips individuals with a subjectivity, assigning them identities, sexes, bodies, professions, and other markers of identity, along with a sense of their own individual agency within society. Machinic enslavement arises out of the growing reliance of capitalism on what Lazzarato calls “asignifying semiotics”—processes of production that function increasingly independently of human awareness or intention. Drawing on this analysis of the contemporary functioning of capitalism, this paper will explore the concepts of individuals and society at work in recent Anglican social theology. Focusing on two recent texts which attempt to give an overview of Anglican social thinking—Eve Poole’s The Church on Capitalism: Theology and the Market and Malcolm Brown’s Anglican Social Theology—it will suggest that, within the contemporary Church of England, mainstream attempts to reckon with political questions tend to understand the role of individual agency and ethical behaviour in ways which prop up existing social, political and economic structures rather than disrupting them. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Contemplative Science and Secular Ethics
Religions 2016, 7(8), 98; doi:10.3390/rel7080098 -
Abstract
This article argues that the emerging project of contemplative science will be best served if it is informed by two perspectives. First, attention should be paid not only to non-analytical and/or mindfulness-based practices, but to a fuller range of contemplative practices, including [...] Read more.
This article argues that the emerging project of contemplative science will be best served if it is informed by two perspectives. First, attention should be paid not only to non-analytical and/or mindfulness-based practices, but to a fuller range of contemplative practices, including analytical styles of meditation. Second, the issue of ethics must be addressed as a framework within which to understand contemplative practice: both theoretically in order to understand better the practices themselves and the traditions they come from, and practically in order to understand the ways in which contemplative practices are deployed in contemporary societies. The Tibetan Buddhist Lojong (blo sbyong) tradition and secularized practices derived from it, which are now an area of study in contemplative science, are examined as a kind of case study in order to make these two points and illustrate their importance and relevance for the future of this emerging field. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Dilemmas of Monogamy: Pleasure, Discipline and the Pentecostal Moral Self in the Republic of Benin
Religions 2016, 7(8), 102; doi:10.3390/rel7080102 -
Abstract
Based on ethnographic research in the Republic of Benin, this article explores how Pentecostal teachings on marriage and the management of sexual pleasure contribute to shaping converts’ moral selves. For Pentecostals, fidelity towards God, when single and fidelity between partners, once married, [...] Read more.
Based on ethnographic research in the Republic of Benin, this article explores how Pentecostal teachings on marriage and the management of sexual pleasure contribute to shaping converts’ moral selves. For Pentecostals, fidelity towards God, when single and fidelity between partners, once married, is presented as the ideal model of partnership to which every “Born-Again” should aspire. In the context where polygamous unions are socially accepted, Pentecostal pastors teach that a satisfactory sexual life restricted to marriage is the means of building successful monogamous unions. However, sexual satisfaction might not always guarantee marital success, especially when people face problems of infertility. The author suggests that the disciplinary regimes that these teachings promote contribute to shaping new modes of intimacy, which are compatible with societal changes but often contradict the extant social norms and ideals of reproduction. Moral dilemmas arising from this tension are the key to understanding how Pentecostal Christianity shapes the moral self. The article addresses how Pentecostals in Benin navigate and negotiate cultural continuities and discontinuities in relation to church authority and family life. Full article