Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
New Interdisciplinary Spaces of Religions and Beliefs in Contemporary Thought and Practice: An Analysis
Religions 2017, 8(2), 16; doi:10.3390/rel8020016 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
This article is rooted in the observation that the 21st century has witnessed a resurgent interest in and a new visibility of religions and beliefs across a range of arts, humanities and social science disciplines, some of which have always focused on religions
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This article is rooted in the observation that the 21st century has witnessed a resurgent interest in and a new visibility of religions and beliefs across a range of arts, humanities and social science disciplines, some of which have always focused on religions and beliefs, others are returning to it, while some have no previous tradition of doing so. The article reports on an analysis of these new spaces of interest in religions and beliefs, undertaken through semi-structured interviews with eighteen landmark figures in the study of religion internationally. Points of connection, disconnection and innovation are explored, and the concept of liminality is deployed to explore how understandings of religion, belief and the secular are in a process of being re-imagined within academic disciplines. By considering new thresholds and debates as they are emerging, the article concludes that there are opportunities to research and conceive of the role of religions and beliefs as an interdisciplinary exercise, which are yet to be addressed and which reflect the need to re-imagine how religions and beliefs are broadly conceived and how different disciplines engage with each other. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Protestant Search for ‘the Universal Christian Community’ between Decolonization and Communism †
Religions 2017, 8(2), 17; doi:10.3390/rel8020017 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
This article investigates the history of American Protestant thought about peoples living beyond the North Atlantic West, in Asia in particular, from 1900 to the 1960s. It argues that Protestant thought about the Global South was marked by a tension between universalism and
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This article investigates the history of American Protestant thought about peoples living beyond the North Atlantic West, in Asia in particular, from 1900 to the 1960s. It argues that Protestant thought about the Global South was marked by a tension between universalism and particularism. Protestants believed that their religion was universal because its core insights about the world were meant for everyone. At the same time, Protestant intellectuals were attentive to the demands of their coreligionists abroad, who argued that decolonization should herald a greater appreciation for national differences. The article traces three distinct stages of Protestant attempts to resolve these tensions; support for imperialism in the early twentieth century, then for human rights at mid-century, and finally for pluralism in the 1960s. In doing so, it shows that the specter of the Soviet Union intensified the Protestant appreciation of national differences and ultimately led to the disavowal of Protestant universalism. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Searching for the Hidden: A Phenomenological Study Exploring the Spiritual Aspects of Day Case Surgery from Staff Perspectives
Religions 2017, 8(1), 15; doi:10.3390/rel8010015 -
Abstract
Recent healthcare literature has shown an increasing interest in spiritual care and the way in which it supports patients as they deal with illness; but; as the body of evidence grows in many areas; the spiritual aspects of day surgery have been under-researched.
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Recent healthcare literature has shown an increasing interest in spiritual care and the way in which it supports patients as they deal with illness; but; as the body of evidence grows in many areas; the spiritual aspects of day surgery have been under-researched. The aims of this interpretive phenomenological study were to identify the patients’ spiritual needs and concerns prior to surgery both from the patients’ and surgical healthcare staffs’ perspectives and to investigate whether there was congruence between the groups. The results of the staff focus groups are presented here. A purposive; convenience sample of 13 staff (nurses; consultants and pharmacists) attended one of three focus groups. Data were analysed utilising interpretive phenomenological analysis in order to discover the meaning for participants derived from their own contexts. Caring for spiritual and existential concerns was expressed through staff’s relationships with patients; by a caring attitude and connection with them; helping patients to cope. Results show that spiritual care can be embedded in day surgery practice; and can be given during fleeting care episodes; though awareness is needed of the way in which this can be achieved. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Moving Forward in Their Journey: Participants’ Experience of Taste & See, A Church-Based Programme to Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food
Religions 2017, 8(1), 14; doi:10.3390/rel8010014 -
Abstract
Quantitative evidence is beginning to document the successful outcomes achieved from holistic interventions that include a spiritual element as an approach to self-manage obesity in the community. However, qualitative research, which helps us understand the reasons behind their success, is scarce. Our aim
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Quantitative evidence is beginning to document the successful outcomes achieved from holistic interventions that include a spiritual element as an approach to self-manage obesity in the community. However, qualitative research, which helps us understand the reasons behind their success, is scarce. Our aim was to explore participants’ acceptance of and engagement with the Taste & See programme. Semi-structured interviews were carried out after participants had completed the Taste & See programme. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using deductive thematic analysis. Themes showing that ‘God and food issues had been kept separate’ at the start of the programme and that participants then ‘Began to use faith as a resource’ were identified. Also, while ‘Eating freely was a challenge’ initially, participants later found ‘empowerment and enjoyment in freedom’. ‘Addressing more than just a weight problem’ was valued highly and there were benefits and difficulties that arose from ‘Coping with other group members’. The rich level of evaluation provided through this study identifies that the participants found the programme a novel experience. The intervention was acceptable and participants engaged well with the programme content. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Japanese Buddhism, Relativization, and Glocalization
Religions 2017, 8(1), 12; doi:10.3390/rel8010012 -
Abstract
Within the field of study on Japanese religions, the issue of globalization tends to be associated with the missionary activities of some successful new religious movements, and there is a certain reluctance to approach analytically the dynamics of glocalization/hybridization and the power issues
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Within the field of study on Japanese religions, the issue of globalization tends to be associated with the missionary activities of some successful new religious movements, and there is a certain reluctance to approach analytically the dynamics of glocalization/hybridization and the power issues at stake. In this article, I address these and other related problems by taking my cue from the relativizing effects of globalization and a working definition of religion based on the concept of authority. To this aim, I focus on two case studies. The first concerns the ongoing greening of Japanese Buddhism. The second revolves around the adoption of meditational techniques by priests and lay practitioners in Hawaiian Shin Buddhism. My findings show that there are at least four factors underlying the glocalization of Japanese Buddhism, that is, global consciousness, resonance with the local tradition, decontextualization, and quest for power. Moreover, they indicate that it is possible to distinguish between two types of glocalization (glocalization and chauvinistic glocalization) and two configurations of glocalization (juxtaposition and integration). Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Lost Honor of Julius Deutsch: Jewish Difference, “Socialist Betrayal”, and Imperial Loyalty in the 1923 Deutsch-Reinl Trial
Religions 2017, 8(1), 13; doi:10.3390/rel8010013 -
Abstract
In 1922, Julius Deutsch, one of the leading Viennese Social Democrats, spent a weekend in the Strudengau in Upper Austria. In a local inn, he was insulted by a right-wing alpinist, who accused him of being a traitor to the Emperor. The man
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In 1922, Julius Deutsch, one of the leading Viennese Social Democrats, spent a weekend in the Strudengau in Upper Austria. In a local inn, he was insulted by a right-wing alpinist, who accused him of being a traitor to the Emperor. The man claimed that Deutsch, along with other “Jewish Revolutionaries”, played a part in overturning the old order and helping to “stab” the Empire’s army “in the back”. Deutsch brought his opponent to trial, in an attempt to present his actions both in the World War and as a State Secretary for Military Affairs in the new Austrian Republic in a better light. However, the provincial courts acquitted the defendant on appeal, following the anti-Semitic arguments of his defending lawyer. Like other trials in the interwar years, the lawsuit unfolded into a “court of injustice”, with contested concepts of “Jewish difference” being performed. In the courtroom, Deutsch, who left the Jewish religious community as a young man, was forced to engage with his Jewish family background. The article focuses on Deutsch’s retrospective narration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in his courtroom speech and the insights that can be gained about Jewish difference and the antagonistic political arena of the new nation-state of (Deutsch-)Österreich. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditorial
Measures of Spirituality/Religiosity—Description of Concepts and Validation of Instruments
Religions 2017, 8(1), 11; doi:10.3390/rel8010011 -
Abstract Why do we need some more questionnaires to measure aspects of spirituality/religiosity when we already have so many well-tried instruments in use?[...] Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Elizabeth Bishop and the Poetry of Meditation
Religions 2017, 8(1), 10; doi:10.3390/rel8010010 -
Abstract
Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry has won the admiration of a number of Christian poets and scholars. This essay argues that one reason for this is Bishop’s subtle engagement with the work of the poet-divines Gerard Manley Hopkins and, especially, George Herbert; through their influence,
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Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry has won the admiration of a number of Christian poets and scholars. This essay argues that one reason for this is Bishop’s subtle engagement with the work of the poet-divines Gerard Manley Hopkins and, especially, George Herbert; through their influence, she enters into the guiding western poetic tradition of the meditative lyric, which is rooted in the Platonic and Christian accounts of the human person as an image of the Triune God in virtue of the mind as a trinity of memory, understanding, and will. Bishop practiced poetry as a moral act open to a divinity it cannot account for or even name, but traces of whose significance run through the world her poems depict. By considering her work, and her poem “The Weed” in particular, in the context of Herbert, the historical studies of Louis L. Martz, and the literary theory of Yvor Winters, we see that Bishop the unbeliever cannot properly be understood as a “secular” poet, but as one who recognizes the meditative lyric as a way of arriving at understanding of a truth that transcends us. Full article
Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Religions in 2016
Religions 2017, 8(1), 9; doi:10.3390/rel8010009 -
Abstract The editors of Religions would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2016.[...] Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Glocalization and the Marketing of Christianity in Early Modern Southeast Asia
Religions 2017, 8(1), 7; doi:10.3390/rel8010007 -
Abstract
The expansion of European commercial interests into Southeast Asia during the early modern period was commonly justified by the biblical injunction to spread Christian teachings, and by the “civilizing” influences it was said to foster. In focusing on areas where Christianity gained a
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The expansion of European commercial interests into Southeast Asia during the early modern period was commonly justified by the biblical injunction to spread Christian teachings, and by the “civilizing” influences it was said to foster. In focusing on areas where Christianity gained a foothold or, in the Philippines and Timor Leste, became the dominant faith, this article invokes the marketing concept of “glocalization”, frequently applied to the sociology of religion. It argues that the historical beginnings of the processes associated with the global/local interface of Christianity are situated in the sixteenth century, when Europe, Asia and the Americas were finally linked through maritime connections. Christian missionizing was undertaken with the assumption that the European-based “brand” of beliefs and practices could be successfully transported to a very different environment. However, the application of these ideas was complicated by the goal of imposing European economic control, by the local resistance thus generated, and by competition with other religions and among Christians themselves. In this often antagonistic environment, the degree to which a global product could be “repackaged” and “glocalized” so that it was appealing to consumers in different cultural environments was always constrained, even among the most sympathetic purveyors. As a result, the glocalization of Christianity set up “power-laden tensions” which both global institutions and dispersed consumers continue to negotiate. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Confidence in Government and Attitudes toward Bribery: A Country-Cluster Analysis of Demographic and Religiosity Perspectives
Religions 2017, 8(1), 8; doi:10.3390/rel8010008 -
Abstract
In this study, we try to classify the countries by the levels of confidence in government and attitudes toward accepting bribery by using the data of the sixth wave (2010–2014) of the World Values Survey (WVS). We are also interested in which demographic,
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In this study, we try to classify the countries by the levels of confidence in government and attitudes toward accepting bribery by using the data of the sixth wave (2010–2014) of the World Values Survey (WVS). We are also interested in which demographic, attitudinal, and religiosity variables affect each class of countries. For these purposes cluster analysis, linear regression analysis, and ordered logistic regression analysis were used. The study found that countries could be grouped into two clusters which had varying levels of opposition to bribe taking and confidence in government. Another finding was that certain demographic, attitudinal, and religiosity variables that were significant in one cluster might not be significant in another cluster. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
America’s “Peculiar Children”: Authority and Christian Nationalism at Antebellum West Point
Religions 2017, 8(1), 6; doi:10.3390/rel8010006 -
Abstract
This essay examines how the United States Military Academy at West Point developed an explicitly “federal” Christianity to help train the antebellum officers of the United States Army. It begins by examining how the Episcopal Church was quietly “established” at West Point, and
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This essay examines how the United States Military Academy at West Point developed an explicitly “federal” Christianity to help train the antebellum officers of the United States Army. It begins by examining how the Episcopal Church was quietly “established” at West Point, and how the church allied with the federal government and US Army to encourage a potent Christian nationalism that collapsed the sovereignty of the United States into the sovereignty of God. The case of West Point illustrates how federal officials, Army leaders, and Academy administrators understood religion as a central component of national security. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Religion, the Federalists, and American Nationalism
Religions 2017, 8(1), 5; doi:10.3390/rel8010005 -
Abstract
It may seem a truism to assert that the Federalist Party in the Early American Republic possessed a nationalist emphasis, but the question remains as to the character of their nationalism. This article draws on categories from the historian John D. Wilsey to
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It may seem a truism to assert that the Federalist Party in the Early American Republic possessed a nationalist emphasis, but the question remains as to the character of their nationalism. This article draws on categories from the historian John D. Wilsey to determine how “open” or “closed” Federalist nationalism was. It looks to public utterances of Federalist leaders to find that they attempted to hold up the nation as an ideal, but that they avoided expansionistic tendencies in foreign affairs. This allows the article to posit Federalist nationalism as “open.” It then considers what role religion played in supporting this “open” Federalist nationalism. It finds that Federalist religious nationalism developed in three stages: “Republican,” “Federalist,” and “Voluntarist,” as Federalists responded to needs within, and changes to, the new nation. The article concludes that religion (predominantly Protestant Christianity) thus operated creatively in support of an “open” Federalist nationalism. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Transcendence Un-Extra-Ordinaire: Bringing the Atheistic I Down to Earth
Religions 2017, 8(1), 4; doi:10.3390/rel8010004 -
Abstract
I examine challenges to images of a personal god definitive for normatively policed theism (often called “traditional theism”), questioning whether a subject can be conscious of a transcendent being. I examine the challenges to show that disappointment with such images calls for rethinking
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I examine challenges to images of a personal god definitive for normatively policed theism (often called “traditional theism”), questioning whether a subject can be conscious of a transcendent being. I examine the challenges to show that disappointment with such images calls for rethinking terms like “transcendence” in horizontal rather than vertical registers. Through this, I indicate an irony in yearning for transcendence, one in which there is movement toward—rather than beyond—the utterly ordinary. We will see that such un-extra-ordinary transcendence makes a difference once difference is no longer determined under the hegemony of what Levinas calls “the atheistic I.” I bring together resources from feminist philosophies and Asian religions both to elaborate on the nature of the atheistic I and to rehabilitate a redeeming appreciation of the ordinary. My hope is to ameliorate disempowered estrangement by indicating ways the ordinary generates, not inhibits, becoming. However, my broader intent is to contribute to shifting sands in contemporary philosophy of religion due to recent calls for diversifying the field by including multiple religions, questioning the centrality of belief, and engaging multiple methods relevant in religious studies. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
“This World Is Not My Home”: Richard Mouw and Christian Nationalism
Religions 2017, 8(1), 2; doi:10.3390/rel8010002 -
Abstract
American evangelicalism has often been punctuated by dual commitments to the United States and to God. Those commitments were strongest within politically conservative evangelicalism. Though representing a solid majority among professing evangelicals, conservatives could not speak for the movement as a whole. Politically
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American evangelicalism has often been punctuated by dual commitments to the United States and to God. Those commitments were strongest within politically conservative evangelicalism. Though representing a solid majority among professing evangelicals, conservatives could not speak for the movement as a whole. Politically progressive evangelicals, beginning in the 1960s, formed a dissenting opinion of the post-World War II revival of Christian nationalism. They dared to challenge American action abroad, noticeably during the Vietnam War. Their critique of Christian nationalism and conservative evangelicals’ close ties to the Republican Party led them to seek refuge in either progressive policies or the Democratic Party. A third, underexplored subgroup of evangelicalism rooted in reformed theology becomes important to consider in this regard. These reformed evangelicals sought to contextualize nationalism in biblical rather than partisan or political terms. This goal is championed well by Richard Mouw, resulting in a nuanced look at evangelical Christians’ difficult dual role as both citizens of the Kingdom of God and the United States. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Transatlantic Abolitionist Discourse and the Body of Christ in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point”
Religions 2017, 8(1), 3; doi:10.3390/rel8010003 -
Abstract
Despite renewed interest in roles played by Christianity in the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (EBB), few scholars have discussed her treatment of the body of Christ—understood as both the figure of Christ and his body of followers—in her antislavery poem, “The Runaway
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Despite renewed interest in roles played by Christianity in the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (EBB), few scholars have discussed her treatment of the body of Christ—understood as both the figure of Christ and his body of followers—in her antislavery poem, “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point”. This article argues that “The Runaway Slave” reworks portrayals of the body of Christ in transatlantic abolitionist print culture. It examines the poem in its original context of publication in the 1848 issue of The Liberty Bell, the Boston-based antislavery annual. As EBB would have known from earlier issues of the annual that she received before writing her poem, its contributors—primarily though not exclusively privileged northern whites—represented themselves as messianic martyrs whose Christ-like suffering would liberate slaves. EBB’s poem challenges this self-glorifying rhetoric, in part by making a refrain out of words from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s well-known poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This refrain indicates that the symbols used by Liberty Bell authors to portray themselves as messianic martyrs might, to those they labor to liberate, seem perversely bound up in slavery and the color binary used to justify it. “Runaway Slave” further suggests that the Liberty Bell’s messianic rhetoric, like the slave system itself, parodies Christ’s sacrifice of himself for the good of others. In both cases, wittingly or not, whites seek to turn the bodily agony of blacks to their benefit, whether ethical or economic. Stressing that such parodies of the crucifixion only perpetuate racial violence, the poem pursues what we might call a post-secular vision of Christ’s body, suggesting that people can through love act as members of Christ outside of any official church body. EBB’s poem nevertheless risks trading in the abuses it critiques—a risk, the material history of her poem indicates, of which she might have been aware. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Scythe and the Pentagram: Santa Muerte from Folk Catholicism to Occultism
Religions 2017, 8(1), 1; doi:10.3390/rel8010001 -
Abstract
Santa Muerte is establishing a presence among practitioners of contemporary occultism in Europe and North America. The occult milieu is highly different from the Mexican cult of Santa Muerte, having a strong heritage of secrecy and tradition as social capital and being mostly
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Santa Muerte is establishing a presence among practitioners of contemporary occultism in Europe and North America. The occult milieu is highly different from the Mexican cult of Santa Muerte, having a strong heritage of secrecy and tradition as social capital and being mostly middle-class in orientation. Nonetheless, this Catholic folk saint with a mostly pragmatic, popular, and grassroots cult is becoming increasingly popular among occultists. Based on a survey of three recent books on Santa Muerte geared towards an Anglophone, occult audience, it is therefore the aim of this article to understand how and why the Skeleton Saint is attracting adherents in the occult milieu, by analyzing the underlying causes of this growing trend, as well as the conditions shaping it. It is the overall argument of this article that the beginning reception of Santa Muerte in occultism is a result of perceived needs and demands specific to the occult milieu rather than characteristics inherent in the symbol itself, and that an analysis of the ways in which she is spreading outside of her original sociocultural context must be guided by an understanding of the novel one she is integrated in. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Trust at Work: A Study on Faith and Trust of Protestant Entrepreneurs in China
Religions 2016, 7(12), 136; doi:10.3390/rel7120136 -
Abstract
There is much talk about the trust crisis in China and the possible role of religion in rebuilding China’s moral order. This study is an attempt to examine religion’s impact on the emerging market economy in China, focusing on trust in business relations
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There is much talk about the trust crisis in China and the possible role of religion in rebuilding China’s moral order. This study is an attempt to examine religion’s impact on the emerging market economy in China, focusing on trust in business relations that might be generated by the Christian faith. Based on 43 in-depth interviews with Christian entrepreneurs in China, our study shows that the majority of our respondents tend to be: (1) more willing to be trustworthy after becoming Christians; (2) trusting people who share their faith more than others; (3) perceiving religious persons, regardless of what that religion is, as more trustworthy than the non-religious. Our study shows that religiosity is used by many Christian entrepreneurs as a category to guide their decision-making and that it is significant in stimulating and maintaining trust in and from others. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God or for America? Christian Nationalism, the Christian Right, and the Contra War
Religions 2016, 7(12), 151; doi:10.3390/rel7120151 -
Abstract
This essay uses the concept of Christian nationalism to explore the religious dynamics of the Contra war and U.S.–Nicaraguan relations during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Religious organizations and individuals played crucial roles on both sides in the war in Nicaragua and in the debates
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This essay uses the concept of Christian nationalism to explore the religious dynamics of the Contra war and U.S.–Nicaraguan relations during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Religious organizations and individuals played crucial roles on both sides in the war in Nicaragua and in the debates in the United States over support for the Contras. Evangelistic work strengthened transnational ties between Christians, but also raised the stakes of the war; supporters of the Sandinistas and Contras alike alleged a victory by their adversary imperiled the future of Christianity in Nicaragua. Christian nationalism thus manifested itself and intertwined in both the United States and Nicaragua. Examining how evangelicals and Catholics in the United States and Nicaragua, as well as the Reagan administration, the Contras, and the Sandinistas, used Christian nationalism to build support for their policy objectives sheds light on both the malleability and the power of identifying faith with the state. Having assessed Christian nationalism as a tool and a locus of conflict in the Contra war, the essay then steps back and considers the larger methodological implications of using Christian nationalism as a category of analysis in U.S. foreign relations history. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Living Goddess of Mercy at the Rape of Nanking: Minnie Vautrin and the Ginling Refugee Camp in World War II (1937–1938)
Religions 2016, 7(12), 150; doi:10.3390/rel7120150 -
Abstract
During the infamous Nanking Atrocity, some Western businesspersons and missionaries established the Nanking Safety Zone to protect about 250,000 refugees. When the Japanese army was pressing on Nanking, Minnie Vautrin, an educational missionary from the United Christian Missionary Society, took charge of the
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During the infamous Nanking Atrocity, some Western businesspersons and missionaries established the Nanking Safety Zone to protect about 250,000 refugees. When the Japanese army was pressing on Nanking, Minnie Vautrin, an educational missionary from the United Christian Missionary Society, took charge of the Ginling College campus. As one of the 25 refugee camps, Ginling provided shelter to about 10,000 women and children in late December 1937—the hardest time during World War II in China. With her neutral identity of American nationality, Vautrin seriously struggled with Japanese soldiers when they were seizing Chinese women for rape from the campus; thus, she helped many women avoid the possible fate of sexual violence and slaughter. The Chinese people promoted her as a “Goddess of Mercy”, in the Chinese language a “Living Buddha” (Huo pu sa) or “Guanyin Buddha” (Guan Yin pu sa). The Chinese central government awarded her the Order of Jade (Cai Yu xun zhang). Drawing from Vautrin’s diaries and other original materials, this paper narrates this Christian female missionary’s moving story in humanism, evangelism, and internationalism. Her devotion to the Chinese refugee women and children made her an eyewitness to the Nanking Massacre, a rehabilitator of refugee sufferings, and a mental and bodily victim of disastrous war. Full article