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Religions, Volume 10, Issue 1 (January 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Laozi’s notion of “fan” is mainly used in the sense that things deviate from the correct way—from [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle Conceptualizing the Interaction of Buddhism and Daoism in the Tang Dynasty: Inner Cultivation and Outer Authority in the Daode Jing Commentaries of Cheng Xuanying and Li Rong
Religions 2019, 10(1), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010066
Received: 8 December 2018 / Revised: 3 January 2019 / Accepted: 16 January 2019 / Published: 20 January 2019
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Abstract
This paper takes the different interpretations of one and the same sentences in the Daode jing as “inner cultivation” or “worldly power” respectively, in the commentaries of two closely related early Tang Daoist authors, Cheng Xuanying 成玄英 and Li Rong 李荣, as a [...] Read more.
This paper takes the different interpretations of one and the same sentences in the Daode jing as “inner cultivation” or “worldly power” respectively, in the commentaries of two closely related early Tang Daoist authors, Cheng Xuanying 成玄英 and Li Rong 李荣, as a starting point to approach the question of interaction of Buddhism and Daoism from a new angle. Instead of trying to pinpoint influences, origins, and derivatives, I propose to delineate philosophical discourses that cross the boundaries of the three teachings. Parallel excerpts from both commentaries show how Cheng reads the Daode jing as a guidebook for cultivation, and how Li Rong reads it as a guideline for governing. I argue that the differences could be read as the authors’ participation in different philosophical discourses, and I will show, for the case of Cheng Xuanying, how terminological overlap with contemporary Buddhist authors indicates that Buddhists and Daoists both participated in the discourse on inner cultivation with commentaries to their respective sacred scriptures. Full article
Open AccessArticle Without Why: Useless Plants in Daoism and Christianity
Religions 2019, 10(1), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010065
Received: 13 December 2018 / Revised: 18 January 2019 / Accepted: 18 January 2019 / Published: 20 January 2019
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This article focuses on three examples of religious considerations of plants, with specific attention to the uselessness of plants. Drawing on Christian and Daoist sources, the examples include the following: (1) the lilies of the field described by Jesus in the Gospels of [...] Read more.
This article focuses on three examples of religious considerations of plants, with specific attention to the uselessness of plants. Drawing on Christian and Daoist sources, the examples include the following: (1) the lilies of the field described by Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke; (2) the useless tree of Zhuangzi; and (3) Martin Heidegger’s reading of a mystic poet influenced by Meister Eckhart, Angelus Silesius, for whom a rose blooms “without why,” which resonates with Heidegger’s deconstruction (Destruktion) of the history of metaphysics and his interpretation of uselessness in Zhuangzi. Each of those examples involves non-anthropocentric engagements with the uselessness of plants, which is not to say that they are completely free of the anthropocentrically scaled perspectives that assimilate uselessness into the logistics of agricultural societies. In contrast to ethical theories of the intrinsic value (biocentrism) or systemic value (ecocentrism) of plants, these Christian and Daoist perspectives converge with ecological deconstruction in suggesting that ethical encounters with plants emerge through attention to their uselessness. A viable response to planetary emergency can emerge with the radical passivity of effortless action, which is a careless care that finds solidarity with the carefree ways of plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Verdant: Knowing Plants, Planted Relations, Religion in Place)
Open AccessArticle Literate Shamanism: The Priests Called Then among the Tày in Guangxi and Northern Vietnam
Religions 2019, 10(1), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010064
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 8 January 2019 / Accepted: 9 January 2019 / Published: 18 January 2019
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Abstract
Then is the designation in Vietnamese and Tày given to shamanic practitioners of the Tày ethnicity, who reside mainly in the northern provinces of Vietnam. Scholars are long aware that the predominantly female spirit mediums among the Zhuang in Guangxi, variously called mehmoed [...] Read more.
Then is the designation in Vietnamese and Tày given to shamanic practitioners of the Tày ethnicity, who reside mainly in the northern provinces of Vietnam. Scholars are long aware that the predominantly female spirit mediums among the Zhuang in Guangxi, variously called mehmoed or mehgimq, had a ritual repertoire which included shamanic journeys up to the sky as their essential element. The ritual songs of the mehmoed are orally transmitted, unlike the rituals of male religious practitioners in Guangxi such as Taoist priests, Ritual Masters, and mogong, all of which are text-based. One was led rather easily to posit a dichotomy in which male performers had texts, and female performers had repertoires which were orally transmitted. This division also seemed to hold true for certain seasonal song genres, at least in Guangxi. For that matter, shamanic traditions cross-culturally are seen as predominantly or exclusively oral traditions. Recent research among the Tày-speaking communities in northern Vietnam has confounded this tidy picture. Religious practitioners among the Tày include the Pt, who in many cases have texts which incorporate segments of shamanic sky journeys and may be either male or female; and the Then, also both male and female, who have extensive repertoires of shamanic rituals which are performed and transmitted textually. The Then have a performance style that is recognisably based on shamanic journeying, but elaborated as a form of art song, complete with instrumental accompaniment (two- or three-stringed lutes), ritual dances, and flamboyant costumes. Apart from individual performances, there are large-scale rituals conducted by as many as a dozen priests. The present paper gives an overview of the practices and rituals of the Then, based on recent fieldwork in Vietnam and Guangxi, and discusses the implications these have for our conventional understandings of shamanism, literacy, gender, and the cultural geography of the border regions. Full article
Open AccessArticle Muhammad, the Jews, and the Composition of the Qur’an: Sacred History and Counter-History
Religions 2019, 10(1), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010063
Received: 3 September 2018 / Revised: 15 December 2018 / Accepted: 29 December 2018 / Published: 18 January 2019
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Abstract
According to Islamic religious teachings, some Jews confirmed the authenticity of Muhammad’s prophethood and joined him. Most Jews, however, are condemned for both rejecting the Prophet and failing to live up to their own religious imperatives. Medieval polemics tended to be harsh and [...] Read more.
According to Islamic religious teachings, some Jews confirmed the authenticity of Muhammad’s prophethood and joined him. Most Jews, however, are condemned for both rejecting the Prophet and failing to live up to their own religious imperatives. Medieval polemics tended to be harsh and belligerent, but while Muslims and Christians produced polemics under the protection and encouragement of their own religious and political authorities, Jews lived everywhere as minority communities and therefore lacked such protection. In order to maintain their own sense of dignity Jews polemicized as well, but they had to be subtle in argument. One form of polemic produced by Jews and other subalterns is “counter-history,” which retells well-known narratives in a manner that questions or undermines their message. One such counter-history is an ancient Jewish re-telling of the traditional Muslim narrative of divine revelation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remembering Jewish-Muslim Encounters: Challenges and Cooperation)
Open AccessArticle Religion without God? Approaches to Theological Reference in Modern and Contemporary Jewish Thought
Religions 2019, 10(1), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010062
Received: 1 December 2018 / Revised: 8 January 2019 / Accepted: 11 January 2019 / Published: 18 January 2019
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Abstract
Recent scholarship on both ancient and modern Judaism has criticized the identification of Judaism as a religion. From the perspective of the modern period, what has remained unaddressed is the very peculiar religion that Jewish philosophers and theologians have formed. Numerous scholars with [...] Read more.
Recent scholarship on both ancient and modern Judaism has criticized the identification of Judaism as a religion. From the perspective of the modern period, what has remained unaddressed is the very peculiar religion that Jewish philosophers and theologians have formed. Numerous scholars with varying philosophical and religious commitments depict Judaism as a religion in which belief plays a negligible role and reference to God is tenuous if not impossible. This article charts three trends in modern and contemporary Jewish thought on the subject of theological reference: restricted referentialism, ostensive referentialism, and theological referentialism. The article concludes by discussing new developments in the theory of reference that can further the work of the theological referentialists and help revitalize Jewish theology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Modern Jewish Thought)
Open AccessArticle Religious Pluralism and Religion-State Relations in Turkey
Religions 2019, 10(1), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010061
Received: 7 November 2018 / Revised: 3 January 2019 / Accepted: 16 January 2019 / Published: 18 January 2019
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Abstract
In this article, I examine religion-state relations and religious pluralism in Turkey in terms of recent changes in the religious landscape. I propose that there is a growing trend in the religious sphere that has resulted in a proliferation of religions, sects and [...] Read more.
In this article, I examine religion-state relations and religious pluralism in Turkey in terms of recent changes in the religious landscape. I propose that there is a growing trend in the religious sphere that has resulted in a proliferation of religions, sects and spiritual approaches in Turkey. I argue that although the religious market model might not be applicable to the Turkish religious sphere during the republican era until the 2000s due to the restrictions applied by the state’s authoritarian secularist policies, it is compatible with today’s changing society. Different religious groups as well as spiritual movements have used the democratization process of the 2000s in Turkey as an opportunity to proselytize various faiths and understandings of Islam, with both traditional and modernist forms. In this period, new religious movements have also appeared. Thus, the Turkish religious landscape has recently become much more complicated than it was two decades earlier. I plan for this descriptive work firstly to provide an insight into the history of religious pluralism and state policies in Turkey. Secondly, I will discuss the religious policies of the republican period and, thirdly, I will evaluate recent developments such as the increasing number of approaches in the religious sphere within the scope of the religious market model. Full article
Open AccessCorrection Correction: Beltrán, W. M. et al. Pentecostals, Gender Ideology and the Peace Plebiscite: Colombia 2016. Religions 9 (2018): 418
Religions 2019, 10(1), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010060
Received: 9 January 2019 / Revised: 13 January 2019 / Accepted: 13 January 2019 / Published: 17 January 2019
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Abstract
The authors wish to make the following corrections to (Beltrán and Creely 2018) [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle Existentialism, Epiphany, and Polyphony in Dostoevsky’s Post-Siberian Novels
Religions 2019, 10(1), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010059
Received: 3 December 2018 / Revised: 9 January 2019 / Accepted: 11 January 2019 / Published: 17 January 2019
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Abstract
Dostoevsky can be meaningfully read as a defender of Russian Orthodoxy; a psychologist; a polemicizing anti-nihilist ideologue; a Schillerian romantic; a Solovyovian believer in love, goodness, and beauty; a prophet. I approach Dostoevsky through a new lens—Dostoevsky as an existential phenomenologist. Although writers [...] Read more.
Dostoevsky can be meaningfully read as a defender of Russian Orthodoxy; a psychologist; a polemicizing anti-nihilist ideologue; a Schillerian romantic; a Solovyovian believer in love, goodness, and beauty; a prophet. I approach Dostoevsky through a new lens—Dostoevsky as an existential phenomenologist. Although writers such as Kauffman, Camus, and Shestov have cast Dostoevsky as an existentialist, their readings often focus too heavily on the critique of rationalist thinking in Dostoevsky’s The Underground Man and explore Dostoevsky’s existentialism largely in ethical rather than in existential-ontological terms. My interpretation will instead demonstrate that the primary focus of Dostoevsky’s novels is on immanent existential-ontological truths—human life—rather than on transcendental, ideal truth, although the emphasis on the former does not negate the possible existence of the latter. This interpretation will also provide an original route towards a polyphonic reading of Dostoevsky. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenological Studies of Religious Life)
Open AccessArticle The Fullness of Time: Kierkegaardian Themes in Dreyer’s Ordet
Religions 2019, 10(1), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010058
Received: 20 December 2018 / Revised: 12 January 2019 / Accepted: 14 January 2019 / Published: 17 January 2019
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Abstract
I offer an approach to Dreyer’s film Ordet as a contribution to the phenomenology of a certain kind of religious experience. The experience in question is one of a moment that disrupts the chronological flow of time and that, in the lived experience [...] Read more.
I offer an approach to Dreyer’s film Ordet as a contribution to the phenomenology of a certain kind of religious experience. The experience in question is one of a moment that disrupts the chronological flow of time and that, in the lived experience of it, is charged with eternal significance. I propose that the notoriously divisive ending of Ordet reflects an aim to provide the film’s viewers with an experience of this very sort. I draw throughout on some central ideas in Kierkegaard’s work, especially his category of ‘the moment.’ Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenological Studies of Religious Life)
Open AccessArticle Participation as a Christian Ethic: Wojtyla’s Phenomenology of Subject-in-Community, Ubuntu, and the Trinity
Religions 2019, 10(1), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010057
Received: 22 October 2018 / Revised: 14 January 2019 / Accepted: 14 January 2019 / Published: 17 January 2019
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Abstract
Participation is defined as being-with and acting-for others with the aim of advancing the common good. Karol Wojtyla’s philosophy of community and the Sub-Saharan ethic known as Ubuntu are used to describe a participative ethic. These philosophies approach participation in a particular way—namely, [...] Read more.
Participation is defined as being-with and acting-for others with the aim of advancing the common good. Karol Wojtyla’s philosophy of community and the Sub-Saharan ethic known as Ubuntu are used to describe a participative ethic. These philosophies approach participation in a particular way—namely, through positing both an ‘I-Thou’ and a ‘We’ dimension. Neither in Wojtyla’s philosophy, nor in Ubuntu, do we find references to Christian theology. Though it is evident that these philosophies incorporate certain moral values embraced by the Christian community, it is necessary to make the theological alignment explicit. The main aim of the essay is to do just that. It is argued that participation is rightly construed as a Trinitarian ethic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theology and Practical Life)
Open AccessArticle China: Some Exceptions of Secularization Thesis
Religions 2019, 10(1), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010056
Received: 26 November 2018 / Revised: 4 January 2019 / Accepted: 11 January 2019 / Published: 16 January 2019
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Abstract
The aim of this article is to present the controversial features of the secularization thesis about Chinese religions performed via analyzing the newly published Chinese religious policy named The Several Opinions on Further Governance of Commercial Problems in Buddhism and Taoism. This [...] Read more.
The aim of this article is to present the controversial features of the secularization thesis about Chinese religions performed via analyzing the newly published Chinese religious policy named The Several Opinions on Further Governance of Commercial Problems in Buddhism and Taoism. This article proposes a complex hypothesis: (1) though the public influence of religion has acquired momentum of expansion in China, the growth and expansion of Chinese religions accompanied the decline of private religiosity; (2) Chinese religions possess controversial features of secularization: though they experience the reduction of their power, range of control, and prestige, meanwhile they embrace the increase in numbers of members, intensity, frequency, and importance of public life; (3) Nonreligious factors play an important role in promoting the growth of Chinese religions temporarily, while religious factors will be responsible for resurgence of Chinese religions chronically. This paper is the first in a series to apply the secularization thesis to Chinese religions. Full article
Open AccessArticle Religion as a Human Right and a Security Threat—Investigating Young Adults’ Experiences of Religion in Finland
Religions 2019, 10(1), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010055
Received: 28 November 2018 / Revised: 29 December 2018 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 16 January 2019
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Abstract
The emergence of religiously motivated terrorist attacks and the increasing xenophobia expressed in Europe concern religions in many ways. Questions related to religion also lie at the core of educational aims and practices used to create national cohesion and understanding about different types [...] Read more.
The emergence of religiously motivated terrorist attacks and the increasing xenophobia expressed in Europe concern religions in many ways. Questions related to religion also lie at the core of educational aims and practices used to create national cohesion and understanding about different types of values and worldviews. However, despite the topicality of the issue, we have little knowledge about the ways in which young adults experience religions in a secular state. In order to contribute to the discussion regarding the relationships between religion, nationality, security, and education, this study focuses on investigating how politically active young adults experience the role of religions in Finnish society. The qualitative data of this study were collected from young adults (18–30-year-olds) through an online questionnaire distributed through political youth organisations. The content analysis of the responses (altogether 250 respondents) identified five main orientations towards religions. The findings highlight the importance of providing young people with education about different faiths and worldviews for reducing prejudices, especially those related to Islam. The findings also highlight the need to address in education and society the possible but not as self-evident relationship between violence and religion, and to do this more explicitly than is currently done. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessArticle Art and Shamanism: From Cave Painting to the White Cube
Religions 2019, 10(1), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010054
Received: 15 December 2018 / Revised: 8 January 2019 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 16 January 2019
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Abstract
Art and shamanism are often represented as timeless, universal features of human experience, with an apparently immutable relationship. Shamanism is frequently held to represent the origin of religion and shamans are characterized as the first artists, leaving their infamous mark in the cave [...] Read more.
Art and shamanism are often represented as timeless, universal features of human experience, with an apparently immutable relationship. Shamanism is frequently held to represent the origin of religion and shamans are characterized as the first artists, leaving their infamous mark in the cave art of Upper Palaeolithic Europe. Despite a disconnect of several millennia, modern artists too, from Wassily Kandinsky and Vincent van Gogh, to Joseph Beuys and Marcus Coates, have been labelled as inspired visionaries who access the trance-like states of shamans, and these artists of the ‘white cube’ or gallery setting are cited as the inheritors of an enduring tradition of shamanic art. But critical engagement with the history of thinking on art and shamanism, drawing on discourse analysis, shows these concepts are not unchanging, timeless ‘elective affinities’; they are constructed, historically situated and contentious. In this paper, I examine how art and shamanism have been conceived and their relationship entangled from the Renaissance to the present, focussing on the interpretation of Upper Palaeolithic cave art in the first half of the twentieth century—a key moment in this trajectory—to illustrate my case. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Shankh-er Shongshar, Afterlife Everyday: Religious Experience of the Evening Conch and Goddesses in Bengali Hindu Homes
Religions 2019, 10(1), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010053
Received: 20 December 2018 / Revised: 9 January 2019 / Accepted: 13 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
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Abstract
This essay brings together critical archetypes of Bengali Hindu home-experience: the sound of the evening shankh (conch), the goddess Lakshmi, and the female snake-deity, Manasa. It analyzes the everyday phenomenology of the home, not simply through the European category of the ‘domestic’, but [...] Read more.
This essay brings together critical archetypes of Bengali Hindu home-experience: the sound of the evening shankh (conch), the goddess Lakshmi, and the female snake-deity, Manasa. It analyzes the everyday phenomenology of the home, not simply through the European category of the ‘domestic’, but conceptually more elastic vernacular religious discourse of shongshar, which means both home and world. The conch is studied as a direct material embodiment of the sacred domestic. Its materiality and sound-ontology evoke a religious experience fused with this-worldly wellbeing (mongol) and afterlife stillness. Further, (contrary) worship ontologies of Lakshmi, the life-goddess of mongol, and Manasa, the death-and-resuscitation goddess, are discussed, and the twists of these ambivalent imaginings are shown to be engraved in the conch’s body and audition. Bringing goddesses and conch-aesthetics together, shongshar is thus presented as a religious everyday dwelling, where the ‘home’ and ‘world’ are connected through spiraling experiences of life, death, and resuscitation. Problematizing the monolithic idea of the secular home as a protecting domain from the outside world, I argue that everyday religious experience of the Bengali domestic, as especially encountered and narrated by female householders, essentially includes both Lakshmi/life/fertility and Manasa/death/renunciation. Exploring the analogy of the spirals of shankh and shongshar, spatial and temporal experiences of the sacred domestic are also complicated. Based on ritual texts, fieldwork among Lakshmi and Manasa worshippers, conch-collectors, craftsmen and specialists, and immersion in the everyday religious world, I foreground a new aesthetic phenomenology at the interface of the metaphysics of sound, moralities of goddess-devotions, and the Bengali home’s experience of afterlife everyday. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Experience in the Hindu Tradition)
Open AccessArticle The Inheritance and Change of the Contemporary Daur Shaman
Religions 2019, 10(1), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010052
Received: 4 December 2018 / Revised: 9 January 2019 / Accepted: 10 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
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Abstract
The Daur people are a minority living in Northeast China. They have adhered to a form of shamanism since ancient times. They believe that all things are spiritual. The Daur call an intermediary or messenger between the human world and the spirit worlds [...] Read more.
The Daur people are a minority living in Northeast China. They have adhered to a form of shamanism since ancient times. They believe that all things are spiritual. The Daur call an intermediary or messenger between the human world and the spirit worlds jad’ən (shaman). In addition, there are also different types of priests and healers, such as baɡʧi (healer and priest), barʃ (bone-setter), ʊtʊʃi (healer of child) and baræʧen (midwife), but only the jad’ən is a real shaman. The Daur’s system of deities is huge, complex, and diverse, mainly including təŋɡər (God of Heaven), xʊʤʊr barkən (ancestral spirit), njaŋnjaŋ barkən (Niang Niang Goddess), aʊləi barkən (spirit of mountain), nuʤir barkən (spirit of snake), ɡali barkən (God of Fire), etc. Among them, ancestral spirit is the most noble and important deity of the Daur, called xʊʤʊr barkən (spirit of ancestors). In the past, the social structure of the Daurs was based on the equal clan xal and its branches mokun. Xʊʤʊr barkən is the ancestral spirit of the mokun family. The shaman with xʊʤʊr barkən as the main patron is called xʊʤʊr jad’ən, that is, mokun shaman. The inheritance of the Daur shaman is very complicated. The xʊʤʊr jad’ən is strictly inherited along the patrilineal line, while the ordinary jad’ən can also inherit according to the maternal lineage. The inheritance rites of other types of shamans are also based mainly on the patrilineal lineage and occasionally the maternal lineage. The complexity of the Daur shaman inheritance is first and foremost related to the variety of the gods and spirits, secondly to their belief of polytheism, and finally to the constant split of the traditional clans and families, namely, the xal-mokun social structure. Full article
Open AccessArticle Religion, Education and Security: The United Nations Alliance of Civilisations and Global Citizenship
Religions 2019, 10(1), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010051
Received: 7 December 2018 / Revised: 2 January 2019 / Accepted: 11 January 2019 / Published: 14 January 2019
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Abstract
Global citizenship refers to a sense of belonging to a broader community and common humanity. It emphasises political, economic, social and cultural interdependence and interconnectedness between the local, the national and the global. Given the compelling necessity to tackle critical global challenges such [...] Read more.
Global citizenship refers to a sense of belonging to a broader community and common humanity. It emphasises political, economic, social and cultural interdependence and interconnectedness between the local, the national and the global. Given the compelling necessity to tackle critical global challenges such as the prevalent trends of growing intolerance and violent extremism, global citizenship is a fundamental aspect of a necessary approach to living together. Its purpose is to champion and spread what many, but not all, regard as desirable universal values, including improved human rights, gender equality, cultural diversity, enhanced tolerance, and environmental sustainability. For the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC), a key approach to help achieve these aims is to improve education, especially for the young, in relation to other faiths and cultures. The article seeks to examine a fundamental component of the Alliance’s activities—improved education for the young about other cultures—in the context of increasing international concern with violent extremism and terrorism. It assesses the achievements of the UNAOC in this regard since its founding in 2005. The article explains that over time the Alliance has made several false starts in relation to its educational programmes and policies but recently, with the recent appointment of a new High Representative and the strong support of the UN Secretary General, there are indications that the UNAOC is now focusing more on developing closer partnerships, both within the UN and without, in order to achieve its educational goals. The first section of the article examines the emergence of the UNAOC and explains its focus on improved inter-cultural education for the young. The second section identifies the post-9/11 focus on violent extremism and terrorism at the UN as a trigger for a shift in the educational activities of the UN to a concentration of preventing and countering violent extremism. The concluding section assesses the record of the UNAOC in relation to its educational goals and the achievement of enhanced global citizenship, especially among young people from various cultures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessArticle Prophetic Subjectivity in Later Levinas: Sobering up from One’s Own Identity
Religions 2019, 10(1), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010050
Received: 29 November 2018 / Revised: 6 January 2019 / Accepted: 7 January 2019 / Published: 14 January 2019
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Abstract
This paper explores how Levinas redefines the traditional notion of prophecy, shifting the emphasis from the content of prophecy to the figure of the prophet, thus making prophetic inspiration a key feature of ethical subjectivity. The principal aim of the paper is to [...] Read more.
This paper explores how Levinas redefines the traditional notion of prophecy, shifting the emphasis from the content of prophecy to the figure of the prophet, thus making prophetic inspiration a key feature of ethical subjectivity. The principal aim of the paper is to analyse the resulting triangular structure involving God and the Other. This structure is inherently unstable because God is incessantly stepping back in kenotic withdrawal. I show how this fundamental instability is reflected in the structure of the phenomenalisation of God’s glory, the structure of obedience to God’s order, and the structure of the authorship of prophecy. The prophetic experience is marked by heterogeneity; it can never be completely appropriated. Responsibility for the Other brings the subject to light as a witness of the glory of the Infinite, but not as the subject of self-identification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenological Studies of Religious Life)
Open AccessArticle “Where Are We Going?” Dante’s Inferno or Richard Rorty’s “Liberal Ironist”
Religions 2019, 10(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010049
Received: 3 December 2018 / Revised: 7 January 2019 / Accepted: 12 January 2019 / Published: 14 January 2019
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Abstract
This paper elucidates the structure of moral action by arguing that Dante’s explanation in the Inferno of why people end up in their respective circles of hell is superior in terms of accounting for the structure of moral reasoning to Richard Rorty’s promotion [...] Read more.
This paper elucidates the structure of moral action by arguing that Dante’s explanation in the Inferno of why people end up in their respective circles of hell is superior in terms of accounting for the structure of moral reasoning to Richard Rorty’s promotion of the “liberal ironist.” The latter suffers an internal contradiction—it wants a well-lived life without any overriding aims, but such a life is understandable only in light of affirming life-aims. The former convincingly shows that the structure of action reveals the truth of the well-known apothegm—“we reap what we sow.” The main point for Dante is not who is rational (for even the rational can be vicious, as depicted in the Inferno), but whose aims actually fulfill the practical life. This comparison of Dante and Rorty can have larger pedagogical aims, helping students to understand better what Albert William Levi calls “the moral imagination” and deepening their appreciation of how metaphors and paradigms of moral excellence provide, or fail to provide, an overriding unity and purpose to our actions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
Open AccessArticle Varieties of Buddhist Healing in Multiethnic Philadelphia
Religions 2019, 10(1), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010048
Received: 28 November 2018 / Revised: 7 January 2019 / Accepted: 10 January 2019 / Published: 13 January 2019
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Abstract
While an increasing amount of attention has been paid in the last decade to mindfulness meditation, the broader impact of Buddhism on healthcare in the United States, or any industrialized Western countries, is still much in need of scholarly investigation. The current article [...] Read more.
While an increasing amount of attention has been paid in the last decade to mindfulness meditation, the broader impact of Buddhism on healthcare in the United States, or any industrialized Western countries, is still much in need of scholarly investigation. The current article presents preliminary results from an ethnographic study exploring the impact of a wide range of Buddhist institutions, practices, and cultural orientations on the healthcare landscape of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. By particularly focusing on segments of the population that are non-white and that have limited English language skills, one of the main goals of this project is to bring more diverse voices into the contemporary conversation about Buddhism and wellbeing in America. Moreover, as it extends far beyond the topic of meditation, this study also is intended to highlight a wider range of practices and orientations toward health and healing that are current in contemporary American Buddhism. Finally, this paper also forwards the argument that the study of these activities should be grounded in an appreciation of how individual Buddhist institutions are situated within specific local contexts, and reflect unique configurations of local factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhism in the United States and Canada)
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Open AccessArticle The Unique Sacrifice of Christ According to Hebrews 9: A Study in Theological Creativity
Religions 2019, 10(1), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010047
Received: 6 November 2018 / Revised: 7 January 2019 / Accepted: 9 January 2019 / Published: 12 January 2019
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Abstract
The letter to the Hebrews develops a distinct christological and soteriological concept of Jesus as both high priest and unique sacrifice once and for all. In doing so, Hebrews remains largely faithful to cult traditions of Second Temple Judaism. Especially the concept of [...] Read more.
The letter to the Hebrews develops a distinct christological and soteriological concept of Jesus as both high priest and unique sacrifice once and for all. In doing so, Hebrews remains largely faithful to cult traditions of Second Temple Judaism. Especially the concept of Jesus as sacrifice is, however, theologically creative and innovative. The present essay explores these dynamic developments and discusses how they led early Christianity to ultimately abandon the temple cult. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacrifice and Religion)
Open AccessArticle Popular Religion, Sacred Natural Sites, and “Marian Verdant Advocations” in Spain
Religions 2019, 10(1), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010046
Received: 29 November 2018 / Revised: 4 January 2019 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 11 January 2019
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Abstract
A relevant number of shrines, hermitages, monasteries, and pilgrimage routes in Spain are located within or near Natura 2000, a European network of protected core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types. Given the growing [...] Read more.
A relevant number of shrines, hermitages, monasteries, and pilgrimage routes in Spain are located within or near Natura 2000, a European network of protected core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types. Given the growing interest in alternative conservation strategies and the geographical correlation between nature preserves and Sacred Natural Sites (SNS), this paper explores how religious devotions have made preservation possible in Spain. By an extensive literature review and interviews with long-established custodians of nonurban Marian sanctuaries, it looks at the development of plant-related allegorical titles, the multiple meanings of “Marian verdant advocations”, and the role popular religion has played in connecting theological insights with particular elements of natural ecosystems helping value and preserve the Spanish biocultural heritage. We found that 420 Marian titles directly refer to plant species or vegetation types and many of the nonurban Marian sacred sites are placed in well-preserved natural areas, some of them playing a human-related added value for most emblematic National Parks, like the sanctuaries of El Rocío (Doñana NP) and Covadonga (Picos de Europa NP). We conclude that there is a strong relationship between popular religion, Marian verdant titles, and nature conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Verdant: Knowing Plants, Planted Relations, Religion in Place)
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Open AccessArticle Moderate Southeast Asian Islamic Education as a Parent Culture in Deradicalization: Urgencies, Strategies, and Challenges
Religions 2019, 10(1), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010045
Received: 17 December 2018 / Revised: 31 December 2018 / Accepted: 7 January 2019 / Published: 10 January 2019
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Abstract
Radicalization is a terminological conflation of the two meanings in the context of extreme beliefs or behaviors adopted by individuals or groups as a justification for the use of violence to achieve the objectives. Since radicalization primarily emphasises on, and departures from, the [...] Read more.
Radicalization is a terminological conflation of the two meanings in the context of extreme beliefs or behaviors adopted by individuals or groups as a justification for the use of violence to achieve the objectives. Since radicalization primarily emphasises on, and departures from, the understanding and cognitive processes, the role of peaceful and moderate education in this case can be effectively utilized to serve as a considerably relevant means to prevent it. In addition, radicalization is also limited by the social, political, and economic contexts of a particular region, and combined with the degree of individual autonomy in the search for identity. Accordingly, the deradicalization efforts actually necessitate the consideration of the sociopolitical culture as the basis for policy makers. It is based on the consideration that the radicalization of Islam, even though strongly characterized by transnational movement, contains local elements leading to the radicalization as occasionally random and ununiformed violence in the Muslim world. The findings suggest some valuable strategies to deconstruct the idea of radicalization that can be implemented in several ways, including building and empowering local characterization of Indonesian education of Muslims in particular and of Southeast Asian in general, and reducing the Wahhabism extreme teachings and such highly irrational and ahistorical Arabization ideas and programs in Indonesian context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Politics: New Developments Worldwide)
Open AccessConcept Paper “Mere” Christian Forgiveness: An Ecumenical Christian Conceptualization of Forgiveness through the Lens of Stress-And-Coping Theory
Religions 2019, 10(1), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010044
Received: 19 November 2018 / Revised: 20 December 2018 / Accepted: 3 January 2019 / Published: 10 January 2019
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Abstract
Forgiveness is a central theme within the Christian faith, yet Christian traditions sometimes vary in how they understand and approach the forgiveness process. Nevertheless, in this paper, we present an ecumenical model of Christian forgiveness that highlights the essential components that are shared [...] Read more.
Forgiveness is a central theme within the Christian faith, yet Christian traditions sometimes vary in how they understand and approach the forgiveness process. Nevertheless, in this paper, we present an ecumenical model of Christian forgiveness that highlights the essential components that are shared across most Christian traditions. Importantly, rather than using a theological lens to develop and describe this model, we have primarily used a psychological lens. Specifically, we have adopted stress-and-coping theory as the psychological framework for understanding a Christian conceptualization of forgiveness. We identify four types of forgiveness (divine forgiveness, self-forgiveness, person-to-person forgiveness, and organizational–societal forgiveness) and describe a Christian conceptualization of each one, filtered through the psychological perspective of stress-and-coping theory. Full article
Open AccessEditorial Introduction to Special Issue “Religion and Food in Global and Historical Perspective”
Religions 2019, 10(1), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010043
Received: 8 January 2019 / Revised: 9 January 2019 / Accepted: 9 January 2019 / Published: 10 January 2019
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Abstract
The past decade has seen the expansion of research projects, presentations, and publications on topics related to religion and food [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Food in Global and Historical Perspective )
Open AccessArticle Repairing the Breach: Faith-Based Community Organizing to Dismantle Mass Incarceration
Religions 2019, 10(1), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010042
Received: 14 December 2018 / Revised: 8 January 2019 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 10 January 2019
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Abstract
Public awareness of the injustices of mass incarceration has grown significantly over the last decade. Many people have learned about mass incarceration in church contexts through book groups, study campaigns, and denominational statements. In recent years, faith-based community organizing (FBCO) networks have increasingly [...] Read more.
Public awareness of the injustices of mass incarceration has grown significantly over the last decade. Many people have learned about mass incarceration in church contexts through book groups, study campaigns, and denominational statements. In recent years, faith-based community organizing (FBCO) networks have increasingly turned their attention to mass incarceration in light of the growing awareness of many Christian individuals, congregations, and denominations. Mass incarceration, however, presents three distinctive challenges to FBCO. First, dismantling mass incarceration requires overtly and conscientiously confronting white supremacy and advancing racial and ethnic equity; faith-based community organizers have avoided this work in the past for fear of dividing their base. Second, streams of Christian theology based in retributivism have provided justifications for increasingly punitive practices and policies, thus contributing to mass incarceration; FBCO networks must construct and uplift alternative theological streams to support alternative practices and policies. Finally, several practices and policies tied to mass incarceration deplete the political power of individuals, families, and communities most deeply impacted by it. Organizing against mass incarceration requires new strategies for building social capital and creating coalitions among groups who have been disenfranchised, marginalized, and undercounted by these practices and policies. Together, these challenges have required FBCO networks to adapt assumptions, strategies, and relationships that had previously been effective in addressing other issues, such as healthcare, employment, education, and transportation. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper explores the insights, struggles, and innovations of ISAIAH, a network in Minnesota, as its members work to dismantle mass incarceration and confront its unique challenges. Full article
Open AccessArticle “Stand Still in The Light”: What Conceptual Metaphor Research Can Tell Us about Quaker Theology
Religions 2019, 10(1), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010041
Received: 21 December 2018 / Revised: 5 January 2019 / Accepted: 7 January 2019 / Published: 10 January 2019
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Abstract
The purpose of this study is to explore how an interdisciplinary approach can benefit Quaker Studies. The paper applies conceptual Metaphor Theory to help explicate aspects of theology in 17th century Quaker writings. It uses a combination of close reading supported by a [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study is to explore how an interdisciplinary approach can benefit Quaker Studies. The paper applies conceptual Metaphor Theory to help explicate aspects of theology in 17th century Quaker writings. It uses a combination of close reading supported by a corpus of related texts to analyse the writing of 4 key figures from the first decade of the movement. Metaphor analysis finds that orientational schemas of UP-DOWN and IN-OUT are essential structural elements in the theological thought of all 4 writers, along with more complex metaphors of BUILDINGS. Quaker writers make novel extensions to and recombinations of Biblical metaphors around Light and Stones, as well as using aspects of the theory of Elements. Such analysis can help explicate nuances of theological meaning-making. The evaluation of DOWN IS GOOD and UP IS BAD—except in specific circumstances—is distinctively Quaker, and embodied metaphors of divine immanence in humans indicate a ‘flipped’ soteriology which is distanced from the Christ event. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interdisciplinary Quaker Studies)
Open AccessEssay Historiography and Remembrance: On Walter Benjamin’s Concept of Eingedenken
Religions 2019, 10(1), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010040
Received: 15 November 2018 / Revised: 28 December 2018 / Accepted: 5 January 2019 / Published: 10 January 2019
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Abstract
Engaging with Walter Benjamin’s concept of Eingedenken (remembrance), this article explores the pivotal role that remembrance plays in his attempt to develop a radically new vision of history, temporality, and human agency. Building on his essay “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire” and on [...] Read more.
Engaging with Walter Benjamin’s concept of Eingedenken (remembrance), this article explores the pivotal role that remembrance plays in his attempt to develop a radically new vision of history, temporality, and human agency. Building on his essay “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire” and on his last written text, “Theses on the Philosophy of History”, it will trace how memory and historiography are brought together in a curious fusion of materialist and messianic thinking. Emerging from a critique of modernity and its ideology of progress that is cast as crisis—the practice of remembrance promises a ‘way out’. Many of Benjamin’s secular Marxist critics such as Max Horkheimer and Rolf Tiedemann, however, denied the political significance of Eingedenken—dismissing it as theological or banishing it to the realm of aesthetics. Rejecting this critique, I suggest that the radical ethical aspects of Eingedenken can be grasped only once the theological dimension is embraced in its own right and that it is in precisely this blend of materialist and messianic thought that revolutionary hope may be found. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Modern Jewish Thought)
Open AccessArticle Fancy Schools for Fancy People: Risks and Rewards in Fieldwork Research Among the Low German Mennonites of Canada and Mexico
Religions 2019, 10(1), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010039
Received: 2 December 2018 / Revised: 18 December 2018 / Accepted: 19 December 2018 / Published: 9 January 2019
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Abstract
In the 1920s, conflict over schooling prompted the exodus of nearly 8000 Mennonites from the Canadian prairie provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to Mexico and Paraguay; this is the largest voluntary exodus of a single people group in Canadian history. Mennonites—whose roots are [...] Read more.
In the 1920s, conflict over schooling prompted the exodus of nearly 8000 Mennonites from the Canadian prairie provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to Mexico and Paraguay; this is the largest voluntary exodus of a single people group in Canadian history. Mennonites—whose roots are found in the 1520s Reformation—are an Anabaptist, pacifist, isolationist ethnic, and religious minority group, and victims of a fledgling Canada’s nation-building efforts. It is estimated that approximately 80,000 descendants of the original emigrants have subsequently returned to Canada, where tensions over schooling have persisted. The tensions—then, as now—are rooted in a fundamentally different understanding of the purposes of education—and it is this tension that interests me as an ethnographer and education researcher. My research is concerned with assessing attitudes towards education within the Low German Mennonite (LGM) community in both Canada and Mexico. Too often academic research is presented as a tidy finished product, with little insight shed into the messy, highly iterative process of data collection. The purpose of this article is to pull back the curtain and discuss the messiness of the process, including security risks involved with methodology, site selection, research participants, and gaining access to the community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessArticle “For One’s Offence Why Should so Many Fall”?: Hecuba and the Problems of Conscience in The Rape of Lucrece and Hamlet
Religions 2019, 10(1), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010038
Received: 20 November 2018 / Revised: 3 January 2019 / Accepted: 6 January 2019 / Published: 9 January 2019
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Abstract
In The Rape of Lucrece and Hamlet, Shakespeare focuses upon the effects of sin and the problems of conscience that it causes. However, he does so by shifting focus from the sinner to the one harmed by the sin. Through this shift [...] Read more.
In The Rape of Lucrece and Hamlet, Shakespeare focuses upon the effects of sin and the problems of conscience that it causes. However, he does so by shifting focus from the sinner to the one harmed by the sin. Through this shift in focus, Shakespeare explores sin as something that does not only harm the sinner and his immediate victim, but as something that strikes against the common good. Sin harms humanity in its corporate nature, and the consequences of sin—sorrows, guilt, conflicted conscience, and the desire for absolution—spread from the sinner to his victims and the larger community. At pivotal moments in both works, Shakespeare turns to artistic representations of the figure of Hecuba, sorrowing in the midst of the destruction of Troy, as a means for navigating the strained point of intersection between private conscience and the common good. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in Shakespeare's Writings)
Open AccessArticle Mixed Blessing: The Beneficial and Detrimental Effects of Religion on Child Development among Third-Graders
Religions 2019, 10(1), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010037
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 31 December 2018 / Accepted: 4 January 2019 / Published: 9 January 2019
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Abstract
Previous research has linked parental religiosity to a number of positive developmental characteristics in young children. This study introduces the concept of selective sanctification as a refinement to existing theory and, in doing so, adds to a small but growing body of longitudinal [...] Read more.
Previous research has linked parental religiosity to a number of positive developmental characteristics in young children. This study introduces the concept of selective sanctification as a refinement to existing theory and, in doing so, adds to a small but growing body of longitudinal research on this topic. We explore how parents’ religious attendance (for fathers, mothers, and couples) and the household religious environment (parent–child religious discussions, spousal conflicts over religion) influence child development among third-graders. Analyses of longitudinal data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS)-Kindergarten Cohort reveal a mix of salutary (beneficial) and adverse (detrimental) developmental outcomes based on teachers’ ratings and standardized test performance scores. Third-graders’ psychological adjustment and social competence are enhanced by various religious factors, but students’ performance on reading, math, and science tests is hampered by several forms of parental religiosity. We discuss the implications of these findings and suggest several avenues for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
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