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Religions, Volume 10, Issue 12 (December 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) ‘Risk assessment’ in peacebuilding has become a standard element of project design, including in [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
The Bergoglian Principles: Pope Francis’ Dialectical Approach to Political Theology
Religions 2019, 10(12), 670; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120670 (registering DOI) - 14 Dec 2019
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Abstract
Pope Francis (Jorge Bergoglio) is a complex thinker whose political and theological views range from the illiberal to the radical, defying easy categorization within the binaries of contemporary politics. In this article, I examine the influence of theological debates in the post-Vatican II [...] Read more.
Pope Francis (Jorge Bergoglio) is a complex thinker whose political and theological views range from the illiberal to the radical, defying easy categorization within the binaries of contemporary politics. In this article, I examine the influence of theological debates in the post-Vatican II Latin American church on his development, especially la teología del pueblo, which was, ‘to some extent’, an Argentine variant of liberation theology. This article presents a critical analysis of four ‘Bergoglian principles’—which Francis says are derived from the pillars of Catholic social teaching—first developed when he was the leader of the Jesuits in Argentina during the period of the ‘Dirty War’: time is greater than space; unity prevails over conflict; realities are more important than ideas; and the whole is greater than the part. While Francis’ work draws from a variety of theological roots and employs a range of ethical theories and methods of moral reasoning, it is these principles, with their dialectical and constructive approach to political theology, that remain constant in his work and find expression in his papal writings, including Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si’. They clarify his operative priorities in political conflict, pluralistic dialogue, pastoral practice, and theological analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Theology and Pluralism)
Open AccessArticle
Dominion, Stewardship and Reconciliation in the Accounts of Ordinary People Eating Animals
Religions 2019, 10(12), 669; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120669 (registering DOI) - 13 Dec 2019
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Abstract
Despite the growing popularity of vegetarian foods and diets, the vast majority of people in North America and other parts of the affluent world still eat meat. This article explores what ordinary people think about eating animals and how they navigate the ethical [...] Read more.
Despite the growing popularity of vegetarian foods and diets, the vast majority of people in North America and other parts of the affluent world still eat meat. This article explores what ordinary people think about eating animals and how they navigate the ethical questions inherent in that praxis. Drawing from interviews with 24 people living in Ottawa, Canada, the study shows how the concepts of dominion, stewardship and reconciliation manifest in the everyday lives of ordinary people as models for human relations with nonhuman others and the environment. These ideas resonate in the lives of ordinary people, both religious and nonreligious, and entwine as people try to make sense of how to live with the fact that their everyday food consumption causes suffering and harm. This study shows that in the context of everyday life, dominion, stewardship and reconciliation are not alternative views, but connected to each other, and serve different purposes. The study highlights a need for analyses that constitute practical ways to renew the broken relationships within creation and which incorporate nonreligious people into the scope of analyses that focus on the relationships between humans and nonhuman creation. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Scrambling for the Centre: Ghana’s New Churches as an Alternative Ideology and Power
Religions 2019, 10(12), 668; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120668 - 12 Dec 2019
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Abstract
The effort expended by religious groups in Ghana to access and influence political power is not a historic novelty. Most clearly manifested in organizational strategies and the pronouncements of religious leaders, sectional ambitions in respect of political access and influence have recently gained [...] Read more.
The effort expended by religious groups in Ghana to access and influence political power is not a historic novelty. Most clearly manifested in organizational strategies and the pronouncements of religious leaders, sectional ambitions in respect of political access and influence have recently gained ascendancy in response to the relatively rapid and large-scale growth of religious diversity across the nation and within its growing conurbations. This scramble for access and influence has also been fueled by the overt participation of some political leaders in religious activities, which are perceived to grant certain groups an enviable presence in the public sphere and favoured access to the corridors of state power. Focusing on two of Ghana’s New Churches, both Pentecostal–charismatic organizations, as case studies, this paper explores the strategies and motivations of religious groups striving to access and influence political society in an increasingly diverse socio-cultural context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Power, and Resistance: New Ideas for a Divided World)
Open AccessArticle
Archaeology and Folk or Family Religion in Ancient Israel
Religions 2019, 10(12), 667; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120667 (registering DOI) - 12 Dec 2019
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Abstract
This article will summarize and interpret archaeological data that may be used to illuminate the religion of ancient Israel, ca. 1200–600 BCE, while using a phenomenal approach. The resultant portrait will be compared with one drawn from the texts of the Hebrew Bible, [...] Read more.
This article will summarize and interpret archaeological data that may be used to illuminate the religion of ancient Israel, ca. 1200–600 BCE, while using a phenomenal approach. The resultant portrait will be compared with one drawn from the texts of the Hebrew Bible, which suggests both convergences and significant differences. The conclusion will emphasize that archaeology does best in providing a real-life context for both artifact and texts. However, it is mostly limited to religious practice, rather than belief. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Open AccessArticle
‘Mirrored in God’: Gramsci, Religion and Dalit Women Subalterns in South India
Religions 2019, 10(12), 666; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120666 - 12 Dec 2019
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Abstract
The Tamil Dalit Pentecostal conversion movement that has been active in Chennai’s slums and low-income settlements for the last four decades is also a political movement. It is, moreover, a women’s political movement. Normally both Dalits and women are ignored in India, they [...] Read more.
The Tamil Dalit Pentecostal conversion movement that has been active in Chennai’s slums and low-income settlements for the last four decades is also a political movement. It is, moreover, a women’s political movement. Normally both Dalits and women are ignored in India, they are considered people of no importance and irrelevant to the issues that grab the headlines. But it is important for us to recognize both the political nature and the importance of this Dalit women’s conversion movement, because we are at a time of great peril in India, where, as elsewhere, populist nationalism has swept an authoritarian leader to power and the fascist tendencies of an overbearing state are becoming increasingly obvious. In such a context Gramsci’s theorizations provide important suggestions for how to understand religio-cultural movements as political movements and how to evaluate both their importance and what they can teach us about the possibilities for religio-cultural-political resistance to authoritarian populism, and the crucial importance of low-income, low-status women in political processes of grassroots resistance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dalits and Religion: Ambiguity, Tension, Diversity and Vitality)
Open AccessArticle
Muhammad at the Museum: Or, Why the Prophet Is Not Present
Religions 2019, 10(12), 665; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120665 - 10 Dec 2019
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Abstract
This article analyses museum responses to the contemporary tensions and violence in response to images of Muhammad, from The Satanic Verses to Charlie Hebdo. How does this socio-political frame effect the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, the V&A and [...] Read more.
This article analyses museum responses to the contemporary tensions and violence in response to images of Muhammad, from The Satanic Verses to Charlie Hebdo. How does this socio-political frame effect the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, the V&A and British Museum in London, and the Louvre in Paris? Different genres of museums and histories of collections in part explain differences in approaches to representations of Muhammad. The theological groundings for a possible ban on prophetic depictions is charted, as well as the widespread Islamic practices of making visual representations of the Prophet. It is argued that museological framings of the religiosity of Muslims become skewed when the veneration of the Prophet is not represented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Museums)
Open AccessArticle
Looking Beyond the Social: Religion as a Solution to Alienation in Xu Dishan’s, Bing Xin’s, and Su Xuelin’s Republican Era Literature
Religions 2019, 10(12), 664; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120664 - 06 Dec 2019
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Abstract
I argue that by participating in religious cultural phenomena, the protagonists of Xu Dishan’s and Su Xuelin’s fiction cultivate values that allow them to overcome their sense of social alienation by making them feel more confident about their ability to strengthen their relationships [...] Read more.
I argue that by participating in religious cultural phenomena, the protagonists of Xu Dishan’s and Su Xuelin’s fiction cultivate values that allow them to overcome their sense of social alienation by making them feel more confident about their ability to strengthen their relationships with others. These values include selflessness in the literature of both authors, as well as compassion in Su Xuelin’s literature. I further argue that these two authors’ literary narratives use the category of religion to label these values as existing outside of the space of human social interactions. This then allows protagonists to view the cultivation of these values as an ostensibly perfected resolution to their feeling of social alienation, which in the first place is caused by the imperfect sphere of human social interactions. The two case studies upon which this study draws to exemplify the argument include Yuguan from Xu Dishan’s Yuguan and Xingqiu from Su Xuelin’s Thorny Heart. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Chinese Literature)
Open AccessArticle
Dare to Compare: Reflections on Experimenting with Comparative Hagiology
Religions 2019, 10(12), 663; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120663 - 06 Dec 2019
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Abstract
In this response essay, I consider Jon Keune’s proposal to prioritize the act of comparison over definitional agreement when beginning an exercise in comparative hagiology. Reflecting on my own experience as the respondent for a panel at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the [...] Read more.
In this response essay, I consider Jon Keune’s proposal to prioritize the act of comparison over definitional agreement when beginning an exercise in comparative hagiology. Reflecting on my own experience as the respondent for a panel at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), which saw me comparing two very different “hagiographical texts,” I argue in support of Keune’s approach by stressing its advantage in pushing conceptual creativity and collaborative inclusivity. In the process, I accept Massimo Rondolino’s invitation to consider his working re-definition of “hagiography”, which I take as a starting point for thinking through some of the questions my panel’s unconventional primary texts raise and how they might recommend revisiting our categories. In the end, I advocate for a capacious view of potential comparanda as one of the best ways to foster a process of continuous self-reflection and scholarly development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Comparative Hagiology: Issues in Theory and Method)
Open AccessArticle
Towards Contextualized Islamic Leadership: Paraguiding and the Universities and Muslim Seminaries Project
Religions 2019, 10(12), 662; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120662 - 05 Dec 2019
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Abstract
The Universities and Muslim Seminaries Project (UMSEP) addresses three key issues in the narrative of Muslim communal identity and religious leadership in Britain today: firstly, the need for the accreditation of Darul Ulooms (Muslim seminaries) and external validation of their programmes; secondly, understanding [...] Read more.
The Universities and Muslim Seminaries Project (UMSEP) addresses three key issues in the narrative of Muslim communal identity and religious leadership in Britain today: firstly, the need for the accreditation of Darul Ulooms (Muslim seminaries) and external validation of their programmes; secondly, understanding the career trajectories of Darul Uloom graduates, and exploring good practice; thirdly, understanding emerging leadership models in the British Muslim community. This project is a community-led, positive response to a large Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded research project (Re/presenting Islam on campus) conducted between 2015–2018, which identified discrimination against Muslim staff and students and the politicization of their identity due to counter terror securitisation measures. The community project summarized here in interim form proposes powerful and informed antidotes to discrimination: pathways to mutual recognition in higher education. We used interviews, workshops, and surveys and triangulated our findings to draw our draft conclusions. Firstly, we found enough interest in universities and Darul Ulooms to proceed with accreditation for an Islamic course with the same standing as a degree. Secondly, we identified barriers to career pathways for Muslims. Thirdly, we developed new models of Muslim community leadership, most notably Muslim chaplaincy with spiritual components: a career path with specific significance for Muslim women. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Theories of the Origin of the Samaritans—Then and Now
Religions 2019, 10(12), 661; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120661 - 04 Dec 2019
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Abstract
The article describes the different models for understanding the origin of the Samaritans: the Samaritans’ own view; Flavius Josephus’ two stories; a model based upon the results of the excavations of the cities of Samaria and Shechem, plus information from ancient authors; new [...] Read more.
The article describes the different models for understanding the origin of the Samaritans: the Samaritans’ own view; Flavius Josephus’ two stories; a model based upon the results of the excavations of the cities of Samaria and Shechem, plus information from ancient authors; new insights from the Dead Sea Scrolls; and models based on the results of the Mount Gerizim excavations; and the Delos inscriptions. Each of these models has its modern followers in scholarship, and their various adherents are named. A last part of the article is devoted to the state of the question of the origin of the Samaritans. The presentation is organized according to the sources because the material at hand has produced different solutions to the pertinent questions. Through quoting the texts and presenting the results of the excavations, the author gives the reader an opportunity to form her or his own opinions, both on the different theories and on the origin of the Samaritans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
Open AccessArticle
The Ethics of Doing Comparative Hagiology
Religions 2019, 10(12), 660; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120660 - 04 Dec 2019
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Abstract
This paper argues that a virtue-informed methodology is foundational to best practice in scholarly, collaborative, and comparative hagiological work. Following a discussion of how this resonates with Todd French’s work in this volume, I then draw from my experience as an educator to [...] Read more.
This paper argues that a virtue-informed methodology is foundational to best practice in scholarly, collaborative, and comparative hagiological work. Following a discussion of how this resonates with Todd French’s work in this volume, I then draw from my experience as an educator to outline how a virtue-based approach might play out in pedagogy. Finally, I offer two metaphors for an “other-person centered” collaborative–comparativist mindset. Both of these are taken from my lived, and conversational “apprenticeship” in comparative hagiology on the Argentine–Brazilian border. Reflection on these metaphors, as well as their generative experiences, demonstrates the need for holistic self-reflection in the comparative study of religions, and of “hagiography” in particular. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Comparative Hagiology: Issues in Theory and Method)
Open AccessArticle
‘Smell Your Sheep, Shepherd’: What Does It Mean to Be Catholic for the Dalit?
Religions 2019, 10(12), 659; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120659 - 04 Dec 2019
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Abstract
The anthropology of Christianity has emerged as an exciting field in the last decade or so. Themes of interest for us in India and South Asia in general include issues of caste, conversion and belief, the ideas of sin and morality, individualism, and [...] Read more.
The anthropology of Christianity has emerged as an exciting field in the last decade or so. Themes of interest for us in India and South Asia in general include issues of caste, conversion and belief, the ideas of sin and morality, individualism, and the like. As part of this growing field, the issue of belief in particular has gained considerable importance. It has been argued that the strict reliance on belief is obstructive and counterproductive for the understanding of non-Western Christianity, particularly where religious affiliations may be shifting rather than stable. Moreover, it has been suggested that belief could be laid aside in favor of the notion of commitment, wherein the latter term encompasses presence, embodiment, shared social location, and the like. This paper argues that while the discourse oscillates between belief on the one hand and commitment on the other, the intermediating term between these might be community. There are social and spiritual divisions, which the available discourse does not immediately allow us to contend with. In the words of one Dalit Catholic, the church must be with its people, the Bishop-Shepherd must ‘smell’ his sheep. This paper will explore how it is precisely the absence of community that Dalit Catholics experience when they find that Christian equality becomes physical separation and Christian fraternity remains outside the social domain and will suggest the implications this has for the anthropology of Christianity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dalits and Religion: Ambiguity, Tension, Diversity and Vitality)
Open AccessArticle
Texts and Ritual: Buddhist Scriptural Tradition of the Stūpa Cult and the Transformation of Stūpa Burial in the Chinese Buddhist Canon
by Wen Sun
Religions 2019, 10(12), 658; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120658 - 04 Dec 2019
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Abstract
Chinese translations of Buddhist sūtras and Chinese Buddhist literature demonstrate how stūpas became acknowledged in medieval China and how clerics and laypeople perceived and worshiped them. Early Buddhist sūtras mentioned stūpas, which symbolize the presence of the Buddha and the truth of [...] Read more.
Chinese translations of Buddhist sūtras and Chinese Buddhist literature demonstrate how stūpas became acknowledged in medieval China and how clerics and laypeople perceived and worshiped them. Early Buddhist sūtras mentioned stūpas, which symbolize the presence of the Buddha and the truth of the dharma. Buddhist canonical texts attach great significance to the stūpa cult, providing instructions regarding who was entitled to have them, what they should look like in connection with the occupants’ Buddhist identities, and how people should worship them. However, the canonical limitations on stūpa burial for ordinary monks and prohibitions of non-Buddhist stūpas changed progressively in medieval China. Stūpas appeared to be erected for ordinary monks and the laity in the Tang dynasty. This paper aims to outline the Buddhist scriptural tradition of the stūpa cult and its changes in the Chinese Buddhist Canon, which serves as the doctrinal basis for understanding the significance of funerary stūpas and the primordial archetype for the formation of a widely accepted Buddhist funeral ritual in Tang China. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Memory and History: The Overcoming of Traditional Theodicy in Levinas and Metz
Religions 2019, 10(12), 657; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120657 - 04 Dec 2019
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Abstract
Grappling with the marginalization of the marginal in Western thinking, this paper sets up a dialogue between Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophy and Johann Baptist Metz’s political theology in order to learn from their thoughts on the suffering of victims. For both Levinas and Metz, [...] Read more.
Grappling with the marginalization of the marginal in Western thinking, this paper sets up a dialogue between Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophy and Johann Baptist Metz’s political theology in order to learn from their thoughts on the suffering of victims. For both Levinas and Metz, the idea of theodicy as an explanation of suffering is linked to the ontological conception of time and history, and therefore useless and unjustifiable by nature. The essential question of this research is how to give meaning to the concrete suffering of humanity in order to redeem history from the concept of an evolutionary progress which limits the possibility of hearing the cries of the victims of history. This article will show how Levinas’s and Metz´s rejection of traditional theodicy is closely related to the concepts of memory and history and, therefore, the paper will demonstrate how traditional theodicy becomes for both thinkers an ethical theodicy. Consequently, the ethical account of theodicy replaces the attempt to negotiate the goodness and power of God with the pain of human beings. From this perspective, ethics is shaped by a response to the cry of victims which summons the subject to understand freedom as limited and subordinated to ethical responsibility. In responding to suffering, philosophy and theology can meet beyond idealism and dogmatism. Full article
Open AccessBrief Report
Change—But Not Enough Yet
Religions 2019, 10(12), 656; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120656 - 03 Dec 2019
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Abstract
Many museums are now taking religion much more seriously, and there is a lot of academic interest in the subject. But many of the changes are very slow, and many museums are still ignoring religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Museums)
Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to “Religions in Shakespeare’s Writings”
Religions 2019, 10(12), 655; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120655 - 02 Dec 2019
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Abstract
This special issue of Religions on “Religions in Shakespeare’s Writings” invited contributors to explore the gamut of religious issues and characterizations throughout Shakespeare’s writings [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in Shakespeare's Writings)
Open AccessArticle
Where Our Bright Star Is Cast: Religiosity, Spirituality, and Positive Black Development in Urban Landscapes
Religions 2019, 10(12), 654; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120654 - 29 Nov 2019
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Abstract
Social science research offers a particular, narrow view of the lived experiences of Black urban-residing people. When the religious and spiritual lives of Black urban residents are viewed through this narrow lens, the diversity of religious and spiritual experiences and the connections between [...] Read more.
Social science research offers a particular, narrow view of the lived experiences of Black urban-residing people. When the religious and spiritual lives of Black urban residents are viewed through this narrow lens, the diversity of religious and spiritual experiences and the connections between everyday life and positive outcomes, such as compassion, hope, liberation, joy, etc., become flattened, doing a disservice to the very people whose experiences we aim to understand. We contend that understanding the link between religiosity, spirituality, and positive development among Black urban-residing people requires us to pay attention to the ways that faith helps Black people to navigate the sequelae of five distinct sociopolitical features of urban life. We propose a conceptual framework that links these sociopolitical factors to religiosity, spirituality, and positive development among Black youth and adults residing in urban spaces. We conclude with recommendations applicable to the study of Black urban religiosity and spirituality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Perspectives on Religion and Positive Youth Development)
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Open AccessArticle
Shedding Light on the Modalities of Authority in a Dar al-Uloom, or Religious Seminary, in Britain
Religions 2019, 10(12), 653; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120653 - 29 Nov 2019
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Abstract
‘God is the Light of the heavens and the earth…’ (Quran, 24:35.) This article sheds light on the modalities of authority that exist in a traditional religious seminary or Dar al-Uloom (hereon abbreviated to DU) in modern Britain. Based on unprecedented insider access [...] Read more.
‘God is the Light of the heavens and the earth…’ (Quran, 24:35.) This article sheds light on the modalities of authority that exist in a traditional religious seminary or Dar al-Uloom (hereon abbreviated to DU) in modern Britain. Based on unprecedented insider access and detailed ethnography, the paper considers how two groups of teachers, the senior and the younger generation, acquire and shine their authoritative light in unique ways. The article asserts that within the senior teachers an elect group of ‘luminaries’ exemplify a deep level of learning combined with practice and embodiment, while the remaining teachers are granted authority by virtue of the Prophetic light, or Hadith, they radiate. The younger generation of British-born teachers, however, are the torchbearers at the leading edge of directing the DU. While it may take time for them to acquire the social and symbolic capital of the senior teachers, operationally, they are the ones illuminating the way forward. The paper discusses the implications of the changing nature of authority within the DU is likely to have for Muslims in Britain. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
“A Desora Desperto y vio una Grand Claridat”: The Role of Dreams and Light in the Construction of a Multi-Confessional Audience of the Miracles of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Religions 2019, 10(12), 652; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120652 - 29 Nov 2019
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Abstract
This paper examines the religious proselytizing agenda of the order of Saint Jerome that ruled the Extremaduran sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe since 1389. To this end, I analyze how the Hieronymite’s used literary motifs such as dreams and light in the [...] Read more.
This paper examines the religious proselytizing agenda of the order of Saint Jerome that ruled the Extremaduran sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe since 1389. To this end, I analyze how the Hieronymite’s used literary motifs such as dreams and light in the codex of the Miracles of the Virgin of Guadalupe to create a multi-confessional audience for their collection of miracles. I contend that these motifs were chosen because they were key elements in the construction of a particular image of the Virgin that could appeal to pilgrims of different faiths. Through them, the Hieronymites evoked in the minds of Muslim pilgrims and Christian captives beyond the sea the imagery and rhetoric of Sufi devotional literature and Islamic hagiography, in order to create a vision of the Virgin that was able to compete with the more important Islamic devotional figures: the Prophet, Sufi masters and charismatic saints. Finally, I explore how the possible influence of North African devotional models, such as the Shadhiliyya order or the hagiography of the Tunisian saint, Aisha al-Manubiyya, suggests that the aims of the monastic authors of this Marian miracles collection went far beyond the conversion of Castilian Muslims, aiming at the transformation of the Extremaduran Marian sanctuary of Guadalupe into a Mediterranean devotional center. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mysticism and Spirituality in Medieval Spain)
Open AccessArticle
Fodder for Despair, Masquerading as Hope: Diagnosing the Postures of Hope(lessness) at the End of Life
Religions 2019, 10(12), 651; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120651 - 27 Nov 2019
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Abstract
Hope is needed for persons confronting the limits of human life, antagonised by the threats of death. It is needed also for those health and medical professionals constrained by the institution of medicine, determined by market metaphors and instrumental reasoning. Yet, despair can [...] Read more.
Hope is needed for persons confronting the limits of human life, antagonised by the threats of death. It is needed also for those health and medical professionals constrained by the institution of medicine, determined by market metaphors and instrumental reasoning. Yet, despair can masquerade as hope for such persons when functional hoping for particular outcomes or aims proves futile and aimless. The following will examine such masquerades, while giving attention to particular expressions of autonomy, which persist as fodder for despair in our late modern milieu. The late classical account of Hercules and his death, as well as contemporary reasons for soliciting medical assistance in dying, will focus on the diagnostics of despair, while a Christian account practicing presence, and of hope as a concrete posture enfleshed by habits of patience, among other virtues, will point toward counter-narratives that might sustain persons in times of crisis and enable persons’ flourishing as human beings, even unto death. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
A Survey of the Attitudes Concerning the Role of the Laity in Korea’s Jogye Order
Religions 2019, 10(12), 650; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120650 - 27 Nov 2019
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Abstract
Despite its 17-century-long history, Korean Buddhism is currently undergoing a crisis. In addition to the declining number of lay practitioners, Korea’s largest Buddhist order, the Jogye Order (K. Daehan Bulgyo Jogyejong, hereafter “JO” or “the order”), is facing a significant drop in [...] Read more.
Despite its 17-century-long history, Korean Buddhism is currently undergoing a crisis. In addition to the declining number of lay practitioners, Korea’s largest Buddhist order, the Jogye Order (K. Daehan Bulgyo Jogyejong, hereafter “JO” or “the order”), is facing a significant drop in monastic recruitment. Compounding this crisis, a series of scandals within the order’s monastic leadership have caused widespread loss of confidence among the order’s laity. In addition to calls for greater financial transparency and moral accountability for JO monastics, many reformers are demanding greater lay participation within the order’s political hierarchy, challenging the centuries-old roles assigned to monastics and laity. However, these challenges have failed to produce any practical changes within the order while its monastic establishment continues espousing rhetoric reinforcing monastic authority and its supremacy over the laity. In light of these crises, this paper will conduct a perfunctory examination of the attitudes the JO’s monastic establishment exhibits towards its lay supporters and the roles it expects for them. Utilizing, in part, previously unpublished internal JO documents, this paper will begin by investigating monastic attitudes expressed towards the laity in the order’s 2015 General Meeting of the Four-fold Assembly as well as the ensuing debate over these roles in Korea’s Buddhist media. This paper will then explore how the laity are viewed within the JO’s lay education program, additionally examining how the needs and concerns of the laity are addressed in introductory textbooks used within this program. While not exhaustive, by examining this variety of sources, this paper seeks to clarify the roles the JO’s monastic establishment expects for its lay supporters and interrogate whether such attitudes are sustainable as the order attempts to respond effectively to the crises it currently faces. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Role of Ontology in Religious Tourism Education—Exploring the Application of the Postmodern Cultural Paradigm in European Religious Sites
Religions 2019, 10(12), 649; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120649 (registering DOI) - 26 Nov 2019
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Abstract
The cultural and spiritual repository of religion is an indispensable resource for shaping public and cultural life in a post-secular era. Although the floods of culturally intrigued ‘pilgrims’ and spiritually ‘captivated’ tourists have marked religious sites on nationwide cultural maps, religious sites have [...] Read more.
The cultural and spiritual repository of religion is an indispensable resource for shaping public and cultural life in a post-secular era. Although the floods of culturally intrigued ‘pilgrims’ and spiritually ‘captivated’ tourists have marked religious sites on nationwide cultural maps, religious sites have yet to achieve a holistic interpretative experience which will reveal the deeper meanings of ecclesiastical art. The absence of ‘holistic interpretations’ from European Christian churches, addressing the tangible and intangible (faith) aspect of Christian tradition, run the risk of undermining both the cognitive and emotive aspects of visitors. Following a thematic analysis on interpretations found at Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches in Europe, this article investigates how religious sites adapt different interpretational strategies to communicate their stories. The findings are discussed with reference to heritage practices found at religious sites expressed through two coexisting cultural ideologies: the prominent postmodern cultural paradigm, expressed through New Museology, and the religious cultural paradigm, expressing religious tradition and vision. The research concludes that the more content a denomination appears to be over the postmodern cultural paradigm of New Museology, the more likely it is to experiment with postmodern interpretative strategies. In this context, the article raises the question of whether museum theory is applicable to religious settings. The bottom line is that stakeholders’ ontological presuppositions are the catalyst of how religious history, tradition, and faith, are negotiated and presented in religious settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Faith in Spiritual and Heritage Tourism)
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Open AccessArticle
Debating the Devil’s Clergy. Demonology and the Media in Dialogue with Trials (14th to 17th Century)
Religions 2019, 10(12), 648; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120648 - 26 Nov 2019
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Abstract
In comparison with the estimated number of about 60,000 executed so-called witches (women and men), the number of executed and punished witch-priests seems to be rather irrelevant. This statement, however, overlooks the fact that it was only during medieval and early modern times [...] Read more.
In comparison with the estimated number of about 60,000 executed so-called witches (women and men), the number of executed and punished witch-priests seems to be rather irrelevant. This statement, however, overlooks the fact that it was only during medieval and early modern times that the crime of heresy and witchcraft cost the life of friars, monks, and ordained priests at the stake. Clerics were the largest group of men accused of practicing magic, necromancy, and witchcraft. Demonology and the media (in constant dialogue with trials) reveal the omnipresence of the devil’s cleric with his figure possessing the quality of a ‘super-witch’, labelled as patronus sagarum. In Western Europe, the persecution of Catholic priests played at least two significant roles. First, in confessional debates, it proved to Catholics that Satan was assaulting post-Tridentine Catholicism, the only remaining bulwark of Christianity; for Protestants on the other hand, the news about the devil’s clergy proved that Satan ruled popedom. Second, in the Old Reich and from the start of the 17th century, the prosecution of clerics as the devil’s minions fueled the general debates about the legitimacy of witchcraft trials. In sketching these over-lapping discourses, we meet the devil’s clergy in Catholic political demonology, in the media and in confessional debates, including polemics about Jesuits being witches and sorcerers. Friedrich Spee used the narratives about executed Catholic priests as vital argument to end trials and torture. Inter alia, battling the devil’s clergy played a vital role in campaigns of internal Catholic church reform and clerical infighting. Studying the debates about the devil’s clergy thus provides a better understanding of how the dynamics of the Reformation, counter-Reformation, Catholic Reform, and confessionalization had an impact on European witchcraft trials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Witchcraft, Demonology and Magic)
Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to the Special Issue “Current Trends in New Testament Study”
Religions 2019, 10(12), 647; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120647 - 26 Nov 2019
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Abstract
This special issue of Religions focuses on seven of the most important formal methods used to interpret the New Testament today [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in New Testament Study)
Open AccessArticle
Dai Identity in the Chinese Ecological Civilization: Negotiating Culture, Environment, and Development in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China
Religions 2019, 10(12), 646; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120646 - 25 Nov 2019
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Abstract
The Ecological Civilization (Eco-Civilization) is a Chinese political framework to advance a renewed human–nature relationship that engenders a sustainable form of economic development, and its narratives provide political impetus to conserve ethnic minority cultures whose traditional practices are aligned with state-sanctioned efforts for [...] Read more.
The Ecological Civilization (Eco-Civilization) is a Chinese political framework to advance a renewed human–nature relationship that engenders a sustainable form of economic development, and its narratives provide political impetus to conserve ethnic minority cultures whose traditional practices are aligned with state-sanctioned efforts for environmental protection. This official rhetoric is important in Xishuangbanna, a prefecture in Yunnan province renowned for its lush tropical rainforests and Dai ethnic minority. This article explores the relationship between Dai cultural identity and the Chinese state in the context of environmental concerns and development goals. Historical analyses of ethnic policies and transformations of landscapes and livelihoods are presented alongside descriptions of contemporary efforts by Dai community members and the Chinese state to enact Eco-Civilization directives, and they illustrate paradoxical circumstances in which political rhetoric and practice are seemingly at odds with one another, yet often contradict in such ways so as to further the Chinese state agenda. Moreover, case studies demonstrate how new policies and sustainable development efforts have often perpetuated structures and ideologies of the Maoist era to reinforce inequalities between central state powers and already marginalized ethnic minorities. These dynamics warrant further consideration as the Chinese government continues to champion its leadership in environmental governance. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Buddha’s Empirically Testable “Ten Criteria” Challenges the Authenticity of Truth Claims: A Critical Review and Its Potential Applicability to Debunking the Various Post-Truths
Religions 2019, 10(12), 645; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120645 - 22 Nov 2019
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Abstract
Modern readers who investigate religious theories and practices are exposed to diverse truth claims and worldviews. Such claims are often conflicting and subject the readers to various misconceptions and misguidance. In Buddhism, the Buddha is said to have awakened to the true nature [...] Read more.
Modern readers who investigate religious theories and practices are exposed to diverse truth claims and worldviews. Such claims are often conflicting and subject the readers to various misconceptions and misguidance. In Buddhism, the Buddha is said to have awakened to the true nature of existence and attained final liberation from suffering, referred to as “enlightenment.” How was he able to convince his disciples of his self-claimed enlightenment? Can his reasoning be applied to modern readers, who are well-educated, but overloaded with the incessant proliferation of digital information? The Buddha, specifically in the Kālāma Sutta, presents empirically testable guidelines, termed the “Ten Criteria,” which were formulated as an integrated interplay of reasoning and morality. This essay examines the Buddha’s strategy, which is empirical and pragmatic in nature and embraces the fundamental principles of modern science. We contend that his proposed methodology is verifiably evocative of a moral discipline, while presenting a pedagogical approach to the teacher–student dynamic. Serving as a reference point, this view may help modern readers in differentiating the right truth from the biased post-truths, which appeal to emotion and personal belief. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhism in Modernity: Thriving or Threatened?)
Open AccessArticle
In Search of a Touchable Body: Christian Mission and Dalit Conversions
Religions 2019, 10(12), 644; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120644 - 21 Nov 2019
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Abstract
This paper significantly wishes to unpack the social and cultural impact of the mass religious conversion movements in Rayalaseema society with specific reference to Dalits during the period 1850 to 1880. This paper will use the archival material such as missionary records, magazines, [...] Read more.
This paper significantly wishes to unpack the social and cultural impact of the mass religious conversion movements in Rayalaseema society with specific reference to Dalits during the period 1850 to 1880. This paper will use the archival material such as missionary records, magazines, pamphlets, and books written by missionaries; further, it will also utilize oral interviews collected from the field. The mass conversion movements established a relationship between Dalits and missionaries and brought them together. In their efforts to create a new Christian community of Dalit converts, missionaries had interacted with Dalits, shared meal with them, stayed with them and transformed forbidden and “polluted” ghettos into social spaces. The present paper argues that the practices of the missionaries were liberating and humanizing for Dalits. It will examine how these practices led to unintended consequences. It needs to be remembered that the missionaries’ aim was not to abolish caste but to develop Christianity. How did the missionaries contribute to social interaction and build a spirit of solidarity among the Dalit converts? Based on specific situations, incidents, and examples recorded in the missionary archives and oral interviews, the article observes that community conversion movements destabilized the caste structure and brought significant changes in the social life of Dalits in colonial Rayalaseema. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dalits and Religion: Ambiguity, Tension, Diversity and Vitality)
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Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to the Special Issue “Exploring the Future of Christian Monasticisms”
Religions 2019, 10(12), 643; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120643 - 21 Nov 2019
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Abstract
The origins of Christian monasticism are buried deep in the shadows of Christian history, but without doubt it came to full fruition during the fourth century and continued to grow nearly unabated for the next millennium and a half [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Future of Christian Monasticisms)
Open AccessArticle
Anekāntavāda and Dialogic Identity Construction
Religions 2019, 10(12), 642; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120642 - 20 Nov 2019
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Abstract
While strong religious identity is often associated with violence, Jainism, one of the world’s oldest practiced religions, is often regarded as one of the most peaceful religions and has nevertheless persisted through history. In this article, I am arguing that one of the [...] Read more.
While strong religious identity is often associated with violence, Jainism, one of the world’s oldest practiced religions, is often regarded as one of the most peaceful religions and has nevertheless persisted through history. In this article, I am arguing that one of the reasons for this persistence is the community’s strategy of dialogic identity construction. The teaching of anekāntavāda allows Jainas to both engage with other views constructively and to maintain a coherent sense of self. The article presents an overview of this mechanism in different contexts from the debates of classical Indian philosophy to contemporary associations of anekāntavāda with science. Central to the argument is the observation that anekāntavāda is in all these contexts used to stabilize Jaina identity, and that anekāntavāda should therefore not be interpreted as a form of relativism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jainism Studies)
Open AccessArticle
Enhancing the Efficacy of Religious Peacebuilding Practice: An Exploratory Evidence-Based Framework for Assessing Dominant Risks in Religious Peacebuilding
Religions 2019, 10(12), 641; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120641 - 20 Nov 2019
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Abstract
The ‘risk assessment’ in peacebuilding has become a standard, if sometimes slightly formulaic and performative, element of project design and written proposals. Largely driven by donor requirements and organisational procedures, the relatively new discipline and practice recognised as ‘Religious Peacebuilding’ has taken on [...] Read more.
The ‘risk assessment’ in peacebuilding has become a standard, if sometimes slightly formulaic and performative, element of project design and written proposals. Largely driven by donor requirements and organisational procedures, the relatively new discipline and practice recognised as ‘Religious Peacebuilding’ has taken on many of the elements of ‘secular’ peacebuilding, including the risk assessment. This means that organisations increasingly have to attempt to understand the associated risks to projects with a religious dimension often without any specific guidelines, and in many cases, any relevant knowledge or previous experience of working with religious actors in peacebuilding. Consequently, the primary objective of this paper is to propose the first risk assessment framework for peacebuilding projects which explicitly focus on religious dimensions and actors. The framework is based on analysis of case studies and project evaluations from a number of contexts; and has the potential to make a tangible difference to the efficacy and impact of peacebuilding projects in a variety of post-conflict contexts. This paper will also briefly consider how the proposed framework relates to contemporary theoretical debates concerning the instrumentalization of religion, and increasing technocracy in peacebuilding theory and practice. Full article
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