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Religions, Volume 10, Issue 2 (February 2019)

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Open AccessArticle Family Religiosity, Parental Monitoring, and Emerging Adults’ Sexual Behavior
Religions 2019, 10(2), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020114 (registering DOI)
Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 8 February 2019 / Accepted: 10 February 2019 / Published: 16 February 2019
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Abstract
The processes through which families play a role in the religious and sexual socialization of children are varied and complex. Few studies have considered the impact of parental or family religiosity on young people’s sexual behaviors, either directly or through influence on adolescents’ [...] Read more.
The processes through which families play a role in the religious and sexual socialization of children are varied and complex. Few studies have considered the impact of parental or family religiosity on young people’s sexual behaviors, either directly or through influence on adolescents’ own religiosity. This study of college students at a large, public university in the mid-Atlantic uses multidimensional measures to examine the relationships among family religiosity, parental monitoring during adolescence, students’ religiosity, and students’ specific sexual behaviors. Results suggest that greater family religiosity is associated with a decreased likelihood of engaging in certain sex acts, but for students who do engage, family religiosity is not associated with any differences in the timing of sexual onset or in the numbers of partners with whom students engaged. Results also suggest that parental monitoring may mediate the relationship between family religiosity and some sexual risk behavior. Greater individual religiosity is associated with a lower likelihood of having engaged in any sexual activity, and a higher likelihood of condom use for students who have had vaginal sex. This study offers valuable insights into the role that religiosity, at both the family and the individual level, plays in college students’ sexual behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
Open AccessArticle How to Deal with Dangerous and Annoying Animals: A Vinaya Perspective
Religions 2019, 10(2), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020113 (registering DOI)
Received: 12 January 2019 / Revised: 2 February 2019 / Accepted: 12 February 2019 / Published: 15 February 2019
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Abstract
Against the background of guidelines on non-killing and developing ideas on the release of captured or domesticated animals, this study focuses on how vinaya (disciplinary) texts deal with dangerous and/or annoying animals, such as snakes, mosquitoes, and flies. Are there any circumstances in [...] Read more.
Against the background of guidelines on non-killing and developing ideas on the release of captured or domesticated animals, this study focuses on how vinaya (disciplinary) texts deal with dangerous and/or annoying animals, such as snakes, mosquitoes, and flies. Are there any circumstances in which they may be killed, captured, or repelled? Or should they be endured and ignored, or even protected and cherished, at all times? This paper discusses the many guidelines relating to avoiding—and, if necessary, chasing away—dangerous and annoying animals. All of these proposals call for meticulous care to reduce the risk of harming the creature. In this sense, animals, such as snakes and mosquitoes, seem to be assured a better life in comparison with domesticated or hunted animals. This distinction reflects the somewhat uncomfortable balance that Buddhist monastics must achieve between respecting the life of individual sentient beings, including all animals, and adhering to social conventions in order to safeguard their position in society. Full article
Open AccessArticle A Study on the Xiuxing of Contemporary Horchin Mongolian Shamanism
Religions 2019, 10(2), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020112 (registering DOI)
Received: 8 December 2018 / Revised: 1 February 2019 / Accepted: 12 February 2019 / Published: 15 February 2019
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Abstract
Research has been carried out on the procedures for recruiting and training shamans among the Horchin (mainly in Tongliao City, China). This well-known problem is crucial to the development of Horchin shamanism. If a potential shaman wants to complete the transition from an [...] Read more.
Research has been carried out on the procedures for recruiting and training shamans among the Horchin (mainly in Tongliao City, China). This well-known problem is crucial to the development of Horchin shamanism. If a potential shaman wants to complete the transition from an ordinary person to a shaman, they need to repeat religious practices, progress spiritually, learn, and deal well with the role between their daily life and religious life. This process of Xiuxing is full of hardship. However, the issues surrounding the requirements, influencing factors, and evaluation criteria has received little attention. We have been conducting fieldwork in the Horchin area since 2013, have continuously tracked and interviewed more than 100 shamans and prospective shamans, and have obtained much fieldwork data. Through the collation, induction, and comparative study of these materials, we found that Horchin shamans are required to study the knowledge and skills of shamanism, respect their teacher, obey their principles, fulfill the duties and obligations of a shaman, and devote their lives to serving the local community. We also found that Horchin shamans are struggling to adapt their religious practices to the belief systems of the contemporary Chinese world. We also found that it is believed that, in the region, a successful shamanic career presupposes not only knowledge of rituals but also compassionate and principled behavior with respect to the clients and the community. Full article
Open AccessArticle Beyond Religious Rigidities: Religious Firmness and Religious Flexibility as Complementary Loyalties in Faith Transmission
Religions 2019, 10(2), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020111 (registering DOI)
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 6 February 2019 / Accepted: 10 February 2019 / Published: 15 February 2019
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Abstract
Research has found that intergenerational transmission of religiosity results in higher family functioning and improved family relationships. Yet the Pew Research Center found that 44% of Americans reported that they had left the religious affiliation of their childhood. And 78% of the expanding [...] Read more.
Research has found that intergenerational transmission of religiosity results in higher family functioning and improved family relationships. Yet the Pew Research Center found that 44% of Americans reported that they had left the religious affiliation of their childhood. And 78% of the expanding group of those who identify as religiously unaffiliated (“Nones”) reported that they were raised in “highly religious families.” We suggest that this may be, in part, associated with religious parents exercising excessive firmness with inadequate flexibility (rigidity). We used a multiphase, systematic, team-based process to code 8000+ pages of in-depth interviews from 198 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim families from 17 states in all 8 major religio-cultural regions of the United States. We framed firmness as mainly about loyalty to God and God’s purposes, and flexibility as mainly about loyalty to family members and their needs and circumstances. The reported findings provided a range of examples illustrating (a) religious firmness, (b) religious flexibility, as well as (c) efforts to balance and combine firmness and flexibility. We discuss conceptual and practical implications of treating firmness and flexibility as complementary loyalties in intergenerational faith transmission. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
Open AccessArticle Saints, Hagiographers, and Religious Experience: The Case of Tukaram and Mahipati
Religions 2019, 10(2), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020110 (registering DOI)
Received: 27 December 2018 / Revised: 6 February 2019 / Accepted: 12 February 2019 / Published: 15 February 2019
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Abstract
One of the most important developments in Hinduism in the Common Era has been the rise of devotionalism or bhakti. Though theologians and others have contributed to this development, the primary motive force behind it has been poets, who have composed songs [...] Read more.
One of the most important developments in Hinduism in the Common Era has been the rise of devotionalism or bhakti. Though theologians and others have contributed to this development, the primary motive force behind it has been poets, who have composed songs celebrating their love for God, and sometimes lamenting their distance from Her. From early in their history, bhakti traditions have praised not only the various gods, but also the devotional poets as well. And so hagiographies have been written about the lives of those exceptional devotees. It could be argued that we find the religious experience of these devotees in their own compositions and in these hagiographies. This article will raise questions about the reliability of our access to the poets’ religious experience through these sources, taking as a test case the seventeenth century devotional poet Tukaram and the hagiographer Mahipati. Tukaram is a particularly apt case for a study of devotional poetry and hagiography as the means to access the religious experience of a Hindu saint, since scholars have argued that his works are unusual in the degree to which he reflects on his own life. We will see why, for reasons of textual history, and for more theoretical reasons, the experience of saints such as Tukaram must remain elusive. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Experience in the Hindu Tradition)
Open AccessArticle Religious Heterogamy and the Intergenerational Transmission of Religion: A Cross-National Analysis
Religions 2019, 10(2), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020109
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 8 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 14 February 2019
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Abstract
This study examines the effect of religious heterogamy on the transmission of religion from one generation to the next. Using data from 37 countries in the 2008 Religion III Module of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), I conduct a cross-national analysis of [...] Read more.
This study examines the effect of religious heterogamy on the transmission of religion from one generation to the next. Using data from 37 countries in the 2008 Religion III Module of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), I conduct a cross-national analysis of the relationship between parents’ religious heterogamy and their adult childrens’ religious lives. By estimating fixed effects regression models, I adjust for national-level confounders to examine patterns of association between having interreligious parents during childhood and level of adult religiosity as measured by self-rated religiousness, belief in God, and frequencies of religious attendance and prayer. The results indicate that having religiously heterogamous parents or parents with dissimilar religious attendance patterns are both associated with lower overall religiosity in respondents. Parents’ religious attendance, however, mediates the relationship when each parent has a different religion. Having one unaffiliated parent is associated with lower religiosity regardless of parents’ levels of religious attendance. The negative impact of parents’ religious heterogamy on religious inheritance is independent of national-level factors and has implications for anticipating changes in the religious landscapes of societies characterized by religious diversity and growing numbers of interreligious marriages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
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Open AccessArticle Experiencing Justice from the Inside Out: Theological Considerations about the Church’s Role in Justice, Healing, and Forgiveness
Religions 2019, 10(2), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020108
Received: 2 January 2019 / Revised: 13 January 2019 / Accepted: 13 January 2019 / Published: 14 February 2019
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Abstract
Recent suggestions have been made that theology may have more to offer on matters related to the subjects of punishment, corrections, and rehabilitation than has often been acknowledged in the scholarly literature. This essay sets out to explore the merits of such claims [...] Read more.
Recent suggestions have been made that theology may have more to offer on matters related to the subjects of punishment, corrections, and rehabilitation than has often been acknowledged in the scholarly literature. This essay sets out to explore the merits of such claims with regard to how they might assist ongoing efforts to address mass incarceration, including the theological dimensions of punitive justice along with other potentially redemptive realities that theological reflection may illuminate and make more visible. Consideration will be given to the ongoing role that religion plays in the life of the prison before giving consideration to the ontology of the church as a social actor, especially as locally-constituted within the prison—the ecclesia incarcerate, or the prison church. The theological rationale for the basic existence of such an actor is explored along with the effects of such a vision for this kind of transformation the church may experience along with both promises and potential challenges that come with the church having its own ontology, not as a given, but as a creature of grace. Full article
Open AccessArticle Aquinas and Scotus on the Metaphysical Foundations of Morality
Religions 2019, 10(2), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020107
Received: 27 December 2018 / Revised: 30 January 2019 / Accepted: 9 February 2019 / Published: 14 February 2019
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Abstract
This paper retraces some of the contrast between Aquinas and Scotus with respect to the metaphysical foundations of morality in order to highlight how subtle differences pertaining to the relationship between the divine will and the divine intellect can tip a thinker toward [...] Read more.
This paper retraces some of the contrast between Aquinas and Scotus with respect to the metaphysical foundations of morality in order to highlight how subtle differences pertaining to the relationship between the divine will and the divine intellect can tip a thinker toward either an unalloyed natural law theory (NLT) or something that at least starts to move in the direction of divine command theory (DCT). The paper opens with a brief consideration of three distinct elements in Aquinas’s work that might tempt one to view him in a DCT light, namely: his discussion of the divine law in addition to the natural law; his position on the so-called immoralities of the patriarchs; and some of his assertions about the divine will in relation to justice. We then respond to each of those considerations. In the second and third of these cases, following Craig Boyd, we illustrate how Aquinas’s conviction that the divine will follows the ordering of the divine intellect can help inform the interpretive disputes in question. We then turn our attention to Scotus’s concern about the freedom of the divine will, before turning to his discussion of the natural law in relation to the Decalogue as a way of stressing how his two-source theory of the metaphysical foundations of morality represents a clear departure from Aquinas in the direction of DCT. Full article
Open AccessArticle Israelite Temples: Where Was Israelite Cult Not Practiced and Why
Religions 2019, 10(2), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020106
Received: 7 January 2019 / Revised: 5 February 2019 / Accepted: 7 February 2019 / Published: 12 February 2019
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Abstract
Most scholars in the late 20th and early 21st century believed that cultic activity in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah was practiced in various temples that were scattered throughout the kingdoms. Still, a detailed study of the archaeological evidence on Israelite cult [...] Read more.
Most scholars in the late 20th and early 21st century believed that cultic activity in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah was practiced in various temples that were scattered throughout the kingdoms. Still, a detailed study of the archaeological evidence on Israelite cult reveals that Israelite cultic buildings were extremely rare, both in absolute terms and when compared to other ancient Near Eastern societies, suggesting that cultic activity in temples was the exception rather than the norm and that typical Israelite cult was practiced in the household and in other, non-temple settings. Hence, the evidence suggests that rather than viewing temples, like the one in Arad, as exemplifying typical cultic activity, they should be viewed as exceptions that require a special explanation. The first part of the article develops and updates the suggestion, first raised about ten years ago, that Israelite temples were indeed extremely rare. Given the ancient Near Eastern context, however, such practices seems to be exceptional, and the second part of the article will therefore explain why was such a unique pattern not identified in the past, and will suggest a possible explanation as to how was such an outstanding practice developed and adopted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Open AccessArticle The Politics of Christian Love: Shaping Everyday Social Interaction and Political Sensibilities Among Coptic Egyptians
Religions 2019, 10(2), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020105
Received: 20 December 2018 / Revised: 1 February 2019 / Accepted: 7 February 2019 / Published: 12 February 2019
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Abstract
Christian love has historically been subject of extensive theological study but has rarely been studied within anthropology. Contemporary Coptic society receives growing attention over the last two decades as a minority in Egyptian Muslim majority society. An important bulk of this scholarship involves [...] Read more.
Christian love has historically been subject of extensive theological study but has rarely been studied within anthropology. Contemporary Coptic society receives growing attention over the last two decades as a minority in Egyptian Muslim majority society. An important bulk of this scholarship involves a discussion of the community’s sometimes self-defined and sometimes ascribed characterization as a persecuted minority. Particular attention has gone to how social and political dimensions of minority life lead tochanges in Christian theological understandings This paper builds on these insights and examines how Christian love is experienced, and shapes feelings of belonging, everyday morality and political sensibilities vis-à-vis Muslim majority society. It draws from ethnographic observations and meetings with Copts living in Egypt between 2014–2017. It focuses on three personal narratives that reveal the complex ways in which a theology of love affects social and political stances. An anthropological focus reveals the fluid boundaries between secular and religious expressions of Christian love. Love for God and for humans are seen as partaking in one divine love. Practicing this love, however, shapes very different responses and can lead to what has been described as Coptic ‘passive victim behaviour’, but also to political activity against the status-quo. Full article
Open AccessArticle Believing in the Church: Why Ecumenism Needs the Invisibility of the Church
Religions 2019, 10(2), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020104
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 19 January 2019 / Accepted: 5 February 2019 / Published: 12 February 2019
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Abstract
Amidst the plethora of approaches to ecumenical dialogue and church reunion over the last century, a common theme has been the depreciation of the classic Protestant distinction between the “visible” and “invisible” church. Often seen as privileging an abstract predestinarianism over the concrete [...] Read more.
Amidst the plethora of approaches to ecumenical dialogue and church reunion over the last century, a common theme has been the depreciation of the classic Protestant distinction between the “visible” and “invisible” church. Often seen as privileging an abstract predestinarianism over the concrete lives and structures of church communities and underwriting a complacency about division that deprives Christians of any motive to ecumenical endeavor, the concept of the “invisible” church has been widely marginalized in favor of a renewed focus on the “visible” church as the true church. However, I argue that this stress on visible unity creates a pressure toward institutional forms of unity that ultimately privilege Roman Catholic ecclesiologies at the expense of Protestant ones, and thus fails of its ecumenical promise. Renewed attention to Reformational understandings of the relationship between divine grace and human action and the centrality and uniqueness of Christ as the foundation of the church, I argue, dispels some misunderstandings of the church’s “invisibility” and demonstrates the indispensability of the concept. I argue that this Reformational framework, which refuses to accept the empirical divisions of the Church as definitive and summons us to an ecumenism that belongs to the church’s sanctification, provides the best theological ground for ecumenical endeavor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecumenism and Ecclesiology: The Challenge of Unity and Difference)
Open AccessArticle Jewish Diaspora and the Stakes of Nationalism: Margarete Susman’s Theodicy
Religions 2019, 10(2), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020103
Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 31 January 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 12 February 2019
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Abstract
This article unpacks Margarete Susman’s political and theological arguments at the core of her reading of the Book of Job. As I show through a reading of her oeuvre, Susman rejects political projects that she takes to be based on eschatology such as [...] Read more.
This article unpacks Margarete Susman’s political and theological arguments at the core of her reading of the Book of Job. As I show through a reading of her oeuvre, Susman rejects political projects that she takes to be based on eschatology such as political Zionism. However, Susman should not be viewed merely as a critic of Zionism. I argue that an analysis tuned to the historical circumstances of her writing should recognize her stance on the nation-building project in Palestine as ambivalent rather than antagonistic. Susman’s conception of the Jewish spirit as rooted in self-sacrifice allows her to appreciate the national aspirations at the core of the Zionist project while rejecting Zionism’s exclusion of other Jewish national projects. I contend that Susman’s understanding of Jewish messianism as immanent rather than teleological informs her ambivalence toward Zionism as well as her original vision of Jewish political action. I argue in closing that Susman’s theodicy offers a novel vision for Jewish ethics that is not limited to the historical moment of its formulation. Susman’s theodicy also resonates within contemporary debates on Jewish diaspora in providing a non-centralized vision of Jewish national projects. Full article
Open AccessArticle Religious Heterogamy, Marital Quality, and Paternal Engagement
Religions 2019, 10(2), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020102
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 7 February 2019 / Accepted: 8 February 2019 / Published: 10 February 2019
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Abstract
Using data from a nationally representative sample of married fathers of school-aged children, we examined the association between religious heterogamy of parents and fathers’ involvement in children’s lives. We further examined whether that association is mediated by marital quality and father–child religious discord. [...] Read more.
Using data from a nationally representative sample of married fathers of school-aged children, we examined the association between religious heterogamy of parents and fathers’ involvement in children’s lives. We further examined whether that association is mediated by marital quality and father–child religious discord. Results showed that greater religious heterogamy is associated with less interaction and more relational distance between fathers and children. Results also suggested that fathers’ reports of marital happiness play an important role in mediating the association between religious heterogamy and paternal engagement. We concluded that religious fathers are more involved in their children’s lives insofar as their wives are equally religious and they are in happy marriages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
Open AccessArticle Carceral Hermeneutics: Discovering the Bible in Prison and Prison in the Bible
Religions 2019, 10(2), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020101
Received: 16 December 2018 / Revised: 29 January 2019 / Accepted: 5 February 2019 / Published: 10 February 2019
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Abstract
This essay introduces the concept of “carceral hermeneutics,” the art of interpreting Scripture from within prisons as, or alongside, incarcerated persons. Reading the Bible in prison reframes the Bible as a whole, highlighting how the original sites of textual production were frequently sites [...] Read more.
This essay introduces the concept of “carceral hermeneutics,” the art of interpreting Scripture from within prisons as, or alongside, incarcerated persons. Reading the Bible in prison reframes the Bible as a whole, highlighting how the original sites of textual production were frequently sites of exile, prison, confinement, and control. Drawing on the work of Lauren F. Winner, the author explores the “characteristic damages” of reading the Bible without attention to the carceral and suggests that physically re-locating the task of biblical interpretation can unmask interpretative damage and reveal alternative, life-giving readings. The essay concludes with an extended example, showing how the idea of cruciformity is a characteristically damaged reading that extracts Jesus’ execution from its carceral context. Carceral hermeneutics surfaces a Gospel counter-narrative in which Jesus flees violence and opts for his own safety. Jesus as a refugee (Matt 2), a fugitive (Matt 4:12–17), and a victim escaping violence (Luke 4:14–30) stand alongside Jesus as an executed person to offer a wider range of options for a “christoformity” in which people can image God while fleeing from violence in order to preserve their own lives and freedom. Full article
Open AccessArticle From a Jewish Communist to a Jewish Buddhist: Allen Ginsberg as a Forerunner of a New American Jew
Religions 2019, 10(2), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020100
Received: 21 December 2018 / Revised: 30 January 2019 / Accepted: 31 January 2019 / Published: 7 February 2019
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Abstract
The article examines Allen Ginsberg’s cultural and spiritual journeys, and traces the poet’s paths as foreshadowing those of many American Jews of the last generation. Ginsberg was a unique individual, whose choices were very different other men of his era. However, it was [...] Read more.
The article examines Allen Ginsberg’s cultural and spiritual journeys, and traces the poet’s paths as foreshadowing those of many American Jews of the last generation. Ginsberg was a unique individual, whose choices were very different other men of his era. However, it was larger developments in American society that allowed him to take steps that were virtually unthinkable during his parents’ generation and were novel and daring in his time as well. In his childhood and adolescence, Ginsberg grew up in a Jewish communist home, which combined socialist outlooks with mild Jewish traditionalism. The poet’s move from communism and his search for spirituality started already at Columbia University of the 1940s, and continued throughout his life. Identifying with many of his parents’ values and aspirations, Ginsberg wished to transcend beyond his parents’ Jewish orbit and actively sought to create an inclusive, tolerant, and permissive society where persons such as himself could live and create at ease. He chose elements from the Christian, Jewish, Native-American, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions, weaving them together into an ever-growing cultural and spiritual quilt. The poet never restricted his choices and freedoms to one all-encompassing system of faith or authority. In Ginsberg’s understanding, Buddhism was a universal, non-theistic religion that meshed well with an individualist outlook, and offered personal solace and mindfulness. He and other Jews, who followed his example, have seen no contradiction between practicing Buddhism and Jewish identity and have not sensed any guilt. Their Buddhism has been Western, American, and individualistic in its goals, meshing with other interests and affiliations. In that, Ginsberg served as a model and forerunner to a new kind of Jew, who takes pride in his heritage, but wished to live his life socially, culturally and spiritually in an open and inclusive environment, exploring and enriching herself beyond the Jewish fold. It has become an almost routine Jewish choice, reflecting the values, and aspirations of many in the Jewish community, including those who chose religious venues within the declared framework of the Jewish community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Jewish Experience in America)
Open AccessArticle Reflections on the Evolution of the State of the Art
Religions 2019, 10(2), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020099
Received: 20 December 2018 / Revised: 1 February 2019 / Accepted: 2 February 2019 / Published: 6 February 2019
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Abstract
Reflections on the evolution of the state of the art in the study of religion, society, and politics in Latin America over the last five decades begin with a critical assessment of the conventional wisdom of fifty years ago, as conveyed in texts [...] Read more.
Reflections on the evolution of the state of the art in the study of religion, society, and politics in Latin America over the last five decades begin with a critical assessment of the conventional wisdom of fifty years ago, as conveyed in texts and in graduate education. Stress was placed on modernization and secularization (with religion depicted as static and destined to decline) on consensus as a foundation for social life, and on drawing clear lines between religion and politics. These concepts were of little use when confronted in the late 1960s with a reality of continuous change, conflict, and efforts from left and right to assert a public role for religion. Working concepts of religion and politics had to be broadened well beyond church and state. Conceptual space had to be found for religious pluralism as the emergence of Pentecostal and evangelical churches was putting an end to centuries of Catholic monopoly: Latin America was becoming religiously plural. The state of the art is now much improved. Current and future research could usefully focus attention on issues like sexuality, gender, and identity, spirituality and encounters with charismatic power, and the new realities of religion and violence. Mid-range theories that give prominence to change and to the relation among social levels, and mixed methodologies that highlight meaning and significance will be central to any future state of the art that can make sense of a reality marked by continuing waves of creative change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Politics: New Developments Worldwide)
Open AccessArticle On the Question of “Discipline” (Vinaya) and Nuns in Theravāda Buddhism
Religions 2019, 10(2), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020098
Received: 20 September 2018 / Revised: 10 December 2018 / Accepted: 9 January 2019 / Published: 4 February 2019
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Abstract
This article centers on the relationship of rules (nīti) to the monastic form of life of contemporary Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka. A genealogy of scholarship focusing on the rules of Buddhist monks and nuns has led scholars to affirm a [...] Read more.
This article centers on the relationship of rules (nīti) to the monastic form of life of contemporary Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka. A genealogy of scholarship focusing on the rules of Buddhist monks and nuns has led scholars to affirm a clear-cut distinction between nuns who have the higher ordination (bhikkhunῑs) and those who do not have it. However, that distinction is not self-evident, because bhikkhunῑs and other nuns lead lives that do not foreground a juridical notion of rules. The lives of nuns focus on disciplinary practices of self-restraint within a tradition of debate about their recent higher ordinations. Whether or not they are bhikkhunῑs, nuns today refer to rules in ways that are different from that which dominant Vinaya scholarship assumes. This article proposes that it is misleading to differentiate Buddhist nuns based on an enumeration of their rules and argues that nuns’ attitudes to rules say more about attempts to authorize claims to power in current debates about their ordination than about their disciplinary practice as a communal form of life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Women in Buddhism)
Open AccessArticle Religious Nationalism in a Global World
Religions 2019, 10(2), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020097
Received: 29 December 2018 / Revised: 23 January 2019 / Accepted: 30 January 2019 / Published: 4 February 2019
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Abstract
The rise of new forms of religious nationalism at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries is to a large extent a by-product of globalization. As nation-states are permeated by transnational economics and trends and secular nationalism is challenged [...] Read more.
The rise of new forms of religious nationalism at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries is to a large extent a by-product of globalization. As nation-states are permeated by transnational economics and trends and secular nationalism is challenged by the global diaspora of peoples and cultures, new ethno-religious movements have arisen to shore up a sense of national community and purpose. One can project at least three different futures for religious and ethnic nationalism in a global world: one where religious and ethnic politics ignore globalization, where they rail against it, and where they envision their own transnational futures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Nationalism)
Open AccessArticle Hasidic Myth-Activism: Martin Buber’s Theopolitical Revision of Volkish Nationalism
Religions 2019, 10(2), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020096
Received: 4 December 2018 / Revised: 20 January 2019 / Accepted: 29 January 2019 / Published: 3 February 2019
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Abstract
Since the 1970s, Buber has often been suspected of being a Volkish thinker. This essay reconsiders the affinity of Buber’s late writings with Volkish ideology. It examines the allegations against Buber’s Volkish thought in light of his later biblical and Hasidic writings. By [...] Read more.
Since the 1970s, Buber has often been suspected of being a Volkish thinker. This essay reconsiders the affinity of Buber’s late writings with Volkish ideology. It examines the allegations against Buber’s Volkish thought in light of his later biblical and Hasidic writings. By illuminating the ideological affinity between these two modes of thought, the essay explains how Buber aims to depart from the dangers of myth without rejecting myth as such. I argue that Buber’s relationship to myth can help us to explain his critique of nationalism. My basic argument is that in his struggle with hyper-nationalism, Buber follows the Baal Shem Tov and his struggle against Sabbateanism. Like the Besht, Buber does not reject myth, but seeks instead to repair it from within. Whereas hyper-nationalism uses myth to advance its political goals, Buber seeks to reposition ethics within a mythic framework. I view Buber’s exegesis and commentaries on biblical and Hasidic myths as myth-activism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Modern Jewish Thought)
Open AccessArticle Metamorphosis and the Shang State: Yi 異and the Yi ding[fang]
Religions 2019, 10(2), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020095
Received: 1 January 2019 / Revised: 28 January 2019 / Accepted: 29 January 2019 / Published: 3 February 2019
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Abstract
Despite a long tradition of scholarship on Shang religion, a clear and comprehensive account of that religion has proven elusive. Many scholars have relied on written accounts from the much later Warring States and Han eras purporting to describe Shang beliefs and practices, [...] Read more.
Despite a long tradition of scholarship on Shang religion, a clear and comprehensive account of that religion has proven elusive. Many scholars have relied on written accounts from the much later Warring States and Han eras purporting to describe Shang beliefs and practices, and have been misled into describing the Shang religion as bureaucratically institutionalized and characterized by tension between inner court and outer court worship of ancestral and nature deities. Other scholars have generalized about the nature of divinity in Shang time and have recognized the position of the king who as one with Di was divine. Rather than act as an intermediary between the living and dead, the Shang king was divine and equivalent to Di. The present study follows research recognizing that the Shang king ruled over a state system which I label “institutionalized metamorphism”. By “institutionalized metamorphism” a belief is implied in the metamorphic power of the Shang king that allowed him identification with and to a certain extent control over numinous spirits. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Religious Experience without an Experiencer: The ‘Not I’ in Sāṃkhya and Yoga
Religions 2019, 10(2), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020094
Received: 2 January 2019 / Revised: 22 January 2019 / Accepted: 24 January 2019 / Published: 2 February 2019
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Abstract
“Experience” is a category that seems to have developed new meaning in European thought after the Enlightenment when personal inwardness took on the weight of an absent God. The inner self (including, a little later, a sub- or unconscious mind) rose to prominence [...] Read more.
“Experience” is a category that seems to have developed new meaning in European thought after the Enlightenment when personal inwardness took on the weight of an absent God. The inner self (including, a little later, a sub- or unconscious mind) rose to prominence about 200–300 years ago, around the time of the “Counter-Enlightenment” and Romanticism, and enjoyed a rich and long life in philosophy (including Lebensphilosophie) and religious studies, but began a steep descent under fire around 1970. The critique of “essentialism” (the claim that experience is self-validating and impervious to historical and scientific explanation or challenge) was probably the main point of attack, but there were others. The Frankfurt School (Adorno, Benjamin, et al.) claimed that authentic experience was difficult or impossible in the modern capitalist era. The question of the reality of the individual self to which experience happens also threatened to undermine the concept. This paper argues that the religious experience characteristic of Sāṃkhya and Yoga, while in some ways paralleling Romanticism and Lebensphilosophies, differs from them in one essential way. Sāṃkhyan/Yogic experience is not something that happens to, or in, an individual person. It does not occur to or for oneself (in the usual sense) but rather puruṣārtha, “for the sake of [artha] an innermost consciousness/self”[puruṣa] which must be distinguished from the “solitude” of “individual men” (the recipient, for William James, of religious experience) which would be called ahaṃkāra, or “ego assertion” in the Indian perspectives. The distinction found in European Lebensphilosophie between two kinds of experience, Erlebnis (a present-focused lived moment) and Erfahrung (a constructed, time-binding thread of life, involving memory and often constituting a story) helps to understand what is happening in Sāṃkhya and Yoga. The concept closest to experience in Sāṃkhya/Yoga is named by the Sanskrit root dṛś-, “seeing,” which is a process actualized through long meditative practice and close philosophical reasoning. The Erfahrung “story” enacted in Sāṃkhya/Yoga practice is a sort of dance-drama in which psychomaterial Nature (prakṛti) reveals to her inner consciousness and possessor (puruṣa) that she “is not, has nothing of her own, and does not have the quality of being an ‘I’” (nāsmi na me nāham). This self exposure as “not I” apophatically reveals puruṣa, and lets him shine for them both, as pure consciousness. Prakṛti’s long quest for puruṣa, seeking him with the finest insight (jñāna), culminates in realization that she is not the seer in this process but the seen, and that her failure has been to assert aham (“I”) rather than realize nāham, “Not I.” Her meditation and insight have led to an experience which was always for an Other, though that was not recognized until the story’s end. Rather like McLuhan’s “the medium is the message,” the nature or structure of experience in Sāṃkhya and Yoga is also its content, what religious experience is about in these philosophies and practices. In Western terms, we have religious experience only when we recognize what (all) experience (already) is: the unfolding story of puruṣārtha. Experience deepens the more we see that it is not ours; the recognition of non-I, in fact, is what makes genuine experience possible at all. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Experience in the Hindu Tradition)
Open AccessArticle Benjamin’s Profane Uses of Theology: The Invisible Organon
Religions 2019, 10(2), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020093
Received: 24 October 2018 / Revised: 22 January 2019 / Accepted: 27 January 2019 / Published: 2 February 2019
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Abstract
Invisible, but suggestive and fruitful; deprived of any reference to doctrine or ultimate assertive foundations, but nevertheless used in Benjamin like written images, crystallized as “images of thought”; as doctrinally mute as it is heuristically audible, Benjamin’s use of theology reminds us of [...] Read more.
Invisible, but suggestive and fruitful; deprived of any reference to doctrine or ultimate assertive foundations, but nevertheless used in Benjamin like written images, crystallized as “images of thought”; as doctrinally mute as it is heuristically audible, Benjamin’s use of theology reminds us of the ironical use that Jorge Luis Borges himself made of theology and metaphysics as part of his own poetic forms. As such, these images of thought are located both in the place of philosophical use and in the one of methodological cunning or Metis, across the various levels of the corpus: a metaphysics of experience, literary criticism, philosophy of language, theory of history and Marxism. Therefore, accepting that criticism (Kritik) is the visible organon and the object of Benjaminian philosophy, is not theology, then, its invisible organon? What seems to be particular to Benjamin, however, is the agonistic but nevertheless heuristic way in which he intends to use theology in order to upset, disarray, and deconstruct the established philosophy, and specially its dominant trends in the field of the theory of history: historicism, positivism, and the evolutionary Hegelian–Marxist philosophy of history. In this article we try to demonstrate how this theological perspective is applied to a Benjaminian grammar of time. We conclude agonistically, confronting the resulting Benjaminian notion of historical past against Heiddeger’s own vision of historical time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
Open AccessArticle John Muir and the Botanical Oversoul
Religions 2019, 10(2), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020092
Received: 10 December 2018 / Revised: 21 January 2019 / Accepted: 28 January 2019 / Published: 1 February 2019
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Abstract
The relation of influence between Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Muir helps to illuminate Muir’s characteristic brand of nature religion, namely his mysticism. This relation is especially clear, I argue, in both Emerson and Muir’s writing on their mystical affinities for plant life. [...] Read more.
The relation of influence between Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Muir helps to illuminate Muir’s characteristic brand of nature religion, namely his mysticism. This relation is especially clear, I argue, in both Emerson and Muir’s writing on their mystical affinities for plant life. Applying Harold Bloom’s renowned theory of literary influence, I draw lessons from Emerson and Muir’s mystical writings to highlight the ways in which Muir acquired from Emerson the plant-related vocabularies and practices that came to mediate his nature-inspired mysticism and also how Muir can be said to have surpassed Emerson’s own mystical example, thus opening new vistas of consciousness in human–plant relations in the nineteenth-century American religious experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Verdant: Knowing Plants, Planted Relations, Religion in Place)
Open AccessArticle The Tempest and Black Natural Law
Religions 2019, 10(2), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020091
Received: 8 December 2018 / Revised: 21 January 2019 / Accepted: 28 January 2019 / Published: 1 February 2019
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Abstract
Vincent Lloyd’s 2016 book Black Natural Law presents four case histories in which African American intellectuals used the natural law tradition to mount defenses of the rights, capacities, and dignity of members of their communities. This essay uses the discourse of black natural [...] Read more.
Vincent Lloyd’s 2016 book Black Natural Law presents four case histories in which African American intellectuals used the natural law tradition to mount defenses of the rights, capacities, and dignity of members of their communities. This essay uses the discourse of black natural law as reconstructed by Lloyd to reread Caliban’s political arguments and social and aesthetic project in The Tempest. Although the natural law tradition became increasingly secularized during the century of revolution, black thinkers such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Martin Luther King, Jr. drew on the religious renditions of natural law that were alive in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Reading Shakespeare with black natural law is not simply an audacious leap into our troubled present, but also brings new focus on the forms of scripturally-inspired pluralism that natural law theory supported in Shakespeare’s age. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in Shakespeare's Writings)
Open AccessArticle Symbols and Function of the Zhang Clan Han Army Sacrificial Rite
Religions 2019, 10(2), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020090
Received: 6 December 2018 / Revised: 21 January 2019 / Accepted: 21 January 2019 / Published: 1 February 2019
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Abstract
The Eight Banners System is the social organizational structure of the bannerman (qiren, 旗人) from the Qing dynasty and the fundamental system of the country under Qing rule. It is divided into three types: the Manchu Eight Banners, Mongolian Eight Banners, [...] Read more.
The Eight Banners System is the social organizational structure of the bannerman (qiren, 旗人) from the Qing dynasty and the fundamental system of the country under Qing rule. It is divided into three types: the Manchu Eight Banners, Mongolian Eight Banners, and Han Army Eight Banners. The Han Army was a special group in the Qing dynasty between the bannerman and the commoners (minren, 民人). The sacrificial rite of the Han Army is a form of comprehensive shamanic ritual based on the traditional ancestor worship of the Han people. However, it is influenced, to some extent, by the shamanic ritual of the Manchus involving trance-dance. It finally took shape as a unique sacrificial form different from both the Manchu shamanic rite and the traditional ancestor worship of the Han minren. As a special system of symbolic rituals, the Han qiren’s sacrificial form embodies shamanic concepts and serves two functions: (1) dispelling evil and bringing in good fortune for the community; and (2) unifying the Han bannermen’s clans and strengthening the culture, identity, and tradition of the Han people, who were living under Manchu rule during the Qing dynasty. Full article
Open AccessArticle Beyond Making and Unmaking: Re-Envisioning Sacred Art
Religions 2019, 10(2), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020089
Received: 16 December 2018 / Revised: 18 January 2019 / Accepted: 28 January 2019 / Published: 31 January 2019
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Abstract
This paper engages with predominantly Eastern Orthodox thinkers in reassessing the conditions under which sacred art may be possible today. The sacred has both ontological and cultural aspects. An artwork is sacred, firstly, by virtue of partaking of transcendent realities; and secondly, by [...] Read more.
This paper engages with predominantly Eastern Orthodox thinkers in reassessing the conditions under which sacred art may be possible today. The sacred has both ontological and cultural aspects. An artwork is sacred, firstly, by virtue of partaking of transcendent realities; and secondly, by being embedded in a worldview which allows the work to be made and received as sacred. Drawing on the thought of Philip Sherrard, the paper suggests that current conditions are characterised by cultural forgetting and the loss of such a metaphysical worldview. This paper proposes that the possibilities of sacred art must be rediscovered from within the practices of particular arts; and that this goes hand in hand with the rediscovery of a sacred ontology and of a Christian understanding of freedom. The paper will follow David Bentley Hart in affirming a theological understanding of freedom—as the orientation towards, and the attainment of communion with, ontological goods—against the prevalent postmodern and ultimately nihilistic notion of freedom as spontaneous volition. It is crucial, therefore, to also identify those transcendent goods towards which art may fruitfully be directed. In this light, the paper proposes the need to revise our concepts of matter, form, and, above all, beauty. Full article
Open AccessArticle Faith in Numbers—Re-quantifying the English Quaker Population during the Long Eighteenth Century
Religions 2019, 10(2), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020083
Received: 21 November 2018 / Revised: 22 January 2019 / Accepted: 24 January 2019 / Published: 30 January 2019
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Abstract
The Religious Society of Friends was traditionally disinclined to define “membership” in pursuit of the Quaker mission to create a worldwide church. As a result, for almost two centuries before the first census of 1847, there are no records of the numbers within [...] Read more.
The Religious Society of Friends was traditionally disinclined to define “membership” in pursuit of the Quaker mission to create a worldwide church. As a result, for almost two centuries before the first census of 1847, there are no records of the numbers within the Society. By the time of the census, Victorian Friends were seeking an explanation of what they generally perceived as a decline. The first, and still most widely accepted attempt to address this question, was John Stephenson Rowntree’s Quakerism, Past and Present, who grounded his 1857 essay on estimates extrapolated from summaries of Quaker records of marriages, births and deaths. This paper re-examines for the first time the assumptions made by Rowntree, and deploys both more recent demographic estimates and findings from the detailed Births, Marriages and Deaths records for over 33,000 Quakers in London from 1650 to 1809 to create an alternative population model charting stock and flows in the Quaker population of England by decade from 1650 to 1809. The paper seeks to reconcile such population estimates with accepted trends in English Quakerism across the period of the long eighteenth century. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interdisciplinary Quaker Studies)
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Open AccessArticle Security, Religion, and Political Culture: A Defense of Weak Disestablishment
Religions 2019, 10(2), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020088
Received: 7 January 2019 / Revised: 17 January 2019 / Accepted: 18 January 2019 / Published: 29 January 2019
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Abstract
Many, especially in the West, have long argued against state religious establishments on the ethical grounds of the rights of freedom of conscience and personal autonomy. Situating the question of religious establishment within the field of Religion and Security—an important and growing aspect [...] Read more.
Many, especially in the West, have long argued against state religious establishments on the ethical grounds of the rights of freedom of conscience and personal autonomy. Situating the question of religious establishment within the field of Religion and Security—an important and growing aspect of the Religious Studies discipline—allows for new interpretive possibilities. This paper explores the impact of religious disestablishment on the state’s task of provisioning security from violent religious extremism. Could it be that states which have disestablished a formal or deeply embedded informal tie with religion are less able to provide security to their citizenry? I examine this question and develop the contention that religious disestablishment in the West has actually harmed the state’s capacity to deal effectively with violent religious extremism. In turn, this finding requires us to reconsider the normative bases of strict church/state separation and provides one element within a range of arguments for what I label ‘weak disestablishment.’ Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessArticle Natives Need Prison: The Sanctification of Racialized Incarceration
Religions 2019, 10(2), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020087
Received: 17 December 2018 / Revised: 19 January 2019 / Accepted: 24 January 2019 / Published: 29 January 2019
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Abstract
This paper draws on literary scholar Susan Ryan’s work to show how Americans worked out national as well as racial identities through benevolent activity, including forms of reformative incarceration. Reformers operated as true citizens by sustaining themselves and providing for others. Recipients, on [...] Read more.
This paper draws on literary scholar Susan Ryan’s work to show how Americans worked out national as well as racial identities through benevolent activity, including forms of reformative incarceration. Reformers operated as true citizens by sustaining themselves and providing for others. Recipients, on the other hand, functioned as people in need. Ryan argues that benevolent activists ascribed need to entire groups of people. As a result, “the categories of blackness, Indianness, and Irishness…came to signify need itself.” Elite Americans thereby “raced” need, assigning essential difference to populations they sought to relieve. Ryan’s work on racialized need can help us understand the connections between Christianity, race, and mass incarceration. I explore how one nineteenth-century military prison—and the disciplinary institutions later modeled on it—was created in direct response to presumed (and raced) need among Native Americans. I also consider how Christian reformers obscured and concealed the racialized nature of this institution—and how, in that avoidance, they came to sanctify mass incarceration for racial minorities. Finally, I look at two incarcerated Native artists’ drawings to show how people caught up in racialized renderings of their need have something else to say about who they are and what prison is. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Charged Moments: Landscape and the Experience of the Sacred among Catholic Monks in North America
Religions 2019, 10(2), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020086
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 23 January 2019 / Accepted: 24 January 2019 / Published: 29 January 2019
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Abstract
In light of calls to ‘re-enchant’ the world in the face of our ecological crisis, where do Christians stand on the question of land being sacred? I put this question to monks living at four monastic communities in the American West. For monks [...] Read more.
In light of calls to ‘re-enchant’ the world in the face of our ecological crisis, where do Christians stand on the question of land being sacred? I put this question to monks living at four monastic communities in the American West. For monks living on the land, the world is sacramental of God’s presence. However, this sacramental character was not universally recognized as being sacred, or divine. The monastic presence on the land can give places a sacred character through their work and prayer. Far fewer monks admitted that land was intrinsically sacred. However, during what one monk called “charged moments” the sacredness of God was seen as manifesting through the land. Thus, while there is no consensus among monks as to the sacredness of land, there is a deep reverence for place and landscape at the heart of monastic spirituality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Space and Place)
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