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Religions, Volume 10, Issue 3 (March 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) The religious traditions of the ancient Ammonites who lived around Amman, Jordan during the Iron [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle Gulliver and the Rabbis: Counterfactual Truth in Science and the Talmud
Religions 2019, 10(3), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030228
Received: 3 March 2019 / Revised: 19 March 2019 / Accepted: 23 March 2019 / Published: 26 March 2019
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Abstract
The paper presents Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels as the first systematic attempt to claim that the normal methods of testing belief and opinion for clarity, consistence, coherence, and how they stand to the facts are powerless when applied to deep-seated normative commitments, or [...] Read more.
The paper presents Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels as the first systematic attempt to claim that the normal methods of testing belief and opinion for clarity, consistence, coherence, and how they stand to the facts are powerless when applied to deep-seated normative commitments, or what Wittgenstein dubbed “framework truths.” To subject our norms to normative critique requires a measure of self-alienation that cannot be achieved merely by looking hard at or thinking hard about our world and ourselves. However, by closely examining the contrived counterfactual scenarios (or, as I have shown in former work, by exposure to the normative critique of significant others), that Swift is shown to claim, such normative framework assumptions can be challenged to great effect! The standard epistemologies of his day—Baconian empiricism and Cartesian rationalism—fiercely ridiculed in the course of Gulliver’s third voyage are cruelly dismissed as powerless to change the course of science and keep it in normative check. The transformative effect of the clever thought experiments presented in the three other voyages (of imagining London shrunk to a twelfth of its size and enlarged to giant proportions, and a more responsible and intelligent race of beings inserted above (normally sized) humans) enable Swift to obtain critical normative distance from several major assumptions about politics, religion, aesthetics, ethics, and much more, including the limits of the thought experiment itself. The paper then goes to show how the same kind of counterfactual scenarios are put to impressive use in the Talmudic literature, with special reference to foundational questions of ethics and law. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God out of Mind: Thought Experiments, Science, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle Depression, Religiosity, and Parenting Styles among Young Latter-Day Saint Adolescents
Religions 2019, 10(3), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030227
Received: 30 January 2019 / Revised: 7 March 2019 / Accepted: 8 March 2019 / Published: 26 March 2019
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Abstract
This study examines depression among Latter-day Saint teens, particularly how religiosity and the parent–child relationship are associated with depressive symptomology. Although there is an abundance of research on adolescent depression and on adolescent religiosity, there is less research addressing the connection between the [...] Read more.
This study examines depression among Latter-day Saint teens, particularly how religiosity and the parent–child relationship are associated with depressive symptomology. Although there is an abundance of research on adolescent depression and on adolescent religiosity, there is less research addressing the connection between the two. The research questions include: Does religiosity among Latter-day Saint teens reduce their rates of depression? What aspects of religiosity affect depression most significantly? How does religious coping influence depression? How does the parent–child relationship affect depression rates among Latter-day Saint teens? Being a sexual minority and living in Utah were related to higher levels of depression. Greater depression was also associated with more anxiety and poorer physical health. Authoritative parenting by fathers was associated with lower depression for daughters but not sons. Finally, feeling abandoned by God was related to higher depression, while peer support at church was associated with lower depression. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life)
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Open AccessArticle Interfaith Chaplaincy as Interpretive Hospitality
Religions 2019, 10(3), 226; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030226
Received: 27 February 2019 / Revised: 18 March 2019 / Accepted: 21 March 2019 / Published: 26 March 2019
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Abstract
Hospital chaplaincy must reconcile competing epistemologies of health and salvation (Christian, clinical, holistic, etc.), but when done in interfaith situations this task becomes more difficult. As current models of spiritual care are insufficient, this paper proposes a paradigm based on Paul Ricoeur’s hermeneutics [...] Read more.
Hospital chaplaincy must reconcile competing epistemologies of health and salvation (Christian, clinical, holistic, etc.), but when done in interfaith situations this task becomes more difficult. As current models of spiritual care are insufficient, this paper proposes a paradigm based on Paul Ricoeur’s hermeneutics of translation, as adapted for comparative theology by Marianne Moyaert. In particular, it looks at his idea of linguistic hospitality as a way to structure relations, spiritual assessments, and pastoral interventions in interfaith chaplaincy without reducing the unique strangeness of “the Other”. Furthermore, a practical, performative (ritual) hospitality can overcome the epistemological and soteriological obstacles that have frustrated systematic theologies of religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theology and Practical Life)
Open AccessArticle Mathematics, Mystery, and Memento Mori: Teaching Humanist Theology in Dante’s Commedia
Religions 2019, 10(3), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030225
Received: 22 February 2019 / Revised: 18 March 2019 / Accepted: 21 March 2019 / Published: 26 March 2019
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Abstract
Undergraduate students in the United States of America are increasingly less religious, and this decline in religiosity is felt not only at secular colleges and universities, but also at those with a religious affiliation. This article seeks to answer the question of how [...] Read more.
Undergraduate students in the United States of America are increasingly less religious, and this decline in religiosity is felt not only at secular colleges and universities, but also at those with a religious affiliation. This article seeks to answer the question of how one can effectively teach the Christian vision in Dante’s Commedia to undergraduates who have little or no religious formation. The methods I have used to teach freshmen in core Humanities courses have differed somewhat from the methods I have used to teach upperclassmen in Literature electives. For the freshmen, focusing on what I call “humanist theology” has been successful, allowing them to see that the Christianity found in Dante’s epic is not merely a list of rules, but a way of viewing human life that is consonant with their own experiences. Purgatorio is the most important canticle for this method, and the case of Virgil’s damnation is a vital topic. For upperclassmen, finding analogies to Christian Mystery in the fields of mathematics, the sciences, and creative writing has proven fruitful. The main conclusion of this study is that these techniques are useful in presenting Dante’s work to non-religious students without sacrificing the epic’s specifically Christian content. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
Open AccessArticle Ritualization of Affection and Respect: Two Principles of Confucian Ritual
Religions 2019, 10(3), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030224
Received: 14 February 2019 / Revised: 19 March 2019 / Accepted: 21 March 2019 / Published: 26 March 2019
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Abstract
Confucian rituals have constituted the foundation of religious practice in the traditional societies of East Asia. Paying attention to the Confucian ritual, this article explores the way Confucianism constructs its symbolic system based on people’s natural feelings, particularly in the case of three-year [...] Read more.
Confucian rituals have constituted the foundation of religious practice in the traditional societies of East Asia. Paying attention to the Confucian ritual, this article explores the way Confucianism constructs its symbolic system based on people’s natural feelings, particularly in the case of three-year mourning. It intends to show how the two feelings of “affection for the family” (chinchin/qinqin, 親親) and “respect for the honorable” (chonjon/zunzun, 尊尊) are ritualized in Confucian rites, and to illuminate the religious and social dimensions of Confucianism in premodern Korea by analyzing a seventeenth-century controversy over royal mourning from the perspective of these two principles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role and Meaning of Religion for Korean Society)
Open AccessArticle Then Solomon Took a Census of All the Aliens
Religions 2019, 10(3), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030223
Received: 16 January 2019 / Revised: 19 March 2019 / Accepted: 20 March 2019 / Published: 26 March 2019
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Abstract
The citizen creates the alien. The apparatus of citizenship establishes the criteria to determine who should be counted as undocumentable and therefore alien to lawful existence in this geographical territory. Detention centers extend the carceral imagination that subtends the modern state, which has [...] Read more.
The citizen creates the alien. The apparatus of citizenship establishes the criteria to determine who should be counted as undocumentable and therefore alien to lawful existence in this geographical territory. Detention centers extend the carceral imagination that subtends the modern state, which has claimed ownership of a particular land and has established a legal framework to criminalize and punish peoples who are categorized as threats to its vision for society. This paper tracks with Scriptural theologies that inform mechanisms of enslavement, the shadow side of citizenship. The United States is a project in social engineering, in population control, invested in registering and monitoring and relocating human life—all of which resonate with political trajectories outlined in biblical texts. The Scriptures are not salvific on their own terms. A liberative theology begins with a political commitment of solidarity. In this paper the detention center becomes a site from which to understand the carceral power that creates the world—a political landscape echoing with biblical theologies. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Mosque as an Educational Space: Muslim Women and Religious Authority in 21st-Century Spain
Religions 2019, 10(3), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030222
Received: 3 February 2019 / Revised: 17 March 2019 / Accepted: 21 March 2019 / Published: 25 March 2019
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Abstract
This article presents the results of a fieldwork project from January to April 2017 in Spanish mosques, an on-the-ground investigation using interviews with female Muslim teachers who constitute a sort of women’s movement within Islamic education in Islamic associations and schools across Spain. [...] Read more.
This article presents the results of a fieldwork project from January to April 2017 in Spanish mosques, an on-the-ground investigation using interviews with female Muslim teachers who constitute a sort of women’s movement within Islamic education in Islamic associations and schools across Spain. These women reflect on their zeal for teaching and the desire to receive an education in Islamic studies among Muslim women, students and teachers, who participate in these activities to transmit their knowledge of Islam in Spain. These female teachers form a heterodox group of interconnected educators who have acquired status within their communities, legitimized by their ability to impart Islamic religious knowledge, and who could prove to be potential alternative educational authorities in Spanish Islam. This educational activity by and for women in Spanish mosques, which has been studied by others at the European level could be seen as a revitalization of religious dynamics or as processes of re-Islamization. However, as the interviewees themselves observe, ‘we never stopped believing and practicing’, suggesting that this educational activity should be situated within the framework of the active search for Islamic knowledge in a non-Islamic European context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam in Europe, European Islam)
Open AccessArticle The Heretical, Heterodox Howl: Jackals in Pāli Buddhist Literature
Religions 2019, 10(3), 221; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030221
Received: 9 March 2019 / Revised: 17 March 2019 / Accepted: 20 March 2019 / Published: 22 March 2019
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Abstract
Buddhist literature in Pāli presents a world that is rich in animal imagery, with some animals carrying largely positive associations and other animals seen in a consistently negative light. Among the many species that populate the Pāli imaginaire, the jackal bears a [...] Read more.
Buddhist literature in Pāli presents a world that is rich in animal imagery, with some animals carrying largely positive associations and other animals seen in a consistently negative light. Among the many species that populate the Pāli imaginaire, the jackal bears a particular status as a much-maligned beast. Jackals are depicted in Pāli literature as lowly, inferior, greedy, and cunning creatures. The jackal, as a natural scavenger, exists on the periphery of both human and animal society and is commonly associated with carrion, human corpses, impurity, and death. In this paper, I am interested in the use of the jackal as an image for both heresy and heterodoxy—that is, the jackal’s consistent association with heretical Buddhist figures, such as Devadatta, and with heterodox teachers, such as the leaders of competing samaṇa movements. Why was the jackal such an appropriate animal to stand for those who hold the wrong views? And how does association with such an animal sometimes result in a particularly nefarious sort of dehumanization that goes against the teachings of Buddhism? Full article
Open AccessArticle “‘You Shall Love the Alien as Yourself’: Hope, Hospitality, and Love of the Stranger in the Teachings of Jesus”
Religions 2019, 10(3), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030220
Received: 8 March 2019 / Revised: 15 March 2019 / Accepted: 18 March 2019 / Published: 22 March 2019
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Abstract
The Trump administration’s controversial immigration policy has provoked significant opposition, including against a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government over Trump’s insistence on a “wall,” but the most outrage was generated by the “zero-tolerance policy” for refugees and asylum seekers that resulted [...] Read more.
The Trump administration’s controversial immigration policy has provoked significant opposition, including against a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government over Trump’s insistence on a “wall,” but the most outrage was generated by the “zero-tolerance policy” for refugees and asylum seekers that resulted in the forced separation of thousands of children from their parents. This essay evaluates the current U.S. policy in light of the life and teachings of Jesus as portrayed in the New Testament Gospels, beginning with the flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13–15; cf. Deuteronomy 10:19–20) but focusing primarily on Jesus’s teachings on hospitality—including the love of neighbor and the stranger—for those people with their “backs against the wall,” in the words of Howard Thurman. Key passages include the parables of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:26–37), the Sheep and Goats (Matthew 25:31–46), and the Great Dinner (Luke 14:15–24). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle Understanding Dante’s Comedy as Virtuous Friendship
Religions 2019, 10(3), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030219
Received: 5 February 2019 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 20 March 2019 / Published: 22 March 2019
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Abstract
As Dante explains in his epistle to Can Grande, the purpose of the Comedy is to move the reader from a state of misery to a state of happiness. The poet himself testifies that the poem was written as a work of moral [...] Read more.
As Dante explains in his epistle to Can Grande, the purpose of the Comedy is to move the reader from a state of misery to a state of happiness. The poet himself testifies that the poem was written as a work of moral philosophy oriented to the achievement of happiness, eudaimonia: the beatific vision of God. Moreover, Dante insists on his poem’s efficacy to affect in its readers a similar moral and religious transformation as that which the poem represents through the narrative journey of the pilgrim. To put it another way, Dante represents his poem’s relationship to its reader as a kind of virtuous friendship. This essay sets forth a model for teaching Dante’s poem as an experiment in virtuous friendship that can transform the classroom into a workshop for the philosophical and religious quest for happiness. This involves teaching the text with an eye not only to the content and style of the poem but also to the performative and participatory demands of the text. Beginning with this framework, this essay works out pedagogical strategies for teaching the Comedy as a form of virtuous friendship extended over the centuries between Dante Alighieri and the contemporary reader. Chiefly, I explore ways Dante makes his readers complicit in the pilgrim’s own moral and spiritual journey toward the virtue of hope translated into the practice of prayer through a close, pedagogical reading of Inferno 3, Purgatorio 5, and Paradiso 20. I explore ways that Dante’s use of surprise, shock, misdirection, appeal to mystery, and retreat to silence creates a morally significant aporia of knowledge that serves as a laboratory for readers’ own virtuous transformation. I end with a critical assessment of the challenges involved in understanding the Comedy as virtuous friendship. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
Open AccessArticle The Authenticity of Myriad Things in the Zhuangzi
Religions 2019, 10(3), 218; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030218
Received: 14 February 2019 / Accepted: 7 March 2019 / Published: 21 March 2019
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Abstract
A large quantity of past research in philosophical Daoism has been dedicated to the authenticity of “dao”; this essay shifts the focus to the authenticity of the “myriad things 萬物 (wanwu)” in the Zhuangzi. The concept of “myriad [...] Read more.
A large quantity of past research in philosophical Daoism has been dedicated to the authenticity of “dao”; this essay shifts the focus to the authenticity of the “myriad things 萬物 (wanwu)” in the Zhuangzi. The concept of “myriad things”, which later gains paradigmatic importance in Chinese philosophy, was first introduced in the Laozi and developed in the Zhuangzi. Under the collective heading of “myriad”, “myriad things” encompasses all of the variegated existing entities in the empirical world, while also taking into account the individual particularities of each entity without calling forth any singular or set of qualities, or “essence”, that is shared by all individuals. As a concept that safeguards individual particularities, the use of “myriad things” in the Zhuangzi serves to counterargue against the essentialist tendency to treat “humans 人 (ren)” as a collective of moral agents with a singular and identifiable moral essence. By the same token, Daoist thinkers re-interpret the meaning of “heaven 天 (tian)” with “the collective name of the myriad things 萬物之總名”, thus transferring the transcendent meaning belonging to the former as a transcendent moral authority to the myriad variegated principles that are inherent to each existing and transforming individual. The Daoist theoretical frame breaks away from that of “heaven–human” and connects the re-interpreted “heaven” with concepts of “self-so/self-affirm 自然 (ziran)”, “essentials 情 (qing)”, “nature 性 (xing)”, and “potency 德 (de)”. In this respect, “authenticity 真 (zhen)”, as it is warranted by “non-action 無為 (wuwei)”, is proposed as an ultimate state of attainment that is identified with the self-realization of each individual being as herself, over and above the so-called moral goodness and its opposite. Furthermore, the self-realization of the authenticity of the myriad things is seemingly paradoxical in the sense that, from the perspective of the “transformation of the myriad things 萬物之化”, the separation between object and subject both exists and is non-existent. The proposition of “myriad things” opposes the essentialization of human beings, whereas the doctrine of the transformation of the myriad things opposes the belief in fixed essentials in individual entities. The road to realizing “authenticity” as herself is thus a never-ending process for each individual member of the myriad things. Full article
Open AccessArticle A Glossary of New Testament Narrative Criticism with Illustrations
Religions 2019, 10(3), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030217
Received: 10 February 2019 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 21 March 2019
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Abstract
This is the first stand-alone glossary of New Testament narrative-critical terms in the English language. It is an alphabetical listing of prominent terms, concepts, and techniques of narrative criticism with illustrations and cross-references. Commonly used terms are defined and illustrated, these include character, [...] Read more.
This is the first stand-alone glossary of New Testament narrative-critical terms in the English language. It is an alphabetical listing of prominent terms, concepts, and techniques of narrative criticism with illustrations and cross-references. Commonly used terms are defined and illustrated, these include character, characterization, double entendre, misunderstanding, implied author, implied reader, irony, narrator, point of view, plot, rhetoric, and other constitutive elements of a narrative. Lesser-known terms and concepts are also defined, such as carnivalesque, composite character, defamiliarization, fabula, syuzhet, hybrid character, MacGuffin, masterplot, primacy/recency effect, and type-scene. Major disciplines—for example, narratology, New Criticism, and reader-response criticism—are explained with glances at prominent literary critics/theorists, such as Aristotle, Mikhail Bakhtin, Wayne Booth, Seymour Chatman, Stanley Fish, E. M. Forster, Gérard Genette, Wolfgang Iser, and Susan Sniader Lanser. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in New Testament Study)
Open AccessArticle Testimonial Image Practices as a Politics of Aesthetics after Levinas
Religions 2019, 10(3), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030216
Received: 12 February 2019 / Revised: 13 March 2019 / Accepted: 18 March 2019 / Published: 21 March 2019
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Abstract
The transition from ethics to politics still lacks a proper understanding. I propose thinking of this transition in terms of a politics of aesthetics. However, thinking about a politics of aesthetics means also thinking about images and their prohibition. The prohibition of images [...] Read more.
The transition from ethics to politics still lacks a proper understanding. I propose thinking of this transition in terms of a politics of aesthetics. However, thinking about a politics of aesthetics means also thinking about images and their prohibition. The prohibition of images has a long history, dating back to the Bible and Plato; its implications are crucial for image theory. Since Levinas did not systematically develop a political theory, aesthetics, or image theory, it is necessary to collect and systematize his distributed statements. Having image theory as a starting point for a politics of aesthetics, I choose a media philosophical approach to identify the mediality of the image after Levinas. Key elements for a Levinasian image theory are the temporal aspect of its transient appearance, its involving affective power, and its negativity. I propose to think of this image theory as an image-pragmatics that testifies and responds not only to the Other but also to the mediality of the image. With Levinas it becomes possible to turn the prohibition of images into a commandment to remember. I call this a testimonial image practice that becomes a regulatory idea for a politics of aesthetics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Levinas and the Political)
Open AccessEssay Aesthetics, Music, and Meaning-Making
Religions 2019, 10(3), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030215
Received: 13 February 2019 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 13 March 2019 / Published: 21 March 2019
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Abstract
The paper discusses the connection between rhythm and meaning based on Augustine’s De musica. This central topic is illuminated by the analysis of other particular aesthetic concepts that one can find in Augustine (such as sentience and desire, in its many [...] Read more.
The paper discusses the connection between rhythm and meaning based on Augustine’s De musica. This central topic is illuminated by the analysis of other particular aesthetic concepts that one can find in Augustine (such as sentience and desire, in its many Latin variations), as well as in reference to modern aesthetics. The result is the emergence of a relationship between aesthetics and the making of meaning in a co-creative operation between the divine and the human based upon an understanding of rhythm. Full article
Open AccessEditorial Introduction of the Special Issue “Measures of Spirituality/Religiosity (2018)”
Religions 2019, 10(3), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030214
Received: 15 March 2019 / Revised: 18 March 2019 / Accepted: 18 March 2019 / Published: 21 March 2019
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Abstract
The interest in the topic of spirituality as a more or less independent dimension of quality of life is continuously growing [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Measures of Spirituality/Religiosity (2018))
Open AccessArticle “I Will Show You My Faith by My Works”: Addressing the Nexus between Philosophical Theodicy and Human Suffering and Loss in Contexts of ‘Natural’ Disaster
Religions 2019, 10(3), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030213
Received: 28 February 2019 / Revised: 14 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 20 March 2019
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Abstract
As a practical theologian and researcher in the field of ‘natural’ disasters, as well as being a disaster responder chaplain, I am often confronted by, and have to confront, the nexus between theology/philosophy and “real life” in extremely traumatic contexts. The extreme suffering [...] Read more.
As a practical theologian and researcher in the field of ‘natural’ disasters, as well as being a disaster responder chaplain, I am often confronted by, and have to confront, the nexus between theology/philosophy and “real life” in extremely traumatic contexts. The extreme suffering that is often the consequence of catastrophic natural disasters warrants solutions that can help vulnerable populations recover and adapt to live safely with natural hazards. For many practice-based responders, speculative theological/philosophical reflections around situations that are often human-caused seem predominantly vacuous exercises, potentially diverting attention away from the empiricism of causal human agency. In this article, I explore a middle ground involving a nuanced methodological approach to theodicy that is practical but no less intellectually demanding, that is theological more than philosophical, practical more than theoretical; a middle ground that also takes seriously the human culpability as causal for the human, and some would say the divine, suffering from disasters. I will include in this exploration my ethnographic fieldwork following the catastrophic earthquake to hit the Caribbean nation of Haiti in 2010. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theology and Practical Life)
Open AccessArticle Guwonpa, WMSCOG, and Shincheonji: Three Dynamic Grassroots Groups in Contemporary Korean Christian NRM History
Religions 2019, 10(3), 212; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030212
Received: 5 February 2019 / Revised: 5 March 2019 / Accepted: 11 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
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Abstract
The new religious movements (NRMs) initially emerged in the regional societies of East Asia in the middle nineteenth and early twentieth centuries including Joseon (Korea). The socio-political transformation from feudalism to modernisation emaciated the religiosity of the traditional beliefs (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, shamanism, [...] Read more.
The new religious movements (NRMs) initially emerged in the regional societies of East Asia in the middle nineteenth and early twentieth centuries including Joseon (Korea). The socio-political transformation from feudalism to modernisation emaciated the religiosity of the traditional beliefs (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, shamanism, and folk religions). Colonial Korea experienced the major turning point in which various syncretic NRMs surfaced with alternative visions and teachings. What is, then, the historical origin of Christian NRMs? Who are their leaders? What is their background? What is the main figure of the teachings? How did they survive? This paper explores the history of Korean Christian new religious movements from the 1920s Wonsan mystical movements to 1990s urban and campus movements. Through the contextual studies of denominational background, birth, founder, membership, key teachings, evangelical strategy, phenomenon, services, sacred rituals, globalisation, and media, the three grassroots groups of Guwonpa (Salvation Sect: Good News Mission), WMSCOG (World Mission Society Church of God), and Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ) are argued as the most controversial yet well-globalised organisations among Christian NRMs in contemporary Korea. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World)
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Open AccessArticle Religion at Kuntillet ʿAjrud
Religions 2019, 10(3), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030211
Received: 31 January 2019 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 13 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
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Abstract
The discovery of early Hebrew inscriptions at the site of Kuntillet ʿAjrud has generated considerable discussion among scholars over the past few decades. The fact that the inscriptions contain explicitly religious themes led some to conclude that the site had a cultic function. [...] Read more.
The discovery of early Hebrew inscriptions at the site of Kuntillet ʿAjrud has generated considerable discussion among scholars over the past few decades. The fact that the inscriptions contain explicitly religious themes led some to conclude that the site had a cultic function. In the present article, we challenge this assumption and argue that the inscriptions with religious themes are embedded in daily life as religion converges with scribal curriculum in ancient Israel. The inscriptions provide insights into conceptions of the Israelite pantheon, divine theophany, and theomachy in early Israelian religious ideology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Open AccessArticle Religious Experience, Hindu Pluralism, and Hope: Anubhava in the Tradition of Sri Ramakrishna
Religions 2019, 10(3), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030210
Received: 2 February 2019 / Revised: 6 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
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Abstract
The pluralistic turn in modern Hindu thought corresponds with the rise of an emphasis on direct experience of divine realities in this tradition. Both pluralism and a focus on experience have precedents in premodern Hindu traditions, but have become especially prominent in modern [...] Read more.
The pluralistic turn in modern Hindu thought corresponds with the rise of an emphasis on direct experience of divine realities in this tradition. Both pluralism and a focus on experience have precedents in premodern Hindu traditions, but have become especially prominent in modern Hinduism. The paradigmatic example in the modern period of a religious subject embarking upon a pluralistic quest for direct experience of ultimate reality as mediated through multiple religious traditions is the nineteenth century Bengali sage, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836–1886), whose most famous disciple, Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902) played a prominent role in the promotion of the idea of Hinduism as largely defined by a religious pluralism paired with an emphasis on direct experience. The focus in the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda on Brahman as a universal reality available, at least in principle, to being experienced by anyone, and interpreted using the categories of the experiencing subject’s religion or culture, gives rise to a corresponding pluralism: a move towards seeing many religions and philosophies as conducive to the experience of a shared ultimate reality. This paper will analyze the theme of experience in the thought of these two figures, and other figures who are representative of this broad trend in modern Hindu thought, as well as in conversation with recent academic philosophers and theorists of religious experience, John Hick and William Alston. It will also argue that aspects of Hinduism, such as pluralism and an emphasis on direct experience, that are often termed as ‘Neo-Vedantic’ or ‘Neo-Hindu’ are not simply modern constructs, as these terms seem to suggest, but are reflective of much older trends in Hindu thought that become central themes in the thought of key Hindu figures in the modern period. Finally, it shall be argued that a pluralistic approach to the diversity of religions, and of worldviews more generally, is to be commended as an approach more conducive to human survival than the current global proliferation of ethno-nationalisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Experience in the Hindu Tradition)
Open AccessArticle Playing God
Religions 2019, 10(3), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030209
Received: 9 February 2019 / Revised: 14 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
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Abstract
Metaphysical modelling is a method in (epistemologically enlightened) metaphysics. It uses models for the philosophical analysis of metaphysico-epistemological situations. In this paper, the method is applied to a set of metaphysical questions that concern the relationship between God and the world, and the [...] Read more.
Metaphysical modelling is a method in (epistemologically enlightened) metaphysics. It uses models for the philosophical analysis of metaphysico-epistemological situations. In this paper, the method is applied to a set of metaphysical questions that concern the relationship between God and the world, and the relationship between human beings and the world. The questions revolve around a center: What is it that ultimately determines reality? This complex metaphysical subject is treated in a simplified and downsized manner: on the scale of board games. As will be seen, the unusual perspective provided by the model leads to new insights and has a salutary corrective effect in the metaphysico-epistemological respect. The paper also provides an analysis and defense of analogical thinking in metaphysics (of which way of thinking metaphysical modelling is a special form). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God out of Mind: Thought Experiments, Science, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle Design Principles of Early Stone Pagodas in Ancient Korean Architecture: Case Studies on the Stone Pagodas at Chŏngnimsa and Kamŭnsa Buddhist Temples
Religions 2019, 10(3), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030208
Received: 14 January 2019 / Revised: 8 March 2019 / Accepted: 8 March 2019 / Published: 18 March 2019
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Abstract
Ancient books on East Asian mathematics introduced to the Korean Peninsula enrich our understanding of the arithmetic notions that mold the creative thought processes of the ancients. They believed that all objects in the universe could be composed of circles and squares and [...] Read more.
Ancient books on East Asian mathematics introduced to the Korean Peninsula enrich our understanding of the arithmetic notions that mold the creative thought processes of the ancients. They believed that all objects in the universe could be composed of circles and squares and all items could be expressed in terms of geometrical profiles. Through the combination of circles and squares, the ancient East Asians expressed the order of the world and unraveled it mathematically. These principles are evident in the construction principles of early Korean stone pagodas. In particular, the square root of 2 (√2) is a very important number in the delineation represented in the consolidation of inscribed and circumscribed circles with squares. Further, the square root of 2 is applied as a design principle in the construction of the stone pagodas at the temples Chŏngnimsa and Kamŭnsa. This article demonstrates that the ancients on the continuous impact of the Jiuzhang Suanshu and the Zhoubi Suanshu constructed the pagodas complying with design principles based on the arithmetic and geometric proportional systems of √2 times, which are intended to adjust compositional proportions and the gradual decrease in length to shape the tripartite partition of the foundation, the pagoda body, and the finial in stone pagodas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Ziran: Authenticity or Authority?
Religions 2019, 10(3), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030207
Received: 26 December 2018 / Revised: 9 March 2019 / Accepted: 14 March 2019 / Published: 18 March 2019
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Abstract
This essay explores the core Daoist concept of ziran (commonly translated as spontaneity, naturalness, or self-so) and its relationship to authenticity and authority. Modern scholarship has often followed the interpretation of Guo Xiang (d. 312) in taking ziran as spontaneous individual authenticity completely [...] Read more.
This essay explores the core Daoist concept of ziran (commonly translated as spontaneity, naturalness, or self-so) and its relationship to authenticity and authority. Modern scholarship has often followed the interpretation of Guo Xiang (d. 312) in taking ziran as spontaneous individual authenticity completely unreliant on any external authority. This form of Daoism emphasizes natural transformations and egalitarian society. Here, the author draws on Heshanggong’s Commentary on the Daodejing to reveal a drastically dissimilar ziran conception based on the authority of the transcendent Way. The logic of this contrasting view of classical Daoism results not only in a vision of hierarchical society, but one where the ultimate state of human ziran becomes immortality. Expanding our sense of the Daodejing, this cosmology of authority helps unearths greater continuity of the text with Daoism’s later religious forms. Full article
Open AccessArticle Sufi and Bhakti Performers and Followers at the Margins of the Global South: Communication Strategies to Negotiate Situated Adversities
Religions 2019, 10(3), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030206
Received: 13 January 2019 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 18 March 2019
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Abstract
Throughout the globe (particularly in the global South), religious orthodoxy and their discriminatory intolerances are negatively impacting religious freedom of underserved populations, particularly those who practice/follow alternate spiritual praxis, like the Sufi and Bhakti performers from rural and geographically remote spaces of South [...] Read more.
Throughout the globe (particularly in the global South), religious orthodoxy and their discriminatory intolerances are negatively impacting religious freedom of underserved populations, particularly those who practice/follow alternate spiritual praxis, like the Sufi and Bhakti performers from rural and geographically remote spaces of South Asia. Hindu and Islamic fundamentalist discourses/doctrines are propagating their conservative religious agendas and thereby creating tensions and separatism across the subcontinent. Such religious extremism is responsible for the threatening and even murdering of nonsectarian torchbearers, and their free thoughts. This study focused on various alternate communication strategies espoused by Sufi and bhakti performers and followers in order to negotiate and overcome their marginalized existence as well as to promote the plurality of voices and values in the society. This article identified the following communication strategies—innovative usages of language of inversion or enigmatic language; strategic camouflaging of authors’/writers’ identity, and intergenerational communication of discourses and spiritual values to ensure freedom and survival of their traditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Freedom in the Global South)
Open AccessArticle “He Who Sees Does Not Desire to Imagine”: The Shifting Role of Art and Aesthetic Observation in Medieval Franciscan Theological Discourse in the Fourteenth Century
Religions 2019, 10(3), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030205
Received: 13 February 2019 / Revised: 11 March 2019 / Accepted: 13 March 2019 / Published: 18 March 2019
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Abstract
In the thirteenth century, following Neoplatonic and Patristic trends, art and aesthetic experience were still treated as symbolic, as “vestiges” or “echoes” of the divine that lead us to it. However, in the early fourteenth century, attitudes to concrete sensory/aesthetic experience begin to [...] Read more.
In the thirteenth century, following Neoplatonic and Patristic trends, art and aesthetic experience were still treated as symbolic, as “vestiges” or “echoes” of the divine that lead us to it. However, in the early fourteenth century, attitudes to concrete sensory/aesthetic experience begin to shift and theologians adopted the model of concrete phenomenal observation of sensory experience. Concrete sensory-aesthetic experience is endowed with a much higher value: seeing something is not the same as imagining it, recalling it, or thinking about it. This new approach results in some heterodox views about our phenomenal experience and debates about the exact status of “intentional” (phenomenal) appearance. These debates lead to profound observations about the nature of aesthetic-sensory experience of art objects and a re-evaluation of the status of the artistic image, which is now seen as much more than the platonic “copy of a copy”. In other words, starting with the fourteenth century, theologians start to pay attention to concrete aesthetic (sensory) experience and use their observations to make conclusions about various cognitive and perceptual issues that could be relevant to a discussion of the divine. That is, quite separately from theoretical theological observations, art and aesthetic experience now provide independent approaches to the divine or spiritual via the experience of aesthetic wonder as a starting point. It is now our concrete experience of sensory and aesthetic objects that starts the train of thought, at times leading to some unorthodox conclusions that contradict the doctrine (such as the skeptical point of view). The intellectual shift in treating sensory and artistic objects in the fourteenth century invites some parallels with the current discussions of the experience of aesthetic wonder in “post-secular” thought. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Bridging Activity of Multiracial Congregations
Religions 2019, 10(3), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030204
Received: 24 December 2018 / Revised: 13 March 2019 / Accepted: 14 March 2019 / Published: 18 March 2019
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Abstract
The growing diversity of U.S. communities has led scholars to explore how racial/ethnic diversity effects social capital, civic engagement, and social trust. Less is known about the relationship between diversity and the work of community-based organizations (CBOs). In this study, we examine how [...] Read more.
The growing diversity of U.S. communities has led scholars to explore how racial/ethnic diversity effects social capital, civic engagement, and social trust. Less is known about the relationship between diversity and the work of community-based organizations (CBOs). In this study, we examine how the racial/ethnic composition of one ubiquitous type of CBO, religious congregations, is related to measures of organizational bridging social capital. Analyzing data collected through a census of congregations in one Midwestern county, we explore the relationship between racial/ethnic diversity and the bridging activity of religious congregations. We find that multiracial congregations are more likely to be involved with externally focused service programs, tend to support a larger number of programs, and report more interorganizational collaborators than other congregations. Our findings suggest that multiracial congregations can provide a valuable resource for increasingly diverse communities and civil society. Full article
Open AccessArticle Keeping It Real: Decolonizing Christian Inter-Religious Practice as an Exercise in a Practical Theology of the Cross
Religions 2019, 10(3), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030203
Received: 21 February 2019 / Revised: 11 March 2019 / Accepted: 12 March 2019 / Published: 16 March 2019
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Abstract
“What is suffering? What is hope?” These are questions I have asked for years with classes full of students training for Christian ministry. Now, I ask these questions in classes with Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and ‘spiritual but not religious’ students, all in [...] Read more.
“What is suffering? What is hope?” These are questions I have asked for years with classes full of students training for Christian ministry. Now, I ask these questions in classes with Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and ‘spiritual but not religious’ students, all in training to be spiritual care therapists. The institution where I serve is in the process of transitioning from a mono-religious Christian theological College to a centre for multi/inter-religious education. Those of us who teach in the program are disrupted continually by pedagogical challenges that both perplex and energize us. The multi-religious classroom decolonizes spaces long dominated by Christian theological discourse. Course content yields to a fluid and open-ended, interactive process. My “mastery of the field” gives way to an ongoing practice of surrender—a kenotic self-emptying—that usually leaves me shaken in overwhelming awe or angst-ridden questioning. Through a practical theological methodology that begins with lived human experience, this paper shares an autoethnographic account of my experience as a teacher in the multi-religious classroom. It presents key dimensions of the theology of the cross as an interpretive framework and closes by examining how the theology of the cross offers a practical Christian theological reflective process to empower decolonizing pedagogy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theology and Practical Life)
Open AccessArticle Je Suis Charlie or the Fragility of the Republican Sacred: On January 11th, 2015 and Its Afterlives
Religions 2019, 10(3), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030202
Received: 14 January 2019 / Revised: 4 March 2019 / Accepted: 5 March 2019 / Published: 15 March 2019
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Abstract
Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the demonstrations or “public mourning” of January 11th, 2015 were heralded by many as the return of the republican sacred, the re-crystallization of a long dormant people, and the resurrection of French fraternity en vivo. However, [...] Read more.
Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the demonstrations or “public mourning” of January 11th, 2015 were heralded by many as the return of the republican sacred, the re-crystallization of a long dormant people, and the resurrection of French fraternity en vivo. However, in the saturation of these political hagiographies, a series of trenchant critiques and observations quickly sought to deconstruct the meaning and putative symbolic power of January 11th. One was struck by the homogeneity of “the people” and the ostensible absence of Arabo-Muslim voices in the somber effervescence that typified the post-Charlie ambiance. Moments of silence were mocked in the banlieue and the homage rendered to the “blasphemers” was blasphemed itself. The imperative to “be Charlie” emerged less as a totemic index of republican solidarity than a Manichean strategy which exacerbated the generally perceived “fracture française”. The result was not only a calling into question of the legitimacy of January 11th, but also a series of counter-articulations which affirmed inter alia “Je ne suis pas Charlie” or worse “Je suis Coulibaly”. January 11th also divided the French left between those who read the event as the re-enchantment of the republican sacred and the people and “liberal” missives which deemed it a simulacra of solidarity, a racist demonstration comprised of “Catholic Zombies” and “Islamophobes”. This paper examines the cleavages engendered by January 11th and its afterlives which reveal not only the fragility of the Republic as a project, but also the fragility of the political sacred that has historically girded this project. At stake is not simply the question “who is Charlie”, but rather “who are the people” and what form they can or should take in a pluralist republic plunged in the perilous entre-deux between communitarianism and the possibility of a cosmopolitan republicanism. January 11th, far from being a simple demonstration, is a metaphor, a nodal point, and a seismograph of the force and frailness of the republican sacred and its capacity to enthrall, convince, and console. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Politics: New Developments Worldwide)
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Open AccessArticle A Claim Forfeiting Its Own Right. Why Job Got It Wrong—and Why This Matters for the Rationality of Religion
Religions 2019, 10(3), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030201
Received: 7 February 2019 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 12 March 2019 / Published: 15 March 2019
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Abstract
The article aims to uncover a deep ambivalence in the figure of Job, as it is presented in the book of the same title, especially in the latter’s “poetry” or dialogue section. This ambivalence corresponds to and in fact emerges from what appears [...] Read more.
The article aims to uncover a deep ambivalence in the figure of Job, as it is presented in the book of the same title, especially in the latter’s “poetry” or dialogue section. This ambivalence corresponds to and in fact emerges from what appears to be a pragmatic paradox: Job is in the wrong (i.e., guilty) in relation to God, precisely by claiming to be right (i.e., innocent); conversely, he can be and must be considered right, if and to the extent that he honestly renounces the latter claim. Accordingly, he cannot both be right (or wrong) and claim to be right or (or wrong)—a special case of what is observed, within epistemology, as an incompatibility of truth and assertibility conditions. In the present text, this core thesis is developed in four steps: the first introduces and briefly contextualizes the claim; the second tries to demonstrate that it provides at least sufficient means for making narrative sense of the book as a whole and, in particular, the controversy between Job and his friends; a third paragraph tackles the (philosophical and/or theological) presuppositions and implications of the thesis from a Christian standpoint, whereas the conclusion addresses the question of if and how the previous findings bear upon the rationality issue. Here, a final paradox emerges: that which would appear to be most rational from a Christian perspective (the task of sin consciousness) must be deemed humanly impossible to fulfill; considering the latter possible renders the task futile, hence irrational. Full article
Open AccessArticle Ashura in Italy: The Reshaping of Shi’a Rituals
Religions 2019, 10(3), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030200
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 8 March 2019 / Accepted: 13 March 2019 / Published: 15 March 2019
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Abstract
This essay explores the impacts of Italy’s socio-religious tendencies on the Shi’a rituals of Muḥarram and Ṣafar. Ethnography and semi-structured interviews were the main methods adopted for the performance of this research. The implications of commemorating the Karbala tragedy in Italy were studied [...] Read more.
This essay explores the impacts of Italy’s socio-religious tendencies on the Shi’a rituals of Muḥarram and Ṣafar. Ethnography and semi-structured interviews were the main methods adopted for the performance of this research. The implications of commemorating the Karbala tragedy in Italy were studied from four viewpoints. This article demonstrates that the presence of Shi’as in Italy not only exerts an effect on the core meaning of these rituals, namely paying tribute to Ḥusayn’s courageous stand against injustice, but also on the structure of Shi’a communities in terms of gender relations and power hierarchy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam in Europe, European Islam)
Open AccessArticle Interculturalism and Responsive Reflexivity in a Settler Colonial Context
Religions 2019, 10(3), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030199
Received: 4 February 2019 / Revised: 5 March 2019 / Accepted: 12 March 2019 / Published: 15 March 2019
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Abstract
This article explores interculturalism in Australia, a nation marked by the impact of coloniality and deep colonising. Fostering interculturalism—as a form of empathic understanding and being in good relations with difference—across Indigenous and non-Indigenous lived experiences has proven difficult in Australia. This paper [...] Read more.
This article explores interculturalism in Australia, a nation marked by the impact of coloniality and deep colonising. Fostering interculturalism—as a form of empathic understanding and being in good relations with difference—across Indigenous and non-Indigenous lived experiences has proven difficult in Australia. This paper offers a scoping of existing discourse on interculturalism, asking firstly, ‘what is interculturalism’, that is, what is beyond the rhetoric and policy speak? The second commitment is to examine the pressures that stymy the articulation of interculturalism as a broad-based project, and lastly the article strives to highlight possibilities for interculturalism through consideration of empathic understandings of sustainable futures and land security in Australia. Legislative land rights and land activism arranged around solidarity movements for sustainable futures are taken up as the two sites of analysis. In the first instance, a case is made for legislative land rights as a form of coloniality that maintains the centrality of state power, and in the second, land activism, as expressed in the campaigns of Seed, Australia’s first Indigenous youth-led climate network and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, are identified as sites for plurality and as staging grounds for intercultural praxis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interfaith, Intercultural, International)
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