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Religions, Volume 10, Issue 4 (April 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Numerous poetic and ritual texts from the city of Ugarit reveal the rich pantheon of gods and [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Religion without Belief and Community in Africa
Religions 2019, 10(4), 292; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040292
Received: 13 March 2019 / Revised: 9 April 2019 / Accepted: 20 April 2019 / Published: 25 April 2019
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Abstract
Religion in Africa is in many respects becoming religion without belief and community again, I will argue in this article. Europeans arriving in Africa did not recognize African religion, because Africans did not have the kind of belief and community characteristic of European [...] Read more.
Religion in Africa is in many respects becoming religion without belief and community again, I will argue in this article. Europeans arriving in Africa did not recognize African religion, because Africans did not have the kind of belief and community characteristic of European concepts of religion. Pentecostalization brings back this African concept of religion without worship groups defined by an adherence to a particular picture of the world, and I will show what this means at grassroots level. What matters in this concept of religion is whether something works rather than some implied truth-claims about the world. Instead of forming groups, Neo-Pentecostal ministries are more often organized around the vertical relationship between the man/woman of God and his/her client. The Pentecostalization of Christianity in Africa has led to a form of religion in which beliefs and community are not of central importance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World)
Open AccessArticle
Learning to Read Big Books: Dante, Spenser, Milton
Religions 2019, 10(4), 291; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040291
Received: 6 March 2019 / Revised: 15 April 2019 / Accepted: 18 April 2019 / Published: 25 April 2019
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Abstract
The interpretive challenges posed by dense and lengthy poems such as Dante’s Inferno, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and Milton’s Paradise Lost can prove daunting for the average undergraduate reader whose experience of texts has been circumscribed by pedagogical mandates focused on reading [...] Read more.
The interpretive challenges posed by dense and lengthy poems such as Dante’s Inferno, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and Milton’s Paradise Lost can prove daunting for the average undergraduate reader whose experience of texts has been circumscribed by pedagogical mandates focused on reading for information. While information-retrieval based reading certainly has its place, the experience of reading these longer, more allegorical and symbolic poems can create in the attentive reader a far more valuable kind of learning, understood by Dante and his heirs, all working from Homeric and Virgilian models, as understanding. Each of these long poems pay very close attention to acts of interpretation, foregrounding the experiences of their characters to illustrate the proper way to move from sense, past speculation, to true understanding. Those who heed these lessons, and embrace the experience offered by the poet, find that the daunting task has been outlined as the necessary step to true knowledge rather than mere information. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
Open AccessArticle
The Ancient Samaritans and Greek Culture
Religions 2019, 10(4), 290; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040290
Received: 27 March 2019 / Revised: 18 April 2019 / Accepted: 21 April 2019 / Published: 24 April 2019
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Abstract
After the conquest of the Near East by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, the Samaritans, like all other peoples in the region, fell under the influence of Greek culture. In a gradual process of Hellenization, the Samaritans developed their own variant of [...] Read more.
After the conquest of the Near East by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, the Samaritans, like all other peoples in the region, fell under the influence of Greek culture. In a gradual process of Hellenization, the Samaritans developed their own variant of Hellenism. The extant fragments of Samaritan literature in Greek, as well as quite a number of Greco-Samaritan inscriptions (both in Palestine and the diaspora) testify to the existence of a variegated Samaritan Hellenism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
Open AccessArticle
Something More Than a Monument—The Long-term Sustainability of Rural Historic Temples in China
Religions 2019, 10(4), 289; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040289
Received: 21 February 2019 / Revised: 16 April 2019 / Accepted: 19 April 2019 / Published: 24 April 2019
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Abstract
The southeast part of Shanxi Province in China is a region with the highest concentration of early timber structures in the country, among which a majority are located in rural and semi-rural religious spaces. Social changes regarding rural population, religious demography as well [...] Read more.
The southeast part of Shanxi Province in China is a region with the highest concentration of early timber structures in the country, among which a majority are located in rural and semi-rural religious spaces. Social changes regarding rural population, religious demography as well as the ‘heritagisation’ process of these places of worship have presented unprecedented challenges to their long-term survival. A national campaign, the Southern Project, which lasted from 2005–2015 has facilitated a series of restoration projects in this region, covering 105 national heritage sites with pre-Yuan Dynasty structures, yet their maintenance, management and sustainable functions remain uncertain despite their improved ‘physical’ health. It also raises the question of how these (former) places of worship can be integrated into contemporary society. By analysing the data collected through reviews of the relevant legislative and administrative system and policies, interviews with various stakeholder groups, as well as on-site observations in the case region, this paper aims to identify not only the observable challenges in the long-term sustainability of religious heritage sites, but also the underlying issues situated in China’s heritage management mechanisms and systems behind, in order to pave the way for further discussions of a sustainable way forward. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Space as Cultural Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
What Does It Mean To Be a Badly Behaved Animal? An Answer from the Devadatta Stories of the Pāli Jātakas
Religions 2019, 10(4), 288; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040288
Received: 11 April 2019 / Revised: 17 April 2019 / Accepted: 19 April 2019 / Published: 24 April 2019
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Abstract
The many animals that appear in the Pāli Jātakatthavaṇṇanā often mirror human predicaments, society and language, and this has prompted largely allegorical readings of the stories. In addition, in many cases the animals are identified as past lives of important human characters, potentially [...] Read more.
The many animals that appear in the Pāli Jātakatthavaṇṇanā often mirror human predicaments, society and language, and this has prompted largely allegorical readings of the stories. In addition, in many cases the animals are identified as past lives of important human characters, potentially diminishing their animality further. In particular, the Buddha’s repeated rebirth as a range of virtuous and wise animals tells us plenty about the Buddha, but arguably little about animals. Nonetheless, in this article I argue that the jātakas are able to tell us interesting things about the capabilities of animals. By using stories of another key animal character—namely Devadatta, the Buddha’s nemesis—I explore what might be distinctive about the ability of animals to misbehave. Since Devadatta appears 28 times as an animal and 46 as a human, he allows us to probe whether or not the text’s compilers saw a difference between human and animal capacities for evil. In the process, I raise questions about how we should view animal tales in the Jātakas more broadly, and highlight the productive tension between animals as unfortunate fellow travellers in the cycle of rebirth, and animals as literary devices that shed light on human behaviour. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Listening to the Powerless: Experiences of People with Severe Intellectual Disabilities in an Evangelical Church
Religions 2019, 10(4), 287; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040287
Received: 5 March 2019 / Revised: 16 April 2019 / Accepted: 19 April 2019 / Published: 23 April 2019
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Abstract
The experiences of people with severe intellectual disabilities (SID) in local churches are rarely studied, and their voices are not being heard in the research and religious communities. This study is an attempt to narrow the gap. Through a research method that combined [...] Read more.
The experiences of people with severe intellectual disabilities (SID) in local churches are rarely studied, and their voices are not being heard in the research and religious communities. This study is an attempt to narrow the gap. Through a research method that combined person-centred care and action research, this study looks to explore the experiences of three persons with SID in a Hong Kong evangelical church, and give an account of the cultural and religious forces that have marginalized them. Findings show that it is not merely feasible but also necessary for church caregivers to listen to these powerless individuals if they want to be liberated from destructive stereotypical images of SID, broaden their basis of religious epistemology, and transform their spiritual care practices. However, the study reveals that there are some remaining barriers. It is found that the problematic evangelical style of spirituality has made Christians without disabilities misconceive individuals with SID as either inferior in the matter of faith or even incapable of coming to faith. Three corresponding types of pastoral responses that have kept persons with SID at the margins of the faith community are identified and discussed in this paper. The research results implies that evangelical Christian communities need nothing less than a critical examination of the logic of coming to faith if they want to remove such religious prejudice against persons with SID in future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theology and Practical Life)
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Open AccessArticle
Theorizing Indigenous Student Resistance, Radical Resurgence, and Reclaiming Spiritual Teachings about Tma’áakni (Respect)
Religions 2019, 10(4), 286; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040286
Received: 8 March 2019 / Revised: 3 April 2019 / Accepted: 7 April 2019 / Published: 23 April 2019
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Abstract
Indigenous dispossession and environmental devastation are intertwined outcomes of settler colonialism’s cycle of violence. However, indigenous people continue to draw from cultural and spiritual teachings to resist such forms of violence, and engage in what Leanne Simpson calls “radical resurgence.” Our paper analyzes [...] Read more.
Indigenous dispossession and environmental devastation are intertwined outcomes of settler colonialism’s cycle of violence. However, indigenous people continue to draw from cultural and spiritual teachings to resist such forms of violence, and engage in what Leanne Simpson calls “radical resurgence.” Our paper analyzes the Yakama elders’ teachings about Tma’áakni (Respect), to examine principles and forms of indigenous resistance and resurgence, demonstrated by indigenous students in support of the NoDAPL(No Dakota Access PipeLine) movement. Elders’ teachings, which are rooted in spiritual traditions held by indigenous peoples since time immemorial, are useful for understanding and articulating the importance of the contemporary indigenous student activism. We assert that indigenous people, drawing from intergenerational forms of teaching and learning, provide systemic alternatives that can simultaneously protect the sacred, and heal social and ecological devastations by reclaiming indigenous cultural teachings and traditions that resist settler colonial paradigms. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“Precious Lord”: Black Mother-Loss and the Roots of Modern Gospel
Religions 2019, 10(4), 285; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040285
Received: 13 March 2019 / Revised: 16 April 2019 / Accepted: 17 April 2019 / Published: 23 April 2019
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Abstract
Thomas Dorsey’s 1932 gospel song Take My Hand, Precious Lord is one of modern gospel music’s most canonical works. Although its composition by Dorsey in the wake of his wife’s sudden death in childbirth is a widely known oral history, the cultural implications [...] Read more.
Thomas Dorsey’s 1932 gospel song Take My Hand, Precious Lord is one of modern gospel music’s most canonical works. Although its composition by Dorsey in the wake of his wife’s sudden death in childbirth is a widely known oral history, the cultural implications of a wider history of health care disparities in the US leading to higher rates of black maternal and infant mortality have not been seriously considered. This article studies the history of black maternal and infant mortality in Chicago during the Great Migration as it bears on the mournful sounds of the gospel blues and its gender-inflected beginnings. The history of early gospel, I argue, was profoundly influenced by black women’s sympathetic identification with the experiences of migration and mother-loss Nettie Dorsey’s death represents. While Thomas Dorsey is distinguished as “the father of gospel music,” Nettie Dorsey might be fruitfully imagined as the spectral “mother” of gospel in its mournful expressions of black women’s spiritual consciousness. As such, she stands in for an alternate history of modern gospel musicality, one helping African American religious and musical history see and hear better what Emily Lordi calls “black feminist resonance” in black musical production in the golden age of gospel. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Long Road to an Andean Catholic Clergy: From Solórzano to Pèlach I Feliú
Religions 2019, 10(4), 284; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040284
Received: 8 April 2019 / Revised: 16 April 2019 / Accepted: 17 April 2019 / Published: 23 April 2019
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Abstract
The development of a native clergy in the Andes has long been called for but only recently achieved. Drawing from archival and ethnographic data, this article sets out how intercultural prejudice and discrimination have served to prevent the ordination of native Andeans. In [...] Read more.
The development of a native clergy in the Andes has long been called for but only recently achieved. Drawing from archival and ethnographic data, this article sets out how intercultural prejudice and discrimination have served to prevent the ordination of native Andeans. In the early colonial period, doubts about the authenticity of Andean conversion to Catholicism were rooted in mainstream Spanish skepticism of and disdain for Andean culture; in the modern day, these same prejudices continue, meaning it is only within the last fifty years that a native clergy has developed in the southern Andes, in the Peruvian diocese of Abancay, as the result of the concerted efforts of its second bishop. Today, Abancay boasts its first generation of native clergy, made up entirely of men who were born and raised in the diocese in which they now serve, and which promises a new, more empathetic institutional relationship between what it has historically meant to be Andean and what it has meant to be Catholic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interfaith, Intercultural, International)
Open AccessArticle
The Legal Foundations of Religious Cultural Heritage Protection
Religions 2019, 10(4), 283; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040283
Received: 26 March 2019 / Revised: 16 April 2019 / Accepted: 17 April 2019 / Published: 21 April 2019
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Abstract
It is common knowledge that the process of defining and protecting certain religious elements as invaluable heritage assets, is—more often than not—a complex one. In fact, it is exactly this, rather intricate, process that lends religious cultural heritage its powerful legal dimension, since [...] Read more.
It is common knowledge that the process of defining and protecting certain religious elements as invaluable heritage assets, is—more often than not—a complex one. In fact, it is exactly this, rather intricate, process that lends religious cultural heritage its powerful legal dimension, since the decision as to what and how is deemed worthy of protection and preservation is primarily made by Law. In this light, the present article will briefly examine the legal foundations for the protection of religious cultural heritage at the international level, in accordance with the principle of freedom of religion and the right to culture. Apart from the examination of various pertinent provisions, norms and regulations relating to the protection of religious heritage, crucial cultural themes will be also presented, utilizing a broader interdisciplinary approach of the subject matter. Within this framework, the model of res mixtae is introduced, in view of providing a better understanding of the numerous aspects of religious cultural heritage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Space as Cultural Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
The Buddhist–Medical Interface in Tibet: Black Pill Traditions in Transformation
Religions 2019, 10(4), 282; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040282
Received: 21 March 2019 / Revised: 9 April 2019 / Accepted: 10 April 2019 / Published: 20 April 2019
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Abstract
This paper introduces Tibetan pill traditions and examines two exceptional pill formulas that emerged from an early Buddhist–medical interface in Tibet, but followed different trajectories due to the increased specialization of religious and medical knowledge. “Black pills” are the most revered consecrated healing [...] Read more.
This paper introduces Tibetan pill traditions and examines two exceptional pill formulas that emerged from an early Buddhist–medical interface in Tibet, but followed different trajectories due to the increased specialization of religious and medical knowledge. “Black pills” are the most revered consecrated healing compound of the Karmapas (the incarnate heads of the Karma Kagyü School of Tibetan Buddhism), while the “Cold Compound Black Pill”—a precious pill known as Rinchen Drangjor—is one of Tibetan medicine’s most complex formulas still produced today. Based on both textual research and ethnographic fieldwork in India, I critically explore the principal factors that link these black pill traditions. I argue that parallels in the use of potent substances and their processing offer examples of how strongly entangled medical and religious approaches are with respect to healing practices that include blessings, protection, spiritual support, and medical treatment. My findings reveal that although there are distinct areas of medical and religious specialized practices in the black pill traditions, consecrated multi-compounds are added to both types of black pills to enhance potency and ensure the continuation of lineage affiliations to certain Buddhist schools. I also show how political and sectarian conflicts within certain Buddhist schools may affect some of these rare pill practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Medicine in India, Tibet, and Mongolia)
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Open AccessArticle
The Politics of Sex Abuse in Sacred Hierarchies: A Comparative Study of the Catholic Church and the Military in the United States
Religions 2019, 10(4), 281; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040281
Received: 28 February 2019 / Revised: 29 March 2019 / Accepted: 10 April 2019 / Published: 20 April 2019
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Abstract
The paper explores similarities in patterns of abuse and in patterns of how the known abuse cases are handled by the Catholic church and the U.S. military and develops preliminary explanations of why. The paper considers how the two organizations deal with external [...] Read more.
The paper explores similarities in patterns of abuse and in patterns of how the known abuse cases are handled by the Catholic church and the U.S. military and develops preliminary explanations of why. The paper considers how the two organizations deal with external efforts by civil authorities at oversight and prosecution, and the extent to which they invoke their sacred status authority to evade responsibility and civilian oversight. The paper finds that the handling of sex abuse in each organization has been affected partly by the institutions seeing themselves as sacred, as something apart from the secular state, beholden to alternative authorities. The paper highlights the fact that child sex abuse by religious officials and sexual assault of soldiers by fellow soldiers and officers constitute profound challenges for democracy in the US and elsewhere, as the institutions claim and may be accorded separate and privileged status, beyond the reach of democratic laws and procedures. It is a warning about the costs of public deference to other institutions. The study utilizes documentation of Catholic church clergy child sex abuse cases in the US, and documentation of sex abuse cases in the US military. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“Such Fictitious Evil Spirits”: Adriaan Koerbagh’s Rejection of Biblical Demons and Demonic Possession in A Light Shining in Dark Places (1668)
Religions 2019, 10(4), 280; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040280
Received: 13 March 2019 / Revised: 11 April 2019 / Accepted: 15 April 2019 / Published: 19 April 2019
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Abstract
This paper traces Adriaan Koerbagh’s interpretation of biblical devils and scriptural instances of demonic possession in his 1668 Een Ligt Schijnende in Duystere Plaatsen (A light shining in dark places). Koerbagh’s book is a radical exponent of the early Dutch Enlightenment, [...] Read more.
This paper traces Adriaan Koerbagh’s interpretation of biblical devils and scriptural instances of demonic possession in his 1668 Een Ligt Schijnende in Duystere Plaatsen (A light shining in dark places). Koerbagh’s book is a radical exponent of the early Dutch Enlightenment, and its views on demonology are of importance if we want to assess the extent to which traditional scholastic pneumatology was challenged in the second half of the XVIIth century. This paper will also address Thomas Hobbes’ positions regarding demons and demonic possession in Leviathan (1651), given that Hobbes’ interpretations were fundamental to Koerbagh’s own positions. We will focus on the Hobbesian exegetical strategies of etymology, naturalization, and metaphorization, which helped Koerbagh to point at diseases, evil thoughts, figures of speech, or human enemies as plausible explanations for scriptural passages concerning devils and possession. But we will also see that Koerbagh’s Cartesian definition of spirits led him to a more radical stance than that of Hobbes: demons do not exist at all. This paper will end by claiming that Koerbagh’s interpretation of Christian demonology both as a remnant of Pagan and Jewish superstitions, and a knowledge indifferent to salvation—themselves Hobbesian principles—went hand in hand with his attempt to secularize the biblical text. Thus, the devil, once a part of the sacred truth, could now be seen as a fragment of a human cultural heritage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Witchcraft, Demonology and Magic)
Open AccessArticle
Partaking of Life: Buddhism, Meat-Eating, and Sacrificial Discourses of Gratitude in Contemporary Japan
Religions 2019, 10(4), 279; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040279
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 6 April 2019 / Accepted: 15 April 2019 / Published: 18 April 2019
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Abstract
In contemporary Japan, a Buddhist discourse has emerged that links life and food and centers on gratitude. While the connection between animals and gratitude has a long history in Buddhism, here the meaning of repaying a debt of gratitude has shifted from an [...] Read more.
In contemporary Japan, a Buddhist discourse has emerged that links life and food and centers on gratitude. While the connection between animals and gratitude has a long history in Buddhism, here the meaning of repaying a debt of gratitude has shifted from an emphasis on liberating animals to consuming them with gratitude, thereby replacing anti-meat-eating arguments with a sacrificial rationale. This rationale is also apparent in Partaking of Life, a children’s book written by a Jōdo Shin Buddhist adherent, which has found a receptive audience in Jōdo Shin circles, including the voice-acting troupe Team Ichibanboshi. This article provides a close reading of Partaking of Life: The Day That Little Mii Becomes Meat, followed by historical contexts for Buddhist vegetarianism and discrimination against professions that rely on killing animals, particularly as these themes pertain to Jōdo Shin Buddhism. The essay ends on an analysis of Team Ichibanboshi’s sermon on Partaking of Life. Full article
Open AccessArticle
New Spirituality in Japan and Its Place in the Teaching of Moral Education
Religions 2019, 10(4), 278; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040278
Received: 26 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 April 2019 / Published: 17 April 2019
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Abstract
This paper begins by examining so-called “spirituality movements and/or culture” in Japanese society today. It then focuses on research into spirituality as it relates to Japanese education, and specifically moral education, where, for example, our connectedness to the sublime and lofty is one [...] Read more.
This paper begins by examining so-called “spirituality movements and/or culture” in Japanese society today. It then focuses on research into spirituality as it relates to Japanese education, and specifically moral education, where, for example, our connectedness to the sublime and lofty is one of the four themes of the new moral education classes introduced into Japanese elementary schools in 2018. It is far from easy, however, to teach such a subject, since Japanese moral education is required to keep its distance from popular spirituality as well as from the institutionalized spirituality of organized religions. Furthermore, the conventional knowledge that underpins modern Japanese moral education struggles to deal with spirituality and the vast range of human existence, including our search for the purpose and significance of life. Accordingly, this paper will examine current work on such issues and attempt to outline the future role that scientific and academic approaches to religion and spirituality might play in moral education in Japan, especially from the viewpoint of human connectedness to nature and the sublime. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Spirituality in Contemporary Japan)
Open AccessArticle
Fasad, Hijra and Warlike Diaspora” from the Geographic Boundaries of Early Islam to a New Dar al-Hikma: Europe
Religions 2019, 10(4), 277; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040277
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 25 March 2019 / Accepted: 8 April 2019 / Published: 17 April 2019
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Abstract
This paper aims to emphasize the influence that “Classic” Islamic Thought had on the contemporary European-Islamic one regarding the conceptualization and action of emigration (hijra-hajara) through the geographical and juridical redefinition of the Old Continent as a new “house” [...] Read more.
This paper aims to emphasize the influence that “Classic” Islamic Thought had on the contemporary European-Islamic one regarding the conceptualization and action of emigration (hijra-hajara) through the geographical and juridical redefinition of the Old Continent as a new “house” (dar/bayt) in hosting a Muslim population. The analysis should also be considered in relation to the sectarian and violent phase which followed the peaceful one of the so-called “Arab Spring” and the current deflagration of part of the Middle East. During the proto-Islamic historical phase, the term muhajirun was adopted to define those who made the hijra, referring to the prophet Muhammad’s followers in 622. They aimed to live according to religious behaviour and started to be different from their polytheist society of origin; the same term was also used to categorize those who partially populated the new conquered territories in the following decades: Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Iranian plateau, etc., and who decided to take root and become in-urbanized. The contemporary juridical, political, and religious perception, before and after 2011, started to consider a different “emigration” perspective, which, not so differently from the original hijra conceptualization, is rooted in abandoning a land of warlike and sectarian violence to reach a geography where individual religious affiliation can be safeguarded. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Muslims Diaspora in Western Countries)
Open AccessArticle
Impact of Religious Self-Identification and Church Attendance on Social Distance toward Muslims
Religions 2019, 10(4), 276; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040276
Received: 19 March 2019 / Revised: 3 April 2019 / Accepted: 4 April 2019 / Published: 17 April 2019
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Abstract
In the context of our work, we want to point out how religion has multiple social functions and as such, under certain circumstances, can serve as a fertile soil for distance and closeness. The aim of this study was to explore the impact [...] Read more.
In the context of our work, we want to point out how religion has multiple social functions and as such, under certain circumstances, can serve as a fertile soil for distance and closeness. The aim of this study was to explore the impact of religious self-identification and church attendance on social distance toward Muslims. We applied a questionnaire to students of the University of Split, the city which is geographically in vicinity of the complex of ethnic and religious context of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The results showed that religious self-identification and church attendance significantly influence the level of social distance toward Muslims. Believers showed a significantly higher level of social distance, in comparison to respondents who belong but not believe, and others. Respondents who attend church daily or once a week have also a higher level of social distance in comparison to respondents who attend church monthly or rarely and those who never attend church. We have tried to explain the reasons for such research findings, relying on various national, cultural, religious and psychological factors that have been present in the last twenty years after the war in this region. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Beyond Belief: Chance, Authorship, and the Limits of Comprehension in Gerhard Richter’s Strip
Religions 2019, 10(4), 275; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040275
Received: 2 February 2019 / Revised: 9 April 2019 / Accepted: 12 April 2019 / Published: 17 April 2019
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Abstract
For nearly six decades, Gerhard Richter has challenged the conceptual and visual limits of contemporary painting. His 2011 work Strip overloads the viewer’s visual perception. Richter created this unique digital print using a process that deliberately employs chance to circumvent the artist’s authorship. [...] Read more.
For nearly six decades, Gerhard Richter has challenged the conceptual and visual limits of contemporary painting. His 2011 work Strip overloads the viewer’s visual perception. Richter created this unique digital print using a process that deliberately employs chance to circumvent the artist’s authorship. This article examines the history of Richter’s skepticism of creative authority and the strategies he has developed to realize an art that exceeds the limits of human skill and imagination. Although he remains an atheist, Richter frames his pursuit of an incomprehensible art in terms of a longing for a belief in God. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Measuring the Social Perception of Religious Freedom: A Sociological Perspective
Religions 2019, 10(4), 274; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040274
Received: 27 March 2019 / Accepted: 12 April 2019 / Published: 16 April 2019
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Abstract
This article discusses the construction of the measuring instrument for the study of social perception of religious freedom (SPRF). We provide an overview of existing definitions of religious freedom from a social-science perspective, which ground the empirical research of religious freedom and describe [...] Read more.
This article discusses the construction of the measuring instrument for the study of social perception of religious freedom (SPRF). We provide an overview of existing definitions of religious freedom from a social-science perspective, which ground the empirical research of religious freedom and describe the conceptualization of SPRF. We focus on the operationalization model and introduce the operational variables for the SPRF research, also emphasizing the political, religious, and human rights contexts of independent variables. Finally, the results of exploratory factor analysis that allow to construct the balanced model of SPRF based on statistically weighted factors and scales are presented. The theoretical and statistically tested instrument is discussed as a result of this analysis. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Kālavañcana in the Konkan: How a Vajrayāna Haṭhayoga Tradition Cheated Buddhism’s Death in India
Religions 2019, 10(4), 273; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040273
Received: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 12 March 2019 / Published: 16 April 2019
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Abstract
In recent decades the relationship between tantric traditions of Buddhism and Śaivism has been the subject of sustained scholarly enquiry. This article looks at a specific aspect of this relationship, that between Buddhist and Śaiva traditions of practitioners of physical yoga, which came [...] Read more.
In recent decades the relationship between tantric traditions of Buddhism and Śaivism has been the subject of sustained scholarly enquiry. This article looks at a specific aspect of this relationship, that between Buddhist and Śaiva traditions of practitioners of physical yoga, which came to be categorised in Sanskrit texts as haṭhayoga. Taking as its starting point the recent identification as Buddhist of the c.11th-century Amṛtasiddhi, which is the earliest text to teach any of the methods of haṭhayoga and whose teachings are found in many subsequent non-Buddhist works, the article draws on a range of textual and material sources to identify the Konkan site of Kadri as a key location for the transition from Buddhist to Nāth Śaiva haṭhayoga traditions, and proposes that this transition may provide a model for how Buddhist teachings survived elsewhere in India after Buddhism’s demise there as a formal religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Society for Tantric Studies Proceedings (2016))
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Open AccessArticle
On the Origin and Conceptual Development of ‘Essence-Function’ (ti-yong)
Religions 2019, 10(4), 272; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040272
Received: 12 March 2019 / Revised: 4 April 2019 / Accepted: 11 April 2019 / Published: 16 April 2019
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Abstract
‘Essence-function’ (ti-yong 體用), also called ‘substance-function,’ has been a constant topic of debate in monastic and academic communities in China. One group of scholars insists that the concept is derived from the Confucian tradition, while the other maintains that it originates with [...] Read more.
‘Essence-function’ (ti-yong 體用), also called ‘substance-function,’ has been a constant topic of debate in monastic and academic communities in China. One group of scholars insists that the concept is derived from the Confucian tradition, while the other maintains that it originates with the Buddhist tradition. These opposing opinions are not merely the arguments of antiquity, but have persisted to our present time. This paper investigates the concept of ‘essence-function,’ focusing on its origin and conceptual development in the Buddhist and the Confucian traditions. This concept has become a basic framework of Chinese religions. Its root appears already in ancient Confucian and Daoist works such as the Xunzi and the Zhouyi cantong qi. It is, however, through the influence of Buddhism that ‘essence’ and ‘function’ became a paradigm used as an exegetical, hermeneutical and syncretic tool for interpreting Chinese philosophical works. This dual concept played a central role not only in the assimilation of Indian Buddhism in China during its earlier phases but also in the formation of Neo-Confucianism in medieval times. This paper shows that the paradigm constituted by ‘essence’ and ‘function’ resulted not from the doctrinal conflicts between Confucianism and Buddhism but from the interactions between them. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Set Thine House in Order: Black Feminism and the Sermon as Sonic Art in The Amen Corner
Religions 2019, 10(4), 271; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040271
Received: 12 March 2019 / Revised: 10 April 2019 / Accepted: 11 April 2019 / Published: 16 April 2019
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Abstract
In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. DuBois discusses the historical and cultural beginnings of the black preacher as “the most unique personality developed on American soil.” He writes, “[the black preacher] found his functions as the healer of the sick, the [...] Read more.
In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. DuBois discusses the historical and cultural beginnings of the black preacher as “the most unique personality developed on American soil.” He writes, “[the black preacher] found his functions as the healer of the sick, the interpreter of the Unknown, the comforter of the sorrowing, the supernatural avenger of wrong…Thus as bard, physician, judge, and priest within the narrow limits allowed by the slave system rose the Negro preacher.” Far from being a monolith, the preacher figure embodies many complexities and variances on how the preached Word can be delivered. This begs the question, in what ways can we reimagine DuBois’s black preacher figure in his words, “the most unique personality developed on American soil,” as a black woman? What remains to be seen in scholarship of the mid-twentieth century is an articulation of the black woman preacher in African American literature. By reimagining and refiguring a response to DuBois’s assertion above, how is the role of the black woman preacher and impact of her sermons portrayed in African American literature? Using the art of the sermon, the intersection of music, and James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner as a central text, this article examines the black woman preacher in character and African American women’s spirituality in twentieth century literature. I argue that the way in which Margaret Alexander, as a black woman preacher in the text, creates sermonic spaces of healing and restoration (exegetically and eschatologically) for herself and others outside of the church becomes a new mode of social and cultural resistance. This article works to re-envision the black woman and reposition her in the center of religious discourse on our way to unearthing the modes of transfiguration black women preachers evoke in and out of the pulpit. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Fighting for What? Couples’ Communication, Parenting and Social Activism: The Case Study of a “Christian-Muslim” Families’ Association in Brussels (Belgium)
Religions 2019, 10(4), 270; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040270
Received: 2 March 2019 / Revised: 3 April 2019 / Accepted: 8 April 2019 / Published: 15 April 2019
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Abstract
Mixed families have historically been considered to be a direct consequence of a process of social and cultural integration of migrants within the host society, although this link has recently been problematized by scholars. By focusing on the case study of an association [...] Read more.
Mixed families have historically been considered to be a direct consequence of a process of social and cultural integration of migrants within the host society, although this link has recently been problematized by scholars. By focusing on the case study of an association of “Christian-Muslim” families in Belgium, this article offers a better understanding of the social consequences of mixedness. The article seeks to shed light on the private and public life of the couples who are members of this association by answering the following research questions: Why do couples turn to this association? At what stages of their lives? What is the social role that the association aims to play in society? Using partners’ life stories and ethnographic observation gathered during the association’s meetings, the findings demonstrate how this association plays an important role at different levels and at different stages of a family’s life. The analysis will highlight that: (1) there is a specific aim to help new couples to face administrative, religious and cultural “obstacles” they encounter during the first period of their relationships, and (2) special meetings to discuss the challenge of parenting are at the core of the association’s activities. The “problem” of transmission requires of the couple further negotiations to find a way to balance their respective cultural backgrounds. These negotiations have to take into account the power misbalance within the Belgian hegemonic context. (3) The social activism of this association is an important aspect of its aims and scope. Some of the couples are active in countering a dominant stereotypical representation of mixed couples. They organize meetings and events to sensitize public opinion on interreligious dialogue, migration issues and the fight against racism. In this way, the association proposes itself as a new peculiar agent of social change in the public sphere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Muslims Diaspora in Western Countries)
Open AccessArticle
An Understanding of Religious Doing: A Photovoice Study
Religions 2019, 10(4), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040269
Received: 28 February 2019 / Revised: 27 March 2019 / Accepted: 28 March 2019 / Published: 15 April 2019
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Abstract
The ability to participate in everyday activities that hold meaning and value is a determinant of health and wellbeing. Occupational therapists work with people when health and social barriers limit this valued participation. However a challenge persists in including religious practice or ‘doing’ [...] Read more.
The ability to participate in everyday activities that hold meaning and value is a determinant of health and wellbeing. Occupational therapists work with people when health and social barriers limit this valued participation. However a challenge persists in including religious practice or ‘doing’ within therapy, with many occupational therapists feeling ill-equipped and reluctant to address religious doing. The study reported here examines religious doing within the lives of participants from a number of faith traditions. A photovoice method is used, with participants discussing photographs that they have taken to describe their religious doing. Data are analyzed using a phenomenological reflective lifeworld approach. Findings are grouped into six themes and are explored using both verbatim quotes from transcripts and some of the photographs taken by participants. A reflective description of the core aspects of participants’ practical religious doing is constructed from the data, with the intention of providing occupational therapists with a basis from which to begin to consider practical religious doing within the lives of their clients. It is proposed that occupational therapists do not need an in-depth knowledge of theology and doctrine but rather an understanding of key and familiar occupational principles such as person-centred habits and routines, and community connectedness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theology and Practical Life)
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Deity Citadels: Sacred Sites of Bio-Cultural Resistance and Resilience in Bhutan
Religions 2019, 10(4), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040268
Received: 7 March 2019 / Revised: 7 April 2019 / Accepted: 9 April 2019 / Published: 15 April 2019
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Abstract
Consistent with the pan-Himalayan tendency to see the landscape as lively and animated, protector deities and local spirits are perceived to inhabit various features of the landscape in Bhutan, causing these places to be treated with reverence and respect. Local spiritual beliefs are [...] Read more.
Consistent with the pan-Himalayan tendency to see the landscape as lively and animated, protector deities and local spirits are perceived to inhabit various features of the landscape in Bhutan, causing these places to be treated with reverence and respect. Local spiritual beliefs are prized as central to the cultural identity of the Kingdom, making their way into government planning documents, town planning negotiations, and the 2008 Constitution. This elevation of local spiritual belief has been central to the maintenance and preservation of Bhutanese culture in its encounter with globally hegemonic social, economic, and political norms. Spirits and deities are believed to be the original owners of the land predating the introduction of Buddhism from Tibet. According to terma texts—spiritual treasures hidden by great Buddhist teachers to be discovered later—the initial introduction of Buddhism into Bhutan occurred in the seventh century. At that time, the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo, the 32nd king of the Yarlung dynasty, built two temples in western and central parts of Bhutan as part of a strategy to pin down a demoness who was ravaging the Himalaya. About a century after the construction of the temples, Padmasambhava, known throughout the Himalayas as Guru Rimpoche, or “Precious Teacher,” arrived in Bhutan, subjugated eight classes of local spirits and made them sworn protectors of the Dharma. In this way, local deities and spirits became incorporated into Bhutan’s Vajrayana Buddhism to the extent that images of them are found at Buddhist temples and monasteries. Vajrayana Buddhism and local deities and spirits twine together in Bhutan to shape a cosmology that recognizes a spectrum of sentient beings, only some of whom are visible. The presence of deities and spirits informs local land use. Deity abodes or “citadels” (Dz.: pho brang) are restricted from human use. The presence of a deity citadel is sufficient in some locales to cause the diversion or reconsideration of human construction and resource use. By grounding spiritual beliefs in specific sites of the landscape, the citadels of deities sanctify the landscape, becoming nodes of resistance and resilience that support the Bhutanese in inhabiting their own internally-consistent cosmology, even as the pressures of global integration seek to impose hegemonic Western norms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Space and Place)
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Open AccessArticle
Spiritual Eroticism and Real Good Loving in Tina McElroy Ansa’s The Hand I Fan With
Religions 2019, 10(4), 267; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040267
Received: 3 April 2019 / Accepted: 9 April 2019 / Published: 15 April 2019
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Abstract
By situating herself in the historical dialogue about Christianity, women, and sexuality, the author examines what many may consider an oxymoron—spiritual eroticism. The essay provides a definition of spiritual eroticism, one which takes it beyond intense sexual encounters but instead grounds the idea [...] Read more.
By situating herself in the historical dialogue about Christianity, women, and sexuality, the author examines what many may consider an oxymoron—spiritual eroticism. The essay provides a definition of spiritual eroticism, one which takes it beyond intense sexual encounters but instead grounds the idea in the story of Oshun, the African deity of beauty, sensuality, and fertility. Spiritual eroticism is explored in Tina McElroy Ansa’s The Hand I Fan With. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Sad Paradise: Jack Kerouac’s Nostalgic Buddhism
Religions 2019, 10(4), 266; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040266
Received: 15 February 2019 / Revised: 5 April 2019 / Accepted: 10 April 2019 / Published: 13 April 2019
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Abstract
Jack Kerouac’s study of Buddhism started in earnest in 1953 and is traditionally believed to have ended in 1958. This paper considers the relationship between Kerouac’s Buddhist practice and his multi-layered nostalgia. Based on a close reading of his unpublished diaries from the [...] Read more.
Jack Kerouac’s study of Buddhism started in earnest in 1953 and is traditionally believed to have ended in 1958. This paper considers the relationship between Kerouac’s Buddhist practice and his multi-layered nostalgia. Based on a close reading of his unpublished diaries from the mid-1950s through mid-1960s, I argue that Buddhism was a means of coping with his suffering and spiritual uncertainty. Kerouac’s nostalgic Buddhism was a product of orientalist interpretations of the religion that allowed him to replace his idealized version of his past with an idealized form of Buddhism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhism in the United States and Canada)
Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to the Special Issue of Religions—“Religion and Family Life”
Religions 2019, 10(4), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040265
Received: 3 April 2019 / Accepted: 10 April 2019 / Published: 13 April 2019
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Abstract
Family and religion are inherently intertwined social institutions [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Family Life) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Faith and Forgetfulness: Homo Religiosus, Jean-Louis Chrétien, and Heidegger
Religions 2019, 10(4), 264; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040264
Received: 8 February 2019 / Revised: 29 March 2019 / Accepted: 8 April 2019 / Published: 12 April 2019
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Abstract
Religion often is conceived as the sine qua non of the human, thus imbedding religious activity implicitly even within our cosmopolitical globalization processes and secular political concepts. This depiction of the human as ever-religious raises a host of concerns: Does it justify that [...] Read more.
Religion often is conceived as the sine qua non of the human, thus imbedding religious activity implicitly even within our cosmopolitical globalization processes and secular political concepts. This depiction of the human as ever-religious raises a host of concerns: Does it justify that we can believe ourselves to hold a religious identity without any existential choice or faith? Would it entail the presumption of God’s existence, thus possibly leading to God’s becoming a banal Faktum that inhibits the subject from being able to disavow God or not believe? And finally, how is it possible to relate authentically/existentially with our religious life without disregarding this quality of religion as always already operative? In order to provide more specificity to this latter question in particular, this paper focuses on an essential aspect of homo religiosus: faith. Focusing principally upon Heidegger and Jean-Louis Chrétien, this paper develops three ways “forgetfulness” is indispensable to faith; or in another sense, how faith itself also operates in, and is acheived through implicit ways. Indeed, if forgetting is essential to faith, and faith is essential to homo religiosus, then “forgetting” also to some degree is essential to religious life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World)
Open AccessArticle
“Are You Sure, Sweetheart, That You Want to Be Well?”: The Politics of Mental Health and Long-Suffering in Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters
Religions 2019, 10(4), 263; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040263
Received: 14 February 2019 / Revised: 6 April 2019 / Accepted: 9 April 2019 / Published: 12 April 2019
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Abstract
In analyzing the woman-centered communal healing ceremony in Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters, this article considers how these types of womb-like spaces allow female protagonists to access ancestral and spiritual histories that assist them in navigating physical illnesses and mental health [...] Read more.
In analyzing the woman-centered communal healing ceremony in Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters, this article considers how these types of womb-like spaces allow female protagonists to access ancestral and spiritual histories that assist them in navigating physical illnesses and mental health crises. It employs Bell Hooks’ Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery alongside Arthur Kleinman’s definition of illness as social and transactional to demonstrate that the recognition of illness, and the actualization of wellness, necessitates collective and communal efforts informed by spiritual and cultural modes of knowledge, including alternative healing practices and ancestral mediation. Full article
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