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Religions, Volume 10, Issue 5 (May 2019)

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Open AccessArticle
The Sound of the Unsayable: Jewish Secular Culture in Arnold Schönberg and Aharon Appelfeld
Religions 2019, 10(5), 334; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050334 (registering DOI)
Received: 9 April 2019 / Revised: 9 May 2019 / Accepted: 15 May 2019 / Published: 19 May 2019
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Abstract
This article examines the use of central elements of the Jewish religious repertoire and transcendental realm, such as prophecy or revelation, within the aesthetic secular realm of musical avant-garde and modern Hebrew literature. By focusing on two case studies, I attempt to shed [...] Read more.
This article examines the use of central elements of the Jewish religious repertoire and transcendental realm, such as prophecy or revelation, within the aesthetic secular realm of musical avant-garde and modern Hebrew literature. By focusing on two case studies, I attempt to shed new light on the question of Jewish secular culture. Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951), an Austrian Jewish composer, was born into an assimilated Viennese family and converted to Protestantism before returning to Judaism in the 1930s while escaping to the United States. Aharon Appelfeld (1932–2018), an Israeli Jewish writer, was born in Czernowitz to assimilated German-speaking parents, survived the Holocaust and emigrated to Israel in 1946. My claim is that in their works both composer and author testify to traumatic experiences that avoid verbal representation by: (1) subverting and transgressing conventional aesthetic means and (2) alluding to sacred tropes and theological concepts. In exploring Schoenberg’s opera Moses und Aron and Appelfeld’s Journey into Winter among others, this article shows how the transcendent sphere returns within the musical and poetic avant-garde (musical prose, 12-tone composition, prose poem, non-semantic or semiotic fiction) as a “sound” of old traditions that can only be heard through the voices of a new Jewish culture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jewish Secular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
Religion and Politics in the People’s Republic of China: An Appraisal of Continuing Mistrust and Misunderstanding
Religions 2019, 10(5), 333; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050333 (registering DOI)
Received: 8 March 2019 / Revised: 11 April 2019 / Accepted: 16 May 2019 / Published: 18 May 2019
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Abstract
Western media reports on the relationship between state and religion in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), American media especially often focuses on the anti-religious repression and violence in the Tibetan Autonomous and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regions on the western border of the [...] Read more.
Western media reports on the relationship between state and religion in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), American media especially often focuses on the anti-religious repression and violence in the Tibetan Autonomous and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regions on the western border of the country. These accounts shape a particular understanding of the PRC that fuels mistrust and misunderstanding. This essay seeks to understand elements that contribute to this journalistic orientation first by looking at government documents that outline the legal parameters for the practice of religion for both citizens and foreigners; second, by examining official U.S. oversight and critique of these; and finally, by considering accounts of accommodation and cooperation between the official institutions and religious practitioners and organizations. The PRC documents include two White Papers on official policies and a memorandum on religious charity work, “Provisions” for foreigners and “Regulations” for Chinese citizens. Also included will be critical analyses and commentaries from the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor within the State Department. Finally, accounts of the evangelical Christian Gospel Rehab in Yunnan and various Hui Muslim communities and individuals in Dubai will illustrate the multiple strategies used by the government in handling religious groups. The records suggest that the mistrust and misunderstanding between the two powers grow out of vastly different assumptions, perspectives and interpretations of the situation. They show that the PRC and the U.S. are very far apart in their understanding of religion in mainland China. While the communist state understands itself to be fighting separatists and terrorists in the western border regions in order to maintain security, peace and stability in the country, the Americans see the Chinese as persecuting religious and ethnic minorities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Politics: New Developments Worldwide)
Open AccessArticle
The Fulcrum of Experience in Indian Yoga and Possession Trance
Religions 2019, 10(5), 332; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050332
Received: 29 March 2019 / Revised: 5 May 2019 / Accepted: 6 May 2019 / Published: 17 May 2019
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Abstract
The “inner organ” (antaḥkaraṇa) in the Indian philosophical school called Sāṃkhya is applied in two different experiential contexts: in the act of transcendence according to the path of yoga explored in the Yogasūtras of Patañjali (ca. 350 CE) and in the [...] Read more.
The “inner organ” (antaḥkaraṇa) in the Indian philosophical school called Sāṃkhya is applied in two different experiential contexts: in the act of transcendence according to the path of yoga explored in the Yogasūtras of Patañjali (ca. 350 CE) and in the process of identity shift that occurs in possession by a deity in a broader range of Indian cultural practices. The act of transcendence will be better understood if we look at the antaḥkaraṇa through an emic lens, which is to say as an actual organ that is activated by experiential shifts, rather than as a concept or explanation that is indicative of a collocation of characteristics of the individuating consciousness or merely by reducing it to nonepistemic objective or subjective factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Experience in the Hindu Tradition)
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Open AccessArticle
Rediscovering Old Gaul: Within or Beyond the Nation-State?
Religions 2019, 10(5), 331; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050331
Received: 19 March 2019 / Revised: 22 April 2019 / Accepted: 8 May 2019 / Published: 16 May 2019
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Abstract
Paganism is an umbrella term which, along with Wicca and various eclectic Pagan paths, encompasses European native faiths or, in other words, autochthonous pre-Christian religions. Thus at the intersection of Paganism and indigenous religions the contemporary return of European native faiths arguably constitutes [...] Read more.
Paganism is an umbrella term which, along with Wicca and various eclectic Pagan paths, encompasses European native faiths or, in other words, autochthonous pre-Christian religions. Thus at the intersection of Paganism and indigenous religions the contemporary return of European native faiths arguably constitutes an example of European indigenism on the model of autochthonous peoples’ liberation movements. This paper furthers my previous analysis which addressed the theme of European native faiths and ethnopsychiatry (Ferlat 2014), where I began to explore the idea that European native faiths might offer a route for healing traumas resulting from waves of acculturation which, throughout history, have undermined specific groups in Europe nowadays labelled “ethnocultural”. Such traumas are the object of study in ethnopsychiatry and cross-cultural psychology among people who face the consequences of violent acculturation. Considering the role played by the revitalization of cultures on other continents, I continue here my reflection about the way that European indigeneity and indigenism might be incarnated by European native faiths. I focus in particular on a reconstructionist Druidic group in France, the Druidic Assembly of the Oak and the Boar (ADCS). I introduce the concept of “internal colonialism” as an analytical tool to understand the meaning of one of its rituals which relates to Old Gaul and epitomizes a decolonizing stance. I conclude that the ADCS embodies a specific native project: an internal decolonization and peaceful indigenization process at work within a nation-state. However given a context where internal colonization is not officially recognized, the potential resilience of such a process remains uncertain. Full article
Open AccessEditorial
Religion, Education, Security
Religions 2019, 10(5), 330; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050330
Received: 19 April 2019 / Revised: 7 May 2019 / Accepted: 8 May 2019 / Published: 16 May 2019
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Abstract
On first glance the politicization and securitization of religion may seem remote from education. A second look reveals widespread international initiatives aimed at the uses of education precisely for political and security purposes, notably in the countering of terrorism, violent extremism and ideologies [...] Read more.
On first glance the politicization and securitization of religion may seem remote from education. A second look reveals widespread international initiatives aimed at the uses of education precisely for political and security purposes, notably in the countering of terrorism, violent extremism and ideologies opposed to liberal democratic values. This editorial presents a critical framing on how scholars from a range of interrelated disciplines analyze the interface of religion, education and security. The purpose of this Special Issue is thus critically to engage scholars across religious studies and theology, politics and international relations, security and intelligence studies, to explore through empirical evidence and reasoned argument the role here for religion in education. The volume aims to make some ground-breaking cross-disciplinary theoretical advances and methodological innovations not simply to further debate but to provide the tools for asking new questions and opening new pathways and frameworks for exploring the critical interface of religion, education and security. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to “Religious Experience in the Hindu Tradition”
Religions 2019, 10(5), 329; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050329
Received: 6 May 2019 / Revised: 11 May 2019 / Accepted: 11 May 2019 / Published: 16 May 2019
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Abstract
This special issue of Religions brings together a talented group of international scholars who have studied and written on the Hindu tradition. The topic of religious experience is much debated in the field of Religious Studies, and here we present studies of Hindu [...] Read more.
This special issue of Religions brings together a talented group of international scholars who have studied and written on the Hindu tradition. The topic of religious experience is much debated in the field of Religious Studies, and here we present studies of Hindu religious experience explored from a variety of regions and perspectives. They are intended to show that religious experience has long been an important part of Hinduism, and we consider them to be important and relevant. As a body of scholarship, these articles refine our understanding of the range and variety of religious experience in Hinduism. In addition to their substantive contributions, the authors also show important new directions in the study of the third-largest religion in the world, with over one billion followers. This introduction will discuss some relevant issues in the field of Indology, some problems of language, and the difficulties faced in the study of religious experience. It will also give a brief sketch of the religious experiences described by our authors in some major types of Hinduism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Experience in the Hindu Tradition)
Open AccessArticle
“Charming Sorcerers” or “Soldiers of Satan”? Witchcraft and Magic in the Eyes of Protestant/Calvinist Preachers in Early Modern Hungary
Religions 2019, 10(5), 328; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050328
Received: 13 April 2019 / Revised: 27 April 2019 / Accepted: 28 April 2019 / Published: 16 May 2019
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Abstract
The present study is the translation of Chapter 3 of the book of Ildikó Sz. Kristóf, entitled “Ördögi mesterséget nem cselekedtem.” A boszorkányüldözés társadalmi és kulturális háttere a kora újkori Debrecenben és Bihar vármegyében (“I have not done any diabolic deeds.” The Social [...] Read more.
The present study is the translation of Chapter 3 of the book of Ildikó Sz. Kristóf, entitled “Ördögi mesterséget nem cselekedtem.” A boszorkányüldözés társadalmi és kulturális háttere a kora újkori Debrecenben és Bihar vármegyében (“I have not done any diabolic deeds.” The Social and Cultural Foundation of Witch-Hunting in Early Modern Debrecen and Bihar County) published in Debrecen, Hungary in 1998. The book examined the witch-hunting in Bihar county and its largest city, the headquarters of the Calvinist church in Eastern Hungary between 1575 and 1766. During this period, 217 trials were conducted against 303 accused, and the book explored the social and religious foundations of the accusations. The witch-hunts in Bihar county were of rather small size (1–3 accused per annum) and intensity. A possible explanation for this relative mildness could be provided by a complex consideration of legal, religious, and local social circumstances. Chapter 3, published here in English, discusses Hungarian Calvinist demonology which remained rather sceptical about the concepts of diabolical witchcraft (e.g., the “covenant” or pact with the devil, the witches’ attendance at regular meetings (sabbath), etc.) throughout the early modern era. The author has studied several Calvinist treatises of theology published between the late 16th and the early 18th century by the printing press of Debrecen, those, for example, of Péter Mélius (1562), Tamás Félegyházi (1579), Péter Margitai Láni (1617), János Kecskeméti Alexis (1621), Mátyás Nógrádi (1651), Johannes Mediomontanus (1656), Pál Csehi (1656), István Diószegi Kis (1679; 1681), Gellért Kabai Bodor (1678) and Imre Pápai Páriz (1719). According to her findings, Calvinist demonology, although regarded the wordly interventions of the devil of limited scope (excepting, perhaps, the Puritans of the 1650s/1680s), urged the expurgation of the various forms of everyday magic from urban and village life. The suspicion of witchcraft fell especially on the practitioners of benevolent magic (popular healers/”wise women”, midwives, fortune-tellers, etc.) who were presumed to challenge and offend divine providence. The official religious considerations sometimes seem to have coincided with folk beliefs and explanations of misfortune concerning, among others, the plague epidemic in which witchcraft played an important role. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Witchcraft, Demonology and Magic)
Open AccessArticle
Religious Education and Sacred Study in the Teachings of Rabbi Yitshak Hutner
Religions 2019, 10(5), 327; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050327
Received: 19 April 2019 / Revised: 1 May 2019 / Accepted: 9 May 2019 / Published: 15 May 2019
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Abstract
Rabbi Yitshak Hutner (1906–1980) was a remarkable scholar, an enigmatic religious intellectual and a charismatic teacher. Drawing upon his public discourses and his written letters, I argue that Hutner’s vocabulary—which remained rooted almost entirely in the vocabulary of traditional Talmudism—afforded him a ready [...] Read more.
Rabbi Yitshak Hutner (1906–1980) was a remarkable scholar, an enigmatic religious intellectual and a charismatic teacher. Drawing upon his public discourses and his written letters, I argue that Hutner’s vocabulary—which remained rooted almost entirely in the vocabulary of traditional Talmudism—afforded him a ready garment in which to clothe a syncretic educational theory, which combines Hasidic approaches to spiritual instruction and remakes the traditions of Lithuanian piety and study for his new American audience. The present study interrogates a series of key themes that appear in Hutner’s teachings, all of which pertain to issues of pedagogy and the construction of religious education. The essay advances a historical argument by examining the works of an important and influential modern Jewish thinker, but it is also driven by a constructive question: What does Hutner’s vision of Jewish religious teaching and learning have to contribute to today’s Jewish education, and to the broader world of higher education in North America in particular? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jewish Religious Teaching and Learning)
Open AccessArticle
Angels or Demons? Interactions and Borrowings between Folk Traditions, Religion and Demonology in Early Modern Italian Witchcraft Trials
Religions 2019, 10(5), 326; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050326
Received: 15 April 2019 / Revised: 8 May 2019 / Accepted: 9 May 2019 / Published: 15 May 2019
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Abstract
In 1638 Caterina di Francesco, from the town of Siena (Tuscany), was accused by the Roman Inquisition of invoking the devil through a spell called “the white angel spell” or “the spell of the carafe” (incantesimo della caraffa). She was interrogated, [...] Read more.
In 1638 Caterina di Francesco, from the town of Siena (Tuscany), was accused by the Roman Inquisition of invoking the devil through a spell called “the white angel spell” or “the spell of the carafe” (incantesimo della caraffa). She was interrogated, tortured and kept in and out of prison for nine years. Despite the accusations of the witnesses being focused on her practice of love magic, specifically her ability to bind men to “other” women rather than their wives and to help the disgruntled wives to have their husbands back with the use of a baptised magnet, the Inquisition focused its attention on her practice of the white angel spell, a divination spell to find lost or stolen objects with the help of shadows seen inside the carafe. This was a well-known spell not only among all levels of Italian lay society but also well known to the Inquisition, so much so that the 17th-century Inquisition manual Prattica per Procedere nelle Cause del Sant’Officio lists this spell among the sortilegij qualificati: Those spells presenting serious heretical elements. Using archival sources, this article will examine the effects of borrowed concepts between the theological/elite and folk witchcraft traditions within a specific case-study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Witchcraft, Demonology and Magic)
Open AccessArticle
Are Hospital Chaplains Under Stress in Hong Kong? Preliminary Results from a Pilot Study
Religions 2019, 10(5), 325; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050325
Received: 7 May 2019 / Accepted: 11 May 2019 / Published: 15 May 2019
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Abstract
In Hong Kong, healthcare professionals are under great stress when performing their duties in public hospitals, in which patient beds are usually fully occupied, and the workload is high. Hospital chaplains are members of the healthcare team in a hospital, as well: Are [...] Read more.
In Hong Kong, healthcare professionals are under great stress when performing their duties in public hospitals, in which patient beds are usually fully occupied, and the workload is high. Hospital chaplains are members of the healthcare team in a hospital, as well: Are they also under stress? Furthermore, is there any relationship between religious experience and stress? This study aims to provide some background information about the health status of hospital chaplains, and to explore any relationships between stress and their spiritual experiences. A total of 100 hospital chaplains were invited to participate in this cross-sectional study, and a 60% valid response rate was obtained. Participants completed the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale 21 and the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale. The results showed that most of the hospital chaplains (78.3%) have a normal stress level, and the prevalence of mild to severe symptoms of stress is low (21.7%) when compared with the stress levels of nurses (41.1%) found in another study. However, more anxiety was expressed by younger hospital chaplains; this is common in caring professions, and they should have mentoring and support. All hospital chaplains have a higher level of spiritual experiences, which was not found to be related to stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theology and Practical Life)
Open AccessArticle
The Love of God as a Consistent Jewish Response to Modernity
Religions 2019, 10(5), 324; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050324
Received: 23 December 2018 / Revised: 5 May 2019 / Accepted: 9 May 2019 / Published: 15 May 2019
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Abstract
Discussions of Jewish responses to modernity often focus on what is new or what has adapted or evolved in Judaism in the face of modernity’s challenges. However, contrary to convention, this paper argues that, at least in principle, neither has the challenge nor [...] Read more.
Discussions of Jewish responses to modernity often focus on what is new or what has adapted or evolved in Judaism in the face of modernity’s challenges. However, contrary to convention, this paper argues that, at least in principle, neither has the challenge nor the response changed all that much. Through an examination of several key modern Jewish thinkers, including Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Rosenzweig, and Buber, and by focusing on a traditional Jewish concept and value, the Love of God, this paper claims that the Love of God functions as the orienting principle for much of modern Jewish thought, just as it did throughout the history of Judaism. Upon demonstrating the consistent presence of the concept of the Love of God throughout the Jewish tradition, and especially in much of modern Jewish thought, this paper goes on to briefly reflect on the importance and vitality of the concept of the Love of God for both Judaism and modernity, despite and beyond the commercialization and cheapening of the concept of Love in recent times. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Modern Jewish Thought)
Open AccessArticle
Israelite Festivals: From Cyclical Time Celebrations to Linear Time Commemorations
Religions 2019, 10(5), 323; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050323
Received: 18 January 2019 / Revised: 8 May 2019 / Accepted: 9 May 2019 / Published: 14 May 2019
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Abstract
The Pentateuch and later Jewish tradition associates the key pilgrimage festivals with stories about Israel’s past. Nevertheless, these festivals all began as agricultural or seasonal festivals. Using comparative evidence from the ancient Near East, and looking at the Covenant Collection, the earliest biblical [...] Read more.
The Pentateuch and later Jewish tradition associates the key pilgrimage festivals with stories about Israel’s past. Nevertheless, these festivals all began as agricultural or seasonal festivals. Using comparative evidence from the ancient Near East, and looking at the Covenant Collection, the earliest biblical law collection, through a redaction critical lens, we can uncover the early history of these festivals and even how they developed in stages. A similar process is evident with the Sabbath, which appears to have begun as a moon festival, as per certain biblical references and from comparative evidence, but which eventually developed into the seventh day of rest as part of the institution of the week, and then comes to be associated with the story of God resting after creation. These developments, from celebrating agricultural and lunar cycles to celebrating mnemohistorical events, can be seen as part of two parallel processes: the coalescing of Israelite cultural memory and the institution of the linear calendar as the dominant conception of time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Visions and Revisions of the Hindu Goddess: Sound, Structure, and Artful Ambivalence in the Devī Māhātmya
Religions 2019, 10(5), 322; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050322
Received: 27 February 2019 / Revised: 16 April 2019 / Accepted: 30 April 2019 / Published: 14 May 2019
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Abstract
The Hindu Goddess makes her Brahmanical debut circa 5th century CE in the Sanskrit narrative work Devī Māhātmya, the “Greatness of the Goddess” (henceforth DM). This monumental mythic moment enshrines the first Indic articulation of ultimate divinity as feminine. That she is perennially [...] Read more.
The Hindu Goddess makes her Brahmanical debut circa 5th century CE in the Sanskrit narrative work Devī Māhātmya, the “Greatness of the Goddess” (henceforth DM). This monumental mythic moment enshrines the first Indic articulation of ultimate divinity as feminine. That she is perennially feminine and ever omnipotent, there can be no doubt. But how do we further characterize this feminine face? This study performs a close synchronic examination of the DM to demonstrate the extent to which it encodes an ambivalence on behalf of the Devī (Goddess) between violent wrath and compassionate care. Preserving paradox as only narrative can, the DM dispenses with neither face of the supreme Goddess—yet it posits her benign visage as ultimately supreme. This paper firstly examines the use of sound throughout the DM as expressive of the Devī’s sacrality and virulence alike. While violent sound is something the Devī deploys, sacred sound is something the Devī is. It then proceeds to analyze the second of the four hymns within the DM—the Śakrādi Stuti, occupying Chapter 4—to demonstrate the artful manner in which the hymn encodes the Devi’s ambivalence through its sophisticated design. This paper ultimately suggests that this ambivalence of the Devī finds an earthly analogue in the Indian king. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue On Violence: Voices and Visions from Hindu Goddess Traditions)
Open AccessArticle
Mosques as Gendered Spaces: The Complexity of Women’s Compliance with, And Resistance to, Dominant Gender Norms, And the Importance of Male Allies
Religions 2019, 10(5), 321; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050321
Received: 25 February 2019 / Revised: 1 April 2019 / Accepted: 30 April 2019 / Published: 14 May 2019
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Abstract
Women’s presence and role in contemporary mosques in Western Europe is debated within and outside Muslim communities, but research on this topic is scarce. Applying a feminist lens on religion and gender, this article situates the mosque as a socially constituted space that [...] Read more.
Women’s presence and role in contemporary mosques in Western Europe is debated within and outside Muslim communities, but research on this topic is scarce. Applying a feminist lens on religion and gender, this article situates the mosque as a socially constituted space that both enables and constrains Western European Muslim women’s religious formation, identity-making, participation, belonging, and activism. Informed by qualitative interviews with twenty Muslim women residing in Norway and the United Kingdom, the article argues that women’s reflexive engagement simultaneously expresses compliance with, and challenges to, male power and authority in the mosque. It contends that a complex practice of accommodation and resistance to “traditional” gender norms is rooted in the women’s discursive positioning of “authentic Islam” as gender equal. While men typically inhabit positions of religious and organizational power in mosques, the article also suggests the importance of male allies in women’s struggles for inclusion in the mosque. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“And Lo, As Luke Sets Down for Us”: Dante’s Re-Imagining of the Emmaus Story in Purgatorio XXIX–XXXIII
Religions 2019, 10(5), 320; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050320
Received: 6 March 2019 / Revised: 28 April 2019 / Accepted: 28 April 2019 / Published: 14 May 2019
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Abstract
This essay will suggest that Dante’s journey through the earthly paradise in the Purgatorio is a figural representation of the journey of Cleopas and the unnamed disciple on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. By making several references to the Gospel of [...] Read more.
This essay will suggest that Dante’s journey through the earthly paradise in the Purgatorio is a figural representation of the journey of Cleopas and the unnamed disciple on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. By making several references to the Gospel of Luke, Dante seems to be setting the stage for the reader to understand his own pilgrimage through the Garden of Eden as a retelling of the Emmaus story in the context of the Church Triumphant. Indeed, reading Luke 24 alongside Cantos XXIX–XXXI of the Purgatorio helps students to unpack the complex images of Dante’s experience in light of the themes present in the Emmaus story. For example, the concealment of Beatrice’s face and the gradual unveiling of her beauty mirrors Christ’s gradual revelation of his nature to Cleopas and the unnamed disciple. Cleopas and his companion also walk away from the promise of God revealed in Christ by leaving Jerusalem, just as Dante “took himself” from Beatrice and “set his steps upon an untrue way” (XXX 125, 130). In developing these and other parallels as well as elaborating on their significance for the latter cantos of the Purgatorio, this essay will attempt to establish a pedagogical approach to Books XXIX–XXX that draws on students’ recollections of the familiar Gospel text of Emmaus, which Dante clearly intends (among others) as a resource for appreciating his vision of an essential passage in Christian life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
Open AccessArticle
Starring Dante
Religions 2019, 10(5), 319; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050319
Received: 2 April 2019 / Revised: 26 April 2019 / Accepted: 4 May 2019 / Published: 13 May 2019
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Abstract
This essay offers an example of a guiding thread in my own research on and teaching of Dante’s Commedia. Specifically, I will follow a strand that leads us from Dante’s encounter with the “bella scola” of classical poets in Inferno Canto 4, [...] Read more.
This essay offers an example of a guiding thread in my own research on and teaching of Dante’s Commedia. Specifically, I will follow a strand that leads us from Dante’s encounter with the “bella scola” of classical poets in Inferno Canto 4, through a key scene in the Purgatorio where Dante and his guide Virgil meet the late classical poet Statius, to the remarkable six-canto suite in the Heaven of the Stars, sign of Gemini, in which Dante-poet has Dante-character undergo a series doctrinal tests on the theological virtues. His successful response to the challenges posed by the apostles Peter, James, and Paul doubly authorizes him as poet and as Christian teacher of the highest order. These unique experiences as Dante is successively introduced to and made part of a rising series of elite groups, highlights his double role as humble student and prospective teacher of others. Among the various aims of this essay is to give a sample of a way in which teachers of the Commedia may address the perennial pedagogical problem of how to account for the extraordinary spectacle of a first-person epic that at once expresses deep piety with profound “charitas” (spiritual love) and appears as the absolute height of a self-aggrandizement seemingly inconsistent with Christian humility. Another is to suggest one possible strategy for teaching the Comedy as a whole, and especially the final canticle, the Paradiso, which even Dante himself notoriously thinks is “not for everyone”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
Open AccessArticle
Development and Validation of a Scale for Christian Character Assessment for Young Children1
Religions 2019, 10(5), 318; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050318
Received: 3 April 2019 / Revised: 3 May 2019 / Accepted: 8 May 2019 / Published: 13 May 2019
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Abstract
The emphasis on character education that has emerged from the Nuri national curriculum and the Character Education Act is leading the direction of Korean education. However, the lack of a proper scale of character assessment—especially Christian character for young children—has caused uncertainty in [...] Read more.
The emphasis on character education that has emerged from the Nuri national curriculum and the Character Education Act is leading the direction of Korean education. However, the lack of a proper scale of character assessment—especially Christian character for young children—has caused uncertainty in related studies. This study aims to develop and validate a scale that assesses Christian character for young children. The data was collected from 257 (study 1) and 405 (study 2) Christian children who attend church and kindergarten or day care center. Within 12 factors, 67 questions were developed, which were subsequently refined to 39 questions by seven professors. The Christian character scale for young children was finalized to twenty-four questions through exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis within four factors: piety, self-control/harmony, responsibility/independence, and caring/respect. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
In Defence of Plant Personhood
Religions 2019, 10(5), 317; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050317
Received: 21 March 2019 / Revised: 2 May 2019 / Accepted: 3 May 2019 / Published: 10 May 2019
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Abstract
The philosopher Michael Marder has asserted that animist engagement with plants involves a projection of human purposes and goals leading to veneration. He has also argued that an extension of a categorical concept of personhood underpins my previous work on plant personhood. This [...] Read more.
The philosopher Michael Marder has asserted that animist engagement with plants involves a projection of human purposes and goals leading to veneration. He has also argued that an extension of a categorical concept of personhood underpins my previous work on plant personhood. This paper draws on the growing scholarship of animist traditions following the work of Hallowell to reject Marder’s characterization of a naïve animist approach to plants. It draws on these insights from animist traditions to outline a relational plant personhood, which is fully realized only in grounded, situated relationships of care that seek to enable the flourishing of plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Verdant: Knowing Plants, Planted Relations, Religion in Place)
Open AccessBrief Report
Mental Health among Italian Nichiren Buddhists: Insights from a Cross-Sectional Exploratory Study
Religions 2019, 10(5), 316; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050316
Received: 14 February 2019 / Revised: 25 April 2019 / Accepted: 9 May 2019 / Published: 10 May 2019
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Abstract
Religiosity/spirituality is generally considered as a powerful tool for adjusting and coping with stressors, attributing purposes and meanings (either existential/philosophical, cognitive, or behavioral ones) to daily situations and contexts. While studies generally investigate these effects in Judaism and Christianity believers, there is a [...] Read more.
Religiosity/spirituality is generally considered as a powerful tool for adjusting and coping with stressors, attributing purposes and meanings (either existential/philosophical, cognitive, or behavioral ones) to daily situations and contexts. While studies generally investigate these effects in Judaism and Christianity believers, there is a dearth of data concerning oriental religions. We sampled from Italian Nichiren Buddhists, the most widespread branch of Buddhism in Italy (n = 391). Participants were Buddhists on average since 5 years and self-defined moderate practitioners. Adaptive strategies exhibited higher scores than maladaptive ones. Specifically, the adaptive strategy of active coping positively correlated with self-evaluated degree of being a practicing Buddhist, as well as positive reframing and religion, while maladaptive strategies such as use of substances, venting and behavioral disengagement correlated negatively. Only the subscale of religion correlated significantly and positively with the time from which the participant had become Buddhist, while the use of emotional support correlated negatively. Most participants had a predominantly internal locus of control. External locus of control negatively correlated with time the participant became Buddhist and the self-reported degree of being a practicing Buddhist, whereas internal locus positively correlated only with the latter variable. Furthermore, Buddhist participants exhibited a low psychopathological profile when compared with the normative scores. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Mystery Manifested: Toward a Phenomenology of the Eucharist in Its Liturgical Context
Religions 2019, 10(5), 315; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050315
Received: 15 April 2019 / Revised: 4 May 2019 / Accepted: 6 May 2019 / Published: 9 May 2019
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Abstract
This article explores three contemporary phenomenological analyses of the Eucharist by the French phenomenologists Jean-Luc Marion, Jean-Yves Lacoste, and Emmanuel Falque, arguing that their descriptions are too excessive and individual, failing to take into account the broader liturgical context for eucharistic experience. The [...] Read more.
This article explores three contemporary phenomenological analyses of the Eucharist by the French phenomenologists Jean-Luc Marion, Jean-Yves Lacoste, and Emmanuel Falque, arguing that their descriptions are too excessive and individual, failing to take into account the broader liturgical context for eucharistic experience. The second part of the discussion seeks to develop an alternate phenomenological account of eucharistic experience that takes Eucharist seriously as a corporeal and communal phenomenon that is encountered within a liturgical horizon and which requires a liturgical intentionality to be prepared for and directed toward it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacramental Theology: Theory and Practice from Multiple Perspectives)
Open AccessArticle
A Context-Grounded Approach to Religious Freedom: The Case of Orthodoxy in the Moldovan Republic
Religions 2019, 10(5), 314; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050314
Received: 30 March 2019 / Revised: 24 April 2019 / Accepted: 3 May 2019 / Published: 9 May 2019
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Abstract
This paper explores the relationship between human rights and social analysis within the main historical and theoretical perspectives adopted by social sciences. In particular, religious freedom will be analysed as one of the central issues in the recent engagement of the social sciences [...] Read more.
This paper explores the relationship between human rights and social analysis within the main historical and theoretical perspectives adopted by social sciences. In particular, religious freedom will be analysed as one of the central issues in the recent engagement of the social sciences with human rights. After examining current narratives and mainstream approaches of the social sciences towards the right to religious freedom, this article will then underline the importance of a social epistemology which goes beyond a normative and legal perspective, bridging the gap between the framework of human rights and the social roles of religion in context. Within this framework, religious freedom represents a social construct, whose perception, definition and implementation dynamically evolves according to its influence, at different levels, in the lived dimension of social relations. The second part of the article proposes a context-grounded analysis of religious freedom in the Republic of Moldova. This case study is characterised by the impressive growth of Orthodoxy after the demise of the Soviet Union and by a complex and contradictory political approach towards religious freedom, both as a legal standard and as a concept. Emerging through the analysis of local political narratives and some preliminary ethnographical observations, the social importance of religion will be investigated both as a governmental instrument and as an embodied means of dealing with widespread socio-economic insecurity, creating tensions between religious rootedness and religious freedom. The local debate on religious freedom will then be related to the influence of geopolitical borders, the topic of traditional identity and the religious form of adaptation to the ineffectiveness of the new secular local policies, with orthodox institutions and parishes having new socio-political roles at both a global and local scale. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Coming Home (Ghar Wapsi) and Going Away: Politics and the Mass Conversion Controversy in India
Religions 2019, 10(5), 313; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050313
Received: 4 April 2019 / Revised: 21 April 2019 / Accepted: 1 May 2019 / Published: 9 May 2019
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Abstract
This article addresses two recent socio-religious trends in India: mass conversions to Hinduism (Ghar Wapsi) and mass conversions from Hinduism. Despite officially being a secular nation, organizations allied with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are actively promoting mass conversions to [...] Read more.
This article addresses two recent socio-religious trends in India: mass conversions to Hinduism (Ghar Wapsi) and mass conversions from Hinduism. Despite officially being a secular nation, organizations allied with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are actively promoting mass conversions to Hinduism. Other religions organize mass conversions, usually of Dalits, away from Hinduism and its legacy of caste discrimination. While several states have controversial laws placing restrictions on mass conversions from Hinduism, mass conversions to Hinduism are often seen as being promoted rather than restricted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Politics: New Developments Worldwide)
Open AccessArticle
Islamic Friday Sermon in Italy: Leaders, Adaptations, and Perspectives
Religions 2019, 10(5), 312; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050312
Received: 3 April 2019 / Revised: 21 April 2019 / Accepted: 26 April 2019 / Published: 8 May 2019
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Abstract
The focus of this article is to spotlight the ritual frame of the canonical Friday prayer that is organized weekly around midday in places of Islamic worship in Italy. I verify how the Muslim communities in Italy, as a “cognitive minority”, use different [...] Read more.
The focus of this article is to spotlight the ritual frame of the canonical Friday prayer that is organized weekly around midday in places of Islamic worship in Italy. I verify how the Muslim communities in Italy, as a “cognitive minority”, use different strategies related to the performance of the Friday prayer ritual, and I analyze its continuous reframing. During the preliminary investigation I selected seventeen places of worship located in major cities and provincial towns located in the North, Central and South of Italy including Sicily. I have only considered spaces run by Sunni Arabs because they are the majority of Muslims in Italy. In these places I performed the participant observation from October 2016 to July 2017 collecting empirical data and more than a hundred sermons that I analyzed later. I also relied on interviews with preachers and people in charge of these places. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam in Europe, European Islam)
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Open AccessArticle
Experiencing Becoming: The Initiation Process into Bektashi Tradition
Religions 2019, 10(5), 311; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050311
Received: 26 March 2019 / Revised: 30 April 2019 / Accepted: 5 May 2019 / Published: 8 May 2019
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Abstract
Initiation into the Bektashi Sufi order is formalized as the initiate is led through a complex ritual form replete with symbols of death and rebirth, sacrifice, and integration that are enacted as the ritual is performed and in various ways experienced by the [...] Read more.
Initiation into the Bektashi Sufi order is formalized as the initiate is led through a complex ritual form replete with symbols of death and rebirth, sacrifice, and integration that are enacted as the ritual is performed and in various ways experienced by the initiate. Once having entered and become a part of the order, then, the initiate encounters other cultural forms that reflect back upon the initiation ritual, such as poems that recount and provide commentary on it, contributing to his or her understanding of the experience of initiation as they too are performed in a communal context, and showing that integration into the order is an ongoing process. This paper analyzes the initiation ritual form with respect to the relationship between the cultural symbols presented in it and the experience it is intended to have on the initiate as he or she interacts with them. It further analyzes a particular poem that recounts the initiation ritual while adding impressions of the experiences evoked in it—experiences which meld with the initiate’s own remembered experiences. Finally, it shows how these experiences are reinforced through the communal interaction that transpires as such poems are sung to music in a ritual context. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Curating Violence: Reflecting on Race and Religion in Campaigns for Decolonizing the University in South Africa
Religions 2019, 10(5), 310; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050310
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 22 April 2019 / Accepted: 1 May 2019 / Published: 8 May 2019
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Abstract
During 2015 and 2016, staff and students at university campuses across South Africa embarked on two campaigns for decolonizing higher education, but the efforts were met with various forms of violent repression and rationalization of violence by state and private security services. In [...] Read more.
During 2015 and 2016, staff and students at university campuses across South Africa embarked on two campaigns for decolonizing higher education, but the efforts were met with various forms of violent repression and rationalization of violence by state and private security services. In the face of the securatization of university campuses countrywide, ordinary mediums of teaching and learning proved inadequate for helping students reflect on their social reality, and similarly, public gatherings for socio-political deliberation and commentary became irregular because of the policing and surveillance of student protest action. By reflecting on the curation of three memorials and performances about seemingly racialized violence in this context, this article interrogates the meaning and the relation to the aesthetic, as well as the commentary on the context within which it is produced. Drawing on the work of Mbembe, Fanon, and Spivak as theoretical interlocutors with respect to how I understand violence, this article reflects on how three interdisciplinary curatorial events raise pedagogical challenges and opportunities for critical reflection in a context of repression. It was precisely through this interdisciplinary effort that the black body, violence, and context aligned to produce a public pedagogy on physical and representational violence. The three curatorial moments allowed for meaningful reflection on violence, resistance, religion, and the racialized self that not only drew attention to the artifacts and the performances but deliberately opened possibilities for a kind of public classroom where the discussion, articulation, and critique of violence is possible and productive. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Power, and Resistance: New Ideas for a Divided World)
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Open AccessArticle
Masterpieces, Altarpieces, and Devotional Prints: Close and Distant Encounters with Michelangelo’s Vatican Pietà
Religions 2019, 10(5), 309; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050309
Received: 2 April 2019 / Revised: 29 April 2019 / Accepted: 1 May 2019 / Published: 7 May 2019
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Abstract
Focussing on the response to the Vatican Pietà and perversely using as a point of departure a 1549 remark on Michelangelo as an ‘inventor of filth,’ this article aims to present Michelangelo as an involuntary inventor of devotional images. The article explores hitherto [...] Read more.
Focussing on the response to the Vatican Pietà and perversely using as a point of departure a 1549 remark on Michelangelo as an ‘inventor of filth,’ this article aims to present Michelangelo as an involuntary inventor of devotional images. The article explores hitherto unconsidered aspects of the reception of the Vatican Pietà from the mid-sixteenth into the early seventeenth century. The material includes mediocre anonymous woodcuts, and elaborate engravings and etchings by renowned masters: Giulio Bonasone, Cornelis Cort, Jacques Callot and Lucas Kilian. A complex chain of relationships is traced among various works, some referring directly to the Vatican Pietà, some indirectly, neither designed nor perceived as its reproductions, but conceived as illustrations of the Syriac translation of the New Testament, of Latin and German editions of Peter Canisius’s Little catechism, of the frontispiece of the Règlement et établissement de la Compagnie des Pénitents blancs de la Ville de Nancy—but above all, widespread as single-leaf popular devotional images. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Devotions in Medieval and Early Modern Europe)
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Open AccessArticle
‘Examining Religion’ through Generations of Jain Audiences: The Circulation of the Dharmaparīkṣā
Religions 2019, 10(5), 308; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050308
Received: 28 February 2019 / Revised: 8 April 2019 / Accepted: 28 April 2019 / Published: 7 May 2019
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Abstract
Indian literary traditions, both religious and non-religious, have dealt with literature in a fluid way, repeating and reusing narrative motifs, stories and characters over and over again. In recognition of this, the current paper will focus on one particular textual tradition within Jainism [...] Read more.
Indian literary traditions, both religious and non-religious, have dealt with literature in a fluid way, repeating and reusing narrative motifs, stories and characters over and over again. In recognition of this, the current paper will focus on one particular textual tradition within Jainism of works titled Dharmaparīkṣā and will trace its circulation. This didactic narrative, designed to convince a Jain audience of the correctness of Jainism over other traditions, was first composed in the tenth century in Apabhraṃśa and is best known in its eleventh-century Sanskrit version by the Digambara author Amitagati. Tracing it from a tenth-century context into modernity, across both classical and vernacular languages, will demonstrate the popularity of this narrative genre within Jain circles. The paper will focus on the materiality of manuscripts, looking at language and form, place of preservation, affiliation of the authors and/or scribe, and patronage. Next to highlighting a previously underestimated category of texts, such a historical overview of a particular literary circulation will prove illuminating on broader levels: it will show networks of transmission within the Jain community, illustrate different types of mediation of one literary tradition, and overall, enrich our knowledge of Jain literary culture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jainism Studies)
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Open AccessArticle
The Relationship of Vulnerability to Religiosity in the Adult Jewish Learner
Religions 2019, 10(5), 307; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050307
Received: 22 February 2019 / Revised: 25 April 2019 / Accepted: 29 April 2019 / Published: 7 May 2019
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Abstract
This article examines the role of vulnerability in personal religious transformation. It offers several “working” definitions of the terms and also mines the use of the term through the portrait of three adult Jewish learners who each experienced vulnerability as a result of [...] Read more.
This article examines the role of vulnerability in personal religious transformation. It offers several “working” definitions of the terms and also mines the use of the term through the portrait of three adult Jewish learners who each experienced vulnerability as a result of Jewish text study for different reasons. This sense of vulnerability was either itself a religious experience characterized as a mixture of humility, gratitude, and belonging or catalyzed enhanced study that led to a greater sense of knowledge of and participation within a religious community. Vulnerability is understood by one learner as the insecurity of ignorance, which inspired her to take agency for her learning and compensate for pre-existing gaps. For the second, vulnerability is less about ignorance or openness in an act of study, but the insecurity of the performative aspects of Judaism in the shared space of community. This prompted him to learn more to overcome these uncomfortable feelings. For another, vulnerability represents an existential state of humanity that connects all people. Vulnerability for her is a positive state of openness; she seeks out Jewish experiences of study and prayer where she can exhibit her vulnerability in the presence of others equally willing to share their own moments of joy, doubt, humility, and failure. In each instance, vulnerability created a paradoxical motivation to study—the discomfort of not fitting in or knowing enough that, in turn, gave rise to feelings of enhanced religiosity induced by the study experience. To that end, the paper also explores vulnerability as a generative aspect of transformative learning that leads to enhanced spiritual states. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jewish Religious Teaching and Learning)
Open AccessArticle
Shamanic Sports: Buryat Wrestling, Archery, and Horse Racing
Religions 2019, 10(5), 306; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050306
Received: 28 February 2019 / Revised: 20 April 2019 / Accepted: 22 April 2019 / Published: 7 May 2019
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Abstract
This paper presents the religious aspects of the historical and present forms of the traditional sports competitions of the Buryats—a Mongolian ethnic group settled in Southern Siberia, Northern Mongolia, and North-Eastern China. Both historically and in our time, their traditional sports have been [...] Read more.
This paper presents the religious aspects of the historical and present forms of the traditional sports competitions of the Buryats—a Mongolian ethnic group settled in Southern Siberia, Northern Mongolia, and North-Eastern China. Both historically and in our time, their traditional sports have been closely linked to shamanic rituals. This paper provides insights into the functions of these sports competitions for Buryat shamanic rituals—why they have been, and still are, an inevitable part of these rituals. They are believed to play an important role in these rituals, which aim to trick and/or please the Buryats’ spirits and gods in order to get from them what is needed for survival. The major historical changes in the Buryats’ constructions of their relationship to their imagined spiritual entities and the corresponding changes in their sports competitions are described. The effects of both economic changes—from predominantly hunting to primarily livestock breeding—and of changes in religious beliefs and world views—from shamanism to Buddhism and from Soviet Communist ersatz religion to the post-Soviet revival of shamanism and Buddhism—are described. Special attention is given to the recent revival of these sports’ prominent role for Buddhist and shamanist rituals. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Educating Desire: Conversion and Ascent in Dante’s Purgatorio
Religions 2019, 10(5), 305; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050305
Received: 6 March 2019 / Revised: 19 April 2019 / Accepted: 25 April 2019 / Published: 4 May 2019
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Abstract
In Cantos 17 and 18 of the Purgatorio, Dante’s Virgil lays out a theory of sin, freedom, and moral motivation based on a philosophical anthropology of loving-desire. As the commentary tradition has long recognized, because Dante placed Virgil’s discourse on love at [...] Read more.
In Cantos 17 and 18 of the Purgatorio, Dante’s Virgil lays out a theory of sin, freedom, and moral motivation based on a philosophical anthropology of loving-desire. As the commentary tradition has long recognized, because Dante placed Virgil’s discourse on love at the heart of the Commedia, the poet invites his readers to use love as a hermeneutic key to the text as a whole. When we contextualize Virgil’s discourse within the broader intention of the poem—to move its readers from disordered love to an ordered love of ultimate things—then we find in these central cantos not just a key to the structure and movement of the poem, but also a key to understanding Dante’s pedagogical aim. With his Commedia, Dante invites us to perform the interior transformation which the poem dramatizes in verse and symbol. He does so by awakening in his readers not only a desire for the beauty of his poetic creation, but also a desire for the beauty of the love described therein. In this way, the poem presents a pedagogy of love, in which the reader participates in the very experience of desire and delight enacted in the text. In this article, I offer an analysis of Virgil’s discourse on love in the Purgatorio, arguing for an explicit and necessary connection between loving-desire and true education. I demonstrate that what informs Dante’s pedagogy of love is the notion of love as ascent, a notion we find articulated especially in the Christian Platonism of Augustine. Finally, I conclude by offering a number of figures, passages, and themes from across the Commedia that provide fruitful material for teachers engaged in the task of educating desire. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
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