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Religions, Volume 10, Issue 5 (May 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) In the eyes of his contemporaries, Michelangelo was a controversial figure. Deemed by many as ‘a [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
The Lion and the Wisdom—The Multiple Meanings of the Lion as One of the Keys for Deciphering Vittore Carpaccio’s Meditation on the Passion
Religions 2019, 10(5), 344; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050344 - 27 May 2019
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Abstract
The current paper will concentrate on the lion featured in Vittore Carpaccio’s Meditation on the Passion. The multiple meanings of the lion in primary sources will serve as a key towards demonstrating the concept of prophecy, one of the multi-level meanings referring [...] Read more.
The current paper will concentrate on the lion featured in Vittore Carpaccio’s Meditation on the Passion. The multiple meanings of the lion in primary sources will serve as a key towards demonstrating the concept of prophecy, one of the multi-level meanings referring to all three figures featured in the painting—Job, Christ and St. Jerome. To this, an interpretation not discussed hitherto with reference to the Meditation will be added—the lion as alluding to the concept of wisdom as referred to in the book of Job. Furthermore, the lion and the wisdom will be discussed as an allusion to the self-image of Venice during the period in which the painting was executed, and thus add another, social and civic, reading. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals and World Religions)
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Open AccessArticle
Towards the Beauty of Buddhism: The Development and Validation of a Buddhist Aesthetics Scale
Religions 2019, 10(5), 343; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050343 - 27 May 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 383
Abstract
Buddhist aesthetics, as a profound intrinsic value of pleasure, has continually attracted scholars to shed light on its influential effects. Its aesthetic nature, however, has drawn on the laws of profound Buddhist thoughts, which is challenging for empiricists to generate evidence for. Though [...] Read more.
Buddhist aesthetics, as a profound intrinsic value of pleasure, has continually attracted scholars to shed light on its influential effects. Its aesthetic nature, however, has drawn on the laws of profound Buddhist thoughts, which is challenging for empiricists to generate evidence for. Though some individual components or factors deriving from Buddhist aesthetics have been developed and exploited in previous studies, a holistic construct of Buddhist aesthetics remains ambiguous and lacks a pragmatically useable measure. This study fills this gap by creating a Buddhist aesthetics scale. A total of fifteen items have been found valid and reliable to measure three determinants, namely, value, acumen, and response. This scale can be used in further empirical studies in designing objects aiming to elicit the unique Buddhist aesthetic experience. Moreover, it can be utilized in measuring Buddhist aesthetics as a determinant in relevant practices, such as religious psychotherapy, cognitive engineering, and business. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Transformational Ethics: The Concept of Obedience in Post-Conciliar Jesuit Thinking
Religions 2019, 10(5), 342; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050342 - 27 May 2019
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Abstract
The paper sheds light on the change in the concept of obedience within the Society of Jesus since the 1960s. In the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, a so-called crisis of authority and obedience took place in the Catholic Church and the [...] Read more.
The paper sheds light on the change in the concept of obedience within the Society of Jesus since the 1960s. In the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, a so-called crisis of authority and obedience took place in the Catholic Church and the religious orders. As a consequence, the notions of responsibility and conscience came to the fore in the Jesuit definition of obedience. The religious concept of obedience, that is the obedience towards God, was reassessed as a service to humanity. The paper analyzes how the change in the concept of obedience gave rise to the promotion of social justice, which the Society of Jesus proclaimed at General Congregation 32 in 1974/75. By including the promotion of social justice into their central mission, Jesuits not only fundamentally transformed their self-conception, but also their ethical values. The paper argues that the pursuit of social justice became a form of religious obedience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
Open AccessArticle
Deconversion, Sport, and Rehabilitative Hope
Religions 2019, 10(5), 341; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050341 - 27 May 2019
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Abstract
This article, based on qualitative interviews and ethnographic research, explores three types of on-the-ground rehabilitative hope supplied by sport for many post-evangelicals within the upper Bible Belt region traversing through the process of deconversion. First, sport is an often-cited space that is identified [...] Read more.
This article, based on qualitative interviews and ethnographic research, explores three types of on-the-ground rehabilitative hope supplied by sport for many post-evangelicals within the upper Bible Belt region traversing through the process of deconversion. First, sport is an often-cited space that is identified as broadening social networks, leading to initial questioning of inherited religiosity. Second, sport offers a level of amelioration of relational fissures caused by religious shifts away from evangelicalism. Last, this research indicates that post-evangelicals highly value spaces for discussions of social justice, and athletic activism offers symbolic solidarity. Thus, sport and deconversion can be intertwined for Southern post-evangelicals. In the end, I argue that the triangulation of deconversion, hope, and sport within a Southern context creates a way of understanding the changing Southern ethos and pathos demarcated by a shifting away from a conservative Protestantism historically dominant in the region. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“In God We Trust:” The U.S. National Motto and the Contested Concept of Civil Religion
Religions 2019, 10(5), 340; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050340 - 25 May 2019
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Abstract
In this essay, “In God We Trust”, the official motto of the United States, is discussed as an illustration of the contested character of American civil religion. Applying and evaluating assumptions from Robert N. Bellah and his critics, a conceptual history of the [...] Read more.
In this essay, “In God We Trust”, the official motto of the United States, is discussed as an illustration of the contested character of American civil religion. Applying and evaluating assumptions from Robert N. Bellah and his critics, a conceptual history of the motto is presented, showing how from its first appearance to today it has inspired debates about the place of civil religion in American culture, law, and politics. Examining these debates, the changing character of the motto is explored: its creation as a religious response to the Civil War; its secularization as a symbol on the nation’s currency at the turn of the twentieth century; its state-sponsored institutionalization during the Cold War; its part in the litigation that challenged the constitutionality of civil religious symbolism in the era of the culture wars; and its continuing role in the increasingly partisan political battles of our own time. In this essay, I make the case that, while seemingly timeless, the meaning of the motto has been repeatedly reinterpreted, with culture, law, and politics interacting in sometimes surprising ways to form one of the nation’s most commonly accepted and frequently challenged symbols. In concluding, I speculate on the future of the motto, as well as on the changing place of civil religion in a nation that is increasingly pluralistic in its religion and polarized in its politics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Civil Religion in America)
Open AccessArticle
A Moderate Millenarianism: Apocalypticism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Religions 2019, 10(5), 339; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050339 - 25 May 2019
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Abstract
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the largest and arguably best-known branch of the Restoration movement begun by Joseph Smith, sustains a complex but living relationship to nineteenth-century marginal millenarianism and apocalypticism. At the foundations of this relationship is a consistent [...] Read more.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the largest and arguably best-known branch of the Restoration movement begun by Joseph Smith, sustains a complex but living relationship to nineteenth-century marginal millenarianism and apocalypticism. At the foundations of this relationship is a consistent interest in the biblical Book of Revelation exhibited in the earliest Latter-Day Saint scriptural texts. The Book of Mormon (1830) affirms that apocalyptic visionary experiences like John’s in the New Testament have occurred throughout history and even contains a truncated account of such a vision. It also predicts the emergence in late modernity of a fuller and uncorrupted account of such an apocalyptic vision, with the aim of clarifying the biblical Book of Revelation. In addition, however, Smith received an apocalyptic vision of his own in 1832 and produced a vision report that suggests that he understood The Book of Mormon’s anticipations of apocalyptic clarification to come as much through ecstatic experience as through the emergence of new apocalyptic texts. In 1842, Smith created a ritualized version of his own apocalyptic experience, a temple liturgy that remains authoritative into the present. This lies behind the moderate apocalypticism of twenty-first century Latter-Day Saint religious experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Apocalypticism in the 21st Century)
Open AccessArticle
Converting Consumerism: A Liturgical-Ethical Application of Critical Realism
Religions 2019, 10(5), 338; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050338 - 24 May 2019
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Abstract
Critical realism as a lens of thought is not new to theological inquiry, but recently a growing number of theologians have been using its conceptual frameworks to guide their thought on how social structures function theologically, and how ethics might function in light [...] Read more.
Critical realism as a lens of thought is not new to theological inquiry, but recently a growing number of theologians have been using its conceptual frameworks to guide their thought on how social structures function theologically, and how ethics might function in light of its insights. This article pulls these developments into the nexus of liturgy and ethics, applying critical realist categories to contemporary understandings of how liturgical celebration (and the structures thereof) form, inform, and/or malform Christian ethical imaginations and practices. The article begins with a brief survey of the main tenets of critical realism and their histories in theological inquiry, and argues that a main gift critical realism can offer liturgical and sacramental theology is a structural understanding of liturgical narrative- and value-building. Having described this gift, the article moves to a concrete application of this method in liturgical theology and its implications for ethics: addressing consumerism as a culture that can be both validated and challenged by liturgical and sacramental structures. The article ends with some brief suggestions for using and shifting liturgical structures to better facilitate the Christian conversion of consumerism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacramental Theology: Theory and Practice from Multiple Perspectives)
Open AccessArticle
Babe Ruth: Religious Icon
Religions 2019, 10(5), 337; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050337 - 23 May 2019
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Abstract
Babe Ruth is a mythic figure in American baseball history. His extraordinary skills and legendary exploits are central to the idea of baseball as America’s national pastime and are woven into the fabric of American history and iconography. Much has been written about [...] Read more.
Babe Ruth is a mythic figure in American baseball history. His extraordinary skills and legendary exploits are central to the idea of baseball as America’s national pastime and are woven into the fabric of American history and iconography. Much has been written about Ruth’s life, his extraordinary physical powers, and the legends that grew up around him that made him a mythic figure. The story of Babe Ruth as it has been told, however, has not included its meaning from the perspective of the study of religion and sport. This paper explores the life and legends of Babe Ruth to illustrate the significance of Ruth’s identity as a Catholic in early twentieth-century America and the fundamental connections between Ruth’s story and the Christian myth and ritual that is foundational to American civil religion. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Preserving the Intangible: Orthodox Christian Approaches to Spiritual Heritage
Religions 2019, 10(5), 336; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050336 - 22 May 2019
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Abstract
This article presents the ways Orthodox countries form their own discourses for heritage representation and observes how these practices interact with emerging tourism and preservation agendas. Recent history of heritage tourism in Russia and Ethiopia provides insights into how participants engage with the [...] Read more.
This article presents the ways Orthodox countries form their own discourses for heritage representation and observes how these practices interact with emerging tourism and preservation agendas. Recent history of heritage tourism in Russia and Ethiopia provides insights into how participants engage with the spiritual heritage of their Churches and the contemporary dilemmas produced when orienting towards preservation protocols that seek to safeguard heritage and make it palatable to a global audience. The Ethiopian case study of Meskel, the festival of the Finding of the True Cross, a UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) intangible cultural heritage entry in 2014, is examined in order to identify key issues when spiritual heritage is situated in preservation management discourse. The discussion concludes by considering a vital component of preservation efforts contained within Orthodox Churches and proposes that indigenous approaches to the elaboration and circulation of cultural values be an essential component of heritage policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Space as Cultural Heritage)
Open AccessArticle
Songs of the Bauls: Voices from the Margins as Transformative Infrastructures
Religions 2019, 10(5), 335; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050335 - 22 May 2019
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Abstract
Bauls, the rural minstrels who sing songs of transformation, are a socio-economically and politico-religiously marginalized cultural population from rural Bengal (both from eastern and north-eastern, India and from Bangladesh). They identify themselves outside of any organized religion or established caste system in India, [...] Read more.
Bauls, the rural minstrels who sing songs of transformation, are a socio-economically and politico-religiously marginalized cultural population from rural Bengal (both from eastern and north-eastern, India and from Bangladesh). They identify themselves outside of any organized religion or established caste system in India, and therefore are constituted at the margins of contemporary global South. Voicing through their songs and narratives of emancipation, they interrogate and criticize material and symbolic inequalities and injustices such as discrimination and intolerance (including class and caste hierarchies, and other forms of disparities) perpetuated by hegemonic authorities and religious institutions. Embracing a critical communication lens, this paper pays attention to material and discursive marginalization of Bauls and Fakirs, foregrounding voice as an anchor to communicative interrogation of structural and cultural inequalities. Through voice, Bauls and Fakirs foreground reflexive spiritual and humane practices that raise societal consciousness and cultivate polymorphic possibilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World)
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 - 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 - 18 May 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 488
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 - 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) Printed Edition available
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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 - 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 - 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 - 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) Printed Edition available
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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 15 May 2019
Viewed by 329
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 - 14 May 2019
Viewed by 362
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 - 14 May 2019
Viewed by 384
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 - 14 May 2019
Viewed by 883
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 - 14 May 2019
Viewed by 372
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 - 13 May 2019
Viewed by 376
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 - 13 May 2019
Viewed by 294
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 - 10 May 2019
Viewed by 366
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 - 10 May 2019
Viewed by 331
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 - 09 May 2019
Viewed by 411
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)
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