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Religions, Volume 10, Issue 6 (June 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) This paper focuses on the relationship between clothing and identity, specifically, on Islamic [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Talking Back: Phillis Wheatley, Race, and Religion
Religions 2019, 10(6), 401; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060401
Received: 9 March 2019 / Revised: 21 May 2019 / Accepted: 20 June 2019 / Published: 25 June 2019
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Abstract
This essay examines the means by which African American poet Phillis Wheatley uses her evangelical Christianity to engage issues of race in revolutionary America. In her poetry and other writings, she addresses and even instructs white men of privilege on the spiritual equality [...] Read more.
This essay examines the means by which African American poet Phillis Wheatley uses her evangelical Christianity to engage issues of race in revolutionary America. In her poetry and other writings, she addresses and even instructs white men of privilege on the spiritual equality of people of African descent. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Looking for Black Religions in 20th Century Comics, 1931–1993
Religions 2019, 10(6), 400; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060400
Received: 10 April 2019 / Revised: 30 May 2019 / Accepted: 12 June 2019 / Published: 25 June 2019
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Abstract
Relationships between religion and comics are generally unexplored in the academic literature. This article provides a brief history of Black religions in comic books, cartoons, animation, and newspaper strips, looking at African American Christianity, Islam, Africana (African diaspora) religions, and folk traditions such [...] Read more.
Relationships between religion and comics are generally unexplored in the academic literature. This article provides a brief history of Black religions in comic books, cartoons, animation, and newspaper strips, looking at African American Christianity, Islam, Africana (African diaspora) religions, and folk traditions such as Hoodoo and Conjure in the 20th century. Even though the treatment of Black religions in the comics was informed by stereotypical depictions of race and religion in United States (US) popular culture, African American comics creators contested these by offering alternatives in their treatment of Black religion themes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in African American Popular Culture)
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Open AccessEditorial
Why Study Religion from a Latin American Sociological Perspective? An Introduction to Religions Issue, “Religion in Latin America, and among Latinos Abroad”
Religions 2019, 10(6), 399; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060399
Received: 12 June 2019 / Accepted: 17 June 2019 / Published: 24 June 2019
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Abstract
This article introduces the Religions issue on Latin American religiosity exploring sociological perspectives on the Latin American religious situation, from a Latin American perspective. The Secularization Theory proposes “the more modernity, the less religion”, but in Latin America we see both, modernity and [...] Read more.
This article introduces the Religions issue on Latin American religiosity exploring sociological perspectives on the Latin American religious situation, from a Latin American perspective. The Secularization Theory proposes “the more modernity, the less religion”, but in Latin America we see both, modernity and religiosity. The Religious Economy model, on the other hand, affirms “the more pluralization, the more religion”, but in Latin America there is not so much pluralization, and it is not easy to switch from one religion to other. Finally, the article presents a Latin American model, the “popular religiosity” one. The problem with it, is that it is mostly ‘Catholic,’ and so does not account for the growing religious diversity in the region. It also emphasizes the “popular” aspect, excluding middle socioeconomic status individuals and elites, assuming they practice “real” religion. This introduction presents a critical approach as a way to recover, describe, and understand Latin American religious practices. This methodology might be a path to creating sociological categories to understand religion beyond the north Atlantic world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Latin America, and among Latinos abroad.)
Open AccessArticle
Form and Content in Buber’s and Schweid’s Literary-Philosophical Readings of Genesis
Religions 2019, 10(6), 398; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060398
Received: 29 April 2019 / Revised: 19 June 2019 / Accepted: 20 June 2019 / Published: 24 June 2019
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Abstract
The following essay is presented as part of a long-term project concerned with the theory and practice of modern Jewish thinkers as interpreters of the Bible. The recent Bible commentaries of Eliezer Schweid, who is one of the foremost Jewish scholars and theologians [...] Read more.
The following essay is presented as part of a long-term project concerned with the theory and practice of modern Jewish thinkers as interpreters of the Bible. The recent Bible commentaries of Eliezer Schweid, who is one of the foremost Jewish scholars and theologians active in Israel today, are analyzed in comparison with parallel interpretations of Martin Buber, with special reference to the first chapters of Genesis. Their respective analyses of Biblical narrative reveal notable similarities in their treatment of the literary “body” of the text as the key to its theological significance. Nonetheless, Buber articulates religious experience largely “from the human side,” striving to mediate Biblical consciousness to the contemporary humanistic mindset, while Schweid positions himself more as the clarion of the “prophetic writers” for whom the fear of God, no less than the love of God, must inform an authentic religious sensibility. Schweid’s more theocentric perspective has great import for contemporary issues such as the universal covetousness engendered by the violation of our ecological covenant with the Earth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jewish Religious Teaching and Learning)
Open AccessArticle
The Catholic Charismatic Renewal and the Catholicism That Remains: A Study of the CCR Movement in Rio de Janeiro
Religions 2019, 10(6), 397; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060397
Received: 28 April 2019 / Revised: 18 June 2019 / Accepted: 20 June 2019 / Published: 23 June 2019
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Abstract
There are few empirical studies on the Catholic Church’s loss of followers in the state of Rio de Janeiro and, more generally, on the decline of Catholicism in Brazil. Drawing from the Weberian theses of disenchantment and religious rationalization, this article explores the [...] Read more.
There are few empirical studies on the Catholic Church’s loss of followers in the state of Rio de Janeiro and, more generally, on the decline of Catholicism in Brazil. Drawing from the Weberian theses of disenchantment and religious rationalization, this article explores the situation of Catholicism in four municipalities in this state. Working on some strategically selected municipalities and parishes, we conducted fieldwork and in-depth interviews with Catholics who are linked to the Charismatic Renewal (CCR). Our study assesses the hypotheses that (i) the emergence of the CCR favored the process of Catholic resistance in some municipalities, and (ii) that religious adherence and deinstitutionalization are two effects of a rationalization process. The qualitative results of the study showed that charismatic prayer groups became more diluted by the expansion of the Communities of Life and Alliance (Comunidades de Vida e Aliança). Nevertheless, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal still guides the Catholic ethos in the state. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Latin America, and among Latinos abroad.)
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Open AccessArticle
The Presbyterian Church and Zionism Unsettled: Its Antecedents, and Its Antisemitic Legacy
Religions 2019, 10(6), 396; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060396
Received: 30 May 2019 / Revised: 16 June 2019 / Accepted: 20 June 2019 / Published: 22 June 2019
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Abstract
The new millennium has seen increased hostility to Israel among many progressive constituencies, including several mainline Protestant churches. The evangelical community in the US remains steadfastly Zionist, so overall support for financial aid to Israel remain secure. But the cultural impact of accusations [...] Read more.
The new millennium has seen increased hostility to Israel among many progressive constituencies, including several mainline Protestant churches. The evangelical community in the US remains steadfastly Zionist, so overall support for financial aid to Israel remain secure. But the cultural impact of accusations that Israel is a settler colonialist or apartheid regime are nonetheless serious; they are proving sufficient to make support for the Jewish state a political issue for the first time in many decades. Despite a general movement in emphasis from theology to politics in church debate, there remain theological issues at the center of church discussion. The Protestant church with the longest running and most well-funded anti-Zionist constituency is the Presbyterian church in the US. In the last decade, its Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) has produced several increasingly anti-Zionist books designed to propel divestment resolutions in the church’s annual meeting. The most widely debated of these was 2014’s Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide. This essay mounts a detailed analysis and critique of the book which documents the IPMN’s steady movement toward antisemitic positions. Among the theological issues underlying debate in Protestant denominations are the status of the divine covenant with the Jewish people, the role that the gift of land has as part of that covenant, and the nature of the characterization of the Jews as a “chosen people”. These, and other issues underlying Protestant anti-Zionism, have led to the formation of Presbyterians for Middle East Peace (PFMP), a group, unlike IPMN, that supports a two-state solution. The competing positions these groups have taken are of interest to all who want to track the role that Christian denominations have played in debates about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Return of Religious Antisemitism?)
Open AccessArticle
Religious/Spiritual Struggles and Life Satisfaction among Young Roman Catholics: The Mediating Role of Gratitude
Religions 2019, 10(6), 395; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060395
Received: 11 May 2019 / Revised: 18 June 2019 / Accepted: 19 June 2019 / Published: 22 June 2019
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Abstract
An extensive review of the psychological literature shows that interactions between religious/spiritual (R/S) struggles and other aspects of human functioning are complex and affected by “third” factors. Still, we have only a few studies that confirm R/S struggles as a source of well-being [...] Read more.
An extensive review of the psychological literature shows that interactions between religious/spiritual (R/S) struggles and other aspects of human functioning are complex and affected by “third” factors. Still, we have only a few studies that confirm R/S struggles as a source of well-being and indicate the ways in which it happens. In the present study, we aimed to verify whether the relationship between R/S struggles and life satisfaction was mediated by dispositional gratitude that seems to offer protection in times of adversity and turmoil. The sample consisted of 440 Roman Catholics (331 women) from Poland aged between 18 and 40. We applied the Religious Comfort and Strain Scale, the Satisfaction with Life Scale, and the Gratitude Questionnaire. In line with our hypotheses, it was confirmed that respondents with higher life satisfaction were more likely to display a higher sense of trust in God. They also declared a lower fear/guilt and perception of God as abandoning people. Gratitude correlated positively and significantly with religious comfort, and negatively with emotions towards God and social interactions surrounding religion. Moreover, it can be affirmed that dispositional gratitude mediated the relationship between three of four dimensions of religious strain and life satisfaction: religious comfort, negative emotions towards God, and negative social interactions surrounding religion. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Adhiyajña: Towards a Performance Grammar of the Vedas
Religions 2019, 10(6), 394; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060394
Received: 24 May 2019 / Revised: 16 June 2019 / Accepted: 17 June 2019 / Published: 21 June 2019
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Abstract
Recent scholarship has challenged the anachronistic projection of the modern category of the poem onto premodern texts. This article attempts to theorize how one might construct an alternative to modern conceptualizations of “the poem” that more closely appropriates the conceptualization of textuality in [...] Read more.
Recent scholarship has challenged the anachronistic projection of the modern category of the poem onto premodern texts. This article attempts to theorize how one might construct an alternative to modern conceptualizations of “the poem” that more closely appropriates the conceptualization of textuality in the Rigveda, an anthology of 1028 sūktas “well-spoken (texts)” that represents the oldest religious literature in South Asia. In order to understand what these texts are and what they were expected to do, this article examines the techniques by which the Rigveda refers to itself, to its performer, to its audience, and to the occasion of its performance. In so doing, this article theorizes a “performance grammar” comprising three axes of textual self-reference (spatial, temporal, and personal); these axes of reference constitute a scene of performance populated by rhetorically constructed speakers and listeners. This performance narrative, called here the adhiyajña level, frames the mythological narratives of the text. By examining the relationship between mythological narrative and performance narrative, we can better understand the purpose of performing a text and thus what kind of an entity Rigvedic “texts” really are. While this article proposes a rubric specifically for the Rigvedic context, its principles can be adapted to other premodern texts in order to better understand the performance context they presuppose. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Texts and Interpretations)
Open AccessArticle
Thought Experiments between Theology, Empirical Science, and Fictional Narrative
Religions 2019, 10(6), 393; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060393
Received: 21 May 2019 / Revised: 11 June 2019 / Accepted: 18 June 2019 / Published: 21 June 2019
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Abstract
Starting from Fehige’s and Polkinghorne’s analyses of the analogies between theological and scientific thought experiments (TEs), the main aim of this paper is to clarify the distinctive character of theological TEs. For this purpose, we shall compare theological TEs with empirical and, although [...] Read more.
Starting from Fehige’s and Polkinghorne’s analyses of the analogies between theological and scientific thought experiments (TEs), the main aim of this paper is to clarify the distinctive character of theological TEs. For this purpose, we shall compare theological TEs with empirical and, although only in passing, with narrative TEs. In order to facilitate the comparison between scientific and theological TEs, the first part of the paper provides a brief outline of an account regarding TEs in the empirical sciences from the viewpoint of a functional, not material, a priori, which is in line with, if not the full letter, the spirit of Kant’s a priori. On the basis of this view, we shall investigate the most important difference (which is the source of many others) between theological and empirical TEs. In spite of the many similarities, the most important difference between empirical and theological TEs lies in the fact that theological TEs consider both empirical-descriptive and moral-normative contents from the point of view of a search for an absolute meaning beyond all relative and finite meanings. If we—developing a suggestion by Ernst Troeltsch—interpret this claim from the point of view of a purely functional “religious a priori”, we may conclude that theological TEs, which express a search for an absolute meaning, do not possess a priori contents, not even moral. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God out of Mind: Thought Experiments, Science, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Bringing Pilgrimage Home: The Production, Iconography, and Domestic Use of Late-Medieval Devotional Objects by Ordinary People
Religions 2019, 10(6), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060392
Received: 25 April 2019 / Revised: 5 June 2019 / Accepted: 6 June 2019 / Published: 20 June 2019
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Abstract
Tracing the devotional beliefs and practices of everyday people during the late Middle Ages through documents is tricky, as most were written with other purposes in mind. To make up for this, it is necessary to examine the abundant material culture that survives [...] Read more.
Tracing the devotional beliefs and practices of everyday people during the late Middle Ages through documents is tricky, as most were written with other purposes in mind. To make up for this, it is necessary to examine the abundant material culture that survives from this period. By analyzing a variety of finds and comparing them with well-known objects used by the upper classes, it becomes evident that ordinary people shared the same religious views and practices. Both classes were interested in pieces that inspired active devotional and amuletic practice. They were intended to be gazed at and handled, then rested on a tabletop or nailed to a wall. Some folded, some rang, some could be blown through, while others were gazed upon. Lower quality materials and production of pieces had no impact on their ultimate use in the home. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Devotions in Medieval and Early Modern Europe)
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Open AccessArticle
The Thought Experimenting Qualities of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling
Religions 2019, 10(6), 391; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060391
Received: 4 May 2019 / Revised: 11 June 2019 / Accepted: 18 June 2019 / Published: 19 June 2019
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Abstract
In this article, I examine the possible thought experimenting qualities of Søren Kierkegaard’s novel Fear and Trembling and in which way (if any) it can be explanatory. Kierkegaard’s preference for pseudonyms, indirect communication, Socratic interrogation, and performativity are identified as features that provide [...] Read more.
In this article, I examine the possible thought experimenting qualities of Søren Kierkegaard’s novel Fear and Trembling and in which way (if any) it can be explanatory. Kierkegaard’s preference for pseudonyms, indirect communication, Socratic interrogation, and performativity are identified as features that provide the narrative with its thought experimenting quality. It is also proposed that this literary fiction functions as a Socratic–theological thought experiment due to its influences from both philosophy and theology. In addition, I suggest three functional levels of the fictional narrative that, in different ways, influence its possible explanatory force. As a theoretical background for the investigation, two accounts of literary cognitivism are explored: Noël Carroll’s Argument Account and Catherine Elgin’s Exemplification Account. In relation to Carroll’s proposal, I conclude that Fear and Trembling develops a philosophical argumentation that is dependent on the reader’s own existential contribution. In relation to Elgin’s thought, the relation between truth and explanatory force is acknowledged. At the end of the article, I argue that it is more accurate to see the explanatory force of Fear and Trembling in relation to its exploratory function. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God out of Mind: Thought Experiments, Science, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
From Domestic Devotion to the Church Altar: Venerating Icons in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Adriatic
Religions 2019, 10(6), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060390
Received: 23 May 2019 / Revised: 14 June 2019 / Accepted: 17 June 2019 / Published: 19 June 2019
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Abstract
Although traditionally associated with Eastern Christianity, the practice of venerating icons became deeply rooted in the Catholic societies of the broad Adriatic region from the Late Middle Ages onwards and was an indispensable part of everyday popular piety. The evidence lies in the [...] Read more.
Although traditionally associated with Eastern Christianity, the practice of venerating icons became deeply rooted in the Catholic societies of the broad Adriatic region from the Late Middle Ages onwards and was an indispensable part of everyday popular piety. The evidence lies in the massive amount of icons located today in public and private collections throughout the Italian Peninsula, Croatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro. At a time when Greeks were branded as “schismatics”, and although the Byzantine maniera greca had become obsolete in Western European art, icon painting managed to survive at the margins of the Renaissance, and ultimately went through its own renaissance in the sixteenth century. Omnipresent in Catholic households, icons were very often donated to churches as votive offerings and were gradually transformed into the focal points of collective public devotion. Through the combined study of visual evidence, archival records and literary sources, this article will shed light on the socio-political, confessional, and artistic dynamics that allowed for Byzantine or Byzantinizing icons to gain unprecedented popularity throughout the Catholic milieus of the Late Medieval and Early Modern Adriatic, and become integrated into domestic and public devotional practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Devotions in Medieval and Early Modern Europe)
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Open AccessArticle
Natural Science and Supernatural Thought Experiments
Religions 2019, 10(6), 389; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060389
Received: 9 May 2019 / Revised: 10 June 2019 / Accepted: 11 June 2019 / Published: 18 June 2019
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Abstract
Religious notions have long played a role in epistemology. Theological thought experiments, in particular, have been effective in a wide range of situations in the sciences. Some of these are merely picturesque, others have been heuristically important, and still others, as I will [...] Read more.
Religious notions have long played a role in epistemology. Theological thought experiments, in particular, have been effective in a wide range of situations in the sciences. Some of these are merely picturesque, others have been heuristically important, and still others, as I will argue, have played a role that could be called essential. I will illustrate the difference between heuristic and essential with two examples. One of these stems from the Newton–Leibniz debate over the nature of space and time; the other is a thought experiment of my own constructed with the aim of making a case for a more liberal view of evidence in mathematics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God out of Mind: Thought Experiments, Science, and Religion)
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Open AccessArticle
Guo Xiang and the Problem of Self-Cultivation in Daoist Naturalism
Religions 2019, 10(6), 388; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060388
Received: 27 March 2019 / Revised: 4 June 2019 / Accepted: 10 June 2019 / Published: 18 June 2019
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Abstract
Recent research on Daoism has distinguished various models of self-cultivation present in the tradition, in particular those which aim at returning humanity to a natural, spontaneous form of existence (often associated with early pre-Qin “philosophical” Daoism), and those which aim at transcending human [...] Read more.
Recent research on Daoism has distinguished various models of self-cultivation present in the tradition, in particular those which aim at returning humanity to a natural, spontaneous form of existence (often associated with early pre-Qin “philosophical” Daoism), and those which aim at transcending human nature through technical practices (often associated with later “religious” Daoism). During the Wei-Jin period, organized Daoist religion was still in its early stages, yet the difference between the two models was very much an issue in the Dark Learning (xuanxue) thought of the intellectual elite. In this paper, I trace this debate as expressed in Wei-Jin thinker Guo Xiang’s Commentary to the Zhuangzi, in particular in Guo’s criticisms of the desire or attempt to exceed the limits (ji) of one’s inherent nature and his reinterpretation of the Zhuangzi’s criticisms of technical practices. While Guo follows Xiang Xiu in rejecting many of the claims of radical transcendence through self-cultivation, I argue that this does not imply that he lacks any positive conception of self-cultivation, but rather that he sees such cultivation as only possible through an immanent historical process in which both natural spontaneity and artificial techniques have a role to play. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“The Road of Payback” and Rabbinic Judaism
Religions 2019, 10(6), 387; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060387
Received: 19 April 2019 / Revised: 31 May 2019 / Accepted: 13 June 2019 / Published: 18 June 2019
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Abstract
In Anger and Forgiveness, Martha Nussbaum argues against the claim that the suffering of the wrongdoer restores, or partially restores, what was damaged by the wrongdoing. Making this mental mistake sets a person on “the road of payback,” and following this path [...] Read more.
In Anger and Forgiveness, Martha Nussbaum argues against the claim that the suffering of the wrongdoer restores, or partially restores, what was damaged by the wrongdoing. Making this mental mistake sets a person on “the road of payback,” and following this path is normatively problematic. What contribution can the canonical writings of Judaism, the Talmud and Midrash, make to the case against payback, when these writings reflect the view that a single deity establishes a divine justice in the world, such that ultimately the good are rewarded and the bad punished? This article argues, in light of recent research into rabbinic law and judicial process, as well as rabbinic theology of divine justice, that several components of these sources can help to meet the challenge. The texts recommend particular subjective states in the context of the human judiciary procedure and in consideration of divine justice, which do not intend “the suffering of the wrongdoer.” Rabbis seek authority, control over uncertainty, and a correct judicial procedure in their legal processes. Regarding the human relationship to the deity, rabbis both prescribe reverence and protest questionable divine acts based on their own ethical standards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Beliefs and the Morality of Payback)
Open AccessArticle
The Saint in the Woods: Semi-Domestic Shrines in Rural Sweden, c. 1500–1800
Religions 2019, 10(6), 386; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060386
Received: 9 May 2019 / Revised: 7 June 2019 / Accepted: 8 June 2019 / Published: 17 June 2019
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Abstract
In the seventeenth century, a common saying in parts of rural Sweden when discussing someone lacking in piety was that they went to neither church nor cross. This reflects the practice of placing shrines in the fields, along the roads and in the [...] Read more.
In the seventeenth century, a common saying in parts of rural Sweden when discussing someone lacking in piety was that they went to neither church nor cross. This reflects the practice of placing shrines in the fields, along the roads and in the woods as a communal semi-domestic complement to official church space. In the remote woodland areas of Sweden, the distance between parish churches could be considerable, and many parishioners were not able to attend church on a regular, weekly basis. At these sites, parishioners could kneel and make their prayers as a complement to church service. However, they could also be used as points of contact in communicating domestic issues with the divine, with votives being left at the shrines by those hoping for deliverance from disease and difficult childbirths. In the post-reformation period, such sites were regarded with suspicion by the higher ranks of the clergy, and were often considered “idolatrous” and “superstitious”. Yet, they seem to have filled an important religious need among their laity that made it possible to interact with the divine on sites bordering the domestic and the public space of the church. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Devotions in Medieval and Early Modern Europe)
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Open AccessArticle
Chŏng Suok’s Tour of Imperial Japan and its Impact on the Development of the Nuns’ Order in Korea
Religions 2019, 10(6), 385; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060385
Received: 30 April 2019 / Revised: 10 June 2019 / Accepted: 11 June 2019 / Published: 17 June 2019
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Abstract
The eminent scholar-nun Chŏng Suok (1902–1966) traveled from colonial Korea to Imperial Japan from 1937 to 1939 and wrote a travelogue that provides an important first-hand account from a woman’s perspective on the state of Japanese and Korean Buddhism during the early 20th [...] Read more.
The eminent scholar-nun Chŏng Suok (1902–1966) traveled from colonial Korea to Imperial Japan from 1937 to 1939 and wrote a travelogue that provides an important first-hand account from a woman’s perspective on the state of Japanese and Korean Buddhism during the early 20th century. Bemoaning the destitute state of Korean Buddhist nuns who had no schools, lecture halls, or even meditation rooms, she notes the stark contrast with the Japanese nuns who had access to proper education and enjoyed respect from society. After returning from Japan, she became not only a dharma instructor and abbess but something much more. As a prominent leader of the Buddhist purification movement in the 1960s she became one of the most influential nuns in Korea, promoting education, practice, social engagement, and feminist consciousness until her death in 1966. Her long struggle exemplifies a transnational crossing that helped to deepen the Buddhist tradition in both Korea and Japan. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Innate Intuition: An Intellectual History of Sahaja-jñāna and Sahaja Samādhi in Brahmoism and Modern Vaiṣṇavism
Religions 2019, 10(6), 384; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060384
Received: 20 May 2019 / Revised: 2 June 2019 / Accepted: 3 June 2019 / Published: 14 June 2019
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Abstract
This article is about sahaja-jñāna, or ‘innate intuition’, as a form of Brahmo and Vaiṣṇava epistemology—a foundational invention within the development of modern Hinduism. I examine its nineteenth-century intellectual history in Bengal in the works of the Vaiṣṇava theologian Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda [...] Read more.
This article is about sahaja-jñāna, or ‘innate intuition’, as a form of Brahmo and Vaiṣṇava epistemology—a foundational invention within the development of modern Hinduism. I examine its nineteenth-century intellectual history in Bengal in the works of the Vaiṣṇava theologian Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda (1838–1914) and trace it back to two of his contemporaries, Keshub Chandra Sen (1838–1884) and a senior leader of the Brahmo Samaj whom they both knew, Debendranath Tagore (1817–1905). This relatively understudied yet epistemologically significant term within modern Hinduism has its roots in the pre-colonial sahajiyā movements and bears a conceptual resemblance to the idea of pratibhā in ancient Indian aesthetics, philosophy, and grammar. The idea of sahaja is key among the sahajiyā Vaiṣṇavas, a so-called heterodox group that Western-educated, middle-class Bengali bhadraloks, including Bhaktivinoda, vehemently disassociated themselves from due to the social stigma attached to its sexo-yogic practices. Furthermore, I argue that Bhaktivinoda’s concept of sahaja-jñāna departs significantly from both sahajiyā and Brahmo versions of sahaja-jñāna and represents an innovation within the ambit of Vaiṣṇava Vedanta, which accepts verbal testimony (śabda or śāstra) as the only valid form of epistemology. In documenting the intellectual history of a significant idea, I contend that the bhadralok Bengali Vaiṣṇava leaders arrogate, desexualize, and Vedānticize a term as a form of experimentation during the construction of modern Hinduism. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Compassion for Living Creatures in Indian Law Courts
Religions 2019, 10(6), 383; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060383
Received: 27 March 2019 / Revised: 2 June 2019 / Accepted: 10 June 2019 / Published: 14 June 2019
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Abstract
The Constitution of India through an amendment of 1976 prescribes a Fundamental Duty ‘to have compassion for living creatures’. The use of this notion in actual legal practice, gathered from various judgments, provides a glimpse of the current debates in India that address [...] Read more.
The Constitution of India through an amendment of 1976 prescribes a Fundamental Duty ‘to have compassion for living creatures’. The use of this notion in actual legal practice, gathered from various judgments, provides a glimpse of the current debates in India that address the relationships between humans and animals. Judgments explicitly mentioning ‘compassion’ cover diverse issues, concerning stray dogs, trespassing cattle, birds in cages, bull races, cart-horses, animal sacrifice, etc. They often juxtapose a discourse on compassion as an emotional and moral attitude, and a discourse about legal rights, essentially the right not to suffer unnecessary pain at the hands of humans (according to formulae that bear the imprint of British utilitarianism). In these judgments, various religious founding figures such as the Buddha, Mahavira, etc., are paid due tribute, perhaps not so much in reference to their religion, but rather as historical icons—on the same footing as Mahatma Gandhi—of an idealized intrinsic Indian compassion. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A Zhuangzian Tangle: Corroborating (Orientalism in?) Posthumanist Approaches to Subjectivities and Flourishings
Religions 2019, 10(6), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060382
Received: 7 May 2019 / Revised: 29 May 2019 / Accepted: 11 June 2019 / Published: 13 June 2019
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Abstract
Posthumanist critics such as Braidotti—informed by the antihumanisms of Foucault, Irigaray, and Deleuze—seek to respond to advanced capitalism by promoting what they take to be a radical transformation of what it means to be “human,” a way of conceiving being human that is [...] Read more.
Posthumanist critics such as Braidotti—informed by the antihumanisms of Foucault, Irigaray, and Deleuze—seek to respond to advanced capitalism by promoting what they take to be a radical transformation of what it means to be “human,” a way of conceiving being human that is thoroughly and consistently post-anthropocentric. Braidotti calls out advanced capitalism’s global economy as being inconsistently post-anthropocentric. In response, I first lay out ways through which posthumanists can find corroboration in Asian religious thought, such as in Zhuangzi and classical Chan (Zen) Buddhism. I simply put forth, basically side by side, posthumanist positions on subjectivity and flourishing and parallels in Zhuangzi and Chan. This may strike some as sophomoric, which is in part what I hope to illustrate: just how easy it is to find corroboration in these Asian religious resources. This leads to my second issue. Given such conveniently available resources, what might this tell us about limitations in posthumanist Humanities and posthumanist critical theory as developed so far? I seek to bring out both a possible covert form of Orientalism in posthumanism and a myopic methodology in excluding Religious Studies in general as paradigmatic of posthumanist Humanities. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Mobilizing Shakti: Hindu Goddesses and Campaigns Against Gender-Based Violence
Religions 2019, 10(6), 381; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060381
Received: 3 December 2018 / Revised: 11 April 2019 / Accepted: 2 May 2019 / Published: 13 June 2019
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Abstract
Hindu goddesses have been mobilized as powerful symbols by various groups of activists in both visual and verbal campaigns in India. Although these mobilizations have different motivations and goals, they have frequently emphasized the theological association between goddesses and women, connected through their [...] Read more.
Hindu goddesses have been mobilized as powerful symbols by various groups of activists in both visual and verbal campaigns in India. Although these mobilizations have different motivations and goals, they have frequently emphasized the theological association between goddesses and women, connected through their common possession of Shakti (power). These campaigns commonly highlight the idea that both goddesses and Hindu women share in this power in order to inspire women to action in particular ways. While this association has largely been used as a campaign strategy by Hindu right-wing women’s organizations in India, it has also become a strategy employed in particular feminist campaigns as well. This article offers a discourse analysis of two online activist campaigns (Priya's Shakti and Abused Goddesses) which mobilize Hindu goddesses (and their power) in order to raise awareness about gender-based violence in India. I examine whether marginalized identities of women in India, in relation to caste, class and religious identity, are represented in the texts and images. To do so, I analyze how politically-charged, normative imaginings of Indian women are constructed (or maintained). This analysis raises questions about the usefulness of employing Hindu goddesses as feminist symbols, particularly in contemporary Indian society, in which communal and caste-based tensions are elevated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue On Violence: Voices and Visions from Hindu Goddess Traditions)
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Open AccessArticle
Medical Aesthetics in the Twilight of Empire: Lungrik Tendar and The Stainless Vaiḍūrya Mirror
Religions 2019, 10(6), 380; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060380
Received: 15 April 2019 / Revised: 1 June 2019 / Accepted: 5 June 2019 / Published: 12 June 2019
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Abstract
This article introduces the life and medical histories of the luminary Khalkha Mongolian monk, Lungrik Tendar (Tib. Lung rigs bstan dar; Mon. Lungrigdandar, c. 1842–1915). Well known for his exegesis of received medical works from Central Tibet, Lungrik Tendar was also a historian [...] Read more.
This article introduces the life and medical histories of the luminary Khalkha Mongolian monk, Lungrik Tendar (Tib. Lung rigs bstan dar; Mon. Lungrigdandar, c. 1842–1915). Well known for his exegesis of received medical works from Central Tibet, Lungrik Tendar was also a historian of the Four Tantras (Tib. Rgyud bzhi; Mon. Dörben ündüsü). In 1911, just as Khalkha Mongolia began separating from a flailing Qing Empire, Lungrik Tendar set out to append the story of Mongolia and of Mongolian medicine, political formation, and religious life to the Four Tantra’s well-known global histories. In addition, he provided an illuminating summary of how to present the Four Tantras to a popular audience in the twilight of the imperial period. This article introduces the life of Lungrik Tendar and analyzes his previously unstudied medical history from 1911, The Stainless Vaiḍūrya Mirror. On the basis of this understudied text, this article explores ways that monastic medicine in the frontier scholastic worlds of the late-Qing Empire were dependent upon aesthetic representations of space and time and of knowledge acquisition and practice, and how such medical aesthetics helped connect the religious, political, legal, economic, and social worlds of Asia’s heartland on the eve of nationalist and socialist revolution and state-directed erasure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Medicine in India, Tibet, and Mongolia)
Open AccessArticle
Studying Sacred Texts as a Pathway to Positive Youth Development: Middle School Students Read Hebrew Bible
Religions 2019, 10(6), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060379
Received: 14 May 2019 / Revised: 5 June 2019 / Accepted: 7 June 2019 / Published: 12 June 2019
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Abstract
In many religious education classrooms, the meaning of a sacred text is treated as something stable and authoritative. A teacher’s job is to transmit that meaning to students. This study reports on a year-long intervention conducted in a seventh grade Hebrew Bible classroom [...] Read more.
In many religious education classrooms, the meaning of a sacred text is treated as something stable and authoritative. A teacher’s job is to transmit that meaning to students. This study reports on a year-long intervention conducted in a seventh grade Hebrew Bible classroom in which students were asked to find their own meaning in the biblical text. The study found that religious text classrooms can offer a unique opportunity to support positive youth development when an effective interpretive community is created. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Perspectives on Religion and Positive Youth Development)
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Open AccessArticle
When the Truth Is Not What Actually Happened: The Epistemology of Religious Truth in Orthodox Jewish Bible Study
Religions 2019, 10(6), 378; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060378
Received: 23 April 2019 / Revised: 30 May 2019 / Accepted: 5 June 2019 / Published: 12 June 2019
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Abstract
Recent research on student epistemology has shifted from seeing epistemology as a stable entity possessed by individuals to a collection of more situated cognitive resources that individuals may employ differently depending on the context. Much of this research has focused on the explicit [...] Read more.
Recent research on student epistemology has shifted from seeing epistemology as a stable entity possessed by individuals to a collection of more situated cognitive resources that individuals may employ differently depending on the context. Much of this research has focused on the explicit beliefs students maintain about the nature of knowledge. This paper uses data from Jewish religious chumash (Bible) study to examine how students’ conceptions of biblical truth are grounded in the particular forms of chumash study they engage in. Using data from clinical interviews with Orthodox Jewish Bible students, we argue that, in relation to the biblical text, questions of truth are functionally meaningless; that is, they are irrelevant to the implicit epistemology embedded in the practice of chumash study. Because of this, students were unable to coherently answer questions about the truth-value of the biblical text, even while engaging in sophisticated reasoning about its literary character. This has implications for how religious schools and teachers approach religious study of traditional texts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jewish Religious Teaching and Learning)
Open AccessArticle
Women between Religion and Spirituality: Observing Religious Experience in Everyday Japanese Life
Religions 2019, 10(6), 377; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060377
Received: 21 March 2019 / Revised: 4 June 2019 / Accepted: 5 June 2019 / Published: 8 June 2019
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Abstract
A large majority of Japanese people describe themselves as mushūkyō, ‘non-religious’, even though they participate in several religious-related cultural practices that socialize them to accept spiritual attitudes without the mediation of organized religion. This phenomenon fits well into the ‘spiritual but not [...] Read more.
A large majority of Japanese people describe themselves as mushūkyō, ‘non-religious’, even though they participate in several religious-related cultural practices that socialize them to accept spiritual attitudes without the mediation of organized religion. This phenomenon fits well into the ‘spiritual but not religious’ formula of the contemporary Northern European and North American sociological debate, in which the ‘religion’ and ‘spiritual’ categories denote interdependent, although not always reciprocated, domains. Drawing upon two sets of qualitative data on women belonging to five religious organizations (Shinnyoen, Risshō kōseikai, the Roman Catholic Church in Japan, Sōga Gakkai, and God Light Association (GLA)), in this study, I argue that the religion–spirituality distinction not only fails to capture the empirical reality of contemporary Japanese religions, it also does not take into account new modalities of religious and spiritual experiences of people with such affiliations. Their experiences are expressed through the socio-cultural milieu and the language of religion and spirituality available to them in contiguous and complementary ways. In this respect, the aim of this article is to discuss such aspects of Japanese women’s religious and spiritual experiences that have often eluded scholars writing on Japanese religiosity in order to broaden the focus of reflection to include the mushūkyō aspect and the presumed religion–spirituality mismatch. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Spirituality in Contemporary Japan)
Open AccessArticle
Devotional Annotations: Preserving the Family’s Memory in Arabic Manuscripts
Religions 2019, 10(6), 376; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060376
Received: 9 May 2019 / Revised: 5 June 2019 / Accepted: 5 June 2019 / Published: 7 June 2019
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Abstract
This contribution explores a peculiar kind of annotation in Arabic multiple-text manuscripts. These manuscripts were often compiled as a personal ‘one-volume library’, containing copies and excerpts of a unique selection of texts. Further, they were often used for less guided writing activities. The [...] Read more.
This contribution explores a peculiar kind of annotation in Arabic multiple-text manuscripts. These manuscripts were often compiled as a personal ‘one-volume library’, containing copies and excerpts of a unique selection of texts. Further, they were often used for less guided writing activities. The owners left notes, lists and sometimes even sketches in the margins or on blank pages between the texts. Among these, lists of life dates of relatives are a valuable source for studies on domestic devotion. On the one hand, they give glimpses on the composition of households. How many people lived together and who were they? These lists inform us about names regardless of gender. On the other hand, the penning of these list is in itself a trace of a practice intricately tied to the familial and domestic spheres. These lists are usually the only place, in which the memory of those people is preserved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Devotions in Medieval and Early Modern Europe)
Open AccessArticle
Humanizing Horses: Transitions in Perception and Perspective
Religions 2019, 10(6), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060375
Received: 25 April 2019 / Revised: 3 June 2019 / Accepted: 5 June 2019 / Published: 7 June 2019
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Abstract
In Tibetan history and culture, horses were among the most important animals, if not the most important of all. Horses were the mounts that provided transport, particularly for the nobility and kings, allowing them to travel more quickly and comfortably. Horses were also [...] Read more.
In Tibetan history and culture, horses were among the most important animals, if not the most important of all. Horses were the mounts that provided transport, particularly for the nobility and kings, allowing them to travel more quickly and comfortably. Horses were also used for hunting, postal services, and to build a cavalry for warfare. In addition, they played a role in various entertainments, including horse racing, games, and parades. The unusually large number of manuscripts on horses attests to the value of horses in the Tibetan imaginaire compared to other animals that lived in the company of the people on the High Plateau, in Tibet itself, and in Tibetan cultural areas. This article begins with an outline of the uses and benefits of horses in Tibetan culture. It touches upon the animal’s role as the mount of Tibetan kings and debates regarding horses’ mental faculties. Then it presents a survey of the content of various manuscripts on equine studies based on sources from three stages: (1) the earliest Tibetan sources from Dunhuang; (2) translations from Indian texts; and (3) extensive compendia that merges all of the knowledge on horses available at the time of their composition. It analyzes the style and content of books that indicate the approach of the authors to the topic of “horse” and points to their view of horses in relation to Tibetan culture and Buddhism. Moreover, the books’ content mirrors the various functions and applications of horses in Tibet and India. It reveals the purpose of these books in general and illustrates the relation between textuality and orality. The study demonstrates the link between hippology and hippiatry, and the development of equine studies in Tibet. It shows the influence of humans on horse medicine and, moreover, contributes to an improved understanding of the development of Tibetan medical sciences in general. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Civil Religion as Myth, Not History
Religions 2019, 10(6), 374; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060374
Received: 17 April 2019 / Revised: 28 May 2019 / Accepted: 3 June 2019 / Published: 7 June 2019
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Abstract
This article draws upon recent historiography to critique the concept of “civil religion”, and argues that it should be replaced by nationalism. Its central point is that there is indeed a dominant language of American nationalism and one that has largely reflected the [...] Read more.
This article draws upon recent historiography to critique the concept of “civil religion”, and argues that it should be replaced by nationalism. Its central point is that there is indeed a dominant language of American nationalism and one that has largely reflected the culture of the Anglo-Protestant majority, but that it has always been contested and that it has changed over time. Civil religion, by contrast, is a far more slippery concept that elides questions of power, identity, and belonging that nationalism places at the center of inquiry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Civil Religion in America)
Open AccessArticle
From “Lama Doctors” to “Mongolian Doctors”: Regulations of Inner Mongolian Buddhist Medicine under Changing Regimes and the Crises of Modernity (1911–1976)
Religions 2019, 10(6), 373; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060373
Received: 28 May 2019 / Revised: 4 June 2019 / Accepted: 5 June 2019 / Published: 7 June 2019
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Abstract
This paper focuses on how Buddhist medicine in twentieth-century Inner Mongolia was defined, restricted, regulated, and transformed under different ruling political regimes since the fall of the Qing empire in 1911 to the 1980s. The paper argues that the fate of Mongolian medicine [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on how Buddhist medicine in twentieth-century Inner Mongolia was defined, restricted, regulated, and transformed under different ruling political regimes since the fall of the Qing empire in 1911 to the 1980s. The paper argues that the fate of Mongolian medicine was closely linked with the fate of Mongolian Buddhism in twentieth-century Inner Mongolia. As Inner Mongolian Buddhism came to be re-defined, regulated, and coerced by various systems of governance that came to rule the region, Mongolian Buddhist medicine faced crises of modernity in which processes of secularization, exercises of biopower, practices of colonial medicine, and discourses of ethnicity and hygiene challenged the tradition to either reform and adapt to new standardizations imposed by Western biomedicine or lose relevancy in rapidly evolving eras of change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Medicine in India, Tibet, and Mongolia)
Open AccessArticle
Teaching Dante in the History of Christian Theology
Religions 2019, 10(6), 372; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10060372
Received: 20 March 2019 / Revised: 24 May 2019 / Accepted: 5 June 2019 / Published: 7 June 2019
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Abstract
Outside of core curriculum programs or Great Books classes, few undergraduates who are not literature majors read and discuss Dante’s Divine Comedy. This paper describes the redesign of a course in the history of Christian theology as a model for integrating the [...] Read more.
Outside of core curriculum programs or Great Books classes, few undergraduates who are not literature majors read and discuss Dante’s Divine Comedy. This paper describes the redesign of a course in the history of Christian theology as a model for integrating the study of Dante into additional contexts within general education. Reading Dante not only as poet but also as theologian can enhance students’ learning and their engagement with medieval theology. A focused reading of Paradiso provides a novel and exciting way for a survey course in historical theology to balance general education’s needs for both breadth and depth. At the same time, reading Dante also helps students to experience the significant intersections of culture and theology in the medieval period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
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