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Religions, Volume 10, Issue 7 (July 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Theology, and indeed Christian theology, may find its beginnings in the space of fictions, even the [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Chinese Catholic Nuns and the Organization of Religious Life in Contemporary China
Religions 2019, 10(7), 447; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070447
Received: 25 June 2019 / Revised: 9 July 2019 / Accepted: 19 July 2019 / Published: 23 July 2019
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Abstract
This article explores the evolution of female religious life within the Catholic Church in China today. Through ethnographic observation, it establishes a spectrum of practices between two main traditions, namely the antique beatas and the modern missionary congregations. The article argues that Chinese [...] Read more.
This article explores the evolution of female religious life within the Catholic Church in China today. Through ethnographic observation, it establishes a spectrum of practices between two main traditions, namely the antique beatas and the modern missionary congregations. The article argues that Chinese nuns create forms of religious life that are quite distinct from more universal Catholic standards: their congregations are always diocesan and involved in multiple forms of apostolate. Despite the little attention they receive, Chinese nuns demonstrate how Chinese Catholics are creative in their appropriation of Christian traditions and their response to social and economic changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Christianity in China)
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Open AccessArticle
The Catholic Church in Contemporary China: How Does the New Regulation on Religious Affairs Influence the Catholic Church?
Religions 2019, 10(7), 446; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070446
Received: 13 June 2019 / Revised: 10 July 2019 / Accepted: 19 July 2019 / Published: 23 July 2019
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Abstract
The Chinese government has regulated all religious activity in the public domain for many years. The state has generally considered religious groups as representing a potential challenge to the authority of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which sees one of its basic roles [...] Read more.
The Chinese government has regulated all religious activity in the public domain for many years. The state has generally considered religious groups as representing a potential challenge to the authority of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which sees one of its basic roles as making sure religion neither interferes with the state’s exercise of power nor harms its citizens. A revised Regulation on Religious Affairs (Zongjiao shiwu tiaoli 宗教事务条例) took effect in 2018, updating the regulation of 2005. This paper aims to introduce and examine the content of the regulation, especially how it differs from its predecessor and how the changes are likely to affect religious groups in China. The Catholic church in China has historical links to the worldwide Catholic church, so articles in the new regulation which seek to curb foreign influence on Chinese religious groups may have more of an effect on Chinese Catholics than on other groups. The paper addresses two main questions: How does the new regulation affect the Catholic church and what strategies are employed by the Catholic church in order to comply with the regulation? The research is based on textual analysis of the relevant legal documents and on field research conducted in the People Republic of China (PRC). The fieldwork consisted of open interviews with several church members and official representatives of the church conducted in Zhejiang Province between March and May 2018, and in May and June 2019. The paper thus aims to analyze contemporary Chinese religious legislation with respect to the lived experience of Catholics in China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Christianity in China)
Open AccessArticle
Birds and Beasts in the Zhuangzi, Fables Interpreted by Guo Xiang and Cheng Xuanying
Religions 2019, 10(7), 445; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070445
Received: 29 May 2019 / Revised: 17 July 2019 / Accepted: 18 July 2019 / Published: 22 July 2019
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Abstract
Birds and beasts often appear in the Zhuangzi, in fables and parables meant to be read analogically as instructions for human thought and behavior. Whereas the analogical significance of some fables is obvious, in others it is obscure and in need of explication, [...] Read more.
Birds and beasts often appear in the Zhuangzi, in fables and parables meant to be read analogically as instructions for human thought and behavior. Whereas the analogical significance of some fables is obvious, in others it is obscure and in need of explication, and even the readily accessible can be made to yield more clarity thanks to commentaries. This paper explores contributions made by the commentaries of Guo Xiang (252–312) and Cheng Xuanying (ca. 620–670) to the understanding of such fables. Guo Xiang and Wang Bi 王弼 (226–249) are the two most important figures in the xuanxue 玄學 “arcane learning” or “Neo-Daoism” movement of early medieval China (third to sixth century C.E.), which combined elements of Confucianism with the thought of Daoist foundational texts, especially the Daode jing (Classic of the Dao and Virtue) and the Zhuangzi (Sayings of Master Zhuang). Focus of the movement was the promotion of the concept and practice of the sage-ruler as a catalyst for the regeneration of self and society, leading to the foundation of a worldly utopia. Guo’s is the earliest intact philosophical commentary to the Zhuangzi and one of the most widely read during premodern times. Cheng Xuanying composed the only subcommentary to Guo’s commentary. Its more explicit style is most helpful in deciphering Guo’s too often cryptic and elliptical statements. However, it also tends to shunt Guo’s statecraft reading of the Zhuangzi more in the direction of explicating philosophical and religious dimensions of the text. Whereas Guo’s observations about sagehood, self-fulfillment, and the good life largely focus on the sage-ruler and his relation to his people, Cheng’s approach tends more to explore issues of personal self-realization and individual enlightenment, and, as such, is far more “religious” than Guo’s. However, when it comes to accounts of birds and beasts, parodies and satires, which address the limitations, failures, delusions and faulty assumptions, narrow-mindedness, and other human foibles, both Guo and Cheng see them all rooted in self-conscious thought and knowledge, and thus deadly impediments to enlightenment. Other passages about beasts and birds use animal fables as exemplars of truth concerning endowed personal nature and the natural propensity to stay within the bounds of individual natural capacity. Since the commentaries of Guo and Cheng add important dimensions to these accounts, this study explores these as well. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Treasure Hunt—Roman Inquisition and Magical Practices Ad Inveniendos Thesauros in Southern Tuscany
Religions 2019, 10(7), 444; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070444
Received: 5 June 2019 / Revised: 5 July 2019 / Accepted: 18 July 2019 / Published: 22 July 2019
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Abstract
Resorting to the supernatural to find something lost is a practice that can be observed over a very large range of times and places. With the affirmation of Christianity, these kinds of habits and beliefs were considered superstitious by the Church. During the [...] Read more.
Resorting to the supernatural to find something lost is a practice that can be observed over a very large range of times and places. With the affirmation of Christianity, these kinds of habits and beliefs were considered superstitious by the Church. During the early modern era, the institution appointed to control the integrity of the faithful in the Italian peninsula was the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, which had a significant number of local tribunals spread over the territory. This essay aims to study the diffusion of the practice of finding treasures by using magical items and rituals in the area under the jurisdiction of the Sienese tribunal of the Holy Office (approximately the entire southern Tuscany), whose trial sources are preserved in the Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Vatican City). The research, based on around seventy individual cases, shows an interesting belief from a historical–anthropological point of view, namely: although in most cases people were looking for everyday objects that they had lost, sometimes, they used the same rituals to search for ancient treasures that they heard were buried or hidden in a particular place (church, field, or cellar), with the presence of guardians like spirits or demons, that had to be driven away with a prayer or an exorcism before taking possession of the treasure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Witchcraft, Demonology and Magic)
Open AccessArticle
Educational Environments with Cultural and Religious Diversity: Psychometric Analysis of the Cyberbullying Scale
Religions 2019, 10(7), 443; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070443
Received: 24 June 2019 / Revised: 15 July 2019 / Accepted: 18 July 2019 / Published: 21 July 2019
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Abstract
The objective of this research is to adapt and validate a useful instrument to diagnose cyberbullying, provoked by intolerance towards cultural and religious diversity, identifying the profile of the aggressor and the victim. The study was carried out using the Delphi technique, exploratory [...] Read more.
The objective of this research is to adapt and validate a useful instrument to diagnose cyberbullying, provoked by intolerance towards cultural and religious diversity, identifying the profile of the aggressor and the victim. The study was carried out using the Delphi technique, exploratory factor analysis (EFA), and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The selected sample was composed of 1478 adolescents, all students from Compulsory Secondary Education of Spain. The instrument items were extracted from relevant scales on the topic. The initial questionnaire was composed of 52 items and three underlying constructs. After validation with EFA (n = 723), the structure was checked, and the model was later corroborated with CFA (n = 755) through structural equations (RMSEA = 0.05, CFI = 0.826, TLI = 0.805). The reliability and internal consistency of the instrument were also tested, with values for all dimensions being higher than 0.8. It is concluded that this new questionnaire has 38 items and three dimensions. It has an acceptable validity and reliability, and can be used to diagnose cyberbullying caused by the non-acceptance of cultural and religious diversity in Compulsory Secondary Education students. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Antisemitism in the Muslim Intellectual Discourse in South Asia
Religions 2019, 10(7), 442; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070442
Received: 31 May 2019 / Revised: 9 July 2019 / Accepted: 15 July 2019 / Published: 19 July 2019
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Abstract
South Asia (Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan) has produced some of the greatest Islamic thinkers, such as Shah Wali Allah (sometimes also spelled Waliullah; 1702–1763) who is considered one of the originators of pan-Islamism, Rahmatullah Kairanwi (1818–1892), Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938), Syed Abul A’la Mawdudi [...] Read more.
South Asia (Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan) has produced some of the greatest Islamic thinkers, such as Shah Wali Allah (sometimes also spelled Waliullah; 1702–1763) who is considered one of the originators of pan-Islamism, Rahmatullah Kairanwi (1818–1892), Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938), Syed Abul A’la Mawdudi (also spelled Maududi; 1903–1979), and Abul Hasan Ali Hasani Nadwi (1914–1999), who have all played a pivotal role in shaping political Islam and have all had global impact. Islamism is intertwined with Muslim antisemitism. Some of the greatest Islamist movements have their bases in South Asia, such as Tablīghi Jamā’at—the largest Sunni Muslim revivalist (daw’a) movement in the world—and Jamā’at-i-Islāmi—a prototype of political Islam in South Asia. The region is home to some of the most important institutions of Islamic theological studies: Darul Ulūm Deoband, the alleged source of ideological inspiration to the Taliban, and Nadwātu’l-’Ulamā and Firangi Mahal, whose curricula are followed by seminaries across the world attended by South Asian Muslims in their diaspora. Some of the most popular Muslim televangelists have come from South Asia, such as Israr Ahmed (1932–2010) and Zakir Naik (b. 1965). This paper gives an introductory overview of antisemitism in the Muslim intellectual discourse in South Asia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Return of Religious Antisemitism?)
Open AccessArticle
The Pedagogy of the Evangelization, Latinity, and the Construction of Cultural Identities in the Emblematic Politics of Guamán Poma de Ayala
Religions 2019, 10(7), 441; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070441
Received: 16 June 2019 / Accepted: 16 July 2019 / Published: 18 July 2019
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Abstract
Transculturation processes and the formation of identity are analyzed in this investigation into the emblematic politics of the Primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno (First new chronicle and good government) of Guamán Poma de Ayala (ca. 1616). Understood as pluricultural acts [...] Read more.
Transculturation processes and the formation of identity are analyzed in this investigation into the emblematic politics of the Primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno (First new chronicle and good government) of Guamán Poma de Ayala (ca. 1616). Understood as pluricultural acts of discourse between Andean cosmological visions and the new systems of European cultural codification, this study follows the emblematic chronicler from Poma on the subject of colonial education and the Ladino Indian, through structured relations fixed between space, icon, and symbol. The careful iconographic arrangement of the drawings of Guamán are the result of conscient knowledge of the usefulness of the image and its didactic, persuasive, propagandistic, and mnemotechnic potential. Learning the reading and writing of the Castilian language will be presented here as one of the most effective social instruments in the colonial order and in the defense of native Indians before Viceroyal authorities. Mastery of writing sets the foundation for shaping a multiple and transcultural non-exclusive identity, which shows evidence of dialogic and effective communication of a cultural memory, the result of the negotiation of two identities, one from the awareness of the pre-Hispanic past and another orderly realignment in accordance with European cultural patterns. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Social Architecture of Belonging in the African Pentecostal Diaspora
Religions 2019, 10(7), 440; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070440
Received: 8 February 2019 / Revised: 21 April 2019 / Accepted: 16 July 2019 / Published: 18 July 2019
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Abstract
From megachurches in movie theatres to prayer groups held in living rooms, Pentecostals worldwide are constantly carrying out religious activities that ultimately aim to integrate diverse worshippers into the kingdom of God. Born-again Christians refashion their ‘ways of being’ by breaking down and [...] Read more.
From megachurches in movie theatres to prayer groups held in living rooms, Pentecostals worldwide are constantly carrying out religious activities that ultimately aim to integrate diverse worshippers into the kingdom of God. Born-again Christians refashion their ‘ways of being’ by breaking down and re-establishing the interpersonal relationships shaped and changed by emerging diasporic modernities. I examined some of these changing ways of being by comparing the discursive practices of African Pentecostal pastors in Johannesburg (South Africa) and Bilbao (Spain). These case-studies demonstrate how these migrant-initiated churches create a ‘social architecture’, a platform on which African worshippers find social and spiritual integration in increasingly globalized contexts. I argue that the subdivision of large congregations into specialized fellowship groups provides African migrants with alternative strategies to achieve a sense of belonging in an expanding diasporic network. Their transformative mission of spiritual education, by spreading African(ized) and Pentecostal values according to age, gender, or social roles, helps to uplift them from being a marginalized minority to being a powerful group occupying a high moral ground. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Power, and Resistance: New Ideas for a Divided World)
Open AccessArticle
When Liberalism Is Not Enough: Political Theology after Reinhold Niebuhr and Emmanuel Levinas
Religions 2019, 10(7), 439; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070439
Received: 10 June 2019 / Revised: 8 July 2019 / Accepted: 12 July 2019 / Published: 18 July 2019
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Abstract
In this paper, we are interested in extending out the dialectical models of religious ethics and political theology that Reinhold Niebuhr and Emmanuel Levinas began by enacting a conversation between these two theorists. We do this by presenting and critically comparing Niebuhr’s and [...] Read more.
In this paper, we are interested in extending out the dialectical models of religious ethics and political theology that Reinhold Niebuhr and Emmanuel Levinas began by enacting a conversation between these two theorists. We do this by presenting and critically comparing Niebuhr’s and Levinas’s thought as concerns three key issues in moral and political theory: (1) the nature of persons, (2) the source and content of the moral ideal of love and the political ideal of justice, and (3) the impossibility and yet continued practical relevance of ideals for social life. Ultimately, we conclude that they mutually offer reasons to find hope in the face of political cynicism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Theology and Pluralism)
Open AccessArticle
Mediatizing the Holy Community—Ultra-Orthodoxy Negotiation and Presentation on Public Social-Media
Religions 2019, 10(7), 438; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070438
Received: 30 May 2019 / Revised: 4 July 2019 / Accepted: 9 July 2019 / Published: 17 July 2019
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Abstract
In recent years, media theorists stress macroscopic relations between digital communications and religion, through the framing of mediatization theory. In these discussions, media is conceptualized as a social institution, which influences religious establishments and discourse. Mediatization scholars have emphasized the transmission of meanings [...] Read more.
In recent years, media theorists stress macroscopic relations between digital communications and religion, through the framing of mediatization theory. In these discussions, media is conceptualized as a social institution, which influences religious establishments and discourse. Mediatization scholars have emphasized the transmission of meanings and outreach to individuals, and the religious-social shaping of technology. Less attention has been devoted to the mediatization of the religious community and identity. Accordingly, we asked how members of bounded religious communities negotiate and perform their identity via public social media. This study focuses on public performances of the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel, rhetorically and symbolically expressed in groups operating over WhatsApp, a mobile instant messaging and social media platform. While a systematic study of instant messaging has yet to be conducted on insular-religious communities, this study draws upon an extensive exploration of over 2000 posts and 20 interviews conducted between 2016–2019. The findings uncover how, through mediatization, members work towards reconstructing the holy community online, yet renegotiate enclave boundaries. The findings illuminate a democratizing impact of mediatization as growing masses of ultra-Orthodox participants are given a voice, restructure power relations and modify fundamentalist proclivities towards this-worldly activity, to influence society beyond the enclave’s online and offline boundaries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mediatisation in Global Perspective)
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Open AccessArticle
Big Five Personality Traits and Life Satisfaction: The Mediating Role of Religiosity
Religions 2019, 10(7), 437; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070437
Received: 7 June 2019 / Revised: 30 June 2019 / Accepted: 3 July 2019 / Published: 17 July 2019
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Abstract
Extensive empirical research conducted up till now has confirmed that personality represents one of the most significant predictors of life satisfaction. Still, no studies to date have empirically tested the path of influence from personality traits to religiosity and the effects of both [...] Read more.
Extensive empirical research conducted up till now has confirmed that personality represents one of the most significant predictors of life satisfaction. Still, no studies to date have empirically tested the path of influence from personality traits to religiosity and the effects of both on life satisfaction/positivity within the same model. In the current study, we aimed to verify whether the relationship between personality and satisfaction/positivity was mediated by religiousness, as it is considered motivational in nature. The sample consisted of 213 participants (72% women) aged between 18 and 75. The average age was approx. 32. We used the following tools: the NEO Five Factor Inventory, the Satisfaction with Life Scale, the Positivity Scale, the Personal Religiousness Scale, and the Intensity of Religious Attitude Scale. Our hypotheses (H1 and H2) found their confirmation to a large degree. In fact, life satisfaction positively correlated with extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Moreover, life satisfaction negatively correlated with neuroticism. A similar pattern of results, even slightly stronger, was found in the case of positivity and personality traits. Contrary to our assumptions, neither life satisfaction nor positivity correlated with openness to experience. Extraversion and agreeableness correlated positively with religious attitude, personal religiousness and its four dimensions. Conscientiousness correlated positively only with faith, personal religiousness, and religious attitude. We also found negative and significant correlations between openness and all of the dimensions of personal religiousness. A lack of correlation was found between: (1) neuroticism and all of the dimensions of religiosity; (2) conscientiousness and religious practices, and religious self. Our research offers a contribution to the field by providing evidence that some personality traits predict life satisfaction/positivity because respondents display a personal religiousness/religious attitude. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Prospects for a Postsecular Heritage Practice: Convergences between Posthumanism and Popular Religious Practice in Asia
Religions 2019, 10(7), 436; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070436
Received: 29 April 2019 / Revised: 27 June 2019 / Accepted: 10 July 2019 / Published: 17 July 2019
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Abstract
By failing to document popular belief in the supernatural attributes of religious sites and by drawing up conservation management plans that fail to attend to such beliefs, current heritage regimes effectively perform a secular translation of them. I argue that the posthuman turn [...] Read more.
By failing to document popular belief in the supernatural attributes of religious sites and by drawing up conservation management plans that fail to attend to such beliefs, current heritage regimes effectively perform a secular translation of them. I argue that the posthuman turn in the humanities and social sciences, and in particular its openness to forms of agency, vibrancy and vitality in the object world, offers prospects for a kind of heritage practice newly comfortable with the vibrancy that belief in the supernatural lends to the things of popular religion. Focusing on the material heritage of popular religion in Asia—in particular in China and Southeast Asia—attitudes of devotees to the rebuilding of temples and shrines are examined. Practices of rebuilding and restoration come to be seen as a form of worship. While ontological differences between worshipers and heritage practitioners remain, it is possible to be positive about the prospects for a postsecular heritage practice precisely because the rationalist authority of established practice is so under challenge by the counter discourses of posthumanism, the new materialism, and related streams of thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Space as Cultural Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Answering for Islam: Journalistic and Islamic Conceptions of Authority
Religions 2019, 10(7), 435; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070435
Received: 20 May 2019 / Revised: 5 July 2019 / Accepted: 7 July 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
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Abstract
Media representations of Muslims in Britain have often disappointed both faith practitioners and scholars. Imputed failings include distorting beliefs or practices, essentialising the faith, and amplifying voices that are not representative of Islam. This last factor hinges on questions of authority: what journalists [...] Read more.
Media representations of Muslims in Britain have often disappointed both faith practitioners and scholars. Imputed failings include distorting beliefs or practices, essentialising the faith, and amplifying voices that are not representative of Islam. This last factor hinges on questions of authority: what journalists and Muslims recognise as authority can differ in important ways. Drawing on studies of journalism practice, prior professional experience, and ethnographic fieldwork and qualitative interviews in Scotland, I discuss the conventional preference among journalists for “official sources” and the problems this can present in terms of hierarchy in Islam. I contrast this with a less-studied imperative, also present in newsrooms, for “real people”. This category matches well with Islam’s decentralised tradition and presents an opportunity to understand how different kinds of sources are presented in media coverage. It is possible for journalists to ensure that these differing claims to authority are represented properly, though this requires knowledge and responsibility. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Living Compound Marginality: Experiences of a Japanese Muslim Woman
Religions 2019, 10(7), 434; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070434
Received: 29 March 2019 / Revised: 11 July 2019 / Accepted: 13 July 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
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Abstract
The present article discusses the ways in which ethnic Japanese Muslim women are perceived and treated in contemporary Japanese society, through a case study of one Japanese female convert. It examines the complexity found in her experiences of marginality by highlighting three inter-related [...] Read more.
The present article discusses the ways in which ethnic Japanese Muslim women are perceived and treated in contemporary Japanese society, through a case study of one Japanese female convert. It examines the complexity found in her experiences of marginality by highlighting three inter-related modes of marginalization: marginality deriving from being a Muslim, from being a Japanese Muslim and from being a woman. It discusses her responses to these discourses of marginalization and how she establishes her identity as a Muslim, through responding to them. The article first shows that ethnic Japanese Muslims suffer ‘inverted marginality’—marginalization due to belonging to the ethno-cultural majority. It then demonstrates their experience of ‘double marginality’, marginalization by the wider Japanese society and foreign-born Muslims alike. It argues that their experience of double marginality has partly resulted from the absence of a self-sufficient ethnic community of Japanese Muslims. Ethnic Japanese Muslim women experience further marginalization when they become targets for criticism of Islam, such as that Islam is a religion of female subjugation—a notion of gender orientalism that deprives these women of their agency. However, the process of responding to these challenges of marginality helps ethnic Japanese Muslim women consolidate their identity as Muslims. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Spirituality in Contemporary Japan)
Open AccessArticle
Integrating Christian Spirituality at Work: Combining Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approaches
Religions 2019, 10(7), 433; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070433
Received: 10 June 2019 / Revised: 4 July 2019 / Accepted: 10 July 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
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Abstract
This paper combines organizational and theological frameworks to address the integration of Christian spirituality at work (SAW). It begins with a brief explanation of SAW, followed by a more narrow description of Christian SAW. The paper then provides a snapshot of several integrative [...] Read more.
This paper combines organizational and theological frameworks to address the integration of Christian spirituality at work (SAW). It begins with a brief explanation of SAW, followed by a more narrow description of Christian SAW. The paper then provides a snapshot of several integrative models from the SAW literature, after which it offers a new theological model of Christian SAW, noting that Christians want to contribute to God’s new creation while worshipping Him through their work. Both this and the models from the SAW literature are considered to be ‘top-down’ approaches in that they provide guidance for managers on how to integrate employee spirituality. The next section then provides new ‘bottom-up’ qualitative research exploring the underlying conditions that working Christians believe are required for enhancing their spirituality at work. The paper concludes by bringing these two approaches together to produce a new theoretical contribution on how best to integrate Christian SAW, and to achieve the benefits of doing so for an organization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integration of Religion in Workplace)
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Open AccessArticle
The ‘Greening’ of Christian Monasticism and the Future of Monastic Landscapes in North America
Religions 2019, 10(7), 432; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070432
Received: 12 June 2019 / Revised: 9 July 2019 / Accepted: 11 July 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
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Abstract
Christian monasticism has an ancient land-based foundation. The desert fathers and later reform movements appealed to the land for sustenance, spiritual metaphor, and as a marker of authentic monastic identity. Contemporary Roman Catholic monastics with this history in mind, have actively engaged environmental [...] Read more.
Christian monasticism has an ancient land-based foundation. The desert fathers and later reform movements appealed to the land for sustenance, spiritual metaphor, and as a marker of authentic monastic identity. Contemporary Roman Catholic monastics with this history in mind, have actively engaged environmental discourse in ways that draw from their respective monastic lineages, a process sociologist Stephen Ellingson calls ‘bridging’. Though this study is of limited scope, this bridging between monastic lineages and environmental discourse could cautiously be identified with the broader phenomenon of the ‘greening’ of Christianity. Looking to the future, while the footprint of North American monastic communities is quite small, and their numbers are slowly declining, a variety of conservation-minded management schemes implemented since the 1990s by some communities suggests that the impact will remain for many decades to come. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Future of Christian Monasticisms)
Open AccessArticle
Using the Stars to Indigenize the Public Sphere: Matariki over New Zealand
Religions 2019, 10(7), 431; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070431
Received: 3 June 2019 / Revised: 26 June 2019 / Accepted: 28 June 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
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Abstract
As the rate of affiliation to Christian identity continues to decline in Aotearoa New Zealand (only 49 percent of the population said they were Christian in the last census), public space has become more receptive to other forms of religiosity. In particular, community [...] Read more.
As the rate of affiliation to Christian identity continues to decline in Aotearoa New Zealand (only 49 percent of the population said they were Christian in the last census), public space has become more receptive to other forms of religiosity. In particular, community rituals around the winter movements of the Matariki (Pleiades) constellation have gained support since the year 2000. For instance, the capital city, Wellington, has replaced a centuries’ old British fireworks festival, Guy Fawkes, with an enlarged version of its Matariki celebrations: an action seen as a tipping point in the incorporation of Māori spiritual values into public life. Interactions between European colonisers and Māori have been characterised for more than 250 years by tensions between the relational thinking of Māori who see human beings as both participating in and constrained by an environment resonant with divine energies, and the quantitative, hierarchical, ‘Great Chain of Being’ model that had long been dominant among Europeans. Now, when the natural environment worldwide is under strain from population and economic pressures, it seems to some both appropriate and vital to look to epistemological and spiritual models that are intimately responsive to the specificities of location. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Tyler Perry and the Rhetoric of Madea: Contrasting Performances of Perry’s Leading Lady as She Appears on Stage and Screen
Religions 2019, 10(7), 430; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070430
Received: 15 May 2019 / Revised: 6 July 2019 / Accepted: 10 July 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
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Abstract
In this essay, we will explore the variances in Madea’s character and presence on stage and on screen in both productions of Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail: The Play and Madea Goes to Jail. Specifically, we examine the multiple and varying [...] Read more.
In this essay, we will explore the variances in Madea’s character and presence on stage and on screen in both productions of Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail: The Play and Madea Goes to Jail. Specifically, we examine the multiple and varying ways in which the character of Madea performs for different audiences by examining how the roles of violence, religion and wisdom operate on stage and screen. Exploring the subtle—and at times, not-so-subtle—ways in which Madea’s performances differ from stage to screen, we suggest that Madea also performs as a text that Perry then uses to impart different messages to audiences of both stage and screen. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in African American Popular Culture)
Open AccessArticle
Exploring the Potential of Religious Literacy in Pakistani Education
Religions 2019, 10(7), 429; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070429
Received: 7 June 2019 / Revised: 4 July 2019 / Accepted: 12 July 2019 / Published: 15 July 2019
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Abstract
Religious education is a compulsory subject in Pakistani schools in which students learn basic knowledge about Islam without exploring the sectarian differences between each sect of Islam. The division of Muslims into Sunni and Shia and the further division of Sunni Muslims into [...] Read more.
Religious education is a compulsory subject in Pakistani schools in which students learn basic knowledge about Islam without exploring the sectarian differences between each sect of Islam. The division of Muslims into Sunni and Shia and the further division of Sunni Muslims into different sects has caused massive sectarian violence in Pakistan. This study uses qualitative methods to explore the possibility of engaging with religious literacy and religious education to explain the purpose, contents, and practical application of religious education and to mitigate existing challenges linked to religion in Pakistan. Even though religious education does not support sectarian differences, individual opinions about sectarian differences are still a major component of divisiveness in Pakistani society. Through interviews with 25 teachers from different levels of education (six primary school teachers, five high school teachers, five college teachers, five university teachers, and four religious school teachers), in this article, I argue that teachers of religious education in schools are neither following a common faith in teaching religious education nor are they in full agreement on providing equal rights to all students of different religious beliefs. Rather, most believe in their personal ideology centered on their own particular religious sect that largely rejects the concept of religious literacy. There is a need for evaluation and improvement of the teaching and learning of religion in schools in order to explain misperceptions about its practical application as well as to engage religious education with diversity. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A Flexible Indeterminate Theory of Religion: Thinking through Chinese Religious Phenomena
Religions 2019, 10(7), 428; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070428
Received: 3 April 2019 / Revised: 30 June 2019 / Accepted: 1 July 2019 / Published: 13 July 2019
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Abstract
This essay explores a few of the reasons for the failure of Western theories to capture Chinese religious experiences. It will include Durkheim’s insight that “The sacred … is society in disguised form” and variants of secularization theories in contrast to Confucian ones, [...] Read more.
This essay explores a few of the reasons for the failure of Western theories to capture Chinese religious experiences. It will include Durkheim’s insight that “The sacred … is society in disguised form” and variants of secularization theories in contrast to Confucian ones, especially Xunzi’s theory about ritual, read as representative of religion. This article will examine the impossibility of asserting a straightforward claim, without exception, that could capture the three thousand years of historical and contemporary diversity manifested by the three institutional religions (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism), the continuous formation of popular religious movements, ever developing sectarian groups, and pan-Chinese quasi-religious practices like ancestor veneration, divination, healing practices and the like. The study will start by looking at variable categories used in the study of different religions, the similarities in assumptions among the three institutional religions such as the “good” and self-cultivation, and the central place of secularization theory in the contemporary study of Chinese religions. A theoretical orientation of both flexibility and indeterminacy is suggested based on indigenous ideas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Power, and Resistance: New Ideas for a Divided World)
Open AccessArticle
To Be at One with the Land: Māori Spirituality Predicts Greater Environmental Regard
Religions 2019, 10(7), 427; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070427
Received: 27 May 2019 / Revised: 5 July 2019 / Accepted: 10 July 2019 / Published: 13 July 2019
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Abstract
Māori, New Zealand’s indigenous population, have a unique connection to the environment (Harris and Tipene 2006). In Māori tradition, Papatūānuku is the land—the earth mother who gives birth to all things, including Māori (Dell 2017). Māori also self-define as tāngata whenua (people of [...] Read more.
Māori, New Zealand’s indigenous population, have a unique connection to the environment (Harris and Tipene 2006). In Māori tradition, Papatūānuku is the land—the earth mother who gives birth to all things, including Māori (Dell 2017). Māori also self-define as tāngata whenua (people of the land), a status formally recognised in New Zealand legislation. Māori have fought to regain tino rangatiratanga (authority and self-determination; see Gillespie 1998) over lands lost via colonisation. Accordingly, Cowie et al. (2016) found that socio-political consciousness—a dimension of Māori identity—correlated positively with Schwartz’s (1992) value of protecting the environment and preserving nature. Yet, Māori perceptions of land also derive from spiritual associations. Our work investigated the spiritual component of Māori environmental regard by delineating between protecting the environment (i.e., a value with socio-political implications) and desiring unity with nature (i.e., a value with spiritual overtones) amongst a large national sample of Māori (N = 6812). As hypothesized, socio-political consciousness correlated positively with valuing environmental protection, whilst spirituality correlated positively with valuing unity with nature. These results demonstrate that Māori connection with the land is simultaneously rooted in spirituality and socio-political concerns. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Raison d’état, Religion, and the Body in The Rape of Lucrece
Religions 2019, 10(7), 426; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070426
Received: 4 June 2019 / Revised: 5 July 2019 / Accepted: 7 July 2019 / Published: 13 July 2019
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Abstract
With an emphasis on the religious figuration of its heroine’s chaste body, the present essay explores the political dynamics of The Rape of Lucrece. The poem draws on Roman religion and Christianity: Lucrece is an emblem of purity, with echoes of the [...] Read more.
With an emphasis on the religious figuration of its heroine’s chaste body, the present essay explores the political dynamics of The Rape of Lucrece. The poem draws on Roman religion and Christianity: Lucrece is an emblem of purity, with echoes of the flaminica or Vestal virgins, and her spotlessness anticipates Christ’s. Seeing these qualities allows us to engage the poem’s gender dynamics and its politics, with both of these being centered on issues of property. While The Rape of Lucrece has been enlisted as an artifact of late Elizabethan republican culture, its depiction of the expulsion of the Tarquins need not lead us to that conclusion. It is nonetheless a product of the political anxieties of Elizabeth’s final years. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in Shakespeare's Writings)
Open AccessArticle
Memorising and Reciting a Text without Understanding Its Meaning: A Multi-Faceted Consideration of This Practice with Particular Reference to the Qur’an
Religions 2019, 10(7), 425; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070425
Received: 25 June 2019 / Revised: 6 July 2019 / Accepted: 9 July 2019 / Published: 11 July 2019
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Abstract
The joint activities of memorising and reciting the Arabic Qur’an are deeply embedded within Islamic tradition, culture and educational practice. Despite this, for many western non-Muslims, particularly those engaged in educational activity themselves, to learn that memorisation of the Arabic text of the [...] Read more.
The joint activities of memorising and reciting the Arabic Qur’an are deeply embedded within Islamic tradition, culture and educational practice. Despite this, for many western non-Muslims, particularly those engaged in educational activity themselves, to learn that memorisation of the Arabic text of the Qur’an does not always—or, indeed, often—go hand-in-hand with understanding the meaning of the words can come as both a surprise and a shock. It is not uncommon to hear a response from such people to the effect that to memorise texts without understanding their meaning is pointless. There is also sometimes the implication that such practice in anachronistic: ‘behind the times’, as it were, and thus not worthy of serious consideration. This article is framed as a ‘general’ riposte to such a dismissive response in that its motivation lies not in straightforward apologetics (that is, defending the practice of memorisation without qualification and at all costs), but, rather, in bringing together a number of key elements (or factors) that cumulatively carry sufficient weight to challenge such a raw response, or at least to give pause for thought and promote a more informed consideration. Following a brief introduction that locates Qur’an memorisation and recitation within Islamic faith and practice, five facets will be explored: first, the growing recognition that there is not just one legitimate form of literacy but, rather, a plurality of literacies; second, the ambiguity within the concept of ‘meaning’ itself; third, an acknowledgement that memorisation has not only held an esteemed place in western history, but remains valued in some aspects of contemporary life and culture; fourth, a recognition of the emotional power of high-quality recitation, irrespective of a literal comprehension of the words being recited; and, finally, the growing body of research evidence that suggests that the involvement of Muslim children and young people in Qur’anic memorisation and recitation might very well equip them with valuable social and educational capital. The article will end with a brief personal account showing the complex position that a contemporary British Muslim ‘insider’—as individual, teacher and parent—has adopted towards his own and others’ practice of memorising the Qur’an. This account has been included to show that, within the Muslim community itself, different opinions are held about the weight and meaning to be placed on memorisation in general and on Qur’anic memorisation and recitation in particular. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Living toto corde: Monastic Vows and the Knowledge of God
Religions 2019, 10(7), 424; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070424
Received: 6 June 2019 / Revised: 4 July 2019 / Accepted: 6 July 2019 / Published: 11 July 2019
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Abstract
Monastic vows have been a source of religious controversy at least since the Reformation. Today, new monastic movements recover many elements of the tradition (e.g., community life and prayer, material solidarity and poverty), but vows—understood as a lifelong or binding commitment to obedience, [...] Read more.
Monastic vows have been a source of religious controversy at least since the Reformation. Today, new monastic movements recover many elements of the tradition (e.g., community life and prayer, material solidarity and poverty), but vows—understood as a lifelong or binding commitment to obedience, stability and conversion to the monastic way of life—do not appear to capture much enthusiasm. Even the Benedictine tradition in the Catholic Church appears, at least in certain regions, to struggle to attract young men and women to give themselves away through vows. In this context, I ask whether vows should belong to the “future of Christian monasticisms”. I will look at Anselm of Canterbury for inspiration regarding their meaning. For him, monastic vows enact the “total” gift of self or the “total” belonging to God. I will suggest, following Anselm, that such vows enable an existential commitment that is in a unique way morally and intellectually enlivening, and that such vows should remain an element in any future monasticism wanting to stand in continuity with the “Christian monasticism” of the past. During my conclusion, I acknowledge that our imagination regarding the concrete forms the total gift could take may develop. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Future of Christian Monasticisms)
Open AccessArticle
Rediscovering Monasticism through Art
Religions 2019, 10(7), 423; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070423
Received: 1 June 2019 / Revised: 3 July 2019 / Accepted: 9 July 2019 / Published: 10 July 2019
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Abstract
Looking at modern monasticism and its role in society one can see how traditional monastic concepts or values find their new forms. On the other hand, art and artists willingly, though not always consciously, use or refer to some monastic themes. In this [...] Read more.
Looking at modern monasticism and its role in society one can see how traditional monastic concepts or values find their new forms. On the other hand, art and artists willingly, though not always consciously, use or refer to some monastic themes. In this paper, on the base of texts of some authors open to the dialogue between monasticism and art, a reading of monasticism in the key of art is proposed, exclusively in reference to the Christian monasticism. Given its present cultural and social context, the thesis of this paper is that through the rediscovering of monasticism through art, one can and should refresh and save it in a more and more secularized society, what may be also a perspective of a new role of monasticism in the modern world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Future of Christian Monasticisms)
Open AccessArticle
Seeking Christian Theology in Modern Chinese Fiction: An Exercise for Sino-Christian Theology
Religions 2019, 10(7), 422; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070422
Received: 13 June 2019 / Revised: 4 July 2019 / Accepted: 5 July 2019 / Published: 9 July 2019
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Abstract
The development of Christian theology in contemporary China can learn much from Chinese fiction beginning with Lu Xun and his dedication to writing for the spirit of the Chinese people. Increasingly, Chinese novelists have reflected the growth of spiritual life in the Chinese [...] Read more.
The development of Christian theology in contemporary China can learn much from Chinese fiction beginning with Lu Xun and his dedication to writing for the spirit of the Chinese people. Increasingly, Chinese novelists have reflected the growth of spiritual life in the Chinese People’s Republic in spite of the burden placed on the Christian church and religious believers. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“Every Living Beast Being a Word, Every Kind Being a Sentence”: Animals and Religion in Reformation Europe
Religions 2019, 10(7), 421; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070421
Received: 1 May 2019 / Revised: 21 June 2019 / Accepted: 25 June 2019 / Published: 9 July 2019
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Abstract
The ability of animals to convey meaning, either sacred or profane, features prominently in the dialectic of natural knowledge and sacred histories. Animals, particularly those that exhibited irregularities of nature, symbolised and revealed God’s wrath and favour, fulfilling a polemical and pastoral purpose [...] Read more.
The ability of animals to convey meaning, either sacred or profane, features prominently in the dialectic of natural knowledge and sacred histories. Animals, particularly those that exhibited irregularities of nature, symbolised and revealed God’s wrath and favour, fulfilling a polemical and pastoral purpose in the communication of God’s anger and assiduous care for humanity. The language of readable nature ran through the ancient natural histories of Pliny and Aristotle, the words and images of the medieval bestiaries, and the natural histories and popular discourses of Reformation Europe. In the history of the natural world, ‘God’s great book in folio’, ideas about connections between the written word and human observation, miracles, wonders and providences, were interleaved with theological and biological taxonomies. In so doing, discussions of irregularities and portents in nature expose the conceptualisation of human relationships with the world, with the past, with the present, and with the divine. This article explores the connections between real and symbolic animals, religious, and the plasticity of God’s creation in the natural histories and polemical literature of the Reformation. It explores the multivalent positioning of particular sea creatures as providential signs of God’s continued presence in the world, natural phenomena, and man-made objects, and the ongoing syncretism between natural history, religion, ancient texts and human observation in the dialectic of this period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals and World Religions)
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Open AccessArticle
“I Feel as Though I’m Doing the Job of the Imam for Them”: Considering ‘Tactical’ Muslim Leadership Through the Case of ‘Muslim RE Teachers’
Religions 2019, 10(7), 420; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070420
Received: 24 May 2019 / Revised: 3 July 2019 / Accepted: 5 July 2019 / Published: 9 July 2019
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Abstract
Although Muslim leadership in Britain has long been the focus of scholarly attention, discussion has tended to prioritise “official” Muslim leaders (Birt 2006; Geaves 2008; Ahmad and Evergeti 2010). However, what constitutes a “Muslim leader” is increasingly contested, revealing instead a diversity of [...] Read more.
Although Muslim leadership in Britain has long been the focus of scholarly attention, discussion has tended to prioritise “official” Muslim leaders (Birt 2006; Geaves 2008; Ahmad and Evergeti 2010). However, what constitutes a “Muslim leader” is increasingly contested, revealing instead a diversity of authoritative ‘claim makers’ and representative positions (Jones et al. 2015). These contestations were a recurring theme throughout the Leadership, Authority and Representation in British Muslim Communities conference (Gilliat-Ray and Timol 2019). Building upon these debates, this article considers how Muslim teachers can be considered Muslim leaders within their local contexts. This paper draws on qualitative research with 21 ‘Muslim RE teachers’ across England to consider how their experience and positioning as ‘role models’ for Muslim and non-Muslim pupils brought considerable influence to represent Muslims, affect school policy and practice, and shape “official” Islamic discourses in their local communities. I argue that their experience reflects what can be considered as ‘Muslim leadership’ on the broader scholarly terrain, but as a form of ‘tactical’ Muslim leadership by virtue of existing within the confines of “secular” institutions. As such, this article concludes by calling for the recognition of Muslim leadership beyond national, ‘strategic’ forms to more ‘tactical’, contextually bounded cases. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Invisible Dress: Weaving a Theology of Fashion
Religions 2019, 10(7), 419; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070419
Received: 30 May 2019 / Revised: 16 June 2019 / Accepted: 27 June 2019 / Published: 5 July 2019
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Abstract
This article establishes the framework for a (Christian) theology of fashion, the development of which comes under a research project set up between Luxembourg (Luxembourg School of Religion & Society) and Paris (Collège des Bernardins). The text is structured around three areas: the [...] Read more.
This article establishes the framework for a (Christian) theology of fashion, the development of which comes under a research project set up between Luxembourg (Luxembourg School of Religion & Society) and Paris (Collège des Bernardins). The text is structured around three areas: the first reveals how theology can accommodate in its field of thought both the idea of dress (also viewed in terms of its materiality) and the way in which modern society experiments with it: fashion. For as much as theological discourse, particularly Christian, might have shown itself to be critical regarding modern day fashion, it has nevertheless failed to come up with any real theological reflection on the subject. The second area aims to explore responsible ethics for fashion. Often moralising, the attitude of Christian theology needs to give way to an ethical and—vitally—ecological analysis of the effects of fashion in today’s world. Clothing might still cover people’s bodies, but the issue is not restricted to an individual moral point of view, and extends to the social rules of an ethic that is also one of environmental responsibility. Finally, the totally new perspective that I adopt for outlining these areas requires the aesthetics of dress and fashion to be addressed from a theological point of view. For all its rich history, theological aesthetics has hardly ever concerned itself with developing an aesthetic discourse for dress and fashion, other than for liturgical and religious attire. Once these three new research perspectives have been discussed, I want to outline another field of study, in itself extremely fertile: a treasure trove of metaphors and analogies that would be very useful in theological thinking, adding to its inventory terms originating in the uncovering and stripping away of old ways of thinking that no longer convey in contemporary language the mystery that it is meant to clothe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fashion/Religion Interfaces)
Open AccessArticle
Sacramentality, Chaos Theory and Decoloniality
Religions 2019, 10(7), 418; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070418
Received: 6 June 2019 / Revised: 2 July 2019 / Accepted: 3 July 2019 / Published: 5 July 2019
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Abstract
This essay considers how an expanded understanding of sacramentality is enhanced by engagement with chaos theory and decolonial theory. These unique lenses enlarge traditional Roman Catholic frameworks for considering God’s self-communication through sacramental action as well as the agency of ordinary believers and [...] Read more.
This essay considers how an expanded understanding of sacramentality is enhanced by engagement with chaos theory and decolonial theory. These unique lenses enlarge traditional Roman Catholic frameworks for considering God’s self-communication through sacramental action as well as the agency of ordinary believers and even non-believers in the sacramental enterprise. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacramental Theology: Theory and Practice from Multiple Perspectives)
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