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Religions, Volume 11, Issue 1 (January 2020) – 53 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) The purpose of the present paper is to study domestic devotion in Catalonia in the thirteenth, [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Educational Potentials of Flipped Learning in Intercultural Education as a Transversal Resource in Adolescents
Religions 2020, 11(1), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010053 - 20 Jan 2020
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Abstract
The evolution of technology in the educational field has resulted in the emergence of new ways of teaching and learning, adapted to the formative characteristics of a digital era. This is the case of Flipped Learning (FL), an innovative teaching methodology that uses [...] Read more.
The evolution of technology in the educational field has resulted in the emergence of new ways of teaching and learning, adapted to the formative characteristics of a digital era. This is the case of Flipped Learning (FL), an innovative teaching methodology that uses technology to carry out instructional action and change learning moments and spaces. The objective of this study is to verify the effectiveness of FL on a traditional methodology without the use of digital resources in teaching content related to intercultural education. A quantitative research method has been followed by an experimental design. Two study groups have been set up. With the control group a traditional training methodology has been used, and with the experimental group an innovative one, through FL. A total of 60 students of the 4th level of Secondary Education from an educational center in Ceuta (Spain) have participated. An ad hoc questionnaire derived from other validated instruments has been used for data collection. The findings show that the FL has achieved better results in the different dimensions analyzed. Therefore, it is concluded that the implementation of innovative training actions such as FL can obtain better results in academic indicators than a traditional methodology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intercultural Education and Religions)
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Open AccessArticle
Tibåt Mårqe: A New Edition with English Translation
Religions 2020, 11(1), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010052 - 20 Jan 2020
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Abstract
This contribution presents a short introduction to the new edition of Tibåt Mårqe. The oldest manuscript of Tibåt Mårqe dates from the 14th century but only fragments of it are preserved. Previous editors of Tibåt Mårqe included those fragments in their editions which, [...] Read more.
This contribution presents a short introduction to the new edition of Tibåt Mårqe. The oldest manuscript of Tibåt Mårqe dates from the 14th century but only fragments of it are preserved. Previous editors of Tibåt Mårqe included those fragments in their editions which, by necessity, were based on a later, less reliable version of this collection of Samaritan midrashim. The recent discovery of large portions of the 14th century manuscript of Tibåt Mårqe in the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg made it possible for me to fill most of the gaps. The new edition presented here is therefore based on an improved instrument of research in the domain of Samaritan culture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Religions in 2019
Religions 2020, 11(1), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010051 - 19 Jan 2020
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Abstract
The editorial team greatly appreciates the reviewers who have dedicated their considerable time and expertise to the journal’s rigorous editorial process over the past 12 months, regardless of whether the papers are finally published or not [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Non-Affiliated Believers and Atheists in the Very Secular Uruguay
Religions 2020, 11(1), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010050 - 19 Jan 2020
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Abstract
In recent years, literature in the field of religion has presented attempts to understand and characterize people who define themselves as believers but are not affiliated with any religious institution, along with those who define themselves as non-believers, or “nones”. Several quantitative studies [...] Read more.
In recent years, literature in the field of religion has presented attempts to understand and characterize people who define themselves as believers but are not affiliated with any religious institution, along with those who define themselves as non-believers, or “nones”. Several quantitative studies covering this phenomenon in Latin America show clear disparities between the countries of the region. This article draws on a qualitative investigation into the way in which individuals relate to the transcendental, or live as non-believers, in the city of Montevideo, Uruguay. The objective of the article is to know and analyze those who define themselves as religiously unaffiliated. In doing so, the analysis takes into account the cultural framework of Uruguay—a country that moved the religion from the public to the private sphere a century ago, establishing a model similar to French secularism and unique within Latin America. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Latin America, and among Latinos abroad.)
Open AccessArticle
The Role of the Spiritual Meaning System in Coping with Cancer
Religions 2020, 11(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010049 - 19 Jan 2020
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Abstract
Spirituality can support the adjustment process of people with cancer, by forming a meaning system that supports understanding of the cause and implications of the experience and that provides coping strategies. The different ways in which spiritual meaning systems might fulfill these roles [...] Read more.
Spirituality can support the adjustment process of people with cancer, by forming a meaning system that supports understanding of the cause and implications of the experience and that provides coping strategies. The different ways in which spiritual meaning systems might fulfill these roles were examined among 20 people who were treated for cancer with curative intent. Narrative interviews were held on average 16 months after cancer diagnosis. The interviews were analyzed in a two-stage process, based on a holistic content approach. The first stage led to the identification of various roles and outcomes of the meaning system. The second stage involved a comparison of these roles and outcomes between previously defined types of meaning systems. The roles identified were discrepancy, legitimation and continuation. Legitimation was associated with the outcome of integration, whereas continuation was associated with an outcome of a positive outlook toward the future. Several differences were found between types of meaning systems, regarding the extent to which and ways in which these roles and outcomes occurred. This study underscores recommendations that healthcare professionals should be aware of the different ways in which the patient’s previous beliefs and experiences influence their current adaptation to serious life events. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spiritual Care for People with Cancer)
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Open AccessArticle
Luther, Same-Sex Marriage, and the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland: A Gender-Sensitive Historical Analysis
Religions 2020, 11(1), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010048 - 18 Jan 2020
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Abstract
The issue of whether to accept same-sex relationships as marriages has been under discussion worldwide in recent years, including in the Nordic countries, such as Finland. While in other Nordic countries, the Lutheran churches officiate same-sex marriages, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland [...] Read more.
The issue of whether to accept same-sex relationships as marriages has been under discussion worldwide in recent years, including in the Nordic countries, such as Finland. While in other Nordic countries, the Lutheran churches officiate same-sex marriages, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) has rejected it on theological grounds that are largely based on Reformation Era sources. This article examines the constitution committee report that was used as the basis of the decision made by the General Synod of the ELCF in May 2018 to not accept same-sex marriages. Through close reading of the report and performing content analysis from a gender-sensitive historical perspective, the article claims that the validity of the arguments of the report can be called into question, due to the lack of a hermeneutical awareness of the differences between the sixteenth and the twenty-first centuries, and the highly selective use of the sources from the Reformation Era in the document. The article concludes by pointing out that making use of the Reformation heritage in theology, instead of replicating the arguments of the sixteenth century, would have produced a theologically and historically more solid report, which could well have been in favor of extending the view on marriage in the ELCF. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Luther’s theology and Feminism)
Open AccessArticle
The Perception of Organisational Nepotism Depending on the Membership in Selected Christian Churches
Religions 2020, 11(1), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010047 - 18 Jan 2020
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Abstract
Nepotism, just like any other form of favouratism in the workplace, is a phenomenon that is basically evaluated negatively. It adversely influences social and economic development and it has not been considered in relation to the membership of a given Christian denomination. This [...] Read more.
Nepotism, just like any other form of favouratism in the workplace, is a phenomenon that is basically evaluated negatively. It adversely influences social and economic development and it has not been considered in relation to the membership of a given Christian denomination. This article reviews the literature on nepotism and takes into account the religious perspective on nepotism while the research part focuses on the analysis of nepotism taking into consideration both Catholic and Protestant perspectives. Thus, the article falls within the discussion initiated by Max Weber, who found that religious membership had an influence on economic development because business leaders, capital owners, and a highly qualified workforce and well-trained enterprise employees were, by and large, Protestants. The article is aimed at analyzing the effects of nepotism and evaluating this phenomenon from the perspective of the abovementioned Christian denominations. Qualitative and quantitative methods were included in the conducted research. As far as the qualitative method is concerned, an individual in-depth interview, conducted with two Catholic and two Protestant clerics, was applied. Within the second stage, i.e., the quantitative surveys, information received in the interviews was verified and the way of understanding and accepting the phenomenon of nepotism depending on the religious membership was learnt. This research demonstrated that Protestants regard the phenomenon of nepotism as negative more frequently than Catholics and the phenomenon is more common among Catholics than Protestants. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Centrality of Religiosity, Attitude towards Christianity and Post-Critical Belief: Comparing Three Measures of Religiosity
Religions 2020, 11(1), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010046 - 17 Jan 2020
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Abstract
The Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRS), the Francis Scale of Attitude towards Christianity (FAC) and the Post-Critical Belief Scale (PCB) are three prominent measures of religiosity. Comparing the three measures on theoretical grounds, one may assume that high religiosity (CRS) is linked to [...] Read more.
The Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRS), the Francis Scale of Attitude towards Christianity (FAC) and the Post-Critical Belief Scale (PCB) are three prominent measures of religiosity. Comparing the three measures on theoretical grounds, one may assume that high religiosity (CRS) is linked to both a strong attitude towards Christianity (FAC) and to orthodoxy (PCB), while no religiosity (CRS) may be associated with both a low expressed attitude towards Christianity (FAC) and external critique (PCB). This paper examines that assumption on the basis of a convenience sample of N = 4.396 participants that filled in an online questionnaire (age: M = 47; SD = 15.90; 47% females; denomination: 1226 Roman-Catholics, 2369 Protestants, and 801 participants that have left the Roman Catholic or Protestant church). Factor analysis supports the one-dimensional structure of CRS and FAC. Exploratory factor analysis reconstructs the two-dimensional structure of PCB. There is a very high positive correlation between CRS and FAC (r = 0.92), indicating that CRS and FAC measure the same issue within a Christian context. Moreover, CRS and external critique of PCB correlate heavily negatively (r = −0.83). Finally, there is a very moderate negative correlation between CRS and relativism (r = −0.26). Multiple regression analysis reveals that both factors predict much of CRS (R2 = 0.75) or FAC (R2 = 0.83), while age and gender are of minor impact. Region, education, and income do not predict the outcome of CRS or FAC at all. This result will be discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research with the Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRS))
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Open AccessArticle
Printed Pages, Perfect Souls? Ideals and Instructions for the Devout Home in the First Books Printed in Dutch
Religions 2020, 11(1), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010045 - 16 Jan 2020
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Abstract
This article studies the role of the earliest books printed in the Dutch vernacular in the religious practice of lay individuals and the devout home. Many of the texts disseminated in these early printed books have received little attention and scholars have tended [...] Read more.
This article studies the role of the earliest books printed in the Dutch vernacular in the religious practice of lay individuals and the devout home. Many of the texts disseminated in these early printed books have received little attention and scholars have tended to view them within the sphere of the Modern Devotion, even though often there is no direct link to this religious reform movement. This article attempts to show that the first books printed in Dutch offer an interesting lens through which to study domestic devotion in the Low Countries in the last decades of the fifteenth century. It argues that these books bridged the gap between catechetical instruction and the private home, literally bringing home many of the ideals and instructions that the clergy would have offered in church and thus increasingly ‘textualizing’ the lives of the late medieval laity. Printers such as Gerard Leeu and his contemporaries acquainted Christians to the use of printed books for personal and practical religious instruction and knowledge and thus paved the way for developments in the sixteenth century. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Devotions in Medieval and Early Modern Europe)
Open AccessArticle
Religion after the Royal Commission: Challenges to Religion–State Relations
Religions 2020, 11(1), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010044 - 15 Jan 2020
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Abstract
The findings and recommendations emanating from the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2012–2017) have advised religious organisations that they need to undertake significant changes to legal, governance and cultural/theological practices. The reason for urgency in enacting these changes [...] Read more.
The findings and recommendations emanating from the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2012–2017) have advised religious organisations that they need to undertake significant changes to legal, governance and cultural/theological practices. The reason for urgency in enacting these changes is that religious organisations were the least child safe institutions across all Australian organisations, with poor practices of transparency, accountability and responsibility coupled with a tendency to protect the reputation of the institution above the safety of children in their care. In Australia, new state laws have been enacted and are impacting on the internal governance systems of religious organisations, including removing the secrecy of the Catholic confessional, instituting mandatory reporting of child abuse by clerics and criminalising the failure to report child sexual abuse. Religious organisations have moved to adopt many of the recommendations regarding their troubled governance including the professionalisation of religious ministry; adoption of professional standards; and appropriate redress for survivors and changes to religious laws. However, these changes signal significant challenges to current church–state relations, which have been characterised by positioning religious organisations as special institutions that enjoy exemptions from certain human rights legislation, on the basis of protecting religious freedom. This article examines and evaluates the nexus between state and religion in Australian public life as it is emerging in a post-Royal Commission environment, and in particular contested claims around the meaning and value of religious freedom versus the necessity of institutional reform to ensure that religious organisations can demonstrate safety for children and other vulnerable groups. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Australian Public Life: Resurgence, Insurgence, Cooption?)
Open AccessArticle
‘Moderate Islam’ Made in the United Arab Emirates: Public Diplomacy and the Politics of Containment
Religions 2020, 11(1), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010043 - 13 Jan 2020
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Abstract
This essay addresses the ideological utilization of religion in the international relations of the United Arab Emirates during the Arab Spring and beyond. By referring to the theoretical framework of public diplomacy and analyzing UAE regional and domestic attitudes, this essay intends to [...] Read more.
This essay addresses the ideological utilization of religion in the international relations of the United Arab Emirates during the Arab Spring and beyond. By referring to the theoretical framework of public diplomacy and analyzing UAE regional and domestic attitudes, this essay intends to examine the politics of ‘moderate Islam’ in line with: (a) the monarchy’s nation building visions for the 21st century; (b) its national rebranding strategies; (c) its geopolitical empowerment in the Gulf and the Middle East. Throughout our analysis, it is argued that even though ‘moderate Islam’ has been devised for creating ‘soft power’, it serves ‘sharp power’ as well. As will become obvious, this has been mainly the case as far as the containment of Political Islam is concerned. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and International Relations in the Middle East)
Open AccessArticle
‘Go and Prophesy in Your Own Land’: Foreign Prophets and Popularism in South Africa. Evoking the Need of Jonathanic Theology for Peaceful Resolution of Difference
Religions 2020, 11(1), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010042 - 13 Jan 2020
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Abstract
Informed by a decoloniality lens and referencing motifs such as coloniality of power, knowledge, and being, this theoretical article analyses and problematises conflict, and reconstructs the experience of foreign and local prophets in South Africa. There is growing tension between foreign pastors and [...] Read more.
Informed by a decoloniality lens and referencing motifs such as coloniality of power, knowledge, and being, this theoretical article analyses and problematises conflict, and reconstructs the experience of foreign and local prophets in South Africa. There is growing tension between foreign pastors and local pastors, with the former seemingly being popular because of performing ‘miracles,’ huge followings, and, in some cases, through mafia tendencies, which ignite the notion that expelling them from South Africa can be a counter-hegemony strategy to deal with popularism and criminality. The articles respond to two questions in this article: What factors influence conflict between migrant and local prophets? and, how can the story of David and Jonathan be used as a starting point for collective engagement in a process to achieve peace and healing? The article ends with arguing that the Jonathanic theology of peace, if pursued by migrant and local prophetic movements in South Africa, can reconstruct the prophetic terrain and assist in facilitating a rehumanising process, in addition to enacting the ontological density that has been lost. The article ends by arguing that Jonathanic theology is doable and desirable as a sustainable solution for religious conflict in South Africa. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
On Triads, Teleology, and Tensions in Antiquities 18–20
Religions 2020, 11(1), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010041 - 12 Jan 2020
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Abstract
Josephus liked to organize material in three-part structures, which imparted a sense of completion by indicating to readers that an end had been reached. This study focuses on Books 18–20 of Josephus’s Antiquities, which are organized as such a triad: Book 18 [...] Read more.
Josephus liked to organize material in three-part structures, which imparted a sense of completion by indicating to readers that an end had been reached. This study focuses on Books 18–20 of Josephus’s Antiquities, which are organized as such a triad: Book 18 opens Roman rule in Judea and adumbrates the final clash and catastrophe, Book 19 creates some suspense by detailing two possible interruptions that could have changed the course of history but in the end came to nothing, and so Book 20 resumes the story from the end of Book 18 and takes it down to the destruction of Jerusalem. Moreover, all three books, together, form a unit in a larger triad: the story told, in the second half of Antiquities, of Judea’s move from sovereignty under the Hasmoneans (Books 12–14), to nominal sovereignty under Herod (Books 15–17), to subjugation to Rome (Books 18–20). This focus on political history is, however, contradicted in various ways, both by Josephus’s development from a Judean into a Jew of the Diaspora, who focused more on religion than on state, and by various sources used by Josephus, that pulled in other directions. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Alexander Janneus as High Priest and King: Struggling between Jewish and Hellenistic Concepts of Rule
Religions 2020, 11(1), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010040 - 12 Jan 2020
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Abstract
Josephus refers explicitly to Alexander Janneus in his narratives in both War and Antiquities only as king. Janneus’s high priestly office is only implied, and that in a context that is hostile to him (War 1.88//Ant. 13.372). If one looks at [...] Read more.
Josephus refers explicitly to Alexander Janneus in his narratives in both War and Antiquities only as king. Janneus’s high priestly office is only implied, and that in a context that is hostile to him (War 1.88//Ant. 13.372). If one looks at Josephus’s list of high priests in Ant. 20.242, there he reports that Janneus acted both as king and priest for “twenty-seven years”. Was it Josephus who did not want to refer explicitly to Janneus as high priest in his narratives, was this dictated by his source/s, or by some other reason/s? More specifically, why is there a contrast between the narratives and the list? This study adopts source-critical, comparative, and interdisciplinary approach. It also compares Janneus with other rulers from the Hellenistic world with whom he shared many characteristics. However, certain aspects make the Hasmonean high priestly monarchy unique, dictated mainly by theological reasons. That of Janneus is an example of an institutional clash. Josephus was aware of the complexity and controversial aspects surrounding the institution of Hasmonean kingship and its combination with the high priesthood. For various reasons he chose not to identify Janneus explicitly as high priest in his narratives, but rather focus mainly on the royal policy. As an alternative, the Flavian historian drafted an idealized list of high priests in Ant. 20.225–245 that became the basis for developing his theocratic model of government, which—he probably hoped—could co-exist under the Roman emperor. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Devotion, Paintings, and the House: The Collections of Ercole and Giuseppe Branciforti, Princes of Scordia (Palermo, 1687–1720)
Religions 2020, 11(1), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010039 - 10 Jan 2020
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Abstract
This paper interrogates familial devotion and its relationship with parts of the house other than the chapel. In detail, it aims to problematize the issue of the devotional/non-devotional use of paintings inside the house by moving the focus from this dual opposition to [...] Read more.
This paper interrogates familial devotion and its relationship with parts of the house other than the chapel. In detail, it aims to problematize the issue of the devotional/non-devotional use of paintings inside the house by moving the focus from this dual opposition to the active role of canvases, broadly defined. Informed by Jacques Derrida’s and Pierre Bourdieu’s writings, this paper argues for the structural nature of the paintings inside the house and their meaningful correlation with both the arrangement of the domestic interior and the practices of people experiencing those spaces. To do this, the paper challenges the overwhelming attention paid by early-modern scholars to Northern and central Italy and investigates a precise case study, i.e., Palazzo Scordia in Palermo (Sicily). The research draws upon primary sources and amongst these, upon two detailed inventories of furniture referring to two subsequent generations of an aristocratic clan residing in Palermo between the seventeenth and the eighteenth century, i.e., Ercole and Giuseppe Branciforti, princes of Scordia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Devotions in Medieval and Early Modern Europe)
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Open AccessArticle
“Wonderful”, “Hot”, “Good” Priests: Clergy on Contemporary British TV and the New Visibility of Religion Thesis
Religions 2020, 11(1), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010038 - 10 Jan 2020
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Abstract
This article examines the “new visibility of religion” thesis through a case study of recent depictions of priests and ministers in British television drama and comedy. It focuses on four award-winning shows produced between 2009 and 2019 with clergy as central characters: Broadchurch [...] Read more.
This article examines the “new visibility of religion” thesis through a case study of recent depictions of priests and ministers in British television drama and comedy. It focuses on four award-winning shows produced between 2009 and 2019 with clergy as central characters: Broadchurch, Broken, Fleabag and Rev. Clergy on these shows are depicted positively, in ways that contrast with portrayals in the 1990s and earlier 2000s. The shows demonstrate an active sympathy for, and engagement with, theological themes, and awareness of the important social role that clergy play in inner-city parishes. While some elements of these depictions support the idea of a “new visibility”, at the same time, they reiterate narratives of continuing religious decline in Britain. Rather than unproblematically celebrating faith, the shows use religion to critique neoliberal welfare policy and sacralise notions of community. This “new visibility” is also shown to contribute to the continued invisibility of some religious viewpoints in the media. This article concludes that despite these limitations, recent portrayals of clergy offer new opportunities for religious debate and conversation, particularly within media and fan commentary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact)
Open AccessArticle
Association between Religion and Health in China: Using Propensity Score Matching Method
Religions 2020, 11(1), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010037 - 09 Jan 2020
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Abstract
The association between religion and health is well debated and receives continuous attention in research. Selection bias is often a major concern among the observatory data routinely used worldwide to examine this topic. Adopting the propensity score matching (PSM) method, the present study [...] Read more.
The association between religion and health is well debated and receives continuous attention in research. Selection bias is often a major concern among the observatory data routinely used worldwide to examine this topic. Adopting the propensity score matching (PSM) method, the present study tries to assess the treatment effects of religion on self-reported health status. The final sample from the 2007 Spiritual Life Study of Chinese Residents (SLSC) contains 6194 valid responses. The average treatment effects (ATEs) estimated by the PSM method show that respondents with religious affiliations are on average significantly more likely to report being very healthy by 5.2 percentage points (by 3.6 and 9.6 percentage points among Buddhists and Protestants), especially, by 16.2 percentage points among those regarding religion as being very important in their lives. Meanwhile, ATEs of religion on reporting being very happy is 17.0 among Protestants and 13.4 among those regarding religion with high importance and 11.3 among those with “regular religious attendance”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Relationship between Religiosity and Mental Health)
Open AccessArticle
Comparison as a Provisional Activity
Religions 2020, 11(1), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010036 - 08 Jan 2020
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Abstract
The careers of many scholars in various disciplines have been focused on the study of hagiography, including that of the author. Yet, as those scholars have uncovered new knowledge and employed new interpretations of the materials at hand, the very notions of “hagiography” [...] Read more.
The careers of many scholars in various disciplines have been focused on the study of hagiography, including that of the author. Yet, as those scholars have uncovered new knowledge and employed new interpretations of the materials at hand, the very notions of “hagiography” and “hagiology” have become deeply problematized. The issues become more complex as multiple religious traditions are examined. The scholarly work that forms the basis of the essays in this volume has explored the effects of taking a comparative and collaborative approach to “hagiography”. This piece responds to the core essays by showing first how personal the study of such sources and act of comparison can be, and then exploring how knowledge changes through the processes of comparison and collaboration. In the end, this response argues that comparison is by its very nature a provisional activity in that the knowledge it creates constantly changes as comparative methods and theories are re-applied again and again over time. This process is only aided by collaborative efforts which make the act of comparison even more effective and productive. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Comparative Hagiology: Issues in Theory and Method)
Open AccessArticle
The Ministering Critic: Kierkegaard’s Theology of Communication
Religions 2020, 11(1), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010035 - 08 Jan 2020
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Abstract
This paper analyzes Kierkegaard’s scattered writings on communication to foreground the distinctively theological dimension of Kierkegaard’s rhetorical theory. “Indirect communication” needs to be understood as a strategy to address a specific theological problem, namely, the tendency for readers who think they are already [...] Read more.
This paper analyzes Kierkegaard’s scattered writings on communication to foreground the distinctively theological dimension of Kierkegaard’s rhetorical theory. “Indirect communication” needs to be understood as a strategy to address a specific theological problem, namely, the tendency for readers who think they are already Christian to dismiss or domesticate rhetoric that summons them to authentic Christian existence. Since Christianity is an “existence-communication,” the questions of what it means to be a Christian and how one can faithfully communicate Christianity are integrally linked for Kierkegaard. Contemporary apologists, activists, and preachers who rely on more direct modes of communication to express the Christian gospel have much to learn from Kierkegaard’s grappling with the illusions that beset Christian witness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kierkegaard and Theology)
Open AccessArticle
Interrogating Gender in Sikh Tradition and Practice
Religions 2020, 11(1), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010034 - 08 Jan 2020
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Abstract
In contemporary Sikh society, what we consider religious is constantly being challenged, but for Sikhs, what remain constant are Sikhi’s sacred texts—they continue to be the paramount teacher and guide. Within this consistency, I ask the question: how can Sikh feminist ideas of [...] Read more.
In contemporary Sikh society, what we consider religious is constantly being challenged, but for Sikhs, what remain constant are Sikhi’s sacred texts—they continue to be the paramount teacher and guide. Within this consistency, I ask the question: how can Sikh feminist ideas of representation and identity find expression in response to our understanding/practice of our faith, our institutions, and of the everyday Sikh symbols? This paper critically examines the gendered nature of the Guru Granth, practices within the gurdwaras, and focuses on a part of the Rahit Maryada (Code of Conduct) as an area of exploration in the understanding of the everyday ascribed five symbols of Sikhi (punj kakar) through a feminist lens. I undertake this in order to gain a gendered appreciation of how the scriptures, religious institutions, and the articles of faith resonate with the feminine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Gender and Sikh traditions)
Open AccessArticle
On Manuscripts, Prints and Blessed Transformations: Caterina da Siena’s Legenda maior as a Model of Sainthood in Premodern Castile
Religions 2020, 11(1), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010033 - 08 Jan 2020
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Abstract
In this article, I analyze the translation commissioned in 1511 by Cardinal Francisco Ximénez Cisneros of the Life of Catherine of Siena by Raimundo da Capua, which includes the legendae of Giovanna (also known as Vanna) da Orvieto and Margherita da Città di [...] Read more.
In this article, I analyze the translation commissioned in 1511 by Cardinal Francisco Ximénez Cisneros of the Life of Catherine of Siena by Raimundo da Capua, which includes the legendae of Giovanna (also known as Vanna) da Orvieto and Margherita da Città di Castello in the light of its translation, commission, and reception in premodern Castile. In the first place, I clarify the medieval transformations of Caterina’s text by discussing the main branches of her manuscript tradition and explaining the specificities of the editions authorized by Cisneros in order to know what exactly was printed. In the second place, I put these specificities into the courtly, prophetic context in which those books were published. Finally, I analyze the reception of these editions in the Iberian Peninsula, especially in relation to the figure of María de Santo Domingo, the famous Dominican tertiary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mysticism and Spirituality in Medieval Spain)
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From ‘Islamism’ to ‘Spiritualism’? The Individualization of ‘Religion’ in Contemporary Iran
Religions 2020, 11(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010032 - 07 Jan 2020
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Abstract
In the first four centuries of Islam in Iran, mosques were arguably the only sacred places for Iranian Muslims to pray. It was only after the invasion of the Mongolians and the resulting expansion of Shi’ism and Sufism throughout the country that the [...] Read more.
In the first four centuries of Islam in Iran, mosques were arguably the only sacred places for Iranian Muslims to pray. It was only after the invasion of the Mongolians and the resulting expansion of Shi’ism and Sufism throughout the country that the tombs of some sacred figures, including Imams’ grandchildren (‘Imamzadehs’) or (‘Maqbarahs’), became shrines and important sites for pilgrims. It is interesting that pilgrimage to both Imams’ shrines and Imamzadehs and their associated expressions and perceptions lie at the center of the Shi’ite experience of ‘religion’, although they are rarely mentioned in the relevant core sources of Shi’ism. Nevertheless, to borrow a Weberian image, during the Islamic revolution of 1979, mosques became the ‘vehicles’ for the religio-political ideology of the revolution. Unlike Imamzadehs, they embraced dissidents from a variety of social classes, ranging from emigrants from rural areas to educated liberals and intellectuals. In the fortieth anniversary of the revolution, the findings of my three-year research project illustrates that whilst the religious status of mosques is decreasing, Imamzadehs as well as other venues detached from Islamic authority and political Islam are increasingly becoming ‘vehicles’ for ideas and sentiments for the expression of more individualistic and ‘spiritual’ sensations, rather than the manifestation of an established and institutionalized religio-political ideology. Taking inspiration from a social constructionist approach, discourse and content analysis of media, participant observation in ‘Shi’ite’ venues situated in three provinces, particularly three Imamzadehs or Maqbarahs, and thirty semi-structured interviews in north-west Iran, this article aims to report the findings of this project by focusing on the meanings of ‘religion’ (and ‘non-religion’) and ‘spiritual’ (and ‘non-spiritual’) attached to these venues, including Imamzadehs, and their material culture as well as the changes our informants have experienced in this regard through time and space, particularly during the last forty years. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Power, and Resistance: New Ideas for a Divided World)
Open AccessArticle
Comparison as Collaboration: Notes on the Contemporary Craft of Hagiology
Religions 2020, 11(1), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010031 - 07 Jan 2020
Viewed by 281
Abstract
A workshop on “comparative hagiology” over the course of three years at the American Academy of Religion has yielded not only a series of articles but an experimental methodology by which scholars hailing from different disciplines and working in different fields might collaborate [...] Read more.
A workshop on “comparative hagiology” over the course of three years at the American Academy of Religion has yielded not only a series of articles but an experimental methodology by which scholars hailing from different disciplines and working in different fields might collaborate in threshing out commonalities and entanglements in their respective treatments of holy figures. This article’s response to the workshop identifies three pillars of general consensus among the participants that serve as promising footholds for aligned innovation in our respective fields: That hagiography (1) is constituted not only in verbal texts but in a wide array of media, both material and ephemeral; (2) is best interpreted by attending substantially to the “processes” of thought, life, and society in which it is rendered; and (3) opens possibilities of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary comparison by way of the many family resemblances in how saints (or more broadly, religious and even para-religious exemplars) are rendered in transmittable media and mobilized for a particular group’s benefit. The article concludes by suggesting vectors for further development on these grounds, indicating how the category of “hagiography” affords a resource for interpreting unauthorized and apparently irreligious phenomena akin to sanctification, and calling for a professional and pedagogical ethic of collaboration that extends beyond any particular scholarly fruits of hagiological comparison. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Comparative Hagiology: Issues in Theory and Method)
Open AccessEditorial
New Developments in Christianity in China
Religions 2020, 11(1), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010030 - 06 Jan 2020
Viewed by 305
Abstract
Christianity’s rapid expansion in China in recent years has attracted much attention from scholars, China policymakers, local and international media, and the wider public [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Christianity in China)
Open AccessArticle
How to Measure Baha’i Religiosity: The CRSi-20 for Baha’is as a First Reliable and Valid Measurement
Religions 2020, 11(1), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010029 - 06 Jan 2020
Viewed by 321
Abstract
The concepts and measurements in psychology of religion often adhere to its Judeo-Christian roots, which causes problems when measuring non-Christian religiosity. In this paper, two successive studies are presented. The first study applied Huber’s CRS-15, while the second study used the CRSi-20. Both [...] Read more.
The concepts and measurements in psychology of religion often adhere to its Judeo-Christian roots, which causes problems when measuring non-Christian religiosity. In this paper, two successive studies are presented. The first study applied Huber’s CRS-15, while the second study used the CRSi-20. Both samples consisted of believers of the non-Christian, Abrahamic Baha’i religion in Germany. In the first study, in which N = 472 participated (MAge = 43.22, SDAge = 15.59, 60.0% female), the reliability and validity issues related to items of public practice and experience of the CRS-15 were uncovered. After modifying the content of these items and adding the five additional items of the interreligious CRSi-20, which was tested among N = 324 participants (MAge = 47.12, SDAge = 17.06, 59.6% female) in a second study, most reliability issues were solved. Confirmatory factor analyses revealed that the CRSi-20 model describes the data appropriately with adequate fit indices. Therefore, the CRSi-20 for Baha’is offers the first reliable and valid measurements of Baha’i religiosity, being at the same time capable of taking the emic perspective fully into account while maintaining the possibility of cross-religious comparisons. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research with the Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRS))
Open AccessArticle
Is There, If Not Virtue, Any Moral Value to Be Found in Payback?
Religions 2020, 11(1), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010028 - 06 Jan 2020
Viewed by 259
Abstract
Can payback, punitive action fueled by the desire to hurt an offending aggressor, ever be justified? In Anger and Forgiveness, Martha Nussbaum emphatically answers “no”, arguing that payback and the anger on which it is based, even following severe loss, distracts one [...] Read more.
Can payback, punitive action fueled by the desire to hurt an offending aggressor, ever be justified? In Anger and Forgiveness, Martha Nussbaum emphatically answers “no”, arguing that payback and the anger on which it is based, even following severe loss, distracts one from pursuing the betterment and loving nature one should be striving to cultivate instead. Timothy Jackson admires Nussbaum’s appreciation for such a beautiful spiritual ideal but criticizes her for denying credit to the potential feeler of anger for overcoming the temptation to engage in payback, the initial presence of which is critical for a graceful and triumphant self-transformation. Diana Cates, qualifying Jackson, maintains that we should not assume in payback scenarios that it is suffering that is aimed at, even if the experienced pain of an offender is foreseeable. Granting the worthwhile high road Nussbaum and her respondents seek to travel, one may still ask: is there also a positive case to be made for desiring payback in the extreme case of responding to an egregious offense, i.e., an offense that is violent, paralyzing, and life-altering? Payback will not bring a lost loved one back from the dead, but can it bring oneself back from the dead? This essay explores the merits of this possibility, honing in on the therapeutic aspect of the desire—and occasionally the acting out of the desire—for a victim to pay her aggressor back in kind. Drawing on the work of the Christian realist Reinhold Niebuhr, the Judaic thinker and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, and the Christian ethicist and feminist Giles Milhaven, I argue that while no moral principle ever ought to be adopted out of retributive action—such action is by definition bereft of virtue—we should nevertheless not dismiss too quickly the notion of there being any moral value in desiring payback, for desiring payback might be an egregiously offended victim’s only alternative to the paralysis induced by malice. On this exceptional basis, payback strictly limited to its therapeutic scope may become, for the sake of preserving self-worth, not only tolerable, but a victim’s most preferable alternative. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Beliefs and the Morality of Payback)
Open AccessArticle
Congregational Discernment: One Church Case Study
Religions 2020, 11(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010027 - 06 Jan 2020
Viewed by 301
Abstract
This case study reflects the congregational practices of members and staff within a congregation in the southwest of the United States which self-identifies as a congregation within the Christian tradition. The congregation has completed processes and procedures that resulted in the congregation self-identifying [...] Read more.
This case study reflects the congregational practices of members and staff within a congregation in the southwest of the United States which self-identifies as a congregation within the Christian tradition. The congregation has completed processes and procedures that resulted in the congregation self-identifying as a welcoming and affirming congregation to all people. A Master of Social Work intern was embedded for an academic year, as her field internship experience, in the congregation as part of the ministerial staff. The intern examined congregational and denominational processes that included difficult conversations, daily practices, and decisions with specific reference to LGBTQI+ issues as part of a national research study of Christian congregations determining inclusivity in their membership, governance, and leadership functions. The case study included participant-observation by the intern of the lived experiences of church leadership and members as a result of these conversations and decisions specific to the practices of a congregation with membership of approximately 700 people. Findings included a decision for affirmation and inclusion that resulted in the congregation being discharged from the denomination. There was significant impact on the ministry including the loss of membership and finances. Additionally, ministries of inclusion are enhanced as formerly marginalized populations are now central to the congregation. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Intercultural and Religious Sensitivity among Young Indonesian Interfaith Groups
Religions 2020, 11(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010026 - 02 Jan 2020
Viewed by 362
Abstract
Increasing tension and conflict in interfaith relations throughout the world has encouraged interfaith dialogue introduced by various well-known figures and world organizations to facilitate intercultural and interreligious understanding and tolerance. Interreligious dialogue now involves more youth participation, as they are more likely to [...] Read more.
Increasing tension and conflict in interfaith relations throughout the world has encouraged interfaith dialogue introduced by various well-known figures and world organizations to facilitate intercultural and interreligious understanding and tolerance. Interreligious dialogue now involves more youth participation, as they are more likely to guarantee the sustainability of civic values, intercultural relations, and social advocacy. This article analyzes the sensitivity of young interfaith activists in two civil organizations in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Psychometric measures using the Intercultural and Religious Sensitivity Scale Questionnaire (IRSSQ) were analyzed to test three research questions: (1) Are there differences in intercultural and religious sensitivity between Muslim and Christian activists? (2) Are there differences in intercultural and religious sensitivity between female and male students? (3) Are there differences in sensitivity between the two organizations? The results suggest that inherent multiculturalism in Indonesian culture provides a strong foundation for interfaith activists in responding to cultural and religious differences. The results of this study theoretically confirm previous studies to promote intercultural education and interfaith encounters to overcome the threat of ethnocentrism. This study also encourages the strengthening of comprehension, competence and communication in intercultural sensitivity in young interfaith activists in Indonesia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interfaith, Intercultural, International)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Xiuzhen (Immortality Cultivation) Fantasy: Science, Religion, and the Novels of Magic/Superstition in Contemporary China
Religions 2020, 11(1), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010025 - 02 Jan 2020
Viewed by 382
Abstract
In early twenty-first-century China, online fantasy is one of the most popular literary genres. This article studies a subgenre of Chinese fantasy named xiuzhen 修真 (immortality cultivation), which draws on Daoist alchemy in particular and Chinese religion and culture in general, especially that [...] Read more.
In early twenty-first-century China, online fantasy is one of the most popular literary genres. This article studies a subgenre of Chinese fantasy named xiuzhen 修真 (immortality cultivation), which draws on Daoist alchemy in particular and Chinese religion and culture in general, especially that which was negatively labelled “superstitious” in the twentieth century, to tell exciting adventure stories. Xiuzhen fantasy is indebted to wuxia xiaoshuo 武俠小說 (martial arts novels), the first emergence of Chinese fantasy in the early twentieth century after the translation of the modern Western discourses of science, religion, and superstition. Although martial arts fiction was suppressed by the modernizing nation-state because it contained the unwanted elements of magic and supernaturalism, its reemergence in the late twentieth century paved the way for the rise of its successor, xiuzhen fantasy. As a type of magical arts fiction, xiuzhen reinvents Daoist alchemy and other “superstitious” practices to build a cultivation world which does not escape but engages with the dazzling reality of digital technology, neoliberal governance, and global capitalism. In this fantastic world, the divide of magic and science breaks down; religion, defined not by faith but embodied practice, serves as the organizing center of society, economy, and politics. Moreover, the subject of martial arts fiction that challenged the sovereignty of the nation-state has evolved into the neoliberal homo economicus and its non-/anti-capitalist alternatives. Reading four exemplary xiuzhen novels, Journeys into the Ephemeral (Piaomiao zhilv 飄渺之旅), The Buddha Belongs to the Dao (Foben shidao 佛本是道), Spirit Roaming (Shenyou 神遊), and Immortality Cultivation 40K (Xiuzhen siwannian 修真四萬年), this article argues that xiuzhen fantasy provides a platform on which the postsocialist generation seek to orient themselves in the labyrinth of contemporary capitalism by rethinking the modernist triad of religion, science, and superstition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Chinese Literature)
Open AccessArticle
Who Is Interested in Developing the Way of Saint James? The Pilgrimage from Faith to Tourism
Religions 2020, 11(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010024 - 02 Jan 2020
Viewed by 317
Abstract
The Way of St. James in Spain is the main European pilgrimage route. Currently, it is a cultural, tourist, monumental, spiritual, and sports route. For this reason, the paper aims to discuss the concept of the “Polysemy of The Way”, by analysing how [...] Read more.
The Way of St. James in Spain is the main European pilgrimage route. Currently, it is a cultural, tourist, monumental, spiritual, and sports route. For this reason, the paper aims to discuss the concept of the “Polysemy of The Way”, by analysing how the new pilgrims’ motivations are creating an inclusive and complex space, which is making a shift from religious space to a multifaceted tourism reality. We study the characterisation and interaction of the new actors involved in its development, maintenance and promotion. As a result, its original “space of faith” is now a “live heritage space”, thanks to the rehabilitation of routes, monuments, and landscapes. The combination of these motivational and spatial transformations enhances the factors of post-secular pilgrimage, such as slow mobility, the liminality and the sense of community, which the same actors assume as priorities for territorial management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Faith in Spiritual and Heritage Tourism)
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