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Religions, Volume 12, Issue 3 (March 2021) – 80 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The Study on Stress, Spirituality, and Health (SSSH) is a project of the National Consortium on Psychosocial Stress, Spirituality, and Health at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. The SSSH is collecting religion/spirituality (R/S) and other psychosocial and health data needed to better understand how stressors increase risk of disease among socially disadvantaged communities. The eventual goal of the SSSH is to evaluate which R/S measures are most associated with chronic disease and to identify biological pathways or mechanisms through which R/S operate to affect health. Our objective is to perform an initial psychometric evaluation of all racial and ethnic groups participating in SSSH. Establishing psychometric validity in our multi-ethnic sample provides a foundation for ongoing and future work in the SSSH. View this paper
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Article
Radical Succession: Hagiography, Reform, and Franciscan Identity in the Convent of the Abbess Juana de la Cruz (1481–1534)
Religions 2021, 12(3), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030223 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 625
Abstract
In this article, I study in depth the first vita of the Franciscan Tertiary abbess Juana de la Cruz (Vida y fin de la bienaventurada virgen sancta Juana de la Cruz, written c. 1534), examining it as a chronicle that narrativizes [...] Read more.
In this article, I study in depth the first vita of the Franciscan Tertiary abbess Juana de la Cruz (Vida y fin de la bienaventurada virgen sancta Juana de la Cruz, written c. 1534), examining it as a chronicle that narrativizes the origins and reform of a specific religious community in the Castile of the Catholic Monarchs. I argue that Vida y fin constitutes an account that was collectively written inside the walls of the enclosure that can help us understand themes, motifs, and symbolic Franciscan elements that were essential for the self-definition of its original textual community. I first discuss the narrative of the convent’s foundation and then examine the penitential identity of the community, highlighting the inspiration that Juana’s hagiography takes from the infancy of Caterina da Siena, as described in the Legenda maior by Raimondo da Capua, and analyzing to what extent the represented penitential practices related to the imitatio Christi reflect a Franciscan Tertiary identity in opposition to a Dominican one. Finally, I address the passages in which the hagiographer(s) discuss(es) the sense of belonging to the Franciscan order rather than the Dominicans, and the mystical figure of Francesco d’Assisi as a founder, guide, and exemplar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monastic Identities and Boundaries in the Medieval West)
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Article
Śaivism after the Śaiva Age: Continuities in the Scriptural Corpus of the Vīramāheśvaras
Religions 2021, 12(3), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030222 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 652
Abstract
This article makes the case that Vīraśaivism emerged in direct textual continuity with the tantric traditions of the Śaiva Age. In academic practice up through the present day, the study of Śaivism, through Sanskrit sources, and bhakti Hinduism, through the vernacular, are generally [...] Read more.
This article makes the case that Vīraśaivism emerged in direct textual continuity with the tantric traditions of the Śaiva Age. In academic practice up through the present day, the study of Śaivism, through Sanskrit sources, and bhakti Hinduism, through the vernacular, are generally treated as distinct disciplines and objects of study. As a result, Vīraśaivism has yet to be systematically approached through a philological analysis of its precursors from earlier Śaiva traditions. With this aim in mind, I begin by documenting for the first time that a thirteenth-century Sanskrit work of what I have called the Vīramāheśvara textual corpus, the Somanāthabhāṣya or Vīramāheśvarācārasāroddhārabhāṣya, was most likely authored by Pālkurikĕ Somanātha, best known for his vernacular Telugu Vīraśaiva literature. Second, I outline the indebtedness of the early Sanskrit and Telugu Vīramāheśvara corpus to a popular work of early lay Śaivism, the Śivadharmaśāstra, with particular attention to the concepts of the jaṅgama and the iṣṭaliṅga. That the Vīramāheśvaras borrowed many of their formative concepts and practices directly from the Śivadharmaśāstra and other works of the Śaiva Age, I argue, belies the common assumption that Vīraśaivism originated as a social and religious revolution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Society for Tantric Studies Proceedings (2019))
Article
Transnational Religious Tourism in Modern China and the Transformation of the Cult of Mazu
Religions 2021, 12(3), 221; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030221 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 752
Abstract
This article explores transformations in the worship of popular goddess Mazu as a result of (religious) tourism. In particular, it focuses on the role of transnational tourism in the invention of tradition, folklorization, and commodification of the Mazu cult. Support from the central [...] Read more.
This article explores transformations in the worship of popular goddess Mazu as a result of (religious) tourism. In particular, it focuses on the role of transnational tourism in the invention of tradition, folklorization, and commodification of the Mazu cult. Support from the central and local governments and the impact of economic globalization have transformed a traditional pilgrimage site that initially had a local and then national scope into a transnational tourist attraction. More specifically, the ancestral temple of Mazu at Meizhou Island, which was established as the uncontested origin of Mazu’s cult during the Song dynasty (960 to 1276), has been reconfigured architecturally and liturgically to function as both a sacred site and a tourist attraction. This reconfiguration has involved the reconstruction of traditional rituals and religious performances for religious tourism to promote the temple as the unadulterated expression of an intangible cultural heritage. The strategic combination of traditional rituals such as “dividing incense” and an innovative ceremony enjoining all devotees of “Mazu all over the world [to] return to mother’s home” to worship her have not only consolidated the goddess as a symbol of common cultural identity in mainland China, but also for the preservation of Chinese identity in diaspora. Indeed, Chinese migrants and their descendants are among the increasing numbers of pilgrims/tourists who come to Mazu’s ancestral temple seeking to reconnect with their heritage by partaking in authentic traditions. This article examines the spatial and ritual transformations that have re-signified this temple, and by extension, the cult of Mazu, as well as the media through which these transformations have spread transnationally. We will see that (transnational) religious tourism is a key medium. Full article
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Article
Syncretic Santa Muerte: Holy Death and Religious Bricolage
Religions 2021, 12(3), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030220 - 21 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1390
Abstract
In this article, we trace the syncretic origins and development of the new religious movement centered on the Mexican folk saint of death, Santa Muerte. We explore how she was born of the syncretic association of the Spanish Catholic Grim Reapress and Pre-Columbian [...] Read more.
In this article, we trace the syncretic origins and development of the new religious movement centered on the Mexican folk saint of death, Santa Muerte. We explore how she was born of the syncretic association of the Spanish Catholic Grim Reapress and Pre-Columbian Indigenous thanatologies in the colonial era. Through further religious bricolage in the post-colony, we describe how as the new religious movement rapidly expanded it integrated elements of other religious traditions, namely Afro-Cuban Santeria and Palo Mayombe, New Age beliefs and practices, and even Wicca. In contrast to much of the Eurocentric scholarship on Santa Muerte, we posit that both the Skeleton Saint’s origins and contemporary devotional framework cannot be comprehended without considering the significant influence of Indigenous death deities who formed part of holistic ontologies that starkly contrasted with the dualistic absolutism of European Catholicism in which life and death were viewed as stark polarities. We also demonstrate how across time the liminal power of death as a supernatural female figure has proved especially appealing to marginalized socioeconomic groups. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Syncretism and Liminality in Latin American and Latinx Religions)
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Article
Transcripts of Gender, Intimacy, and Islam in Southeast Asia: The “Outrageous” Texts of Raja Ali Haji and Khatijah Terung
Religions 2021, 12(3), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030219 - 21 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 903
Abstract
It is generally perceived that Malays—who are predominantly Muslims—are comparable with the notion of politeness, aligned with moral axioms, and behave in ways copiously guided by religion. Casual sex and other forms of sexual “deviance” are typically attributed to foreign influences, most popularly, [...] Read more.
It is generally perceived that Malays—who are predominantly Muslims—are comparable with the notion of politeness, aligned with moral axioms, and behave in ways copiously guided by religion. Casual sex and other forms of sexual “deviance” are typically attributed to foreign influences, most popularly, Westernisation. New social trends among this community, such as the emphasis on male dominance, changing prescriptions about the functions and expectations of sex, receptiveness towards the body and emotion, exposure to sex education, and openness to sexual discourse are often attributed to the “immoral” West. Yet, forms of sexual behaviours depicted in the writings of notable Malay religious and literary personages reveal surprising insights into the Malay-Muslim milieu of 19th-century Riau. A variety of sexual practices and relations are expressed through these writings. This article adopts a historical-sociological framework to examine the “artisan tools” of textual materials as in the Kitab Pengetahuan Bahasa (Book of Linguistic Knowledge) by Raja Ali Haji and Perhimpunan Gunawan bagi Laki-Laki dan Perempuan (A Compendium of Charms for Men and Women) by Khatijah Terung. The “outrageous” sexual depictions in these texts are discussed and analysed, in part to debunk the idea of a “sexual revolution” or “sexual licentiousness” as emanating from an external culture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marriage, Intimacy, Gender and Islam in Southeast Asia)
Article
God and the Problem of Evil: An Attempt at Reframing the Debate
Religions 2021, 12(3), 218; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030218 - 21 Mar 2021
Viewed by 563
Abstract
This article attempts to reframe the traditional account of the problem of evil for God’s existence. The philosophical debates about the problem of evil for the existence of God within the traditional framework do not exhaust the available options for conceiving of God’s [...] Read more.
This article attempts to reframe the traditional account of the problem of evil for God’s existence. The philosophical debates about the problem of evil for the existence of God within the traditional framework do not exhaust the available options for conceiving of God’s perfection, including our understanding of God’s power and God’s relationship to the world. In responding to the problem of evil, rational theists should seek a reformulation of divine perfection consistent with God’s existence as both necessary and as morally relevant to human life in a manner that does not collapse in the face of the problem of evil. The neoclassical account of God’s nature as developed in the tradition of process philosophy is presented as an alternative that meets these requirements. Full article
Article
Liturgical Participation: An Effective Hermeneutic for Individuals with Profound Memory Loss
Religions 2021, 12(3), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030217 - 21 Mar 2021
Viewed by 549
Abstract
In non-pandemic times adults with profound memory loss (PML) are isolated by virtue of the effects of their decline. The marginalization of this cohort has been greatly exacerbated by the present pandemic. Individuals and their caretakers are not seen as active members, but [...] Read more.
In non-pandemic times adults with profound memory loss (PML) are isolated by virtue of the effects of their decline. The marginalization of this cohort has been greatly exacerbated by the present pandemic. Individuals and their caretakers are not seen as active members, but as objects of pastoral care. Leaving individuals outside of the present moment, PML makes it difficult to communicate or function. They may behave in ways that would be antithetical to their thinking. Individuals were isolated from their homes and worshiping communities. In this paper I will present a liturgical hermeneutic of Liturgical Participation. I will illustrate its effectiveness as a catechetical methodology for individuals experiencing PML. The methodology of Liturgical Participation will aid ministers in the work of raising the consciousness of individuals as active participants in the work of God. Full article
Article
Saints on Stage: Popular Hagiography in Post-WWII Italy
Religions 2021, 12(3), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030216 - 21 Mar 2021
Viewed by 475
Abstract
This article brings to light several examples of the hagiographic plays staged in Italy during the 1950s and early 1960s in parishes, schools, and oratories. The article begins with a brief introduction to the continued tradition of staging the lives of the saints [...] Read more.
This article brings to light several examples of the hagiographic plays staged in Italy during the 1950s and early 1960s in parishes, schools, and oratories. The article begins with a brief introduction to the continued tradition of staging the lives of the saints for educational purposes, which focuses on the origins, aims, and main characteristics of theatre for young people of the Salesians, the order founded by Don Bosco in 1859. Next, it offers a brief panorama of the pervasive presence of the lives of the saints in post-WWII Italy. The main discussion of the article concerns the hagiographic plays created for the Salesian educational stages in the years between 1950 and 1965, especially those regarding the lives of young saints Agnes and Domenico Savio. The article concludes that the Salesian plays on the lives of the saints, far from constituting a mere exercise in hagiography, had a definite educational goal which applied to both performers and audiences in the specific times of Italy’s reconstruction and the cold war. Full article
Article
Dimensions of the Relationship between the Individual and Her Unique Worldview Construction
Religions 2021, 12(3), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030215 - 21 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1144
Abstract
Each individual constructs his own private worldview using elements from established worldview traditions. The biographical character of this formation makes this the individual’s “Unique Worldview Construction” (UWC). The purpose of this theoretical study is to analyse the dynamic relationship between the individual and [...] Read more.
Each individual constructs his own private worldview using elements from established worldview traditions. The biographical character of this formation makes this the individual’s “Unique Worldview Construction” (UWC). The purpose of this theoretical study is to analyse the dynamic relationship between the individual and her own UWC. It describes more how than what he believes in or denies. The variation is exceedingly complex. To make it accessible, the complexity is crystallized into seven dimensions: (1) The authority structure deals with the individual’s perception of herself as being superordinate/subordinate to her own UWC. (2) The importance dimension analyses the span from indifference to involvement among a variety of religious/nonreligious, age, and gender cohorts. (3) The certainty dimension explores doubt versus confidence, using theories like confirmation bias, naïve realism, and cognitive dissonance. (4) The dimension of one’s relationship to rejected beliefs describes different ways of being inclusive/exclusive. (5) The emotional dimension depicts the individual’s weak/strong and negative/positive feelings towards different elements of her UWC. (6) The openness dimension sheds light on the respective traits of being introverted/extroverted regarding one’s private worldview. (7) The continuity dimension explores different development patterns, along with complex pre/post-conversion and deconversion processes. The different dimensions partly correlate to each other. Full article
Article
The Devil’s Music: Satanism and Christian Rhetoric in the Lyrics of the Swedish Heavy Metal Band Ghost
Religions 2021, 12(3), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030214 - 21 Mar 2021
Viewed by 719
Abstract
This paper is an inquiry into a contemporary heavy metal band from Sweden called Ghost. Ghost released its first studio album in 2010 and, while there is some discussion as to what their genre is exactly, they immediately became a rising star in [...] Read more.
This paper is an inquiry into a contemporary heavy metal band from Sweden called Ghost. Ghost released its first studio album in 2010 and, while there is some discussion as to what their genre is exactly, they immediately became a rising star in the metal scene. Yet what is of particular interest from a storytelling point of view, especially with regard to theological answers to philosophical questions in popular culture, is that the band presents itself as a satanic version of the Catholic Church through their stage act and lyrics. This made me curious whether they are trying to convey a message and, if yes, what that message might be. For the present paper, I have focused on the latter by performing a non-exhaustive textual analysis of the lyrics in a selection of songs from each of the four studio albums released so far. Ghost turns Christian liturgy on its head by utilizing devout language that is normally reserved for God and Christ to describe Satan and the Antichrist, a strategy I have called the ”satanification” of Christian doctrine, and in doing so their songs evoke imagery of a satanic faith community at prayer. The band then uses this radical inversion of traditional Christian themes to criticize certain elements of society, especially those aspects they associate with organized religion. Full article
Article
Believers, Attractiveness and Values
Religions 2021, 12(3), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030213 - 20 Mar 2021
Viewed by 776
Abstract
Societies are undergoing an intensive process of transformation, and the role that religion plays in guiding such rapid changes remains underexplored. In recent decades, postmodern discourse has hindered the attractiveness of involvement in religious affairs and reading sacred books, highlighting how “uncool” and [...] Read more.
Societies are undergoing an intensive process of transformation, and the role that religion plays in guiding such rapid changes remains underexplored. In recent decades, postmodern discourse has hindered the attractiveness of involvement in religious affairs and reading sacred books, highlighting how “uncool” and useless these practices are in responding to current daily life challenges. Decades of research have evidenced the positive impact of reading the most precious universal literary creations. Since sacred books are considered universal texts, this study explores the potential of dialogic interreligious gatherings (DIGs) focused on sacred books to enhance the attractiveness of key values such as love, kindness, humility, and generosity. These spaces are grounded in strong principles that guarantee the freedom of participants. This context opens up a possibility of discussing sacred books in a dialogic and egalitarian space where everyone’s voice is heard. In this context, especially in times where freedom is jeopardized in many spheres, believers from different faiths and nonbelievers engage in dialogues and relate sacred book content to their personal experiences and current social challenges. The communicative analysis conducted shows that DIGs drive the attractiveness of fundamental values present in sacred books, creating possibilities to enhance their effects in spurring personal and social change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in the Contemporary Transformation Society)
Article
Teaching Transnational Buddhist Meditation with Vipassanā (Neiguan 內觀) and Mindfulness (Zhengnian 正念) for Healing Depression in Contemporary China
Religions 2021, 12(3), 212; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030212 - 20 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1232
Abstract
This paper examines how the teaching of embodied practices of transnational Buddhist meditation has been designated for healing depression explicitly in contemporary Chinese Buddhist communities with the influences of Buddhist modernism in Southeast Asia and globalization. Despite the revival of traditional Chan school [...] Read more.
This paper examines how the teaching of embodied practices of transnational Buddhist meditation has been designated for healing depression explicitly in contemporary Chinese Buddhist communities with the influences of Buddhist modernism in Southeast Asia and globalization. Despite the revival of traditional Chan school meditation practices since the Open Policy, various transnational lay meditation practices, such as vipassanā and mindfulness, have been popularized in monastic and lay communities as a trendy way to heal physical and mental suffering in mainland China. Drawing from a recent ethnographic study of a meditation retreat held at a Chinese Buddhist monastery in South China, this paper examines how Buddhist monastics have promoted a hybrid mode of embodied Buddhist meditation practices, mindfulness and psychoanalytic exercises for healing depression in lay people. With analysis of the teaching and approach of the retreat guided by well-educated Chinese meditation monastics, I argue that some young generation Buddhist communities have contributed to giving active responses towards the recent yearning for individualized bodily practices and the social trend of the “subjective turn” and self-reflexivity in contemporary Chinese society. The hybrid inclusion of mindfulness exercises from secular programs and psychoanalytic exercises into a vipassanā meditation retreat may reflect an attempt to re-contextualize meditation in Chinese Buddhism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhism and the Body)
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Article
Language of Gestures: Mudrā, Mirror, and Meaning in Śākta Philosophy
Religions 2021, 12(3), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030211 - 19 Mar 2021
Viewed by 461
Abstract
By contextualizing the ways gestures are used and interpreted in tantric practice and philosophy, this paper explores the cultural and cognitive domains of corporeal expression. Initiating the conversation with descriptions of basic dance gestures and widely understood emotional expressions, the paper proceeds to [...] Read more.
By contextualizing the ways gestures are used and interpreted in tantric practice and philosophy, this paper explores the cultural and cognitive domains of corporeal expression. Initiating the conversation with descriptions of basic dance gestures and widely understood emotional expressions, the paper proceeds to address the generative nature of corporeal language as it contextualizes varied forms of esoteric experience. Confronting simplistic readings of gestural language, the core argument here is that tantric gestures introduce a distinctive form of embodied language that relies on a propositional attitude for deciphering their meanings. This process becomes a ritual in its own right. Even when we accept that gestures represent meaning, tantric gestures are understood to mirror the innate experience, prior to being shaped by language and culture, and in this sense they reflect the absolute. As a consequence, language becomes physical in time and space, and even when language transcends itself, it remains embodied. In sum, tantric gestures can be deciphered to unravel the deeper layers inherent to the sign system, and this is possible only when we are open to critically engaging folk theories. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Society for Tantric Studies Proceedings (2019))
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Editorial
Introduction to Special Issue: Exploring Ritual Fields Today
Religions 2021, 12(3), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030210 - 19 Mar 2021
Viewed by 530
Abstract
Due to the COVID-19 crisis and the related restrictive measures, many of our (daily) rituals have changed [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Ritual Fields Today)
Article
Crowdfunding Salafism. Crowdfunding as a Salafi Missionising Method
Religions 2021, 12(3), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030209 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1059
Abstract
As is also the case in other parts of the world, Salafi interpretations of Islam appear to be on the rise in Sweden, especially among young people turning to Islam. One of the most active and visible missionising Salafi organisations in Sweden is [...] Read more.
As is also the case in other parts of the world, Salafi interpretations of Islam appear to be on the rise in Sweden, especially among young people turning to Islam. One of the most active and visible missionising Salafi organisations in Sweden is called islam.nu. It is based in Stockholm but has a national outreach programme and a very active online presence. This article focuses on islam.nu and a dawa campaign called #karavanen (the Caravan) and how it was advertised and developed on the social media platform Instagram from March 2018 to March 2020. By using market and consumer value theories to analyse the Instagram content related to the #karavanen, the article is an explorative attempt to approach contemporary Salafi missionising and growth from a new perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion Impacting Social Media)
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Article
Preliminary Research on the Social Attitudes toward AI’s Involvement in Christian Education in Vietnam: Promoting AI Technology for Religious Education
Religions 2021, 12(3), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030208 - 19 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1447
Abstract
Artificial intelligence innovations, such as chatbots and specialized education suggestion tools, provide potential interactive and on-demand pedagogical engagement between non-Christians and Christians with Christianity. However, there is little empirical research on the readiness, acceptance, and adoption of religious education involvement of AI in [...] Read more.
Artificial intelligence innovations, such as chatbots and specialized education suggestion tools, provide potential interactive and on-demand pedagogical engagement between non-Christians and Christians with Christianity. However, there is little empirical research on the readiness, acceptance, and adoption of religious education involvement of AI in a secular state such as Vietnam. This research addresses the literature gap by providing an entrepreneurial analysis and customer perspectives on the ideas of AI involvement in religious education. Specifically, the study explores whether the Vietnamese across different ages accept and have enough skills to adopt AI in Christian education innovation. The interview sample is 32 participants, selected based on their religious orientation (Christians and non-Christians) and age (Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z). Most respondents are open to AI application in religious education except for Church personnel. However, only Generation Z are fully prepared to adopt this innovation. Theoretically, the research customizes the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology model into religious innovation context. Practically, this research acts as market research on the demand for AI’s religious innovation in Vietnam, an insight for future religious tech entrepreneurs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue AI and Religion)
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Article
Ritual Lamentation in the Irish Penitentials
Religions 2021, 12(3), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030207 - 18 Mar 2021
Viewed by 730
Abstract
Some of the earliest references to ritual lamentation or keening in the early Irish sources are found in the penitential handbooks dated to around the seventh and eighth centuries. In previous scholarship, these passages have commonly been interpreted as evidence of the continuous [...] Read more.
Some of the earliest references to ritual lamentation or keening in the early Irish sources are found in the penitential handbooks dated to around the seventh and eighth centuries. In previous scholarship, these passages have commonly been interpreted as evidence of the continuous attempts of the Church to curb pagan practices among the ‘nominally Christian’ populace, thus assuming that such regulations were primarily used as a means of social control. This article examines the wider theological and intellectual context of these texts, by focusing in particular on the influence of the Old Testament on early Irish ecclesiastical writing. It will be argued that the demonstrable preoccupation of these sources with issues such as ritual purity and proper religious observance suggests that the stipulations pertaining to lamentation were not solely intended to regulate lay behavior. Full article
Article
Civil Religion or Nationalism? The National Day Celebrations in Norway
Religions 2021, 12(3), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030206 - 18 Mar 2021
Viewed by 659
Abstract
The Norwegian National Day (17 May, also referred to as Constitution Day) stands out as one of the most popular National Day celebrations in Europe. According to surveys, around seven out of every 10 Norwegians take part in a public celebration during this [...] Read more.
The Norwegian National Day (17 May, also referred to as Constitution Day) stands out as one of the most popular National Day celebrations in Europe. According to surveys, around seven out of every 10 Norwegians take part in a public celebration during this day. This means that the National Day potentially has an impact on the way people reflect upon national identity and its relationship to the Lutheran heritage. In this paper, I will focus on the role religion plays in the Norwegian National Day rituals. Researchers have described these rituals as both containing a significant religious element and being rather secularized. In this article, I discuss the extent to which the theoretical concepts civil religion and religious nationalism can help us understand the role of religion, or the absence of religion, in these rituals. Based on surveys of the general population, I analyze both indicators of civil religion and religious nationalism. The two phenomena are compared by looking at their relation to such items as patriotism, chauvinism, and xenophobia. The results show that civil religion explains participation in the National Day rituals better than religious nationalism. Full article
Article
Transcripts of Unfulfillment: A Study of Sexual Dysfunction and Dissatisfaction among Malay-Muslim Women in Malaysia
Religions 2021, 12(3), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030205 - 18 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 691
Abstract
The prevalence of female sexual dysfunction (FSD), or in everyday notion, sexual dissatisfaction, among Malay women remains high, denoting that there are several influences shaping their experience of sex within marriage. This qualitative study identified the perceived effects of social factors in the [...] Read more.
The prevalence of female sexual dysfunction (FSD), or in everyday notion, sexual dissatisfaction, among Malay women remains high, denoting that there are several influences shaping their experience of sex within marriage. This qualitative study identified the perceived effects of social factors in the development of sexual dysfunction among Malay women. Engaging a phenomenological framework, 26 in-depth face-to-face interviews were conducted among married women from Peninsular Malaysia, based on their self-reporting of FSD symptoms. All sessions were audio-recorded and the data were transcribed verbatim and managed in the ATLAS.ti software before being analysed. The three themes that emerged—‘sex is taboo and culturally unacceptable’, ‘self-ignorance about sex’, and ‘lack of husband’s role in mutual sexual enjoyment’—suggest some influence of Islamic teachings and cultural conduct, as in Adat, on sexuality in society. However, a lack of knowledge and nonadherence to positive values and teachings around sexual satisfaction between men and women, as espoused through the Islamic religion, have affected woman’s sexual functions and coupling relationship even more significantly. The results of this qualitative study show that a formal, culturally sensitive, and comprehensive sex education programme incorporating both medical and Islamic knowledge may work to effectively reduce FSD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marriage, Intimacy, Gender and Islam in Southeast Asia)
Article
Exclusive Monotheism and Sahagún’s Mission: The Problem of Universals in the First Book of the Florentine Codex
Religions 2021, 12(3), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030204 - 18 Mar 2021
Viewed by 497
Abstract
This article outlines the missionary methods of the Franciscan Bernardino de Sahagún, his interaction with Nahua communities in central Mexico, and the production of a text called the Florentine Codex. This article argues that the philosophical problem of universals, whether “common natures” [...] Read more.
This article outlines the missionary methods of the Franciscan Bernardino de Sahagún, his interaction with Nahua communities in central Mexico, and the production of a text called the Florentine Codex. This article argues that the philosophical problem of universals, whether “common natures” existed and whether they existed across all cultures, influenced iconoclastic arguments about Nahua gods and idolatry. Focusing on the Florentine Codex Book 1 and its Appendix, containing a description of Nahua gods and their refutation, the article establishes how Sahagún and his team contended with the concept of universals as shaped by Nahua history and religion. This article presents the Florentine Codex Book 1 as a case study that points to larger patterns in the Christian religion, its need for mission, and its construal of true and false religion. Full article
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Article
“But in the Thunder, I Still Hear Thor”: The Character Athelstan as a Narrative Focal Point in the Series Vikings
Religions 2021, 12(3), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030203 - 18 Mar 2021
Viewed by 646
Abstract
This article explores the way the character Athelstan serves as a narrative focal point in the popular television series Vikings. Using this series as its main case study, it addresses the question of the ways in which the character functions as a [...] Read more.
This article explores the way the character Athelstan serves as a narrative focal point in the popular television series Vikings. Using this series as its main case study, it addresses the question of the ways in which the character functions as a synthesis between the two opposing world views of Christianity and Norse religion that are present in the series. After establishing that Vikings is a prime example of the trend to romanticize Viking culture in popular culture, I will argue that while the character Athelstan functions as a narrative focal point in which the worlds can be united and are united for a while, his eventual death when he has reverted back to Christianity shows that the series ultimately favors Viking culture and paints a very negative picture of (medieval) Christianity indeed. Full article
Editorial
Introduction of Special Issue “Religion and Refugee: Interdisciplinary Discussions on Transformative Human-Divine Interactions”
Religions 2021, 12(3), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030202 - 18 Mar 2021
Viewed by 387
Abstract
Mainstream works on refugees and religion have underlined the value that religion provides to émigrés [...] Full article
Review
Black Holes as Evidence of God’s Care
Religions 2021, 12(3), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030201 - 18 Mar 2021
Viewed by 2029
Abstract
As black holes gravitationally draw matter toward their event horizons, a high proportion of this matter is converted into energy. Radiation from this conversion process is deadly for advanced life. The apparent incompatibility of black holes with advanced life raises a problem for [...] Read more.
As black holes gravitationally draw matter toward their event horizons, a high proportion of this matter is converted into energy. Radiation from this conversion process is deadly for advanced life. The apparent incompatibility of black holes with advanced life raises a problem for Christians and other theists who believe that God planned the rise of advanced life on Earth. Yet additional scientific data may help to resolve this apparent problem. This article argues that a universe with the mass and laws and constants of physics to make advanced life possible will inevitably produce black holes, and this is good news. When the most massive stars and merging neutron stars become black holes, they manufacture elements heavier than iron. Eight of these r-process elements appear essential for advanced life; the remainder appear essential for enduring life and for advanced civilization. Moreover, though black holes produce deadly radiation in all known regions of the universe where advanced life is conceivable, our solar system is protected from this deadly radiation. By apparent fine-tuning, we live in a uniquely safe and uniquely provisioned location. These scientific findings suggest a way that theists can reconcile the existence of black holes with the existence of a Creator. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christianity and Science: Fresh Perspectives)
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Essay
Compassionate Deism and the Grammar of Permission
Religions 2021, 12(3), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030200 - 17 Mar 2021
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Abstract
Both theism and atheism assume that God permits evil. But neither theism nor atheism make this assumption with due attention to what I call, following Wittgenstein, the grammar of the term ‘permission’. When this grammar is examined, it becomes clear that this assumption [...] Read more.
Both theism and atheism assume that God permits evil. But neither theism nor atheism make this assumption with due attention to what I call, following Wittgenstein, the grammar of the term ‘permission’. When this grammar is examined, it becomes clear that this assumption cannot avoid the atheistic force of the argument from evil. To rescue belief in God, I propose the adoption of a position I call compassionate deism. This position is a combination of Christian theism and traditional deism. The combination is produced by making a slight deistic modification of Christian theism in the direction of non-intervention, and a slight modification of deism in the direction of compassion. Such a compassionate deism denies the common assumption made by both Christian theism and atheism, namely, that God permits evil, and thus avoids the theistic denial of the reality of evil and the atheist’s denial of God’s goodness. Full article
Article
Evangelical and Catholic Timespace in Work: An Argument against a Homeless Eschatology
Religions 2021, 12(3), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030199 - 17 Mar 2021
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Abstract
This article engages with how religion and economy relate to each other in faith-based businesses. It also elaborates on a recurrent idea in theological literature that reflections on different visions of time can advance theological analyses of the relationship between Christianity and capitalism. [...] Read more.
This article engages with how religion and economy relate to each other in faith-based businesses. It also elaborates on a recurrent idea in theological literature that reflections on different visions of time can advance theological analyses of the relationship between Christianity and capitalism. More specifically, this article brings results from an ethnographic study of two faith-based businesses into conversation with the ethicist Luke Bretherton’s presentation of different understandings of the relationship between Christianity and capitalism. Using Theodore Schatzki’s theory of timespace, the article examines how time and space are constituted in two small faith-based businesses that are part of the two networks Business as Mission (evangelical) and Economy of Communion (catholic) and how the different timespaces affect the religious-economic configurations in the two cases and with what moral implications. The overall findings suggest that the timespace in the Catholic business was characterized by struggling caused by a tension between certain ideals on how religion and economy should relate to each other on the one hand and how the practice evolved on the other hand. Furthermore, the timespace in the evangelical business was characterized by confidence, caused by the business having a rather distinct and achievable goal when it came to how they wanted to be different and how religion should relate to economy. There are, however, nuances and important resemblances between the cases that cannot be explained by the businesses’ confessional and theological affiliations. Rather, there seems to be something about the phenomenon of tension-filled and confident faith-based businesses that causes a drive in the practices towards the common good. After mapping the results of the empirical study, I discuss some contributions that I argue this study brings to Bretherton’s presentation of the relationship between Christianity and capitalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Theologies)
Article
The Ideology Factor and Individual Disengagements from the Muslim Brotherhood
Religions 2021, 12(3), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030198 - 17 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 880
Abstract
Since 2011, there has been a growing wave of individuals leaving Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and many of them have opted for documented publicity by writing autobiographies narrating their whole journey. This article explores the ideological components of the disengagement process on the basis [...] Read more.
Since 2011, there has been a growing wave of individuals leaving Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and many of them have opted for documented publicity by writing autobiographies narrating their whole journey. This article explores the ideological components of the disengagement process on the basis of a frame analysis of these writings. It seeks to understand how individuals acted against some of the meanings central to the Brotherhood’s ideological character and influence. They construct sets of meanings negating or renegotiating those long fixated, sanctified and ineluctable parts of the group’s ideology. The process of meaning making is situated within the Arab Spring where the Brotherhood’s dominant ideology also suffered from ruptures, incongruence or dissonance. For example, many exiters realized that the group’s ideology is not ‘evolutionary’ enough to align with a ‘revolutionary’ moment in Egypt’s history, and it thus failed to provide them with a sense of meaning regarding the dramatically changing world around them. The disillusionment goes beyond a battle of textually-situated meanings between the Brotherhood and its disgruntled members during the process of their departure from it. It appertains to a context of new resources and opportunities made available to exiters to resist, challenge, and even falsify the dominant ideology without incurring heavy losses or harsh penalties often meted out by the group against its ‘dissidents’. The agency of exiters, i.e., their capacity to act against the group’s ideology or manifest their rebellion against its elements, is also enabled by the state’s relative tolerance towards the exiters, a degree of social assimilation inside Egypt, internal ideological and organizational divisions inside the Brotherhood and geographical re-spatialization. Full article
Article
Development and Validation of a Faith Scale for Young Children
Religions 2021, 12(3), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030197 - 17 Mar 2021
Viewed by 471
Abstract
The purpose of this study is to develop and validate a faith scale for young children. Data were collected from 424 young children, who had not yet entered elementary school, with their parents rating their faith level. Sixty-five preliminary questions were formulated under [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study is to develop and validate a faith scale for young children. Data were collected from 424 young children, who had not yet entered elementary school, with their parents rating their faith level. Sixty-five preliminary questions were formulated under three domains―knowing, loving, and living—that were based on existing studies related to faith. The questions were reduced to 40 through a content validity test conducted by a seven-member panel. These questions were subsequently refined through pilot study, main survey, and statistical analysis. After exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, the scale was finalized, comprising 25 questions that can be categorized into three factors: confessional faith life, missional life, and distinctive life. This scale is expected to measure early childhood faith and prove the effectiveness of Christian education programs on a young child’s faith development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences)
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Article
Give Them Christ: Native Agency in the Evangelization of Puerto Rico, 1900 to 1917
Religions 2021, 12(3), 196; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030196 - 17 Mar 2021
Viewed by 495
Abstract
The scholarship on the history of Protestant missions to Puerto Rico after the Spanish American War of 1898 emphasizes the Americanizing tendencies of the missionaries in the construction of the new Puerto Rican. There is no doubt that the main missionary motif during [...] Read more.
The scholarship on the history of Protestant missions to Puerto Rico after the Spanish American War of 1898 emphasizes the Americanizing tendencies of the missionaries in the construction of the new Puerto Rican. There is no doubt that the main missionary motif during the 1890s was indeed civilization. Even though the Americanizing motif was part of the evangelistic efforts of some missionaries, new evidence shows that a minority of missionaries, among them Presbyterians James A. McAllister and Judson Underwood, had a clear vision of indigenization/contextualization for the emerging church based on language (Spanish) and culture (Puerto Rican). The spread of Christianity was successful not only because of the missionaries but also because native agents took up the task of evangelizing their own people; they were not passive spectators but active agents translating and processing the message of the gospel to fulfill their own people’s needs based on their own individual cultural assumptions. This article problematizes the past divisions of such evangelizing activities between the history of Christianity, mission history, and theology by analyzing the native ministries of Adela Sousa (a Bible woman) and Miguel Martinez in light of the teachings of the American missionaries. The investigation claims that because of Puerto Rican agents’ roles in the process of evangelization, a new fusion between the history of Christianity, mission history, and theology emerged as soon as new converts embraced and began to preach the gospel. Full article
Article
Does Science Need God? A Theistic Argument from Science
Religions 2021, 12(3), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030195 - 16 Mar 2021
Viewed by 650
Abstract
In our paper, we put forward an argument for the existence of God that starts with a description of the goal of science. The fact that science approximates perfect knowledge opens the problem of its status. We proceed to three resolutions of the [...] Read more.
In our paper, we put forward an argument for the existence of God that starts with a description of the goal of science. The fact that science approximates perfect knowledge opens the problem of its status. We proceed to three resolutions of the problem: perfect knowledge is only a kind of fictional idealization; it will be reached by humanity in the future; it is God’s knowledge. We point out the weaknesses of the first two options. Next, we go on to draw the conclusion that it is hardly possible to describe the goal of science without some theistic or near-theistic concepts. Full article
Article
‘Policing Is a Profession of the Heart’: Evangelicalism and Modern American Policing
Religions 2021, 12(3), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030194 - 16 Mar 2021
Viewed by 876
Abstract
Though several powerful explorations of modern evangelical influence in American politics and culture have appeared in recent years (many of which illumine the seeming complications of evangelical influence in the Trump era), there is more work that needs to be done on the [...] Read more.
Though several powerful explorations of modern evangelical influence in American politics and culture have appeared in recent years (many of which illumine the seeming complications of evangelical influence in the Trump era), there is more work that needs to be done on the matter of evangelical understandings of and influence in American law enforcement. This article explores evangelical interest and influence in modern American policing. Drawing upon complementary interpretations of the “antistatist statist” nature of modern evangelicalism and the carceral state, this article offers a short history of modern evangelical understandings of law enforcement and an exploration of contemporary evangelical ministry to police officers. It argues that, in their entries into debates about law enforcement’s purpose in American life, evangelicals frame policing as both a divinely sanctioned activity and a site of sentimental engagement. Both frames expand the power and reach of policing, limiting evangelicals’ abilities to see and correct problems within the profession. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evangelicalism: New Directions in Scholarship)
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