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Religions, Volume 12, Issue 8 (August 2021) – 115 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): This article explores how ‘indigenous’ notions of a ‘sacred feminine’ shape Sufi praxis on the island of Lombok in Indonesia. I demonstrate through long-term feminist anthropological fieldwork how in her indigenous form as Dewi Anjani ‘Spirit Queen of Jinn’ and as ‘Holy Saint of Allah’ who rules Lombok from Mount Rinjani, together with a living female saint and Murshida with whom she shares sacred kinship, these feminine beings shape the Sufi praxis that has formed in the Sufi order of the largest local Islamic organization in Lombok, Hizib Nahdlatul Wathan. Arguing from a Sufi feminist standpoint, I show how an active integration of indigeneity into understandings of mystical experience gives meaning to the sacred feminine in Sufi praxis in both complementary and hierarchical ways without challenging Islamic gender constructs. View this paper
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Article
‘I Am an African’
Religions 2021, 12(8), 669; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080669 - 23 Aug 2021
Viewed by 704
Abstract
The question, who is an African? in the context of understanding African identity has biological, historical, cultural, religious, political, racial, linguistic, social, philosophical, and even geographical colourations. Scholars as well as commentators have continued to grapple with it as it has assumed a [...] Read more.
The question, who is an African? in the context of understanding African identity has biological, historical, cultural, religious, political, racial, linguistic, social, philosophical, and even geographical colourations. Scholars as well as commentators have continued to grapple with it as it has assumed a syncretistic or intersectional characterisation. The same applies to, “what is Africa?” because of the defined Western construct of its geography. This foray of concepts appears to be captured in ‘I am an African’, a treatise that exudes the telos of African past, present and the unwavering hope that the future of Africans and Africa is great in spite of the cynicism and loss of faith that the present seems to have foisted on the minds of many an African. Through a critical analysis, it is argued that African religion has a value that is capable of resolving the contentious identity crisis of an African. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research with Religio-Cultural Heritage in Africa)
Article
A Balinese ‘Call to Prayer’: Sounding Religious Nationalism and Local Identity in the Puja Tri Sandhya
Religions 2021, 12(8), 668; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080668 - 23 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 998
Abstract
This article examines the Puja Tri Sandhya, a Balinese Hindu prayer that has been broadcast into the soundscape of Bali since 2001. By charting the development of the prayer, this paper summarizes the religious politics of post-independence Indonesia, which called for the [...] Read more.
This article examines the Puja Tri Sandhya, a Balinese Hindu prayer that has been broadcast into the soundscape of Bali since 2001. By charting the development of the prayer, this paper summarizes the religious politics of post-independence Indonesia, which called for the Balinese to adopt the Puja Tri Sandhya as a condition for religious legitimacy in the new nation. The Puja Tri Sandhya is likened to a Balinese “call to prayer” and compared to Muslim and Christian soundings of religion in the archipelago to assert how these broadcasts sonically reify the national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (“Unity in Diversity”), and participate in a sounding of religious nationalism. Although these broadcasts are evidence of a state-sponsored form of religiosity, interviews concerning the degree to which individuals practice the Puja Tri Sandhya point to an element of secularism and position the prayer as an example that challenges the religion versus secularism dichotomy in studies of religious nationalism. This article also examines the sonic components of the Puja Tri Sandhya (when it is sounded, the vocal style, and the gender wayang and genta bell accompaniment), to argue how these elements infuse this invented display of religiosity with authority and facilitate a mediation between technology, space, and local identity. Exploration of the gender wayang accompaniment in particular, further confirms the contrived nature of the Puja Tri Sandhya and demonstrates how technologies used to broadcast the prayer have had a significant impact on the gender wayang musical tradition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Music in World Religions)
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Article
Re-Feminizing Death: Gender, Spirituality and Death Care in the Anthropocene
Religions 2021, 12(8), 667; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080667 - 23 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1104
Abstract
Critiques of ecologically harmful human activity in the Anthropocene extend beyond life and livelihoods to practices of dying, death, and the disposal of bodies. For members of the diffuse ‘New Death Movement’ operating in the post-secular West today, such environmental externalities are symptomatic [...] Read more.
Critiques of ecologically harmful human activity in the Anthropocene extend beyond life and livelihoods to practices of dying, death, and the disposal of bodies. For members of the diffuse ‘New Death Movement’ operating in the post-secular West today, such environmental externalities are symptomatic of a broader failure of modern death care, what we refer to here as the ‘Death Industrial Complex’. According to New Death advocates, in its profit-driven, medicalised, de-ritualized and patriarchal form, modern death care fundamentally distorts humans’ relationship to mortality, and through it, nature. In response, the Movement promotes a (re)new(ed) way of ‘doing death’, one coded as spiritual and feminine, and based on the acceptance of natural cycles of decay and rebirth. In this article, we examine two examples from this Movement that demonstrate how the relationship between death, religion, and gender is re-configured in the Anthropocene: the rise of death doulas as alternates to funeral directors and the invention of new necro-technologies designed to transform the dead into trees. We ask how gender is positioned within the attempt to remake death care, and show how, for adherents of the New Death Movement, gender is fundamental both to a critique of the Death Industrial Complex and to mending our distorted relationship to death. By weaving together women, nature, and spirituality, the caring labours of death doulas and the fertility symbolism of new arboreal necro-technologies build an alternative model of a good death in the Anthropocene, one premised on its (re)feminization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender, Nature and Religious Re-enchantment in the Anthropocene)
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Article
The Long Road Out of Eden: Early Dynastic Temples, a Quantitative Approach to the Bent-Axis Shrines
Religions 2021, 12(8), 666; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080666 - 23 Aug 2021
Viewed by 757
Abstract
This study was conducted to quantitatively assess the architectural data stemming from 70 buildings usually considered as bent-axis temples, a type of Mesopotamian temple mainly constructed from 2900 to 2300–2200 BC. The study reviews, region-by-region and site-by-site, the dimensions of the rooms considered [...] Read more.
This study was conducted to quantitatively assess the architectural data stemming from 70 buildings usually considered as bent-axis temples, a type of Mesopotamian temple mainly constructed from 2900 to 2300–2200 BC. The study reviews, region-by-region and site-by-site, the dimensions of the rooms considered the “holy of holies”, registering width, length, and surface area. The results are discussed in comparison to the previous reception rooms of the tripartite buildings, considered the original matrix from which these shrines developed. The chronological and regional differences that are outlined provide some insights about the kind of social units that were involved in the use of those buildings, which were key structures in the urban fabric of Early City states. Full article
Article
Not Seeing Is Believing: Ritual Practice and Architecture at Chalcolithic Çadır Höyük in Anatolia
Religions 2021, 12(8), 665; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080665 - 20 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 812
Abstract
Chalcolithic religious practice at the site of Çadır Höyük (central Anatolia) included the insertion of ritual deposits into the architectural fabric of the settlement, “consecrating” spaces or imbuing them with symbolic properties. These deposits are recognizable in the archaeological record by their consistent [...] Read more.
Chalcolithic religious practice at the site of Çadır Höyük (central Anatolia) included the insertion of ritual deposits into the architectural fabric of the settlement, “consecrating” spaces or imbuing them with symbolic properties. These deposits are recognizable in the archaeological record by their consistent use of ritually-charged material, such as ochre, copper, human and animal bone, and certain kinds of ceramics. During the 800-year period considered in this paper, the material practice of making these ritual deposits remained remarkably consistent. However, the types of spaces where the deposits are made change as shifting social organization reforms the divisions between private and public space. Full article
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Article
Producing Solidarities: Theological Reflections on Humanity and Ecology in Animal’s People
Religions 2021, 12(8), 664; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080664 - 20 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1368
Abstract
This article examines Indra Sinha’s novel Animal’s People for insight into the intersection of theological anthropology and ecological theology. Set in the wake of a man-made ecological crisis, Sinha’s novel probes the definition of humanity, the interconnectedness between humans and the environment, and [...] Read more.
This article examines Indra Sinha’s novel Animal’s People for insight into the intersection of theological anthropology and ecological theology. Set in the wake of a man-made ecological crisis, Sinha’s novel probes the definition of humanity, the interconnectedness between humans and the environment, and the toxic effects of the neoliberal order for humans and their environment. Drawing on Joerg Rieger and Kwok Pui-lan’s notion of an ecclesiology of solidarity, with insight from Rob Nixon’s work on ecological violence in the neoliberal order, this article considers the rich theological resources residing in Sinha’s work. Through a close reading of the text, the article highlights Sinha’s novel as a reflective resource both for eco-theology and for theological anthropology. It demonstrates that Sinha’s expansive vision of humanity effectively challenges the colonial hierarchy of humanity and the global system of borders which reinforces it. The witness of Animal’s People suggests that theological anthropology and eco-theology are inseparably interrelated and that responsible praxis in both spheres is necessary for developing global human and ecological solidarity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Literature and Eco-theology)
Article
Theology of Music and Hindu Religion: From Divine Origins to Classical Songs
Religions 2021, 12(8), 663; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080663 - 19 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1079
Abstract
As a subfield in the study of religion and music, the theology of music is generally understood in Western terms. Yet to fully encompass the rich heritage of music in world religions, the theology of music must welcome non-Western traditions. After introducing ancient [...] Read more.
As a subfield in the study of religion and music, the theology of music is generally understood in Western terms. Yet to fully encompass the rich heritage of music in world religions, the theology of music must welcome non-Western traditions. After introducing ancient Greek and Biblical narratives regarding the origins of music, including metaphysical concepts, narratives of music as Divine Gift, musical angels, and the sacred origin of the notes and scales, this article explores music in Hindu religion through the lens of theology. We find that Indian music is also ‘given by the gods’ (i.e., Brahmā, Vishnu, and Śiva), associated with ‘musical angels,’ and originally formed from metaphysical principles (i.e., OM and the concept of Nāda-Brahman). What is demonstrated here, representing a long continuity, is how these same ideas are viable in the performance of Indian classical music today. Citing examples of compositions of Dhrupad and Khayal from the standard repertoire, this article reveals how modern-day classical songs contain references to sacred sound principles and the divine origins of music, both in their lyrics and in the unfoldment of musical notes (Svaras) and melodic patterns (Rāgas). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tuning In the Sacred: Studies in Music and World Religions)
Article
Evolution and Decline: Making Wholeness in a Time of Ecological Decline
Religions 2021, 12(8), 662; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080662 - 19 Aug 2021
Viewed by 872
Abstract
Drawing on three key elements in Lonergan’s thought—emergent probability, the triad of progress/decline/redemption, and the law of the cross—this paper explores the struggle to remake some sense of wholeness in an era of serve ecological decline and the cost to be paid to [...] Read more.
Drawing on three key elements in Lonergan’s thought—emergent probability, the triad of progress/decline/redemption, and the law of the cross—this paper explores the struggle to remake some sense of wholeness in an era of serve ecological decline and the cost to be paid to turn it around. It identifies political action as the most urgent arena for those seeking to redeem our present situation, while also acknowledging the important of personal and cultural resistance to the forces of decline. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholicity in the 21st Century)
Article
Bailu’s Catholicism in China: Religious Inculturation, Tourist Attraction, or Secularization
Religions 2021, 12(8), 661; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080661 - 19 Aug 2021
Viewed by 645
Abstract
My article explores how Catholicism interacts with various forces and players in the local and political arena since it migrated into Bailu, China. My argument is based on extensive fieldwork done at two seminaries and one church there. I have shown that: (1) [...] Read more.
My article explores how Catholicism interacts with various forces and players in the local and political arena since it migrated into Bailu, China. My argument is based on extensive fieldwork done at two seminaries and one church there. I have shown that: (1) Catholicism encountered different secular forces and survived through effective interaction with them, (2) a market-oriented economy led to the commercialization of once-authentic religious sites for tourism and economic development, and (3) the secularization of Catholicism results in a unique paradox: Catholicism’s public influence on tourism and economic development has been increasing, while its activities and church attendance have not followed synchronously. This paradox manifests itself in two facts: though the town has benefited from Catholicism’s presence, measured by religious symbols and in numbers have been gradually reduced and even removed; and though its French influence makes this town a tourist destination, the prevailing Chinese culture has not been undermined but reinforced. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences)
Article
Ecology as a New Foundation for Natural Theology
Religions 2021, 12(8), 660; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080660 - 19 Aug 2021
Viewed by 604
Abstract
The erosion of metaphysics that began in Modernity has led to the discredit of the whole project of natural theology as a means to reach God, establish the classical divine attributes, and account for divine action. After the deconstruction of classical metaphysics propelled [...] Read more.
The erosion of metaphysics that began in Modernity has led to the discredit of the whole project of natural theology as a means to reach God, establish the classical divine attributes, and account for divine action. After the deconstruction of classical metaphysics propelled by thinkers associated with the Protestant tradition and by philosophers affiliated with the Nietzschean critique, it may appear that only an apophatic approach to God would then be possible. However, the attempt to establish a consensual foundation for the theological discourse has not lost its relevance. In this sense, the attempts to revitalize natural theology are most welcome. It would be naive, however, to think that approaches to natural theology based on classical metaphysics will easily gather consensus. This will not happen. The departing point for a renewed and credible approach to natural theology cannot be the theoretical universal reason associated with Modernity, which is no longer acknowledged as a common ground. As such, a viable approach to natural theology has to find a new consensual starting point. The goal of this article is to argue that the emergence of a new ecological urgency and sensibility, which nowadays gather a high degree of consensus, offers an opportunity for the renewal of natural theology. It is our aim: (i) to show the extent to which God grounds the intrinsic value of nature, which, as such, deserves respect, and (ii) to suggest that the reverence for nature may naturally lead contemporary human beings to God. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue What is the Future for Natural Theology?)
Article
Pro-Violence Sermons of a Secular State: Turkey’s Diyanet on Islamist Militarism, Jihadism and Glorification of Martyrdom
Religions 2021, 12(8), 659; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080659 - 18 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 813
Abstract
The literature on martyrdom has not, so far, systematically analysed a constitutionally secular state’s extensive use of religion in propagating martyrdom narratives by using state-controlled religious institutions. This paper addresses this gap in martyrdom literature. In addition, even though some studies have analysed [...] Read more.
The literature on martyrdom has not, so far, systematically analysed a constitutionally secular state’s extensive use of religion in propagating martyrdom narratives by using state-controlled religious institutions. This paper addresses this gap in martyrdom literature. In addition, even though some studies have analysed how martyrdom narratives have been used for political purposes in Turkey for mythmaking and building a collective memory, a religious institution’s active use by the state for the purposes of mythmaking and collective memory building has not been studied. This paper shows that the contents of the Friday sermons, that reach at least 50 percent of the country’s adult males every week, have moved from Turkish nationalist understanding of militarism and martyrdom to more radical, Islamist and pro-violence interpretations that actively promote dying for the nation, homeland, religion and God. The sermons also emphasise that new generations must be raised with this pro-violence religious spirit, which is also novel. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences)
Article
“Only God Can Be”: Aleksandr Vvedensky, Kant, God, and Time
Religions 2021, 12(8), 658; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080658 - 18 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 741
Abstract
This article discusses the place of God in the poetic system of Aleksandr Vvedensky. Vvedensky’s famous pronouncement on his “poetic critique” is more throughgoing than Kant’s critical enterprise, and invites a comparison between the movement of Kant’s thought in the Critique of Judgment, [...] Read more.
This article discusses the place of God in the poetic system of Aleksandr Vvedensky. Vvedensky’s famous pronouncement on his “poetic critique” is more throughgoing than Kant’s critical enterprise, and invites a comparison between the movement of Kant’s thought in the Critique of Judgment, and what Vvedensky’s recourse to senselessness aims to achieve. Time in Vvedensky poetics may be seen as a radical extension of Kant’s philosophical system where it ultimately resides in an equally inaccessible realm on which its entire edifice is founded. Full article
Article
From Archangels to Virtual Pilgrims: A Brief History of Papal Digital Mobilization as Soft Power
Religions 2021, 12(8), 657; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080657 - 18 Aug 2021
Viewed by 750
Abstract
The perpetual public display of successful mass mobilization and pilgrimage has become a pillar of papal soft power. During the 20th century, the papacy had repeatedly demonstrated its ability to use new technologies for public communication, media content production and mass mobilization. John [...] Read more.
The perpetual public display of successful mass mobilization and pilgrimage has become a pillar of papal soft power. During the 20th century, the papacy had repeatedly demonstrated its ability to use new technologies for public communication, media content production and mass mobilization. John Paul II endorsed the establishment of the first Vatican website and an official papal e-mail account, which provided Catholics a new form of communication with the Holy Father. During the pontificate of Benedict XVI, the papacy created several Twitter accounts, which would become the backbone of papal digital mobilization. Francis built on the success of his predecessors as he initiated the modernization of the Holy See’s media department. However, with the growth of the Internet and the stress test of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mechanics of mobilization, pilgrimage and power have considerably changed. With the religious role of the popes taken as a given, the paper looks into the history of papal mobilization, the role of the Internet and why it is not used to its full potential yet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pilgrimage and Religious Mobilization in Europe)
Article
The Impossible Spaces: A Commentary on Gen. 2:8–15
Religions 2021, 12(8), 656; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080656 - 18 Aug 2021
Viewed by 637
Abstract
A close analysis of the text of Gen. 2:8–15, pertaining to the Garden of Eden, shows the structural differences between said text and others from ancient mythologies that mention or describe a paradise. Likewise, that analysis suggests that the data provided by the [...] Read more.
A close analysis of the text of Gen. 2:8–15, pertaining to the Garden of Eden, shows the structural differences between said text and others from ancient mythologies that mention or describe a paradise. Likewise, that analysis suggests that the data provided by the Bible to locate paradise are merely a narrative device meant to dissipate all doubts as to the existence of a garden where God put human beings. Similar to other spaces that appear in the Bible, the Garden of Eden is, in fact, an impossible place. Throughout the centuries, however, recurring proposals have been made to locate paradise. As time went by, those proposals were progressively modified by the intellectual ideas dominant in any given era, thus leading the representations of the location of Paradise to be further and further away from the information provided by the biblical text. Full article
Article
What’s Love Got to Do with It? Religion and the Multiple Logic Tensions of Social Enterprise
Religions 2021, 12(8), 655; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080655 - 18 Aug 2021
Viewed by 859
Abstract
This paper develops a model that advances our understanding of how social enterprises respond to the complexity of a constellation of multiple, often competing goals, referred to here as institutional logics. Introducing a religious logic to the recognised social welfare and commercial logics [...] Read more.
This paper develops a model that advances our understanding of how social enterprises respond to the complexity of a constellation of multiple, often competing goals, referred to here as institutional logics. Introducing a religious logic to the recognised social welfare and commercial logics of social enterprise, this model builds on a religious worldview foundation and incorporates religion-inspired altruistic love and non-transactional giving as its scaffolding. A comparative case study of faith-based, faith-inspired and secular organisations located in Southeast Asia demonstrates the origin and applicability of the model. Findings highlight that religion serves as an overarching logic, or “metalogic”, and frame of reference. Faith-based social enterprises use this religious logic to redefine perceived paradoxical tensions between the social welfare and commercial objectives they embody. Study results advance knowledge on organisational responses to multiple logic prescriptions, underscores the influence of religion, altruistic love and giving on organisational behaviour and contributes to the scarce literature on faith-based social enterprises. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Entrepreneurship from a Christian Perspective)
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Article
Online Temptations: Divorce and Extramarital Affairs in Kazakhstan
Religions 2021, 12(8), 654; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080654 - 18 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1854
Abstract
In recent years, the institution of marriage in Muslim Central Asia has undergone profound transformations in terms of religious dynamics, migration patterns, and the impact of globalization. In Kazakhstan between 2014 and 2019, every third marriage ended in divorce. By examining how Muslim [...] Read more.
In recent years, the institution of marriage in Muslim Central Asia has undergone profound transformations in terms of religious dynamics, migration patterns, and the impact of globalization. In Kazakhstan between 2014 and 2019, every third marriage ended in divorce. By examining how Muslim Kazakhs’ support for divorce and casual sex is related to their consumption of information obtained on the Internet, mobile phone, and social media, this study contributes to the growing body of literature on the transformative forces of information and communication technology (ICT) in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. It uses a mixed-method approach that contrasts wider statistical trends from the World Values Survey Wave 7 country dataset on Kazakhstan with empirical data from focus groups conducted in five different regions of the country in 2019, involving a total of 96 respondents. The findings from the statistical and non-statistical analysis show that frequent exposure to information online influences Muslim Kazakhs’ support for extramarital affairs and divorce. Yet, frequent use of ICTs does not necessarily weaken the institution of marriage. Apart from its effect on university-educated female Kazakh youth, it seems to reinforce traditional understanding of marriage obligations among older generations and young men. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sexuality in Arab-Islamic Cultures: Past and Present)
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Article
Homophily and Social Capital in a Network of Religious Congregations
Religions 2021, 12(8), 653; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080653 - 17 Aug 2021
Viewed by 746
Abstract
This article investigates the relationship between homophily, the tendency for relationships to be more common among similar actors, and social capital in a social network of religious congregations from eight counties encompassing and surrounding a major metropolitan area in the southeastern United States. [...] Read more.
This article investigates the relationship between homophily, the tendency for relationships to be more common among similar actors, and social capital in a social network of religious congregations from eight counties encompassing and surrounding a major metropolitan area in the southeastern United States. This network is inter-congregational, consisting of congregations and the relationships between them. Two types of social capital are investigated: the first involves the extent to which congregations bridge across structural holes, or bridge together otherwise disconnected congregations within the network; secondly, network closure involves the extent to which congregations are embedded in tight-knit clusters. Analyses use two types of homophily (religious and racial) to predict both outcomes, and they test linear and curvilinear relationships between both forms of homophily and the outcomes. Results indicate that congregations with moderate levels of religious homophily are more likely to bridge between otherwise disconnected congregations; however, congregations with low or high religious homophily as well as congregations with high racial homophily are more likely to be embedded in tight-knit relational clusters. This article contributes additional social network research on congregations and evidence of curvilinear relationships between homophily and social capital to the fields of social network analysis and sociology of religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences)
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Article
The Openseminary Methodology: Practical Theology as Personal, Local and Transformative
Religions 2021, 12(8), 652; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080652 - 17 Aug 2021
Viewed by 781
Abstract
Theological education continues to be subject to rapid social and technological change, which is further exacerbated by the recent global pandemic. Practical theology as a discipline continues to grow, being well placed methodologically to engage with diverse contexts and these global realities. The [...] Read more.
Theological education continues to be subject to rapid social and technological change, which is further exacerbated by the recent global pandemic. Practical theology as a discipline continues to grow, being well placed methodologically to engage with diverse contexts and these global realities. The task for theological education is whether it can meet these challenges and be part of the transformation required. Openseminary as a methodology and program was developed in the early 2000s by Wynand De Kock to enable students to both learn practical theology as a methodology, as well as reflect theologically in their own context. Over the last two decades, it has run in South Africa, at Tabor College in Australia, as well as Palmer Seminary in the United States. In what follows, the methodology and program are explored in terms of their genesis, history, and current articulation. It is argued that it is a practical theological methodology well suited to the personal, local, and transformative goals of theological education today. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Practical Theology & Theological Education—An Overview)
Article
Mauritians and Latter-Day Saints: Multicultural Oral Histories of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints within “The Rainbow Nation”
Religions 2021, 12(8), 651; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080651 - 17 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1328
Abstract
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emerged within the Mauritian landscape in the early 1980s after the arrival of foreign missionary work. With a population of Indian, African, Chinese, French heritage, and other mixed ethnicities, Mauritius celebrates multiculturalism, with many calling [...] Read more.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emerged within the Mauritian landscape in the early 1980s after the arrival of foreign missionary work. With a population of Indian, African, Chinese, French heritage, and other mixed ethnicities, Mauritius celebrates multiculturalism, with many calling it the “rainbow nation”. Religiously, Hinduism dominates the scene on the island, followed by Christianity (with Catholicism as the majority); the small remainder of the population observes Islam or Buddhism. Although Mauritian society equally embraces people from these ethnic groups, it also has historically marginalized communities who represent a “hybrid” of the mentioned demographic groups. This article, based on ethnographic research, explores the experiences of Mauritian Latter-day Saints as they navigate the challenges and implications of membership in Mormonism. Specifically, it focuses on how US-based Mormonism has come to embrace the cultural heritage of people from the various diaspora and how Mauritian Latter-day Saints perceive their own belonging and space-making within an American born religion. This case study presents how the local and intersecting adaptations of language, race, and local leadership within a cosmopolitan society such as Mauritius have led to the partial hybridization of the Church into the hegemony of ethnic communities within Mauritian Latter-day Saint practices. These merging of cultures and world views prompts both positive and challenging religious experiences for Mauritian Church members. This article illustrates the implications and pressures of the Church trying to globalize its faith base while adapting its traditionally Anglocentric approaches to religious practices to multiracial, multicultural cosmopolitan communities such as Mauritius. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Globalizing Mormonism)
Article
Religious Education in Poland during the COVID-19 Pandemic from the Perspective of Religion Teachers of the Silesian Voivodeship
Religions 2021, 12(8), 650; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080650 - 17 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1052
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced all spheres of life. It has an impact on the education of children and youth. The authors’ research focused on religious education during the pandemic by the Roman Catholic Church in Poland in the Śląskie Voivodeship. The criterion [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced all spheres of life. It has an impact on the education of children and youth. The authors’ research focused on religious education during the pandemic by the Roman Catholic Church in Poland in the Śląskie Voivodeship. The criterion for choosing the environment was dictated by demographic conditions. The Śląskie Voivodeship has the highest population density per square kilometer, which contributed to the largest number of virus infections. The principal purpose of the research was to gather religion teachers’ opinions concerning organization and implementation of the remote teaching of religion in the Silesian Voivodeship (Województwo Śląskie). So far, there has been no research conducted in the field of the abovementioned issues in the area chosen by the authors. The authors’ research, carried out from June to August 2020, covered 700 people, which accounts for 18.7% of the religious education teachers working in the Śląskie Voivodeship. The results of the authors’ own research allowed formulating a conclusion that the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the development of modern information and communication competencies of all participants of religious education. Entities involved in this type of education recognized and used multiple opportunities offered by information and communication technologies, which can be seen in the respondents’ declarations describing various forms of their didactic and educational on-line work. The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated parents to become more involved in the religious education of younger school-age children. The surveyed religion teachers declared that, thanks to the activity and the help of their parents, the children systematically participated in religion lessons and carried out orders and educational tasks without major problems. Thus, indirectly, parents of children of a younger school age were covered by religious education and were subject to pedagogy. Nevertheless, as teachers have pointed out, the virtual world makes it impossible to form authentic interpersonal relationships. The research confirmed the thesis, according to which religious education carried out in distance learning limits the complete implementation of its objectives, since an upbringing in faith calls for community that necessitates direct contact between the pupil and the teacher. Full article
Article
A Critical Examination of Research on the Legacy of Daehaeng
Religions 2021, 12(8), 649; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080649 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 726
Abstract
Over recent decades, Venerable Daehaeng has increasingly become a subject of academic research, much of which has been sponsored by her own followers in an effort to reinforce the legitimacy of her teachings and her authenticity as a Korean seon master. Nevertheless, since [...] Read more.
Over recent decades, Venerable Daehaeng has increasingly become a subject of academic research, much of which has been sponsored by her own followers in an effort to reinforce the legitimacy of her teachings and her authenticity as a Korean seon master. Nevertheless, since her passing several controversies have arisen with critics charging that Daehaeng’s teaching fall outside of Korean Buddhist orthodoxy. Given the ongoing and often contentious debate over Daehaeng’s identity as Buddhist master, this article scrutinizes these recent controversies along with the current trends in academic research surrounding both Daehaeng and the Hanmaum Seonwon. It then identifies critical questions within this growing field of Daehaeng studies and suggests directions worthy of research exploration. Full article
Article
Of Pride and Prejudice—A Cross-National Exploration of Atheists’ National Pride
Religions 2021, 12(8), 648; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080648 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1157
Abstract
This paper explores how atheism relates to national pride. Previous research reports the strong positive relationship between religiosity and national pride. Inversely, it can be assumed that atheists feel less national pride. Whether this assumption holds true and whether the perceived relevance of [...] Read more.
This paper explores how atheism relates to national pride. Previous research reports the strong positive relationship between religiosity and national pride. Inversely, it can be assumed that atheists feel less national pride. Whether this assumption holds true and whether the perceived relevance of religiosity for values perceived as fundamental for national pride is a national-specific or a global phenomenon will be investigated here by examining attitudes towards atheists and assessing cross-nationally how proud atheists truly are of their countries. The data reveals cross-country differences in both respects. In highly religious countries, prejudice against atheists is pronounced, while atheists’ feelings of national pride indeed tend to be weaker. But what exactly predicts atheists’ feelings of national pride? For a Multilevel Analysis of this question, this article uses the ONBound database offering cumulated and harmonized data from international survey programs as well as linked country-level data on national identities and religion. Results identify countries’ ideological background as one of the crucial country-level predictors for national pride among atheists. In highly religious countries, people who deny religion also seem to possess ambivalent feelings towards their country. In turn, if the state ideology opposes religion, atheists tend to support the combination of anti-religiousness and patriotism. Full article
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Article
Organ Donation in Islam: A Search for a Broader Quranic Perspective
Religions 2021, 12(8), 647; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080647 - 16 Aug 2021
Viewed by 818
Abstract
Organ donation is a widely debated issue in Islamic scholarship. Muslim jurists, however, have produced a substantial amount of evidence supporting its legality. Despite this, previous research has revealed that Muslim communities around the world are still wary of organ donation. The main [...] Read more.
Organ donation is a widely debated issue in Islamic scholarship. Muslim jurists, however, have produced a substantial amount of evidence supporting its legality. Despite this, previous research has revealed that Muslim communities around the world are still wary of organ donation. The main reasons for this attitude are motivational and educational in nature. To address these two problems, the purpose of this research is to look into the Quranic conceptual background, which could help to expand the justification of organ donation in the motivational context. This study investigated the Quranic verses that scholars have cited in their writings on organ donation and transplantation. The theoretical underpinnings for the use of those verses were deduced. Data were collected from 36 studies on organ donation that refer to Quranic verses and examined how those verses were analyzed. This study discovered that a number of Quranic verses were primarily used to justify the permissibility of organ donation, with little effort made to analyze the verses using specific methodologies dedicated to the Quranic texts. As a result, the outcome may not be helpful to solve the current dilemma which is Muslim communities’ reluctance to donate organs. Hence, it is important to explore a broad theoretical framework for organ donation based on the Quran. This study suggests how to bring this new perspective to the subject and overcome the existing problem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organ Transplantation in Islam: Perspectives and Challenges)
Review
From Supporting Moral Competence to Fostering Spiritual Growth: The Psycho-Didactic Potential of the Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion (KMDD®)
Religions 2021, 12(8), 646; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080646 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1137
Abstract
This paper aimed to introduce the Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion KMDD® as one of the most effective methods that are designed to foster moral competence and, therefore, to promote tolerance and equality, regardless of cultural background, religion, or views. It is [...] Read more.
This paper aimed to introduce the Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion KMDD® as one of the most effective methods that are designed to foster moral competence and, therefore, to promote tolerance and equality, regardless of cultural background, religion, or views. It is mainly used within the educational context, but it can be also implemented in different environments and conditions. The Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion should also be considered as the representative of a psycho-didactic approach to education. There is a possibility of assessing KMDD®’s effectiveness with the Moral Competence Test (MCT®), as well as comparing its significance with other methods that are not only based on the discussions of moral and spiritual dilemmas. Therefore, dilemma discussions would seem to be the best framework for practicing not only social skills and a democratic attitude but also positive mental health and psychological stability by providing a background for personal moral and spiritual growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mental Health: Antecedents and Consequences)
Article
Re-Membering Catholicity: Higher Education, Racial Justice, and the Spirituality of the Posthuman University
Religions 2021, 12(8), 645; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080645 - 16 Aug 2021
Viewed by 692
Abstract
In the reinscribing of white supremacy in the United States, the contemporary university as a place of exclusion presents a problem of religion. Approaching religion as “the search for depth” and addressing the “techno-myths” of betterment, longevity, and the rituals of enacting these [...] Read more.
In the reinscribing of white supremacy in the United States, the contemporary university as a place of exclusion presents a problem of religion. Approaching religion as “the search for depth” and addressing the “techno-myths” of betterment, longevity, and the rituals of enacting these myths that capture today’s social imaginaries, this paper proposes an alternative to religious faith in “rising” and the rhetoric of the contemporary American technocratic-meritrocratic paradigm. Adopting the posthumanist methodologies of reflexivity and diffraction, the author argues for an embodied catholicity of the university as a community, an open system rather than a pre-formed locus to which racially minoritized students are “added” or “included”. In advancing the co-creativity of a Catholic-pluriversal university via an ethic of love and care, the author presents a Christian spirituality that is itself a technology that offers the hope of enacting a more life-giving congruence between the sacred and the secular than the myth of Manifest Destiny and the racialized violence that is the continued manifestation of that mythos. Embodied in the posthuman mystic’s practices of “re-memory,” the author presents Christianity as a performative-pluralistic religion of evolution, one of common action with the potential to draw into something new the energies of creativity in today’s university. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholicity in the 21st Century)
Article
Digital Stories as a Creative Assignment for Studying World Religions
Religions 2021, 12(8), 644; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080644 - 16 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1093
Abstract
The incorporation of creative assignments in the form of digital stories and artistic assignments in undergraduate and graduate World Religions courses has resulted in positive feedback from the students, and these courses were considered the favorite of the semester. They have given students, [...] Read more.
The incorporation of creative assignments in the form of digital stories and artistic assignments in undergraduate and graduate World Religions courses has resulted in positive feedback from the students, and these courses were considered the favorite of the semester. They have given students, many of which identify as “spiritual but not religious”, or “non-practicing”, an opportunity to connect themes from various world religions to their own life stories, implicitly or explicitly. The purpose of this article is to encourage educators in both a secondary and a college/university/seminary setting to consider digital stories as a creative assignment that deepens their understanding of world religions within the context of a World Religions course, or other religion and religious education courses. This article will present the institutional support provided by Mercy College (Dobbs Ferry, New York) and the context for the World Religions class in which the digital stories are assigned. It will be followed by the process of making a digital story, the directions given to the students, the different platforms that students can choose to make the digital stories, and examples of digital stories created by the students. The paper will conclude with a summary of comments made by the students about the assignment and connections with additional articles on the benefits of digital stories to increase empathy and replace the dominant stories that cause oppression and injustice, like racism and white supremacy, with stories that offer resistance and counter the status quo of oppression and injustice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflecting on the Possibilities of Religious Education Research)
Article
Of Winged Women and Stone Tombs: Identity and Agency through Iron Age Lycian Mortuary Architecture
Religions 2021, 12(8), 643; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080643 - 14 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1026
Abstract
The people collectively named the Lycians in modern scholarship are the best represented of the western Anatolian first millennium BC cultures in terms of philological, historical, and archaeological data. This article seeks to better understand the meanings behind Iron Age Lycian mortuary monuments [...] Read more.
The people collectively named the Lycians in modern scholarship are the best represented of the western Anatolian first millennium BC cultures in terms of philological, historical, and archaeological data. This article seeks to better understand the meanings behind Iron Age Lycian mortuary monuments and religious images, and how they reflect Lycian identity and agency in a time of political turmoil. By studying the Lycian mortuary landscape, tombs and images, we can begin to comprehend Lycian perceptions of the afterlife, religion and cultural identity. In particular, we look to the images of the so-called “Harpies” and “Running Men” to better understand evidence of the afterlife, connections to the past and the creation of their own identity of what it means to be Lycian. The study of Lycian mortuary trends, monumental architecture, and religion gives us a small but tantalizing view into the Lycian understanding of religion and death, and how they wielded their own culture as a tool for survival in a politically fraught world. Full article
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Article
Givenness, Saturation, and the Self: A Phenomenology of Christian Initiation
Religions 2021, 12(8), 642; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080642 - 13 Aug 2021
Viewed by 967
Abstract
Phenomenology holds great promise yet underdeveloped potential for ritual studies and liturgical theology. As phenomenology has indeed taken a “theological turn” and the contentiousness of such an approach abates, questions remain as to what insights, concepts, and language phenomenology can offer to deepen [...] Read more.
Phenomenology holds great promise yet underdeveloped potential for ritual studies and liturgical theology. As phenomenology has indeed taken a “theological turn” and the contentiousness of such an approach abates, questions remain as to what insights, concepts, and language phenomenology can offer to deepen our understanding of Christian ritual practices. Specifically with respect to rituals of initiation, does phenomenology open new avenues of appreciation for the sacrament of baptism, to enrich and to deepen the faithful’s experience of these rituals? This article considers insights afforded by a phenomenological approach to the sacrament, in particular with regard to adult baptism and the catechumenate in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), the rite of reception and sacramental initiation into the Roman Catholic Church. Considered through such lenses, a phenomenology of baptism promises to open new avenues of ritual understanding, theological appreciation, and depth of prayer. Drawing primarily from the work of Jean-Luc Marion, this article also considers prominent critiques of his work to articulate a phenomenology of baptism as an experience of givenness and reception, of identity formation within and through an ecclesial community, and of prayerful preparation for Christian neophytes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Article
Authoritarianism, Democracy, Islamic Movements and Contestations of Islamic Religious Ideas in Indonesia
Religions 2021, 12(8), 641; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080641 - 13 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1408
Abstract
Since independence, Islamic civil society groups and intellectuals have played a vital role in Indonesian politics. This paper seeks to chart the contestation of Islamic religious ideas in Indonesian politics and society throughout the 20th Century, from the declaration of independence in 1945 [...] Read more.
Since independence, Islamic civil society groups and intellectuals have played a vital role in Indonesian politics. This paper seeks to chart the contestation of Islamic religious ideas in Indonesian politics and society throughout the 20th Century, from the declaration of independence in 1945 up until 2001. This paper discusses the social and political influence of, and relationships between, three major Indonesian Islamic intellectual streams: Modernists, Traditionalists, and neo-Modernists. It describes the intellectual roots of each of these Islamic movements, their relationships with the civil Islamic groups Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), their influence upon Indonesian politics, and their interactions with the state. The paper examines the ways in which mainstream Islamic politics in Indonesia, the world’s largest majority Muslim nation, has been shaped by disagreements between modernists and traditionalists, beginning in the early 1950s. Disagreements resulted in a schism within Masyumi, the dominant Islamic party, that saw the traditionalists affiliated with NU leave to establish a separate NU party. Not only did this prevent Masyumi from coming close to garnering a majority of the votes in the 1955 election, but it also contributed to Masyumi veering into Islamism. This conservative turn coincided with elite contestation to define Indonesia as an Islamic state and was a factor in the party antagonizing President Sukarno to the point that he moved to ban it. The banning of Masyumi came as Sukarno imposed ‘guided democracy’ as a soft-authoritarian alternative to democracy and set in train dynamics that facilitated the emergence of military-backed authoritarianism under Suharto. During the four decades in which democracy was suppressed in Indonesia, Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, and associated NGOs, activists, and intellectuals were the backbones of civil society. They provided critical support for the non-sectarian principles at the heart of the Indonesian constitution, known as Pancasila. This found the strongest and clearest articulation in the neo-Modernist movement that emerged in the 1980s and synthesized key elements of traditionalist Islamic scholarship and Modernist reformism. Neo-Modernism, which was articulated by leading Islamic intellectual Nurcholish Madjid and Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman Abdurrahman Wahid, presents an open, inclusive, progressive understanding of Islam that is affirming of social pluralism, comfortable with modernity, and stresses the need for tolerance and harmony in inter-communal relations. Its articulation by Wahid, who later became president of Indonesia, contributed to Indonesia’s transition from authoritarianism to democracy. The vital contribution of neo-Modernist Islam to democracy and reform in Indonesia serves to refute the notion that Islam is incompatible with democracy and pluralism. Full article
Article
Wearing the Good: A Kierkegaardian Exploration of “Messaged” Apparel
Religions 2021, 12(8), 640; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080640 - 13 Aug 2021
Viewed by 907
Abstract
What might it mean to “wear the good?” This question arises from a dominating trend in contemporary spaces where objects such as clothing are employed to communicate desires and demonstrate ethical commitments to social causes, political institutions, beliefs, and ideologies. This paper explores [...] Read more.
What might it mean to “wear the good?” This question arises from a dominating trend in contemporary spaces where objects such as clothing are employed to communicate desires and demonstrate ethical commitments to social causes, political institutions, beliefs, and ideologies. This paper explores the use of garments to convey messages, ethical stances, and even public virtues. It specifically attends to how “messaged” garments, or clothing items that bear images, symbols, and phrases, achieve these ends. Fashion theorist Malcom Barnard rightly intuits that “we have to use things to stand for our thoughts.” Yet the use of these garments warrants concern. This paper explores how such garments are enmeshed in the fashion industry and marketplace, identifying specific troubles that arise therein. Engaging the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, this paper attends to the ethical and spiritual complexities of “messaged” apparel, revealing their failure to supersede ambiguities, and ultimately collapsing ethical desires into aesthetic paralysis. The paper argues that a Kierkegaardian conception of hope can effectively guide those who wear such garments, countering the inadequacy of these wares to sustain personal and communal commitments. Hope directs the “worn” person beyond politicized and ethically “messaged” apparel towards new ways of dressing: adorned in finitude, humility, and an absurd perseverance towards the good. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kierkegaard's den Enkelte in an Era of "Identity Politics")
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