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Religions, Volume 14, Issue 1 (January 2023) – 130 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The article provides proof-texts showing that there are at least three major theological subjects where, rather surprisingly, Hermann Cohen (1842–1918) seems to agree with Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786). All three points stand in connection with the thought of Moses Maimonides (1137–1204), the medieval philosopher, whose radical theological ideas Mendelssohn mostly rejected, and Cohen generally adopted. The article claims that, therefore, we might assume that Cohen took at least a few hints for his own, largely ethical reading of Maimonides from Mendelssohn, although he otherwise vehemently disagreed with Mendelssohn’s philosophy of Judaism. View this paper
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10 pages, 216 KiB  
Article
Iranian Islamic Revolution and the Transformation of Islamist Discourse in Southern India: 1979–1992
by Shaheen Kelachan Thodika
Religions 2023, 14(1), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010130 - 16 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2566
Abstract
By focusing on the publications of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) in the Malayalam language, this article argues that the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution (IIR) marked a rupture from the disenchantments of the 1947 partition of British India and Cold War-centered politics for the Islamists [...] Read more.
By focusing on the publications of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) in the Malayalam language, this article argues that the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution (IIR) marked a rupture from the disenchantments of the 1947 partition of British India and Cold War-centered politics for the Islamists of Kerala. This rupture from the colonial past and a Western-inspired intellectual climate had resonances in the discourse on Islam in Kerala. The Iranian revolution not only imported the idea of Islamism or revolution but also a renewed interest in democracy, modernity and the idea of “Islamist political” to the southwest coast of India. In an attempt to write an intellectual history of emotions related to the IIR, this paper argues that in the case of Islamists, there was a strong tendency to break from the intellectual discourse of the nation-state and begin afresh in politics, and the moment of 1979 provided what they sought for long. Full article
16 pages, 332 KiB  
Article
How to Read the Quran in Religious Islamic Education: What Educators Can Learn from the Work of Mohammed Arkoun
by Iddo Felsenthal and Ayman Agbaria
Religions 2023, 14(1), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010129 - 16 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2608
Abstract
The study of the Quran is central to Religious Islamic Education (RIE). Exposed to different political and social pressures, teachers in RIE still struggle between traditional approaches concerning the divine nature of the Qur’an and more secular approaches emphasizing the historicity and critical [...] Read more.
The study of the Quran is central to Religious Islamic Education (RIE). Exposed to different political and social pressures, teachers in RIE still struggle between traditional approaches concerning the divine nature of the Qur’an and more secular approaches emphasizing the historicity and critical analysis of the religious text. Mohammed Arkoun (d. 2010), an Algerian-born Sorbonne professor, offered a hermeneutical methodology for reading the Quran that was Western, scientific, and critical, and at the same time related to the Living Islamic Tradition, faith, and thought. The article analyzes Arkoun’s methodology for reading the Quran and its possible implications on RIE in a way that creates a space for creativity, criticism, and dialogue between worldviews and opens new possibilities for the faithful to teach and learn the Qur’an. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking Islamic Education: Challenges and Opportunities)
10 pages, 411 KiB  
Article
Shaping the Dialogue in the Talmudic Story of an Anonymous Woman’s Arguments for Bearing Children versus the Legal Halakhic Law and the Context of the Story
by Michal Blau and Uri Zur
Religions 2023, 14(1), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010128 - 16 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1103
Abstract
This article explores a story taken from the Talmud Bavli (Yevamot 65b) which describes a dialogue between the arguments raised by an anonymous woman and a rabbinical judge, R. Ammi, with regard to her demand for a divorce and for receipt of the [...] Read more.
This article explores a story taken from the Talmud Bavli (Yevamot 65b) which describes a dialogue between the arguments raised by an anonymous woman and a rabbinical judge, R. Ammi, with regard to her demand for a divorce and for receipt of the payment for her prenuptial agreement. The article examines aspects relating to the design of the Talmudic story, which belongs to the genre of halakhic stories containing an argument, the law, and its explanation, i.e., elements that are not always explicitly stated in the Talmudic text. The article also examines the point of encounter between the pleas of the anonymous woman who sought a divorce from her husband alleged that he was infertile and that she wished to have a child, versus the strict customary legal halakhic law that exempted her from the religious obligation to procreate and therefore did not protect her rights. In addition, the article provides the context of the woman’s pleas in court and the attitudes of the judge towards the woman, as evident in two contradictory rulings with regard to the anonymous woman. Finally, the character of the anonymous woman, as reflected in the story, is described. This article joins a gradually developing trend in recent years within the study of the Talmud Bavli that addresses issues related to women’s status and gender discourse. Nevertheless, it is notable that different orientations emerged in the research with regard to gender issues from the mid-1990s onwards. Full article
16 pages, 271 KiB  
Article
God, Religion, and War: Language, Concept, and the Problem of Definition from Genesis to Jihad to Levinas
by Ori Z. Soltes
Religions 2023, 14(1), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010127 - 16 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1742
Abstract
Using a discussion of the etymology of re-lig-io as a starting point, this essay begins by considering the problem of religion—of understanding God, and of language as an instrument for achieving the ends of religion and that understanding—and the problem for religion of [...] Read more.
Using a discussion of the etymology of re-lig-io as a starting point, this essay begins by considering the problem of religion—of understanding God, and of language as an instrument for achieving the ends of religion and that understanding—and the problem for religion of revelation and interpretation. It follows to the consequences of this double complication for understanding “war” in the biblical and early Christian traditions. The essay leads, then, to a tri-valent discussion of “jihad”, and from this jihad centerpiece toward further versions of these complications as they apply to mysticism, medieval Jewish thought and thence toward and into modernity, from Spinoza to Levinas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue War and Peace in Religious Culture)
14 pages, 268 KiB  
Article
North-African Jewish People in Paris: Multiple Identities—Ethnic-Religious, National and Transnational
by Lilach Lev-Ari
Religions 2023, 14(1), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010126 - 16 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1583
Abstract
The purpose of this study is to compare native-born and immigrant Jewish people from North African roots who reside in greater Paris regarding their multiple identities: ethnic-religious, as Jewish people; national, as French citizens; and transnational, as migrants and ‘citizens of the world’. [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study is to compare native-born and immigrant Jewish people from North African roots who reside in greater Paris regarding their multiple identities: ethnic-religious, as Jewish people; national, as French citizens; and transnational, as migrants and ‘citizens of the world’. This study employed the correlative quantitative method using survey questionnaires (N = 145) combined with qualitative semi-structured interviews. The main results indicate that both groups have strong Jewish and religious identities. However, while immigrants had fewer opportunities for upward mobility and were more committed to national integration, the younger second-generation have higher socio-economic status and more choices regarding their identities in contemporary France. In conclusion, even among people of the same North African origin, there are inter-generational differences in several dimensions of identity and identification which stem from being native-born or from their experience as immigrants. Different social and political circumstances offer different integration opportunities and thus, over the years, dynamically construct identities among North African Jewish people as minorities. Nonetheless, the Jewish community in Paris is not passive; it has its own strength, cohesiveness, vitality and resilience which are expressed not only in economic but also in social and religious prosperity of Jewish organizations shared by both the native-born and immigrants, who can be considered a ‘privileged’ minority. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research of Jewish Communities in Africa and in Their Diaspora)
22 pages, 730 KiB  
Article
The Nature of Religious and Spiritual Needs in Palliative Care Patients, Carers, and Families and How They Can Be Addressed from a Specialist Spiritual Care Perspective
by Kate L. Bradford
Religions 2023, 14(1), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010125 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 6149
Abstract
This paper is written from the perspective of a specialist religious and spiritual care practitioner who practises in major referral hospitals in Sydney, Australia. In these hospitals, religious care and ward-based spiritual care chaplaincy services are offered in tandem. The perspective offered is [...] Read more.
This paper is written from the perspective of a specialist religious and spiritual care practitioner who practises in major referral hospitals in Sydney, Australia. In these hospitals, religious care and ward-based spiritual care chaplaincy services are offered in tandem. The perspective offered is based on the author’s knowledge, research, and experience in how people make the necessary religious or spiritual adjustments to their deep view of reality when faced with severe or chronic pain or terminal illness. Religious and/or Spiritual Care (R/SC) are interventions that scaffold people through a process of sense-making which helps them find meaning in their new reality. These R/SC adjustments concern conscious and unconscious beliefs about ultimate meaning, morality, justice, transcendence, and relationships within themselves, and with others and the supernatural. Palliative care practitioners described the importance of spiritual care and integrated spiritual care principles into their biopsychosocial-spiritual model of care in the 1960s. As palliative care practitioners have increasingly clarified their discipline as a distinct discipline in medicine, religious and spiritual care practitioners have struggled to define their place. These concerns merit a fresh evaluation of the religious and spiritual needs of patients, carers, and families of those suffering chronic pain and terminal illness and further clarification of the specialist discipline of religious and spiritual care. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious and Spiritual Needs in Palliative Care)
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11 pages, 773 KiB  
Article
On the Value of Empathy to Inter-Religious Relations: A Case Study Based on the Thought of Charles Hartshorne
by Jiran Wang
Religions 2023, 14(1), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010124 - 16 Jan 2023
Viewed by 3307
Abstract
Introducing the results of psychology to the field of inter-religious relations, the value of empathy for the latter may seem equivocal. Based on a study of Hartshorne’s thought, this paper will clarify conceptually that, as a mechanism, empathy can promote integration and dialogue, [...] Read more.
Introducing the results of psychology to the field of inter-religious relations, the value of empathy for the latter may seem equivocal. Based on a study of Hartshorne’s thought, this paper will clarify conceptually that, as a mechanism, empathy can promote integration and dialogue, but may also result in partiality due to the limitation of its scope, thus resulting in prejudice and even conflict. It will further argue that Hartshorne provides a view of ultimate reality that not only highlights the moral value of empathy, but also promotes the extension of its scope. This implies that a theological account of empathy can go beyond the framework constructed in psychology and transform it into something that has unequivocally positive value for inter-religious integration and dialogue. Full article
15 pages, 4360 KiB  
Article
Defeat and Glory: Social Media, Neoliberalism and the Transnational Tragedy of a Divinized Baba
by Ronie Parciack
Religions 2023, 14(1), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010123 - 16 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2291
Abstract
This essay addresses the intersection between the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik-Tok and Pinterest social media platforms and a contemporary religious leader/teacher who exploited them to rise from subalternity to the status of a deified celebrity. It examines his underprivileged disciples and followers and [...] Read more.
This essay addresses the intersection between the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik-Tok and Pinterest social media platforms and a contemporary religious leader/teacher who exploited them to rise from subalternity to the status of a deified celebrity. It examines his underprivileged disciples and followers and rival formal and informal levels, within Indian Sufi circles. Employing a combined perspective of ethnography, media studies and textual analysis, I discuss the transformations engendered by this social media celebrity and the impact of neo-liberalism on religious teacher–disciple (peerimureedi) relations. I show that this transformation involved a commodification of peerimureedi relations, leading to a neoliberal morphing of religious practices into marketable products. In so doing, I provide a critical reading of Mazzarella’s social media as “re-enlightened” or “inclusive capitalism” that gives voice, agency and new economic possibilities to capitalism’s most marginal subjects, who aspire to break the grip of what I term the “economies of despair”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Media, Religion and Celebrity Culture)
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13 pages, 252 KiB  
Article
A Study in Evil: The Slave Trade in Africa
by Abdulai Iddrisu
Religions 2023, 14(1), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010122 - 16 Jan 2023
Viewed by 3454
Abstract
In this special issue on justice, ethics, and philosophy of religion, let us consider a historical case study. The trade of slaves across the Atlantic lasted 400 years and led to the forcible removal of about 12.5 million people from Africa, south of [...] Read more.
In this special issue on justice, ethics, and philosophy of religion, let us consider a historical case study. The trade of slaves across the Atlantic lasted 400 years and led to the forcible removal of about 12.5 million people from Africa, south of the Sahara. This paper examines the African slave trade in light of the notion that evil of whatever form is a menace to our very existence and a rupture of the very essence of hope. It will focus on the nature, development, and growth of the African/European Slave Trade, as it interrogates issues such as: if evil is coterminous with human cruelty, then the slave trade was the apogee of human evil and avarice; the notion of slavers saving the enslaved from themselves; and providing an avenue for conversion into Abrahamic religions. The essay will also be interested in how slavers—European and Africans alike—rationalized slavery and how the enslaved and onlookers responded to the spectacle of enslavement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Justice, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion)
30 pages, 25259 KiB  
Article
The Dhāraṇī Coffin from the Nongso Tomb and the Cult of Shattering Hell during the Koryŏ Dynasty
by Seunghye Lee
Religions 2023, 14(1), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010121 - 16 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1972
Abstract
Inscriptions of Buddhist mantras and dhāraṇīs were interred in Chinese tombs on behalf of the deceased from the Tang dynasty onward as the fear of postmortem judgment and punishment in the ten courts of hell became firmly rooted. This notion of the afterlife [...] Read more.
Inscriptions of Buddhist mantras and dhāraṇīs were interred in Chinese tombs on behalf of the deceased from the Tang dynasty onward as the fear of postmortem judgment and punishment in the ten courts of hell became firmly rooted. This notion of the afterlife and the practice of enclosing dhāraṇī inscriptions in tombs seem to have been received by Korean Buddhists by the beginning of the Koryŏ (918–1392). This paper, through a close examination of a wooden inner coffin excavated in 2014 from a tomb in Nongso-myŏn, Ullim-ri, Sunch’ang-gun, North Chŏlla Province of Korea, sheds new light on the use of dhāraṇī on funerary objects and structures during the Koryŏ. The coffin bears, on its lacquered exterior walls, inscriptions of the Mantra of the Six-Syllable King of Great Clarities (Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ) and the Mantra for Shattering Hell (Oṃ karadeya svāhā). While defining the dhāraṇī coffin from Nongso Tomb as one form of funerary dhāraṇī, this paper situates it in the historical trajectory of such practice by comparing it with Liao (916–1125) precedents. The dhāraṇī coffins from Koryŏ and Liao tombs attest that the Buddhists made use of mantras and dhāraṇīs promising salvation of the deceased from hell during their lifetime and beyond. This study shows that two different kinds of dhāraṇīs, which are similarly named and believed to have the power of shattering hell, were practiced by Chinese and Korean Buddhists. It also proposes that the Mantra for Shattering Hell (Oṃ karadeya svāhā) may have been transmitted to the Korean peninsula as part of the food bestowal ritual before its incorporation into the funerary context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Esoteric Buddhism in East Asia: Texts and Rituals)
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17 pages, 4471 KiB  
Article
“Children of the Prophets and the Covenant”: A Post-Supersessionist Reading of Luke-Acts
by Jason F. Moraff
Religions 2023, 14(1), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010120 - 15 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2356
Abstract
Luke-Acts is a theocentric narrative. It tells how God in and through Jesus acts out of faithfulness to the covenant on behalf of Israel. This article uses this fundamental claim to offer a post-supersessionist reading of Luke-Acts. It contends that genealogical Israel (the [...] Read more.
Luke-Acts is a theocentric narrative. It tells how God in and through Jesus acts out of faithfulness to the covenant on behalf of Israel. This article uses this fundamental claim to offer a post-supersessionist reading of Luke-Acts. It contends that genealogical Israel (the Jewish people) remains God’s people because of election. God turns to Israel offering forgiveness and salvation. The people struggle to respond. All Israel, including Jesus’s disciples, stumbles. Some Jewish people are more faithful, others less. Together they comprise the less-than-faithful people of God to whom God is faithful. Luke’s Jesus and Paul embody this dynamic. Jesus recapitulates Israel’s history, acting faithfully on its behalf for its salvation. He dies in solidarity with the Jewish people, faithful and unfaithful alike. He is raised, proleptically guaranteeing their restoration. Paul embodies how God remains loyal to recalcitrant Israel. Apart from repentance from Paul, an encounter with the risen Lord transforms this “God-fighter” simply because he is a “chosen vessel”. In Paul, Luke narrates God’s radical fidelity to Israel. God will restore Israel, opening blind eyes to see Jesus as messiah. The article distills the author’s forthcoming monograph Reading Luke-Acts after Supersessionism: The Salvation of Israel and the Nations in Accordance with the Scriptures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reading New Testament Writings through Non-supersessionist Lenses)
12 pages, 287 KiB  
Article
The Secularism of Putin’s Russia and Patriarch Kirill’s Church: The Russian Model of State–Church Relations and Its Social Reception
by Marcin Skladanowski and Cezary Smuniewski
Religions 2023, 14(1), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010119 - 14 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3820
Abstract
The Russian Federation is a secular state, and the church is separate from the state. Nonetheless, during Putin’s rule, a seemingly desecularising transition has taken place in Russia. This transition can be observed on legal, ideological, and social levels. This article presents the [...] Read more.
The Russian Federation is a secular state, and the church is separate from the state. Nonetheless, during Putin’s rule, a seemingly desecularising transition has taken place in Russia. This transition can be observed on legal, ideological, and social levels. This article presents the characteristics of a new secular-state model that has developed in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We claim that the evolution of the public role of religion in Russia and the state’s attitude towards religion cannot be considered in any way a symptom of the post-secularisation tendencies observed in some Western societies. Desecularisation in Russia takes place only at the verbal level. However, this façade desecularisation conceals a profound secularisation of religious institutions and organisations, understood as their total subordination to state policy objectives and, thus, their becoming elements of the state structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
18 pages, 6788 KiB  
Article
Umandawa: Buddhist Transformation in Modern Sri Lanka
by Gihani De Silva
Religions 2023, 14(1), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010118 - 13 Jan 2023
Viewed by 3265
Abstract
Charismatic Buddhist monks are instrumental in modernising Buddhism as they have been entrusted with an important role of resurrecting religion and Sinhala society throughout the course of Sri Lankan history. Ven. Pitaduwe Siridhamma, later known as Siri Samanthabhadra Arahat Thero, is known as [...] Read more.
Charismatic Buddhist monks are instrumental in modernising Buddhism as they have been entrusted with an important role of resurrecting religion and Sinhala society throughout the course of Sri Lankan history. Ven. Pitaduwe Siridhamma, later known as Siri Samanthabhadra Arahat Thero, is known as a cosmopolitan modernist monk figure who envisions a modernised form of Buddhism in recent times, which is derived creatively from the discourses and practical ideals in traditional Buddhism. He went further by founding his style initiatives to address Buddhist transformations in modern Sri Lanka. Samanthabhadra revolutionised the monastery space, allowing his supporters to embrace ideals and incorporate them into their everyday life. His project includes a wide range of such activities, expanding opportunities for Buddhist women to pursue their religious vocations, favouring traditional forms of meditation over farming and similar activities. The mission to reform Buddhism in Sri Lanka is not entirely modern, as it also incorporates elements of tradition, as shown in the case study at Umandawa. The modernist ideals and societal demands that define contemporary Buddhism are reflected in the transformation of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhism and Modernity in Asian Societies)
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24 pages, 3720 KiB  
Article
Secularism and Ethnic Minorities: Comparative Case Studies on Ethnic, Religious, and Political Cognitions in Pakistani-Controlled Kashmir, Central Russia, Romania, and Northern Scandinavia
by László Koppány Csáji
Religions 2023, 14(1), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010117 - 13 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2476
Abstract
According to my study, “political secularism” means the separation of political power from religious institutions, while “social secularism” is a theory and endeavor to eliminate religiosity from not only public but also private life, considering it an obsolete way of thinking. I examine [...] Read more.
According to my study, “political secularism” means the separation of political power from religious institutions, while “social secularism” is a theory and endeavor to eliminate religiosity from not only public but also private life, considering it an obsolete way of thinking. I examine four case studies based on my ethnological fieldwork in Hunza (in the Pakistani-controlled Kashmir), the Middle Ural (Russia), Transylvania (Romania), and Sápmi (northern Scandinavia). I outline and compare ethnic minorities (Hunzakuts, Tatars, Szeklers, Samis) according to their historical background, contemporary social environment, relation to the majority, their political endeavors, and the role of religion(s) among them. Based on my fieldwork notes, interviews, and sociological data, I analyze the similarities and differences of ethnic complexity, terminological confusions, problems of “lived religion,” and the impact of social and political secularism. Since their religiosity differs from the majorities’ ones, I found that secularism has a complex role and reception. Political secularism is essential for defending these minorities from assimilation, but most of these minorities reject social secularism since religion is part of their multifunctional ethnic discourse space. Religiosity is part of their survival strategy. Notwithstanding, ethnic minorities’ religious institutions participate in political activity and propagate their claims for self-governance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Secularism and Religion)
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15 pages, 3652 KiB  
Article
Patriotism as a Political Religion: Its History, Its Ambiguities, and the Case of Hungary
by Tamás Nyirkos
Religions 2023, 14(1), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010116 - 13 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3585
Abstract
The article discusses patriotism as a “political religion”, an ambiguous phenomenon that is both a substitute for former religious traditions and something that remains profoundly analogous with them. Special emphasis is laid on the origins of such political religions in the modern era [...] Read more.
The article discusses patriotism as a “political religion”, an ambiguous phenomenon that is both a substitute for former religious traditions and something that remains profoundly analogous with them. Special emphasis is laid on the origins of such political religions in the modern era and the role of the state in their emergence, which somewhat relativizes Böckenförde’s famous thesis on the rise of the state as a “process of secularization”. The article also follows the spread of religious patriotism in nineteenth-century Europe and how it contributed to the project of nation-building in different environments. This larger context helps to better explain such cases as that of Hungary, which has produced a variety of patriotic narratives, symbols, and rituals from its beginnings to the present day, raising doubts about the overarching validity of the secularization thesis. Methodologically, this approach involves the analysis of historical and contemporary texts, visual representations, and liturgical practices, while the conclusion suggests that, although the concept of “political religion” remains controversial, the enduring force of patriotism is better explained by the interaction of politics and religion than by a purely secular outlook. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Secularism and Religious Traditions)
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34 pages, 2252 KiB  
Article
A Comparative Study of Religious Images on Sogdian Burial Utensils in China and Central Asia
by Jing Han and Xiaoyang Wang
Religions 2023, 14(1), 115; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010115 - 13 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1959
Abstract
The comparison of Sogdian images in China and Central Asia has become a hot topic in academic circles in recent years. However, there is no specific comparison of Sogdian images on burial utensils in the existing studies. Accordingly, the author proposes to compare [...] Read more.
The comparison of Sogdian images in China and Central Asia has become a hot topic in academic circles in recent years. However, there is no specific comparison of Sogdian images on burial utensils in the existing studies. Accordingly, the author proposes to compare the images on burial utensils by collecting together the remaining materials as much as possible and making corresponding data tables. First and foremost, this paper focuses on the actual quantity of the remains and gives a table, “Statistics of the Sogdian Burial Utensils with Images”, to show this quantity for the first time: there are 30 remains of Sogdian burial utensils in China (26 sarcophagi and four ossuaries) and 23 Sogdian burial utensils in Central Asia (all are ossuaries). Secondly, there are several tables based on remaining materials in this paper, including “Distribution of the Shapes of Sogdian Sarcophagi in China”, “Historical Period and Shape of Sogdian Ossuaries in Central Asia”, “Religious Images Table of Sogdian Sarcophagi in China”, “Table of Religious Image Types of the Sogdian Ossuaries in Central Asia” and “Common Religious Images of the Burial Utensils in China and Central Asia”. Thirdly, further analysis shows that there are two image systems. Grounded in the above analysis, this paper comes to conclusions at three levels. Firstly, there are two shapes of burial utensils. Sarcophagi are widely seen in China whilst ossuaries are commonly discovered in Central Asia. As a result, the images on the sarcophagi in China are large in size and wide in narrative themes, whereas those on the ossuaries in Central Asia are small in size, emphasizing important content and narrative themes. All are rich in image representation. Secondly, there are three types of religious images on the burial utensils. The comparison results of image types show the common images in three categories: gods, funeral ceremonies and sacred fire sacrifice. Thirdly, the images on burial utensils have different characteristics regarding religious transmission. Zoroastrianism is dominant in Central Asia, while Zoroastrianism, Chinese mythology and Buddhist images are primary in China and images of tomb owners embodying secularity are also widespread in China. Full article
17 pages, 306 KiB  
Article
The Hypostasis of the Archons: Platonic Forms as Angels
by Marcus William Hunt
Religions 2023, 14(1), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010114 - 13 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2942
Abstract
The thesis of this paper is that Platonic Forms are angels. I make this identification by claiming that Platonic Forms have the characteristics of angels, in particular, that Platonic Forms are alive. I offer four arguments for this claim. First, it seems that [...] Read more.
The thesis of this paper is that Platonic Forms are angels. I make this identification by claiming that Platonic Forms have the characteristics of angels, in particular, that Platonic Forms are alive. I offer four arguments for this claim. First, it seems that engaging in self-directed action is a sufficient condition for being alive. The Forms are, as teleological activities, self-directed actions. Second, bodies receive their being from their Forms, and some bodies are essentially alive. Third, in the Good, all the types of goodness, including life, are identical. The Forms are appearances of the Good. Fourth, since the Good imparts as much goodness as it can, the Forms are alive unless there is some bar to their being alive. There are good reasons to think that there is no such bar. I then show that ethical vices do not give body to human form, but give body to other forms—those that are evil angels. Lastly, I provide a survey of the relationships that various religious traditions posit between ethical vice and the demonic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epistemic Issues in Non-classical Religious Belief)
15 pages, 321 KiB  
Article
Does a Religious Atmosphere Impact Corporate Social Responsibility? A Comparative Study between Taoist and Buddhist Dominated Atmospheres
by Jing Shao, Tianzi Zhang, Young-Chan Lee and Yingbo Xu
Religions 2023, 14(1), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010113 - 13 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2839
Abstract
The impact of religion on business has attracted cross-academic attention in recent years. Does the religious atmosphere impact corporate social responsibility (CSR)? This study addressed this question using a sample of Chinese-listed companies from 2010 to 2018. Our findings reveal that firms in [...] Read more.
The impact of religion on business has attracted cross-academic attention in recent years. Does the religious atmosphere impact corporate social responsibility (CSR)? This study addressed this question using a sample of Chinese-listed companies from 2010 to 2018. Our findings reveal that firms in regions with a Taoist-dominated religious atmosphere are more charitable and less environmentally invested. In contrast, firms with a Buddhist-dominated religious atmosphere are more ecologically engaged and less charitable. This study extends the literature on the impact of the informal institutional environment on corporate social responsibility by distinguishing the heterogeneity of the impact of Buddhist- and Taoist-dominated religious atmospheres on CSR. It also provides a new perspective for enterprises to formulate corporate social responsibility strategies based on the regional cultural environment. And it also enriches the application of informal institutional theory to the fields of management and religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Functions of Religion for Human Society)
12 pages, 1910 KiB  
Article
Do Countries Need Religious and Educational Freedoms to Achieve Prosperity?
by Khatib Ahmad Khan, Danabekova Aigerim and Yansheng Wu
Religions 2023, 14(1), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010112 - 12 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1738
Abstract
This study examines the impact of religious and educational freedoms on prosperity. The system GMM model is applied by using the data of 45 lower-, middle-, and high-income countries from 2009 to 2018. The results show that religious and academic freedoms are positively [...] Read more.
This study examines the impact of religious and educational freedoms on prosperity. The system GMM model is applied by using the data of 45 lower-, middle-, and high-income countries from 2009 to 2018. The results show that religious and academic freedoms are positively and statistically significantly associated with prosperity. It is revealed from the results that the lagged impact of both religious and education freedoms has a higher impact on prosperity than the current level of both variables. Interestingly, the interaction term between academic and religious freedom is also positive and statistically significant, indicating that their combined effect further increases prosperity. Further, the interaction term between government effectiveness and gross fixed capital formation is introduced. Its impact is positive and significant, indicating that capital investment positively affects prosperity in the case of higher government effectiveness. This study uses gross fixed capital formation and trade openness as control variables and these variables have a positive impact on prosperity, but the impact of trade openness on prosperity is insignificant. Thus, this study recommends religious and education freedom to achieve prosperity, especially in low-income countries that are already lagging. Full article
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28 pages, 3960 KiB  
Article
Continuing Transformation: Śrī Nāth, His Gurus and His Devotees in a Timeless World
by Paul van der Velde
Religions 2023, 14(1), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010111 - 12 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1443
Abstract
Śrī Nāth is one of the most important images of Krishna being worshipped at the temple of Nathdwara in Rajasthan. His devotees consider him to be a living god, he appears in their dreams, and according to their sayings they are in direct [...] Read more.
Śrī Nāth is one of the most important images of Krishna being worshipped at the temple of Nathdwara in Rajasthan. His devotees consider him to be a living god, he appears in their dreams, and according to their sayings they are in direct contact with him. Śrī Nāth, originally a local deity, is equated with the major Hindu god Krishna. However, while Krishna may be one of the most important gods in India, he is also ambiguous through his acts and words, if not bluntly unreliable. This double nature of Krishna is reflected in the cult of Śrī Nāth. There is an interesting interaction between Śrī Nāth (implying Krishna himself), the main gurus of his cult, i.e., Vallabha (Vallabhācārya) and the latter’s son and main successor Viṭṭhalnāth and his devoted disciples. At times, Śrī Nāth feels the need to stick to the official Brahmanical cult of the temple rituals, on other occasions, there is no problem in transgressing any given official rule. The same is true for the primary teachers, who are often put on par with Krishna himself or one of the celestials closely connected to him. Additionally, the disciples can apparently do anything in their frenzies. All of this reinforces the idea that this entire cult belongs to another world (alaukik). It is part of the everyday world (laukik) of Hindu India, but meanwhile, each and every rule can be ignored if the supernatural breaks through. Even the distinction between Hinduism and Islam at times simply does not seem to be of importance anymore. Muslims can become addicted to the passionate love for Krishna through the form of Śrī Nāth, so it is sometimes stated. Each and every partaker in the cult may share the visions of the initiated devotee, at times even without proper initiation. This all adds to the experience of the supermundane and supernatural in this particular cult. Full article
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17 pages, 826 KiB  
Article
Freeing Animals: Sino-Tibetan Buddhist Environmentalism and Ecological Challenges
by Dan Smyer Yü
Religions 2023, 14(1), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010110 - 12 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2087
Abstract
Buddhist environmentalism in its varieties across the world is an integral part of the global environmental discourse centered on exploring new planetary ethics for sustainable futures. While recognizing the Buddhist role in global environmental movements, the author of this article proposes that the [...] Read more.
Buddhist environmentalism in its varieties across the world is an integral part of the global environmental discourse centered on exploring new planetary ethics for sustainable futures. While recognizing the Buddhist role in global environmental movements, the author of this article proposes that the observable strength of Buddhist environmentalism is in local and global environmental advocacy grounded in the Buddhist ethics of interdependence, even as, canonically, Buddhism does not offer what is commonly recognized by scientists and scholars as traditional ecological knowledge or religious ecology. To substantiate this, this article offers a textual assessment of the Buddhist canon’s lack of systematic ecological knowledge, and a case study of how freeing domestic animals and advocating vegetarianism among contemporary Tibetan Buddhists in China, inclusive of non-Tibetan converts, mainly benefits human wellbeing and at the same time is entangled in social affairs that have little to do with the ecological wellbeing of the Tibetan Plateau and urban China. This debate is by no means intended to negate the successes of Buddhist environmentalism; instead, it draws fine lines between the claimed canonic basis of Buddhist ecology, the strength of Buddhist environmental advocacy, the everyday practices of Buddhism, and the aspirations for strengthening the ecological foundation of Buddhist environmental activism. Thinking in line with eco-Buddhists, the author concludes the article by proposing an Earth Sutra, a hypothetical future canonic text as the ecological basis of Buddhist environmentalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Question of Buddhist Environmentalism)
13 pages, 297 KiB  
Article
Khayr al-Din al-Tunisi and Islamic Reformism as a Synthesis between the West and the Islamic Tradition
by Hatice Rumeysa Dursun
Religions 2023, 14(1), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010109 - 12 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2365
Abstract
Muslim countries have experienced great change and transformation during the 19th and 20th centuries as a result of their encounters with the West. Islamic reformism might be considered as a discourse developed to face the diverse challenges posed by Western modernity. Khayr al-Din [...] Read more.
Muslim countries have experienced great change and transformation during the 19th and 20th centuries as a result of their encounters with the West. Islamic reformism might be considered as a discourse developed to face the diverse challenges posed by Western modernity. Khayr al-Din al-Tunisi (1810–1890) was a statesman and intellectual of the 19th century who elaborated an original approach to the question of Islamic reformism. His major work, The Surest Path to Knowledge Concerning the Conditions of Countries (Aqwam al-Masalik fi Ma’rifat Ahwal al-Mamalik), represents an important contribution to debates on Islam, modernism and the West. This study is based on this work of al-Tunisi and other primary and secondary sources (books and articles) regarding his approach. Using qualitative methods of analysis (contextualization and descriptive discourse analysis), this study aimed to scrutinize how Khayr al-Din offered a balanced reformist vision as a synthesis between Westernism and the Islamic tradition. Rather than purely imitating the West, Khayr al-Din emphasized the need for a better understanding of Western methods and institutions on the basis of Islam. Full article
14 pages, 264 KiB  
Article
Religion in the Digital Age: An Irreversible Process
by Kirk A. Bingaman
Religions 2023, 14(1), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010108 - 12 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 6091
Abstract
Digital technology is fundamentally changing what it means to be human, in particular what it means to be a religious or spiritual human being, as it becomes an “irreversible” process. Indeed, the process is having a seismic impact on the religious and spiritual [...] Read more.
Digital technology is fundamentally changing what it means to be human, in particular what it means to be a religious or spiritual human being, as it becomes an “irreversible” process. Indeed, the process is having a seismic impact on the religious and spiritual lives of “digital natives”, who have never known a world without the Internet. This paper will seek to determine, by way of the Digital Theology method put forward by Sutinen and Cooper, if the religious-disaffiliation trend among younger populations is connected to the digitalization of society, either causally or correlationally, and what, if anything, religious leaders and faith communities can do about it. Research on the effects of high social media usage will be given special attention, in order to highlight the double-edged nature of digital technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital and Spatial Studies of Religions)
12 pages, 230 KiB  
Article
Divine Command Theory, Robust Normative Realism, and the Argument from Psychopathy: A Reply to Erik Wielenberg
by Christopher R. Pruett
Religions 2023, 14(1), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010107 - 12 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1760
Abstract
Erik Wielenberg has offered a fascinating argument from moral psychology against a sophisticated theistic account of moral obligations: Divine Command Theory (DCT). This argument focuses on the pathology known as psychopathy—a perennial interest for those concerned with abnormal and moral psychology. The argument [...] Read more.
Erik Wielenberg has offered a fascinating argument from moral psychology against a sophisticated theistic account of moral obligations: Divine Command Theory (DCT). This argument focuses on the pathology known as psychopathy—a perennial interest for those concerned with abnormal and moral psychology. The argument can be labeled the argument from psychopathy for convenience. The strength of the argument is that it forces the DCT-ist to maintain that there are some human beings who have no moral obligations yet still do evil actions. This, he argues, is an implausible thesis. Therefore, DCT is false. In this paper, I defend DCT and argue that there is good reason to be neutral or skeptical that psychopaths have moral obligations and, to the degree that they do, they are able to grasp morality in a way consistent with DCT. Furthermore, if the argument does present a serious problem for DCT, then it does so for Wielenberg’s own view, Robust Normative Realism (RNR), just as much as DCT. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)
16 pages, 337 KiB  
Article
“The Most Dangerous Fifth Column in the Americas:” U.S. Journalists and Mexico’s Unión Nacional Sinarquista during World War II
by Julia G. Young
Religions 2023, 14(1), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010106 - 12 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2511
Abstract
Between 1937 and 1945, numerous American journalists became gravely concerned about a rapidly growing Mexican Catholic right-wing movement, the Unión Nacional Sinarquista (UNS). Founded in 1937, the UNS spread rapidly across Mexico and by 1941, the Sinarquistas had formed numerous chapters in the [...] Read more.
Between 1937 and 1945, numerous American journalists became gravely concerned about a rapidly growing Mexican Catholic right-wing movement, the Unión Nacional Sinarquista (UNS). Founded in 1937, the UNS spread rapidly across Mexico and by 1941, the Sinarquistas had formed numerous chapters in the United States as well. This coincided with the U.S. entry into World War II, and a heightened concern about the potential threat represented by immigrants loyal to Axis powers. Thus, U.S. journalists devoted significant coverage to the Sinarquista movement, casting it as a Fifth Column movement that was taking money, arms, and direct orders from enemies of the United States. In doing so, journalists largely downplayed the inherently Catholic character of the movement, as well as its deep roots in Mexican Church-state history, interpreting it instead within the framework of contemporary geopolitics. As a result, U.S. media consumers received an incomplete portrait of this particular religious “other”. In this article, I focus on the writings of the journalists Allan Chase and Betty Kirk, in order to assess how and why religion and religious belief was de-emphasized in influential media portrayals of the UNS, and why this matters for historians and journalists interested in religious movements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Beliefs, Journalism, and International Affairs)
19 pages, 340 KiB  
Article
Gendered Division of Work within Clergy Couples in Hungary
by Emőke Török and Emese Biró
Religions 2023, 14(1), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010105 - 11 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1467
Abstract
The division of labor within married couples in ministerial professions is a special case of gender-specific division of labor. Since their relationship is marital and professional at the same time, the divisions of professional and familiar tasks are interconnected. Previous research demonstrates that, [...] Read more.
The division of labor within married couples in ministerial professions is a special case of gender-specific division of labor. Since their relationship is marital and professional at the same time, the divisions of professional and familiar tasks are interconnected. Previous research demonstrates that, in such cases, gender roles may override professional status, which implies that clergywomen may easily fall into the traditional role of the pastor’s wife. Through semi-structured in-depth interviews with female members of ministerial couples in Hungary, we explore the professional and family roles, divisions of labor, and power relations that characterize relationships where both spouses are clergy. Based on these interviews, we identify three different career strategies which clergywomen use to cope with the tension between their emancipatory role as clergywomen and the traditional expectations of a clergyman’s wife: (1) the Conformist Strategy, (2) the Conformist with a Second Career Strategy, and (3) the Co-equals Strategy. Our results also demonstrate that unequal relations in professional and family tasks are reinforced by traditional gender roles typical for Hungary in general and for Hungarian clergy in particular. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences)
8 pages, 250 KiB  
Article
The Phenomenology of Prayer and the Relationship between Phenomenology and Theology
by Nicolae Turcan
Religions 2023, 14(1), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010104 - 11 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1750
Abstract
The present article analyzes the relationship between phenomenology and theology, starting from some examples of the phenomenology of prayer. First, the article presents the phenomenology of prayer in the writings of phenomenologists such as Jean-Luc Marion, Jean-Yves Lacoste, Christina Gschwandtner and Natalie Depraz, [...] Read more.
The present article analyzes the relationship between phenomenology and theology, starting from some examples of the phenomenology of prayer. First, the article presents the phenomenology of prayer in the writings of phenomenologists such as Jean-Luc Marion, Jean-Yves Lacoste, Christina Gschwandtner and Natalie Depraz, indicating that the type of phenomenology and its relationship with theology influence the way in which they approach the theme of prayer. Second, the paper proposes a systematization of prayer, starting from the personal pronouns uttered when praying: I, you (thou) and he. “I” sees oneself as being called by God to a transfiguration which is impossible through one’s own powers and visible in the experience of the plenitude and joy of prayer; “You” provides the predicative dimension of the discourse and reveals communion either with God or, in the case of liturgy, with others; “He”, used less frequently in prayer, can constitute a source for a later theoretical discourse, being recognized as a “mysterious presence”. Following these analyses, the article concludes that there are two major relationships between phenomenology and theology: that of partial overlap, called theo-phenomenology, and that of rigorous delimitation. Regardless of the preferred model, the use of phenomenology for theology proves to be fruitful. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Intersection of Phenomenology and Religion)
11 pages, 745 KiB  
Article
Rethinking Public Religion in Korea: The Role of Religions in the Era of Climate Crisis
by Dong-Uhn Suh and Hyun Kyoung Kim
Religions 2023, 14(1), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010103 - 11 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1322
Abstract
This paper attempts to explore the public dimension of religion in Korea. First, it examines the Western and East Asian contexts on the concept of ’public’, noting that the gap in notions of public is large between East Asian and Western traditions. The [...] Read more.
This paper attempts to explore the public dimension of religion in Korea. First, it examines the Western and East Asian contexts on the concept of ’public’, noting that the gap in notions of public is large between East Asian and Western traditions. The following section discusses Habermas’ ‘institutional translation proviso’ in relation to the notion ‘public’. The institutional translation proviso serves as the basis for further discussion on rethinking the public role of religion in Korea in the era of climate crisis. We argue that ‘secular’ translations of religious convictions can help religious citizens and communities engage in public discourses on ecological challenges. We then consider major limitations of Habermas’ understanding of religion. In the following section, we move on to discuss Albert Schweitzer and process theology in order to demonstrate how religious languages can be reinterpreted on the basis of modern experiences of ecological challenges. We then consider Buddhist alternatives for overcoming the climate crisis. The final section introduces José Casanova’s account of public religions and discusses its implication for envisioning the public role of religious organizations in ecological efforts. Reviewing the contributions made by religious organizations to the Korean society, we suggest that ‘ecological publicness’ of religion can be obtained. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Governance and the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Asian Context)
12 pages, 1164 KiB  
Article
Wind Imagery in Shijing: Sacrificing to the Wind God in Early China
by Chao Cai and Siu Kwai Yeung
Religions 2023, 14(1), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010102 - 11 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2327
Abstract
Shijing 詩經 is the earliest collection of Chinese poems and songs traditionally considered to be compiled by Confucius. Scholarship on this collection deems the widespread wind imagery contained in it to be either a metaphor for males or a medium of emotional expression. [...] Read more.
Shijing 詩經 is the earliest collection of Chinese poems and songs traditionally considered to be compiled by Confucius. Scholarship on this collection deems the widespread wind imagery contained in it to be either a metaphor for males or a medium of emotional expression. However, the religious ideas involved in the sacrifices to the wind gods in early China, which are, in fact, deeply linked with the “wind” in Shijing, warrant further consideration. This article focuses on the relation between the “wind” in Shijing and the religious ideas involved in sacrificial rites (“ningfeng 寧風” and “difeng 禘風”) to the wind gods. Drawing upon the history of wind disasters and sacrifices to the wind gods in early China, this article suggests that the pieces entitled “Gufeng 谷風” (included in the Xiaoya 小雅 section) and “Herensi 何人斯” provide descriptions of “ningfeng” (appeasing unwanted wind). Moreover, it argues that the pieces entitled “Kaifeng 凱風” and “Tuoxi 蘀兮” depict a genial wind in connection with harvest, childbearing, and prosperity involved in “difeng”. Full article
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27 pages, 541 KiB  
Article
The Use of Religious Signs in Schools in Germany, France, England and Spain: The Islamic Veil
by Vicente Llorent-Bedmar, Lucía Torres-Zaragoza and Encarnación Sánchez-Lissen
Religions 2023, 14(1), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010101 - 11 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3207
Abstract
The use of religious signs in schools, as in other areas of the public sphere, is a current topic, given that legislative changes are constantly taking place. In countries as close as Germany, France, England and Spain, the legislation governing the wearing of [...] Read more.
The use of religious signs in schools, as in other areas of the public sphere, is a current topic, given that legislative changes are constantly taking place. In countries as close as Germany, France, England and Spain, the legislation governing the wearing of the Islamic veil differs considerably due to their different historical, cultural, social, economic and idiosyncratic contexts. Leaving aside the ethnocentric perspective, in this paper a comparative study of the situation was carried out in these four countries. The main results include a negative attitude towards the wearing of the Islamic veil in France as opposed to a more tolerant position in England and Spain. In the case of Germany, there is a greater diversity of positions due to the characteristic autonomy of each federal state. Given the different types of veils, the reasons for wearing them, the traditions of each society and regional idiosyncrasies, it is considered that, a priori, there should not be a fight against its use, although it is recommended to adopt a belligerent stance against its imposition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions and Intercultural Education)
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