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Religions, Volume 14, Issue 7 (July 2023) – 138 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The different geographical regions in the U.S. consist of unique cultures that shape norms of religious expression, and these regional effects are often moderated by an individual’s specific religious tradition. However, these relationships have not been investigated in relation to how employees express their faith in the workplace. Using data from a survey of U.S. adults, we utilize two unique measures of religious expression—displaying/wearing religious items at work and talking about religion at work—to assess the roles of the region and religious tradition in shaping the expression of faith at work. We find that regional cultures can sometimes override religious subcultures to determine if and how people express their religion in the workplace. These findings have broader implications for the effects of religious pluralism on the workplace. View this paper
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17 pages, 4608 KiB  
Article
Body, Scale, and Space: Study on the Spatial Construction of Mogao Cave 254
Religions 2023, 14(7), 953; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070953 - 24 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1323
Abstract
This article focuses on the relationship between body, scale, and space, as revealed in Mogao Cave 254 in Gansu Province. Three topics, namely, body scale, pilgrim behavior, and time–space perception, are discussed. A space model based on mapping and measurement by former scholars [...] Read more.
This article focuses on the relationship between body, scale, and space, as revealed in Mogao Cave 254 in Gansu Province. Three topics, namely, body scale, pilgrim behavior, and time–space perception, are discussed. A space model based on mapping and measurement by former scholars is created to facilitate and visualize the analysis of the body scale of the cave space; the restriction of body scale suggests certain pilgrim behavior in the cave, whereas the occurrence of body behavior results in perception in the dimension of time. How time and space are related must be understood to comprehend the motif of Buddhist expression. This study is an architectural approach to spatial analysis that integrates the design, construction, and use phases through the scale, behavior, and perception dimensions. It is dedicated to broadening and enriching the cognitive dimensions of the space value of Mogao caves to reveal the original value of caves as religious spaces and completely preserve their material and invisible cultural heritage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Space for Worship in East Asia)
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11 pages, 319 KiB  
Article
Shame as an Ethical Category for an Integrative Diaconia in Brazil
Religions 2023, 14(7), 952; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070952 - 24 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1053
Abstract
The growing political influence of evangélico Christians in traditionally Catholic Brazil has caught the attention of social and political scientists as well as theologians. Among others, the reasons for two-thirds of the mainly Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal electorate voting for Jair Messias Bolsonaro include [...] Read more.
The growing political influence of evangélico Christians in traditionally Catholic Brazil has caught the attention of social and political scientists as well as theologians. Among others, the reasons for two-thirds of the mainly Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal electorate voting for Jair Messias Bolsonaro include a moral agenda concerning human sexuality and the “traditional family,” namely the rejection of abortion under any circumstance and same-sex marriage. This conservative agenda is shared in other countries and churches and shows as “traditionalist” (Benjamin Teitelbaum), especially in Brazil, the USA under Trump, and Russia. At the same time, other, more social aspects of Christian diaconia in caring for the integrity of the body are left aside, although they are foreseen in those churches’ declarations of faith and ethical catechisms. The 2019–2022 government’s blatant failure to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the appalling rise of hunger, and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest should give rise to what I call an “evangélico sense of shame” as a consequence of the incompatibility of many of the faith convictions of that part of the electorate with Bolsonaro’s stances and actions, retrieving shame as an ethical category. To this end, I analyze biblical notions and theological reflections on shame, as well as publications of evangélico churches with a focus on the largest of its churches in Brazil, the Assemblies of God. Thus, I intend to reclaim an integral diaconia for evangélico churches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diaconia and Christian Social Practice in a Global Perspective)
13 pages, 2221 KiB  
Article
Anatomical Analysis of Holbein’s Dead Christ in the Tomb and Corresponding Theological Commentary
Religions 2023, 14(7), 951; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070951 - 24 Jul 2023
Viewed by 865
Abstract
Approaching Hans Holbein’s painting The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (1521/22) this paper combines the expertise of anatomical analysis and the perspective of theology and philosophy in order to address some of the well-rooted assumptions about Holbein in the historical [...] Read more.
Approaching Hans Holbein’s painting The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (1521/22) this paper combines the expertise of anatomical analysis and the perspective of theology and philosophy in order to address some of the well-rooted assumptions about Holbein in the historical reception of his Dead Christ. The authors propose a balanced conclusion about the hypothesis of a drowned man from the Rhine being a model for the painting, pointing out that the body of the man from Holbein’s painting, according to anatomical details, could not have previously been in water. Furthermore, the absence of an Adam’s apple on Christ’s body is interpreted in the light of New Testament texts, rather than as a result of Holbein’s lack of anatomical precision. Similarly, the fact that Holbein painted a corpse deprived of all signs of divinity is seen in connection with the theological notion of kenosis. Ultimately, the authors conclude that the results of the anatomical analysis reflect the key elements of the hermeneutics of Gospel reports of Christ’s passion and death. Full article
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10 pages, 265 KiB  
Article
Stein’s Phenomenology of Grace
Religions 2023, 14(7), 950; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070950 - 24 Jul 2023
Viewed by 900
Abstract
Stein’s Freedom and Grace (Freiheit und Gnade) phenomenologically describes the experience of grace as the desire, communication, or acceptance of God’s Spirit of Love, accessed in the act of faith motivated by the soul’s otherwise unfulfilled desire for self-mastery. This article [...] Read more.
Stein’s Freedom and Grace (Freiheit und Gnade) phenomenologically describes the experience of grace as the desire, communication, or acceptance of God’s Spirit of Love, accessed in the act of faith motivated by the soul’s otherwise unfulfilled desire for self-mastery. This article first discusses the affordances of Stein’s phenomenology which equip her to see grace as a fulfilment of the natural life of the soul, which is experienced as coming from beyond itself. It then addresses how the individual, personal I fails to satisfy its implicit desire for rational and free action in the natural life of the soul and how, in contrast, its opposite, the graced, liberated life of the soul, allows it to, but not on its own, only through union with God’s Spirit. It proceeds from this existential alternative to show how the treatise unfolds as an investigation of the various a priori possibilities for grace to be experienced and why it makes sense to acknowledge faith as a legitimate source of knowledge, as Stein does in work postdating Freedom and Grace. Finally, it is argued that the treatise is phenomenological in nature and that it does not presuppose either metaphysics or Christian doctrine but instead contributes to underpinning both. This argument simultaneously explains Stein’s own subsequent engagement as a Christian philosopher. Full article
17 pages, 359 KiB  
Article
The Metaphysical Magnificence of Reduction: The Pure Ego and Its Substrate According to Phenomenology and Vedanta
Religions 2023, 14(7), 949; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070949 - 24 Jul 2023
Viewed by 759
Abstract
This article examines relationships between the absolute being of the universal ego (Ātman-self) according to the Indian religious philosophy of Vedanta (V) and the phenomenological, irreal being of the transcendental ego in Husserl’s phenomenology (P). Both Ātman and the transcendental ego [...] Read more.
This article examines relationships between the absolute being of the universal ego (Ātman-self) according to the Indian religious philosophy of Vedanta (V) and the phenomenological, irreal being of the transcendental ego in Husserl’s phenomenology (P). Both Ātman and the transcendental ego are accessed in the first-person perspective by onto-phenomenological reductions. Such reductions, as stated by Husserl, have absolute freedom of positing and, thus, can reveal or conceal states of being. In contrast with P-reduction, which renders the being of the ego-pole invisible, V-reduction penetrates into the being of the ego-pole and opens a horizon of unique, non-intentional mental states. Following the dialectics in pre- and post-reduction givenness of being, there emerges a picture of connection between the intentional phenomenological being of the transcendental ego and the non-intentional being of the pure ego of Vedanta (Ātman-self). The pure ego of Vedanta manifests as a substrate for the transcendental ego of phenomenology. From this, we can conclude that reductions function as the loci of dialectical syntheses of being, whereby the unity of being has a fuller, more complex and multi-sided sense than the one intended in the natural attitude. In their breaking of theoretical habits conditioned by the substance metaphysical tradition, reductions are truly indispensable in the revelation of being that grounds the theory of knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Experience and Metaphysics)
12 pages, 289 KiB  
Article
Community, Immunity, and Vulnerability: Paradoxes and Possibilities in Postpandemic Diaconal Practice
Religions 2023, 14(7), 948; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070948 - 24 Jul 2023
Viewed by 960
Abstract
This article discusses an inherent paradox in contemporary conceptualisations of community as a challenge to diaconia. Logics of protection separate insiders from outsiders, producing a fundamental antagonism between those who belong to the community and those who threaten it. During pandemics, this logic [...] Read more.
This article discusses an inherent paradox in contemporary conceptualisations of community as a challenge to diaconia. Logics of protection separate insiders from outsiders, producing a fundamental antagonism between those who belong to the community and those who threaten it. During pandemics, this logic is exacerbated. When contagion threatens all, even the community needs to be protected from itself. Immunitarian defences are required for the safety of all community members. However, measures implemented to ensure immunity can also harm people’s mental and somatic health. This paradox presents ethical and practical challenges for inclusive justice, including diaconia. Concerning this dilemma, the article draws on Roberto Esposito’s reframing of community and immunitarian defence. Esposito argues that immunitarian mechanisms must promote tolerance of otherness through openness to its presence within. I suggest that this openness can be seen as a fundamental ontological vulnerability shared by all living creatures. Learning from recent contributions within vulnerability studies and feminist and trauma theologies, I employ Tony Addy’s concept of conviviality as a model for diaconal community building, seeking to elucidate the relevance of Esposito’s thinking to postpandemic diaconal practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diaconia and Christian Social Practice in a Global Perspective)
25 pages, 394 KiB  
Article
Religious Affiliation and Consumer Behavior toward Biodiversity Conservation in Europe
Religions 2023, 14(7), 947; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070947 - 24 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1222
Abstract
This study examines the relationship between religious affiliations and consumer behavior toward biodiversity conservation versus economic development. The data was collected from 27 countries in the European Union and the United Kingdom, which are particularly affected by biodiversity loss and have a diverse [...] Read more.
This study examines the relationship between religious affiliations and consumer behavior toward biodiversity conservation versus economic development. The data was collected from 27 countries in the European Union and the United Kingdom, which are particularly affected by biodiversity loss and have a diverse religious landscape. The researchers applied a cluster analysis to identify three segments: Uninformed, Conservationist, and Preservationist. The cluster membership of individuals was then predicted using a stepwise multinomial logistic regression based on ten socioeconomic indicators, including religious affiliation. Results showed that religious affiliation was the fourth most important socioeconomic factor in predicting European citizens’ behaviors towards biodiversity. There was a significant relationship between religious affiliation and consumers’ perceptions of the importance of biodiversity conservation, with agnostics, non-believers, and atheists being more likely to hold conservationist views and Christians, Orthodox, Catholics, and Muslims being the most prominent segments of the Preservationist. These findings provide insights into the potential role of Social Marketing in promoting pro-biodiversity attitudes and behaviors. Full article
18 pages, 332 KiB  
Article
Torah Trumps Life: Reflections on Uncivil Religion and Haredi Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Religions 2023, 14(7), 946; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070946 - 24 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1040
Abstract
As if by design, crisis reveals basic structural fault lines. In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, non-Haredi Jews expressed surprise and even outrage about the ultra-orthodox Haredi response to the pandemic. It was not understood how large-scale violations of public health protocols [...] Read more.
As if by design, crisis reveals basic structural fault lines. In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, non-Haredi Jews expressed surprise and even outrage about the ultra-orthodox Haredi response to the pandemic. It was not understood how large-scale violations of public health protocols comported with the legal-halakhic principle of Pikuaḥ Nefesh (saving human life). In this essay, I explore Hasidic response to COVID-19 as reported in the secular and Haredi press and in emergent social science literature about this crisis. I place Haredi response to crisis in relation to the clash between two sets of values: the value of saving human life and the value of intensive Talmud study (talmud Torah) and ritual-communal practice. In what Robert Cover called a paideic nomos, there are more important things than human life. What we see already in the Babylonian Talmud is the profound ambiguity of paideic norms vis-à-vis the larger public good. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jewish Thought in Times of Crisis)
17 pages, 2128 KiB  
Article
Ritual Practices and Material Culture: The Provenance and Transformation of Stūpas in Medieval China
by
Religions 2023, 14(7), 945; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070945 - 23 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1060
Abstract
This paper examines how Chinese people perceived and accepted Buddhist stūpas in medieval China. Doctrinal and ritualistic developments can potentially contribute to the emergence of new ritual objects. Ideological connotations of stūpas witnessed a transition associated with the transformation of the stūpa cult [...] Read more.
This paper examines how Chinese people perceived and accepted Buddhist stūpas in medieval China. Doctrinal and ritualistic developments can potentially contribute to the emergence of new ritual objects. Ideological connotations of stūpas witnessed a transition associated with the transformation of the stūpa cult in China. Stūpa burial became progressively accessible to ordinary clerics and laypeople who showed sympathy with Buddhism. The similarity between stūpas and tombs in terms of funerary function largely determined people’s interpretations of stūpas in the early medieval period. However, tombs cannot be the precise manifestation of stūpas in medieval China. Stūpas evolved into multidimensional meanings in medieval China. The perceptions of stūpas witnessed an ongoing process of reconstruction, which reveals how cultural transmission and transformation work throughout history. Full article
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14 pages, 3472 KiB  
Article
A Goddess with Bird’s Claws: An Exploration of the Image of Magu
Religions 2023, 14(7), 944; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070944 - 23 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1375
Abstract
In China, Magu is a household name for a female Daoist immortal. As a symbol of longevity, people believe that she can prolong their lives and bring them good luck. This paper takes the fact that Magu has hands that look like birds’ [...] Read more.
In China, Magu is a household name for a female Daoist immortal. As a symbol of longevity, people believe that she can prolong their lives and bring them good luck. This paper takes the fact that Magu has hands that look like birds’ feet as a clue to sort out the evolution of the image of Magu. In this article, it is argued that the prototype for the image of the Daoist immortal, Magu, is the bird goddess of the Neolithic goddess and that Magu’s hands, which look like bird claws, are a symbol of the goddess’s divine power. After entering the patriarchal society, the figure of Magu was eroticized and her hands, which represented divine power, became a tool for men to scratch their backs. Daoism, however, inherited the matriarchal society’s worship of women and retained the image of Magu with her hands that resembled the feet of a bird. When Daoism incorporated Magu into its system of deities, the image of Magu was remodeled to conform to the teachings of Daoism, thus making Magu a beautiful, kind-hearted immortal with high moral sentiments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology of Religion, Ideas and Aspirations)
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17 pages, 332 KiB  
Article
The Hegemonic Character of Techno-Functional Neo-Immanentism and Its Relationship with Culture Wars
Religions 2023, 14(7), 943; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070943 - 22 Jul 2023
Viewed by 673
Abstract
This paper analyzes the social processes that have led to the consolidation of a technocratic secular order and the type of cultural struggle that has made this possible. To this end, it first proposes a reconstruction of the technocratic consciousness in the course [...] Read more.
This paper analyzes the social processes that have led to the consolidation of a technocratic secular order and the type of cultural struggle that has made this possible. To this end, it first proposes a reconstruction of the technocratic consciousness in the course of the secularization process that culminates in the technological determinism or technological solutionism of the social present; then, the analysis focuses on the neo-immanentist tendency of techno-functionalism, in which the secular context and the text of secularization become one and deplete a social explanation; thirdly, it reflects on and deals with the open nature of secular life, in which context does not determine social texts (inter-actions) and opens the way to the existence of different life options that compete with each other and even turn on—rebel against—institutional design. This reflection, then, focuses on the specific features of the culture wars in Western Judeo-Christian culture and its globalizing tendency. Finally, the document closes with a conclusion that analyzes the road travelled and introduces the new challenges arising from the arguments presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Culture Wars and Their Socioreligious Background)
29 pages, 751 KiB  
Article
Intercultural Lived Ecclesiology: The Asian Synodal Praxis of Communio, Partecipatio et Missio Inter Gentes
Religions 2023, 14(7), 942; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070942 - 21 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1088
Abstract
The current synodal process (2021–2024) engaging the worldwide Catholic Church at the micro, meso and macro levels involves bringing Christians from across cultures, ethnic communities, linguistic groups and nationalities to interact and shape their journey as people of God. Without wanting to reproduce [...] Read more.
The current synodal process (2021–2024) engaging the worldwide Catholic Church at the micro, meso and macro levels involves bringing Christians from across cultures, ethnic communities, linguistic groups and nationalities to interact and shape their journey as people of God. Without wanting to reproduce the intense debate that is in progress, we limit ourselves to examining the crucial issue—to a great extent ignored—of the intercultural lived ecclesiology associated with the inter gentes synodal praxis of communion, participation and mission. Although the synodal journey appears to be promising, the endogenous and exogenous ecclesial and societal differences implied in the inter gentes discernment can render it a complex transformative endeavor, entailing reciprocal enrichment and mutual critique. Taking up ideas that emerged in the various episcopal conferences in Asia in dialogue with some key themes in one of the European, namely, the German Episcopal Conference, we trace the intercultural challenges and prospects of communio, partecipatio et missio inter gentes, with a view to transforming the Church’s way of being and functioning. Full article
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35 pages, 603 KiB  
Article
Mindful Apocalypse: Contemplative Anthropology Investigating Experiences of World-Loss in Deep Meditation
Religions 2023, 14(7), 941; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070941 - 21 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1452
Abstract
This article investigates the challenge of personal crisis during deep meditation, as observed in an ethnographic inquiry into mindfulness and traditional contemplative practices. The study distinguishes between the “crisis of presence” in contemporary mindfulness practices, and the dissolution of the subject-object distinction in [...] Read more.
This article investigates the challenge of personal crisis during deep meditation, as observed in an ethnographic inquiry into mindfulness and traditional contemplative practices. The study distinguishes between the “crisis of presence” in contemporary mindfulness practices, and the dissolution of the subject-object distinction in traditional Buddhist meditation. By analyzing Ernesto De Martino’s concepts of crisis and presence, the article highlights the significance of understanding this phenomenon in meditation rather than perceiving it negatively. The research explores the contemporary evolution of mindfulness and its detachment from original Buddhist contemplative practices, leading to an approach criticized for reinforcing neoliberal and capitalist modes of cognition. In contrast, traditional Buddhist meditation aims for the state of samādhi, where boundaries between self and the world dissolve, signifying a serene “end of the world”. The study underscores the need for mindfulness researchers to explore this aspect of meditation to derive immense benefits from comprehensive contemplative practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences)
17 pages, 7483 KiB  
Article
Catholic Churches of the Colonial Period in the Southern Andes of Peru: An Evocation towards the Past
Religions 2023, 14(7), 940; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070940 - 21 Jul 2023
Viewed by 921
Abstract
The spectral space of the Andes has an architectural cultural richness based on the construction of shrines with a Christian tendency from Spain. The purpose of the study is to analyze and describe the historical process of the colonial Catholic churches located in [...] Read more.
The spectral space of the Andes has an architectural cultural richness based on the construction of shrines with a Christian tendency from Spain. The purpose of the study is to analyze and describe the historical process of the colonial Catholic churches located in the Aymara Altiplano of Peru. The study followed the qualitative parameter of historical documentation, where the colonial origin of the buildings was traced, their singular conceptual designs were established, and their use was examined, to finally explain their permanence in time, since they developed in two transcendental moments: the diachronic history and the systematic description of the characteristics in the current churches. Ecclesiastical sanctuaries such as San Pedro and San Pablo, San Juan Evangelista, Concepcion, and Santa Barbara began their construction in 1560, being the first and the oldest to be constituted by the Spanish, but strictly with functions of Christianizing and the collection of taxes from the indigenous people of the Altiplano. Full article
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12 pages, 307 KiB  
Article
Repatriation of Muslim Georgians: Mission Accomplished?
Religions 2023, 14(7), 939; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070939 - 20 Jul 2023
Viewed by 671
Abstract
This article focuses on the repatriation process for Muslim Meskhetians deported from Soviet Georgia. It describes the repatriation process initiated after the collapse of the communist regime, showcasing the links between these efforts and Georgia’s request for membership in the Council of Europe [...] Read more.
This article focuses on the repatriation process for Muslim Meskhetians deported from Soviet Georgia. It describes the repatriation process initiated after the collapse of the communist regime, showcasing the links between these efforts and Georgia’s request for membership in the Council of Europe in 1996. The article finds that the Georgian government had a superficial approach to repatriation, and several factors hindered repatriation, including the difficulty in disseminating the information related to the application requirements, which were not made accessible in the languages in which the applicants were fluent. Moreover, as Georgia allowed dual citizenship only in exceptional circumstances, the applicants had to renounce their original citizenship to be allowed to seek citizenship in Georgia. Some of them were hesitant to do so, a position that represented an obstacle to application. The most significant impediment was the lack of objectively defined criteria for repatriation success. Without detailed criteria as to what amounted to proper repatriation, the degree of the success of the process is hard to assess. The international community has departed from approaching repatriation as a formal return process. The concept has assumed a “thicker” meaning of allowing returned individuals to resume their lives in the fullest sense, including assuming citizenship, return property etc. The case study shows that the Georgian case of repatriation has been formalistic. Full and seamless reinstatement of the deported people in their lives did not take place. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Human Rights in Post-communism)
10 pages, 975 KiB  
Article
What Is Phenomenological Thomism? Its Principles and an Application: The Anthropological Square
Religions 2023, 14(7), 938; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070938 - 20 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1016
Abstract
In the debates over various kinds and traditions of Thomism, the term “Phenomenological Thomism” does not appear often. However, once uttered, it is instantly linked to two figures: Edith Stein and Karol Wojtyła. In her attempt at contrasting and bringing together Husserl’s phenomenology [...] Read more.
In the debates over various kinds and traditions of Thomism, the term “Phenomenological Thomism” does not appear often. However, once uttered, it is instantly linked to two figures: Edith Stein and Karol Wojtyła. In her attempt at contrasting and bringing together Husserl’s phenomenology and the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, the founder of the new approach, Edith Stein, pioneered a philosophy that innovatively united phenomenological and Thomistic methods. This article analyses the essential features of her method, proposing to call it “Phenomenological Thomism”. In order to demonstrate the internal logic of this approach, I apply it to one topic, that of the human being, construing the Anthropological Square. The thesis of the article holds that Phenomenological Thomism is sui generis, yet not an estranged tradition in the history of philosophy. Full article
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20 pages, 385 KiB  
Article
The Agency in Islam or (and) Human Rights? The Case of Pious Baltic Muslim Women
Religions 2023, 14(7), 937; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070937 - 20 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1215
Abstract
This article focuses on the variety of ways pious Muslim women exercise their agency to navigate between religion, gender, and human rights in the dynamic post-Soviet Baltic societies. It shows that these women primarily find agency not in human rights but in Islam [...] Read more.
This article focuses on the variety of ways pious Muslim women exercise their agency to navigate between religion, gender, and human rights in the dynamic post-Soviet Baltic societies. It shows that these women primarily find agency not in human rights but in Islam as a religion that provides instruction on aspects of life related to human rights. They are empowered as individuals by Islam as the religion of their deliberate choice, which gives them meaning and guidance in life. They also find agency in their roles as wives and mothers as well as in the sisterhood of the Muslim community, while a career serves more as an area of personal autonomy and self-realization. This research is based on the analysis of qualitative data from semi-structured interviews conducted in 2021–2022. Baltic women’s narratives on human rights (and in the case of this research, specifically regarding gender and sexuality) and the role of Islam in their lives contributes to the redefinition of religious and secular concepts within a post-communist context and contributes to the wider scholarly debate on pious Muslim women living in non-Muslim democratic societies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Human Rights in Post-communism)
15 pages, 400 KiB  
Article
Orthodoxy and Ecumenical Dialogue after Crete Synod (2016) and Social Ethos Document (2020): History, Critical Positions and Reception
by
Religions 2023, 14(7), 936; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070936 - 20 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 847
Abstract
In this study, I will analyse the position of the Orthodox Church(es) towards the ecumenical dialogue in accordance with the documents approved by the Synod of Crete (2016), but also with the social document For the Life of the World of the Ecumenical [...] Read more.
In this study, I will analyse the position of the Orthodox Church(es) towards the ecumenical dialogue in accordance with the documents approved by the Synod of Crete (2016), but also with the social document For the Life of the World of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (2020). After a brief presentation of the important moments of the historical journey for the meeting of the Synod, I will present the most important internal and reception issues of it. In the following, I will present the reason for the publication of the social document and the relation with the Synod of Crete. In the last part of the study, I will deal critically with a theological synthesis on the following topics: ecclesiological self-identity, Trinitarian baptism, the quality of being a Christian, the Orthodox Church and the Churches, ecumenism for dialogue, for witnessing, and cooperation. Of course, in the end, I will present the most important conclusions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Growth, Decline, and Transformation of Christian Mission)
49 pages, 610 KiB  
Article
“I Can’t Do All This—This Is Nuts!”: An Ethnographic Account of the Challenges Posed by Vajrayāna Deity Yoga in a Western Context
Religions 2023, 14(7), 935; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070935 - 20 Jul 2023
Viewed by 2207
Abstract
This article provides an in-depth exploration of the contextual, epistemic, ethical, personal, practical, religious, and socio-cultural factors that sixteen Western practitioners of Vajrayāna Buddhism highlighted as having particularly challenged their ability to learn and engage in deity yoga, including what strategies they may [...] Read more.
This article provides an in-depth exploration of the contextual, epistemic, ethical, personal, practical, religious, and socio-cultural factors that sixteen Western practitioners of Vajrayāna Buddhism highlighted as having particularly challenged their ability to learn and engage in deity yoga, including what strategies they may have adopted in attempting to overcome their impact. While these have been largely overlooked by empirical research on meditation, their pertinence to understanding practice efficacy and outcome, as well as the phenomenological unfolding of particularly adverse practice-related experiences, have recently been recognized alongside the prevalence of the latter. In addition, these practitioner testimonies shed light on how the cross-cultural transmission of Vajrayāna Buddhism involves a process in which practice approaches and environments are undergoing adaptation and negotiation in light of the needs and lifestyles of lay practitioners, while meaning is being synthesized through their responses to the experiences that unfold not only from their exposure to teachers and their teachings but also from their engagement in tantric practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tantric Studies for the Twenty-First Century)
14 pages, 245 KiB  
Article
The Arbitrariness of Faith-Based Medical Exemptions
Religions 2023, 14(7), 934; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070934 - 19 Jul 2023
Viewed by 662
Abstract
There are a variety of reasons for which one might claim an exemption from a public health mandate such as a required COVID-19 vaccine. Good-faith exemption requests—for medical, religious, or other reasons—are generally recognized as legitimate and granted to individuals when the imposition [...] Read more.
There are a variety of reasons for which one might claim an exemption from a public health mandate such as a required COVID-19 vaccine. Good-faith exemption requests—for medical, religious, or other reasons—are generally recognized as legitimate and granted to individuals when the imposition of the mandate on the requestor is perceived to outweigh the corresponding risk their lack of vaccination poses to the health and rights of others. This paper develops a method of analysis rooted in Western analytic philosophy designed to examine these issues and arrive at a framework for assessing the scientific, moral, and religious claims for exemptions from COVID-19 vaccinations. I argue that some empirical and moral beliefs are epistemically superior to others when they have a correspondence with agreed-upon facts about the world, are grounded in shared human experience, employ strong and substantive reasons for their claims, and embrace common convictions evidenced in the character of moral agents. Such facts must be demonstrable in the form of observably verifiable evidence and reliable testimony. Only then should a request for an exemption to an otherwise-required public health mandate (including a vaccine) be recognized. The alternative creates various difficulties, including the problem of moral arbitrariness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Public Health during the Time of COVID-19)
9 pages, 243 KiB  
Editorial
Looking at the Impact of COVID-19 on Religious Practice and the Impact of Religious Practice on COVID-19
Religions 2023, 14(7), 933; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070933 - 19 Jul 2023
Viewed by 835
Abstract
As this collection of essays on the manner in which religion and public health policy have impacted one another in the COVID-19 era goes to press, both the United States’ Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) [...] Read more.
As this collection of essays on the manner in which religion and public health policy have impacted one another in the COVID-19 era goes to press, both the United States’ Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) have recently declared the end to the pandemic (CDC 2023b; UN 2023b; Williams 2023; Siddiqui et al [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Public Health during the Time of COVID-19)
16 pages, 2822 KiB  
Article
Cross-Cultural Encounters: Religious Motifs in Lattimo Glass from China to Italy
Religions 2023, 14(7), 932; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070932 - 19 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1242
Abstract
This paper focuses on lattimo glass, also known as milk glass, and analyzes the influence of Chinese porcelain on its creation in Venice through the study of its transmission path and revival. It also explores the role of religion in the glass trade [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on lattimo glass, also known as milk glass, and analyzes the influence of Chinese porcelain on its creation in Venice through the study of its transmission path and revival. It also explores the role of religion in the glass trade between China and Italy from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, with a particular focus on religious iconography. By relying on previous research on the religious iconography of glass during this period and analyzing precious glass objects, this paper aims to examine the brief popularity and decline of lattimo glass as an imitation of Chinese Ming porcelain in the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries, as well as the significance and impact of religious iconography on lattimo glass during the eighteenth century. The paper approaches the process of the introduction of Chinese aesthetics in Europe during this period from three angles: the origin of lattimo glass, the cross-media imitation and innovation of Chinese religious iconography, and cultural interaction. This process highlights the crucial role of influential religious imagery in the formation of cross-cultural communication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Material Culture and Religion: Perspectives over Time)
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13 pages, 308 KiB  
Article
The School Community’s Role in Educating for Responsibility for Inclusion
Religions 2023, 14(7), 931; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070931 - 19 Jul 2023
Viewed by 771
Abstract
This study explores responsibility for inclusion, a notion rooted in the belief and practices of various religions. It draws on the thoughts of Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt and Paolo Freire, all of whom were greatly influenced by their religious tradition. Ten qualitative interviews [...] Read more.
This study explores responsibility for inclusion, a notion rooted in the belief and practices of various religions. It draws on the thoughts of Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt and Paolo Freire, all of whom were greatly influenced by their religious tradition. Ten qualitative interviews were performed with senior school leaders. Data were interpreted through thematic analysis, and the results show that inclusion starts from the self who welcomes the other. Inclusion of students with severe disabilities, especially with severe autism, remains problematic at schools in Malta, and headteachers seem to struggle to implement inclusive values and attitudes. Successful methods for better inclusion include collaboration of all school community members, the involvement of students in decision making, participation of all students in school events without any discrimination, the Peer Preparation Programme and the buddy system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Religion: Education towards Religious and Human Values)
15 pages, 324 KiB  
Article
Saint Bonaventure’s Doctrine on the Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception
Religions 2023, 14(7), 930; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070930 - 18 Jul 2023
Viewed by 883
Abstract
This article seeks to shed light on the approach of Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (1217/21–1274) on the highly problematic issue of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. In a context of heated debates on the matter, Saint Bonaventure presents a long and [...] Read more.
This article seeks to shed light on the approach of Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (1217/21–1274) on the highly problematic issue of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. In a context of heated debates on the matter, Saint Bonaventure presents a long and complex set of arguments that we can summarize as follows: Mary was conceived with original sin contaminating her body at first, but she was cleansed of it and sanctified immediately after her conception, at the very moment of the animation of her body, that is, when her soul gave life to her body. Therefore, the author concludes that even though the body of Mary, like that of all human beings except Christ, was conceived with original sin, it was thoroughly cleansed, and her body was sanctified from the very first moment at which it was animated by her holy soul and cleansed of all sin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Faith in the Reception of the Middle Ages)
13 pages, 277 KiB  
Article
Phenomenological Fragments of Trinitarian Discourse: Being, Having, Relating
Religions 2023, 14(7), 929; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070929 - 18 Jul 2023
Viewed by 691
Abstract
Among the important tasks of Trinitarian theology today is the need to rethink its basic conceptual coordinates. This contribution is a proposal for a phenomenological and existential approach to Trinitarian theology. The starting point is the analysis of three essential existential operators, by [...] Read more.
Among the important tasks of Trinitarian theology today is the need to rethink its basic conceptual coordinates. This contribution is a proposal for a phenomenological and existential approach to Trinitarian theology. The starting point is the analysis of three essential existential operators, by means of which the depth of the filial experience of Jesus is expressed. These operators are: being, having, and entering into relations. Their analysis in light of the data of the Gospel narrative allows us to create an interesting conceptual framework for a new articulation of the Trinitarian discourse. The article builds on the conviction that the concrete shapes and modalities of Jesus’ life are essential moments of the revelation of the Trinity. Before it is simultaneously closed and opened in concrete historical forms of discourse and in concrete metaphysical concepts, it is accomplished in the categorical decisions, actions, and words of Jesus, in which his filial consciousness is revealed. The ambition of the text is to reintroduce metaphysics into theology, however, from a different perspective than was conducted, for example, by classical scholasticism. It is about the existential recovery of metaphysical potential in theology. Revelation takes place in history and in the concrete of life. The metaphysics that theology needs must realize this and, above all, be up to the task of pointing to the living, historical center of Revelation and all theology. The article argues that such an existential deepening of metaphysics for Trinitarian theology can be conducted through collaboration with phenomenology. In such a perspective, the fragments of Jesus’ life, especially his way of being, having, and entering into relations, are ways in which the Trinity reveals itself in history. In this way, Trinitarian theology ceases to be a mere intellectual puzzle, becoming an existential paradigm, and the fragments of Revelation reveal an impressive structure in which speculation and life become integral paths toward the Mystery. On the formal side, the text argues for the integration and use of both metaphysics and phenomenology in Trinitarian theology to enhance its existential impact. This in turn implies a rethinking of how metaphysics, phenomenology, and theology itself are usually understood as well. Full article
17 pages, 350 KiB  
Article
Purpose, Spirituality and Moderate Secularism: The Contribution of Religious Institutions to Purpose Development
Religions 2023, 14(7), 928; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070928 - 18 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1047
Abstract
Building on moderate secularism, this article proposes a contribution that religious institutions could make to the common good of pluralistic societies, making more salient their relevance in the public sphere. In particular, based on the latest academic research on the many personal and [...] Read more.
Building on moderate secularism, this article proposes a contribution that religious institutions could make to the common good of pluralistic societies, making more salient their relevance in the public sphere. In particular, based on the latest academic research on the many personal and social benefits of having a clear sense of purpose, it is explored whether religious institutions could contribute to identifying and developing the person’s purpose as a central aspect of spiritual growth, and how to take on this task with the specific means religious institutions have available. Purpose is understood as a superordinate/second-order aim that organises short-term or low-level goals in a way that they are interconnected and can be read teleologically, and which necessarily includes a self-transcendence or other-regarding dimension. Even though this transcendence has, for many nowadays, a purely secular/horizontal meaning, it is argued that religious institutions should get involved in deliberately fostering purpose in a well-informed way, since purpose is a component of spiritual development. In addition, this could help to widen participation and reconnect with those who have moved away from institutional religion but still have a clear concern for spiritual development: the spiritual ‘seekers’, regaining their interest. This poses the challenge of bridging the gap between horizontal and vertical self-transcendence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Religious Phenomenon from the Secularism Perspective)
33 pages, 1088 KiB  
Article
Christianity Cultivated Science with and without Methodological Naturalism
Religions 2023, 14(7), 927; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070927 - 18 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3105
Abstract
Many people assume ceaseless conflict between natural science and Christianity, but the real conflict has been between scientism and Christianity. Scientism is the view that only the sciences (especially not theology) generate knowledge or rational belief. I show how Christianity generated rational beliefs [...] Read more.
Many people assume ceaseless conflict between natural science and Christianity, but the real conflict has been between scientism and Christianity. Scientism is the view that only the sciences (especially not theology) generate knowledge or rational belief. I show how Christianity generated rational beliefs that contributed to the rise of science. This science-fostering rational belief included rationales for when to practice methodological naturalism, and when to study nature without that restriction. Both practices cultivated science, though in different ways. This historical difference is of enduring value for recent debates about metaphysical naturalism (atheism), creationism, theistic evolution, and intelligent design. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)
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13 pages, 490 KiB  
Article
The Multifaceted Reception of the Torah by Early Church Fathers
Religions 2023, 14(7), 926; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070926 - 18 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1074
Abstract
This paper focuses on the reception of the Torah by the Church Fathers who lived up to the beginning of the third century. Christians, having received the whole Torah through the Septuagint translation, became selective in the way they accepted it, adhering to [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on the reception of the Torah by the Church Fathers who lived up to the beginning of the third century. Christians, having received the whole Torah through the Septuagint translation, became selective in the way they accepted it, adhering to it only with reservations. Christological and ethical concerns were at the heart of their acceptance or rejection of various aspects of the Torah. This article will gauge whether Christians had a positive, negative, or neutral evaluation of the Torah and will seek to identify the ways in which they perceived the Torah. By analysing the ways in which the Torah and at times other Old Testament texts were handled, their presentation of these Jewish Scriptures will be brought to light, highlighting different approaches employed in this regard. One notes the following stances: the Torah’s commandments supplemented the Lord’s teachings (the Didache); the Torah was read allegorically and typologically despite a Midrashic approach (Epistle of Barnabas); certain laws were believed to have been instituted as a result of the people’s hardness of heart (Justin Martyr); natural law is distinct from the demands added to it after the Jews’ wayward actions (Irenaeus); the temporal aspects of the law were superseded by its eternal aspects (Tertullian); whilst upholding the promises of the Law, the prophets were seen as going beyond the Law (Tertullian) or as giving the Law a spiritual interpretation (Epistle of Barnabas); and, rarely, the Law was held in very high regard (Clement of Alexandria). This paper is not concerned with any blatant rejection of the Torah and, indeed, the Tanakh at large (as was the case with Marcion), but rather with the subtler nuances that can be detected in other writers who had to rethink the validity and role/place of the Torah in the faith. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics and Religion: Education towards Religious and Human Values)
13 pages, 267 KiB  
Article
Liberation Theologies and Their Future: Rethinking Categories and Popular Participation in Liberation
Religions 2023, 14(7), 925; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070925 - 18 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2042
Abstract
The first generation of Latin American liberation theologies was marked by the methodological status of the preferential option for the poor. In the following generations, this commitment was further developed in the struggle for a new way of doing theology, even more connected [...] Read more.
The first generation of Latin American liberation theologies was marked by the methodological status of the preferential option for the poor. In the following generations, this commitment was further developed in the struggle for a new way of doing theology, even more connected to material life, and disciplines such as history and economics were added. With this, the organizational structures of life in society started to be discussed in more critical, systemic, and prophetic ways. Especially thinking of the Latin American and US contexts, the production of theology derived from this intersectionality seeks not only to highlight and analyze the economic structures that cause exploitation (class), inequalities (gender and sexuality), and racism, but to identify how religion undergirds solidarity movements. The method applied to discuss these themes is bibliographical research. As a broad conclusion, this article indicates that future liberation theologies should discuss what the multiple victims of capitalism (always the majority of the population, never merely a minority) do in order to survive, related to the alternatives they create; discuss solidarity as the foundation that opposes social evil; and discuss the illusions of individualism that cover up both existing relationships of exploitation as well as solidarity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Liberation Theologies)
23 pages, 17936 KiB  
Article
A Study on the Funerals of the Han Buddhist Monks of Lingnan during the Late Qing Dynasty via the Haichuang Temple in Guangzhou
Religions 2023, 14(7), 924; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070924 - 17 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1200
Abstract
The funeral protocol of Buddhist monks is an important part of the rituals of Han Buddhism. The monks’ funeral rituals were recorded in detail in the Monastic Rules (清规) of Chan. The funeral of Chinese Buddhism monks after the Song Dynasty was known [...] Read more.
The funeral protocol of Buddhist monks is an important part of the rituals of Han Buddhism. The monks’ funeral rituals were recorded in detail in the Monastic Rules (清规) of Chan. The funeral of Chinese Buddhism monks after the Song Dynasty was known through the records of Monastic Rules. However, how it is concretely practiced is unknown. In the late Qing Dynasty, Westerners who came to China out of curiosity about the rituals of Han Buddhism recorded the process and details of the funerals of the monks in the temples they visited, among which Haichuang Temple (海幢寺) in Guangzhou ranks first. The funerals of the monks at Haichuang Temple in the late Qing Dynasty inherited the tradition of Chan funeral culture from the Song Dynasty. Meanwhile, the degradation into secular funeral culture appeared. Influenced by the secular funeral culture in Lingnan (岭南), the tombs of the monks in Chan Temples there, among them, Haichuang Temple is listed as a typical example, showed a trend toward the Shanshou Tomb (山手墓) in the early Qing Dynasty. In the late Qing Dynasty, some of the ancestral tomb-pagodas (祖师墓) in Lingnan Chan Temples abandoned the traditional form of pagodas completely and were almost the same as the Shanshou Tombs. The degradation of the funeral culture of Han Buddhism in the late Qing Dynasty reflects the declining trend of Buddhism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhism and Other Practices for the Environmental Crisis)
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