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Religions, Volume 7, Issue 9 (September 2016) – 11 articles

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Article
Shelley’s Unknown Eros: Post-Secular Love in Epipsychidion
Religions 2016, 7(9), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7090118 - 14 Sep 2016
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1915
Abstract
Whether Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Epipsychidion—a Platonic poem on love addressed to the patriarchally imprisoned Theresa Viviani or “Emily”—receives praise or blame has generally been determined by two focal passages: a secular sermon on free love and a planetary allegorical thinly veiling his [...] Read more.
Whether Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Epipsychidion—a Platonic poem on love addressed to the patriarchally imprisoned Theresa Viviani or “Emily”—receives praise or blame has generally been determined by two focal passages: a secular sermon on free love and a planetary allegorical thinly veiling his own imbroglio. This essay re-reads Shelley’s 1821 work drawing on two recent arguments: Stuart Curran’s Dantean call to take the poem’s Florentine narrator seriously as a character, not just as an autobiographical cypher, and Colin Jager’s outline of Shelley’s move beyond the assumptions of his professed atheism after 1816. Based on the poem’s structure and imagery, the paper argues that Epipsychidion critiques the false sense of revolutionary ascent and dualistic escape offered to Emily, who is commodified and erased by the narrator’s egocentric, “counterfeit divinization of eros” (Benedict XVI). Turning from this Radical Enlightenment Platonism, the poem momentarily realizes an embodied, hylomorphic romantic union akin to the Christian nuptial mystery of two becoming “one flesh” (Mark 10:8). This ideal, however, collapses back into solipsism when the narrator cannot understand or accept love as a “unity in duality” (Benedict XVI). This paper thus claims Epipsychidion as a post-secular inquiry into the problem of love whose philosophic limits and theological horizons are both surprising and instructive. It also reclaims Shelley as a phenomenological poet who can open up the world to Christian and non-Christian readers, one whose Platonic and Dantean formation lend him an openness to transcendence and one whose countercultural path through life makes him wary of inhumane appropriations of religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue English Poetry and Christianity)
Article
Divine Politicking: A Rhetorical Approach to Deity Possession in the Himalayas
Religions 2016, 7(9), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7090117 - 14 Sep 2016
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2146
Abstract
In North India, political leaders are referred to as netās, and the term netāgirī is broadly and pejoratively used to describe the self-promotion, political maneuvering, and public rhetoric in which politicians engage. However, my ethnographic fieldwork in the state of Uttarakhand, India, [...] Read more.
In North India, political leaders are referred to as netās, and the term netāgirī is broadly and pejoratively used to describe the self-promotion, political maneuvering, and public rhetoric in which politicians engage. However, my ethnographic fieldwork in the state of Uttarakhand, India, shows that local divinities can also be netās: they vie for their constituents’ support, make decisions that materially impact people’s lives, and threaten to use force in implementing those decisions. These “political divinities” are routinely encountered as possessed dancers in large-scale public rituals in this region. In this article, I focus on how political divinities affect, and are affected by, audiences in tangible and far-reaching ways. I argue that public possession rituals open up a highly charged zone for inherently fluid, situational, and pragmatic negotiations between humans and divinities. While anthropological studies of possession view it as a sociopolitical event that trades in power relations, this article calls for a rhetorical approach to possession, which foregrounds possession as a way of persuading particular audiences of certain ways of thinking and acting in matters of collective importance. Full article
Article
Miracles, Media, Mezuzot: Storytelling among Chabad Hasidim
Religions 2016, 7(9), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7090119 - 13 Sep 2016
Viewed by 1417
Abstract
In 1994 the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson, died leaving no successor. His group split into two groups: messianists who maintained that the Rebbe had not died and was Moshiach, the Jewish Messiah, and the non messianists who agreed that the Rebbe had [...] Read more.
In 1994 the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson, died leaving no successor. His group split into two groups: messianists who maintained that the Rebbe had not died and was Moshiach, the Jewish Messiah, and the non messianists who agreed that the Rebbe had died. This paper focuses upon a prominent Chabad practice; the role of storytelling. I propose the question, “Whose interests do these stories serve?” Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Lubavitch, I present a number of narratives pertaining to the Rebbe’s miraculous feats. Following his death, stories surrounding the Lubavitcher Rebbe not only bolster his “charisma” but lead to a sense of his continuing presence. These stories are produced predominantly by the messianic faction of Lubavitch and following his death are published regularly on messianic websites. Full article
Article
Legal Protection for China’s Traditional Religious Knowledge
Religions 2016, 7(9), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7090116 - 06 Sep 2016
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1818
Abstract
Traditional religious knowledge widely incorporates traditional religious expressions and other forms of traditional knowledge, such as ecological knowledge, medicinal knowledge, elements of languages, and so on. Traditional religious knowledge is a subset of cultural heritage, of which the inheritance and spread have attracted [...] Read more.
Traditional religious knowledge widely incorporates traditional religious expressions and other forms of traditional knowledge, such as ecological knowledge, medicinal knowledge, elements of languages, and so on. Traditional religious knowledge is a subset of cultural heritage, of which the inheritance and spread have attracted considerable attention from the global society. A series of international conventions have been reached to provide an international forum to negotiate the issues concerning the safeguard of traditional cultural knowledge. China has joined several important international conventions. Nowadays, the domestic laws that can be applied in safeguarding traditional religious knowledge include the intellectual property laws, the Law on Intangible Cultural Heritage, and other sui generis rules. Despite considerable achievements, the shortcomings of the existing rules make them insufficient to protect the interests and rights of traditional religious knowledge and prevent its misappropriation. Therefore, China should make further efforts to solve these challenges to optimize the environment for preserving and spreading traditional religious knowledge. Full article
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Essay
Strange Bedfellows: Meditations on the Indispensable Virtues of Confusion, Mindfulness and Humor in the Neuroscientific and Cognitive Study of Esoteric and Contemplative Traditions1
Religions 2016, 7(9), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7090113 - 06 Sep 2016
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1880
Abstract
Several recent publications in the study of esoteric traditions have drawn together insights from scholars of religions and philosophy, contemplative communities, metaphor and conceptual blend theories, cognitive sciences, neurosciences, and physical anthropology. These interdisciplinary explorations revolve around contemplative practices (meditation, mindfulness, ritual traditions, [...] Read more.
Several recent publications in the study of esoteric traditions have drawn together insights from scholars of religions and philosophy, contemplative communities, metaphor and conceptual blend theories, cognitive sciences, neurosciences, and physical anthropology. These interdisciplinary explorations revolve around contemplative practices (meditation, mindfulness, ritual traditions, etc.). This includes both ethnographic and textual expressions of these traditions. This paper is a response to the questions and insights of some recent articles, books, and two 2015 conference papers, with the specific purpose of contributing to what Glen Hayes (2014) called “the need to develop and ‘new vocabulary’ for this interdisciplinary study” of contemplative and esoteric traditions (Hayes’ call was specifically in reference to Hindu Tantra). To do this, I have referred to some other scientific approaches to which the scholars of esoteric and contemplative communities have not made much mention, and then to offer a form of reflection and meditation on what this new vocabulary and these research projects call us to do: their concepts, logic, and meaning. To this end, I have given some careful attention to the concepts of confusion, mindfulness, humor, and dispassionate vulnerability to help us better understand what we are doing, and where we should go from here. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Science and the Study of Yoga and Tantra)
Article
Psalms 111–112: Big Story, Little Story
Religions 2016, 7(9), 115; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7090115 - 05 Sep 2016
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2100
Abstract
This study argues that the juxtaposition of Psalms 111–112 offers wisdom for life. Psalm 111, in stressing God’s mighty deeds of redemption for his people, focuses on the “big story” for the whole people; Psalm 112, in stressing “wisdom,” encourages each member of [...] Read more.
This study argues that the juxtaposition of Psalms 111–112 offers wisdom for life. Psalm 111, in stressing God’s mighty deeds of redemption for his people, focuses on the “big story” for the whole people; Psalm 112, in stressing “wisdom,” encourages each member of God’s people in a day-to-day walk, a “little story,” that contributes to the big story of the whole people. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World)
Article
“None Come Closer to Us than These:” Augustine and the Platonists
Religions 2016, 7(9), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7090114 - 01 Sep 2016
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1689
Abstract
This paper reflects on the importance of pagan Platonism to one of its most sympathetic Christian interpreters, Augustine of Hippo. Its goal is to uncover what Platonism meant to Augustine and why it mattered so much to him throughout his long career. To [...] Read more.
This paper reflects on the importance of pagan Platonism to one of its most sympathetic Christian interpreters, Augustine of Hippo. Its goal is to uncover what Platonism meant to Augustine and why it mattered so much to him throughout his long career. To that end the essay begins by considering salient developments in the study of Platonism over the last fifty years, with particular attention to several crucial shifts in interpretation and consequent changes in its contemporary representation. It then follows those leads into the study of Augustine, considering closely how he himself described the import of Platonism and what it contributed to his development. Brief consideration is first given to Augustine’s earliest works. Attention then turns to his definitive treatment of the conversionary power of Platonism in Book VII of the Confessions and his later assessment of Platonism in City of God VIII. That inquiry will offer a basis to conclude with some final observations on the interpretation of Platonism in the study of Augustine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plato among the Christians)
Article
Metaphors in the Wisdom Literature of the Hebrew Bible and Contemporary Art
Religions 2016, 7(9), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7090106 - 29 Aug 2016
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2213
Abstract
Biblical wisdom literature is a treasure-trove of powerful metaphors. This article presents a sample of these metaphors and their significant impact on contemporary artwork. The impact is characterized by both appropriation and adaptation, similitude and analogy, respectively. The highlighted metaphors are not merely [...] Read more.
Biblical wisdom literature is a treasure-trove of powerful metaphors. This article presents a sample of these metaphors and their significant impact on contemporary artwork. The impact is characterized by both appropriation and adaptation, similitude and analogy, respectively. The highlighted metaphors are not merely catalogued but, more or less, analyzed with regard to relevant contemporary artwork. This augments the importance of contemporary biblical literacy analysis and uses it as one of the tools by which it is possible to gauge the impact and interaction, in this case, of the metaphor-world of the wisdom tradition on contemporary art. More importantly, however, this study underscores the relevance of these metaphors for biblical exegesis, hermeneutics, and theology. The analysis of the reception of these metaphors in contemporary artworks undergirds and informs the process of interpretation. The reception of these metaphors in their contemporary art contexts is best understood within the framework of imagery and imagistic language. Metaphor, as a subset of imagery and imagistic language, is foundational for the examined wisdom books, Proverbs, Job, and Qoheleth, and for the relevant contemporary artwork, alike. Moreover, metaphor also constitutes a bridge between the ancient and contemporary context. With this backdrop in mind, this article argues for the necessity of exploring the connections between these wisdom books, metaphor studies, and contemporary artwork. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World)
Article
Messianic Time and Monetary Value1
Religions 2016, 7(9), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7090112 - 27 Aug 2016
Viewed by 1968
Abstract
In this essay we return to Walter Benjamin’s notion of messianic time as outlined in his Theses on the Philosophy of History. Messianic time is read with Benjamin’s Sonnette as a “divestment” from historical time. That is, messianic time is a relinquishing [...] Read more.
In this essay we return to Walter Benjamin’s notion of messianic time as outlined in his Theses on the Philosophy of History. Messianic time is read with Benjamin’s Sonnette as a “divestment” from historical time. That is, messianic time is a relinquishing of historical time’s formation of identities within late capitalism. Messianism represents that opening which whispers the possibility of bringing asymmetrical accumulation and subjective formation to a standstill. The aim of the essay is thus to push a rereading of Benjamin’s notion of messianic time as subjective divestment from historical time which in turn breaks the uneven distribution of time, accumulation, and the monetary value of market time at work in our current world of global finance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the Individual: Belief, Practice, and Identity)
Article
Maintaining the Connection: Strategic Approaches to Keeping the Link between Initiating Congregations and Their Social Service Off-Spring
Religions 2016, 7(9), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7090111 - 25 Aug 2016
Viewed by 1492
Abstract
Whilst much research has established that religious congregations have a long history of initiating social services that address many and varied community welfare and health issues, little attention has been paid to the process involved in this congregationally-based response as well as little [...] Read more.
Whilst much research has established that religious congregations have a long history of initiating social services that address many and varied community welfare and health issues, little attention has been paid to the process involved in this congregationally-based response as well as little paid to the unique issues that arise such as the role of clergy in their development and operation. Some research has however identified examples of congregationally-initiated programs evolving to the point where their link to their initiating congregation becomes effectively severed. The research reported in this article is drawn from a larger research project that identified a framework for understanding the complex processes by which congregations initiate, operate, and modify their social services. However, it focuses in particular on the resources such congregations can bring to a wider community and the need for intentional strategies to address the risk that such resources may be lost if the link to the congregation is allowed to atrophy. Whilst the more comprehensive framework focuses on an integrated understanding, this article gives specific attention to those issues and strategies relevant to maintaining the link where that is the implicit expectation of the congregation rather than taking it for granted and being surprised when it is found to have gone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Welfare and Social Service Provision: Common Ground)
Article
The Laughter of Fools: The Relevance of Wisdom in Today’s World
Religions 2016, 7(9), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7090110 - 25 Aug 2016
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1827
Abstract
This paper explores different facets of the character type of the fool in the book of Proverbs and looks at his primary characteristics in the context of some of the main themes of Proverbs. Particular concerns are with the difficulties of parenting a [...] Read more.
This paper explores different facets of the character type of the fool in the book of Proverbs and looks at his primary characteristics in the context of some of the main themes of Proverbs. Particular concerns are with the difficulties of parenting a fool and the idea of life as a path full of choices, with problems with communication and with other characteristics of the fool such as not listening to others, a tendency to hasty anger, wiliness and getting into unsuitable social situations. This paper puts this discussion in the context of the wider wisdom quest and its theological themes. It ends with images of the fool from Ecclesiastes and some insights for modern application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World)
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