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Religions, Volume 8, Issue 4 (April 2017) – 30 articles

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Open AccessArticle
The Spiritual Journey of Infertile Couples: Discussing the Opportunity for Spiritual Care
Religions 2017, 8(4), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040076 - 24 Apr 2017
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2382
Abstract
Infertility is a worldwide public health issue that exerts an in-depth impact on couples, families, communities and the individual. This reproductive health condition, along with fertility treatments, often forces couples to question their purpose and meaning in life, and to begin a spiritual [...] Read more.
Infertility is a worldwide public health issue that exerts an in-depth impact on couples, families, communities and the individual. This reproductive health condition, along with fertility treatments, often forces couples to question their purpose and meaning in life, and to begin a spiritual journey. Nursing and midwifery literature describes the care of those living with infertility, but often lacks a clear approach of the spiritual dimension, and diagnosis and interventions may not be effectively addressed. In this paper, we present a discussion about spirituality and the assessment of spiritual needs such as hope, beliefs, meaning and satisfaction in life. In addition, spiritual needs are defined, for both nurses and midwives, and spiritual interventions are proposed for promoting couples’ resilience and spiritual well-being. Spirituality should be considered from the beginning to the end of life. It is necessary to translate this into the development and implementation of both specific policies regarding a spiritual approach and advanced education and training programs for nurses and midwives who care for infertile couples. Full article
Open AccessArticle
That Which Was Ecstasy Shall Become Daily Bread
Religions 2017, 8(4), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040075 - 24 Apr 2017
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1403
Abstract
This paper attempts to answer three questions: (1) Was Emerson a mystic? (2) If so, what is the nature of his mysticism? (3) How has his understanding of mysticism influenced by Unitarian theology and spiritual practice? In doing so, it draws upon historical [...] Read more.
This paper attempts to answer three questions: (1) Was Emerson a mystic? (2) If so, what is the nature of his mysticism? (3) How has his understanding of mysticism influenced by Unitarian theology and spiritual practice? In doing so, it draws upon historical and contemporary studies of mysticism and mystical experience, including those of William James, Leigh Eric Schmidt, and Bernard McGinn among others; the writings of Emerson, including his essays, lectures, and journals, and, finally, the testimonies of his contemporaries and succeeding generations of Unitarian religious leaders. Answering the first question in the affirmative, the paper examines Emerson’s understanding of mysticism as a departure from a devotional form of mysticism focused on relationship with a personalized deity and toward a naturalistic, transpersonal type of mysticism, and traces its influence within the context of Unitarian history. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transcendentalism and the Religious Experience)
Open AccessArticle
The Economic and Ethical Implications of Living Wages
Religions 2017, 8(4), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040074 - 20 Apr 2017
Viewed by 1485
Abstract
Although rhetoric about wages and jobs often emphasizes the effects of globalization, questions remain as to whether United States workers are paid adequately to sustain a reasonable standard of living. One solution is to implement a living wage, which is accurate and specific [...] Read more.
Although rhetoric about wages and jobs often emphasizes the effects of globalization, questions remain as to whether United States workers are paid adequately to sustain a reasonable standard of living. One solution is to implement a living wage, which is accurate and specific to a local economy but more computationally complex than a one-size-fits-all minimum wage. When considered economically, a living wage has the potential to increase business and production costs as well as lower profits and cause job loss. From ethical viewpoints articulated in Catholic social thought, sustainable wages enhance human dignity by supporting human agency, encouraging creativity, and permitting contributions to the common good. This article explores whether the positive ethical outcomes of implementing a living wage outweigh any possibly negative, unintended economic results. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Protestant Reformers and the Jews: Excavating Contexts, Unearthing Logic
Religions 2017, 8(4), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040072 - 20 Apr 2017
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1358
Abstract
This article highlights the important initial tasks of excavating the pertinent contexts of the sixteenth-century Protestant reformers and discerning what is at stake for them (i.e., “unearthing logic”) in order to analyze their views of and teachings about Jews and Judaism. Pertinent contexts [...] Read more.
This article highlights the important initial tasks of excavating the pertinent contexts of the sixteenth-century Protestant reformers and discerning what is at stake for them (i.e., “unearthing logic”) in order to analyze their views of and teachings about Jews and Judaism. Pertinent contexts include the immediate contexts to which Luther and Calvin responded (e.g., Jewish “blasphemy” and/or Christian Hebraism), as well as attending to the significant theological frameworks in which they each operated. Equally important is activity of sifting through the discrepancies in the secondary literature’s depictions of Luther and Calvin’s place in the history of Christian-Jewish relations. The article highlights biblical interpretation—particularly the defense of Scripture’s perspicuity—as the distinctive locus of the reformers’ angst concerning Jews and Judaism. In conclusion, the author offers some lessons from church history for discerning what Christian faithfulness might look like in response to this troubling history. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching the Reformations) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Jesuit and Feminist Hospitality: Pope Francis’ Virtue Response to Inequality
Religions 2017, 8(4), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040071 - 19 Apr 2017
Viewed by 1547
Abstract
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope and has made economic inequality a theme of his pontificate. This article shows that Pope Francis diagnoses economic inequality as both a structural problem and a problem of virtue, and that the virtue he calls for [...] Read more.
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope and has made economic inequality a theme of his pontificate. This article shows that Pope Francis diagnoses economic inequality as both a structural problem and a problem of virtue, and that the virtue he calls for in response is what James F. Keenan, SJ has called Jesuit hospitality. Reviewing contemporary theological work on hospitality, I show that Francis’ Jesuit hospitality shares many features with hospitality as described by feminist theologians. Namely, it is risky, takes place across difference, acknowledges the marginality of both host and guest, and promises mutual benefit to each party. Francis’ account of the spiritual practice of encounter provides a concrete vision of Jesuit hospitality in action. This article contributes to existing literature on the uniquely Jesuit nature of Francis’ theology and to work showing the resonance of his intellectual standpoint with feminist approaches. It proposes a Christian virtue response to the pressing contemporary problem of economic inequality. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Relative Effectiveness of the Minimum Wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit as Anti-Poverty Tools
Religions 2017, 8(4), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040069 - 17 Apr 2017
Viewed by 2974
Abstract
In the search for effective measures to combat poverty, two government policies have been given much attention. One is the establishment of a federal minimum wage to help workers secure a decent standard of living. The second measure is the Earned Income Tax [...] Read more.
In the search for effective measures to combat poverty, two government policies have been given much attention. One is the establishment of a federal minimum wage to help workers secure a decent standard of living. The second measure is the Earned Income Tax Credit, which gives tax refunds to workers in households that fall below a set standard of income. Both policies have supporters and critics regarding the effectiveness of the policies. This essay provides an economic analysis of the two measures. Among the issues discussed are how the policies affect employment and poverty, and how well targeted they are at the population at risk. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
“Our Country Is Destined to be the Great Nation of Futurity”: John L. O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny and Christian Nationalism, 1837–1846
Religions 2017, 8(4), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040068 - 17 Apr 2017
Viewed by 3074
Abstract
As founding editor of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, John L. O’Sullivan (1813–1895) preached a particular form of Christian nationalism that centered on expansionist fever occurring during the 1830s and 1840s. O’Sullivan’s Christian nationalism was known as “Manifest Destiny”. He [...] Read more.
As founding editor of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, John L. O’Sullivan (1813–1895) preached a particular form of Christian nationalism that centered on expansionist fever occurring during the 1830s and 1840s. O’Sullivan’s Christian nationalism was known as “Manifest Destiny”. He famously coined the term in 1845 while defending the right of the United States to annex the Republic of Texas. The central argument of this essay is that Manifest Destiny, as O’Sullivan articulated it in the pages of the Democratic Review, follows the contours of the innovative and heterodox political religion developed by Elie Kedourie and expounded upon by Anthony D. Smith. O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny was a conglomerated nationalistic paradigm consisting of elements from Protestant theology, Lyman Beecher’s vision for civilizing the West, and German idealism via George Bancroft’s use of historicism in his History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the American Continent. As a form of Christian nationalism located in the context of antebellum America, Manifest Destiny is helpful to historians as they trace both continuity and change over time in how Americans have self-identified in religious terms since their origin as a collection of colonial, and later independent, polities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christian Nationalism in the United States) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
The Impact of Economic Inequality on Children’s Development and Achievement
Religions 2017, 8(4), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040067 - 14 Apr 2017
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2696
Abstract
Child poverty leads to many challenges at both societal and individual levels, and the two levels are interrelated. It is critical to recognize the complex implications of poverty, including short-term and long-term effects for children and families. After reviewing both the societal (e.g., [...] Read more.
Child poverty leads to many challenges at both societal and individual levels, and the two levels are interrelated. It is critical to recognize the complex implications of poverty, including short-term and long-term effects for children and families. After reviewing both the societal (e.g., economic costs, segregation, and unequal opportunity) and individual (e.g., effects on children’s health, development, learning, and academic achievement) implications of poverty, this paper will describe a framework for action that incorporates multiple existing approaches, and offer an example of one intervention that aims to address the challenges associated with economic inequality for children in the United States in a comprehensive, multifaceted manner. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Baby Boomers as Congregational Volunteers in Community Ministry
Religions 2017, 8(4), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040066 - 13 Apr 2017
Viewed by 1241
Abstract
Religious congregations are a significant setting for volunteerism in the United States, and increasing rates of volunteerism correlate with age. Because of their prolonged health and increased longevity, the large boomer generation represents a potentially significant volunteer resource for congregations. But current research [...] Read more.
Religious congregations are a significant setting for volunteerism in the United States, and increasing rates of volunteerism correlate with age. Because of their prolonged health and increased longevity, the large boomer generation represents a potentially significant volunteer resource for congregations. But current research on boomers and congregational life provides little information about this age cohort for engaging them in community ministry. Using a large purposive sample (n = 2883) drawn from Protestant congregations in four regions of the U.S., we explore differences between boomer volunteers and non-volunteers including self-reported motivations, barriers, and outcomes. Despite similarities in most demographics and barriers to volunteering, volunteers and non-volunteers report differing levels of motivation for and outcomes of volunteering. Using service-learning concepts to explore how characteristics of volunteer opportunities influence the faith of volunteers, we found that certain program characteristics indeed correlate with positive outcomes while other characteristics are generally absent. Based on these findings, we provide guidance for both congregation and community agency leaders to increase and enhance opportunities for boomer volunteers. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Incarnating the Unknown: Planetary Technologies for a Planetary Community
Religions 2017, 8(4), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040065 - 12 Apr 2017
Viewed by 1136
Abstract
This article suggests that current technological development is based upon outdated ways of understanding human beings as “exceptional” to the rest of the natural world. As such, these technologies help serve to reify certain human lives at the expense of others. I argue [...] Read more.
This article suggests that current technological development is based upon outdated ways of understanding human beings as “exceptional” to the rest of the natural world. As such, these technologies help serve to reify certain human lives at the expense of others. I argue that such exceptionalism depends upon an understanding of transcendence that is totally other. Using examples such as “Earthrise” and the UN’s International Treaty on Outer Space, I argue that an immanent understanding of “the other” renegotiates how we understand our embeddedness within the rest of the evolving planetary community. As part of renegotiating a planetary anthropology, we must also begin rethinking technologies as for the planet (not just for humans). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the New Technologies) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
“The No to Nothing, and the Nothing to Know”: Immanent Transcendence as Eschatological Mystery
Religions 2017, 8(4), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040064 - 11 Apr 2017
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1496
Abstract
At an annual American Academy of Religion conference thirty years ago, Robert Scharlemann presented a paper in which he compared and contrasted Barth and Tillich with reference to how they named God in their respective theologies. He suggested that the former labeled God [...] Read more.
At an annual American Academy of Religion conference thirty years ago, Robert Scharlemann presented a paper in which he compared and contrasted Barth and Tillich with reference to how they named God in their respective theologies. He suggested that the former labeled God the “no to nothing,” while the latter symbolized God as the “nothing to know”—appellations out of which he formed his presentation title “The No to Nothing and the Nothing to Know: Barth and Tillich and the Possibility of Theological Science.” I have purloined Scharlemann’s title for my own essay, with the intent not only to maintain its theological implications but also to use it as a rubric for prosecuting the putative relationships that obtain among anticipation, nihilism, transcendence, mystery, and eschatology. If there are various species of transcendence, and if one can use and not merely mention the word “mystery” in some constative manner, then how may one speak of the actuality and potentiality of meaning? Is there a futurity to existential significance that empowers a life-affirming hope, which, in turn, embraces the inescapability of the “nothing” without plunging, or leaping, into the abyss of nihilism—the “no to nothing?” Alternatively, may one genuinely anticipate eschatological aspirations while remaining open to the enigma of the unprogrammable aleatoric “to come”—the “nothing to know?” Furthermore, how might one name “God” under either of these circumstances, even were one not to hold to any type of confessional theological ontology? Using John Caputo’s radical theology of the insistence of “God” as my Virgil (or Beatrice, which ever applies!) to guide us through the various paths one might take towards a genuine hope, I propose to investigate the plurivocity of discourses on meaning by inter-relating Caputo’s “nihilism of grace” with several supplementary works, including Ray Hart’s God Being Nothing, Amie Thomasson’s Fiction and Metaphysics, Stuart Kaufmann’s Humanity in a Creative Universe, Catherine Keller’s Cloud of the Impossible, and Richard Kearney’s Anatheism. Additionally, I will also consult aesthetic vocabularies that address the issue, specifically the poetry of Robert Browning, Dan Fogelberg, and Wallace Stevens, along with the Abstract Expressionist work of Mark Rothko. I will conclude the essay by suggesting that although one may expound on the desire for existential meaning through diverse discourses, if there is genuinely any realization of that meaning, it will occur regardless of how it is articulated. That is to say, the creative and transformative function of any transcendent meaning may work ex opere operato in a manner similar to Shakespeare’s rose that does not depend on one exclusive naming. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Martin Luther and Lucas Cranach Teaching the Lord’s Prayer
Religions 2017, 8(4), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040063 - 11 Apr 2017
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1897
Abstract
Martin Luther wrote and preached on the Lord’s Prayer many times over a 20-year period. When we consider his work on the Prayer we see significant developments as the historical context changes, so that he finds new ways to express his most fundamental [...] Read more.
Martin Luther wrote and preached on the Lord’s Prayer many times over a 20-year period. When we consider his work on the Prayer we see significant developments as the historical context changes, so that he finds new ways to express his most fundamental theological principles, such as justification by faith alone, the alien and proper work of God, the corruption of the will and the hiddenness of God. Luther’s works on the Prayer were intended to teach complex ideas in easily accessible ways, and still do that for today’s undergraduates. In particular, Luther included in the Large Catechism of 1529 a series of Lucas Cranach woodcuts that provide unique illustrations of his developing theological principles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching the Reformations) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Religious Coping as Moderator of Psychological Responses to Stressful Events: A Longitudinal Study
Religions 2017, 8(4), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040062 - 07 Apr 2017
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1587
Abstract
The aim of this study was to evaluate the association of positive and negative religious coping with posttraumatic symptoms (PTS) and growth (PTG). Their moderating role was also examined among predictors such as social support and the subjective severity of event with PTS [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the association of positive and negative religious coping with posttraumatic symptoms (PTS) and growth (PTG). Their moderating role was also examined among predictors such as social support and the subjective severity of event with PTS and PTG. Two hundred and eleven Chilean adults (58.3% women) of 18 years and older who had been exposed to highly stressful were surveyed. The Brief-RCOPE, the Brief-COPE subscale of social support, the Subjective Severity of Event Scale, and a socio-demographic questionnaire were used as measurements at time one. The Posttraumatic Growth Inventory-short form (PTGI-SF) and Short Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Rating Interview (SPRINT-E) was used to collect baseline scores and six months after. The results show that negative religious coping predicts the increase in PTS, positive religious coping predicts the increase in PTG and plays a moderation role: at low levels of positive religious coping it was found a strong association between coping by seeking social support and PTG, while at high level the association is weak. These results are discussed in the framework of the functionality of positive and negative religious coping and its role in adjusting to potentially traumatic events. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Should CRISPR Scientists Play God?
Religions 2017, 8(4), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040061 - 07 Apr 2017
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3080
Abstract
Will CRISPR usher in a new era of Promethean overreach? CRISPR makes gene editing widely available and cheap. Anti-play-god bioethicists fear that geneticists will play god and precipitate a backlash from nature that could be devastating. In contrast to the anti-play-god bioethicists, this [...] Read more.
Will CRISPR usher in a new era of Promethean overreach? CRISPR makes gene editing widely available and cheap. Anti-play-god bioethicists fear that geneticists will play god and precipitate a backlash from nature that could be devastating. In contrast to the anti-play-god bioethicists, this article recommends that laboratory science invoke the Precautionary Principle: pause at the yellow caution light, but then with constant risk-assessment proceed ahead. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the New Technologies) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Transcendence of the Negative: Günther Anders’ Apocalyptic Phenomenology
Religions 2017, 8(4), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040059 - 07 Apr 2017
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1516
Abstract
When the apocalyptic is marginalized, not only is theology under threat of malpractice, but phenomenology is also, for at the core of apocalyptic thinking is the attempt to restrain the totalities that are at work implicitly in our social imaginaries. Most totalities are [...] Read more.
When the apocalyptic is marginalized, not only is theology under threat of malpractice, but phenomenology is also, for at the core of apocalyptic thinking is the attempt to restrain the totalities that are at work implicitly in our social imaginaries. Most totalities are subtle, appearing even in efforts of unification through global peace. One might extract such insight from Günther Anders, who depicts an immanent, apocalyptic reality beyond the pale of bourgeois optimism and the theological imaginaries that enervate it. We have fallen out of imaginative touch with our everyday activities, and this has resulted in an apocalyptic blindness (Apokalypse-Blindheit) and optimism rooted in abstraction. Such blindness has degraded our “conscience” into “conscientiousness” to the point that even the Hiroshima bomber can abstract from his actions and be exempted easily from responsibility. Although a kind of phenomenologist, Anders criticized colleagues who, in the name of “presuppositionlessness” and observation, could abstract their thoughts far from the reality in which they lived and acted. This paper provides a general introduction to Anders’ work and interprets his “Transcendence of the Negative” in order to demonstrate the values of “apocalyptic phenomenology” today. Anders extends a Levinasian eschatology of anticipation (which is precisely of that which one cannot “expect”) and demonstrates how transcendence, which typically is understood only in its positive element, also holds the capacity for turning a blind eye to the negative sociality of action. This transcendence often fuels a false optimism for an order of global peace and oneness, which inherently brings about an apocalyptic age, for it ends at “one” and eliminates any “outside”. Apocalyptic phenomenology can be one way to disrupt this tendency of blind abstraction by attending to “unveiling” (apokalypsis) itself, attuning our “conscience” to the level of concern proportionate to the threats that stand before it, and becoming “restrainers” of what Anders calls “annihilism. Full article
Open AccessArticle
‘Nicht jüdeln’: Jews and Habsburg Loyalty in Franz Theodor Csokor’s Dritter November 1918
Religions 2017, 8(4), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040060 - 06 Apr 2017
Viewed by 1011
Abstract
This article argues that Franz Theodor Csokor’s three-act drama, Dritter November 1918: Ende der Armee Österreich-Ungarns (Third of November 1918: End of the Army in Austria-Hungary) reveals how Jewish difference played an important—if often unrecognized—role in the shaping the terms of Austrian patriotism [...] Read more.
This article argues that Franz Theodor Csokor’s three-act drama, Dritter November 1918: Ende der Armee Österreich-Ungarns (Third of November 1918: End of the Army in Austria-Hungary) reveals how Jewish difference played an important—if often unrecognized—role in the shaping the terms of Austrian patriotism in the years leading up to 1938. Portrayals of Habsburg loyalty as “Jewish” or “not Jewish” helped articulate how nostalgia for Austria-Hungary would figure in a new sense of Austrianness, a project that took on even more urgency under the authoritarian censors of the Ständestaat. While the play’s portrayal of a Jewish doctor as level-headed, peace-loving, and caring countered some egregious antisemitic stereotypes about disloyal and sexually perverted Jews, it also suggested that Jews were overly rational, lacking in emotional depth, and, ultimately, unable to embody a new Catholic, spiritual, Austrian patriotic ideal. Considered in its broader political context, and along with Csokor’s earlier unpublished drama Gesetz, the play reveals how labelling Habsburg loyalty as Jewish helped to clarify and critique the nature of what it meant to be Austrian under an authoritarian regime that promoted a pro-Catholic, anti-Nazi vision of Austrian patriotism. It also offers a prime example of how even anti-antisemitic authors like Csokor perpetuated negative stereotypes about Jews, even as they aimed to present them in a more positive light. Full article
Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to This Issue
Religions 2017, 8(4), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040058 - 06 Apr 2017
Viewed by 1058
Abstract
Only a few decades ago, the neoconservative writer Irving Kristol could dismiss economic inequality as a social problem (Kristol 1980).[...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
The System Isn’t Broken. It’s Fixed
Religions 2017, 8(4), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040057 - 05 Apr 2017
Viewed by 1136
Abstract
This paper has two distinct and related aims. First, I attempt to clarify the oft-made claim that somehow the “system is fixed”. What is meant by that charge and how is it distinct from other kinds of complaints with regard to economic inequality? [...] Read more.
This paper has two distinct and related aims. First, I attempt to clarify the oft-made claim that somehow the “system is fixed”. What is meant by that charge and how is it distinct from other kinds of complaints with regard to economic inequality? Second, I attempt to show how important it is to understand what we are doing together as members of a (political) economy. Without a clear conception of our joint, collaborative active, it is difficult to have a fruitful discussion of economic justice. Throughout the paper, I borrow insights from the philosopher Elizabeth Anderson. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Transcendence as Indistinction in Eckhart and Heidegger
Religions 2017, 8(4), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040056 - 05 Apr 2017
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1394
Abstract
I examine what I call Eckhart’s doctrine of indistinction as a precursor to Heidegger’s approach to the worldhood of the world. Taking cues from textual evidence in various sections of Heidegger’s texts and lecture courses, I demonstrate that Heidegger’s ontology is at least [...] Read more.
I examine what I call Eckhart’s doctrine of indistinction as a precursor to Heidegger’s approach to the worldhood of the world. Taking cues from textual evidence in various sections of Heidegger’s texts and lecture courses, I demonstrate that Heidegger’s ontology is at least partially inherited from Eckhart’s henology. As a result, there is an analogous logic of indistinction operative in Eckhart’s understanding of the relationship between God and creation, and the inseparability of Dasein and the world in Heidegger’s phenomenology. I conclude by suggesting that Heidegger’s reading of Eckhart is a microcosm of the relationship between continental philosophy and religion, because it demonstrates that turning one’s eyes to the logics of a different cosmology, anthropology, or ontology, may permit the eyes to see more fully what is at play in one’s own approach to the human, the world, and the relationship between them. In other words, the secular often illuminates theological blind spots, just as the theological has the power to transform, enlarge, or supplement the secular view of the consciously secular thinker, without converting philosophy to theology or vice versa. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Spenser’s Blatant Beast: The Thousand Tongues of Elizabethan Religious Polemic
Religions 2017, 8(4), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040055 - 04 Apr 2017
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1539
Abstract
This article addresses the final two books of the 1596 edition of Spenser’s Faerie Queene, in which there arises a formidable adversary: the Blatant Beast. This monster, whose presence dominates the end of Book Five and a substantial portion of Book Six, [...] Read more.
This article addresses the final two books of the 1596 edition of Spenser’s Faerie Queene, in which there arises a formidable adversary: the Blatant Beast. This monster, whose presence dominates the end of Book Five and a substantial portion of Book Six, represents the worst excesses of caustic and satirical rhetoric as manifest in the theological and ecclesiastical pamphlet disputes that erupted after Fields and Wilcox’s 1572 Admonition to Parliament. That these disputes were about serious and far-reaching matters is undeniable; it is also undeniable that the means by which these disputes were waged, especially in notorious cases like those of Martin Marprelate, caused significant intellectual, rhetorical, and religious anxiety among combatants and observers alike. Spenser’s heavily allegorized presentation of polemic and pamphleteering in the figure of the Blatant Beast—and the travails of the Knights of Justice and of Courtesy in bringing the beast to heel—can illustrate for students the full extent of that anxiety in Reformation England, as well as articulate Spenser’s call for the timely application of “well guided speech” as the solution to these reckless disputes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching the Reformations) Printed Edition available
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The Negative Theology of Wallace Stevens’s “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction”
Religions 2017, 8(4), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040054 - 01 Apr 2017
Viewed by 1456
Abstract
The supreme fiction is the one that cannot be said or represented at all. Like a negative theologian; Stevens starts from a position of critical reflection that can no longer naively believe in the myths of the gods. They have become fiction rather [...] Read more.
The supreme fiction is the one that cannot be said or represented at all. Like a negative theologian; Stevens starts from a position of critical reflection that can no longer naively believe in the myths of the gods. They have become fiction rather than revelation. And yet this supreme fiction; now become nameless; nevertheless animates all his desire: “For what; except for you; do I feel love?” These myths or fictions bring him peace of mind in vivid transparence; even though he can assign them no definite reference in reality. What becomes transparent in this late age of critical reflection is that the world we see and talk about is an “invented world,” the product of our own imagination and language. This destroys our naive belief in the myths projected by our language. Our gods die. Yet precisely this realization can open us to that “heaven/That has expelled us and our images,” the heaven that we do not perceive and cannot conceive—since it is beyond the reach of language. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue English Poetry and Christianity)
Open AccessArticle
Luther, Bach, and the Jews: The Place of Objectionable Texts in the Classroom
Religions 2017, 8(4), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040053 - 01 Apr 2017
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1394
Abstract
This article examines the pedagogical challenges and value of using objectionable texts in the classroom by way of two case studies: Martin Luther’s writings on Jews and two works by J.S. Bach. The use of morally or otherwise offensive materials in the classroom [...] Read more.
This article examines the pedagogical challenges and value of using objectionable texts in the classroom by way of two case studies: Martin Luther’s writings on Jews and two works by J.S. Bach. The use of morally or otherwise offensive materials in the classroom has the potential to degrade the learning environment or even produce harm if not carefully managed. On the other hand, historically informed instructors can use difficult works to model good scholarly methodology and offer useful contexts for investigating of contemporary issues. Moral judgments about historical actors and events are inevitable, the authors argue, so the instructor’s responsibility is to seize the opportunity for constructive dialogue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching the Reformations) Printed Edition available
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New Technologies—Old Anthropologies?
Religions 2017, 8(4), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040052 - 31 Mar 2017
Viewed by 1318
Abstract
Eighty years ago, Nicholas Berdyaev cautioned that new technological problems needed to be addressed with a new philosophical anthropology. Today, the transhumanist goal of mind uploading is perceived by many theologians and philosophers to be dangerous due to its violation of the human [...] Read more.
Eighty years ago, Nicholas Berdyaev cautioned that new technological problems needed to be addressed with a new philosophical anthropology. Today, the transhumanist goal of mind uploading is perceived by many theologians and philosophers to be dangerous due to its violation of the human person. I contrast transhumanist “patternist” views of the person with Brent Waters’s Augustinian view of the technological pilgrim, Celia Deane-Drummond’s evolutionary Thomistic view of humanity, and Francis Fukuyama’s insistence on the inviolability of “Factor X”. These latter three thinkers all disagree with the patternist position, but their views are also discordant with each other. This disagreement constitutes a challenge for people of faith confronting transhumanism—which view is to be taken right? I contend that Science, Technology and Society (STS) studies can enrich our understanding of the debates by highlighting the transmutation of philosophical view into scientific theory and the intermingled nature of our forms of knowledge. Furthermore, I contend that STS helps Christians understand the evolution of their own anthropologies and suggests some prospects for future theological anthropology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the New Technologies) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Teaching Music in the Reformed/Calvinist Tradition: Sphere Sovereignty and the Arts
Religions 2017, 8(4), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040051 - 31 Mar 2017
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1327
Abstract
This article shares objectives, teaching methods, and sources of inspiration as I lead 21st-century students in engaging a Reformed/Calvinistic vision for the arts generally, and music specifically. Special explanation is made of Calvinistic concepts such as sphere sovereignty and sensus divinitatis. To [...] Read more.
This article shares objectives, teaching methods, and sources of inspiration as I lead 21st-century students in engaging a Reformed/Calvinistic vision for the arts generally, and music specifically. Special explanation is made of Calvinistic concepts such as sphere sovereignty and sensus divinitatis. To conclude, I discuss aspects of a recent composition titled The God of Material Things by Jonathan Posthuma, a graduate of our college music program, whose work exemplifies many of the elements that my colleagues and I hope distinguish the accomplishments of music students beyond their education at Dordt College. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching the Reformations) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Forming Christians through Musicking in China
Religions 2017, 8(4), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040050 - 31 Mar 2017
Viewed by 1412
Abstract
In recent years, authorities in mainland China have renewed their call for the sinicization of Christianity through theological discourse. Given that Christianity is largely expressed in visible, worship-based ways, such as music (songs), rhetoric (sermons), rituals (sacraments), symbols (crosses, garments, banners, etc.), posture [...] Read more.
In recent years, authorities in mainland China have renewed their call for the sinicization of Christianity through theological discourse. Given that Christianity is largely expressed in visible, worship-based ways, such as music (songs), rhetoric (sermons), rituals (sacraments), symbols (crosses, garments, banners, etc.), posture and gesture (genuflecting, lifting hands, etc.), one wonders at the implication of this development. Might there be an alternative approach to sinicization? This essay seeks to investigate the feasibility of sinicized Christianity from the ontology of musicking as purveyed through the practice of congregational song. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Christianity and China in the 21st Century)
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Catholic Social Teaching on Building a Just Society: The Need for a Ceiling and a Floor
Religions 2017, 8(4), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040049 - 31 Mar 2017
Viewed by 1430
Abstract
Msg. John A. Ryan was the leading voice for economic justice among American Catholics in the first half of the twentieth century. Although he was a champion of the proposal for a living wage to establish a minimum floor below which no worker [...] Read more.
Msg. John A. Ryan was the leading voice for economic justice among American Catholics in the first half of the twentieth century. Although he was a champion of the proposal for a living wage to establish a minimum floor below which no worker might fall, Ryan gave little attention to whether there ought to be a ceiling to limit wealth among concentrated elites. I believe Ryan’s natural law methodology hindered a fuller vision of economic justice when addressing inequality. Contemporary Catholic social teaching, shaped by documents like Vatican II’s Gaudium et spes, has formulated a communitarian approach to justice that deals more adequately with the dangers of vast economic disparities. The essay concludes with a few ideas regarding how the post-conciliar outlook assists in rectifying the growing trend of economic inequality within American society. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Twenty First Century Global Goal-Setting Addressing Global Inequality: An Interdisciplinary Ethical Analysis
Religions 2017, 8(4), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040048 - 28 Mar 2017
Viewed by 1219
Abstract
This paper employs an interdisciplinary ethical analysis to evaluate how global inequality has been addressed by recent so-called “global goal-setting” initiatives. It seeks to contextualize these initiatives within theoretical paradigms of human rights and human development, and to utilize these paradigms in evaluating [...] Read more.
This paper employs an interdisciplinary ethical analysis to evaluate how global inequality has been addressed by recent so-called “global goal-setting” initiatives. It seeks to contextualize these initiatives within theoretical paradigms of human rights and human development, and to utilize these paradigms in evaluating the successes and shortcomings of the goal-setting initiatives. It concludes that while these initiatives have achieved some success in addressing global inequality, much still remains to be done. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Anamnesis and the Silent Narrator in Plato and John
Religions 2017, 8(4), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040047 - 27 Mar 2017
Viewed by 1148
Abstract
The Gospel of John is often compared to the dialogues of Plato by those who connect Johannine theology and Platonic philosophy. The comparison operates on the level of ideas. The present paper does not ignore issues of theology and philosophy but grounds a [...] Read more.
The Gospel of John is often compared to the dialogues of Plato by those who connect Johannine theology and Platonic philosophy. The comparison operates on the level of ideas. The present paper does not ignore issues of theology and philosophy but grounds a comparison of John and Plato first and foremost on the literary level. In several key places in John 1, 3, and 14, the Johannine narrator recedes from view and is unexpectedly silent where one would expect a narrator’s comment to organize the conversations and interactions between characters in John. Plato also renders the voice of the narrator silent in a dialogue like the Theaetetus. This paper argues that John and Plato both suppress the narrator’s voice in order to further their anamnetic efforts and to make later generations not only readers but participants in their original conversations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plato among the Christians)
Open AccessArticle
Anti-Halal and Anti-Animal Slaughtering Campaigns and Their Impact in Post-War Sri Lanka
Religions 2017, 8(4), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040046 - 26 Mar 2017
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1255
Abstract
This paper aims to examine the overall impact of anti-halal and anti-slaughtering campaigns in the context of post-war Sri Lanka. The reemergence of majoritarian ethno-religious anti-minority nationalist forces and their intensified anti-minority hatred and violence have made it challenging for ethno-religious minorities [...] Read more.
This paper aims to examine the overall impact of anti-halal and anti-slaughtering campaigns in the context of post-war Sri Lanka. The reemergence of majoritarian ethno-religious anti-minority nationalist forces and their intensified anti-minority hatred and violence have made it challenging for ethno-religious minorities in Sri Lanka to engage in religious norms and duties. This is especially true for the Muslim community. Numerous Islamic fundamentals have been criticized and opposed. Muslims have had to endure threats and acts of violence. These campaigns and violent oppositions, imposed by the Buddhist-nationalist forces, have caused concern for Muslims performing their obligatory religious duties and norms. In Sri Lanka, the Muslim community has been allowed to produce halal food and slaughter animals for human consumption and religious rituals for a long period without disturbance. Unfortunately, retaliation and hatred in the post-civil war era in the country have threatened these rights. Thus, it has become imperative to investigate the motivating factors of the anti-halal and anti-animal slaughtering campaigns and violence, as well as their related impact, which is lacking in the existing literature on ethno-religious politics in the context of Sri Lanka. This study found that the anti-halal and anti-animal slaughtering campaigns and oppositions that have been intensified by the Buddhist nationalist forces were part of anti-Muslim sentiments intended to sabotage the economic pride of Muslims and undermine their religious renaissance. The study also found that these campaigns have been facilitated by the state and that continuous facilitation of the anti-Muslim sentiments and campaigns, including the anti-halal and anti-animal slaughter campaigns, would challenge the country’s economic prosperity and the rebuilding of ethno-religious harmony. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Poor, Wayfaring Stranger: Erik Peterson’s Apocalyptic and Public Witness against Christian Embourgoisement
Religions 2017, 8(4), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8040045 - 23 Mar 2017
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1134
Abstract
With the present collection of essays reflecting upon the complex convergences and divergences between Eschatology and genuine transcendence, there is perhaps no greater modern Catholic figure to recall than that of the great, German Catholic convert Erik Peterson (1890–1960). As an immediate forerunner [...] Read more.
With the present collection of essays reflecting upon the complex convergences and divergences between Eschatology and genuine transcendence, there is perhaps no greater modern Catholic figure to recall than that of the great, German Catholic convert Erik Peterson (1890–1960). As an immediate forerunner to twentieth century Catholic ressourcement, eschatology, for Peterson, not only factors as the central arc within his diverse corpus of writings, yet he himself is equally credited for having coined the phrase, ‘the eschatological proviso’ in describing the coming of the Kingdom as both ‘already’ and ‘not yet’. Fundamentally, Peterson’s proviso presents a historical view of the suffering Church as necessarily beyond political confinement and ideological capture. As a pilgrim community in-between the “earthly Jerusalem, which is at once polis and temple” and its “ever drawing closer to the eschatological, heavenly temple and its own…polis”, Peterson bears witness to this ontic difference in his writings by framing the Church’s distinctly public act, the liturgy, as the site of a transversal commericum. That is, an angelic participation within the earthly cult as well as her “participation in the worship that the angels offer to God.” In this following contribution, I will examine this eschatological provision as the primary governing optic by first contextualizing Peterson’s critical reception of historicism and its methodological atheism (Troeltsch, Harnack) within German liberal Protestantism and the Religionsgeschictliche schule as the necessary precursor to his conversion. Secondly, I will build upon these critiques in view of Peterson’s concise and influential 1950 essay, “Kierkegaard und der Protestanismus” that theologically focuses specifically upon his attack against Barthian dialectic and its inability in approaching the very concretissimum of revelation and its ecclesial extension of dogma as none other than the “concrete continuation of Christ’s assumption of a body”. Lastly, in view of genuine transcendence, the ambivalent influence of Kierkegaard will be more positively assessed in terms of Peterson’s long held attack upon the bourgeois character of much of modern Christianity. As an immediate parallel to the critique of secular, historical immanentism, focus will center upon the martyrological witness of the poor as aptly encapsulating Peterson’s theopolitical vision. Herein, the invisible poor function as an “eschatological symbol” that lays at the porous threshold of genuine transcendence (Lk. 16, 19–31) wherein Christ recognizes the depths of his very divine person and in whom the poor are integrally inseparable through their witness. Full article
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