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Religions, Volume 9, Issue 12 (December 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) In this paper, we propose a symbolic framework of deep culture and apply it to understand the [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle Reciprocity and the Risk of Rejection: Debate over Sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible
Religions 2018, 9(12), 422; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120422
Received: 15 November 2018 / Revised: 13 December 2018 / Accepted: 17 December 2018 / Published: 19 December 2018
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Abstract
Sacrifice is a central but contested topic in the prophetical literature in the Hebrew Bible. Whereas some texts criticize the sacrificial cult vehemently, other texts express strong support for such a cult. Interestingly, and somewhat paradoxically, a certain writing, such as the book [...] Read more.
Sacrifice is a central but contested topic in the prophetical literature in the Hebrew Bible. Whereas some texts criticize the sacrificial cult vehemently, other texts express strong support for such a cult. Interestingly, and somewhat paradoxically, a certain writing, such as the book of Jeremiah, may contain both cult-critical prophecies and passages that promote sacrifices. Divergent interpretations of this ancient debate have engendered an intense scholarly debate. Adopting a new approach, informed by sacrifice theories that emphasize the notion of reciprocity, this article refutes the view that prophets like Amos and Jeremiah rejected all sacrifices. Rather, they (that is, the authors of these books) addressed specific situations, or explained specific catastrophes in retrospect. Viewed from this perspective, the cult-critical prophecies, as well as other references to rejected sacrifice, are in fact compatible with a basically positive attitude towards the sacrificial cult. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacrifice and Religion)
Open AccessArticle “It’s Almost Impossible to Speak about It”: Sexual Abuse, Forgiveness, and the Need for Restitution Rituals
Religions 2018, 9(12), 421; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120421
Received: 21 November 2018 / Revised: 12 December 2018 / Accepted: 14 December 2018 / Published: 18 December 2018
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Abstract
The focus of this research was on ways in which Christian congregations can address the concept of forgiveness when caring for victims of sexual abuse, and to make suggestions for a restitution mass as a possible way for congregations to work with these [...] Read more.
The focus of this research was on ways in which Christian congregations can address the concept of forgiveness when caring for victims of sexual abuse, and to make suggestions for a restitution mass as a possible way for congregations to work with these victims. Interviews with seven women and one man, who were victims of sexual abuse, were analyzed according to inductive thematic analysis. Our focus was on abuse that had occurred outside Church, i.e., not perpetrated by representatives for the Church. The informants described how attending services in Church could trigger their memories of sexual abuse, and they struggled to understand the concept of forgiveness; who they were to forgive and what made their forgiveness good enough. They expressed a need for the Church to offer them a safe space, rituals where their experiences would be acknowledged, and to meet with other victims of sexual abuse. We argue that representatives for the Church need to acquire knowledge about sexual abuse and its consequences before offering care. Further, the presence of victims of sexual abuse in a congregation demands that the congregation create appropriate conditions where the victim’s needs and concerns are put into focus. Addressing forgiveness and offering rituals must be done in such a way that it does not consolidate the victim’s feelings of exclusion, guilt, and shame. Full article
Open AccessArticle How and Why Education Counters Ideological Extremism in Finland
Religions 2018, 9(12), 420; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120420
Received: 29 November 2018 / Revised: 14 December 2018 / Accepted: 14 December 2018 / Published: 18 December 2018
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Abstract
The intensification of radical and extremist thinking has become an international cause of concern and the fear related to terrorism has increased worldwide. Early 21st century public discourses have been correspondingly marked by hate speech and ideological propaganda spread from a variety of [...] Read more.
The intensification of radical and extremist thinking has become an international cause of concern and the fear related to terrorism has increased worldwide. Early 21st century public discourses have been correspondingly marked by hate speech and ideological propaganda spread from a variety of perspectives through the intensified presence of global social media networks. In many countries, governments have reacted to these perceived and actual threats by drafting policies and preventive programs and legal-security interventions to tackle radicalization, terrorism itself, as well as ideological extremism. Many of the current strategies point to the critical role of societal education. As a result, educational institutions have gained growing importance as platforms for different kinds of prevention protocols or counter-terrorism strategies. However, notably less attention has been paid on the consistencies of values between the aims of the educational strategies for preventing or countering ideological extremism and the core functions of education in fostering individual and societal well-being and growth. Using Finnish education as a case, this paper discusses the challenges and possibilities related to educational institutions as spaces for preventing violent extremism, with special regard to the religious and nationalistic ideologies that divert from those inherent in the national hegemony. This study highlights the need to plan counter-terrorism strategies in line with national educational policies through what we conceptualize as ‘institutional habitus’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessArticle “At War ’Twixt Will and Will Not”: On Shakespeare’s Idea of Religious Experience in Measure for Measure
Religions 2018, 9(12), 419; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120419
Received: 16 November 2018 / Revised: 5 December 2018 / Accepted: 9 December 2018 / Published: 17 December 2018
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Abstract
“Religions in Shakespeare’s Writings,” the title of this special issue, can prompt consideration not only of singular exceptions to the normative religious landscape but also of the ideas that support the banner under which a plurality of examples together may be described as [...] Read more.
“Religions in Shakespeare’s Writings,” the title of this special issue, can prompt consideration not only of singular exceptions to the normative religious landscape but also of the ideas that support the banner under which a plurality of examples together may be described as “religious.” In recent years, readers of Shakespeare have devoted attention to exploring Shakespeare’s engagement with specific theological and sectarian movements in early modern Europe. Such work has changed how we view the relation between theater and its religious landscapes, but it may be that in focusing on the topical we overlook Shakespeare’s place among such sociologists and philosophers of religion as Montaigne, Hobbes, James, Weber, and Berger. To this end, I argue that in Measure for Measure Shakespeare uses law to synthesize certain aspects of religious experience from divergent corners. And drawing on descriptions of religion from anthropology and phenomenology, I suggest that Shakespeare unites his characters through patterns of action within this deadly exigency that demonstrate a shared experience of religion as a desire for salvation beyond the law. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in Shakespeare's Writings)
Open AccessArticle Pentecostals, Gender Ideology and the Peace Plebiscite: Colombia 2016
Religions 2018, 9(12), 418; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120418
Received: 13 November 2018 / Revised: 12 December 2018 / Accepted: 14 December 2018 / Published: 16 December 2018
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Abstract
This article examines the role of the Pentecostal Evangelical movement in the success of the ‘No’ campaign in the Colombian peace plebiscite of 2 October 2016, where Colombians voted to reject the peace agreement which had been reached between the Colombian government and [...] Read more.
This article examines the role of the Pentecostal Evangelical movement in the success of the ‘No’ campaign in the Colombian peace plebiscite of 2 October 2016, where Colombians voted to reject the peace agreement which had been reached between the Colombian government and the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC). It discusses the reasons that motivated large sectors of the Evangelical electorate to oppose the agreement, paying particular attention to the success of the argument that the agreement was contaminated with what Pentecostals termed ‘gender ideology.’ In terms of methodology, the article draws on a variety of sources, including interviews, field observation and written sources both scholarly and popular, including press and Internet articles. We track how ‘gender’ comes to be shorthand for the host of social ills with which it was associated during the debates around the Colombian peace plebiscite through use of the term ‘gender ideology’. We posit that it is the links between ‘gender’ modernity, colonialism and the development industry, its academic, value-neutral quality and its status as an isolated technical term that allow ‘gender’ to become a proxy for a wide range of social dissatisfactions. We conclude that the success of the ‘No’ campaign was possible due to the convergence of several sectors of society, particularly between the political right and a social movement which, inspired by religious values, opposed the recognition of LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) rights and the use of the term ‘gender’ in the agreements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Latin America, and among Latinos abroad.)
Open AccessArticle Lament of a Wounded Priest: The Spiritual Journey of Job
Religions 2018, 9(12), 417; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120417
Received: 30 October 2018 / Revised: 8 December 2018 / Accepted: 14 December 2018 / Published: 15 December 2018
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Abstract
Acknowledging the complex redaction history which produced the Book of Job contained in the Jewish and Christian canonical scriptures, this article offers a spiritual interpretation of the text taking due account of its overall structure and major parts (prologue, main dialogical body and [...] Read more.
Acknowledging the complex redaction history which produced the Book of Job contained in the Jewish and Christian canonical scriptures, this article offers a spiritual interpretation of the text taking due account of its overall structure and major parts (prologue, main dialogical body and epilogue). With its focus on the formation of personal identity, spiritual theology grants access to a developmental understanding of the biblical narrative and characters. Undergirding this essay is the basic claim that in and with the book and figure of Job are found paradigmatic examples of how to become and remain human and faithful in and despite relentless undeserved suffering. The exploration of Job’s life in suffering leads to the discovery that the lament formulated by a faithful heart compellingly summons God to appear and speak, consecrating the human recipient as mediator of divine revelation and sacramental intercessor. Job’s wounded body and spirit reflect the spiritual journey he has completed and has been commissioned to invite others to undertake. Undeserved suffering can lead to transformative mystical encounters with God, if and when the human heart dares to believe to the end, giving voice to and challenging God from within relentless unjustifiable pain. Full article
Open AccessArticle Towards an Ecological Catholicism: Marian Pilgrimage in the Anthropocene
Religions 2018, 9(12), 416; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120416
Received: 3 December 2018 / Revised: 12 December 2018 / Accepted: 13 December 2018 / Published: 15 December 2018
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Abstract
This article analyzes how the author and environmental activist Carl Amery draws together the topics of Catholicism and ecological criticism in the pilgrimage novel Die Wallfahrer, or The Pilgrims (1986). The novel depicts the journeys of four pilgrims to the Marian shrine [...] Read more.
This article analyzes how the author and environmental activist Carl Amery draws together the topics of Catholicism and ecological criticism in the pilgrimage novel Die Wallfahrer, or The Pilgrims (1986). The novel depicts the journeys of four pilgrims to the Marian shrine at Tuntenhausen in Bavaria. In their journeys towards the surprising and unorthodox Virgin Mary of Tuntenhausen, the pilgrims anticipate their ultimate journey towards Gaia, the earth goddess in Greek mythology, and the inspiration for the Gaia Hypothesis, which proposes that the Earth evolves as a system in which organisms are an active, fundamental component. This article explores how the novel recasts the pilgrim journey as a journey towards an ecological consciousness of humans’ creatureliness and increasingly detrimental impact on the web of life. Particular focus is placed on the way Amery dramatizes the connection between salvation history and the Gaia theory that has lately received renewed interest in the context of the Anthropocene debate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Journeys: Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage)
Open AccessArticle Minjung Theology in Contemporary Korea: Liberation Theology and a Reconsideration of Secularization Theory
Religions 2018, 9(12), 415; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120415
Received: 7 November 2018 / Revised: 6 December 2018 / Accepted: 12 December 2018 / Published: 14 December 2018
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Abstract
The Sewol Ferry tragedy in April 2014 has drawn a renewed attention to the role of religion in South Korea. Theologians and religiously-motivated NGOs in Korea at the time and thereafter have called for the need for religion, and religious organizations, to become [...] Read more.
The Sewol Ferry tragedy in April 2014 has drawn a renewed attention to the role of religion in South Korea. Theologians and religiously-motivated NGOs in Korea at the time and thereafter have called for the need for religion, and religious organizations, to become more actively involved with societal needs, especially after disasters, to help alleviate their pain by providing relief aid and counselling. Such calls for the greater involvement of religion in relief efforts have coincided with Pope Francis’ repeated calls for the Catholic Church’s greater involvement in social affairs on behalf of the poor and the underprivileged. This paper contends that these developments in and outside of Korea provide an opportune time to renew discussion on oft-misunderstood liberation theology. This is because the latter’s advocacy of an interpretation of the teachings of Jesus Christ from the perspective of the poor and the marginalized for the purpose of alleviating unjust economic, social, or political conditions is as compelling today as it was some 60 years ago when it first arose. The paper offers a reassessment of the role of religion in light of liberation theology, arguing that religion can make itself more relevant to people’s lives today by engaging more actively with social issues. The paper will pay special attention to liberation theology in the Korean context, namely minjungshinhak or “people’s theology.” The paper also discusses the implications of liberation theology for secularization theory, arguing, among others, that the former refutes the “decline of religion” thesis of the latter, since liberation theology manifests a different role of religion in contemporary society rather than its diminishing significance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role and Meaning of Religion for Korean Society)
Open AccessArticle Phantasmagorical Buddhism: Dreams and Imagination in the Creation of Burmese Sacred Space
Religions 2018, 9(12), 414; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120414
Received: 17 November 2018 / Revised: 8 December 2018 / Accepted: 11 December 2018 / Published: 13 December 2018
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Abstract
Despite the growing research done on sacred spaces in Buddhist Myanmar, no attention has yet been given to the role dreams play in the selection and development of such spaces. This article will address this lacuna by exploring how dreams are regarded by [...] Read more.
Despite the growing research done on sacred spaces in Buddhist Myanmar, no attention has yet been given to the role dreams play in the selection and development of such spaces. This article will address this lacuna by exploring how dreams are regarded by 20th–21st centuries Buddhists in Myanmar, as evidenced in autobiographies, ethnographic work, and popular literature in relation to the creation and evolution of sacred places. Although there are many kinds of sacred sites in Myanmar, this article will look specifically at Buddhist stupas, commonly referred to in Burmese as, pagoda or zedi. These pagodas, found in nearly every part of Buddhist Myanmar, are also those structures most prevalent in Buddhist dream accounts and often take on phantasmagorical qualities when those same Buddhists attempt to recreate the pagodas of their dreams. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Space and Place)
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Open AccessArticle The Cup of God’s Wrath: Libation and Early Christian Meal Practice in Revelation
Religions 2018, 9(12), 413; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120413
Received: 27 July 2018 / Revised: 30 August 2018 / Accepted: 6 September 2018 / Published: 13 December 2018
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Abstract
This article examines how the use of libation imagery, such as bowls (phialai) and wine, in the Book of Revelation to showcase the ways in which early Christians negotiated the language of sacrifice into their own praxis. As opposed to embracing [...] Read more.
This article examines how the use of libation imagery, such as bowls (phialai) and wine, in the Book of Revelation to showcase the ways in which early Christians negotiated the language of sacrifice into their own praxis. As opposed to embracing libation imagery, as occurs in other New Testament texts (e.g., Luke’s cup in 22:20; Philippians 2:17), Revelation uses such imagery to point to wrong religious practice. Libation practice is used as a metaphor for God’s wrath (e.g., “wine poured … unmixed into the cup of [God’s] anger” in Revelation 14:10); the libations that are poured out in the vision of the Bowls of Wrath, in chapter 16, pour out plagues. The implications of this judgmental imagery for early Christian hearers of this text in Asia Minor, and for their own meal practices, are significant. I argue that the edicts against the Thyatirans and the Pergamians in the letters of Revelation refer to their use of wine in Eucharistic practice—a practice which John condemns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacrifice and Religion)
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Open AccessArticle The Exilic Imperative of American Jewry
Religions 2018, 9(12), 412; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120412
Received: 26 November 2018 / Revised: 10 December 2018 / Accepted: 10 December 2018 / Published: 13 December 2018
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Abstract
This article considers the existence of an exilic imperative in the historical and identity hermeneutics of American Jewry. Author considers cases of (1) American Jewish identification with racial outsiders, including the appropriation of historical, cultural, and religious forms; (2) the persistent creation of [...] Read more.
This article considers the existence of an exilic imperative in the historical and identity hermeneutics of American Jewry. Author considers cases of (1) American Jewish identification with racial outsiders, including the appropriation of historical, cultural, and religious forms; (2) the persistent creation of American Jewish ethnoburbs, unlike other white ethnic groups; and (3) the creation of exilic fantasy literature by American Jewish novelists. The author suggests that although American conditions do not justify interpretations of Jewish social alienation, American Jews have nevertheless applied traditional Jewish exilic hermeneutics to those American conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Jewish Experience in America)
Open AccessArticle Machine Hearts and Wandering Spirits in Nietzsche and Zhuangzi
Religions 2018, 9(12), 411; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120411
Received: 7 November 2018 / Revised: 5 December 2018 / Accepted: 5 December 2018 / Published: 12 December 2018
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Abstract
Both Nietzsche and Zhuangzi spurn the boundaries of human convention and traditional authority and maintain that the ego-self, based on the internalization of external norms is its unwelcome byproduct. In an attempt to counteract this, these thinkers espouse a wandering approach to existence, [...] Read more.
Both Nietzsche and Zhuangzi spurn the boundaries of human convention and traditional authority and maintain that the ego-self, based on the internalization of external norms is its unwelcome byproduct. In an attempt to counteract this, these thinkers espouse a wandering approach to existence, which would affirm the existence of the variegated and perpetually evolving cosmos and help to undo the often pernicious effects of the objectification of language. Paradoxically, they maintain that a deep connection to other beings and the natural world necessitates a willingness to embrace solitude and also the dissolution of the self. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Status of Saying: Witness against Rhetoric in Levinas’s Philosophy
Religions 2018, 9(12), 410; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120410
Received: 25 October 2018 / Revised: 25 November 2018 / Accepted: 10 December 2018 / Published: 12 December 2018
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Abstract
In regard to rhetoric, Emmanuel Levinas stands against its violence. In spite of the rhetoric, he justifies the notion of discourse in Totality and Infinity in order to prove the possibility of the ethical relationship between the Same and the Other. In later [...] Read more.
In regard to rhetoric, Emmanuel Levinas stands against its violence. In spite of the rhetoric, he justifies the notion of discourse in Totality and Infinity in order to prove the possibility of the ethical relationship between the Same and the Other. In later works, he also criticizes the ontological language, which is used in the tradition of occidental philosophy. He explores a third way and proposes the notion of Saying, opposed to Said, as ethical language, witness in Otherwise than Being. However, there is a paradoxical structure of language. Although the Saying precedes the Said, the system of language and even the ontological language, it has to be reduced to this latter when it is expressed as philosophical form. The present study situates what is at stake in the criticism of rhetoric and ontological language by Levinas and examines the notion of witness as opposed to these forms of language. Witness is a concrete form of ethical language that consists in “for the other” of the ultimate passivity of the subjectivity. Therefore, the Saying is possible only as witness where the subject is exposed to “a calling into question” by the Other. Full article
Open AccessArticle Reimagining Religious Education for Young, Black, Christian Women: Womanist Resistance in the Form of Hip-Hop
Religions 2018, 9(12), 409; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120409
Received: 26 October 2018 / Revised: 4 December 2018 / Accepted: 7 December 2018 / Published: 11 December 2018
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Abstract
How might the black church and womanist scholarship begin to re-imagine religious education in ways that attends more deliberately to the unique concerns and interests of younger black, Christian women? Throughout the history of the black church, despite being marginalized or silenced within [...] Read more.
How might the black church and womanist scholarship begin to re-imagine religious education in ways that attends more deliberately to the unique concerns and interests of younger black, Christian women? Throughout the history of the black church, despite being marginalized or silenced within their varied denominations, black women have been key components for providing the religious education within their churches. However, today, in many church communities, we are seeing a new, emerging trend whereby young, black, Christian women are opting out of traditional approaches to religious education. They view contemporary church education as insufficient to address their contrasting range of real-life difficulties and obstacles. Instead, these young women have been turning to the work of contemporary black female hip-hop artists as a resource for religious and theological reflection. Drawing from focus groups conducted with young black female seminarians and explored through the lens of womanist theory, I argue this trend is forming a new, legitimate type of religious education where the work of artists such as Beyoncé and Solange are framing an unrecognized womanist, spirituality of resistance for young black women. Both religious educators and womanist scholars need to pay attention to this overlooked, emerging trend. Respectively, I suggest religious education and womanist scholarship would benefit by considering new resources for religious, theological, and pedagogical reflection, one that is emerging out of young black women’s engagement with the art and music of specific black female artists within hip-hop. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Religious Education)
Open AccessArticle Earning God through the “One-Hundred Rupee Note”: Nirguṇa Bhakti and Religious Experience among Hindu Renouncers in North India
Religions 2018, 9(12), 408; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120408
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 4 December 2018 / Accepted: 6 December 2018 / Published: 11 December 2018
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Abstract
This article examines the everyday religious phenomenon of nirguṇa bhakti as it is experienced by Hindu renouncers (sādhus) in North India. As an Indian language concept, nirguṇa bhakti characterizes a type of devotion (bhakti) that is expressed in relation [...] Read more.
This article examines the everyday religious phenomenon of nirguṇa bhakti as it is experienced by Hindu renouncers (sādhus) in North India. As an Indian language concept, nirguṇa bhakti characterizes a type of devotion (bhakti) that is expressed in relation to a divinity who is said to be without (nir) the worldly characteristics and attributes of sex and gender, name and form, race and ethnicity, class and caste. Although bhakti requires a relationship between the devotee and the deity, the nirguṇa kind transcends the boundaries of relational experience, dissolving concepts of “self” and “other”, and, in effect, accentuating the experience of union in the divine absolute. In comparison to saguṇa bhakti (devotion to a deity with attributes), nirguṇa bhakti is considered to be difficult to realize in human birth. Yet, the poetry, songs, and practices of uncommon humans who have not only left behind social norms, but also, devoting their lives to the worship of the divine, achieved forms of divine realization, people like the mystics, saints and sādhus of Hindu traditions, laud the liberating power and insights of nirguṇa bhakti. The Hindu sādhus featured in this article describe their experiences of nirguṇa bhakti through the use of the idiom of a “one-hundred rupee note” to distinguish its superior value and, as significantly, to indicate that humans “earn” God (Brahman) through the practice of nirguṇa devotion. As a “precious” spiritual asset on the path of liberation, nirguṇa bhakti establishes the religious authority and authenticity of sādhus, while setting them apart from other sādhus and holy figures in a vibrant North Indian religious landscape. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Experience in the Hindu Tradition)
Open AccessArticle Remembering for our Future: Affirming the Religious Education Tradition as a Guide for the Religious Education Movement
Religions 2018, 9(12), 407; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120407
Received: 29 November 2018 / Revised: 29 November 2018 / Accepted: 5 December 2018 / Published: 10 December 2018
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Abstract
This article addresses doubts about the viability, and hence future, of religious education. The researcher utilized structural analysis based on the questions: What central concepts and commitments have provided structure for the field of religious education as it has developed over time? How [...] Read more.
This article addresses doubts about the viability, and hence future, of religious education. The researcher utilized structural analysis based on the questions: What central concepts and commitments have provided structure for the field of religious education as it has developed over time? How have social and cultural factors and changes in social and cultural context shaped the ways the structuring concepts and commitments of religious education have been embraced? To what extent can an understanding of the structuring concepts and commitments of the field enable us to make sense of the contemporary doubts about religious education? Additionally, the methodology of field mapping was used to map the models and approaches to religious education that have developed over time. The researcher found, and these findings are presented in this article, that structural analysis informed by field mapping can enable us to understand both the strengths and limitations of contemporary religious education. The researcher concluded that, based on a structural analysis of the field, religious educators can and should respond to the present crisis in religious education by defining the purpose and scope of religious education more clearly. The analysis in the final section of this article is based on that conclusion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Religious Education)
Open AccessEditorial Feminisms and the Study of Religion in the 21st Century
Religions 2018, 9(12), 406; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120406
Received: 13 November 2018 / Accepted: 29 November 2018 / Published: 10 December 2018
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Abstract
The articles included in this special issue on feminisms and the study of systems of belief and practice are arranged in three large sections that speak to the general orientation of the papers within the section. [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle Heidegger, Heterotopic Dwelling and Prehistoric Art: An Initial Indication of a Field of Research
Religions 2018, 9(12), 405; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120405
Received: 30 October 2018 / Revised: 5 December 2018 / Accepted: 5 December 2018 / Published: 8 December 2018
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Abstract
This paper begins to develop an interpretation of European cave art based on Martin Heidegger’s account of artistic production and ‘dwelling’ so as to indicate a potentially rich area for future research. The paper will also draw on Foucault’s account of heterotopic space [...] Read more.
This paper begins to develop an interpretation of European cave art based on Martin Heidegger’s account of artistic production and ‘dwelling’ so as to indicate a potentially rich area for future research. The paper will also draw on Foucault’s account of heterotopic space and will engage with one of the key researchers on the archaeology of cave art, Randall White. The role of a work of art for Heidegger is to hold open a world. Art enables a decision to be made by a group regarding how things are going to matter for, and to, them as dwellers in their world. Works of art, on Heidegger’s account, put up for decision what will count as the highest values (the gods) for a group while determining what will prove essential for human dwelling in a world. With reference to Foucault, it will be suggested that caves are a good candidate for a heterotopic space. Caves are uncanny, numinous spaces and because of this, I suggest, they enable human beings to produce art as a world-opening event. I suggest that there is something significant about human experience in caves and I attempt to make a connection between heterotopic space, dwelling, and the art of the last Ice Age in Europe in order to point towards a novel field of research: dwelling and prehistoric art. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenological Studies of Religious Life)
Open AccessArticle Atheism of the Word: Narrated Speech and the Origin of Language in Cohen, Rosenzweig and Levinas
Religions 2018, 9(12), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120404
Received: 13 November 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 7 December 2018
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Abstract
Kant marks a fundamental break in the history of philosophy of religion and the concept of God. God is no longer interpreted as a being necessary to understand the existence of a rational universe, but as an idea that makes sense of our [...] Read more.
Kant marks a fundamental break in the history of philosophy of religion and the concept of God. God is no longer interpreted as a being necessary to understand the existence of a rational universe, but as an idea that makes sense of our morality. Cohen supplements this idea with the concept of personality, which he argues is the unique contribution of Judaism. For Rosenzweig and Levinas, the monotheistic God is neither a being nor an idea, but the living reality of speech. What would the atheism be that responds to this theism? Linguistics makes a distinction between direct, indirect, and free indirect speech. In the latter form, the origin of speech is not a subject, but narrated language. It is this difference between direct and indirect speech that is missing in Rosenzweig and Levinas’s description of God. It would mean that God is produced by language rather than the subject of language. What menaces the reality of God is not whether God exists, or is intelligible, but the externality of language without a subject. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
Open AccessArticle Authentic Religious Education: A Question of Language?
Religions 2018, 9(12), 403; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120403
Received: 12 October 2018 / Revised: 13 November 2018 / Accepted: 5 December 2018 / Published: 6 December 2018
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Abstract
There is much emphasis today on inclusion and diversity in educational systems. As the place of religious belief remains a significant factor in such debates, there is a need for shared understanding of the language and purpose of Religious Education in schools. Given [...] Read more.
There is much emphasis today on inclusion and diversity in educational systems. As the place of religious belief remains a significant factor in such debates, there is a need for shared understanding of the language and purpose of Religious Education in schools. Given the substantial international footprint of Catholic schools, the conceptual framework of Religious Education in Catholic schools merits serious scrutiny. The Catholic Church’s written teaching on education has a strong focus on the contemporary school as a site of intercultural dialogue. The related teaching on Religious Education in schools, however, remains underdeveloped, with strong voices debating the desirability, or otherwise, of a strong focus on ‘faith formation and practice’ as an outcome of Religious Education. Problematically, terms like ‘Religious Education’ have inconsistent translations in the official documents of the Catholic Church, leading to a plurality of understandings internationally of the ultimate aim of the subject. A presentation of the linguistic inconsistency between English and Italian translations of documents of the Holy See reveals the scale of the challenge. This unsatisfactory arrangement needs reform. Rooted in a close critical study of Catholic teaching on education, the article presents two arguments designed to initiate the reform process: (a) the Catholic Church’s settled teaching on Religious Education must develop greater internal cohesion before it can make a meaningful contribution to intercultural dialogue, and (b) an International Directory of Religious Education, written collegially by qualified lay people and clergy, will build stronger foundations for shared understanding of the aims and scope of Religious Education among key stakeholders in Catholic schools. This shift in direction will harmonise Religious Education expectations in Catholic schools, and offer firmer ground for dialogue with those who manage and teach Religious Education in so-called ‘non-denominational’ schools. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Religious Education)
Open AccessArticle The State and ‘Religious Diversity’ in Chinese Dissertations
Religions 2018, 9(12), 402; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120402
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 1 December 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 6 December 2018
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Abstract
Religious diversity in China has attracted considerable scholarly attention in both Anglophone and Sino-phone academia. Based on the quantitative and qualitative evidence in a representative sample of doctoral and master’s dissertations successfully defended in reputable Chinese academic institutions, this article identifies two characteristics [...] Read more.
Religious diversity in China has attracted considerable scholarly attention in both Anglophone and Sino-phone academia. Based on the quantitative and qualitative evidence in a representative sample of doctoral and master’s dissertations successfully defended in reputable Chinese academic institutions, this article identifies two characteristics associated with the usage of ‘religious diversity’ in contemporary Chinese scholarship. Firstly, ‘religious diversity’ is prominently applied to depict inter-religious rather than intra-religious relations. Secondly, ‘religious diversity’ is often discussed along with ethnic diversity. These patterns confirm, and further illustrate, a notable theme in the China-focused English scholarly works on religious diversity, namely, that the Chinese state plays a predominant role in the making and shaping of the country’s religious diversity. Moreover, the meaning, implication, and usage of the very concept of ‘religious diversity’ in contemporary Chinese scholarly discourse are also likely to have been directly influenced by the policies and rhetoric of the Chinese state. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Woman’s Voice in Zionism: Disentangling Paula Winkler from Martin Buber
Religions 2018, 9(12), 401; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120401
Received: 15 November 2018 / Revised: 4 December 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 6 December 2018
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Abstract
This article calls for a reassessment of the thought of Paula Winkler (1877–1958), paying renewed attention to her contributions to the cultural Zionist movement in her work on the domestic space as a site of Jewish cultural renewal. Criticizing the trend in modern [...] Read more.
This article calls for a reassessment of the thought of Paula Winkler (1877–1958), paying renewed attention to her contributions to the cultural Zionist movement in her work on the domestic space as a site of Jewish cultural renewal. Criticizing the trend in modern Jewish scholarship of focusing on Winkler’s biography and her relationship with her husband Martin Buber at the expense of appreciating her innovations as a Zionist thinker, it proposes and demonstrates a close reading of her work as a corrective. Focusing on Winkler’s 1901 essays on Zionism and the Jewish woman, this article illustrates the important challenges Winkler leveled to Buber and the young Zionist intellectual community by awarding the Jewish woman and the private sphere an active and positive role in the Zionist transformation of Jewish life. It concludes that questions of Winkler’s identity are best approached through her own careful navigation of her liminal status in the Jewish and Zionist communities, and the way that she engages the perspective awarded to her as a woman and a non-Jew to formulate her arguments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Modern Jewish Thought)
Open AccessArticle Did the Imperially Commissioned Manchu Rites for Sacrifices to the Spirits and to Heaven Standardize Manchu Shamanism?
Religions 2018, 9(12), 400; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120400
Received: 26 October 2018 / Revised: 4 December 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 5 December 2018
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Abstract
The Imperially Commissioned Manchu Rites for Sacrifices to the Spirits and to Heaven (Manzhou jishen jitian dianli), the only canon on shamanism compiled under the auspices of the Qing dynasty, has attracted considerable attention from a number of scholars. One view [...] Read more.
The Imperially Commissioned Manchu Rites for Sacrifices to the Spirits and to Heaven (Manzhou jishen jitian dianli), the only canon on shamanism compiled under the auspices of the Qing dynasty, has attracted considerable attention from a number of scholars. One view that is held by a vast majority of these scholars is that the promulgation of the Manchu Rites by the Qing court helped standardize shamanic rituals, which resulted in a decline of wild ritual practiced then and brought about a similarity of domestic rituals. However, an in-depth analysis of the textual context of the Manchu Rites, as well as a close inspection of its various editions reveal that the Qing court had no intention to formalize shamanism and did not enforce the Manchu Rites nationwide. In fact, the decline of the Manchu wild ritual can be traced to the preconquest period, while the domestic ritual had been formed before the Manchu Rites was prepared and were not unified even at the end of the Qing dynasty. With regard to the ritual differences among the various Manchu clans, the Qing rulers took a more benign view and it was unnecessary to standardize them. The incorporation of the Chinese version of the Manchu Rites into Siku quanshu demonstrates the Qing court’s struggles to promote its cultural status and legitimize its rule of China. Full article
Open AccessArticle Metanomianism and Religious Praxis in Martin Buber’s Hasidic Tales
Religions 2018, 9(12), 399; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120399
Received: 11 November 2018 / Revised: 27 November 2018 / Accepted: 28 November 2018 / Published: 4 December 2018
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Abstract
It is well known that Martin Buber abandoned Jewish law as a binding code. Scholars have identified him accurately as a religious anarchist, and his perspective is best characterized as metanomian—that is, one that locates the essence of religiosity outside of any fixed [...] Read more.
It is well known that Martin Buber abandoned Jewish law as a binding code. Scholars have identified him accurately as a religious anarchist, and his perspective is best characterized as metanomian—that is, one that locates the essence of religiosity outside of any fixed system, without necessarily opposing that system as a matter of principle. And yet, such general characterizations offer only a very vague picture of Buber’s stance. This paper demonstrates that it is especially illustrative for us to turn to Buber’s Hasidic tales. First of all, precisely because Buber’s concept of practice was irreducible to any static system or code, the genre of narrative conveys far more than any abstract formulation can. Moreover, inasmuch as Buber’s Hasidic tales were his own hermeneutical refractions of earlier sources, which were in themselves teeming with images of practice, our intertextual investigations reveal at once narrative representations of religious life and Buber’s personal interpretations of those narratives. What emerges from this study, then, is a textured and vivid vision of religious practice, which was not merely a peripheral concern but a life-encompassing core of Buber’s thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Modern Jewish Thought)
Open AccessArticle Authority without Authenticity: The Zhuangzi’s Genuine Pretending as Socio-Political Strategy
Religions 2018, 9(12), 398; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120398
Received: 27 November 2018 / Revised: 2 December 2018 / Accepted: 3 December 2018 / Published: 4 December 2018
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Abstract
In this paper, we present a socio-political reading of the Zhuangzi based in part on a brief review of contemporary Chinese scholarship on the text. We will argue that the approach to dealing with authority in the Zhuangzi can be summarized by the [...] Read more.
In this paper, we present a socio-political reading of the Zhuangzi based in part on a brief review of contemporary Chinese scholarship on the text. We will argue that the approach to dealing with authority in the Zhuangzi can be summarized by the phrase “externally transforming without transforming internally”. When applied to situations where the individual engages with political or social authority, this idea commends the art of retaining a non-conforming and non-committed internal state while, to an extent, conforming to external circumstances and committing to certain actions. In this way the Zhuangzi not only aims at ensuring safety in potentially dangerous encounters with authority, but also the avoidance of “authenticating” authority. Following the language and logic of the Zhuangzi, the emphasis is on “forgetting (wang 忘)”, “losing (sang 桑)”, and “negating (wu 無)” one’s social self, rather than constructing or discovering an “authentic self” that might ultimately only reify authority. We will refer to the Zhuangzi’s strategy in terms of what we call “genuine pretending”. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Evolution of Chinese Shamanism: A Case Study from Northwest China
Religions 2018, 9(12), 397; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120397
Received: 26 October 2018 / Revised: 22 November 2018 / Accepted: 30 November 2018 / Published: 3 December 2018
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Abstract
This paper presents information on the shamanic religious system practiced among the Tu ethnic group of Qinghai Province in Northwest China. After presenting ethnographic information on the spirit beliefs, rituals, and shamanic specialists of the Tu, the paper will use a systemic definition [...] Read more.
This paper presents information on the shamanic religious system practiced among the Tu ethnic group of Qinghai Province in Northwest China. After presenting ethnographic information on the spirit beliefs, rituals, and shamanic specialists of the Tu, the paper will use a systemic definition of religion to (1) identify changes that have occurred in the focus of Tu shamanism and the role of the shaman, and (2) identify a cluster of causal factors—techno-economic, sociopolitical, and ideational—exogenous to the religious system itself that appear to have played a role in generating these changes. The paper will focus on two specific changes: (1) a decrease in the frequency of private shamanic healing rituals, and (2) a corresponding increase in the importance of shamanic leadership in collective rainfall rituals that affect the entire community. The explanatory paradigm utilized is a modified adaptation to contemporary Chinese reality of the Historical Materialist paradigm pioneered by Marx and Engels and the Cultural Materialist paradigm developed by Marvin Harris. While continuing to emphasize the causal power of technological and economic factors, the Chinese experience, both at the macro level of transformations of the Chinese economy and at the micro level of Tu shamanism, forces analytic attention on the causal impact of socio-political and ideological variables. Full article
Open AccessArticle Brexit, Babylon and Prophecy: Semiotics of the End Times
Religions 2018, 9(12), 396; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120396
Received: 29 October 2018 / Revised: 16 November 2018 / Accepted: 28 November 2018 / Published: 3 December 2018
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Abstract
This article examines the predilection some Christian premillennialist preachers and teachers have with the semiotic association of geopolitics and biblical prophecy concerning the end times. This was epitomised in the run up to the United Kingdom’s referendum on continued membership of the European [...] Read more.
This article examines the predilection some Christian premillennialist preachers and teachers have with the semiotic association of geopolitics and biblical prophecy concerning the end times. This was epitomised in the run up to the United Kingdom’s referendum on continued membership of the European Union in June 2016. Since its inception, many premillennialists have interpreted the European Union as the place where the Antichrist emerges. Material objects associated with the European Union such as architecture, sculptures, currency and even posters, have been routinely highlighted as providing clear signs of the coming eschaton. Prophetic links between the European Union and satanic agencies, purported to be behind the ambition for an expanding European confederacy, ensured that many premillennialists voted to leave the European Union or were advised to do so in light of such prophetic signifiers. Utilising Webb Keane’s notion of representational economies, I argue that a premillennialist representational economy drives the search for signs in the everyday, and specifically those associated with the European Union. In this case, such semiotic promiscuity ratified the need to leave the European Union. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Apocalypticism in the 21st Century)
Open AccessArticle When History Substitutes for Theology: The Impact of Quaker Scholars’ Religious Affiliations on the Study of Nineteenth Century American Quakerism
Religions 2018, 9(12), 395; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120395
Received: 31 October 2018 / Revised: 20 November 2018 / Accepted: 20 November 2018 / Published: 3 December 2018
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Abstract
This article argues that histories of 19th century Quakerism are often veiled interdenominational theological arguments among Quakers. It looks at the historiography of the Hicksite Separation and the emergence of the pastoral system to suggest that the branch of Quakerism from which the [...] Read more.
This article argues that histories of 19th century Quakerism are often veiled interdenominational theological arguments among Quakers. It looks at the historiography of the Hicksite Separation and the emergence of the pastoral system to suggest that the branch of Quakerism from which the author originates often plays a critical role in how they narrate history. The article suggests that objectivity is not an achievable or desirable aim for Quaker Studies or Quaker history, but that engagement with the broader currents of scholarship and clarifying theological presumptions for non-Quaker audiences are important to maintaining an academically legitimate discipline. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interdisciplinary Quaker Studies)
Open AccessArticle Taking Divination Seriously: From Mumbo Jumbo to Worldviews and Ways of Life
Religions 2018, 9(12), 394; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120394
Received: 24 August 2018 / Revised: 24 November 2018 / Accepted: 29 November 2018 / Published: 30 November 2018
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Abstract
The peripheral role of divination in religious studies reflects centuries of misrepresentation and depreciation in the textual record. This long history dates back to the travel literature of early modern times, particularly in West Africa, where two stereotypical themes took form: divination as [...] Read more.
The peripheral role of divination in religious studies reflects centuries of misrepresentation and depreciation in the textual record. This long history dates back to the travel literature of early modern times, particularly in West Africa, where two stereotypical themes took form: divination as mumbo jumbo, and the diviners as charlatans who shamelessly deceive their credulous clients. These two stereotypical themes persisted through the anthropological discourse about African divination until the 1970s. To undo this long history of misrepresentation and depreciation, a change of analytical focus from reified differences to similar engagement with broad ideas and big questions is in order. By considering a particular case study—basket divination in northwest Zambia—through the theoretical lens of worldviews and ways of life, it becomes possible to take divination seriously and grant it a more central place in religious studies. Four broad, inclusive ideas or big questions emerge from the ethnography of basket divination in northwest Zambia: ontology, epistemology, praxeology, and the place of suffering in human existence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethnographies of Worldviews/Ways of Life)
Open AccessArticle The Day of Prayer and Its Potential for Engendering Public Ecclesiology Ecumenism in Zambia
Religions 2018, 9(12), 393; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120393
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 19 November 2018 / Accepted: 27 November 2018 / Published: 29 November 2018
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Abstract
This article argues that while the National Day of Prayer in Zambia has its inception in political context, it has obligated the institutional churches to break out of their religiously fixed spaces, forcing them to suspend their official doctrinal positions for that specific [...] Read more.
This article argues that while the National Day of Prayer in Zambia has its inception in political context, it has obligated the institutional churches to break out of their religiously fixed spaces, forcing them to suspend their official doctrinal positions for that specific day, and embrace each other in enacting what could be classified as “public ecclesiology ecumenism”. The article defines public ecclesiology ecumenism as the manifestation of institutionally-defined churches in public spaces to celebrate a common liturgical life in Christ through prayer, songs, preaching, and promotion of unified prophetic witness in the public. However, being a political initiative makes the Day of Prayer a potentially dangerous neo-colonial space for advancing a dominant political ideology which perpetuates corruption and exploitation of the masses. Thus, one of the core tasks of the churches is to liberate, reclaim, and reconstitute the Day of Prayer into a prophetic site of struggle against political corruption and poor governance by seeking to produce alternative public and political cultures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecumenism and Ecclesiology: The Challenge of Unity and Difference)
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