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Religions, Volume 9, Issue 4 (April 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) The procession known as “Lord of Miracles” is a massive religious phenomenon that takes [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Pathways to Attempted Suicide as Reflected in the Narratives of People with Lived Experience
Religions 2018, 9(4), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040137 - 20 Apr 2018
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Abstract
Narratives, i.e., stories told by suicidal people, describing personal experiences and meanings given to these experiences, play an important role in understanding suicidal behaviour. The aim of the current study was to analyse suicidal processes that have resulted in attempted suicide and to [...] Read more.
Narratives, i.e., stories told by suicidal people, describing personal experiences and meanings given to these experiences, play an important role in understanding suicidal behaviour. The aim of the current study was to analyse suicidal processes that have resulted in attempted suicide and to improve the understanding of protective and risk factors of suicidal behaviour. Special emphasis was paid to religious/spiritual aspects. The material was collected in Estonia by conducting narrative interviews with adults (18 years or older) who had attempted suicide during their lifetimes (N = 8). Thematic analysis was used for analysing the data. The main themes identified from the narratives were: childhood and family relationships, romantic relationships, alcohol/drug abuse, losses, sleep, previous suicide attempts, and religious/spiritual beliefs. The findings of the study show that there are many pathways to attempted suicide and that the process leading to attempted suicide is complex. Protective and risk factors are both multi-faceted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
Open AccessArticle
Drugs and Religion: Contributions to the Debate on the Science–Religion Interface
Religions 2018, 9(4), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040136 - 18 Apr 2018
Viewed by 1202
Abstract
In this article, we present the results of our research, which aims to comprehend how the relationship between religion and the use of drugs operates in various contexts, but especially in the context of a prohibitionist paradigm. On the one hand, the story [...] Read more.
In this article, we present the results of our research, which aims to comprehend how the relationship between religion and the use of drugs operates in various contexts, but especially in the context of a prohibitionist paradigm. On the one hand, the story of human religious worship entails drug use, and on the other hand, religious groups form a set of important protagonists in the current “drug problem”, whether as moral agents or direct action activists (individual or community-based), and above all in close contact with the users. In one of these studies, we evaluated the public presence of Brazilian religions that use psychoactive substances ritually, and we verify that in the State’s regulatory process of this use, the presence of the scientific reference was a defining factor in the creation of public policies, and therefore, within the scope of civil rights for religious freedom. In another study, we evaluated the discourse of twenty religious leaders in the city of Natal, Rio Grande do Norte—Brazil about drug use. We perceived that they have, in general, three stances: pure and simple condemnation, with no corresponding action in the public sphere; the use of substances considered drugs, along with public actions focused on the effort to gain acceptance of this practice; and finally, “comprehensive” condemnation, with frequent public group action or rehabilitation centers. Scientific references, in this study, permeate the discourse as an authenticating force in the religious speech. Ultimately, this reality allows us to question how the academic discourse unfolds in the scope of religion, interfering in the quality and intensity of its actions with relation to drugs, and we conclude that academic posture, often underestimated with relation to the religious institutions, does not aid in the effort to confront the social problems linked to drug abuse. Therefore, an increased interaction between academia and these institutions can generate a new approach to this very serious social problem in Brazil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Transcultural Adaptation and Psychometric Properties of Portuguese Version of the Spiritual Needs Questionnaire (SpNQ) Among HIV Positive Patients in Brazil
Religions 2018, 9(4), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040135 - 18 Apr 2018
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Abstract
The Spiritual Needs Questionnaire (SpNQ), originally written in the German language, was translated and validated into 11 languages, but not Latin languages, such as Brazilian Portuguese. This study aimed to determine the psychometric properties of the SpNQ after translation and transcultural adaptation to [...] Read more.
The Spiritual Needs Questionnaire (SpNQ), originally written in the German language, was translated and validated into 11 languages, but not Latin languages, such as Brazilian Portuguese. This study aimed to determine the psychometric properties of the SpNQ after translation and transcultural adaptation to the Portuguese language, identifying unmet spiritual needs in a sample of patients living with HIV in Brazil. This pioneering study conformed a four-factor structure of 20 items, differentiating Religious Needs (α = 0.887), Giving/Generativity Needs (α = 0.848), Inner Peace (α = 0.813) and a new item: Family Support Needs (α = 0.778). The Brazilian version of the SpNQ (SpNQ-BR) had good internal validity criteria and can be used for research of the spiritual needs for Brazilian patients. The cross-cultural adaptation and comparison with previous studies showed that the SpNQ is sensitive to the cultural characteristics of different countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Measures of Spirituality/Religiosity (2018)) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
The Paranormal in Jane Jensen’s “Gray Matter”
Religions 2018, 9(4), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040134 - 17 Apr 2018
Viewed by 958
Abstract
The main research issue of this article is to determine the extent to which Western esotericism influences the formation of computer game plots. The methodological framework is the occultural bricolage theory (C. Partridge). This article looks at how the paranormal is represented in [...] Read more.
The main research issue of this article is to determine the extent to which Western esotericism influences the formation of computer game plots. The methodological framework is the occultural bricolage theory (C. Partridge). This article looks at how the paranormal is represented in the game “Gray Matter”, created by J. Jensen. Jensen has always used occult bricolage as the main method for creating her games, but in “Gray Matter” this method is perfected. Although the game plot is built around paranormal events, they are not given any unambiguous interpretation; their status is the main question of the game. There are three answers to this question. The first answer is the beliefs of Sam Everett, a girl magician who does not believe in the supernatural. The second answer is the research of Dr. Styles, a neurobiologist convinced that the mind is an energy that can be objectified after death. The third answer is the theory of Dr. Ramusskin, a psi-phenomena specialist, who believes that super-abilities are real, and that spirits and the afterlife exist. It is the last answer that Jensen promotes in creating the game. The basis of “Gray matter” is a bricolage of Stephen King, the works of the Society for Psychical Research, works on parapsychology and the debates around psi-phenomena in neuropsychology. Full article
Open AccessArticle
I Have Faith in Thee, Lord: Criticism of Religion and Child Abuse in the Video Game the Binding of Isaac
Religions 2018, 9(4), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040133 - 16 Apr 2018
Viewed by 961
Abstract
The game The Binding of Isaac is an excellent example of a game that incorporates criticism of religion. Isaac is a roguelike dungeon crawler with randomly generated dungeons. Both from the perspective of narrative and of game design, McMillen built The Binding of [...] Read more.
The game The Binding of Isaac is an excellent example of a game that incorporates criticism of religion. Isaac is a roguelike dungeon crawler with randomly generated dungeons. Both from the perspective of narrative and of game design, McMillen built The Binding of Isaac around the Biblical story of Genesis 22:1-19, which has the same name in Jewish and Christian tradition, but he placed it in a modern-day setting in which a young boy is endangered by a mentally disturbed mother who hears “voices from above” that instruct her to sacrifice her only child. Multiple critical references to Christianity can be found in addition to the narrative: hostile embodiments of the seven deadly sins, rosaries, Bibles, and crucifixes, and unlockable characters, such as Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot, Samson, and Cain, who are all depicted negatively in both Jewish and Christian traditions. McMillen’s inspiration came from his own experiences with his family, which was made up of both Catholics and born-again Christians. The game describes both the dark creativity and the mental and physical abuse associated with religion. In this article, we analyse the narrative of The Binding of Isaac by performing an intertextual comparison with the Biblical narrative of Genesis 22:1-19. We then analyse the three-fold narrative structure of the game which enhances and nuances the criticism the game directs at religion. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Margaret Cavendish, Feminist Ethics, and the Problem of Evil
Religions 2018, 9(4), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040132 - 16 Apr 2018
Viewed by 990
Abstract
This paper argues that, although Margaret Cavendish’s main philosophical contributions are not in philosophy of religion, she makes a case for a defense of God, in spite of the worst sorts of harms being present in the world. Her arguments about those harms [...] Read more.
This paper argues that, although Margaret Cavendish’s main philosophical contributions are not in philosophy of religion, she makes a case for a defense of God, in spite of the worst sorts of harms being present in the world. Her arguments about those harms actually presage those of contemporary feminist ethicists, which positions Cavendish’s scholarship in a unique position: it makes a positive theodical contribution, by relying on evils that contemporary atheists think are the best evidence against the existence of God. To demonstrate that Cavendish’s work should be considered as early modern feminist theodicy, this paper will briefly introduce the contemporary feminist worry about theodicy as a project, show that Cavendish shares the contemporary feminist view about situated evil, and argue that her theodicy aims for agreement about how to eradicate great moral evils while preserving free will—and so, carves out a space for future female philosophers of religion who aim to be agents of healing in the face of such evil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
‘Instant Karma’—Moral Decision Making Systems in Digital Games
Religions 2018, 9(4), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040131 - 16 Apr 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 997
Abstract
Moral decision making systems have long been a popular and widely discussed part of computer games; especially in—but not limited to—role-playing games and other games with strong narrative elements. In this article, an attempt will be made to draw a connection between historic [...] Read more.
Moral decision making systems have long been a popular and widely discussed part of computer games; especially in—but not limited to—role-playing games and other games with strong narrative elements. In this article, an attempt will be made to draw a connection between historic and recent concepts of karma and moral decision making systems in digital games, called ‘karma systems’. At the same time, a detailed analysis of one such system (that of Mass Effect 2) will be provided. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Faith-Based Intervention: Prison, Prayer, and Perseverance
Religions 2018, 9(4), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040130 - 16 Apr 2018
Viewed by 983
Abstract
This qualitative article explores the impact of faith-based interventions through the lens of a self-identified practicing Christian: Joanna. For over a decade, Joanna has visited several prisons in the United Kingdom in a faith-based capacity: supporting prisoners, families, and prison chaplaincies. Joanna professes [...] Read more.
This qualitative article explores the impact of faith-based interventions through the lens of a self-identified practicing Christian: Joanna. For over a decade, Joanna has visited several prisons in the United Kingdom in a faith-based capacity: supporting prisoners, families, and prison chaplaincies. Joanna professes the role of faith and religiosity to be a positive and influential component in the lives of those imprisoned. This paper explores Joanna’s journey of supporting individuals within the prison walls, reflecting on the impact of labels, imprisonment, faith-based intervention, and religiosity. Much of the current research pertaining to faith-based interventions are limited; therefore, the experiences of those who volunteer within prisons in a faith-based capacity is often overlooked. Yet, faith-based intervention and religiosity within a criminal justice context provides several benefits which impact on those in prison, their families, and people working within a prison environment. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Introducing Cardinal Cardijn’s See–Judge–Act as an Interdisciplinary Method to Move Theory into Practice
Religions 2018, 9(4), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040129 - 14 Apr 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1015
Abstract
Interdisciplinary dialogues find researchers seeking better understandings of theories and concepts, such colonialism and capitalism, and the means through which these concepts impact both local and global cultures. The results of explorations such as these raise the question of how to translate the [...] Read more.
Interdisciplinary dialogues find researchers seeking better understandings of theories and concepts, such colonialism and capitalism, and the means through which these concepts impact both local and global cultures. The results of explorations such as these raise the question of how to translate the theories that are created by these dialogues into practice. Moreover, they ask where we can take these conversations, how can we focus them toward specific aims, and how can we effectively enact them as one collective group. This article introduces and proposes Joseph Cardinal Cardijn’s See–Judge–Act method as a possible framework to better enable these discussions to move from theory to praxis. It proposes that such a theory may also allow the theoretical portions of these interdisciplinary dialogues to happen without any discipline ceding or ‘shaving away’ the core principles that respectively identify each discipline. The article begins by exploring Cardinal Cardijn’s original articulation of the method. Then, it describes how the liberation theologians Leonardo Boff and Clodovis Boff employed the method in their development of a theological framework. Finally, this article explores how the See–Judge–Act method might be useful for other disciplines, such as African thought and philosophy, and critical theory. Full article
Open AccessArticle
From Dis-Enclosure to Decolonisation: In Dialogue with Nancy and Mbembe on Self-Determination and the Other
Religions 2018, 9(4), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040128 - 13 Apr 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1125
Abstract
What might a sense of decolonisation (not)/be? Or, what comes after the logic of the coloniser? This question is at the centre of many debates in South Africa and extends to all countries worldwide who are faced with the challenge of self-determination by [...] Read more.
What might a sense of decolonisation (not)/be? Or, what comes after the logic of the coloniser? This question is at the centre of many debates in South Africa and extends to all countries worldwide who are faced with the challenge of self-determination by rethinking the world we live in after the domination of the world by the so-called “all enclosing Western world-view” incarnated in various oppressive political, economic, social and intellectual practices. The challenge of rethinking the world following the demotion of the West from its centre, as will be argued, is not only for those who are particularly living in a previously colonised world, but also for those who were/ still are in the position of dominance, which is a universal task. It is at this point where the various philosophical traditions meet, more precisely that of continental philosophy of religion and African philosophy. Accordingly, this article seeks to explore the question in two parts by way of an inter-cultural approach. Part one retraces the critique of (a certain) Western metaphysics in terms of its onto-theological constitution. Subsequently, this onto-theological constitution is discussed in relation to the notions of identity and political to outline what a sense of decolonisation might not be, that is a re-enforcement of the logic of the coloniser, which denies the full existence of an-other. In part two, four suggestions are made on what a sense of decolonisation might be in dialogue with Jean-Luc Nancy and Achille Mbembe. The suggestions include a two-sided attitude of reticence/dissidence against falling back into the problematic logic. A move to consider decolonisation as the dis-enclosure of the world, which in turn, opens up a space for an alternative ontology that acknowledges our existence as always being-in-the-word with others. The fourth suggestion concerns the implications of this alternative ontology regarding a non-substantialist notion of identity as mêlée, which is the action of constant struggle within the re-opened space for what it means to live in the world. Finally, it is concluded that the alternative ontology of decolonisation as dis-enclosure implies a universal task of taking responsibility for the reparation of the dignity of the whole of humanity within our shared world. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Religious Activities and Suicide Prevention: A Gender Specific Analysis
Religions 2018, 9(4), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040127 - 13 Apr 2018
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1154
Abstract
The present analysis contributes to the existing literature on religion and suicide in three interrelated ways: (1) providing an analysis of suicide completions whereas most research is based on non-lethal levels of suicidality; (2) assessing the relationship with concrete individual level data on [...] Read more.
The present analysis contributes to the existing literature on religion and suicide in three interrelated ways: (1) providing an analysis of suicide completions whereas most research is based on non-lethal levels of suicidality; (2) assessing the relationship with concrete individual level data on completed suicides instead of aggregated data marked by the ecological fallacy issue; and (3) providing gender specific analyses to determine if the relationship is gendered. METHODS. Data come from the U.S. Public Health Service, National Mortality Followback Survey. They refer to 16,795 deaths including 1385 suicides. Significant others of the deceased were interviewed to measure all variables. The dependent variable is a binary variable where 1 = death by suicide and 0 = all other causes. The central independent variable is an index of religious activities. Controls are included for five categories of confounders (1) psychiatric morbidity; (2) help-seeking behavior; (3) Opportunity factors such as firearms; (4) social integration; and (5) demographics. RESULTS. Multivariate logistic regression analysis determined that controlling for 16 predictors of suicide, a one unit increase in religious activities reduced the odds of a suicide death by 17% for males and by 15% for females. The difference in coefficients is not significant (Z = 0.51). Other significant predictors of suicide deaths included suicide ideation (OR = 8.87, males, OR = 11.48, females) and firearm availability (OR = 4.21, males, OR = 2.83, females). DISCUSSION. Religious activities were found to lower suicide risk equally for both men and women. Further work is needed to assess pathways, including suicide ideation, between religious activities and lowered suicide risk. This is the first U.S. based study to test for a gendered association between religion and suicide at the individual level of analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
Open AccessArticle
The Dark of the Covenant: Christian Imagery, Fundamentalism, and the Relationship between Science and Religion in the Halo Video Game Series
Religions 2018, 9(4), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040126 - 12 Apr 2018
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Abstract
What do a bionic supersoldier, space stations and religious fanaticism have in common? They are all vital elements of the plot in Halo, a series of first-person shooter games developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Games. One of the interesting things about [...] Read more.
What do a bionic supersoldier, space stations and religious fanaticism have in common? They are all vital elements of the plot in Halo, a series of first-person shooter games developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Games. One of the interesting things about Halo is that the developers made use of quite a number of religious images and themes, especially from the Christian tradition. In modern Western society, science and religion are often portrayed as polar opposites, and Halo appears to reaffirm this narrative. Yet it might still be interesting to look at how exactly this animosity is portrayed, and to see whether there is more to it. This paper is an inquiry into the significance of religious imagery and themes in Halo, as well as an attempt to place the game in the broader context of the geopolitical situation of its time. In short, this article is going to be a case study of how the relationship between science and religion can be explored through the medium of video games. For an overview of the current debate on how science and religion relate to one another in academia, I am going to look at the works of American physicist and scholar of religion Ian Barbour, American paleontologist and historian of science Stephen Gould, and British ethologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. To justify the academic study of videogames I will be drawing from the writings of Dutch cultural theologian Frank Bosman. The analysis itself will consist of a summary of the game’s main story, its portrayal of religion on the one hand and its depiction of science on the other, and its representation of how these two fields relate to one another. In the conclusion, finally, I will connect the dots between the different parts of the analysis and provide an answer to the main question. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“Mountains, Rivers, and the Whole Earth”: Koan Interpretations of Female Zen Practitioners
Religions 2018, 9(4), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040125 - 11 Apr 2018
Viewed by 856
Abstract
Though recent years have seen a critical reappraisal of Buddhist texts from the angle of performance and gender studies, examinations of Zen Buddhist encounter dialogues (better known under their edited form as “koan”) within this framework are rare. In this article, I first [...] Read more.
Though recent years have seen a critical reappraisal of Buddhist texts from the angle of performance and gender studies, examinations of Zen Buddhist encounter dialogues (better known under their edited form as “koan”) within this framework are rare. In this article, I first use Rebecca Schneider’s notion of “reenactment” to characterize interpretative strategies developed by contemporary female Zen practitioners to contest the androcentrism found in koan commentary. Drawing on The Hidden Lamp (2013), I suggest that there are two ways of reading encounter dialogues. One of these, the “grasping way,” tends to be confrontational and full of masculine and martial imagery. The other, the “granting way,” foregrounds the (female) body and the family as sites of transmission, stressing connection instead of opposition. I then argue that these “granting” readings of encounter dialogues gesture towards a Zen lineage that is universal, extended to everyone, even to the non-human. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Women in Buddhism)
Open AccessArticle
Khyentse Norbu’s Film Travelers and Magicians: Experiencing Impermanence, No Self, and Emptiness
Religions 2018, 9(4), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040124 - 11 Apr 2018
Viewed by 1306
Abstract
This article examines the filmmaking of writer and director Khyentse Norbu (Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche), a Tibetan-Bhutanese lama with major responsibilities as a senior Vajrayana teacher, and recognized as the third incarnation of the founder of the non-sectarian Khyentse lineage. Focusing particularly on [...] Read more.
This article examines the filmmaking of writer and director Khyentse Norbu (Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche), a Tibetan-Bhutanese lama with major responsibilities as a senior Vajrayana teacher, and recognized as the third incarnation of the founder of the non-sectarian Khyentse lineage. Focusing particularly on his film Travelers and Magicians (2003), the article explores how Khyentse Norbu creates an experience of Buddhist seeing: an experience of impermanence [anitya], no self [anātma], dependent arising [pratītyasamutpāda], and emptiness [śūnyatā]. The filmmaker draws the audience into worlds that appear to exist and not exist, shaped as they are by these interrelated Buddhist realities. Moving back and forth between a frame story and its embedded narratives, the film invites the viewer to experience the emotional turmoil of two protagonists as emotions shape and re-shape their behavior and influence the actions of those around them. Identifying with the protagonists in Travelers and Magicians, the audience experiences the Buddhist perception that life is a myriad of mutually dependent realities: the powerful reality of illusion and the illusory nature of reality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Practicing Buddhism through Film)
Open AccessCase Report
Flaming Chalice of Hope: A Case Study of Suicide Prevention in a Faith Community
Religions 2018, 9(4), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040123 - 11 Apr 2018
Viewed by 1510
Abstract
The integration of spiritual and emotional health is key for the development of a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention. Faith communities play a unique and powerful role in shaping this integration. This case study investigated one United States-based, predominantly White Unitarian [...] Read more.
The integration of spiritual and emotional health is key for the development of a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention. Faith communities play a unique and powerful role in shaping this integration. This case study investigated one United States-based, predominantly White Unitarian Universalist faith community’s efforts in the development of promising practices for “upstream, midstream, and downstream” approaches to suicide prevention. Through a series of in-depth interviews with stakeholders (leadership, volunteers, family members with lived experience), response patterns were used to identify key strategies to promote mental health and prevent suicide. These key strategies include developing healthy social connectedness across one’s life, finding ways to make meaning by connecting with something larger than oneself, and cultivating a community that is compassionate and knowledgeable when assisting its members through emotional crises. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
Open AccessArticle
The Value of Money: Funding Sources and Philanthropic Priorities in Twentieth-Century American Mission
Religions 2018, 9(4), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040122 - 10 Apr 2018
Viewed by 640
Abstract
At the turn of the twentieth century, Western missionaries and mission organizations sought to develop financial strategies that would facilitate the further expansion of the Western mission enterprise. Three such strategies emerged: an increasingly sophisticated, corporatized approach to fundraising by mission boards; faith [...] Read more.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Western missionaries and mission organizations sought to develop financial strategies that would facilitate the further expansion of the Western mission enterprise. Three such strategies emerged: an increasingly sophisticated, corporatized approach to fundraising by mission boards; faith missions that shifted the economic risks associated with fundraising from mission agencies to missionaries; and self-supporting missions that cultivated economic funding available in the mission field. Each of these strategies had different implications for power configurations in the mission enterprise and allowed the values and views of different groups to prevail. The board approach empowered mission executives and large donors. The faith mission approach empowered missionaries and supporters with a conservative theology. The self-supporting mission approach made missionaries arbiters among a variety of competing interests. This economic approach to the study of mission provides new insights into the complex and contested power arrangements involved in Western foreign mission that extend beyond those gained from traditional political and cultural analyses. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A Cristo moreno in Barcelona: The Staging of Identity-Based Unity and Difference in the Procession of the Lord of Miracles
Religions 2018, 9(4), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040121 - 09 Apr 2018
Viewed by 1083
Abstract
The procession known as “Lord of Miracles” is a massive religious phenomenon that takes place in various cities around the world in October. The purpose of this study is to describe and analyze certain elements of the procession, which champion not only the [...] Read more.
The procession known as “Lord of Miracles” is a massive religious phenomenon that takes place in various cities around the world in October. The purpose of this study is to describe and analyze certain elements of the procession, which champion not only the idea of unity (religious, cultural, ethnical, and national), but also the sociocultural differences. With this in mind, we conducted ethnographical research focused on the processions that took place in Barcelona, Spain, in 2016 and 2017. Along with a number of practices and talks intended to activate and strengthen the image of religious unity (Brothers in Christ) and national unity (Brothers of Peru), there are certain dynamics that point to differences, which call that unity into question. Specifically, we focused our study on two seasons of the procession: the scissors dance and the Marian, both dances for the Lord. However, the type of interaction that happens with each of them shows inner differences, which the members establish with the image of the Cristo moreno. These differences are expressed in the special-temporal location of certain stations—which represent subordinate sociocultural manifestations—and in the type of interaction, which the members establish with the image of the Cristo moreno. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
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Open AccessArticle
Authority, Religion, and Women Writers in the Italian Counter-Reformation: Teaching Diodata Malvasia’s Histories
Religions 2018, 9(4), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040120 - 09 Apr 2018
Viewed by 727
Abstract
Recent decades have seen the rediscovery of a significant number of texts authored by Italian women between 1560 and 1630. And yet the commonplace that the Counter-Reformation silenced women writers has persisted. One figure useful for teaching a more nuanced vision of post-Tridentine [...] Read more.
Recent decades have seen the rediscovery of a significant number of texts authored by Italian women between 1560 and 1630. And yet the commonplace that the Counter-Reformation silenced women writers has persisted. One figure useful for teaching a more nuanced vision of post-Tridentine Italy is the Bolognese nun Diodata Malvasia (c. 1532–post-1617). She authored a pair of histories recounting her convent’s efforts to maintain their way of life amidst an era of convent reform, employing strategies that capitalized on their education, familial and civic connections, and position of spiritual privilege. Malvasia’s writings demonstrate the ways in which women not only published in this period but began to speak with increasing authority. I offer some possibilities for how Malvasia’s chronicles can be used to teach students about women writers’ agency in post-Tridentine Italy, as well as the complex thinking with which one must approach a regime like the Counter-Reformation. Full article
Open AccessReview
How Religion Frames Health Norms: A Structural Theory Approach
Religions 2018, 9(4), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040119 - 09 Apr 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1037
Abstract
Religious communities influence health-related behaviors of adherents in important ways for public health promotion. Questions remain about the processes involved and resultant health promotion actions of the religious adherents. This study applied a structural theory analysis to understand the ways by which religious [...] Read more.
Religious communities influence health-related behaviors of adherents in important ways for public health promotion. Questions remain about the processes involved and resultant health promotion actions of the religious adherents. This study applied a structural theory analysis to understand the ways by which religious adherents adopt and enact health norms. Structural theory proposes systemic influences on behavioral predispositions at the latent, interpretive, and elective levels. Latent influences on health norms occur through a process of social mediation, predisposing the religious adherents to impute faith-aligned meanings to their health norms. Religious adherents also might adopt interpretation to guide their health norms in those grey areas in which faith-based guidelines are not apparent or open to contestation. Moreover, religious adherents may elect to construct health norms combining faith-aligned and prevailing secular community standards. Public health promotion with religious adherents should address their faith-aligned health beliefs while also addressing their evolving personal health norms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Adam Smith, the Impartial Spectator and Embodiment: Towards an Economics of Accountability and Dialogue
Religions 2018, 9(4), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040118 - 08 Apr 2018
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1186
Abstract
This article argues that Adam Smith’s notion of sympathy and the impartial spectator in his work The Theory of Moral Sentiments [1759] connects the individual to society. In this work, Smith’s economics are far more complex than mere self-interest as a driver of [...] Read more.
This article argues that Adam Smith’s notion of sympathy and the impartial spectator in his work The Theory of Moral Sentiments [1759] connects the individual to society. In this work, Smith’s economics are far more complex than mere self-interest as a driver of commerce. Self-interest functions within a socio-ethical framework that limits excess and narcissism. However, morality was not based on normative assumptions for Smith and Hume. Morality was directly linked to social and cognitive processes in which the approbation of others was important. In other words, behaviour was based on the perceptions of others; therefore, action was to be adjusted to obtain sympathy. The impartial spectator refers to the cognitive process in which moral assessments are made. Therefore, the empiricism of Smith differs from determinism as related to physical causation because it operates through habituation and/or socialisation that can accommodate change and variation. Clearly, the socio-cultural presupposition of society directly influences the moral judgment of the individual. However, this deterministic tendency may result in an uncritical assessment of moral behaviour. To address this potential limitation of determinism, the embodied phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty is explored as an alternative theory which attempts to move beyond a dualism rooted in materialism/idealism. This perspective may expand on Smith’s economics by adding a more inclusive assessment of behaviour. Specifically, Merleau-Ponty’s corporeality provides a theory of behaviour that goes beyond a particular society’s perceptions of acceptable behaviour. This framework may provide the impartial spectator with a more encompassing perspective on moral assessment that may also be beneficial for sustainable commerce. It will be proposed that Merleau-Ponty’s embodied phenomenology and the hyper-dialectic of the flesh highlights the role of accountability and dialogue in moral assessment that may contribute to responsible economics in the South African context. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Validation of the Gratitude/Awe Questionnaire and Its Association with Disposition of Gratefulness
Religions 2018, 9(4), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040117 - 08 Apr 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1151
Abstract
Self-transcendent feelings such as gratitude, compassion, and awe are highly relevant for human societies. So far, empirical research has focused more on the relational aspects of these feelings (concrete persons), and less on the spiritual aspects referring to the Sacred in a person’s [...] Read more.
Self-transcendent feelings such as gratitude, compassion, and awe are highly relevant for human societies. So far, empirical research has focused more on the relational aspects of these feelings (concrete persons), and less on the spiritual aspects referring to the Sacred in a person’s life. We intended to validate an extended version of the former three-item Gratitude/Awe scale. This extended scale was designed with a focus on the experiential aspects of being moved and touched by certain moments and places/nature, on related reactions of pausing with daily activities, and on the subsequent feelings of awe and gratitude. Enrolling 183 test persons (67% women; 59% with a Christian confession) in a cross-sectional study, we can confirm that the seven-item Gratitude/Awe scale (GrAw-7) has good psychometric properties (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.82) and moderate correlation (r = 0.42) with grateful disposition (GQ-6 questionnaire). Structured equation modeling (SEM) confirmed that both constructs, although moderately related, are different. While Gratitude/Awe was best predicted by the frequency of meditation practice, a grateful disposition was best predicted by the frequency of praying and by general life satisfaction. The GrAw-7 scale is not contaminated with specific religious topics or quality of life issues, and can be easily implemented in larger studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Measures of Spirituality/Religiosity (2018)) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Religious Contexts and Violence in Emerging and Traditional Immigrant Destinations
Religions 2018, 9(4), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040116 - 08 Apr 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 865
Abstract
Amidst both a resurgent interest in the impact of religion on social problems like crime, including its contextual effects, as well as scholarship directed toward the immigration-crime intersection, the current study examines how different religious traditions impact known violent offending uniquely in traditional [...] Read more.
Amidst both a resurgent interest in the impact of religion on social problems like crime, including its contextual effects, as well as scholarship directed toward the immigration-crime intersection, the current study examines how different religious traditions impact known violent offending uniquely in traditional versus emerging immigrant destinations. To do so, we employ negative binomial models regressing homicides, robberies, and aggravated assaults on adherence to three major religious traditions (mainline Protestant, evangelical Protestant, and Catholic), as well as immigration and other key macro-structural controls. We disaggregate our analysis for three types of United States counties in 2010: emerging, traditional, and other immigrant destinations. We find that religious traditions vary in their relationship with known violence across destination types: Catholic adherence is protective against crime (net of controls) only in established immigrant destinations, but evangelical Protestant adherence is associated with higher levels of robbery and aggravated assault in the same locales. Religious adherence has no links to violence in emerging immigrant destinations. Broadly, our findings reveal that the religious context is an important part of the evolving story of immigration, though it is multifaceted and context-dependent. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Theological Foundation of Democracy According to Ratzinger
Religions 2018, 9(4), 115; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040115 - 05 Apr 2018
Viewed by 707
Abstract
When the Cold War was ended in 1989, Francis Fukuyama wrote, three years later, his very well-known book proposing a quite original thesis. He argues that the end of fascism and of communism means the triumph of Eastern liberalism in history. Following a [...] Read more.
When the Cold War was ended in 1989, Francis Fukuyama wrote, three years later, his very well-known book proposing a quite original thesis. He argues that the end of fascism and of communism means the triumph of Eastern liberalism in history. Following a Hegelian perspective, Fukuyama said contrary to Marx that communism, like the other previous economic-political systems that are not liberal, has been only a step to achieve a liberal society. So it happened in Russia and in Eastern Europe, and so it seems to be happening with the progressive opening of the market in China. Today, more than twenty years after Fukuyama wrote, it is time to ask whether secular liberal Western societies still appear to the eyes of humankind to provide the best option. In fact, with the economic crises in Europe, with the austerity imposed on many people and affecting deeply the lives of at least one generation, are liberal societies at risk? Does the growth of the Islamic state after the Arab Spring question the foundation of democratic principles? Considering also Russia and the geo-political problems in Ukraine, can we say that the East has become or is in the process of becoming really democratic? Is the growing popularity of political parties opposed to the European Union, and often embracing anti-democratic ideologies, compatible with Fukuyama’s thesis? It is true, we must say that the American philosopher whom I mentioned assumed that, even if liberal economic-political systems were the best option, their triumph was not automatic and necessary in the long-term. However, Francis Fukuyama recently wrote a new book in which he analyzes a kind of contemporary democratic recession in the first decade of the twenty-first century, a recession that he sees as having delayed the democratic triumph all over the world and over history he announced in the nineties. For me, it is quite interesting to notice how Joseph Ratzinger shares, even if from a different perspective, the concerns of Fukuyama. The German theologian, who became the Pope during a time of political and economic crises, experienced the dictatorship of Nazism and was a protagonist of the Second Vatican Council, in which the Catholic Church accepted positively the principles of democratic society. While, in the past, the relationship between the Church and the “so-called” democrats was characterized especially by confrontation, it seems to me that today, Christianity encourages and is best able to preserve democratic principles. Furthermore, the originality of Ratzinger’s theology consists not only in reconciling the main liberal democratic values with Catholic thought but especially in showing that the condition of the possibility of democracy resides in such Christian theology: democratic values are intelligible and grounded within such theology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Theodicy, Useless Suffering, and Compassionate Asymmetry: Primo Levi, Emmanuel Levinas, and Anti-Theodicy
Religions 2018, 9(4), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040114 - 05 Apr 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1057
Abstract
Emmanuel Levinas declares that we have reached the end of theodicy, but we have not reached the end of discussions and books and special issues on theodicy, and people continue to ask, and answer, the questions “Why?” and “Why me?” about their suffering. [...] Read more.
Emmanuel Levinas declares that we have reached the end of theodicy, but we have not reached the end of discussions and books and special issues on theodicy, and people continue to ask, and answer, the questions “Why?” and “Why me?” about their suffering. In this essay, I would like to explore this persistence of theodicy as a topic of scholarly discussion and as an ongoing human activity, despite powerful and convincing critiques of theodicy. How might we take seriously what Levinas calls “the temptation of theodicy” and, at the same time, take seriously the ways that engaging in theodicy might be a vital part of how someone navigates her own suffering? I suggest that we look to Levinas’s asymmetrical configuration of the uselessness of suffering—that is, while the other’s suffering must remain useless to me, my suffering in response to the other’s suffering can be useful—for a parallel asymmetry concerning Levinas’s declared end of theodicy: while theodicy that justifies the other’s suffering is forbidden to me, I cannot forbid the sufferer’s theodicy in response to her own suffering. Further, I suggest that even in Levi’s harsh rejection of his fellow inmate’s implicit theodicy, Levi still seems to refrain from condemnation of his fellow sufferer, through his use of interrogative and conditional rhetorical structures. Thus, while we might agree with Levinas’s argument that we have reached the end of theodicy on a collective or historical or interpersonal or, even, personal scale, we are forbidden from declaring the end of theodicy for the other. The sufferer always has the prerogative to narrate her own suffering in the manner in which she chooses, and the imposition of meaninglessness onto her suffering, through a prohibition of all theodicy, may be a violent imposition, that mimics, in part, the violence of the imposition of meaning onto her suffering. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Feminisms and Challenges to Institutionalized Philosophy of Religion
Religions 2018, 9(4), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040113 - 05 Apr 2018
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Abstract
For my invited contribution to this special issue of Religions on “Feminisms and the Study of ‘Religions,’” I focus on philosophy of religion and contestations over its relevance to the academic field of Religious Studies. I amplify some feminist philosophers’ voices—especially Pamela Sue [...] Read more.
For my invited contribution to this special issue of Religions on “Feminisms and the Study of ‘Religions,’” I focus on philosophy of religion and contestations over its relevance to the academic field of Religious Studies. I amplify some feminist philosophers’ voices—especially Pamela Sue Anderson—in corroboration with recent calls from Religious Studies scholars to diversify philosophy of religions in the direction of locating it properly within the current state of Religious Studies. I want to do this by thinking through two proposals in productive tension: first, any philosophy of religions worthy of the name is intrinsically feminist; second, any philosophy of religions worthy of the name is intrinsically traditional. I want to use the productive tension between these two to illuminate ways calls for broadening the field can be enhanced when such calls are seen as both feminist and traditional. I proceed as follows. First, I note three instances of explicitly feminist work in philosophy of religions that do not suffer from the same narrowness as so-called “traditional” philosophy of religion. Religious Studies critics of philosophy of religion overstate the case in claiming feminist philosophy of religion is too narrow. Second, I develop a useful distinction between the concepts of “tradition” and “institution” to locate forces of oppression more precisely in dynamics of institutionalization so that we might rehabilitate tradition as a resource for combating institutionalized oppressiveness. I do this in response to the hegemony of current philosophers of religion who claim to speak about “the traditional god.” And third, I briefly coordinate four topics in religions from diverse feminist perspectives to help refine paths of inquiry for future philosophy of religions that is both feminist and traditional. My hope is that these clarify a philosophy of religions renewed through feminisms—moving from fringe to normative topics in institutionalized philosophy of religion, maintaining focus on actually existing human beings rather than hypothetically existing transcendent entities. I turn our attention to technical issues surrounding the status of mae chis, Buddhist laity who seek monastic recognition in Theravada. I turn our attention to struggles over fitting criteria for leadership between Mary Magdalene and Peter in early Christian contexts. I have us listen to Muslim women who seek to speak for themselves, many of whom describe Muhammad as a feminist. I have us listen to Anderson’s criticism of arguments about the (non)existence of a god and her promotion of human yearning as guided by regulative ideals as a pointed challenge to institutionalized philosophy of religion. In all these ways and more, feminist challenges to institutionalized philosophy of religion further contribute to diversifying field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle
The King Must Protect the Difference: The Juridical Foundations of Tantric Knowledge
Religions 2018, 9(4), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040112 - 04 Apr 2018
Viewed by 836
Abstract
Drawing upon inscriptional, art historical, as well as largely unstudied and unpublished textual evidence, this paper examines the conceptualization of religious diversity in the Medieval Deccan prior to the Islamic invasions. What our archive suggests, somewhat counterintuitively, is that from the perspective of [...] Read more.
Drawing upon inscriptional, art historical, as well as largely unstudied and unpublished textual evidence, this paper examines the conceptualization of religious diversity in the Medieval Deccan prior to the Islamic invasions. What our archive suggests, somewhat counterintuitively, is that from the perspective of the state and other disciplinary institutions, religious difference was conceived of in primarily juridical as opposed to doxographical terms; it was a matter of law rather than belief. In other words, in practice, the social performance of the religious identities of particular communities proved inseparable from the delineation of the highly specific legal rights and obligations to which those communities were entitled to adhere. Succinctly, medieval India’s religious diversity was inextricable from the widespread acceptance of a rather capaciously imagined emic form of legal pluralism. The early medieval Dharmaśāstric commentarial tradition locates the textual foundation of this approach to legal pluralism in a discrete and consistent canon of textual resources. As the present work demonstrates, by the eighth century—from the perspective of the Brahmanical legalists themselves—it is this internally coherent body of dharma knowledge that emerges as the key conceptual resource that makes a place within the wider social ecologies of the medieval Deccan for the Tantric knowledge systems and those who practice them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Society for Tantric Studies Proceedings (2016))
Open AccessArticle
Heading to Chaityabhoomi: Pilgrimages of Remembrance
Religions 2018, 9(4), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040111 - 04 Apr 2018
Viewed by 1030
Abstract
This article explores individual and collective pilgrimages to the Mumbai-based cremation ground (samādhi) of Bhimrao Ramji (Babasaheb) Ambedkar (1891–1956), a renowned economist and lawyer, academician and philosopher, political leader and social reformer who dedicated his life to the struggle for rights of [...] Read more.
This article explores individual and collective pilgrimages to the Mumbai-based cremation ground (samādhi) of Bhimrao Ramji (Babasaheb) Ambedkar (1891–1956), a renowned economist and lawyer, academician and philosopher, political leader and social reformer who dedicated his life to the struggle for rights of the untouchables (Dalits) in India. In October 1956, Dr. Ambedkar together with almost half a million of low-caste followers converted to Buddhism. After Babasaheb’s death on 6 December, 1956, his cremation ground became an object of worship for Buddhists and adherents of other religions. In December 1971, on the eve of the 15th year of his demise, the Chaityabhoomi memorial was inaugurated there. A dramatic increase in the number of pilgrims coming from all across India to Dr. Ambedkar’s samādhi as well as to other places associated with him has become instrumental in building up Dalits’ sites of memory/lieux de mémoire in contemporary India. The growing interest to Chaityabhoomi has also acquired a political dimension in contemporary India. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Journeys: Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage)
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Open AccessArticle
The Freedom of Facticity
Religions 2018, 9(4), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040110 - 04 Apr 2018
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 814
Abstract
“Here I am—Jew, or Aryan, handsome or ugly, one-armed, etc. I am all of this for the Other with no hope of changing it.” Thus wrote Sartre in his Being and Nothingness. But was not Sartre the major advocate of existential freedom, [...] Read more.
“Here I am—Jew, or Aryan, handsome or ugly, one-armed, etc. I am all of this for the Other with no hope of changing it.” Thus wrote Sartre in his Being and Nothingness. But was not Sartre the major advocate of existential freedom, with the tenet that “we are condemned to be free”—no matter what our situation might be? The question hence arises: How free are we from the facticity of situations, particularly ones in which we are subject to collective identification? How free are we to change the situations—places, environments, histories, others—that we inevitably belong to and which subject us to collective identities? How free are we from identification in terms of others? How free are we to transform such identification? These questions are of particular relevance given the harmful effects of collective ascriptions and the currently pressing demand to transform them. In an attempt to address these questions, I offer as alternative to Sartre’s concept of the “facticity of freedom” what I would like to call the “freedom of facticity”. Full article
Open AccessEssay
What Would the Goddess Do? Isis, Radical Grandmothers, and Eliza Sharples “All Reform Will Be Found to Be Inefficient that Does Not Embrace the Rights of Woman.”
Religions 2018, 9(4), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040109 - 04 Apr 2018
Viewed by 690
Abstract
Recent research in the Huntington archive provides new information for assessing the importance of Eliza Sharples’s meaning as a radical feminist, critiquing and using Christianity and pagan female Gods to establish her authority and further her feminist cause. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle
Franciscan Prophets and the Inquisition (1226–1326)
Religions 2018, 9(4), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9040108 - 03 Apr 2018
Viewed by 763
Abstract
This paper examines how Franciscan apologetics and polemics over the status of St. Francis and the Rule of 1223 created a climate of inquisitorial suspicion over prophecy and prophetic claims. Full article
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