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Religions, Volume 9, Issue 5 (May 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) This article examines how religion is critically depicted in the acclaimed digital game BioShock: [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
The Manipulation of Social, Cultural and Religious Values in Socially Mediated Terrorism
Religions 2018, 9(5), 168; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050168
Received: 28 March 2018 / Revised: 14 May 2018 / Accepted: 15 May 2018 / Published: 22 May 2018
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Abstract
This paper presents an analysis of how the Islamic State/Da’esh and Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia manipulate conflicting social, cultural and religious values as part of their socially mediated terrorism. It focusses on three case studies: (1) the attacks in Paris, France on 13 November [...] Read more.
This paper presents an analysis of how the Islamic State/Da’esh and Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia manipulate conflicting social, cultural and religious values as part of their socially mediated terrorism. It focusses on three case studies: (1) the attacks in Paris, France on 13 November 2015; (2) the destruction of cultural heritage sites in Iraq and Syria; and (3) the struggle between nationalist values and extreme Islamic values in Indonesia. The case studies were chosen as a basis for identifying global commonalities as well as regional differences in socially mediated terrorism. They are located in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The integrated analysis of these case studies identifies significant trends and suggests actions that could lessen the impact of strategies deployed by extremist groups such as Da’esh, al-Qaeda and Hizb ut-Tahrir. We discuss the broader implications for understanding various aspects of socially mediated terrorism. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
‘Requiescat in Pace’. Initiation and Assassination Rituals in the Assassin’s Creed Game Series
Religions 2018, 9(5), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050167
Received: 16 April 2018 / Revised: 15 May 2018 / Accepted: 18 May 2018 / Published: 21 May 2018
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Abstract
The Assassin’s Creed game series (Ubisoft 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013a, 2013b, 2014, 2015, 2017) revolves around an alternative interpretation of human history as an ongoing battle between two rival factions: the Assassin Brotherhood (modelled on the historical Nizar Isma’ilis) and the [...] Read more.
The Assassin’s Creed game series (Ubisoft 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013a, 2013b, 2014, 2015, 2017) revolves around an alternative interpretation of human history as an ongoing battle between two rival factions: the Assassin Brotherhood (modelled on the historical Nizar Isma’ilis) and the Templar Order (inspired by the historical Order of the Knights Templar). Both factions compete over the possession of mythical artefacts, called the ‘Apples of Eden’, which once belonged to a now extinct proto-human race. The possession of these artefacts gives the owner incredible knowledge and the ability to manipulate large numbers of people. The Templars strive for world domination, while the Assassins want to prevent this; their aim is to develop human consciousness and individual freedom. Considering games as ‘playable texts’, I make an inventory of three in-game rituals, two of the Assassin Brotherhood and one of the Templar Order. Both initiation and assassination rituals are quite elaborate given the context of the games in which they are displayed. Progression and regression can be observed in terms of ritual practices within the primary series of the game series, which stretches from ancient Egypt to modernity. This article describes the three ritual practices mentioned within the Assassin’s Creed series, and links them to the larger metanarrative of the series. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Ritual and Ritualistic Objects) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Environmental Violence in Minamata: Responsibility, Resistance, and Religiosity in the Case of Ogata Masato and Hongan no Kai
Religions 2018, 9(5), 166; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050166
Received: 27 April 2018 / Revised: 12 May 2018 / Accepted: 15 May 2018 / Published: 21 May 2018
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Abstract
The small town of Minamata is infamous for the industrial disease named after the city. This disease resulted from having ingested methyl mercury, a substance released for more than three decades by a factory owned by the Chisso Corporation. Upon entering the human [...] Read more.
The small town of Minamata is infamous for the industrial disease named after the city. This disease resulted from having ingested methyl mercury, a substance released for more than three decades by a factory owned by the Chisso Corporation. Upon entering the human body, mercury affects the nervous system, resulting in paralysis, and often leading to a slow death. Examining how such violence was inflicted on human beings and on the environment involves a complex array of economic, environmental, and sociocultural issues, all revolving around the notions of justice and responsibility. This article analyzes the local residents’ responses to the irreparable damage done to them, focusing in particular on the thoughts and actions put forward by Ogata Masato and a group called Hongan no kai, who chose to carve bodhisattva statues. Investigating the victims’ religiosity, the author argues that the praxis put forward by the Minamata people resonates with the perspective articulated by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. After having witnessed how justice had been exhausted and their case had been lost in the Japanese legal system, the victims showed their resilience in coming up with original responses, which also offer valuable insight into current discussions centered on environmental ethics. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Friends’ Ambulance Unit in the First World War
Religions 2018, 9(5), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050165
Received: 15 April 2018 / Revised: 6 May 2018 / Accepted: 17 May 2018 / Published: 19 May 2018
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Abstract
The Friends’ Ambulance Unit (FAU) was created shortly after the outbreak of the First World War. It was an attempt to provide young Friends (Quakers) with the opportunity to serve their country without sacrificing their religious principles. However, it was considered by some [...] Read more.
The Friends’ Ambulance Unit (FAU) was created shortly after the outbreak of the First World War. It was an attempt to provide young Friends (Quakers) with the opportunity to serve their country without sacrificing their religious principles. However, it was considered by some members to be in direct opposition to the Society’s fundamental religious tenets, and thus remained a cause of internal conflict throughout the war. Nevertheless, the civilian relief work that was carried out by the FAU early in the war, in the region of Flanders, aligned the unit’s activities much more closely with the religious principles of the Society. The FAU assisted thousands of civilians trapped in the besieged and battered town of Ypres, working intensively in the containment and treatment of the typhoid epidemic that swept the region, locating sufferers, providing them with medical care, and inoculating people against the disease. It helped in the purification of the town’s contaminated drinking water, and distributed milk for infants and food and clothing to the sick and needy. It helped found hospitals and orphanages, made provision for schooling, and organised gainful employment for refugees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interdisciplinary Quaker Studies)
Open AccessArticle
Hostile Natives: Violence in the Histories of American and Japanese Nativism
Religions 2018, 9(5), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050164
Received: 18 April 2018 / Revised: 7 May 2018 / Accepted: 17 May 2018 / Published: 18 May 2018
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Abstract
This article shows how inaccurate the category of nativism—derived from American historiography—is when applied to the Japanese context prevailing when National Learning (Kokugaku) was flourishing. It argues that violence is not a distinctive feature of Kokugaku and suggests that the association between nativism [...] Read more.
This article shows how inaccurate the category of nativism—derived from American historiography—is when applied to the Japanese context prevailing when National Learning (Kokugaku) was flourishing. It argues that violence is not a distinctive feature of Kokugaku and suggests that the association between nativism and Kokugaku in Japanese studies is flawed. This is further complicated by examining instances of physical violence directed at foreigners and Japanese alike, which surged during the final years of the Tokugawa shogunate, when the slogan “revere the emperor and expel the barbarian” (sonnō-jō’i) resulted in extreme violence and assassinations. Victims of such attacks were not limited to Westerners, since Katsu Kaishū was almost killed by Sakamoto Ryōma. While significant portions of the Japanese elite began to advocate opening the country (kaikoku), many among them remained divided in their attitude toward Western learning and its necessity. This leads to the conclusion that Kokugaku was not an example of Tokugawa nativism, let alone the example of Tokugawa nativism, and that it would be better to develop a hybrid category of nativism applicable to that era. Such category results from combining Ralph Linton’s concept of nativism with John Higham’s characterization of nativism as marked by extreme hostility. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Translation, Cultural Adaptation of Spiritual Needs Questionnaire in Pakistan
Religions 2018, 9(5), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050163
Received: 1 March 2018 / Revised: 24 April 2018 / Accepted: 3 May 2018 / Published: 18 May 2018
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Abstract
The current study was conducted with the aim of translating, adapting, and exploring the factor structure of Spiritual Needs Questionnaire (SpNQ) in chronically ill patients. To meet this objective, the English-version SpNQ was translated into Urdu for Pakistan following standard methods of translation [...] Read more.
The current study was conducted with the aim of translating, adapting, and exploring the factor structure of Spiritual Needs Questionnaire (SpNQ) in chronically ill patients. To meet this objective, the English-version SpNQ was translated into Urdu for Pakistan following standard methods of translation and adaptation. The Urdu version was then used to collect data from a sample of 150 chronically ill patients. The results showed that spiritual needs were significantly associated with each other. Compared to the previous English-version that proposed a four-factor solution, the exploratory factor analysis revealed a three-factor structure for the Urdu version with good internal consistency coefficients, indicating the new version to be a reliable measure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Measures of Spirituality/Religiosity (2018)) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Play, Game, and Videogame: The Metamorphosis of Play
Religions 2018, 9(5), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050162
Received: 2 April 2018 / Revised: 10 May 2018 / Accepted: 12 May 2018 / Published: 17 May 2018
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Abstract
The question, the Fragestellung, which drives this paper is, can football video-games be analyzed from a religious perspective? We can answer positively, at least, provisionally. First, in order to demonstrate our approach, we will take into account the different conceptions on play drawn [...] Read more.
The question, the Fragestellung, which drives this paper is, can football video-games be analyzed from a religious perspective? We can answer positively, at least, provisionally. First, in order to demonstrate our approach, we will take into account the different conceptions on play drawn along sociological theories. Second, we will analyze Francis M. Cornford’s contribution to the already forgotten but essential work by Jane Ellen Harrison, Themis: The Social Origins of the Greek Religion, in which he established an elective affinity between the origin of the Olympic Games and the annual ritual dedicated to the Daimon-God Dionysus, in which he was elected the best Kouros (Young hero-King) of the year. At the very beginning, play, ritual, and competitive games (helped by self-reflexivity as well as collective reflexivity) were united, and that constellation is still there in modern times with the creation of modern sport. Third, in modern advanced societies the football game-sport creates meaning, and succeeded throughout two main processes such as the sportification and progressive rationalization of violence. Fourth, we built an ideal type of two competing strategies, in which created a new type of hero, the sports hero, the modern celebrity. Finally, fifth, we analyze how in our digitalized societies the football videogames are a sort of play on the play of which comes out a religious transcendence associated with it, “Throughout the videogame I become myself in my idol”. We explain this comparing two ideal types, the Dionysian-Messi versus the Apollonian-Ronaldo. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Future Perfect: Tolstoy and the Structures of Agrarian-Buddhist Utopianism in Taishō Japan
Religions 2018, 9(5), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050161
Received: 22 April 2018 / Revised: 11 May 2018 / Accepted: 13 May 2018 / Published: 16 May 2018
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Abstract
This study focuses on the role played by the work of Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) in shaping socialism and agrarian-Buddhist utopianism in Japan. As Japanese translations of Tolstoy’s fiction and philosophy, and accounts of his life became more available at the end of the [...] Read more.
This study focuses on the role played by the work of Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) in shaping socialism and agrarian-Buddhist utopianism in Japan. As Japanese translations of Tolstoy’s fiction and philosophy, and accounts of his life became more available at the end of the 19th century, his ideas on the individual, religion, society, and politics had a tremendous impact on the generation coming of age in the 1900s and his popularity grew among young intellectuals. One important legacy of Tolstoy in Japan is his particular concern with the peasantry and agricultural reform. Among those inspired by Tolstoy and the narodniki lifestyle, three individuals, Tokutomi Roka, Eto Tekirei, and Mushakōji Saneatsu illustrate how prominent writers and thinkers adopted the master’s lifestyle and attempted to put his ideas into practice. In the spirit of the New Buddhists of late Meiji, they envisioned a comprehensive lifestyle structure. As Eto Tekirei moved to the village of Takaido with the assistance of Tokutomi Roka, he called his new home Hyakushō Aidōjō (literally, Farmers Love Training Ground). He and his family endeavored to follow a Tolstoyan life, which included labor, philosophy, art, religion, society, and politics, a grand project that he saw as a “non-religious religion.” As such, Tekirei’s utopian vision might be conceived as an experiment in “alter-modernity.” Full article
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Open AccessEssay
Transcontextual Narratives of Inclusion: Mediating Feminist and Anti-Feminist Rhetoric
Religions 2018, 9(5), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050160
Received: 31 March 2018 / Revised: 12 May 2018 / Accepted: 15 May 2018 / Published: 16 May 2018
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Abstract
In seeking a path to mediating feminist and anti-feminist narratives, one must begin with a framework of the method of narrative analysis being used. Using the works of such thinkers as Paul Ricoeur and Richard Kearney, I argue that human self-understanding and therefore [...] Read more.
In seeking a path to mediating feminist and anti-feminist narratives, one must begin with a framework of the method of narrative analysis being used. Using the works of such thinkers as Paul Ricoeur and Richard Kearney, I argue that human self-understanding and therefore sense of identity is narrative dependent. While this idea has its critics, in the framework of the central question of this essay narrative theory is a particularly productive tool. The story that I tell that gives me identity is not only a story about the surface. It is embedded in my being. I do not simply have a story, I am a story and create my world through that story. Narrative is a part of the ontological structure of being human and the ontic experience of being in the world. One narrates one’s life not in the sense of a movie voiceover, but rather as a reflective and reflexive understanding of oneself. Kearney’s work in Anatheism is particularly useful for this discussion. While Kearney’s interest is in the dialectical move from theism to atheism to a synthesis that is an atheist-informed theism, one can see the same trajectory at work in feminism and anti-feminism. If one begins with patriarchy and moves to feminism, the next step becomes anti-feminism informed by feminism. However, there is still room for an additional dialectical move, to regain a feminism that invites in its detractors and reshapes the collective narratives that impact how we interact with each other in community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Spiritual Care on Depression in Patients Following Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Religions 2018, 9(5), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050159
Received: 31 January 2018 / Revised: 18 April 2018 / Accepted: 3 May 2018 / Published: 14 May 2018
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Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine the effect of a nurse-delivered spiritual care intervention on depression following coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. A semi-experimental study was performed in Baqiyatallah al-Azam Military Hospital of Tehran, Iran in 2013. Sixty-eight patients undergoing [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to determine the effect of a nurse-delivered spiritual care intervention on depression following coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. A semi-experimental study was performed in Baqiyatallah al-Azam Military Hospital of Tehran, Iran in 2013. Sixty-eight patients undergoing coronary artery grafts were purposefully selected and randomly assigned into the intervention (n = 34) and control (usual care) groups (n = 34). The intervention group received five sessions of spiritual care lasting between 45–60 minutes using the approach of Bergin Richards (2005). The control group received only routine standard care. The mean depression scores were measured using the depression subscale of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21). At baseline (p = 0.051), there were no differences in the mean depression scores. Post intervention, statistically significant differences were observed in the mean depression scores between groups (p < 0.001). The results showed that the use of spiritual care can decrease depression in the intervention group. These findings suggested that nurses could use spiritual care to improve psychological care. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Spiritual Jihad among U.S. Muslims: Preliminary Measurement and Associations with Well-Being and Growth
Religions 2018, 9(5), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050158
Received: 2 March 2018 / Revised: 7 May 2018 / Accepted: 10 May 2018 / Published: 13 May 2018
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Abstract
Religious and spiritual (r/s) struggles entail tension and conflict regarding religious and spiritual aspects of life. R/s struggles relate to distress, but may also relate to growth. Growth from struggles is prominent in Islamic spirituality and is sometimes referred to as spiritual jihad. [...] Read more.
Religious and spiritual (r/s) struggles entail tension and conflict regarding religious and spiritual aspects of life. R/s struggles relate to distress, but may also relate to growth. Growth from struggles is prominent in Islamic spirituality and is sometimes referred to as spiritual jihad. This work’s main hypothesis was that in the context of moral struggles, incorporating a spiritual jihad mindset would relate to well-being, spiritual growth, and virtue. The project included two samples of U.S. Muslims: an online sample from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) worker database website (N = 280) and a community sample (N = 74). Preliminary evidence of reliability and validity emerged for a new measure of a spiritual jihad mindset. Results revealed that Islamic religiousness and daily spiritual experiences with God predicted greater endorsement of a spiritual jihad mindset among participants from both samples. A spiritual jihad mindset predicted greater levels of positive religious coping (both samples), spiritual and post-traumatic growth (both samples), and virtuous behaviors (MTurk sample), and less depression and anxiety (MTurk sample). Results suggest that some Muslims incorporate a spiritual jihad mindset in the face of moral struggles. Muslims who endorse greater religiousness and spirituality may specifically benefit from implementing a spiritual jihad mindset in coping with religious and spiritual struggles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Measures of Spirituality/Religiosity (2018)) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Religious Identity and Perceptions of Criminal Justice Effectiveness
Religions 2018, 9(5), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050157
Received: 3 April 2018 / Revised: 7 May 2018 / Accepted: 8 May 2018 / Published: 11 May 2018
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Abstract
Religiosity and attitudes regarding the criminal justice system have remained largely unstudied to date, despite the centrality of religion as an aspect of one’s identity formation. This study tests the hypothesis that perceptions of the effectiveness of police and the courts vary according [...] Read more.
Religiosity and attitudes regarding the criminal justice system have remained largely unstudied to date, despite the centrality of religion as an aspect of one’s identity formation. This study tests the hypothesis that perceptions of the effectiveness of police and the courts vary according to religious identity (affiliation, membership, and self-described religiosity or spirituality). A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 342 undergraduate students in introductory social science courses at a mid-sized university in the Southeastern US. Multiple Ordinary Least Squares regression analyses were performed on predictors of two outcome variables: perceived police effectiveness and perceived court effectiveness. Results offer partial support for a religious identity-based explanation of public perceptions of criminal justice system effectiveness. Membership of a local congregation, in general, was associated with higher ratings of police and court effectiveness. In addition, African Americans rated criminal justice effectiveness lower than non-African Americans. Once interactions between race and religious identity were incorporated, race itself became non-significant for both views on court and police effectiveness. However, these results showed that among African Americans, being a congregation member significantly reduced rather than increased ratings of police effectiveness. Religion thus continues to be complex and even paradoxical in shaping perceptions in the US. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Translation and Validation of Spiritual Well-Being Questionnaire SHALOM in Lithuanian Language, Culture and Health Care Practice
Religions 2018, 9(5), 156; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050156
Received: 3 April 2018 / Revised: 8 May 2018 / Accepted: 9 May 2018 / Published: 11 May 2018
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Abstract
Awareness of patients’ and healthy people’s spiritual well-being allows for care professionals to support individual spiritual concerns in a timely and appropriate manner, performing a whole-person approach to care. To date, there have been no validated measures of spiritual well-being for use with [...] Read more.
Awareness of patients’ and healthy people’s spiritual well-being allows for care professionals to support individual spiritual concerns in a timely and appropriate manner, performing a whole-person approach to care. To date, there have been no validated measures of spiritual well-being for use with healthy or illness-affected Lithuanian people. This paper reports the translation and validation procedures of the Spiritual Well-Being Questionnaire, SHALOM, for its use with Lithuanian people regarding the self-assessment of spiritual health. A convenience sample of 171 hospitalized non-terminally ill oncology patients was interviewed face-to-face during a field-test of a Lithuanian version of SHALOM. Overall scale reliability of the SHALOM-Ideals section was 0.909, with overall scale reliability of the SHALOM-Lived Experience section being 0.888. Culturally relevant translation resulted in very good stability over time with a seven-day break between repeat application (Ideals section: Spearman-Brown coefficient was 0.927; Lived Experience section: Spearman-Brown coefficient was 0.942). The construct validity of the scale was determined using exploratory factor analysis. The research perspective on spirituality and spiritual well-being in Lithuania indicates the desirability for larger scale quantitative and qualitative studies with different populations applying cross-sectional and cross-cultural comparisons. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Measures of Spirituality/Religiosity (2018)) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
The Quaker Sanctuary Tradition
Religions 2018, 9(5), 155; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050155
Received: 27 March 2018 / Revised: 23 April 2018 / Accepted: 7 May 2018 / Published: 10 May 2018
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Abstract
In the beginning of the Religious Society of Friends, in the seventeenth century, Quakers sought sanctuary from persecution in England and its American colonies. Later they provided sanctuary to people fleeing persecution, slavery, and war in many countries. They base their humanitarian efforts [...] Read more.
In the beginning of the Religious Society of Friends, in the seventeenth century, Quakers sought sanctuary from persecution in England and its American colonies. Later they provided sanctuary to people fleeing persecution, slavery, and war in many countries. They base their humanitarian efforts on five Testimonies and their core beliefs in the inner light of God in every person and the primacy of individual conscience. Often their sanctuary activities have led them into conflict with repressive governments and religious authorities. Their relief work with refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants, sometimes under dangerous conditions, earned them the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947. Despite their small numbers, Quakers have continued to play leadership roles in humanitarian initiatives up to the present day. Their sanctuary tradition has now flourished for more than 350 years. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Multi-Layered Roles of Religion among Refugees Arriving in Austria around 2015
Religions 2018, 9(5), 154; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050154
Received: 13 April 2018 / Revised: 7 May 2018 / Accepted: 7 May 2018 / Published: 10 May 2018
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Abstract
Violent conflicts and social unrest in the Middle East, in Central Asia, and in Africa have led to growing numbers of persons seeking refuge in Europe since 2011. The phenomenon culminated in 2015. In that year, with 88,300 new asylum applications, Austria was [...] Read more.
Violent conflicts and social unrest in the Middle East, in Central Asia, and in Africa have led to growing numbers of persons seeking refuge in Europe since 2011. The phenomenon culminated in 2015. In that year, with 88,300 new asylum applications, Austria was the 4th largest receiver of asylum seekers in the EU, thereby increasing visibly religious diversity in the country. Using two social surveys carried out in 2015 and in 2017 among asylum seekers and refugees, we study religious affiliation, religiosity, and attitudes as well as participation in religious groups. By focusing on the time span shortly after arriving in Austria, we aim to shed light on first steps in the host society and the multi-layered roles of religion for participation and integration. We provide a comparison with the host society in terms of religious affiliation and religiosity, and discuss recent qualitative research on refugees and religiosity. Insights into the engagement of refugees in several activities related to religion or not are valuable to shed light on the multi-layered characteristics of the recent inflow of forced migrants in Austria. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Spiritual and Religious Issues in the Aftermath of Suicide
Religions 2018, 9(5), 153; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050153
Received: 5 March 2018 / Revised: 4 May 2018 / Accepted: 8 May 2018 / Published: 10 May 2018
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Abstract
Introduction: Spirituality and religion have only been marginally investigated in the experiences of the bereaved by suicide (or survivors of suicide). Aim: This article directly addresses two questions: In what way was spirituality or religion an issue for survivors of suicide? [...] Read more.
Introduction: Spirituality and religion have only been marginally investigated in the experiences of the bereaved by suicide (or survivors of suicide). Aim: This article directly addresses two questions: In what way was spirituality or religion an issue for survivors of suicide? How were they helpful (or not) during their reconstruction process? Method: Research involved qualitative studies, carried out in Switzerland with 50 survivors of suicide using in depth-interviews. Data were analyzed according to grounded theory principles. Results: Suicide triggered questioning mainly about the afterlife of the deceased and of how transcendency relates to agency and responsibility in the suicidal act. Spiritual or religious issues play an important role in the process of reconstruction for survivors, notably in meaning-making and responsibility-clarifying processes, in forging a continuing bond with the deceased and in honoring their life and memory. Nevertheless, this role is complex and can either support or make the recovery difficult (or both). Conclusion: Mental health and social care professionals may support survivors’ resilience and their reconstruction process by valuing the constructive aspects of their spiritual and religious experiences and by taking into account the spiritual and religious struggles they face to offer effective support to survivors of suicide during recovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
Open AccessArticle
Social Dynamics, Transnational Flows and Public Incidence of Religion in the Frontier in Latin America
Religions 2018, 9(5), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050152
Received: 16 April 2018 / Revised: 4 May 2018 / Accepted: 4 May 2018 / Published: 10 May 2018
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Abstract
In Latin America, the region known as the Triple Frontier is known for its qualitative religious diversification. Different expressions of believing and feeling abound in the neighborhoods and streets of the border towns Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), Puerto Iguaçu (Argentina) and Foz do [...] Read more.
In Latin America, the region known as the Triple Frontier is known for its qualitative religious diversification. Different expressions of believing and feeling abound in the neighborhoods and streets of the border towns Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), Puerto Iguaçu (Argentina) and Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil). The Christian hegemony, important in Latin America, shares space with African religions and with a notable presence of Islam. This dynamic makes the Triple Frontier a privileged geographic region to think about the religious dynamics in Latin America. There is, in this part of the continent, strong socio-cultural interrelations that are fed by the intense flow of material and symbolic religious goods circulating on the frontier. In this sense, the article we propose for this special issue of the journal seeks to discuss how these religious practices have been organized and maintained in the social, dynamic and multiform context of the frontier region. We are interested, based on empirical research carried out in the region, in characterizing the specificities of these distinct manifestations of belief/devotion/practices in the Triple Frontier and in configuring the socio-historical context of the emergence of these religious groups, to relate them to migratory and political issues, their transnational flows and the relations established among themselves in the public space. Finally, in treating the public sphere as a relational and discursive form, this approach will allow us to make visible the relationships between subjects of religious discourse and abstractly construct a model of the circulation network of categories to understand the dynamics of the production processes of legitimacy in the frontier region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
Open AccessArticle
The Missing Link between Meiji Universalism and Postwar Pacifism, and What It Means for the Future
Religions 2018, 9(5), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050151
Received: 14 April 2018 / Revised: 25 April 2018 / Accepted: 27 April 2018 / Published: 9 May 2018
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Abstract
This article focuses on the life of two individuals who were actively promoting universalism in the Meiji era, becoming silent during World War II, and then resurfacing after the war, pursuing similar ideas and agendas. These two individuals were Imaoka Shin’ichirō (1881–1988), the [...] Read more.
This article focuses on the life of two individuals who were actively promoting universalism in the Meiji era, becoming silent during World War II, and then resurfacing after the war, pursuing similar ideas and agendas. These two individuals were Imaoka Shin’ichirō (1881–1988), the former secretary of the Japanese Unitarian Association who died in 1988 at age 106, and Nishida Tenkō (1872–1968), the founder of the Ittōen movement. The author scrutinizes their role in formulating ideas and forming alliances between groups that still claim to promote transnational and transreligious ideas in the twenty-first century. Although Imaoka and Nishida contributed to bridge the gap between the Meiji era and today, whatever remains of their legacy may be related to the current standstill in attempts to deal with transnational and transdenominational divisions. In reviewing avenues for future transreligious conversations, this article discusses the extent to which the present Japanese religious traditions could contribute to such nonsectarian endeavors. It also indicates some of the philosophical strategies that could be adopted, highlighting the limits of common attempts based on an ethical approach, suggesting instead that empirical and epistemological approaches avoiding the pitfall of language may be more conducive to overcoming the current inertia in transreligious conversations. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Critique with Limits—The Construction of American Religion in BioShock: Infinite
Religions 2018, 9(5), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050150
Received: 1 April 2018 / Revised: 30 April 2018 / Accepted: 3 May 2018 / Published: 7 May 2018
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Abstract
Released in 2013, BioShock: Infinite is a blockbuster first-person shooter which explores topics of American nationalism and religion. This article examines how religion is represented within the game and how motifs from American religious history are used to construct its game world. After [...] Read more.
Released in 2013, BioShock: Infinite is a blockbuster first-person shooter which explores topics of American nationalism and religion. This article examines how religion is represented within the game and how motifs from American religious history are used to construct its game world. After an overview of the game’s production process and a literature review, several specific religious and historical motifs are discussed. Through a dissection of the aesthetic and narrative dimensions of the game, the article analyzes elements of religious history from which the developers of Infinite drew their inspiration, such as the biblical motif of Exodus or the still-popular concept of millennialism. The analysis shows how the game uses familiar but simultaneously transformed American imagery, such as a religiously legitimated American Exceptionalism in which George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin are worshiped as saintly figures. Infinite plays with popular notions of evangelical religion, mixed with themes related to so-called dangerous cults and sects. In this construction, Infinite strangely vacillates between a biting liberal caricature of religiously fueled nationalism and a nod to widespread moderate mainstream values in which unusual religious movements are negatively portrayed. The article argues that a critique of a mainstream religious movement such as evangelical Christianity is not possible for a multi-billion-dollar industry which is wary of critical topics that may potentially estrange its broad consumer base. In such instances, critique can only be applied to forms of religion that are already viewed as strange by the popular discourse. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Discourses on Religious Violence in Premodern Japan
Religions 2018, 9(5), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050149
Received: 16 April 2018 / Revised: 26 April 2018 / Accepted: 26 April 2018 / Published: 6 May 2018
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Abstract
This article asks what religious violence is and why it is relevant. It questions common assumptions by focusing on how monastic violence unfolded in premodern Japan. It argues that there was nothing that set this particular form of violence apart in terms of [...] Read more.
This article asks what religious violence is and why it is relevant. It questions common assumptions by focusing on how monastic violence unfolded in premodern Japan. It argues that there was nothing that set this particular form of violence apart in terms of what the clerics fought for, their ideological justification, who fought, or how they fought. Although myths prevail on the largely fictive figure of the sōhei, or “monk-warriors,” closer scrutiny indicates that their depiction first emerged as a coherent literary concept in the early Tokugawa period. Regarding the ideological framework in which incidents of so-called monastic violence took place, the paper demonstrates that the individuals involved in such conflicts—including the clerics—cannot be dissociated from their own socio-historical context. This is because the medieval Japanese setting was based on rules of cooperation that also implied competition among various elites. The paper further complicates our understanding by showing that the central issue is not why specific violent events involving clerics occurred, but rather what constituted the mental framework—or mentalité—of the age, and how it allowed religious institutions to play such a prominent role. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Planetary Consciousness, Witnessing the Inhuman, and Transformative Learning: Insights from Peace Pilgrimage Oral Histories and Autoethnographies
Religions 2018, 9(5), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050148
Received: 1 March 2018 / Revised: 27 April 2018 / Accepted: 27 April 2018 / Published: 3 May 2018
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Abstract
This article describes insights and consciousness transformations reported in several contemporary peace pilgrimage oral histories and autoethnographies, including my own. Autoethnography is a form of autobiographical writing that stresses the interpretation of experiences in their psychosocial, cultural, and historical contexts. Peace pilgrimages are [...] Read more.
This article describes insights and consciousness transformations reported in several contemporary peace pilgrimage oral histories and autoethnographies, including my own. Autoethnography is a form of autobiographical writing that stresses the interpretation of experiences in their psychosocial, cultural, and historical contexts. Peace pilgrimages are typically self-defined journeys and projects which may be inward and metaphorical, or which may involve actual travel to destinations that memorialize historical events of mass killing and profound suffering, and places that envision, cultivate and educate for global or inner peace. The insights and learnings include (a) the call to journey and other out-of-the-ordinary communications; (b) understanding the transformative learning process; (c) glimpsing the meaning of planetary consciousness; and (d) bearing witness to the inhuman. These paradigmatic themes may be applicable to one’s personal search for meaning, and as signposts for collective, societal healing from psychic and social wounding and traumas. The themes may be useful for educators and researchers in peace studies, religious studies, history, biography, philosophy, psychology and consciousness studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Journeys: Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage)
Open AccessArticle
Women and Ultramodern Buddhism in Australia
Religions 2018, 9(5), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050147
Received: 5 April 2018 / Revised: 24 April 2018 / Accepted: 24 April 2018 / Published: 2 May 2018
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Abstract
Buddhists started arriving in Australia in large numbers during the mid-1800s, and the first Buddhist societies and centres began to be formed in the mid-late 1900s. This paper examines the role of women in bringing Buddhism to and establishing it in Australia. Women [...] Read more.
Buddhists started arriving in Australia in large numbers during the mid-1800s, and the first Buddhist societies and centres began to be formed in the mid-late 1900s. This paper examines the role of women in bringing Buddhism to and establishing it in Australia. Women have featured prominently in a small amount of scholarship, including Paul Croucher’s (1989) Buddhism in Australia: 1848–1988 and Cristina Rocha and Michelle Barker’s (eds. 2011) edited volume on Buddhism in Australia: Traditions in Change. This paper draws on these sources, but primarily on more recent digital oral histories of prominent Buddhist women and men in Australia, recorded as part of the first stage of the Buddhist Life Stories of Australia project in 2014–2015. These first-hand accounts bring the early female pioneers of Buddhism in Australia to life and provide a rich re-telling of this history with emphasis on women’s contributions to it. We also argue that these women’s experiences can best be understood through a framework of ‘ultramodern Buddhism,’ built upon theories of modern and post-modern Buddhism, as many of these women were trailblazers bridging dualisms of tradition and modernity, Asia and the West, and adhering to both feminist and Buddhist principles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Women in Buddhism)
Open AccessArticle
Disenchanting Faith—Religion and Authority in the Dishonored Universe
Religions 2018, 9(5), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050146
Received: 30 March 2018 / Revised: 25 April 2018 / Accepted: 27 April 2018 / Published: 1 May 2018
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Abstract
This game-immanent study approach and game content analysis focuses on the Dishonored video games series. The article examines how the topic of authority and religion are represented and discussed in the video game universe of the Dishonored games, where religion is referenced through [...] Read more.
This game-immanent study approach and game content analysis focuses on the Dishonored video games series. The article examines how the topic of authority and religion are represented and discussed in the video game universe of the Dishonored games, where religion is referenced through explicit authority constructions. For comprehending the concept of authority and how it is created in the games, Max Weber’s tripartite authority distinction is used as a comparison for understanding the authority image’s legitimatisation in the game stories. The article explores how religion is reflected by the identified three authority ideals, and how the ideals are presented and constructed in the located main characters or agents. The Dishonored games can be interpreted as stories commenting and contesting societal authority models, asking who or what in which circumstances may have societal control and domination over others. Full article
Open AccessArticle
‘The Altars Are Holding the Nation in Captivity’: Zambian Pentecostalism, Nationality, and African Religio-Political Heritage
Religions 2018, 9(5), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050145
Received: 8 February 2018 / Revised: 18 April 2018 / Accepted: 23 April 2018 / Published: 28 April 2018
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Abstract
The study draws on ontocracy political theory to investigate Zambian Pentecostal interpretations of politics as a sacred realm of contestations between forces of good and evil. It argues that Zambian Pentecostal theology of nationality is a continuation of traditional African religio-cultural ethnonational heritage. [...] Read more.
The study draws on ontocracy political theory to investigate Zambian Pentecostal interpretations of politics as a sacred realm of contestations between forces of good and evil. It argues that Zambian Pentecostal theology of nationality is a continuation of traditional African religio-cultural ethnonational heritage. It demonstrates how Zambian Pentecostal theology of nationality is based on socio-historically constructed conceptions that drew their foundation from traditional myths, symbols and cultures. It concludes that Zambian Pentecostalism has failed to make distinctions among various types of human authorities, thereby promoting a theology of nationality that mystifies the source of the political authority of the presidents of the nation, who are perceived as absorbing both secular and spiritual responsibilities. Full article
Open AccessArticle
New Frontiers and Relations between Religion, Culture and Politics in Western Europe
Religions 2018, 9(5), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050144
Received: 22 January 2018 / Revised: 12 April 2018 / Accepted: 23 April 2018 / Published: 27 April 2018
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Abstract
Sociology was born as a discipline that analyzed the process of modernization of Western European societies. However, in turn, this science was developing a predictive, prophetic vision of the future of human communities, assuming that they were all going to follow paths similar [...] Read more.
Sociology was born as a discipline that analyzed the process of modernization of Western European societies. However, in turn, this science was developing a predictive, prophetic vision of the future of human communities, assuming that they were all going to follow paths similar to those followed by Western Europeans. This prophetic dimension reduced the capacity of sociology to analyze new phenomena including, on the one hand, phenomena relating to other societies, on the one hand, but also, on the other hand, phenomena related to the transformations suffered by Western European societies after their process of modernization. This last case constitutes the objective of this work, in which I try to recover the purely analytical character of sociology. To this end, I intend to relate the general model of the political modernization of Western European societies elaborated by historical sociology to the theory of social differentiation, avoiding the evolutionary drift of this theory. From that position, I try to specify the analytical nature of some conceptual instruments of sociology, in order to make them more useful to understanding the contemporary social transformations of Western European societies. Some of these transformations have changed the tendency towards the cultural homogenization characteristic of modernization, because after the two world wars these societies began to receive strong flows of immigration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Understanding Compliance in Patriarchal Religions: Mormon Women and the Latter Day Saints Church as a Case Study
Religions 2018, 9(5), 143; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050143
Received: 9 April 2018 / Revised: 19 April 2018 / Accepted: 19 April 2018 / Published: 27 April 2018
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Abstract
Defining compliance as acquiescence in situations of inequality, this article explores patterns of compliance to gender traditionalism from the analysis of interviews with Mormon women. Analysis reveals that Mormon women face unique, context-specific mechanisms for stifling resistance to gender traditionalism. Additionally, many of [...] Read more.
Defining compliance as acquiescence in situations of inequality, this article explores patterns of compliance to gender traditionalism from the analysis of interviews with Mormon women. Analysis reveals that Mormon women face unique, context-specific mechanisms for stifling resistance to gender traditionalism. Additionally, many of the Mormon women interviewed who do not comply with traditional gender expectations regarding motherhood still accept and defend gender traditionalism. We explain this pattern with a concept that we call ideological compensation, which means that women in gender traditional religions defend gender traditionalism even if they do not live it as a way to compensate for their non-compliance. Finally, we find that some of the women frame their compliance to Mormon gender traditionalism as a statement of resistance against the broader society. We describe this phenomenon with a concept known as subcultural resistance. Overall, this study sheds light on how Mormon women interpret traditional gender expectations and the mechanisms that are put in place to stifle resistance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle
Contemplation, Subcreation, and Video Games
Religions 2018, 9(5), 142; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050142
Received: 2 March 2018 / Revised: 16 April 2018 / Accepted: 16 April 2018 / Published: 26 April 2018
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Abstract
This essay asks how religion and theological ideas might be made manifest in video games, and particularly the creation of video games as a religious activity, looking at contemplative experiences in video games, and the creation and world-building of game worlds as a [...] Read more.
This essay asks how religion and theological ideas might be made manifest in video games, and particularly the creation of video games as a religious activity, looking at contemplative experiences in video games, and the creation and world-building of game worlds as a form of Tolkienian subcreation, which itself leads to contemplation regarding the creation of worlds. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Religion on the Criminal Behavior of Emerging Adults
Religions 2018, 9(5), 141; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050141
Received: 15 March 2018 / Revised: 18 April 2018 / Accepted: 21 April 2018 / Published: 26 April 2018
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Abstract
Recent generations of young adults are experiencing a new life course stage: emerging adulthood. During this ‘new’ stage of the life course, traditional social bonds and turning points may not be present, may be delayed, or may not operate in the same manner [...] Read more.
Recent generations of young adults are experiencing a new life course stage: emerging adulthood. During this ‘new’ stage of the life course, traditional social bonds and turning points may not be present, may be delayed, or may not operate in the same manner as they have for prior generations. One such bond, religion, is examined here. Focusing on the United States, emerging adulthood is investigated as a distinct stage of the life course. The criminality of emerging adults is presented, a theoretical examination of the relationship between religion and crime is provided, the role of religion in emerging adults’ lives is explored, research on the role of religion’s influence on criminal offending is presented, and theoretical and policy implications are offered. Full article
Open AccessEssay
The Thin Blue Line of Theodicy: Flannery O’Connor, Teilhard de Chardin, and Competitions between Good/Good and Evil/Evil
Religions 2018, 9(5), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050140
Received: 17 January 2018 / Revised: 20 March 2018 / Accepted: 23 March 2018 / Published: 24 April 2018
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Abstract
This essay explores the concept of theodicy in Flannery O’Connor’s works of fiction. O’Connor’s fiction complicates the subjects of good and evil, moving the reader through what seem to be competitions not only between good and evil, but also between actions of good [...] Read more.
This essay explores the concept of theodicy in Flannery O’Connor’s works of fiction. O’Connor’s fiction complicates the subjects of good and evil, moving the reader through what seem to be competitions not only between good and evil, but also between actions of good and actions of evil. Characters align themselves with one force, then another, in a constantly fluctuating system, and there is no traditional pattern of Christian warfare that we would expect orthodox Catholic writing to produce. Sometimes, evil brings about the resolution of the narratives, and sometimes actions of good fail to redeem. It is only through the theology of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin that we may have a full understanding of O’Connor’s Christian vision. For O’Connor, Teilhard’s system of a dynamic eternity, which is in the process of unification, gives a greater understanding of our human reality, as it is a world where evil is used at the service of the Divine. It serves her fictional goal as well, as it allows her to rescue violence and evil from its power for despair. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
Open AccessArticle
Post-Secularism in a World-Historical Light: The Axial Age Thesis as an Alternative to Secularization
Religions 2018, 9(5), 139; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050139
Received: 5 March 2018 / Revised: 3 April 2018 / Accepted: 4 April 2018 / Published: 24 April 2018
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Abstract
The secularization thesis claims that religion will lose its public influence as the forces of modernity advance. This hypothesis has long functioned as a paradigm within the humanities and social sciences. However, due to the apparent “resurgence” of publicly influential religion throughout the [...] Read more.
The secularization thesis claims that religion will lose its public influence as the forces of modernity advance. This hypothesis has long functioned as a paradigm within the humanities and social sciences. However, due to the apparent “resurgence” of publicly influential religion throughout the world in recent years, scholars have recognized that a “straightforward narrative of progress from the religious to the secular” is no longer viable. I describe the current state of narrative perplexity regarding the changing place of religion in the modern world as the “post-secular problematic.” The aim of this article is to examine the contours of one specific post-secular narrative of religious change—the one that has crystallized around the concept of the axial age—and consider how it can be used to reconceptualize the public role of religion in the modern world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Role of Religion)
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