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Religions, Volume 9, Issue 6 (June 2018) – 31 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) The history of conflict between New York City’s Irish Americans and east European Jews dates back [...] Read more.
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Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue”
Religions 2018, 9(6), 199; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060199 - 20 Jun 2018
Viewed by 689
Abstract
This special issue of Religions, entitled “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue”, brought together diverse international scholars and experts to think together on the intersection of African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology. One [...] Read more.
This special issue of Religions, entitled “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue”, brought together diverse international scholars and experts to think together on the intersection of African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology. One of the aims of this special issue, and of the preceding conference (as stated in the call for papers), was to explore the complex relationship between the West’s pervasive (capitalistic) culture and epistemologies, and the current post-colonial context of (southern) Africa. As such, it provided a platform to engage questions regarding the relationship between colonialism, capitalism, and culture through both a philosophical and theological lens. The final publication of all articles in the special issue not only achieved the above set aims, but accomplished even more by opening up new creative pathways of thinking about the three traditions that were brought into conversation (and not only within their intersection). Full article
Open AccessArticle
Religious Commitment, Subjective Income, and Satisfaction towards the Functioning of Democracy in Latin America. A Mediation Analysis Model Based on Latinobarómetro
Religions 2018, 9(6), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060198 - 20 Jun 2018
Viewed by 1110
Abstract
Religion and politics in Latin America maintain a close relation that, along with a historical background in European colonization, remains in force through both being institutionalized in some political parties or ideologies, and diluted in the societies that make up this region. This [...] Read more.
Religion and politics in Latin America maintain a close relation that, along with a historical background in European colonization, remains in force through both being institutionalized in some political parties or ideologies, and diluted in the societies that make up this region. This paper examines the relation between three variables: religious commitment, subjective income, and satisfaction toward the functioning of Latin American democracies. To do so, we have constructed a hypothetical model based on a mediation analysis of 20,204 surveys that were collected by Latinobarómetro in 2016. The results confirm the existence of an indirect positive effect that is motivated by religious commitment, and mediates between perceived income and being satisfied with democracy in Latin America. In other words, as the respondents recognize that they have a greater subjective income and a greater religious commitment, they will probably manifest greater satisfaction toward the functioning of democracy. Such behavior highlights the referential nature of the religious experience by contributing to the emotional reinforcement of the social context perceived by Latin Americans. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Faith-Based Mentoring of Ex-Felons in Higher Education: Colson Scholars Reflect on Their Transitions
Religions 2018, 9(6), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060197 - 20 Jun 2018
Viewed by 980
Abstract
This qualitative study employs the framework of Schlossberg’s Transition Theory to offer readers an introduction into recently-conducted research on ex-felons transitioning into, through, and out of higher education within the context of the Colson Scholarship program at Wheaton College1, in Wheaton, [...] Read more.
This qualitative study employs the framework of Schlossberg’s Transition Theory to offer readers an introduction into recently-conducted research on ex-felons transitioning into, through, and out of higher education within the context of the Colson Scholarship program at Wheaton College1, in Wheaton, Illinois. Through the material gathered from personal interviews of six completed Colson Scholars, faith-based mentors were consistently seen as significant sources of support in each stage of the college-going transition. Faith-based mentors played an important role in the outcomes of, specifically, faith-worldview development and emotional development. This article seeks to illuminate the problem of the lack of supportive mentors for ex-offender populations in our communities, and to illustrate how those mentors might be found in faith-based organizations, institutions, and houses of worship, as Johnson (Johnson 2011) asserted and also what gains could result from the involvement of faith-based mentors in the lives of correctional populations post-release. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Return to the Sacred: The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham and Contemporary Christianity
Religions 2018, 9(6), 196; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060196 - 20 Jun 2018
Viewed by 1070
Abstract
Once one of the most popular Catholic pilgrimage sites in England, The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, now under the care of the Anglican Church, operates as a site of devotion, but it also operates as a site of memory. In this [...] Read more.
Once one of the most popular Catholic pilgrimage sites in England, The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, now under the care of the Anglican Church, operates as a site of devotion, but it also operates as a site of memory. In this essay, I will argue that, in this place of memory, where pre-Reformation worship meets contemporary devotion and tourism, we find insights for the contemporary church. The Protestant Reformation contributed to the desacralization of the world. Later events such as the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the Scientific Revolution of the past two centuries have shifted Western attitudes about the natural world even further away from the sacred. However, every year, thousands of visitors come to Walsingham. What draws them? What are they seeking? To consider what a shrine such as Walsingham might mean to a pilgrim, I will examine Philip earl of Arundel’s poetic lament at the destruction of the shrine, William Shakespeare’s nostalgia for the sacred feminine in The Winter’s Tale, and Robert Lowell’s 1947 poetic treatment of Walsingham. I will argue that focusing on sacred spaces, particularly those associated with the sacred feminine can benefit contemporary Catholics and Protestants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Journeys: Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage)
Open AccessArticle
Will God Make Me Rich? An Investigation into the Relationship between Membership in Charismatic Churches, Wealth, and Women’s Empowerment in Ghana
Religions 2018, 9(6), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060195 - 19 Jun 2018
Viewed by 980
Abstract
In recent decades, there has been an explosion in the growth of Pentecostal churches in Ghana, many of which preach that belief in God will translate into material wealth for both men and women. While some have argued that women in these churches [...] Read more.
In recent decades, there has been an explosion in the growth of Pentecostal churches in Ghana, many of which preach that belief in God will translate into material wealth for both men and women. While some have argued that women in these churches are likely to be more empowered due to female leadership and focus on the individual, others have argued that this may not translate to the typical congregant’s experience. After all, members of the Pentecostal church subscribe to the belief that wives should “submit to their husbands” (Biblia n.d.). In this study, I used the 2014 Demographic Health Survey to directly test whether women who identify as Pentecostal/Charismatic/Evangelical have a higher level of empowerment as measured by autonomy in decision making. I found that they exhibit significantly less decision-making power than other Christian women in making big household purchases and on their own healthcare. This exists both before and after controlling for wealth. Thus, the notion that Pentecostal women are more empowered than other Christians appears to be misguided. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Transforming the Conversation: What Is Liberation and from What Is It Liberating Us? A Critical Response to “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue”
Religions 2018, 9(6), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060194 - 19 Jun 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 819
Abstract
The Religions special issue, “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue,” addresses the concern over the present postcolonial context in which African persons and societies find themselves. The issue attempts to gain a further understanding of [...] Read more.
The Religions special issue, “Transforming Encounters and Critical Reflection: African Thought, Critical Theory, and Liberation Theology in Dialogue,” addresses the concern over the present postcolonial context in which African persons and societies find themselves. The issue attempts to gain a further understanding of this context through a dialogue between these three disciplines, but what emerges from this attempt? As a critical response to the issue as a whole, this article will reveal that each author presents different yet converging perspectives on the questions: ‘what is liberation and from what are we being liberated?’ This article begins by phrasing this question through Frantz Fanon’s critique on the postcolony, where he sees that the same logic—what Schalk Gerber’s article calls ‘the logic of the colonizer’—is still employed in the postcolony. This article unpacks the entanglement created by this logic and how each author addresses it in different ways. Importantly, this is not a review of each article; rather, it seeks to reveal the narrative created by this interdisciplinary dialogue in order to further the conversation on oppression and liberation in an African context. In so doing, it reveals how each author addresses the concept of liberation or freedom and where they partially (or perhaps provisionally) agree that liberation entails embodied communal responsibility as being-with others, the importance of transparent dialogue, the need for new rationalities to enter the discussion of African self-determination, while also highlighting the dangers of appropriating these new rationalities when bringing them into an African context or when moving theory into praxis. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Religion and Crime Studies: Assessing What Has Been Learned
Religions 2018, 9(6), 193; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060193 - 18 Jun 2018
Viewed by 1519
Abstract
This paper provides a review of the literature that assesses the relationship between religion and crime. Research on the relationship between religion and crime indicates that certain aspects of religion reduces participation in criminal activity. A review of the literature indicates religion reduces [...] Read more.
This paper provides a review of the literature that assesses the relationship between religion and crime. Research on the relationship between religion and crime indicates that certain aspects of religion reduces participation in criminal activity. A review of the literature indicates religion reduces participation in criminal activity in two broad ways. First, religion seems to operate at a micro level. Studies have pointed to how religious beliefs are associated with self-control. Second, researches have examined the social control aspects of religion. In particular, how factors such as level of participation and social support from such participation reduces criminal activity. Likewise, findings suggest that although there has been a sizable number of studies and diverse interests of researchers examining the religion/crime nexus, the research has not identified which aspects of religion have the strongest influence on crime reduction. In addition, the specific ways in which these factors are associated with crime reduction have not been comprehensively identified. Similarly, more than 40 years of empirical scholarship suggests that religion suppresses criminal behavior. Nevertheless, these findings remain controversial as the literature neither accentuates the mechanisms of religion responsible for suppressing criminal behavior, nor does the literature reject the spuriousness of the religion-crime association relative to mediating effects of self-control and social control. Finally, our review suggests that methodological constraints infringe on the capacity for sociological and criminological to accurately ascertain the validity of the religion-crime nexus, often generating mixed or inconclusive findings on the religion-crime association. Our paper concludes with recommendations for future empirical scholarship that examines the religion-crime nexus. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Sincere Performance in Pentecostal Megachurch Music
Religions 2018, 9(6), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060192 - 15 Jun 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1105
Abstract
Drawing on the work of Webb Keane and Joel Robbins in the anthropology of Christianity, furnished with the influential work of Charles Hirschkind in the anthropology of Islam, and the ethnographic studies of Tom Wagner and Mark Jennings on Pentecostal worship music, this [...] Read more.
Drawing on the work of Webb Keane and Joel Robbins in the anthropology of Christianity, furnished with the influential work of Charles Hirschkind in the anthropology of Islam, and the ethnographic studies of Tom Wagner and Mark Jennings on Pentecostal worship music, this article critically examines ideas of sincerity in the musical practices of Pentecostal megachurches. Making use of ethnographic data from research on congregational music in South Africa, including interviews with a variety of Pentecostal musicians, this article argues that the question of Protestant sincerity, understood following Keane as emphasizing individual moral autonomy and suspicion of external material religious forms for expressing one’s inner state, is particularly acute in the case of the Hillsong megachurch. Employing the full array of spectacular possibilities made available by the contemporary culture industry, Hillsong churches centralize cultural production and standardize musical performance whilst simultaneously emphasizing individual religious experience. It is argued that Pentecostal megachurches seek to realize a form of sincere mimicry grounded in learned and embodied practices. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Pratyabhijñā Apoha Theory, Shannon–Weaver Information, Saussurean Structure, and Peircean Interpretant Agency
Religions 2018, 9(6), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060191 - 14 Jun 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2210
Abstract
This paper builds upon my earlier studies in interpreting interculturally how the Kashmiri nondual Śaiva thinkers Upaladeva (c. 900–950 CE) and Abhinavagupta (c. 950–1020 CE) in their Pratyabhijñā philosophical theology respond to and reinterpret the Buddhist semantic theory of reference as the exclusion [...] Read more.
This paper builds upon my earlier studies in interpreting interculturally how the Kashmiri nondual Śaiva thinkers Upaladeva (c. 900–950 CE) and Abhinavagupta (c. 950–1020 CE) in their Pratyabhijñā philosophical theology respond to and reinterpret the Buddhist semantic theory of reference as the exclusion of the inapplicable (anyāpoha). It engages the issues in the Pratyabhijñā debate with the Buddhists, with the interrelations of Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver’s theory of Information, Saussurean structuralist semiotics, and Peircean pragmatic semiotics. Full article
Open AccessArticle
An Imperfect Alliance: Feminism and Contemporary Female Buddhist Monasticisms
Religions 2018, 9(6), 190; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060190 - 14 Jun 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 930
Abstract
This essay lays the elaborate textile of feminist discourse alongside the equally rich fabric of contemporary female Buddhist monasticisms, taking note of places the latter has pulled threads from the former, but also pointing out the ways in which female monastics lead agentive, [...] Read more.
This essay lays the elaborate textile of feminist discourse alongside the equally rich fabric of contemporary female Buddhist monasticisms, taking note of places the latter has pulled threads from the former, but also pointing out the ways in which female monastics lead agentive, creative, and sometimes rebellious female lives that in subtle and not so subtle ways resist the label “feminist,” or contribute a new motif or fiber to the feminist weave. Case study reports on two innovative Buddhist female communities in Malaysia and Nepal, chosen because they offer examples of innovations within the context of Buddhist female monasticism that are interestingly complex as examples of Buddhist feminist consciousness, will serve to make visible a few particular female Buddhist monastic perspectives. Respectfully called in as interlocutors and cotheorizers, the monastic persons described here offer religious perspectives on norm-following, agency, and coalition-building that expand the feminist frame. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle
God and Guns: Examining Religious Influences on Gun Control Attitudes in the United States
Religions 2018, 9(6), 189; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060189 - 14 Jun 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3578
Abstract
Mass shootings in the United States have generated significant media coverage and public concern, invigorating debates over gun control. Media coverage and academic research on gun control attitudes and reactions to mass shootings have paid little attention to the role of religion. Recent [...] Read more.
Mass shootings in the United States have generated significant media coverage and public concern, invigorating debates over gun control. Media coverage and academic research on gun control attitudes and reactions to mass shootings have paid little attention to the role of religion. Recent research sheds light on the complex relationship between religion and guns, including higher rates of gun ownership and stronger opposition to gun control among white evangelical Protestants. Using nationally representative survey data, this study examines the relationship between religious identity, gun ownership, and support for a range of gun control policies, including proposed remedies for preventing mass shootings. Compared with individuals from other religious traditions, evangelical Protestants are most opposed to stricter gun control laws and enforcement, even with statistical controls for gun ownership and demographic characteristics. Rather, they favor individualistic solutions and putting more emphasis on religious values in their social surroundings. I discuss how these findings reflect the cultural tools evangelical Protestants use to construct their understandings of social problems, including gun violence, and the broader implications for gun policy in the United States. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Ifa Fuyū’s Search for Okinawan-Japanese Identity
Religions 2018, 9(6), 188; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060188 - 12 Jun 2018
Viewed by 1557
Abstract
This paper focuses on the crucial role played by Ifa Fuyū, the “father of Okinawan studies,” in articulating ideas related to Okinawan-Japanese identity. Starting with a brief overview of Ifa’s life and work, especially his pioneering work in Ryukyuan linguistics, the author observes [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on the crucial role played by Ifa Fuyū, the “father of Okinawan studies,” in articulating ideas related to Okinawan-Japanese identity. Starting with a brief overview of Ifa’s life and work, especially his pioneering work in Ryukyuan linguistics, the author observes how Ifa’s progressive and reformist perspective shapes his discourse on religion, language, and history. The author then moves into analyzing a recently discovered wartime article that Ifa wrote in 1945, when he learned in Tokyo that the battle of Okinawa broke out between Japan and the U.S. Ifa’s controversial article shows how a strong sense of nationalistic identity was imposed upon Okinawans, on the one hand, while also revealing Ifa’s intention to fight prejudice toward Okinawans, on the other. This leads to the broader context of Japan’s emergence as a “nation state.” Problematizing the question of identity, the author argues that alternative histories of Japan should be taken into account for its proper understanding. Comparing Ifa’s view with historian Amino Yoshihiko’s thesis on Japan and modernization, the author envisions how identity can be seen as a growing network of plural identities rather than an abstractly imagined monolithic identity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
God’s Presence within Henry’s Phenomenology of Life: The Phenomenological Revelation of God in Opposition to Plantinga’s Affirmation of God’s Existence
Religions 2018, 9(6), 187; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060187 - 12 Jun 2018
Viewed by 741
Abstract
The recent debate on the notorious Anselmian proof of God’s existence, usually called the “ontological argument”, is placed within an analytic approach, since Alvin Plantinga revisited this argument beginning in the sixties and especially during the seventies. At the same time, Michel Henry [...] Read more.
The recent debate on the notorious Anselmian proof of God’s existence, usually called the “ontological argument”, is placed within an analytic approach, since Alvin Plantinga revisited this argument beginning in the sixties and especially during the seventies. At the same time, Michel Henry contested this proof, situating the debate in a completely different area of philosophy. Henry’s critique does not concern the question of logical validity or the matter of rational justification of religious belief. Rather, Henry focuses on the way existence is conceived. In so doing, his phenomenology of life shows the difference between affirming God’s existence (in every “possible world”) and accessing God’s presence inside the ego’s subjectivity. In this article, I will try to show how Henry’s way of proceeding makes self-life-experience a legitimate foundation for a belief in God’s presence (not only the simple intellectual affirmation of His existence). Full article
Open AccessArticle
Used Sources of Spiritual Growth for Spanish University Students
Religions 2018, 9(6), 186; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060186 - 11 Jun 2018
Viewed by 876
Abstract
Although some research has suggested means of promoting spiritual development in higher education, no systematic studies or literature reviews have been conducted to know what sources are most used for the spiritual growth of university students. This aspect was studied in a sample [...] Read more.
Although some research has suggested means of promoting spiritual development in higher education, no systematic studies or literature reviews have been conducted to know what sources are most used for the spiritual growth of university students. This aspect was studied in a sample of 309 Spanish university students (Mean age = 21.40, range 18–25). The used sources were (in descending order) as follows: the practice of a virtuous behavior, cognitive-reflexive, nature-based, cultural, and religious sources. Women showed a higher use of cognitive-reflective and virtuous behavior-based sources. Age was related only and negatively to the use of religious sources. These results are consistent with previous studies indicating a greater religiosity in women and a lesser importance of religion in contemporary society and, particularly, in the life of young adults. However, taken as a whole, they indicate the importance of sociological and cultural aspects, in particular of the movement from traditional religiosity to religious indifference and dissatisfaction with institutional religion and/or toward spiritual movements linked to humanistic religions and spiritualities of life. It also points out the need to use a variety of strategies to foster the spiritual development of students. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Case of Hirose Akira: The Ethical Predicament of a Japanese Buddhist Youth during World War II
Religions 2018, 9(6), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060185 - 10 Jun 2018
Viewed by 963
Abstract
The Japanese Buddhist clergy’s collaboration with the Japanese war machine during the Fifteen Year War (1931–1945) is notorious. Yet the struggles of ordinary lay Buddhist youths during World War II remain less publicized. This article examines the case of a young Shinshū Buddhist [...] Read more.
The Japanese Buddhist clergy’s collaboration with the Japanese war machine during the Fifteen Year War (1931–1945) is notorious. Yet the struggles of ordinary lay Buddhist youths during World War II remain less publicized. This article examines the case of a young Shinshū Buddhist soldier, Hirose Akira, 廣瀬明 (1919–1947), and scrutinizes the diary he kept between 1939 and 1946. Mobilized between February 1942 and January 1945, Hirose became increasingly disillusioned, especially when he witnessed injustices and the officers’ thoughtlessness in ordering junior soldiers to make sacrifices while enjoying their privileges. His diary reveals an early skepticism toward the Japanese embrace of expansionism and the hypocrisy of its justifications for the war of aggression waged against China and Asia as a whole. Independently from the battle’s fate, by 1944 Hirose considered that Japan was already defeated because of what he saw as “her own people’s ego and selfishness.” Full article
Open AccessArticle
“A Web of Subversive Friends”: New Monasticism in the United States and South Africa
Religions 2018, 9(6), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060184 - 07 Jun 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 910
Abstract
This article analyzes new monastic efforts to engage with systemic inequality in the United States and South Africa, arguing for the importance of the concept of friendship to new monastic social justice efforts. Growing in popularity during the 2000s, new monasticism is a [...] Read more.
This article analyzes new monastic efforts to engage with systemic inequality in the United States and South Africa, arguing for the importance of the concept of friendship to new monastic social justice efforts. Growing in popularity during the 2000s, new monasticism is a term used to describe Christians who are experimenting with forms of community and subject formation that take as their inspiration earlier monastic or other Christian socialist/communitarian movements. Drawing on qualitative research conducted with two South African groups inspired by new monasticism, I show how building relationships with economic and racial others is central to new monastic visions of social change. New monastics emphasize the importance of deep, committed, authentic, relationships—friendships—as the primary means of surmounting race and class divides. Building on the insights of Michael Emerson and Christian Smith in Divided by Faith, I argue that how new monastics conceptualize friendship simultaneously draws on and subverts traditional evangelical approaches to social engagement. Although new monastics are similar to evangelicals in that they attach central importance to interpersonal relationships, new monastics are distinct in that they explicitly connect the value of relationship building to practices of self-transformation and social critique. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Spirituality and Wellbeing in the Context of a Study on Suicide Prevention in North India
Religions 2018, 9(6), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060183 - 07 Jun 2018
Viewed by 1580
Abstract
The connection between spirituality and wellbeing, including its benefits for physical and mental health, has been recognized in the Eastern cultures for a very long time, although the sharp division between science and religion has caused, for the most part, its neglect inWestern [...] Read more.
The connection between spirituality and wellbeing, including its benefits for physical and mental health, has been recognized in the Eastern cultures for a very long time, although the sharp division between science and religion has caused, for the most part, its neglect inWestern cultures until recently. Nevertheless, limited efforts have been made to explore the impact of spirituality and religion on wellbeing, including the prevention of suicide. We begin with an overview of the literature on religiousness, spirituality, and health and wellbeing. Further, we present a novel study focused on a sample of 160 Indian students from a spiritually oriented university in North India with the aim to understand how spirituality affects their lives and wellbeing and their views about suicide. Our results show that spirituality, generally, has a positive impact on participants’ wellbeing with a potential protective effect against suicidal behavior, although more research on spiritual/religious beliefs as a source of difficulties is warranted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
Open AccessArticle
Existential and Virtuous Effects of Religiosity on Mental Health and Aggressiveness among Offenders
Religions 2018, 9(6), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060182 - 06 Jun 2018
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1066
Abstract
Although prior research tends to show that religion has a salutary effect on mental health and a preventive effect on crime, studies explaining the religious effect, particularly those on offenders, have been limited. To address the issue, we examine whether religiosity is inversely [...] Read more.
Although prior research tends to show that religion has a salutary effect on mental health and a preventive effect on crime, studies explaining the religious effect, particularly those on offenders, have been limited. To address the issue, we examine whether religiosity is inversely related to negative emotions and aggressiveness among prison inmates. Additionally, we assess whether the relationships are attributable to an inmate’s sense of meaning and purpose in life and/or their virtues. Specifically, we hypothesize that religiosity is inversely related to feelings of depression and anxiety and the intention of engaging in interpersonal aggression. We also hypothesize these relationships to be mediated by existential belief in life’s meaning and purpose and virtues (compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, purpose of God, and gratitude to God). We tested our hypotheses using survey data collected from a random sample of male inmates from three prisons in Texas, applying latent-variable structural equation modeling. We found that the existential belief explained the effect of religiosity on negative emotional states and intended aggression. In addition, forgiveness and gratitude mediated the effect on state anxiety, whereas purpose in God and gratitude to God mediated the effect on state depression. Substantive and practical implications of our findings are discussed. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“Getting Along” in Parkchester: A New Era in Jewish–Irish Relations in New York City 1940–1970
Religions 2018, 9(6), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060181 - 03 Jun 2018
Viewed by 876
Abstract
The history of conflict between New York City’s Irish Americans and east European Jews dates back to the close of the 19th century. They disputed over jobs, union memberships, housing, and frequently over politics. These conflicts crescendoed exponentially in the decade or more [...] Read more.
The history of conflict between New York City’s Irish Americans and east European Jews dates back to the close of the 19th century. They disputed over jobs, union memberships, housing, and frequently over politics. These conflicts crescendoed exponentially in the decade or more of the Great Depression in Gaelic neighborhoods, now more than ever, the word on the street was that the Jews were taking over. The rhetoric and organizations of Michigan-based radio preacher Father Charles Coughlin gave voice and activism to local frustrations. However, in 1940, within a new neighborhood built in the Bronx that attracted a majority of Irish and a large proportion of Jews, there was no organized anti-Semitism, no outbursts of violence, or even significant complaints that more callow Jews were being roughed up in the streets or play areas. If animosities existed, negative feelings were kept within families and were not expressed in daily youthful encounters. Why life in Parkchester was so different is the conceit of this study. Its community history from 1940–1970s constituted a turning point in their previously-contested ethnic group relationship while what went on as Jews and the Irish ‘got along’ marks off the limits of conviviality of that time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Jewish Experience in America)
Open AccessArticle
Does Religion/Spirituality Modify the Association of Stressful Life Events and Suicidal Ideation in Australian Men?
Religions 2018, 9(6), 180; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060180 - 03 Jun 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 929 | Correction
Abstract
In a large population cohort of Australian men, we previously observed that stressful life events were associated with increased suicidal ideation (SI). Many stressful life events, such as relationship breakdown and financial difficulties, occur frequently, yet most men who experience them do not [...] Read more.
In a large population cohort of Australian men, we previously observed that stressful life events were associated with increased suicidal ideation (SI). Many stressful life events, such as relationship breakdown and financial difficulties, occur frequently, yet most men who experience them do not have suicidal thoughts. There is some evidence that religious belief may be protective against suicidal behaviour. This study examined if attendance of religious service and/or perceived importance of religion/spirituality to participants modifies the association between stressful life events and suicidal thinking. Our analysis included 10,588 men who were aged 18 years or older who participated in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Male Health (Ten to Men), a national cohort study of Australian males. The study compared demographic, protective and risk factors for four subgroups: No SI, Remitted SI, New SI, and Chronic SI between Wave 1 (October 2013 to July 2014) and Wave 2 (November 2015 to May 2016) of the study and conducted logistic regression for these four outcomes. The study found a protective effect for attendance of religious services for the onset of New SI at Wave 2. Importance of religion/spirituality was positively related to Chronic SI. There were no effects of service attendance or importance for any of the other SI outcomes. We discuss results of the study in relation to social connection and broader contextual factors, such as secularization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
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Open AccessArticle
Revisiting the “Secret Consort” (gsang yum) in Tibetan Buddhism
Religions 2018, 9(6), 179; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060179 - 01 Jun 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2923
Abstract
This article revisits the question, first introduced by feminist scholars in the mid-1990s, about whether sexual practices within Buddhist tantra (heterosexually conceived) are empowering or exploitative to women. The purpose here is to complicate this question, given the different geographic settings and cultural [...] Read more.
This article revisits the question, first introduced by feminist scholars in the mid-1990s, about whether sexual practices within Buddhist tantra (heterosexually conceived) are empowering or exploitative to women. The purpose here is to complicate this question, given the different geographic settings and cultural contexts in which consort relationships have been embedded—from eastern Tibet to North America—and to nuance our understanding of the potential and pitfalls of sexuality in tantric contexts. To do so, I query the dynamics of secrecy and sexuality in tantric practice, examining twentieth century examples of female practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism who have participated in such relationships and thereby highlighting the localized ways that the “secret consort” (gsang yum) has been invoked as a social role. This issue is especially relevant today in light of the global #MeToo movement and recent disclosures of sexual improprieties and alleged abuse involving Tibetan teachers at the head of Buddhist communities in Europe and North America. For this reason, to conclude, I discuss shifting perspectives on sexuality as Buddhist tantra has spread beyond Asia and draw attention to current voices calling for greater transparency and community accountability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Women in Buddhism)
Open AccessArticle
Violence and Nonviolence in Shinran
Religions 2018, 9(6), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060178 - 01 Jun 2018
Viewed by 1113
Abstract
This article examines the Pure Land Buddhist thinker Shinran (1173–1263), from whose teachings the Shin Buddhist tradition emerged. Shinran’s ideas provide an alternative model for considering moral judgments and issues related to violence. Since Shinran viewed violence as a mode of human action, [...] Read more.
This article examines the Pure Land Buddhist thinker Shinran (1173–1263), from whose teachings the Shin Buddhist tradition emerged. Shinran’s ideas provide an alternative model for considering moral judgments and issues related to violence. Since Shinran viewed violence as a mode of human action, the author asks how violence, whether inflicted or suffered, is to be understood by Shin Buddhists. This article further discusses how practitioners engaging the Pure Land path might deal with it, and the relevance of Shinran’s understanding here and now. This line of inquiry expands to consider how Shinran’s approach relates to norms used in modern discussions of violence. It scrutinizes the double structure of ethical awareness, discussing in particular how usual judgments of good and evil action can be contextualized and relativized. In the section dedicated to defusing the violence of ignorance, the author introduces Shinran’s nonviolent, nonconfrontational response, and analyzes how Shinran recasts the Buddhist stories of Ajātaśatru and Aṅgulimāla in relation to his understanding of the “five grave offenses”—specifically murder and near matricide—usually understood as excluding practitioners from the benefits of Amida Buddha’s Vows. The author shows that Shinran focuses on saving even the evil, not solely the worthy, thus rejecting the exclusion provision of the Eighteenth Vow. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Criminal Desistance Narratives of Young People in the West of Scotland: Understanding Spirituality and Criminogenic Constraints
Religions 2018, 9(6), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060177 - 28 May 2018
Viewed by 775
Abstract
In our qualitative study of urban youth living in the West of Scotland, we argue that religion and spirituality give personal sustenance and hope from which a process of desistance can emerge. Religious worship offers a ‘site’ for undermining reoffending through the availability [...] Read more.
In our qualitative study of urban youth living in the West of Scotland, we argue that religion and spirituality give personal sustenance and hope from which a process of desistance can emerge. Religious worship offers a ‘site’ for undermining reoffending through the availability and adoption of socially supportive bonds. Desistance can occur through the development of different bonds and the recognition of transcendental authority. The results endorse the protective role of spirituality in desistance in relation to disadvantaged young people whose lives have been impacted by crime. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Mobilising Religious Assets for Social Transformation: A Theology of Decolonial Reconstruction Perspective on the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs (MNGRA) in Zambia
Religions 2018, 9(6), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060176 - 28 May 2018
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1408
Abstract
The article argues for a theology of decolonial reconstruction to aid the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs (MNGRA) in its search for a new political vision for Zambian society. The MNGRA was established in 2017 by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu to [...] Read more.
The article argues for a theology of decolonial reconstruction to aid the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs (MNGRA) in its search for a new political vision for Zambian society. The MNGRA was established in 2017 by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu to strengthen the Declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation. The second republican President Frederick JT Chiluba declared Zambia a Christian nation (hereafter, the Declaration) on 29 December 1991. In 1996, the Declaration was enshrined in the preamble of the National Constitution. Zambian Pentecostalism, perceived as chief architect and guardian of the Declaration, is also believed to have masterminded the introduction of the MNGRA. A female Pentecostal Pastor, Hon. Rev. Godfridah Sumaili, in fact heads the ministry. One of the key roles of the MNGRA is to stimulate faith-based organizations and religious communities’ interest, support and participation in pursuit of social reconstruction and transformation of the nation. To this effect, MNGRA has deployed a methodology, which seeks to dialogue with these organizations and at the same time use a ‘top-bottom’ approach to promote religious morality in the process of social reconstruction and transformation. This article argues that, being a ministry with a strong conservative Christian orientation, MNGRA is in danger of falling prey to a Pentecostal demo-theocratic (democratic and theocratic) political paradigm which rejects certain human rights, religious pluralism, and knowledge constructions from other religions, which are perceived inferior. The article also analyses the viability of ‘top-bottom’ approach utilizing a theology of decolonial reconstruction. This approach embraces a pluralistic model of integral religious praxis at all levels of life. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Negotiating Gender Justice between State, Religion, and NGOs: A Lebanese Case
Religions 2018, 9(6), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060175 - 28 May 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1508
Abstract
This article explores part of the process of passing a law in the Lebanese Parliament on 1 April 2014 called “Law on the protection of women and other members of the family from domestic violence,” also known as the ‘Protection Law’ or Law [...] Read more.
This article explores part of the process of passing a law in the Lebanese Parliament on 1 April 2014 called “Law on the protection of women and other members of the family from domestic violence,” also known as the ‘Protection Law’ or Law 293. In a United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) project on Religion, Politics and Gender Equality, the theorists José Casanova and Anne Phillips are engaged in establishing a transnational perspective on religious gender politics. The article then draws on written documentation regarding the discourse connected to the draft law at that time and on field interviews. The interviews were conducted in the period 2013–2016 with religious leaders and resource persons in Christian, Sunni, and Shi’a communities in Lebanon, and with key persons in the NGOs KAFA and ABAAD. An analysis of the arguments for and against the law before it was passed displays the larger field of intersection between feminism and religious practices and the consequences of the Lebanese dual court system. As a study from the Lebanese context when Law 293 was being intensively discussed, the article shows both the authority and the vulnerability of the religious leaders associated with the dual court system. The article also reveals the ambiguity of feminist activists and NGOs toward the role of the religious communities and leaders in Lebanon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle
Medieval Muslim Cuisine as A Real-Life Foundation for the Meat and Milk Prohibition in Ibn Ezra’s Biblical Commentary
Religions 2018, 9(6), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060174 - 27 May 2018
Viewed by 1073
Abstract
In his biblical commentary, R. Abraham Ibn Ezra (c. 1090–1164) occasionally voices the contention that the language, culture, and life-style of the Muslim world are capable of contributing to our understanding of contemporary aspects of biblical stories and laws. The current paper deals [...] Read more.
In his biblical commentary, R. Abraham Ibn Ezra (c. 1090–1164) occasionally voices the contention that the language, culture, and life-style of the Muslim world are capable of contributing to our understanding of contemporary aspects of biblical stories and laws. The current paper deals with the influence of Islamic culinary art in medieval times on Ibn Ezra’s Biblical commentary on the meat and milk ban. Ibn Ezra claims that the reality of the Arab kitchen, which includes the Bible lands, preserves the ancient ways of eating. Thus, we can understand the Bible ban in Muslim cuisine. According to the medieval dietary approach, cooking meat and milk is recommended because both products have similar properties. The meat of young goat healthier than lamb meat, so it is common to cook it. Muslims believe that the kid of a goat is better cooked in its own mother’s milk, because the two products derive from the same origin. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Spiritual Occlusion and Systemic Integrity: Legal Evaluations of Due Process Protections and Freedom of Religious Expression and Practices Safeguards
Religions 2018, 9(6), 173; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060173 - 26 May 2018
Viewed by 746
Abstract
As is the case with other constitutionally protected rights, the freedom of religion is not unlimited nor without restriction or constraint. Rather, the courts have long held that the state may have legitimate reasons for placing reasonable restrictions on the otherwise free exercise [...] Read more.
As is the case with other constitutionally protected rights, the freedom of religion is not unlimited nor without restriction or constraint. Rather, the courts have long held that the state may have legitimate reasons for placing reasonable restrictions on the otherwise free exercise of religious practice. The courts have also held that the state cannot restrict religious practice in a capricious or gratuitous manner. However, the courts have also held that individuals have a constitutional right to due process legal protections. In many instances, these two freedoms exist independently of each other. In instances when they intersect, conflict may result from one right seeking hegemony over the other. In instances such as these, the courts may have to resolve conflicts by establishing legal principles and precedents regarding which of these constitutional protections will be granted contextual prominence over the other. Thus far, the legal evaluation of this important question has been confused at best and contradictory at worst. This has resulted in a number of substantive outcomes that pose significant challenges to the practice and application of both rights and an underlying avoidance of broader constitutional questions. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“I Am Afraid of Telling You This, Lest You’d Be Scared Shitless!”: The Myth of Secrecy and the Study of the Esoteric Traditions of Bengal
Religions 2018, 9(6), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060172 - 25 May 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1283
Abstract
As the verse chosen as a title for this article emblematically shows, esoteric movements have consistently used secrecy as a literary topos in their oral and written cultural expressions for a number of purposes. Scholars of South Asian religions, especially those in field [...] Read more.
As the verse chosen as a title for this article emblematically shows, esoteric movements have consistently used secrecy as a literary topos in their oral and written cultural expressions for a number of purposes. Scholars of South Asian religions, especially those in field of Tantric studies, have been scrutinizing for decades the need for secretive doctrines and a secret code-language (sandhyā bhāṣā), mostly interrogating textual sources and neglecting the contemporary experience and exegetical authority of living lineages. In this paper, I firstly address ethical and epistemological problems in the study of esoteric religious movements in order to propose innovative methodological strategies. Then, I offer numerous examples drawn from extensive field-work and in-depth literary study of contemporary esoteric lineages of West Bengal (India) and Bangladesh, in order to discuss the local discourse on secrecy. Finally, I review previously assumed notions on secrecy in South Asian religions, and I suggest to take into serious consideration local perspectives on the accessibility of esoteric knowledge, leading to a more nuanced idea of secrecy, constantly subjected to temporal and situational negotiations between silence and disclosure. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Women’s Engagement with Humanist, Spiritual and Religious Meaning-Making in Prison: A Longitudinal Study of Its Impact on Recidivism
Religions 2018, 9(6), 171; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060171 - 25 May 2018
Viewed by 960
Abstract
This study explores the long-term impact on recidivism of the engagement of over 300 women prisoners with humanist, spiritual and religious ways of making meaning during their incarceration. Prison chaplains and community volunteers in the Oregon Department of Corrections offered a diverse range [...] Read more.
This study explores the long-term impact on recidivism of the engagement of over 300 women prisoners with humanist, spiritual and religious ways of making meaning during their incarceration. Prison chaplains and community volunteers in the Oregon Department of Corrections offered a diverse range of humanist, spiritual and religious (HSR) events to the women, and 95% of them voluntarily engaged at varied levels with an average participation rate of about 3 h per month. The women who attended most often were motivated to do so by intrinsic or meaning-driven reasons and were more likely to have listened to a religious program on radio or TV in the six months before their incarceration. Controlling for ethnicity, risk of recidivism, participation in other programs (education, substance use, cognitive and work), length of time incarcerated, and infractions during incarceration we found an overall significantly positive impact of HSR involvement on recidivism during the first year after release and over a 13-year follow-up period post prison. The impact was concentrated among the 20% of women who attended most frequently (4 or more hours per month) indicating a dosage and consistency of practice effect. Prison chaplains and volunteers make a valuable contribution to the lives of women in prison and to the correctional system; the pro-social support/modeling and diverse help with meaning-making they offer in prison has a positive influence on the women’s journey of desistance in the community after prison. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Religious Knowledge, Ineffability and Gender
Religions 2018, 9(6), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060170 - 24 May 2018
Viewed by 637
Abstract
The issue of ineffability constitutes a significant challenge in the philosophy of religion. In this paper, I first argue that it is difficult to see how the traditional approach, which I call ‘the metaphysical approach’, can address this challenge. I consider then a [...] Read more.
The issue of ineffability constitutes a significant challenge in the philosophy of religion. In this paper, I first argue that it is difficult to see how the traditional approach, which I call ‘the metaphysical approach’, can address this challenge. I consider then a post-metaphysical approach inspired by Wittgenstein which does look more promising in dealing with the ineffable. Finally, I argue that there are, however, new challenges that have to be taken into account; in particular, I focus here on the problem raised by contemporary feminist philosophers of the gendering of religious knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
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