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Religions, Volume 9, Issue 7 (July 2018) – 26 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): This paper studies the ways that /Walker/, a short film by the Malaysian-Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-Liang, visualizes the relationship between Buddhism and modernity. Via detailed film analysis and attention to sources in the Buddhist tradition, this paper argues that its performance of Zen walking meditation serves two functions: To present slowness and simplicity as prophetic counterpoints against the excesses of the modern metropolis; and to offer contemplative attentiveness as a therapeutic resource for contemporary life. By instantiating and cultivating critical shifts in viewerly perspective in the manner of Buddhist ritual practice, /Walker/ invites us to envision how a place of frenetic distraction or pedestrian mundaneness might be transfigured into a site of wonder and liberation. View this paper
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Article
Vernacular Politics, Sectarianism, and National Identity among Syrian Refugees in Jordan
Religions 2018, 9(7), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070225 - 23 Jul 2018
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1695
Abstract
In Jordan—home to some one million Syrian refugees—the vital roles played by vernacular politics, discourses of inclusion and exclusion, and sectarian social histories for Syrians are often considered unimportant when examining possibilities for integration or coexistence. Based on ethnographic research and participation in [...] Read more.
In Jordan—home to some one million Syrian refugees—the vital roles played by vernacular politics, discourses of inclusion and exclusion, and sectarian social histories for Syrians are often considered unimportant when examining possibilities for integration or coexistence. Based on ethnographic research and participation in women’s religion classes in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan in 2014, I argue that while sectarian identities may not in and of themselves appear to divide the majority of Syrian refugees in Jordan from the majority of Jordanian residents (as Sunni Muslims), through utilizing a vernacular politics theoretical perspective I reveal that the sectarian orientations and localized histories of Syrian refugees have an understudied potential to create new forms of divisiveness in Jordanian society. To dismiss any concerns raised, Jordanians reinforce the idea that sectarian discourses, in an objectified sense, are not welcome in Jordan, and that they are even—as a few asserted—“against Islam”. These differing national experiences with vernacular politics expressed in sectarian terms prompt Jordanians to reinforce the narrative that Jordan is free of such divisions, and will continue to remain so. This paper concludes by discussing the implications for national–transnational tensions. Full article
Article
Bare Feet and Sacred Ground: “Viṣṇu Was Here”
Religions 2018, 9(7), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070224 - 23 Jul 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1588
Abstract
The meaning of a symbol is not intrinsic and should best be seen in relation to the symbolic order underlying it. In this article we explore the ritual complexities pertaining to the body’s most lowly and dirty part: the feet. On entering sacred [...] Read more.
The meaning of a symbol is not intrinsic and should best be seen in relation to the symbolic order underlying it. In this article we explore the ritual complexities pertaining to the body’s most lowly and dirty part: the feet. On entering sacred ground persons are admonished to take off their footwear. In many parts of Asia pointing one’s feet in the direction of an altar, one’s teacher or one’s elders is considered disrespectful. Divine feet, however, are in many ways focal points of devotion. By reverently bowing down and touching the feet of a deity’s statue, the believer acts out a specific type of expressive performance. The core of this article consists of a closer look at ritualized behavior in front of a particular type of divine feet: the natural ‘footprint’ (viṣṇupāda) at Gayā, in the state of Bihar, India. By studying its ‘storied’ meaning we aspire to a deepened understanding of the ‘divine footprint’ in both its embodiedness and embeddedness. Through a combination of approaches—textual studies, ritual studies, ethnography—we emplace the ritual object in a setting in which regional, pan-Indian, and even cosmogonic myths are interlocked. We conclude that by an exclusive focus on a single ritual object—as encountered in a particular location—an object lesson about feet, footsteps, foot-soles, and footprints opens up a particular ‘grammar of devotion’ in terms of both absence and presence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Ritual and Ritualistic Objects)
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Article
Shamanism in Contemporary Norway: Concepts in Conflict
Religions 2018, 9(7), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070223 - 23 Jul 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1616
Abstract
To choose a terminology for an investigation of shamanism in contemporary Norway is not entirely without problems. Many shamans are adamant in rejecting the term religion in connection with their practices and choose broader rubrics when describing what they believe in. When shamanism [...] Read more.
To choose a terminology for an investigation of shamanism in contemporary Norway is not entirely without problems. Many shamans are adamant in rejecting the term religion in connection with their practices and choose broader rubrics when describing what they believe in. When shamanism was approved as an official religion by the Norwegian government in 2012, the tensions ran high, and many shamanic practitioners refused to accept the connection between religion and shamanism. This chapter provides an account of the emic categories and connections used today by shamanic entrepreneurs and others who share these types of spiritual beliefs. In particular, the advantages and disadvantages of the term religion and how it is deployed on the ground by shamans in Norway will be highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethnographies of Worldviews/Ways of Life)
Article
The “Jewish Blackness” Thesis Revisited
Religions 2018, 9(7), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070222 - 22 Jul 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4249
Abstract
The notion that in previous centuries Jews were considered to be black, or seen as blacks, has gained broad acceptance in scholarly discourse on the Jewish body since the early 1990s. The present article considers the notion analytically and then examines some of [...] Read more.
The notion that in previous centuries Jews were considered to be black, or seen as blacks, has gained broad acceptance in scholarly discourse on the Jewish body since the early 1990s. The present article considers the notion analytically and then examines some of the evidence provided to support it. Much of this evidence does not stand critical examination. Therefore, arguably, the notion of Jewish blackness should be reconsidered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Modern Jewish Thought)
Article
Resources of Jewish Culture: A Case Study of Two Talmud Teachers
Religions 2018, 9(7), 221; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070221 - 21 Jul 2018
Viewed by 1184
Abstract
This article offers a conceptual framework for understanding the diversity of pedagogies found in Talmud classrooms. It looks at how two different Orthodox Talmud teachers responded to an academic article about constructivist learning practices in the context of a professional development program. The [...] Read more.
This article offers a conceptual framework for understanding the diversity of pedagogies found in Talmud classrooms. It looks at how two different Orthodox Talmud teachers responded to an academic article about constructivist learning practices in the context of a professional development program. The case study presented in this article helps to illuminate Lev Vygotsky’s theory of learning. Ultimately, this article argues that whether Jewish studies teachers are open or resistant to constructivist learning practices depends less on their particular theory of teaching and learning than on their understanding of Jewish culture. Full article
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Article
Joint Jewish and Muslim Holy Places, Religious Beliefs and Festivals in Jerusalem between the Late 19th Century and 1948
Religions 2018, 9(7), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070220 - 20 Jul 2018
Viewed by 2182
Abstract
Whereas the conflict over Palestine’s’ holy places and their role in forming Israeli or Palestinian national identity is well studied, this article brings to the fore an absent perspective. It shows that in the first half of the 20th century Muslims and Jews [...] Read more.
Whereas the conflict over Palestine’s’ holy places and their role in forming Israeli or Palestinian national identity is well studied, this article brings to the fore an absent perspective. It shows that in the first half of the 20th century Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem shared holy sites, religious beliefs and feasts. Jewish–Muslim encounters of that period went much beyond pre-modern practices of cohabitation, to the extent of developing joint local patriotism. On the other hand, religious and other holy sites were instrumental in the Jewish and Palestinian exclusive nation building process rather than an inclusive one, thus contributing to escalate the national conflict. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remembering Jewish-Muslim Encounters: Challenges and Cooperation)
Article
Gender Attitudes in Religious Schools: A Comparative Study of Religious and Secular Private Schools in Guatemala
Religions 2018, 9(7), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070219 - 20 Jul 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1304
Abstract
This study assesses the effect that private religious schools have on gender attitudes in students. Using data collected from twenty-one private schools in Guatemala, gender attitudes are assessed using latent class analysis. The results indicate that students’ gender attitudes can be categorized into [...] Read more.
This study assesses the effect that private religious schools have on gender attitudes in students. Using data collected from twenty-one private schools in Guatemala, gender attitudes are assessed using latent class analysis. The results indicate that students’ gender attitudes can be categorized into three distinct profiles. These are non-egalitarian, publicly egalitarian, and generally egalitarian. Subsequent analysis reveals that religious schools and specific religious beliefs are correlated with different gender attitude profiles. For instance, Catholic school students are more likely to be generally egalitarian than students in evangelical or secular schools, and biblical literalists are most likely to be publicly egalitarian. Overall, this research highlights the need to develop new conceptual models to provide more accurate and nuanced descriptions of gender attitudes. It also provides new insight into correlations between religious schools and religious beliefs and gender attitudes formation. Full article
Article
Neutral Spectators from a Distance? American Jews and the Outbreak of the First World War
Religions 2018, 9(7), 218; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070218 - 18 Jul 2018
Viewed by 1443
Abstract
As the First World War broke out in 1914, American Jews seemed far away from the upheaval in Europe. Yet their role as neutral spectators from the distance was questioned right from the outset because of their diverse transcultural entanglements with Europe. Seen [...] Read more.
As the First World War broke out in 1914, American Jews seemed far away from the upheaval in Europe. Yet their role as neutral spectators from the distance was questioned right from the outset because of their diverse transcultural entanglements with Europe. Seen from a specific Jewish perspective, the war bore the potential of becoming a fratricidal war. In particular at the Eastern front it was a likely scenario that Jewish soldiers fighting on either side would have to face each other in battle. For Jews, depending on how one defined Jewishness, could be regarded as citizens of a particular nation-state or multi-ethnic empire, as members of a transnational religious community or as members of an ethnic-national diaspora community. Against this background, this article attempts to shed fresh light on the still under-researched topic of American Jewish responses to the outbreak of the First World War. Although American Jewry in 1914 was made up of Jews with different socio-cultural backgrounds, they were often regarded as being pro-German. The war’s impact and the pressures of conformity associated with these contested loyalties for American Jews did therefore not just unfold in and after 1917, but, as this article emphasizes, already in 1914. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Jewish Experience in America)
Article
Pentecostal Forms across Religious Divides: Media, Publicity, and the Limits of an Anthropology of Global Pentecostalism
Religions 2018, 9(7), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070217 - 16 Jul 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1455
Abstract
Scholars of Pentecostalism have usually studied people who embrace it, but rarely those who do not. I suggest that the study of global Pentecostalism should not limit itself to Pentecostal churches and movements and people who consider themselves Pentecostal. It should include the [...] Read more.
Scholars of Pentecostalism have usually studied people who embrace it, but rarely those who do not. I suggest that the study of global Pentecostalism should not limit itself to Pentecostal churches and movements and people who consider themselves Pentecostal. It should include the repercussions of Pentecostal ideas and forms outside Pentecostalism: on non-Pentecostal and non-Christian religions, on popular cultural forms, and on what counts as ‘religion’ or ‘being religious’. Based on my ethnographic study of a charismatic-Pentecostal mega-church and a neo-traditional African religious movement in Ghana, I argue that neo-Pentecostalism, due to its strong and mass-mediated public presence, provides a powerful model for the public representation of religion in general, and some of its forms are being adopted by non-Pentecostal and non-Christian groups, including the militantly anti-Pentecostal Afrikania Mission. Instead of treating neo-Pentecostal and neo-traditionalist revival as distinct religious phenomena, I propose to take seriously their intertwinement in a single religious field and argue that one cannot sufficiently understand the rise of new religious movements without understanding how they influence each other, borrow from each other, and define themselves vis-à-vis each other. This has consequences for how we conceive of the study of Pentecostalism and how we define its object. Full article
Article
Globalization and Orthodox Christianity: A Glocal Perspective
Religions 2018, 9(7), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070216 - 12 Jul 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2166
Abstract
This article analyses the topic of Globalization and Orthodox Christianity. Starting with Victor Roudometof’s work (2014b) dedicated to this subject, the author’s views are compared with some of the main research of social scientists on the subject of sociological theory and Eastern Orthodoxy. [...] Read more.
This article analyses the topic of Globalization and Orthodox Christianity. Starting with Victor Roudometof’s work (2014b) dedicated to this subject, the author’s views are compared with some of the main research of social scientists on the subject of sociological theory and Eastern Orthodoxy. The article essentially has a twofold aim. Our intention will be to explore this new area of research and to examine its value in the study of this religion and, secondly, to further investigate the theory of religious glocalization and to advocate the fertility of Roudometof’s model of four glocalizations in current social scientific debate on Orthodox Christianity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glocal Religions)
Article
When Children Participate in the Death Ritual of a Parent: Funerary Photographs as Mnemonic Objects
Religions 2018, 9(7), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070215 - 11 Jul 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2101
Abstract
When children lose a parent during childhood this offers emotional and life changing moments. It is important for them to be included in the death ritual and to be recognized as grievers alongside adults. Recent research has shown that children themselves consider it [...] Read more.
When children lose a parent during childhood this offers emotional and life changing moments. It is important for them to be included in the death ritual and to be recognized as grievers alongside adults. Recent research has shown that children themselves consider it relevant to be part of the ‘communitas’ of grievers and do not like to be set aside because they are considered to be too young to participate. In this case study, I describe how a Dutch mother encouraged her three children, aged 12, 9 and 6, to participate in the death rituals of their father. She asked a funeral photographer to document the rituals. In that way, later on in their life, the children would have a visual report of the time of his death in addition to their childhood memories. The objective of my case study research was first, to explore in detail hów children are able to participate in death rituals in a carefully contemplated manner and in accordance with their age and wishes, and second, to examine the relevance of funeral photographs to them in later years. The funeral photographs will be presented as a visual essay of how and when the children took part in the rituals and which ritual objects, such as the coffin and the grave, but also letters, poems and drawings were important in creating an ongoing bond with their deceased father. The conclusion of this case study presentation is that funeral photographs of death rituals may function as mnemonic objects later on in the life of children who lost a parent in their childhood. These photographs enable children, when necessary, to materialize how they participated in the death ritual of their father or mother. In this respect they can be seen as functional means of continuing bonds in funeral culture, linking the past with the present, in particular when young children are involved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Ritual and Ritualistic Objects)
Article
Paganism and Reform in Shakespeare’s Plays
Religions 2018, 9(7), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070214 - 11 Jul 2018
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2079
Abstract
Shakespeare’s plays mix references to pagan and Christian symbols and ideas in ways which are only superficially contradictory. While the sometimes uneasy juxtaposition of classical and Christian religious thought is characteristic of Renaissance literature, there is, in Shakespeare’s use of paganism, a method [...] Read more.
Shakespeare’s plays mix references to pagan and Christian symbols and ideas in ways which are only superficially contradictory. While the sometimes uneasy juxtaposition of classical and Christian religious thought is characteristic of Renaissance literature, there is, in Shakespeare’s use of paganism, a method to the madness. Shakespeare’s comedies and romances associate the worship of Diana with the Catholic ideal of religious celibacy, and ultimately repudiate the Diana figure or transform her into a “Christian” spokeswoman who encourages and facilitates marriage and child-bearing. In a late romance, The Winter’s Tale, the turn from Diana to self-sacrificial marriage is also made symbolic of a key character’s turn from Catholic-like works of ritual penitence to inward transformation by faith. Thus, Shakespeare’s plays represent pagan ritual in a way which supports the Calvinist religious tendencies of early-modern England. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in Shakespeare's Writings)
Review
Agitators, Tranquilizers, or Something Else: Do Religious Groups Increase or Decrease Contentious Collective Action?
by
Religions 2018, 9(7), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070213 - 10 Jul 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1552
Abstract
This article critically assesses existing scholarship on the roles that religious groups play in collective contention. Researchers disagree on three main issues: (a) whether religious doctrines and values make religious groups more or less likely to launch collective contention; (b) whether religious groups [...] Read more.
This article critically assesses existing scholarship on the roles that religious groups play in collective contention. Researchers disagree on three main issues: (a) whether religious doctrines and values make religious groups more or less likely to launch collective contention; (b) whether religious groups reflect and reinforce politically relevant schisms and bring about regime change; and (c) whether the organizational structure of religious groups facilitates or prevents contentious collective action. This article urges researchers in the field (a) to extend their empirical enquiries into polytheistic, pantheistic, and non-theistic religions; (b) to conduct more cross-national and comparative studies; and (c) to think beyond the traditional framework of church–state relations. Calling for challenges to a one-dimensional understanding on the relationship between religious groups and collective contention, this article suggests that a better understanding of this relationship can be achieved by (a) explicitly defining the boundary conditions within which a theory works and (b) embracing a relational perspective that focuses not on religious groups per se but on their interactions with other social and political players. Full article
Article
On the Xiapu Ritual Manual Mani the Buddha of Light
Religions 2018, 9(7), 212; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070212 - 09 Jul 2018
Viewed by 2100
Abstract
This paper first introduces Mani the Buddha of Light—a collection of ritual manuals of the Religion of Light from Xiapu county, Fujian Province, China and Diagram of the Universe—a Manichaean painting produced in South China in the late 14th to early [...] Read more.
This paper first introduces Mani the Buddha of Light—a collection of ritual manuals of the Religion of Light from Xiapu county, Fujian Province, China and Diagram of the Universe—a Manichaean painting produced in South China in the late 14th to early 15th century. It then gives a detailed description of Mani the Buddha of Light with some illustrations of Diagram of the Universe. This paper further compares Mani the Buddha of Light and Buddhist worship and repentance ritual to demonstrate that the former utilized the form of the latter. It also analyzes the similarities and differences between the pantheons of Mani the Buddha of Light and other Manichaean materials. Ultimately it discusses the hypothesis that many pieces of the original texts in Mani the Buddha of Light should have come into being during the 9th–11th centuries and have been handed down generation after generation because of the strong vitality of its rituals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Ritual and Ritualistic Objects)
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Article
Lamòling Bèaka: Immanence, Rituals, and Sacred Objects in an Unwritten Legend in Alor
Religions 2018, 9(7), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070211 - 07 Jul 2018
Viewed by 1431
Abstract
This paper recounts a parallel story of the Lamòling myth. The original analysis of the legend addressed the relationship between two gods, Lamòling and Lahatàla, from the Abui traditional religion. The myth evolved from ancestral times to the arrival of Christianity in [...] Read more.
This paper recounts a parallel story of the Lamòling myth. The original analysis of the legend addressed the relationship between two gods, Lamòling and Lahatàla, from the Abui traditional religion. The myth evolved from ancestral times to the arrival of Christianity in Alor, with the resultant association of the ‘bad’ god as a demon and, finally, as the devil. This paper completes the myth as handed down from traditional ‘owners’ of the narrative and storytellers by telling a parallel version centered around an Abui ‘prophet’, Fanny, who was the only person able to travel to Lamòling Bèaka, ‘the land of the Lamòling gods/servants’. We also focus on a number of sacred objects and rituals associated with this religious myth and on their symbolic meaning for the Abui. This account tells a different version of the killing and eating of an Abui child by these gods/supernatural entities and of how Fanny came upon the gruesome feast. The paradoxical absence of Lamòling in this version of the myth depicts him as an immanent being, pervading and sustaining all that is real and created in nature, existing anywhere and nowhere at the same time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Ritual and Ritualistic Objects)
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Article
Religious Liberty in Prisons under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act following Holt v Hobbs: An Empirical Analysis
Religions 2018, 9(7), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070210 - 07 Jul 2018
Viewed by 1994
Abstract
Religion in the United States remains a consistent source of conflict not only because of the breadth and depth of personal religious commitment, but also because of guarantees from the United States Constitution. The First Amendment protects religious Free Exercise but also constrains [...] Read more.
Religion in the United States remains a consistent source of conflict not only because of the breadth and depth of personal religious commitment, but also because of guarantees from the United States Constitution. The First Amendment protects religious Free Exercise but also constrains federal, state, and local governments from establishing official government religions, endorsing religions or religion itself. Despite the risk of potential conflicts with the constitution’s text, Congress has supported laws that expand religious liberty. One such example is the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (2000), which significantly enhanced prisoners’ right to religious exercise above the minimum provided by the First Amendment. In the 2015 case of Holt v. Hobbs, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Muslim prisoner who had been denied his request for religious accommodations under RLUIPA because the prison failed to satisfy the act’s strict scrutiny standard before it denied accommodations to a prisoner to practice his faith. Via an analysis of case law since Holt v. Hobbs was decided in January 2015 until March 2018, we investigate the extent to which Holt has affected judicial voting in RLUIPA cases and how such voting may have been influenced by judges’ ideological dispositions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Crime: Theory, Research, and Practice)
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Article
Stay Your Blade
Religions 2018, 9(7), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070209 - 03 Jul 2018
Viewed by 1429
Abstract
In their article ‘Transmedial worlds: Rethinking cyberworld design’, Klastrup and Tosca show that the core elements of a Transmedial World are: Mythos, the lore of the world, the central knowledge necessary to interpret and successfully interact with events in the world; Topos, the [...] Read more.
In their article ‘Transmedial worlds: Rethinking cyberworld design’, Klastrup and Tosca show that the core elements of a Transmedial World are: Mythos, the lore of the world, the central knowledge necessary to interpret and successfully interact with events in the world; Topos, the setting and detailed geography of the world; and Ethos, the explicit and implicit ethics and (moral) codex of behaviour. Though other terms are used, in essence similar distinctions are made in game worlds and storyworlds. In this article, I will first discuss the game world and the storyworld and show that the storyworld in games is different from that in non-interactive narrative media. I then focus on the Mythos and Ethos elements in the world of the Assassin’s Creed series as both govern the moral choices in the series and, by doing so, subtly direct the behaviour of the player. Full article
Article
The Identity Strategy of “Wild-Geese” Fathers: The Craft of Confucian Fathers
Religions 2018, 9(7), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070208 - 03 Jul 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1414
Abstract
Transnational migration scholarship has discussed parents’ economic and emotional sacrifice for their children as a justification for separation. However, the researchers have overlooked addressing how the parents’ sacrifice is culturally ingrained, and fathers in the homeland construct their identity embedded in local culture. [...] Read more.
Transnational migration scholarship has discussed parents’ economic and emotional sacrifice for their children as a justification for separation. However, the researchers have overlooked addressing how the parents’ sacrifice is culturally ingrained, and fathers in the homeland construct their identity embedded in local culture. This article fills the gap by analyzing the experiences of Korean transnational fathers, “wild-geese fathers”, who live in South Korea. Using online data and narrative analysis, this article argues that wild-geese fathers identify themselves as tragic figures faced with emotional difficulties and successful heroes overcoming those difficulties. It shows that the mixed narrative of heroism is tied to Confucianism, which imbues fathers with the ideology of strong father controlling their emotions and intermediary roles producing children that are capable of maintaining the lineage honor. The analysis of wild-geese fathers shows that Confucianism proves to be a durable cultural resource for the contemporary Korean transnational family in a rapidly changing global era. Full article
Article
Marketing Missions: Material Culture, Theological Convictions, and Empire in 18th-Century Christian Philanthropy
Religions 2018, 9(7), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070207 - 03 Jul 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1600
Abstract
In the 18th century, Halle Pietists were part of a global missionary network that reached into North America and that anticipated later developments in worldwide evangelical missions; Pietists made critical alliances with other Protestants, they were savvy in their use of media, and [...] Read more.
In the 18th century, Halle Pietists were part of a global missionary network that reached into North America and that anticipated later developments in worldwide evangelical missions; Pietists made critical alliances with other Protestants, they were savvy in their use of media, and they worked alongside different empires in their efforts to reach and convert the world. Recent scholarship on religion and humanitarianism in the United States has focused predominantly on the Anglo-American story and the Post-Revolutionary period. This article argues that the Pietists highlight an earlier—and crucial—colonial era of global missionary connections, philanthropy, media, and empire. Attending to their writings and the images they used reveals important and continuing themes in the study of Christian philanthropy in America, including the significance of theological convictions, financial necessities, political allegiances, and racialized imaginings of potential, “uncivilized” converts. This article looks at the image of ascending eagles from the orphan house in Halle, which the Francke Foundations (earlier the Glauchasche Anstalten) used for their seal on books and medicines, and also considers an engraving of Tomochichi, a leader of Yamasee and Lower Creek descent, who appeared in the first report from the Pietist mission in colonial Georgia. The article argues, finally, that images were used to sell a particular vision of missionary work, albeit one that was not always true to experience on the ground and that appealed to colonialist objectives. Full article
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Article
Killing the Buddha: Ritualized Violence in Fight Club through the Lens of Rinzai Zen Buddhist Practice
Religions 2018, 9(7), 206; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070206 - 02 Jul 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1892
Abstract
David Fincher may not be an expert in Buddhism. But his description of Fight Club—as reprising the figurative admonishment to “kill the buddha” by Lin-ji Yi-xuan (9th cent.), the founder of the Rinzai Zen Buddhist school—illuminates the way that Fincher’s own directorial [...] Read more.
David Fincher may not be an expert in Buddhism. But his description of Fight Club—as reprising the figurative admonishment to “kill the buddha” by Lin-ji Yi-xuan (9th cent.), the founder of the Rinzai Zen Buddhist school—illuminates the way that Fincher’s own directorial choices mirror the ritualized practices of Rinzai Zen aimed at producing insights into the imaginary and subjective nature of reality. Other articles have already looked from the perspective of film criticism at the many Buddhist (and non-Buddhist) diegetic elements in Fight Club’s story, plot, and dialogue. In contrast, this article analyzes the non-diegetic elements of Fincher’s mise-en-scène in Fight Club from the perspective of film theory in order to demonstrate the way they draw inspiration from certain Zen Buddhist pedagogical methods for breaking through to a “glimpse of awakening” (kenshō). By reading David Fincher’s directorial choices in light of Zen soteriology and the lived experience of Rinzai Zen informants, the article sheds light not only on the film’s potentially revelatory effects on its viewers, but also on esoteric aspects of Rinzai Zen pedagogy as encapsulated in Lin-ji’s “Three Mysterious Gates” and Hakuin’s three essentials of practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Practicing Buddhism through Film)
Article
“Vibrating between Hope and Fear”: The European War and American Presbyterian Foreign Missions
Religions 2018, 9(7), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070205 - 02 Jul 2018
Viewed by 1220
Abstract
Scholars have argued that World War I and its aftermath caused a rapid transformation in American global philanthropy. The decline of the American “moral empire” coincided with the rise of professional, bureaucratic, and secular philanthropy. The reasons for this transformation appear almost self-evident: [...] Read more.
Scholars have argued that World War I and its aftermath caused a rapid transformation in American global philanthropy. The decline of the American “moral empire” coincided with the rise of professional, bureaucratic, and secular philanthropy. The reasons for this transformation appear almost self-evident: the crisis greatly exceeded the capabilities of all private organizations, leading to the growth of state-supported, public, and semi-public organizations like the American Red Cross. In fact, though, mainline foreign missions grew rapidly after the war and did not decline until the Great Depression. In 1920, for instance, they combined to receive over 80 percent of Red Cross receipts. Even amid the decline of the “moral empire”, therefore, mainline foreign missions remained major sources of philanthropic aid and primary representatives of American interests abroad. This article looks at the hopes and fears of Presbyterian (USA) foreign missions in the years before American entry into the (imprecisely named) European War, in order to understand the resilience of foreign missions during a period of crisis. The war created numerous practical, financial, and conceptual challenges. But, it also inspired the mission boards to seek greater sacrifices among donors, to coordinate with other boards and the federal government, and to find alternative methods to achieve its goals. These efforts in the first half of the 1910s prefigured a nationwide transformation in ideas about service and voluntary giving. After the United States entered the war, these “social goods” became nearly obligatory in the minds of many Americans. Full article
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Essay
One-Birth, Many-Births: A Conversation Reborn A Response to “Perspectives on Reincarnation: Hindu, Christian, and Scientific,” a Thematic Issue of Religions
Religions 2018, 9(7), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070204 - 02 Jul 2018
Viewed by 1243
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Reincarnation: Hindu, Christian, and Scientific)
Article
Pastoralism in Latin America: An Ensemble of Religious Governmental Technologies in Colonial Costa Rica
Religions 2018, 9(7), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070203 - 28 Jun 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1290
Abstract
Based on a critical empirical application of Foucault’s concept of pastoralism and a genealogical research approach, this article suggests that the Catholic regime that operated in Costa Rica during the Spanish colonial period (16th to 19th centuries), developed an ensemble of distinctive ‘technologies [...] Read more.
Based on a critical empirical application of Foucault’s concept of pastoralism and a genealogical research approach, this article suggests that the Catholic regime that operated in Costa Rica during the Spanish colonial period (16th to 19th centuries), developed an ensemble of distinctive ‘technologies of government’—charity, ceremonial strictness, bio-political control, geo-political rule, and administrative efficiency. Drawing on documentary and archival material, the analysis highlights both the governmental ‘logics’ and the governmental ‘techniques’ of the above technologies, as well as their complex centuries-long operation. The conclusions remark how such a complex ensemble of religious governmental technologies problematizes the synchronicistic and reductionist analyses of religion and politics; historical–institutionalist studies of colonial Catholicism in Latin America; and the compartmentalization of sovereignty, discipline, and apparatuses of security that Foucault originally proposed to account for the historical development of governmentality. Full article
Article
The Effects of Provincial and Individual Religiosity on Deviance in China: A Multilevel Modeling Test of the Moral Community Thesis
Religions 2018, 9(7), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070202 - 27 Jun 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1536
Abstract
This paper examines the moral community thesis in the secular context of China. Using multilevel logistic regression, we test (1) whether both individual- (measured by affiliation with Islam, Buddhism and Christianity) and aggregate-level religiosity (measured by the number of mosques, Buddhist temples, and [...] Read more.
This paper examines the moral community thesis in the secular context of China. Using multilevel logistic regression, we test (1) whether both individual- (measured by affiliation with Islam, Buddhism and Christianity) and aggregate-level religiosity (measured by the number of mosques, Buddhist temples, and churches per 10,000 people in province) are inversely related to law and rule violations at the individual level and (2) whether province-level religiosity enhances the inverse relationship between individual religiosity and deviant behaviors. Results from the 2010 China General Social Survey and the Spatial Explorer of Religions provide some support for the moral community proposition that contextual religiosity affects deviance at the individual level. Specifically, we find provincial as well as individual level of Islam to be inversely related with the violation of the law and rules. However, we find that neither the provincial level of Christianity and Buddhism nor cross-level interaction is related to deviance. The only exception, cross-level interaction involving the individual and provincial level of Islam, is in the opposite direction (i.e., positive, not negative). The implications of our findings are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Crime: Theory, Research, and Practice)
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Article
Almsgiving and Competing Soteriologies in Second-Century Christianity
Religions 2018, 9(7), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070201 - 26 Jun 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1501
Abstract
While care for the poor was widely advocated and practiced in early Christianity, charity was not universally endorsed. The Gospel of Thomas (Gos. Thom.), for example, is notable for its rejection of almsgiving, along with other practices such as fasting and [...] Read more.
While care for the poor was widely advocated and practiced in early Christianity, charity was not universally endorsed. The Gospel of Thomas (Gos. Thom.), for example, is notable for its rejection of almsgiving, along with other practices such as fasting and prayer (Gos. Thom. 6, 14; see also Gos. Thom. 27, 104). Ignatius of Antioch accuses some of his opponents of neglecting almsgiving and Polycarp of Smyrna, Ignatius’ friend and fellow bishop, suggests that almsgiving, prayer, and fasting are practices that will help counter false teaching in Philippi. This paper explores the role of almsgiving in competing visions of soteriology in second-century Christianity, including consideration of texts such as 2 Clement (2 Clem), Ignatius’ Letter to the Smyrnaeans (Ign. Smyrn.), Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians (Pol. Phil.), and the Gospel of Thomas. Full article
Article
Pedestrian Dharma: Slowness and Seeing in Tsai Ming-Liang’s Walker
Religions 2018, 9(7), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070200 - 25 Jun 2018
Viewed by 3879
Abstract
This paper studies the ways that Walker, a short film by the Malaysian-Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-Liang, visualizes the relationship between Buddhism and modernity. Via detailed film analysis as well as attention to sources in premodern Buddhist traditions, this paper argues that its [...] Read more.
This paper studies the ways that Walker, a short film by the Malaysian-Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-Liang, visualizes the relationship between Buddhism and modernity. Via detailed film analysis as well as attention to sources in premodern Buddhist traditions, this paper argues that its filmic performance of Zen walking meditation serves two functions: To present slowness and simplicity as prophetic counterpoints against the dizzying excesses of the contemporary metropolis; and to offer contemplative attentiveness as a therapeutic resource for life in the modern world. By instantiating and cultivating critical shifts in viewerly perspective in the manner of Buddhist ritual practice, Walker invites us to envision how a place of frenetic distraction or pedestrian mundaneness might be transfigured into a site of beauty, wonder, and liberation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Practicing Buddhism through Film)
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