Religions2015, 6(3), 1017-1032; doi:10.3390/rel6031017 (registering DOI) - published 27 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: I suggest that God’s life is the Spirit’s eternal interpretation of the Word as the perfect sign (representation) of the Father. Creaturely interpretations imperfectly mirror the perfect coherence of being and representation that is God’s life. When we respond to the incarnate Word we are adopted into the place occupied by the Spirit within the Trinity. By responding to the Word with the fullness of our being we are incorporated into the divine dynamic of truthful representation and loving response. Ontologically, this approach invites a retrieval of the idea of “vestiges of the Trinity in creation”. Epistemologically, it affirms that the basis of God’s self-communication (revelation) is the coherence of Being and Representation within God’s-self. Ethically, it challenges us to respond to suffering and injustice as these are illuminated by the incarnate Word, and to act as mediators for the incorporation of the whole creation into God’s life. The sacrament of the Eucharist is a sign that actualizes what it signifies, where what it signifies is the gift of participation in the divine life.
Religions2015, 6(3), 1006-1016; doi:10.3390/rel6031006 - published 25 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: We describe here a new measure of religious commitment, the Belief into Action (BIAC) scale. This measure was designed to be a comprehensive and sensitive measure of religious involvement that could discriminate individuals across the religious spectrum, and avoid the problem of ceiling effects that have haunted the study of highly-religious populations. Many scales assess religious beliefs, where assent to belief is often widespread, subjective, and a superficial assessment of religious commitment. While people may say they believe, what does that mean in terms of action? This 10-item scale seeks to convert simple belief into action, where action is assessed in terms of what individuals say is most important in their lives, how they spend their time, and where they put their financial resources. We summarize here the psychometric characteristics of the BIAC in two very different populations: stressed female caregivers in Southern California and North Carolina, and college students attending three universities in Mainland China. We conclude that the BIAC is a sensitive, reliable, and valid measure of religious commitment in these two samples, and encourage research in other population groups using this scale to determine its psychometric properties more generally.
Religions2015, 6(3), 988-1005; doi:10.3390/rel6030988 - published 25 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Attempts to understand contemporary religious practice, and its associated communities and identities, must take into consideration the way that these phenomena exist in both virtual and physical spaces, as well as the way that, in some instances, religion bridges or erases this dichotomy. The approach here focuses on those forms of religious practice that do not fit easily into one or the other type of space. Starting with existing discussions of ethnographic methodologies for studying religious practice and the growing literature on how to study “digital religion”, we examine the methodological needs for studying “third spaces”, the hybrid, in-between spaces of religious practice. The model presented here is one of simultaneous and collaborative ethnography that extends shared methods across the virtual and the actual dimensions as the most productive approach to this type of research. Using tailored research methods and techniques within this approach offers the opportunity to consider ways in which behaviors, interactions, and speech acts that happen within this event are continuous or discontinuous with each other. It also offers insight into the dynamics of “shared experience” and how perspectives are or are not shared within these multiple dimensions.
Religions2015, 6(3), 969-987; doi:10.3390/rel6030969 - published 19 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The article expresses the philosophical thoughts of an Italian philosopher, G.Vattimo and his development of the philosophy of M. Heidegger and essential aspects of Vattimo’s philosophy of religion. In the first part, we clarify Vattimo’s interpretation of Heidegger’s destruction of traditional metaphysics, the occurrence of ontological difference and the historical process of the oblivion of Being. According to Vattimo, the oblivion of Being is Heidegger’s reaction to European nihilism. It brings with it his philosophical questions on metaphysics, the substance of technology and course of technical civilisation. For Vattimo, it was only secularisation which enables one to pose questions about God, sense, and meaning. In a postmodern world, the world of technology and science has an ontological meaning for human beings and awakens them to who they are. In the article, we also focus our attention on some problematic points in his philosophy of religion. The first problem is a conflict among differentiated interpretations. Vattimo claims that kenosis has neither anything in common with “indefinite negation of God”, nor does it apologise for any interpretation of the Holy Scripture. In addition, he refuses radical demythologisation. In his opinion, there are no necessary reasons to follow this step. There are some authors who have serious reasons for it and the interpretation of kenosis leads to atheism. We will confront Vattimo’s philosophy with the thinking of the current Czech atheistic philosopher Otakar Funda. The next problem is a reduction of soteriology on the process of human being’s emancipation. There is no place for metaphysical evil here.
Religions2015, 6(3), 948-968; doi:10.3390/rel6030948 - published 5 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The psychological and socio-economic implications of digital technologies call for scholarship that engages questions about the nature of human consciousness, the construction of the self and the ethics of technical development. In this article, I outline a framework for an approach called contemplative media studies. This approach incorporates several different scholarly threads, namely: via critical political-economic media scholarship, a focus on achieving social and economic justice through policy initiatives and structural reform; via media and religious scholarship, an interest in the religious dimensions of digital culture and the role of media in shaping religious identity; and via contemplative studies, an appreciation of the applicability of contemplative principles to research methods and theory. This framework allows us to examine the spiritual ideology that drives the construction of commercial digital platforms and to ask whether alternative platforms might better catalyze human development. Anchored in a critical commitment to socio-economic justice, contemplative media studies is aimed at articulating an ethically-responsive and economically-sustainable architecture of human flourishing.
Religions2015, 6(3), 930-947; doi:10.3390/rel6030930 - published 3 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The present study examined the perception of contemporary German psychiatric staff (i.e., psychiatrists, psychotherapists and nurses) regarding their approach towards religious/spiritual issues in their clinical practice, and how clinical chaplains perceive attitudes and behaviors towards religiosity/spirituality of other psychiatric staff members. To answer these questions, two separate studies were conducted to include psychiatric staff and clinical chaplains. Curlin et al.’s questionnaire on Religion and Spirituality in Medicine: Physicians’ Perspectives was the main instrument used for both studies. According to the self-assessment of psychiatric staff members, most contemporary German psychiatric staff members are prepared and open to dealing with religiosity/spirituality in therapeutic settings. To some extent, clinical chaplains agreed with this finding, but their overall perception significantly differs from the staff’s own self-rating. Our results suggest that it may be helpful for psychiatric staff members and clinical chaplains to exchange their views on patients regarding religious/spiritual issues in therapeutic settings, and to reflect on how to apply such findings to clinical practice.