Religions2015, 6(2), 299-316; doi:10.3390/rel6020299 (registering DOI) - published 27 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This paper reports on a descriptive qualitative study that explored the value and benefit of Serenity Spirituality Sessions programme for older nursing home residents. The research was carried out in six nursing homes in the Republic of Ireland. The facilitators of these sessions, who worked in the nursing homes, were interviewed about their experiences of delivering the programme and their views on the impact that the programme had on resident participants. Emergent themes revealed benefits of the intervention for clients, including inducing a calming effect, increased sense of belonging and benefits of ritual use. The programme yielded positive results, and appears suited to the predominantly Christian population, and as such is deemed a useful adjunct to holistic and spiritual care in these settings.
Religions2015, 6(2), 286-298; doi:10.3390/rel6020286 - published 24 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This article explores the place of conscience in higher education. It begins by reconstructing the place of conscience in Augustine’s thought, drawing on Augustine’s reading of Genesis 3, the Psalms, and his own spiritual journey. Its basic aim is to clarify Augustine’s account of conscience as self-judgment, identifying the conditions under which self-judgment occurs. After identifying these conditions it addresses the question: does conscience still have a place in modern higher education? It acknowledges the real limitations and obstacles to moral education when pursued in the context of the modern research university. However, it also argues that moral education proceeds in stages, and that educators can anticipate and clear a way for the place of conscience—though not, of course, without reliance on the movement of grace.
Religions2015, 6(1), 266-285; doi:10.3390/rel6010266 - published 20 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This essay examines the convergence of the Protestant left and traditionalist right during the 1950s. Reinhold Niebuhr and the World Council of Churches challenged Cold War liberalism from within. As they did, they anticipated and even applauded the anti-liberalism of early Cold War conservatives. While exploring intellectual precursors of the New Left, this essay forefronts one forgotten byproduct of the political realignments following World War II: The transgressive politics of “conservative socialism.” Furthermore, this work contributes to growing awareness of ecumenical Christian impact within American life.
Religions2015, 6(1), 245-265; doi:10.3390/rel6010245 - published 18 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In this paper, I analyze the contemporary role of the Black Church in the public sphere. Some argue that despite the historical role of the Black Church in addressing racial inequality, it should not be involved in the public sphere, as there should be a clear separation between church and state. I argue that black churches are filling a gap created by the self-help ideology of a neo-liberal era where addressing the outcomes of contemporary racial inequality is left to private sector organizations, such as churches, rather than the federal government. I assert that the Black Church should remain engaged in the public sphere for two reasons: first, black churches are operating in the absence of state welfare rather than as an alternative to it and second, black churches are among the few institutions providing race-specific remedies that have been abandoned in a colorblind era.
Religions2015, 6(1), 221-244; doi:10.3390/rel6010221 - published 17 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Scientific questions posed by St. Augustine, early father of the Christian church, are presented as a part of a proposed undergraduate course for religion and philosophy students. Augustine regularly seasons his religious, philosophical and moral investigations with analysis focused on the physical nature of the universe and how it can be quantified: “And yet, O Lord, we do perceive intervals of time, and we compare them with each other, and we say that some are longer and others are shorter” (Confessions, Book 11). The physical analysis is sometimes extended, pressing the attention and grasp of the unsuspecting student of religion or philosophy. Though Augustine emphasizes that true knowledge comes from faith and revelation, his physical inquiries imply that he values such analysis as a way toward truth. In contrast, Master of Divinity programs, which train the majority of Western Christian ministers, require little science experience and usually no physics. Serious investigation of Augustine’s physical explorations reveal an alternative way of understanding scripture, especially Jesus’ sayings: could the master engineer who created the universe sometimes be speaking in straightforward scientific terms?
Religions2015, 6(1), 211-220; doi:10.3390/rel6010211 - published 12 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Augustine’s De musica is all that remains of his ambitious plan to write a cycle of works describing each of the liberal arts in terms of Christian faith and is actually unfinished; whereas the six books extant today primarily examine rhythm, Augustine intended to write about melody also. The sixth book of De musica was better known in late Antiquity and the Middle Ages than the first five, and it takes up philosophical questions of aesthetics related to the proportionate ordering discernable throughout creation. After a brief introduction summarizing De musica’s content and its importance in subsequent Christian writings, my presentation outlines and explains how I have used this document in my own music classes. For example, my students learn that a vital notion in Augustine’s writings, and in Neoplatonism more broadly, is the spiritual benefit of academic study. That is, through study of music, one gains insight into the created order, but, more importantly, one’s soul is strengthened and trained to perceive higher realities of the cosmos such as the ordering of the planetary spheres and the progression of celestial hierarchies, which span the spiritual distance from God to humanity.