Religions2015, 6(1), 113-121; doi:10.3390/rel6010113 - published 25 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The article describes a series of pedagogic exercises developed to help students in a General Education course at a Jesuit university to engage fruitfully with Augustine’s Confessions in a way that will facilitate and deepen their understanding of a classic text of the Western tradition and, at the same time, promote their personal formation in keeping with the goals of Ignatian pedagogy.
Religions2015, 6(1), 107-112; doi:10.3390/rel6010107 - published 16 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Students in Mercer University’s Great Books program read Augustine’s Confessions in the third semester of a seven-semester sequence. Their previous reading of Greek and Roman epics and philosophical treatises as well as Biblical material equips them with a solid foundation for reading and discussing Augustine. This essay reflects on that preparation and models ways that instructors can use opening discussion questions related to those earlier readings to guide students into substantive reflection on the Confessions.
Religions2015, 6(1), 92-106; doi:10.3390/rel6010092 - published 2 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The Norwegian health authorities buy one third of their addiction treatment from private institutions run by organizations and trusts. Several of these are founded on religious values. The aim of the study was to investigate such value-based treatment and the patients’ experiences of spirituality and religiousness as factors of meaning-making in rehabilitation. The study was performed in an explorative qualitative design. Data were collected through focus-group interviews among therapists and in-patients at a religiously founded substance misuse service institution. The analysis was carried out by content analysis through systematic text-condensation. Through different activities and a basic attitude founded on religious values, the selected institution and the therapists facilitated a treatment framework which included a spiritual dimension and religious activity. The patients appreciated their free choice regarding treatment approaches, which helped them to make meaning of life in various collective and individual settings. Rituals and sacred spaces gave peace of mind and confidence in a situation that up to now had been chaotic and difficult. Sermons and wording in rituals contributed to themes of reflection and helped patients to revise attitudes and how other people were met. Private confessions functioned for several patients as turning point experiences influencing patients’ relations to themselves and their surroundings. Spirituality and religious activity contributed to meaning-making among patients with substance use disorder and had significance for their rehabilitation.
Religions2015, 6(1), 82-91; doi:10.3390/rel6010082 - published 30 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Book I of Augustine’s work On Free Choice (De Libero Arbitrio) offers a helpful introduction to some of the most important themes of political philosophy. The paper makes a case for teaching this text in introductory courses on political thought, theology of social life, and similar topics, alongside or even in place of the more usually assigned excerpts from City of God. The text is written as a dialogue in which Augustine seeks to introduce a student of his to reflection on the ways in which our moral outlook is profoundly shaped by our political citizenship. It invites all of us, whether Christian or non-Christian citizens, to enter into the dialogue ourselves as Augustine’s students and so to reflect on the moral significance of our own citizenship.
Religions2015, 6(1), 58-81; doi:10.3390/rel6010058 - published 27 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: There is growing interest in Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and other secular, spiritual, and religious frameworks of long-term addiction recovery. The present paper explores the varieties of spiritual experience within A.A., with particular reference to the growth of a wing of recovery spirituality promoted within A.A. It is suggested that the essence of secular spirituality is reflected in the experience of beyond (horizontal and vertical transcendence) and between (connection and mutuality) and in six facets of spirituality (Release, Gratitude, Humility, Tolerance, Forgiveness, and a Sense of Being-at-home) shared across religious, spiritual, and secular pathways of addiction recovery. The growing varieties of A.A. spirituality (spanning the “Christianizers” and “Seculizers”) reflect A.A.’s adaptation to the larger diversification of religious experience and the growing secularization of spirituality across the cultural contexts within which A.A. is nested.
Religions2015, 6(1), 42-57; doi:10.3390/rel6010042 - published 16 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Since the beginning of his mandate, Pope Francis has used the concept of periphery as a metaphor of social marginality. However, the notion of periphery also seems to target the asymmetries generated by the liberal version of globalization. Pope Francis’ narrative has to be read in the broader context of the relation between religions and globalization. That interaction is usually conceptualized in terms of religions capitalizing on global “vectors”, such as new information and communication technologies, processes of political and institutional integration, shared cultural patterns, transnational phenomena and organizations. An alternative way to analyze the role of religions consists in considering them as agencies defending the perspective of a universal community, putting into question the national political boundaries and contesting the existing global order. Understood in those terms, the concept of periphery reveals to be a powerful rhetoric device, insofar as it suggests that it is possible to get a wider perspective of the current state of the world looking form the edge rather than from the center.