Special Issue "The Funerary Traditions of East Asian New Religious Movements"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Lukas Pokorny
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Religious Studies, University of Vienna, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Interests: millenarianism; new religious movements; Confucianism; new and alternative religions in Central Europe
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Jérémy Jammes
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Institute of Asian Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Jalan Tungku Link, BE1410, Brunei
Interests: comparative religions; Caodaism; Christianity; spirit-mediumship; conversion; missionary; material religion; religious networks in Southeast Asia

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A hotbed of new religious developments, East Asia (China/Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Vietnam) provides an exciting research arena for specialists of new religious movements (NRMs). This Special Issue assembles pioneering scholarship on an extremely under-researched subject in the study of East Asian NRMs, namely funerary rites. Many East Asian NRMs embrace very distinctive elements in their funerary culture and thought. This Special Issue will offer a panorama of these original funerary traditions.

Contributions (between 7,000-10,000 words) may adhere to the suggested structure below:

1) Brief overall introduction to the respective NRM;

2) Discussion of the doctrinal context of the respective funeral service (i.e., the theory);

3) Description of the funeral service (incl. subsequent rites) in action and its original place in the society (i.e., the practice);

4) Discussion of the specific role of funeral rites in the respective NRM, including, if appropriate, some comparative reflections vis-à-vis the funerary context of the parent tradition.

A number of scholars have already committed to this project, however, we do still welcome additional contributions. Enquiries should be sent to [email protected]. The submission deadline is 31 December 2019.

Prof. Dr. Lukas Pokorny
Prof. Dr. Jérémy Jammes
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • new religious movements
  • East Asia
  • funerary rites
  • death rituals
  • mourning
  • passage rites

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
The Funerary Rites of Won Buddhism in Korea
Religions 2020, 11(7), 324; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070324 - 30 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1275
Abstract
Won Buddhism, established in 1916 by Founding Master Sot’aesan (少太山, 1891–1943), is one of the most active new religious movements in South Korea. When Korean society experienced a revolution in terms of values together with a swift transformation at the societal and national [...] Read more.
Won Buddhism, established in 1916 by Founding Master Sot’aesan (少太山, 1891–1943), is one of the most active new religious movements in South Korea. When Korean society experienced a revolution in terms of values together with a swift transformation at the societal and national levels during the late 19th century, many novel religious movements emerged. Among these movements, Won Buddhism developed as one of Korea’s influential religions with an expanding role in society, both in performing the National funeral rites for deceased presidents and in the military religious affairs alongside Buddhism, Catholicism, and Protestantism. Unique interpretations of death underlie differences in rituals performed to pay homage to the dead. In this paper, I focus on the funerary rites of Won Buddhism. First, I will provide an introduction to Won Buddhism and subsequently give a brief overview of procedures involved in the death rituals of the religion. Finally, I will elaborate on the symbolism of the Won Buddhist funerary customs and discuss the deliverance service (K. ch’ŏndojae 薦度齋) as a practical demonstration of Won Buddhism’s teachings on birth and death. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Funerary Traditions of East Asian New Religious Movements)
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Article
The Cao Đài Deathscape: Reimagining Death, Funerals, and Salvation in Contemporary Vietnam
Religions 2020, 11(6), 280; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11060280 - 08 Jun 2020
Viewed by 1055
Abstract
This article sheds light on the sophisticated funeral process set up by the Cao Đài religion (or Caodaism), combining both a theological and an ethnographical analysis. After introducing how Cao Đài theology represents both the body and the spiritual components of each individual [...] Read more.
This article sheds light on the sophisticated funeral process set up by the Cao Đài religion (or Caodaism), combining both a theological and an ethnographical analysis. After introducing how Cao Đài theology represents both the body and the spiritual components of each individual in the specific millenarian conception of existence that characterizes Cao Đài, we trace the ritual process of funerals from the altar and coffin preparation to the collection of prayers and talismanic rituals conveyed to save souls in a Cao Đài manner. Read together, these sources present a genuine project and spirit of reform in the ideas, imaginaries, and practices related to death in Vietnam from the 1920s onwards, crystallizing a specific Cao Đài identity in Vietnamese and also East Asian redemptive societies’ deathscapes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Funerary Traditions of East Asian New Religious Movements)
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Article
The Unificationist Funerary Tradition
Religions 2020, 11(5), 258; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050258 - 20 May 2020
Viewed by 1234
Abstract
This paper explores the distinctive funerary tradition of the Unification Movement, a globally active South Korean new religious movement founded in 1954. Its funerary tradition centres on the so-called Seonghwa (formerly Seunghwa) Ceremony, which was introduced in January 1984. The paper traces the [...] Read more.
This paper explores the distinctive funerary tradition of the Unification Movement, a globally active South Korean new religious movement founded in 1954. Its funerary tradition centres on the so-called Seonghwa (formerly Seunghwa) Ceremony, which was introduced in January 1984. The paper traces the doctrinal context and the origin narrative before delineating the ceremony itself in its Korean expression, including its preparatory and follow-up stages, as well as its short-lived adaptation for non-members. Notably, with more and more first-generation adherents passing away—most visibly in respect to the leadership culminating in the Seonghwa Ceremony of the founder himself in 2012—the funerary tradition has become an increasingly conspicuous property of the Unificationist lifeworld. This paper adds to a largely uncharted area in the study of East Asian new religious movements, namely the examination of their distinctive deathscapes, as spelled out in theory and practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Funerary Traditions of East Asian New Religious Movements)
Article
The Dialectical of Life and Death in Contemporary Sōka Gakkai
Religions 2020, 11(5), 247; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050247 - 15 May 2020
Viewed by 2144
Abstract
Doctrinal reasoning, the practice of chanting nam-myōho-renge-kyō and its vision for kōsen-rufu has been how Sōka Gakkai (SG) promulgated Nichiren Buddhism. This paper explores, in an in-depth anthropological manner, how doctrinal issues matter significantly in the meaning of funeral practices in contemporary SG. [...] Read more.
Doctrinal reasoning, the practice of chanting nam-myōho-renge-kyō and its vision for kōsen-rufu has been how Sōka Gakkai (SG) promulgated Nichiren Buddhism. This paper explores, in an in-depth anthropological manner, how doctrinal issues matter significantly in the meaning of funeral practices in contemporary SG. So-called Friend Funerals have become widely common and demonstrate how SG members’ understanding of death and mortuary rites differ in some significant ways from common practices in Japan. To understand why specific funeral rituals are not in and of themselves considered of primary importance when a person dies in SG, this paper discusses its reading of key tenants of Nichiren Buddhism. What hotoke or buddha means is commonly seen in Japan as something achieved upon death facilitated by specific funeral rites. How such views fundamentally differ in SG is explored here based on long-term fieldwork and participant observation, as well as interviews and review of its doctrine. The research suggests that SG members engage in a cross-generational endeavour for kōsen-rufu where personal actions—what could be described as the ‘political’ existence of this life—matters but in a non-dualistic way as this simultaneously becomes the sphere that ‘transcends’ that contemporary existence. How one views death is not only seen as something relevant at the end of life, nor only to those remaining, but is taken as a reality that becomes the impetus for giving deeper meaning to how one acts in daily life as part of a cross-generational movement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Funerary Traditions of East Asian New Religious Movements)
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Article
Ritual Treatment of Fortunate and Unfortunate Dead by the Chinese Redemptive Society Déjiāo in Thailand
Religions 2020, 11(5), 245; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050245 - 15 May 2020
Viewed by 1053
Abstract
This paper compares the ritual management of fortunate and unfortunate dead (hungry ghosts) by a Chinese new religious movement named Déjiāo 徳教 (lit. Teaching of Virtue), which emerged in Chaozhou (the northeast of Guangdong province) in 1939, before spreading to Southeast Asia after [...] Read more.
This paper compares the ritual management of fortunate and unfortunate dead (hungry ghosts) by a Chinese new religious movement named Déjiāo 徳教 (lit. Teaching of Virtue), which emerged in Chaozhou (the northeast of Guangdong province) in 1939, before spreading to Southeast Asia after World War II. Based on ethnographic data collected in Chaozhou and Thailand between 1993 and 2005, the analysis reveals significant differences concerning both the ideological and performative aspects of the ritual processing of the two categories of dead. The funeral care of orphaned dead by Déjiāo conforms to the Chaozhou tradition of xiū gūgú 修孤骨, a festival of second burial allegedly devised during the Song dynasty by a local Buddhist monk; most of his sequences require the activity of mediums. Turned toward the salvation of the unfortunate dead, this festival was enriched by a universalist ambition through its adaptation to the Thai context. In doing so, it perfectly expresses the moral and religious goals of Déjiāo, one of the most active Chinese redemptive societies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Funerary Traditions of East Asian New Religious Movements)
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