Special Issue "The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 June 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Michael Hoelzl
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Religions and Theology, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
Interests: social ethics; political theology; philosophy of law and political philosophy with an emphasis on Schmittian studies; further research interests include theories of secularisation and what I have called 'The New Visibility of Religion' (in its legal, sociological and political dimension as well as in popular culture ie. film, art and literature)

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The New Visibility of Religion thesis has increasingly come to dominate the discourse on religion today. Whether it has been used to demonstrate the enduring importance of religion despite all attempts to explain it away, or, to reinforce a warning of the political and anti-liberal tendencies that religion entails, the term has proved influential for a range of disciplines seeking to understand religion and religiosity in contemporary times.

Apart from the academic difficulties of defining religion, the complexity of the study of new religious phenomena has been enlarged by new forms of social interaction and their rapidly changing nature. Critical discussion of the new visibility of religion therefore requires a full discussion of the insights, limitations, and contested definitions that this new paradigm raises. Traditional parameters, indicators and methodologies used to study religious phenomena seem to be outdated. Innovative analytical tools of critical investigation of religion beyond traditional theories of secularization and religious fundamentalism are needed.

In this special edition new academic fields of the study of religion and theological discourse are introduced by leading experts in their field. The new visibility of religion has not only created a novel awareness of religion today but has also created new areas of the study of religion and the interaction of religion with society and individual social practices. The special issue focuses on three key areas of the study of the new visibility of religion and the impact this new visibility of religion has on our everyday life: 1) Religion in Popular Culture, 2) Post-Humanism and 3) Religion in Contemporary Populist Politics.

Dr. Michael Hoelzl
Guest Editor

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

  • Religion and Popular Culture
  • Secularisation
  • Post-humanism
  • Populist Politics
  • Political Religion

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Article
A Sense of Presence: Mediating an American Apocalypse
Religions 2021, 12(1), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12010059 - 15 Jan 2021
Viewed by 608
Abstract
Here I build upon Robert Orsi’s work by arguing that we can see presence—and the longing for it—at work beyond the obvious spaces of religious practice. Presence, I propose, is alive and well in mediated apocalypticism, in the intense imagination of the future [...] Read more.
Here I build upon Robert Orsi’s work by arguing that we can see presence—and the longing for it—at work beyond the obvious spaces of religious practice. Presence, I propose, is alive and well in mediated apocalypticism, in the intense imagination of the future that preoccupies those who consume its narratives in film, games, and role plays. Presence is a way of bringing worlds beyond into tangible form, of touching them and letting them touch you. It is, in this sense, that Michael Hoelzl and Graham Ward observe the “re-emergence” of religion with a “new visibility” that is much more than “simple re-emergence of something that has been in decline in the past but is now manifesting itself once more.” I propose that the “new awareness of religion” they posit includes the mediated worlds that enchant and empower us via deeply immersive fandoms. Whereas religious institutions today may be suspicious of presence, it lives on in the thick of media fandoms and their material manifestations, especially those forms that make ultimate promises about the world to come. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact)
Article
Visible Religion and Populism: An Explosive Cocktail
Religions 2020, 11(8), 401; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11080401 - 05 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1048
Abstract
Populism frequently uses the visibility of religious majorities and minorities as polemically charged references in the political controversy about cultural identity. Visible signs are evoked as positive identity markers and representations of the fiction of a homogenous society. The visibility of religions coming [...] Read more.
Populism frequently uses the visibility of religious majorities and minorities as polemically charged references in the political controversy about cultural identity. Visible signs are evoked as positive identity markers and representations of the fiction of a homogenous society. The visibility of religions coming from an immigration background is more likely to be attacked as an invasion of foreigners who do not fit in the frame of an imagined authentic model of cultural unity. As the debates on the construction of mosques and minarets in European cities show, Islam becomes a synonym of differences perceived as problematic. Depending on the political agenda, invisible and quiet religions are preferred to the visible and politically more demanding ones. However, the opinions for or against a high degree of visibility are not necessarily shared within the religious communities. Their members can ask for discrete individual practices or for a strong collective presence in the public sphere. Populist discourses try to argue against manifestations of ostentatious visibility and use this fight as a platform for identity-driven propaganda that is interested in the exclusion of those who are considered as the threat to the well-being of the “people”. The visibility of religion thesis has to be dealt with carefully in the context of right-wing populism because of the toxic effects of all kinds of identity politics in the political as well as in the religious sphere. The conventional implications of the public–private split must be rearticulated in a context in which secularism is challenged by the return of visible religion and by the emergence of political ideologies playing with the fire of strong and exclusivist identity claims that are in conflict with ideals of tolerance, pluralism, and diversity management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact)
Article
Sacred Architecture and Public Space under the Conditions of a New Visibility of Religion
Religions 2020, 11(8), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11080379 - 23 Jul 2020
Viewed by 823
Abstract
Embedded in the paradigm of the “New Visibility of Religion,” this article addresses the question of the significance of sacred buildings for public spaces. ‘Visibility’ is conceived as religion’s presence in cities through the medium of architecture. In maintaining sacred buildings in cities, [...] Read more.
Embedded in the paradigm of the “New Visibility of Religion,” this article addresses the question of the significance of sacred buildings for public spaces. ‘Visibility’ is conceived as religion’s presence in cities through the medium of architecture. In maintaining sacred buildings in cities, religions expose themselves to the conditions of how cities work. They cannot avoid questions such as how to counteract the tendency of public space to erode. Following some preliminary remarks on the “New Visibility of Religion,” I examine selected sacred buildings in Vienna. Next, I focus on the motifs of the city, the “ark” as a model for sacred buildings and the aesthetic dimension of public space. Finally, I consider the contribution of sacred buildings to contemporary public spaces. What is at issue is not the subject that moves in public and visits sacred buildings with the aim of acquiring knowledge or with the urgency to act, but rather the subject that feels and experiences itself in its dealings with public space and sacred buildings. In this context, I refer to the experience of disinterested beauty (Kant), anachronism, multi-perspectivity (Klaus Heinrich), and openness (Hans-Dieter Bahr). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact)
Article
Fraternity versus Parochialism: On Religion and Populism
Religions 2020, 11(7), 319; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070319 - 29 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1420
Abstract
The relationship between populism and religion is complex because populists hijack religion but are often more interested in belonging than believing. This is one reason why there is a growing distance between populists and many leaders of mainline churches. To understand this complex [...] Read more.
The relationship between populism and religion is complex because populists hijack religion but are often more interested in belonging than believing. This is one reason why there is a growing distance between populists and many leaders of mainline churches. To understand this complex field, we have to take social crises seriously and see how a static religion is, according to Henri Bergson, the first response to the precariousness of human life. This type of religion has led to closed societies leaning toward pseudospeciation and parochial altruism. Bergson, however, did not only describe static religion but also recognized dynamic religion leading to an open society. Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, with its call to love one’s enemy, is his key example. By going beyond Bergson, we can recognize dynamic religion as the mystic core of all world religions. Dynamic religion enables a universal fraternity, which is an essential element of every democracy in overcoming its populist temptations by respecting, internally, the rights of minorities and, externally, the universal human rights. Three examples from different religious backgrounds show how dynamic religion supports democracy through fraternity: the fraternal tradition in modern Catholicism, the Muslim philosopher S.B. Diagne and the Hindu M.K. Gandhi. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact)
Article
Religion, Creative Practice and Aestheticisation in Nick Cave’s The Red Hand Files
Religions 2020, 11(6), 304; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11060304 - 22 Jun 2020
Viewed by 1213
Abstract
In 2018, Nick Cave launched The Red Hand Files website, where fans ask personal questions and the artist responds. This ongoing dialogue presents a unique iteration of religious visibility at the nexus of religion and the arts. Here, Cave articulates his personal religiosity [...] Read more.
In 2018, Nick Cave launched The Red Hand Files website, where fans ask personal questions and the artist responds. This ongoing dialogue presents a unique iteration of religious visibility at the nexus of religion and the arts. Here, Cave articulates his personal religiosity in the wake of his son’s death, detailing the role of creative practice, performance and communication. Cave’s personal spirituality engages processes of aestheticisation that awaken experiences of inspiration and mystery. The epistemological orientation of alternative spirituality that values encounters with the ineffable and seeks to be free from static beliefs had previously found its antithesis in organised religion, but more recently, the fervent dogmatism of political correctness has applied its own pressure. As an example of religious aestheticisation within the tradition of alternative spirituality, The Red Hand Files exhibits the continued salience of this worldview despite the countervailing influence of politically correct culture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact)
Article
Hostility toward Gender in Catholic and Political Right-Wing Movements
Religions 2020, 11(6), 301; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11060301 - 21 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1064
Abstract
Starting with a speech by Theodor Adorno, the essay analyzes some thematic parallels between political and religious populism regarding the view on gender and feminism. In both certain traditional Catholic circles and right-wing political parties, an explicit hostility toward gender can be observed. [...] Read more.
Starting with a speech by Theodor Adorno, the essay analyzes some thematic parallels between political and religious populism regarding the view on gender and feminism. In both certain traditional Catholic circles and right-wing political parties, an explicit hostility toward gender can be observed. In this article, this resentment is discussed in three aspects: the defense of a traditional image of the family, the instrumentalization of women’s rights against “the Islam”, and, generally, the propaganda of anti-feminism or anti-genderism. Moreover, the text considers the fact that in spite of anti-feminist positions, many women are part of these movements, sometimes even as leaders. The text will prove that this is only a superficial contradiction. The right-wing populist groups—both secular and religious—promise to reduce the potential threat to modern societies while “preserving” the traditional order. The coalitions between them run along the lines of the “values” represented, including anti-feminism and anti-genderism. The danger that these “alliances” pose to a liberal society must not be underestimated by the religious and secular actors who value and protect ambiguity and diversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact)
Article
The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact on Populist Politics
Religions 2020, 11(6), 292; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11060292 - 15 Jun 2020
Viewed by 1070
Abstract
The marginalised research field of populism and religion has mainly focused on the positive aspects of how religion and populism can be combined with mutual benefits for both parties, whereas the critical potential and limitations that religion and theology pose to populist politics [...] Read more.
The marginalised research field of populism and religion has mainly focused on the positive aspects of how religion and populism can be combined with mutual benefits for both parties, whereas the critical potential and limitations that religion and theology pose to populist politics has often been overlooked. The following essay intends to contribute to the complex research area of religion and populism, by focusing on the negative side, that is, the incompatibilities of religion and theology with populism. It is suggested that the very nature of religious belief and theological convictions impose limits on their use in populist politics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact)
Article
Nostalgia and the ‘New Visibility’ of Religion
Religions 2020, 11(5), 267; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050267 - 25 May 2020
Viewed by 1359
Abstract
This article examines the role that religion plays in a sample of the lives and career journeys of eight academic staff or alumni at a British university. Using the ‘Nostalgia Interviews with Chris Deacy’ podcast as source material, the aim is to look [...] Read more.
This article examines the role that religion plays in a sample of the lives and career journeys of eight academic staff or alumni at a British university. Using the ‘Nostalgia Interviews with Chris Deacy’ podcast as source material, the aim is to look at the intersection between traditional and implicit conceptualisations of religion, that arise in the course of interviews that the author has undertaken, with a view to shedding light on what this says about the role that religion plays when people reminisce about their past, how this relates to contemporary religious experience for them, and whether this might be identified as an example of the ‘new visibility’ of religion. It will conclude that the way we understand the location and parameters of religion in the contemporary world needs to be re-orientated and re-framed, in the light of the presence of those less formal and structured forms of religion, which often overlap with formal religious practices, but are often articulated without reference to it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact)
Article
The AI Creation Meme: A Case Study of the New Visibility of Religion in Artificial Intelligence Discourse
Religions 2020, 11(5), 253; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050253 - 19 May 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4117
Abstract
Through a consideration of examples of the AI Creation Meme, a remix of Michelangelo’s Creazione di Adamo featuring a human hand and a machine hand nearly touching, fingertip to fingertip, this article will tackle the religious continuities and resonances that still emerge in [...] Read more.
Through a consideration of examples of the AI Creation Meme, a remix of Michelangelo’s Creazione di Adamo featuring a human hand and a machine hand nearly touching, fingertip to fingertip, this article will tackle the religious continuities and resonances that still emerge in AI discourse in an allegedly ‘secular age’. The AI Creation Meme, as a highly visible cultural artefact appearing in a variety of forms and locations, will be analyzed and discussed for its religious, apocalyptic, and post-humanist narratives, along with reference to earlier work on the New Visibility of Religion—specifically, Alexander Darius Ornella’s consideration of the New Visibility of Religion and religious imagery of the 2006 film, Children of Men. Work that outlines the aspects of critical post-humanism, speculative post-humanism, and transhumanism in relation to the contemporary post-secular age will also be addressed to expand on the implicit apocalyptic messages of the AI Creation Meme. Such a consideration of repeating and remixed imagery will add to the scholarly conversation around AI narratives and the entanglements of religion and technology in our imaginaries of the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact)
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Article
Religious Interactions in Deliberative Democratic Systems Theory
Religions 2020, 11(4), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11040210 - 22 Apr 2020
Viewed by 913
Abstract
The following essay begins by outlining the pragmatist link between truth claims and democratic deliberations. To this end, special attention will be paid to Jeffrey Stout’s pragmatist enfranchisement of religious citizens. Stout defends a deliberative notion of democracy that fulfills stringent criteria of [...] Read more.
The following essay begins by outlining the pragmatist link between truth claims and democratic deliberations. To this end, special attention will be paid to Jeffrey Stout’s pragmatist enfranchisement of religious citizens. Stout defends a deliberative notion of democracy that fulfills stringent criteria of inclusion and security against domination. While mitigating secular exclusivity, Stout nonetheless acknowledges the new visibility of religion in populist attempts to dominate political life through mass rule and charismatic authorities. In response, I evaluate recent innovations in deliberative democratic systems theory (DDST). By adding a pragmatist inflection to DDST, I aim to apprehend the complex religious interactions between partisan interest groups as well as the trust-building capacities of minipublics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact)
Article
“Wonderful”, “Hot”, “Good” Priests: Clergy on Contemporary British TV and the New Visibility of Religion Thesis
Religions 2020, 11(1), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010038 - 10 Jan 2020
Viewed by 1356
Abstract
This article examines the “new visibility of religion” thesis through a case study of recent depictions of priests and ministers in British television drama and comedy. It focuses on four award-winning shows produced between 2009 and 2019 with clergy as central characters: Broadchurch [...] Read more.
This article examines the “new visibility of religion” thesis through a case study of recent depictions of priests and ministers in British television drama and comedy. It focuses on four award-winning shows produced between 2009 and 2019 with clergy as central characters: Broadchurch, Broken, Fleabag and Rev. Clergy on these shows are depicted positively, in ways that contrast with portrayals in the 1990s and earlier 2000s. The shows demonstrate an active sympathy for, and engagement with, theological themes, and awareness of the important social role that clergy play in inner-city parishes. While some elements of these depictions support the idea of a “new visibility”, at the same time, they reiterate narratives of continuing religious decline in Britain. Rather than unproblematically celebrating faith, the shows use religion to critique neoliberal welfare policy and sacralise notions of community. This “new visibility” is also shown to contribute to the continued invisibility of some religious viewpoints in the media. This article concludes that despite these limitations, recent portrayals of clergy offer new opportunities for religious debate and conversation, particularly within media and fan commentary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact)
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