Special Issue "Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World"

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

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

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Christian Danz
Website
Guest Editor
Protestant Theological Faculty, University of Vienna, Schenkenstraße 8-10, A-1010 Vienna, Austria
Interests: Philosophy of Religion; Dogmatics in Modern Times; German Idealism; History of Modern Theology; Theology of Religions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The issue deals with the change of religion in the contemporary world and the question for a concept of religion. As the debates of the last few years have made clearly, reflection on religious pluralism cannot be done in abstraction from the perspective of the participant. Theories of religion like the pluralistic one remove the participant perspective from the concept of religion and dissolve the historical religions into a comprehensive, abstract concept. Religion exists solely in its individual performance and symbolic self-presentation. Religion cannot be understood independently of its performance – for instance, as a fixed truth or a salvation at hand. Yet, religion can also not be functionally determined. In those theories that abstract from the self-understanding of the agents, it is the theorist who decides whether or not religion is present. However, over against substantial and functional theories, religion is to be understood as a historically developed, human self-understanding, which describes itself as such. Religion is not an essential, anthropological feature in any way constitutive of the human. Rather, it emerges underivably as a mode of human self-understanding by taking up and transforming historically handed-down forms.

The purpose of the special issue is to give an overview of the contemporary debates of religion and bringing together some of the most important current concepts of religion against the background of the transformation of religion in the global world. In three parts this topic will be discussed: 1. The Transformation of Religion in the Contemporary World, 2. Modern Debates about Religion, 3. Religious Pluralism.

Prof. Dr. Christian Danz
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Transformation of Religion
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Religion and Modernity

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Songs of the Bauls: Voices from the Margins as Transformative Infrastructures
Religions 2019, 10(5), 335; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050335 - 22 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Bauls, the rural minstrels who sing songs of transformation, are a socio-economically and politico-religiously marginalized cultural population from rural Bengal (both from eastern and north-eastern, India and from Bangladesh). They identify themselves outside of any organized religion or established caste system in India, [...] Read more.
Bauls, the rural minstrels who sing songs of transformation, are a socio-economically and politico-religiously marginalized cultural population from rural Bengal (both from eastern and north-eastern, India and from Bangladesh). They identify themselves outside of any organized religion or established caste system in India, and therefore are constituted at the margins of contemporary global South. Voicing through their songs and narratives of emancipation, they interrogate and criticize material and symbolic inequalities and injustices such as discrimination and intolerance (including class and caste hierarchies, and other forms of disparities) perpetuated by hegemonic authorities and religious institutions. Embracing a critical communication lens, this paper pays attention to material and discursive marginalization of Bauls and Fakirs, foregrounding voice as an anchor to communicative interrogation of structural and cultural inequalities. Through voice, Bauls and Fakirs foreground reflexive spiritual and humane practices that raise societal consciousness and cultivate polymorphic possibilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World)
Open AccessArticle
Modern Christianity, Part of the Cultural Wars. The Challenge of a Visual Culture
Religions 2019, 10(5), 299; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050299 - 28 Apr 2019
Abstract
The article focuses on the changing landscape of modern Christianity. It does so by analysing the use of the notion of image in early Christianity and in later eras. It appears that Christianity created an ambiguous concept of the notion of image, reducing [...] Read more.
The article focuses on the changing landscape of modern Christianity. It does so by analysing the use of the notion of image in early Christianity and in later eras. It appears that Christianity created an ambiguous concept of the notion of image, reducing it in the end to a void image. This development caused a separation between theology and culture. It is a separation which eventually led to a Christianity that is hostile to modern culture and seeks only to reinforce its own identity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World)
Open AccessArticle
Contemporary Religious Changes in the U.S.: Responses to the Fracturing of Religious Life
Religions 2019, 10(5), 295; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050295 - 28 Apr 2019
Abstract
The purpose of this essay is to explore the changing religious landscape of the United States in relation to social and political changes and how scholars of religion ought to respond to those changes. These changes are being evaluated through recent developments in [...] Read more.
The purpose of this essay is to explore the changing religious landscape of the United States in relation to social and political changes and how scholars of religion ought to respond to those changes. These changes are being evaluated through recent developments in theological narratives of the last 15 years in light of the data provided by the Pew Forum’s Religious Landscape Survey from 2007 and 2014. Special attention is paid to the impact of the 2016 election on social and political narratives and their impact on religious life and religious narratives. The essay argues that scholars of religion have an important voice in this changing landscape to provide tools for building community in diversity and challenging narratives of exclusion that seek to dominate the religious landscape of the United States. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World)
Open AccessArticle
Religion without Belief and Community in Africa
Religions 2019, 10(4), 292; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040292 - 25 Apr 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Religion in Africa is in many respects becoming religion without belief and community again, I will argue in this article. Europeans arriving in Africa did not recognize African religion, because Africans did not have the kind of belief and community characteristic of European [...] Read more.
Religion in Africa is in many respects becoming religion without belief and community again, I will argue in this article. Europeans arriving in Africa did not recognize African religion, because Africans did not have the kind of belief and community characteristic of European concepts of religion. Pentecostalization brings back this African concept of religion without worship groups defined by an adherence to a particular picture of the world, and I will show what this means at grassroots level. What matters in this concept of religion is whether something works rather than some implied truth-claims about the world. Instead of forming groups, Neo-Pentecostal ministries are more often organized around the vertical relationship between the man/woman of God and his/her client. The Pentecostalization of Christianity in Africa has led to a form of religion in which beliefs and community are not of central importance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World)
Open AccessArticle
Faith and Forgetfulness: Homo Religiosus, Jean-Louis Chrétien, and Heidegger
Religions 2019, 10(4), 264; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040264 - 12 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Religion often is conceived as the sine qua non of the human, thus imbedding religious activity implicitly even within our cosmopolitical globalization processes and secular political concepts. This depiction of the human as ever-religious raises a host of concerns: Does it justify that [...] Read more.
Religion often is conceived as the sine qua non of the human, thus imbedding religious activity implicitly even within our cosmopolitical globalization processes and secular political concepts. This depiction of the human as ever-religious raises a host of concerns: Does it justify that we can believe ourselves to hold a religious identity without any existential choice or faith? Would it entail the presumption of God’s existence, thus possibly leading to God’s becoming a banal Faktum that inhibits the subject from being able to disavow God or not believe? And finally, how is it possible to relate authentically/existentially with our religious life without disregarding this quality of religion as always already operative? In order to provide more specificity to this latter question in particular, this paper focuses on an essential aspect of homo religiosus: faith. Focusing principally upon Heidegger and Jean-Louis Chrétien, this paper develops three ways “forgetfulness” is indispensable to faith; or in another sense, how faith itself also operates in, and is acheived through implicit ways. Indeed, if forgetting is essential to faith, and faith is essential to homo religiosus, then “forgetting” also to some degree is essential to religious life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World)
Open AccessArticle
Religious Studies as Neoliberal “Triple Mediation”: Toward a Deconstruction of Its “Colonial Difference”
Religions 2019, 10(4), 238; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040238 - 30 Mar 2019
Abstract
This article makes the case, citing the work of David Chidester, Achille Mbembe, Tomoko Masuzawa, and Walter Mignolo, that the academic study of religion (often known as “religious studies” in the Anglophone world, Religionswissenschften or sciences religieuses in Continental Europe) remains both historically, [...] Read more.
This article makes the case, citing the work of David Chidester, Achille Mbembe, Tomoko Masuzawa, and Walter Mignolo, that the academic study of religion (often known as “religious studies” in the Anglophone world, Religionswissenschften or sciences religieuses in Continental Europe) remains both historically, and to a large extent contemporaneously, a “colonial” discipline derived from what Michel Foucault termed the structures of “power/knowledge”, imposed on the cognitive and philosophical traditions of non-Western and indigenous peoples. It argues that the “archetype” of rationality taken for granted in much Western scholarship about “religion” amounts to what Chidester terms a “triple mediation” between the imperial domination and colonial classification and administration of subjugated peoples and their symbolical practices and cultural memory—one which, in fact, has been re-inscribed in present day “neoliberal” fantasies of one world “without religion”. Finally, the article proposes a new “deconstructive” reading of theories of religion using post-structuralist instead of Enlightenment methodologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World)
Open AccessArticle
Guwonpa, WMSCOG, and Shincheonji: Three Dynamic Grassroots Groups in Contemporary Korean Christian NRM History
Religions 2019, 10(3), 212; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030212 - 19 Mar 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
The new religious movements (NRMs) initially emerged in the regional societies of East Asia in the middle nineteenth and early twentieth centuries including Joseon (Korea). The socio-political transformation from feudalism to modernisation emaciated the religiosity of the traditional beliefs (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, shamanism, [...] Read more.
The new religious movements (NRMs) initially emerged in the regional societies of East Asia in the middle nineteenth and early twentieth centuries including Joseon (Korea). The socio-political transformation from feudalism to modernisation emaciated the religiosity of the traditional beliefs (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, shamanism, and folk religions). Colonial Korea experienced the major turning point in which various syncretic NRMs surfaced with alternative visions and teachings. What is, then, the historical origin of Christian NRMs? Who are their leaders? What is their background? What is the main figure of the teachings? How did they survive? This paper explores the history of Korean Christian new religious movements from the 1920s Wonsan mystical movements to 1990s urban and campus movements. Through the contextual studies of denominational background, birth, founder, membership, key teachings, evangelical strategy, phenomenon, services, sacred rituals, globalisation, and media, the three grassroots groups of Guwonpa (Salvation Sect: Good News Mission), WMSCOG (World Mission Society Church of God), and Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ) are argued as the most controversial yet well-globalised organisations among Christian NRMs in contemporary Korea. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World)
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Open AccessArticle
Thinking Spirituality Differently: Michel Foucault on Spiritual Self-Practices, Counter-Conducts, and Power-Knowledge Constellations
Religions 2019, 10(2), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020081 - 28 Jan 2019
Abstract
In contemporary debates on the so-called “return of religion” in new forms and practices of spirituality, the spiritual practices are often seen as emerging on the ruins of a fragmented and outdated religious tradition. In this article an attempt is made to conceptualize [...] Read more.
In contemporary debates on the so-called “return of religion” in new forms and practices of spirituality, the spiritual practices are often seen as emerging on the ruins of a fragmented and outdated religious tradition. In this article an attempt is made to conceptualize spirituality beyond the religion-secularization divide. An alternative perspective on spirituality is developed through a reading of Michel Foucault’s writings and lectures on spiritual practices in antique philosophy and in Christianity. In this perspective the modalities of individual spiritual practices are largely dependent on interactions with dominant power-knowledge regimes and problematizations of individual lives. This article argues that this perspective on the spiritual practices in the West has the potential of making a valuable contribution to interpretations of present-day spirituality and lived religiosity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Transformation in Contemporary World)
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