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Religions, Volume 11, Issue 7 (July 2020) – 59 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): This article introduces the significance of the religious experiences of older people receiving palliative care at home. By utilizing interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), the religious experiences of dying people aged 65+ are scrutinized. It becomes clear that religious experiences are closely linked to the individual’s personal relationship network. These experiences provide comfort and support; furthermore, religious struggles were described. Participants’ religious experiences formed from both traditional Christian practices and expressions of lived religion. The importance of nature became clear when interviewees were considering their personal world views. Further, planning one’s own death and encountering personal mortality was found as calming. It is concluded that open discussion on death, dying, and religious matters should be encouraged as part of palliative care. [...] Read more.
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Article
The Spiritual Dimension of Yage Shamanism in Colombia
Religions 2020, 11(7), 375; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070375 - 21 Jul 2020
Viewed by 952
Abstract
This article offers an intercultural interpretation of the sense of the sacred in the practice of yage shamanism in Colombia. This practice is based on the ritual use of a plant medicine which for centuries has been the basis of the medical, spiritual [...] Read more.
This article offers an intercultural interpretation of the sense of the sacred in the practice of yage shamanism in Colombia. This practice is based on the ritual use of a plant medicine which for centuries has been the basis of the medical, spiritual and cultural systems of indigenous peoples of the Amazon piedmont in Colombia, Ecuador and Perú. Since the 1990s, this practice has expanded to urban areas of Colombia and other countries. After a short introduction, I develop my interpretation of yage shamanism in three stages: first, I explore some narratives of the origin of yage, showing how it is lived and understood as a source of knowledge and the foundational element of indigenous cultures. Second, I attempt a phenomenological analysis of yage shamanic experience, presenting it as a form of spiritual experience. Finally, I briefly address the issue of whether or not this form of experience is valid. Full article
Article
“We Stand for Black Livity!”: Trodding the Path of Rastafari in Ghana
Religions 2020, 11(7), 374; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070374 - 21 Jul 2020
Viewed by 764
Abstract
Rastafari is a Pan-African socio-spiritual movement and way of life that was created by indigent Black people in the grip of British colonialism in 1930s Jamaica. Although Rastafari is often studied as a Jamaican phenomenon, I center the ways the movement has articulated [...] Read more.
Rastafari is a Pan-African socio-spiritual movement and way of life that was created by indigent Black people in the grip of British colonialism in 1930s Jamaica. Although Rastafari is often studied as a Jamaican phenomenon, I center the ways the movement has articulated itself in the Ghanaian polity. Ghana has become the epicenter of the movement on the continent through its representatives’ leadership in the Rastafari Continental Council. Based on fourteen years of ethnography with Rastafari in Ghana and with special emphasis on an interview with one Ghanaian Rastafari woman, this paper analyzes some of the reasons Ghanaians choose to “trod the path” of Rastafari and the long-term consequences of their choices. While some scholars use the term “conversion” to refer to the ways people become Rastafari, I choose to use “trodding the path” to center the ways Rastafari theorize their own understanding of becoming. In the context of this essay, trodding the path of Rastafari denotes the orientations and world-sensorial life ways that Rastafari provides for communal and self-making practices. I argue that Ghanaians trod the path of Rastafari to affirm their African identity and participate in Pan-African anti-colonial politics despite adverse social consequences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Conversion in Africa)
Article
Rearticulating the Conventions of Hajj Storytelling: Second Generation Moroccan-Dutch Female Pilgrims’ Multi-Voiced Narratives about the Pilgrimage to Mecca
Religions 2020, 11(7), 373; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070373 - 21 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 659
Abstract
This article explores the interplay between content, narrator, and lifeworld in narrative constructions concerning the meanings of pilgrimage to Mecca by studying the hajj stories of second-generation Moroccan-Dutch women. By adopting a ‘dialogical approach’ to self-storytelling, it is asked how the pilgrimage experiences [...] Read more.
This article explores the interplay between content, narrator, and lifeworld in narrative constructions concerning the meanings of pilgrimage to Mecca by studying the hajj stories of second-generation Moroccan-Dutch women. By adopting a ‘dialogical approach’ to self-storytelling, it is asked how the pilgrimage experiences of these women and the meanings they attribute to them are shaped by different intersecting discursive traditions that inform their daily lives. It is demonstrated that by creative re-articulation and mixing of vocabularies from different discursive traditions to make sense of their hajj experiences, the women contribute to a modern reconfiguration of the genre of hajj accounts. Since gender is the site par excellence where the public debate about the (in)compatibility of being Muslim and being European/Dutch is played out, specific attention will be paid to how the women negotiate conceptions of female Muslim personhood in their stories. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Experience, and Narrative)
Article
St. John of the Cross and the Monopolar Concept of God in the Abrahamic Religions in Spain
Religions 2020, 11(7), 372; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070372 - 21 Jul 2020
Viewed by 849
Abstract
The aim of this article is to philosophically explore the tension between “the God of the philosophers” and “the God of religious experience.” This exploration will focus on the mystical theology of the 16th c. Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross. It [...] Read more.
The aim of this article is to philosophically explore the tension between “the God of the philosophers” and “the God of religious experience.” This exploration will focus on the mystical theology of the 16th c. Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross. It will be argued that a satisfactory resolution of the aforementioned tension cannot occur on the basis of the monopolar theism that has dominated the Abrahamic religions. That is, a better understanding of mystics in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam can occur via dipolar theism as articulated by contemporary process philosophers in the Abrahamic religions, especially the thought of Charles Hartshorne. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spanish Mysticism)
Article
Spiritual Well-Being and Its Role on the Sociality of Selected Catholic Religious Novices
Religions 2020, 11(7), 371; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070371 - 20 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1002
Abstract
Religion and spirituality are difficult to define and elusive to capture by standard scientific methods. Despite these challenges, the researchers aim to contribute to the growing body of knowledge on the psychology of religion by investigating the religious experience of Catholic novices and [...] Read more.
Religion and spirituality are difficult to define and elusive to capture by standard scientific methods. Despite these challenges, the researchers aim to contribute to the growing body of knowledge on the psychology of religion by investigating the religious experience of Catholic novices and their spiritual well-being. Using the Spiritual Health and Life-Orientation Measure (SHALOM) developed by John Fisher, objective data was gathered from selected individuals going through religious formation. The aim was to determine the spiritual well-being of Catholic religious novices and its implication to their sociality. The results show that there was a significant difference in the quality of relationships of each novice with themselves, other people, the environment and God. Thus, there is dissonance between the ideals of the persons in the novitiate and their lived experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious and Spiritual Experiences)
Article
The Image of Violence and the Study of Material Religion, an Introduction
Religions 2020, 11(7), 370; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070370 - 20 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 918
Abstract
This article studies the intersection of religion, materiality and violence. I will argue that pictures of violated bodies can contribute substantially to imageries of religious bonding. By directing attention towards the relation between pictures of violence, religious imagery and materiality, this article contributes [...] Read more.
This article studies the intersection of religion, materiality and violence. I will argue that pictures of violated bodies can contribute substantially to imageries of religious bonding. By directing attention towards the relation between pictures of violence, religious imagery and materiality, this article contributes to current research on religion-related violence and on material religion, two disciplinary fields that have not yet been clearly related. By focusing on the picturing of (violated) bodies as both sacred and communal objects, I will make clear how pictures of violence relate to social imageries of (religious) communities. Two short case-studies show how pictures of violence are recreated in the imagery of communities, causing new episodes of violence against anonymous representatives of the perpetrators. This article develops a perspective on the role pictures play in framing religious conflicts, which is often neglected in studies of religion-related violence. The study of religious matter, on the other hand, could explore more deeply the possibilities of studying the medialization of contentious pictures of human bodies in the understanding of conflicts as ‘religious’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Material Religion and Violent Conflict)
Article
Christianity’s Last Stand: Visions of Spirituality in Post-1970 African American Women’s Literature
Religions 2020, 11(7), 369; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070369 - 18 Jul 2020
Viewed by 719
Abstract
Christianity appealed to writers of African descent from the moment they set foot on New World soil. That attraction, perhaps as a result of the professed mission of slaveholders to “Christianize the heathen African,” held sway in African American letters well into the [...] Read more.
Christianity appealed to writers of African descent from the moment they set foot on New World soil. That attraction, perhaps as a result of the professed mission of slaveholders to “Christianize the heathen African,” held sway in African American letters well into the twentieth century. While African American male writers joined their female counterparts in expressing an attraction to Christianity, black women writers, beginning in the mid-twentieth century, consistently began to express doubts about the assumed altruistic nature of a religion that had been used as justification for enslaving their ancestors. Lorraine Hansberry’s Beneatha Younger in A Raisin in the Sun (1959) initiated a questioning mode in relation to Christianity that continues into the present day. It was especially after 1970 that black women writers turned their attention to other ways of knowing, other kinds of spirituality, other ways of being in the world. Consequently, they enable their characters to find divinity within themselves or within communities of extra-natural individuals of which they are a part, such as vampires. As this questioning and re-conceptualization of spirituality and divinity continue into the twenty-first century, African American women writers make it clear that their characters, in pushing against traditional renderings of religion and spirituality, envision worlds that their contemporary historical counterparts cannot begin to imagine. Full article
Article
Was Swami Vivekananda a Hindu Supremacist? Revisiting a Long-Standing Debate
Religions 2020, 11(7), 368; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070368 - 17 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1290
Abstract
In the past several decades, numerous scholars have contended that Swami Vivekananda was a Hindu supremacist in the guise of a liberal preacher of the harmony of all religions. Jyotirmaya Sharma follows their lead in his provocative book, A Restatement of Religion: Swami [...] Read more.
In the past several decades, numerous scholars have contended that Swami Vivekananda was a Hindu supremacist in the guise of a liberal preacher of the harmony of all religions. Jyotirmaya Sharma follows their lead in his provocative book, A Restatement of Religion: Swami Vivekananda and the Making of Hindu Nationalism (2013). According to Sharma, Vivekananda was “the father and preceptor of Hindutva,” a Hindu chauvinist who favored the existing caste system, denigrated non-Hindu religions, and deviated from his guru Sri Ramakrishna’s more liberal and egalitarian teachings. This article has two main aims. First, I critically examine the central arguments of Sharma’s book and identify serious weaknesses in his methodology and his specific interpretations of Vivekananda’s work. Second, I try to shed new light on Vivekananda’s views on Hinduism, religious diversity, the caste system, and Ramakrishna by building on the existing scholarship, taking into account various facets of his complex thought, and examining the ways that his views evolved in certain respects. I argue that Vivekananda was not a Hindu supremacist but a cosmopolitan patriot who strove to prepare the spiritual foundations for the Indian freedom movement, scathingly criticized the hereditary caste system, and followed Ramakrishna in championing the pluralist doctrine that various religions are equally capable of leading to salvation. Full article
Article
Live Streaming and Digital Stages for the Hungry Ghosts and Deities
Religions 2020, 11(7), 367; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070367 - 17 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1148
Abstract
Many Chinese temples in Singapore provide live streaming of getai (English: a stage for songs) during the Hungry Ghost Month as well as deities’ birthday celebrations and spirit possessions—a recent phenomenon. For instance, Sheng Hong Temple launched its own app in 2018, as [...] Read more.
Many Chinese temples in Singapore provide live streaming of getai (English: a stage for songs) during the Hungry Ghost Month as well as deities’ birthday celebrations and spirit possessions—a recent phenomenon. For instance, Sheng Hong Temple launched its own app in 2018, as part of a digital turn that culminated in a series of live streaming events during the temple’s 100-year anniversary celebrations. Deities’ visits to the temple from mainland China and Taiwan were also live-streamed, a feature that was already a part of the Taichung Mazu Festival in Taiwan. Initially streamed on RINGS.TV, an app available on Android and Apple iOS, live videos of getai performances can now be found on the more sustainable platform of Facebook Live. These videos are hosted on Facebook Pages, such as “Singapore Getai Supporter” (which is listed as a “secret” group), “Singapore Getai Fans Page”, “Lixin Fan Page”, and “LEX-S Watch Live Channel”. These pages are mainly initiated and supported by LEX(S) Entertainment Productions, one of the largest entertainment companies running and organising getai performances in Singapore. This paper critically examines this digital turn and the use of digital technology, where both deities and spirits are made available to digital transmissions, performing to the digital camera in ways that alter the performative aspects of religious festivals and processions. In direct ways, the performance stage extends to the digital platform, where getai hosts, singers, and spirit mediums have become increasingly conscious that they now have a virtual presence that exceeds the live event. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Temples and Rituals in Southeast Asia)
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Article
Five William Shakespeares Versus One Santa Claus; Self-Sacrifice and The Trolley Problem in the Series “The Good Place
Religions 2020, 11(7), 366; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070366 - 17 Jul 2020
Viewed by 1057
Abstract
The television series The Good Place (2016–2020), created by Michael Schur revolves around four humans who—after their deaths—end up in what they believe to be heaven: the “Good Place”. In reality, however, they are in a very sophisticated torture place, built and directed [...] Read more.
The television series The Good Place (2016–2020), created by Michael Schur revolves around four humans who—after their deaths—end up in what they believe to be heaven: the “Good Place”. In reality, however, they are in a very sophisticated torture place, built and directed by demons from the “Bad Place”. During the four seasons of the series, the four humans discover the true nature of their predicament and try to reach to “real” Good Place, through—among other means—improving their moral attitude, e.g., becoming a better person by taking ethical lessons provided by one of the four, who is an actual professor of moral philosophy. During these lessons, the four discuss many ethical and philosophical notions, ideas and problems, among which is Philippa Foot’s famous 1967 thought experiment known as the Trolley Problem. The series as a whole, the author of this article argues, revolves around this impossible moral dilemma, suggesting self-sacrifice as an ultimate solution to the Trolley Problem. Full article
Article
Commemorating the Nameless Wives of the Bible: Midrashic Poems by Contemporary American-Jewish Women
Religions 2020, 11(7), 365; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070365 - 17 Jul 2020
Viewed by 612
Abstract
A proper name individualizes a person, the lack of it making him or her less noticeable. This insight is apt in regard to the nameless women in the Hebrew Bible, a resolutely androcentric work. As Judaism traditionally barred women from studying, many Jewish [...] Read more.
A proper name individualizes a person, the lack of it making him or her less noticeable. This insight is apt in regard to the nameless women in the Hebrew Bible, a resolutely androcentric work. As Judaism traditionally barred women from studying, many Jewish feminists have sought access to the Jewish canon. Much of American-Jewish women’s poetry can thus be viewed as belonging to the midrashic-poetry tradition, attempting to vivify the biblical women by “revisioning” the Bible. This article examines two nameless wives who, although barely noted in the biblical text, play a significant role in their husbands’ stories—Mrs. Noah and Mrs. Job. Although numerous exegetes have noted them across history, few have delved into their emotions and characters. Exploration of the way in which contemporary Jewish-American poets treat these women and connect them to their own world(s) is thus of great interest to both modern and biblical scholars. Herein I focus on five poets: Elaine Rose Glickman (“Parashat Noach”), Barbara D. Holender (“Noah’s Wife,” and “Job’s Wife”), Oriana Ivy (“Mrs. Noah,” and “Job’s Wife”), Shirley Kaufman (“Job’s Wife”), and Sherri Waas Shunfenthal (“Noah’s Wife Speaks,” “The Animals are our Friends,” “Time,” and “Arc of Peace”). Full article
Article
Words and Pictures: Rāmāyaṇa Traditions and the Art of Ekphrasis
Religions 2020, 11(7), 364; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070364 - 17 Jul 2020
Viewed by 1487
Abstract
This article examines two ambitious enactments of the Rama story or Rāmāyaṇa, side by side: the 17th-century painted Mewar Rāmāyaṇa and Vālmīki’s epic poem (ca. 750–500 BCE). Through a formal analysis of two crucial episodes of the tale, it highlights the creative tactics [...] Read more.
This article examines two ambitious enactments of the Rama story or Rāmāyaṇa, side by side: the 17th-century painted Mewar Rāmāyaṇa and Vālmīki’s epic poem (ca. 750–500 BCE). Through a formal analysis of two crucial episodes of the tale, it highlights the creative tactics of each medium and stresses their separate aesthetic interests and autonomy. While A. K. Ramanujan’s notion of the “telling” has been immensely influential in South Asian studies to theorize the Rāmāyaṇa’s multiplicity, that concept tends to privilege speech-based embodiments. I propose, by contrast, that ekphrasis may be a more broadly applicable lens. Understanding ekphrasis as an enactment of the Rama story in any medium or in interart media, I advocate for considering poetry and painting on an equal plane as opposed to the standard view of the Mewar paintings as visual translations of linguistic phenomena. Ekphrasis, as a gateway to the maker’s creative process and preoccupations, is central to the paper’s argument, as is the role receivers play in the act of Rāmāyaṇa making. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Seeing and Reading: Art and Literature in Pre-Modern Indian Religions)
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Article
The Cult of the Underworld in Singapore: Mythology and Materiality
Religions 2020, 11(7), 363; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070363 - 17 Jul 2020
Viewed by 951
Abstract
Myths provide hagiographic and iconographic accounts of the gods, which shape rituals that are performed in cults associated with these gods. In the realization of iconographies and ritualization of narratives in myths, material objects play an active role. This article examines the pattern [...] Read more.
Myths provide hagiographic and iconographic accounts of the gods, which shape rituals that are performed in cults associated with these gods. In the realization of iconographies and ritualization of narratives in myths, material objects play an active role. This article examines the pattern of worship in the cult of the Ah Pehs, a group of Underworld gods whose efficacy lies in the promise of occult wealth, and focuses on the material aspects such as offerings and paraphernalia associated with these gods. Though ritual texts and scriptures are absent in the Ah Peh cult, symbols in the form of material objects play a crucial role. These objects are also considered as synecdoche for the gods in certain cases. The first part of this paper presents a case study of the autonomous ritual of “Burning Prosperity Money”, which reveals the cycle of occult exchange between gods and devotees. The second part involves an imagery analysis of the material objects central to the cult, and argues that in the system of reciprocity with the gods, material objects common to the everyday life are reinterpreted and enchanted with a capitalist turn, resulting in the development of occult economies within the local Chinese religious sphere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Temples and Rituals in Southeast Asia)
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Article
Becoming a Shaman: Narratives of Apprenticeship and Initiation in Contemporary Shamanism
Religions 2020, 11(7), 362; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070362 - 17 Jul 2020
Viewed by 1522
Abstract
This article, based on an open-question survey completed in 2018, engages with McAdams and Manczak’s approaches to life stories (2015) and Mayer’s ten elements of the shaman myth (2008) to explore the way contemporary people based in the UK, who define themselves as [...] Read more.
This article, based on an open-question survey completed in 2018, engages with McAdams and Manczak’s approaches to life stories (2015) and Mayer’s ten elements of the shaman myth (2008) to explore the way contemporary people based in the UK, who define themselves as shamans, talk about their becoming a shaman. Individual narratives point out the intricate meeting points between different shamanic traditions and the importance of continuous innovation. They highlight the complex network of human and beyond-human authority and problematize the place, meaning and agency of the self. Contemporary shamanism is a widespread, manifold and multifaceted phenomenon, which we argue is not as different from traditional forms of shamanism as some studies suggest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Experience, and Narrative)
Article
Impact of Islam-Based Caring Intervention on Spiritual Well-Being in Muslim Women with Breast Cancer Undergoing Chemotherapy
Religions 2020, 11(7), 361; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070361 - 16 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 943
Abstract
This research emphasizes the nurse’s role in incorporating Islamic teaching through the care practices provided in order to promote spiritual well-being in Muslim women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. In addition, religion and spirituality have been recognized as the primary resources for coping. [...] Read more.
This research emphasizes the nurse’s role in incorporating Islamic teaching through the care practices provided in order to promote spiritual well-being in Muslim women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. In addition, religion and spirituality have been recognized as the primary resources for coping. The aim of the study, therefore, was to explore the impact of an Islam-based caring intervention on the spiritual well-being of Muslim women with cancer. Furthermore, data were collected using a questionnaire and, also, the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual well-being (FACIT-Sp) on baseline (Time 1), days 3 (Time 2), 23 (Time 3), and 44 (Time 4). The results showed the significant impact of an Islam-based caring intervention on the participants’ level of spiritual well-being. In addition, the mean scores varied between the intervention and control group over time. Based on the reflection, participants stipulated feeling peace of mind, closer to God, spirit for further life, and healthier. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences)
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Article
Re-Defining the Villain in A Song of Ice and Fire from the Aspect of Totemism
Religions 2020, 11(7), 360; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070360 - 16 Jul 2020
Viewed by 750
Abstract
The confrontation between good and evil is one of the essential aspects of the fantasy genre. In George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF, 1996–2011), he approaches this conception from a critical point of view. Whilst [...] Read more.
The confrontation between good and evil is one of the essential aspects of the fantasy genre. In George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF, 1996–2011), he approaches this conception from a critical point of view. Whilst Martin creates deep and challenging characters in his novels, he introduces the White Walkers to the audience as almost one-dimensional, classic antagonists. It can therefore be questioned whether this contradicts his approach towards the medieval ethos. In order to answer this question, I will approach the narration from the aspect of totemism, and will use totemic signs and values for my analysis. Firstly, I will establish a relationship between totemism and the Old Gods. Conceptions such as ‘sacred totem animal’, ‘totem as an emblem’, ‘restriction of incestuous intercourse’, and ‘spirits’ will be useful for comprehending the Old Gods. Furthermore, I will try to analyze the narration with the elements of totemism. Lastly, in the light of this examination, I will try to explain what theWhite Walkers represent within the narration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue This and Other Worlds: Religion and Science Fiction)
Article
Roasting a Pig in Front of a Mosque: How Pork Matters in Pegida’s Anti-Islam Protest in Eindhoven
Religions 2020, 11(7), 359; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070359 - 15 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1251
Abstract
This article provides an analysis of a public protest by the far-right group Pegida-Netherlands, where the participants attempted to demonstratively eat pork near a mosque in Eindhoven on 26 May 2019. This led to fierce responses: hundreds of young Muslim counter-protesters prevented the [...] Read more.
This article provides an analysis of a public protest by the far-right group Pegida-Netherlands, where the participants attempted to demonstratively eat pork near a mosque in Eindhoven on 26 May 2019. This led to fierce responses: hundreds of young Muslim counter-protesters prevented the Pegida supporters from reaching the mosque, shouting insults at them and throwing stones at the police. Based on field notes from the event and a variety of other research material, this article shows how pork becomes a means of provocation in a larger entanglement between people and their perceived intentions, other objects, times and places. Furthermore, the author argues that the clash between protesters and counter-protesters can be seen as a theatrical performance set up by Pegida to share its worldview with a wide audience, and critically analyzes the role of pork in Pegida’s attempt to ‘reclaim Dutch territory’ that has been ‘lost to Islamization’. Last but not least, this article discusses how provocations bring about counter-provocations. As such, this article shows the value of a material approach to the study of conflicts, and critically evaluates Pegida-Netherlands’ official stance of non-violence vis-à-vis the implications of its protest language. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Material Religion and Violent Conflict)
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Article
The “Conversion” of Anthony Obinna to Mormonism: Elective Affinities, Socio-Economic Factors, and Religious Change in Postcolonial Southeastern Nigeria
Religions 2020, 11(7), 358; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070358 - 15 Jul 2020
Viewed by 979
Abstract
This article analyzes the “conversion” of Anthony Uzodimma Obinna, an Igbo schoolteacher from the town of Aboh Mbaise in Imo State, and his extended family to Mormonism in southeastern Nigeria between the 1960s and the 1980s, from a historical perspective. I argue that [...] Read more.
This article analyzes the “conversion” of Anthony Uzodimma Obinna, an Igbo schoolteacher from the town of Aboh Mbaise in Imo State, and his extended family to Mormonism in southeastern Nigeria between the 1960s and the 1980s, from a historical perspective. I argue that the transition of Anthony Obinna and his family away from Catholicism to Mormonism can be explained by both the elective affinities that existed between Mormonism and indigenous Igbo culture, and socio-economic factors as well. This article bases its conclusions on a close reading of oral histories, personal papers, and correspondence housed at the LDS Church History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and L. Tom Perry Special Collections at Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Conversion in Africa)
Essay
White Christian Privilege in 2020: A Review Essay
Religions 2020, 11(7), 357; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070357 - 14 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1520
Abstract
This review essay examines Khyati Y. Joshi’s new book, White Christian Privilege: The Illusion of Religious Equality in America. With attention to relevant historiography on religion and race, as well as reflection on contemporary white Christian nationalism, this review essay argues that [...] Read more.
This review essay examines Khyati Y. Joshi’s new book, White Christian Privilege: The Illusion of Religious Equality in America. With attention to relevant historiography on religion and race, as well as reflection on contemporary white Christian nationalism, this review essay argues that Joshi’s book is an important contribution to the field and will be particularly instructive in classrooms and other educational settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Racism and Religious Diversity in the United States)
Article
The Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore: Getai (Songs on Stage) in the Lunar Seventh Month
Religions 2020, 11(7), 356; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070356 - 14 Jul 2020
Viewed by 1022
Abstract
This paper examines the interaction between state power and the everyday life of ordinary Chinese Singaporeans by looking at the Hungry Ghost Festival as a contested category. The paper first develops a theoretical framework building on previous scholars’ examination of the contestation of [...] Read more.
This paper examines the interaction between state power and the everyday life of ordinary Chinese Singaporeans by looking at the Hungry Ghost Festival as a contested category. The paper first develops a theoretical framework building on previous scholars’ examination of the contestation of space and the negotiation of power between state authorities and the public in Singapore. This is followed by a short review of how the Hungry Ghost Festival was celebrated in earlier times in Singapore. The next section of the paper looks at the differences between the celebrations in the past and in contemporary Singapore. The following section focuses on data found in local newspapers on Getai events of the 2017 Lunar Seventh Month. Finally, I identify characteristics of the Ghost Festival in contemporary Singapore by looking at how Getai is performed around Singapore and woven into the fabric of Singaporean daily life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Temples and Rituals in Southeast Asia)
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Article
Indian Scientists’ Definitions of Religion and Spirituality
Religions 2020, 11(7), 355; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070355 - 13 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1821
Abstract
Scientists are often assumed to be irreligious and little research has examined the role of religion and spirituality in their lives. Recent research shows that many scientists do articulate a commitment to the sacred and see religion and spirituality as influencing their work. [...] Read more.
Scientists are often assumed to be irreligious and little research has examined the role of religion and spirituality in their lives. Recent research shows that many scientists do articulate a commitment to the sacred and see religion and spirituality as influencing their work. However, we lack a basic understanding of how scientists define religion and spirituality, particularly outside of the Western world. We examine Indian Scientists’ definitions of religion and spirituality and their tie to scientists’ views on the relationship between religion and science. Drawing on 80 in-depth interviews with Indian scientists, we find that although science often operates as a global institution, national context influences definitions of religion and spirituality. Further, the views a scientist has about the relationship between religion and science are linked to their definition of religion. To understand and navigate the relationship between religion and science, we must study definitions of religion and spirituality, as well as the way they are shaped by national context. Full article
Article
Exploring Other-Than-Human Identity: Religious Experiences in the Life-Story of a Machinekin
Religions 2020, 11(7), 354; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070354 - 13 Jul 2020
Viewed by 904
Abstract
The term Machinekin denotes a sub-group of a larger Internet subculture known as Otherkin: while recognizing they have a human body and mind, these people nevertheless identify as being other-than-human. Machinekin therefore identify as a machine of some sort. In attempting to study [...] Read more.
The term Machinekin denotes a sub-group of a larger Internet subculture known as Otherkin: while recognizing they have a human body and mind, these people nevertheless identify as being other-than-human. Machinekin therefore identify as a machine of some sort. In attempting to study this subculture, qualitative psychological research methods are used, combined with digital ethnography. Postmodern theories of identity formation, such as narrative identity, and especially McAdams’s seven features of the life-story, are implemented in order to interpret how Neve, a Machinekin, came to understand his non-human identity, as well as the role religion has played in his identity configuration. Additionally, the function of religion as it applies to finding meaning in conflicting circumstances is also considered. Neve’s experiences can be seen as an example of how religion and identity are interrelated, with the story showing what key events led Neve to look to religion for answers to difficult questions that arose in his early years. The interpretation of these events eventually led to an understanding of Neve’s lived experiences, and to a sense of purpose for his life. It also demonstrates how Machinekin challenge attitudes surrounding identity and the boundaries of what constitutes a “person”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Experience, and Narrative)
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Article
Reconversion and Retrieval: Nonlinear Change in African Catholic Practice
Religions 2020, 11(7), 353; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070353 - 13 Jul 2020
Viewed by 720
Abstract
Against models of conversion that presume a trajectory or a progression from one religion to another, this article proposes a less linear, more complex, and ultimately more empirical understanding of religious change in Africa. It does so by foregrounding the particularities of Roman [...] Read more.
Against models of conversion that presume a trajectory or a progression from one religion to another, this article proposes a less linear, more complex, and ultimately more empirical understanding of religious change in Africa. It does so by foregrounding the particularities of Roman Catholicism—its privileging of materiality and practice, and of community and tradition. In the course of so doing, this article explores the overlaps between modernist thinking, Protestant ideals, and teleological trajectories; the factors behind reconversion and religious oscillation in sub-Saharan African contexts; inculturation and other continuity paradigms in Catholicism; the significance of the Renaissance for early modern Catholic missions; and the ministry of a contemporary Italian Catholic missionary serving in northern Mozambique. This article proposes that Catholic history and Catholic assumptions offer valuable resources for thinking beyond and thinking against linear models of religious conversion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Conversion in Africa)
Article
Ontological Theology in Religious Zionism—Rabbi Y.M. Harlap as a Case Study
Religions 2020, 11(7), 352; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070352 - 13 Jul 2020
Viewed by 522
Abstract
The present study sets out to shed light on R. Yaakov Moshe Harlap (1882–1951), Kabbalist, head of the Merkaz Ha-Rav yeshivah, in his understanding of ontological theology—material labor, meaning the basic life pattern, in which one gets up daily in the morning and [...] Read more.
The present study sets out to shed light on R. Yaakov Moshe Harlap (1882–1951), Kabbalist, head of the Merkaz Ha-Rav yeshivah, in his understanding of ontological theology—material labor, meaning the basic life pattern, in which one gets up daily in the morning and goes to “work.” Did R. Harlap see labor as no more than a need and an obligation incumbent upon man to provide for his family? Or did he, perhaps, see labor as a religious value, an outgrowth of the theology he upheld? The conclusion is that work in the teaching of R. Harlap is not only needed to earn a living, but part of the multidimensional theology of Torah, textual–spiritual study and practical work effort. All this is part of the perfecting of the Land of Israel, which became central in the messianic age. Labor is a precondition and an indication of redemption—national, human and Divine. Full article
Article
The Catholic Charismatic Movement in Global Pentecostalism
Religions 2020, 11(7), 351; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070351 - 13 Jul 2020
Viewed by 705
Abstract
This article deals with Catholic Charismatics in Italy. The brief description of the case study gives a chance to make some more general comments on what is happening under the sacred canopy of Global Catholicism where the Spirit blows, and furthermore in relation [...] Read more.
This article deals with Catholic Charismatics in Italy. The brief description of the case study gives a chance to make some more general comments on what is happening under the sacred canopy of Global Catholicism where the Spirit blows, and furthermore in relation with so-called Global Pentecostalism. In other words, my working hypothesis includes the following statements: (a) Catholic Pentecostalism constitutes a variant of a more global phenomenon, which seems to challenge the organizational model of historic Christian churches. (b) The study of the Italian case is interesting because its story shows the extent to which Pentecostalism questions the Roman form of Catholicism. Elsewhere in the world, the development of the phenomenon has not encountered the same difficulties as it did in Italy. Indeed, in some cases (Brazil and the Philippines), it has been supported and accepted as a sign of new religious vitality. From this point of view, Rome is relatively far away. The Roman–Tridentine model governed by the clergy resists in Italy, while it appears weaker where the Spirit blows wherever it wants. The Charismatic movement was gradually brought back to the bed of ecclesial orthodoxy after a long persuasive work carried out by bishops and theologians towards the leaders of the movement itself. However, despite this ecclesification/clericalization process, the charismatic tension remains, and the expectation for a pneumatic church constitutes an implicit form of criticism of the Roman form of Catholicism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences)
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Article
The Hainanese Temples of Singapore: A Case Study of the Hougang Shui Wei Sheng Niang Temple and Its Lantern Festival Celebration
Religions 2020, 11(7), 350; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070350 - 10 Jul 2020
Viewed by 1005
Abstract
Shui Wei Sheng Niang (水尾圣娘) Temple is located within a united temple at 109a, Hougang Avenue 5, Singapore. Shui Wei Sheng Niang is a Hainanese goddess, the worship of whom is widespread in Hainanese communities in South East Asia. This paper examines a [...] Read more.
Shui Wei Sheng Niang (水尾圣娘) Temple is located within a united temple at 109a, Hougang Avenue 5, Singapore. Shui Wei Sheng Niang is a Hainanese goddess, the worship of whom is widespread in Hainanese communities in South East Asia. This paper examines a specific Hainanese temple and how its rituals reflect the history of Hainanese immigration to Singapore. The birthday rites of the goddess (Lantern Festival Celebration) are held on the 4th and 14th of the first lunar month. This paper also introduces the life history and ritual practices of a Hainanese Daoist master and a Hainanese theater actress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Temples and Rituals in Southeast Asia)
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Article
Making Space for the Gods: Ethnographic Observations of Chinese House Temples in Singapore
Religions 2020, 11(7), 349; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070349 - 10 Jul 2020
Viewed by 830
Abstract
Space for religious use is highly regulated in Singapore. Specific plots of land are reserved for religious groups to bid for, and create, “official” spaces of worship. However, religious practices continue to exist within “unofficial” sacred spaces, such as house temples and wayside [...] Read more.
Space for religious use is highly regulated in Singapore. Specific plots of land are reserved for religious groups to bid for, and create, “official” spaces of worship. However, religious practices continue to exist within “unofficial” sacred spaces, such as house temples and wayside shrines, negotiating and resisting the overt management of religion by the Singapore state. Scholars, including Vineeta Sinha and Terence Heng, demonstrate how sacrality infused into everyday secular urban spaces defies neat binaries of “sacred/profane” and “legal/illegal”, and how Chinese house temples or sintuas—temples located within public housing flats—sustain sacred spaces, despite being technically illegal under housing regulations. Drawing upon a series of ethnographic observations conducted over a year of four sintuas and their activities in Singapore, this paper explores the different ways through which sintuas produce sacred space as a response to spatial constraints imposed by the state. These include (1) re-enchanting everyday urban spaces during a yewkeng—a procession around the housing estate—with the help of a spirit medium; (2) using immaterial religious markers (e.g., ritual sounds and smells) to create an “atmosphere” of sacredness; (3) appropriating public spaces; and (4) leveraging the online space to digitally reproduce images of the sacred. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Temples and Rituals in Southeast Asia)
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Article
Equal Opportunity Beliefs beyond Black and White American Christianity
Religions 2020, 11(7), 348; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070348 - 10 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1315
Abstract
Scholars in critical race and the sociology of religion have independently drawn attention to the ways in which cultural ideologies drive beliefs about inequalities between groups. Critical race work on “abstract liberalism” highlights non-racially inflected language that tacitly reinforces White socioeconomic outcomes resulting [...] Read more.
Scholars in critical race and the sociology of religion have independently drawn attention to the ways in which cultural ideologies drive beliefs about inequalities between groups. Critical race work on “abstract liberalism” highlights non-racially inflected language that tacitly reinforces White socioeconomic outcomes resulting from an allegedly fair social system. Sociologists of religion have noted that White Evangelical Christian theology promotes an individualist mindset that places blame for racial inequalities on the perceived failings of Blacks. Using data from the National Asian American Survey 2016, we return to this question and ask whether beliefs about the importance of equal opportunity reveal similarities or differences between religious Asian American and Latino Christians and Black and White Christians. The results confirm that White Christians are generally the least supportive of American society providing equal opportunity for all. At the other end, Black Christians were the most supportive. However, with the inclusion of Asian American Christian groups, we note that second generation Asian American and Latino Evangelicals hew closer to the White Christian mean, while most other Asian and Latino Christian groups adhere more closely to the Black Christian mean. This study provides further support for the recent claims of religion’s complex relationship with other stratifying identities. It suggests that cultural assimilation among second generation non-Black Evangelical Christians heads more toward the colorblind racist attitudes of many White Christians, whereas potential for new coalitions of Latino and Black Christians could emerge, given their shared perceptions of the persistent inequality in their communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Complexity of Religious Inequality)
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Article
The New Muslim Ethical Elite: “Silent Revolution” or the Commodification of Islam?
Religions 2020, 11(7), 347; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070347 - 10 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 822
Abstract
Very little research has examined the emergence of Western Muslims into the elite professions that are central to the operation of the capitalist free market and that serve as a central location of economic and political power. Less research still has examined how [...] Read more.
Very little research has examined the emergence of Western Muslims into the elite professions that are central to the operation of the capitalist free market and that serve as a central location of economic and political power. Less research still has examined how this is shaping citizenship among Muslims and the future of Islam in the West. These professions include finance, trade and auditing and supporting free market infrastructure including commercial law, consulting and the entrepreneurial arms of government public service. Many Muslim men and women in these professions maintain a commitment to their faith and are often at the forefront of identifying opportunities for the application of Islamic principles to the free market through the development of social engineering mechanisms such as Islamic finance and home loans, Islamic wills, marriage contracts, businesses and context-specific solutions for Muslim clients. These may have a potentially profound impact on belonging and practice for current and future generations of Western Muslims. The political and economic clout (and broader potential public appeal) of these new Muslim elites often significantly outweighs that of Imams and Sheikhs and thus challenges traditional textually based Islam. This article, grounded in empirical research, seeks to build upon very limited research looking at Muslim elites, exploring these developments with specific reference to professionals working in Islamic finance and law across the Western contexts of Australia and the United States, two countries with capitalist free markets and significant Muslim minorities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islamic and Muslim Studies in Australia)
Article
Beastly Boasts and Apocalyptic Affects: Reading Revelation in a Time of Trump and a Time of Plague
Religions 2020, 11(7), 346; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11070346 - 10 Jul 2020
Viewed by 1280
Abstract
Waxing “biblical,” Donald Trump has described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “plague.” In a different but related register, millions of Christians worldwide have interpreted the pandemic as one of the eschatological plagues prophesied in the Book of Revelation. This article appropriates the reading [...] Read more.
Waxing “biblical,” Donald Trump has described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “plague.” In a different but related register, millions of Christians worldwide have interpreted the pandemic as one of the eschatological plagues prophesied in the Book of Revelation. This article appropriates the reading tactics of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, together with the resources of affect theory, to connect the Book of Revelation with both the Trump phenomenon and the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the article attempts to relate Revelation’s Beast to Trump (to unleash the Beast against Trump) non-eschatologically, in a non-representationalist reading strategy, and to analyze how Trump has manipulated the pandemic for his post-ideological ends. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
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