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Religions, Volume 12, Issue 1 (January 2021) – 65 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Since the 2011 revolution, many young Egyptians have started to question political, religious, and patriarchal authorities. Among others, this took on open or hidden forms of non-believing, as well as a search for new forms of spirituality. Several women decided to cast off the veil, which is met by fierce reactions and accusations of immorality and non-belief. Whereas for some women, this decision is an expression of religious doubt or a turn to a non-religious worldview, for others it is a way to contest the current piety discourse in a search for a more personal and spiritual connection with God. While the relationship with religion among my interlocutors might differ, they share a common attempt to uncover their “authentic selves”. By unveiling, they express their wish to define their own space and ideas regarding religion, gender, and their bodies. View this paper.
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Open AccessArticle
The Tenacity of Popular Devotions in the Age of Vatican II: Learning from the Divine Mercy
Religions 2021, 12(1), 65; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010065 - 19 Jan 2021
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Abstract
Despite is global popularity in recent decades, the Divine Mercy devotion has received scant scrutiny from scholars. This article examines its historical development and evolving appeal, with an eye toward how this nuances our understanding of Catholic devotions in the “age of Vatican [...] Read more.
Despite is global popularity in recent decades, the Divine Mercy devotion has received scant scrutiny from scholars. This article examines its historical development and evolving appeal, with an eye toward how this nuances our understanding of Catholic devotions in the “age of Vatican II.” The Divine Mercy first gained popularity during World War II and the early Cold War, an anxious era in which many Catholic devotions flourished. The Holy Office prohibited the active promotion of the Divine Mercy devotion in 1958, owing to a number of theological concerns. While often linked with the decline of Catholic devotional life generally, the Second Vatican Council helped set the stage for the eventual rehabilitation of the Divine Mercy devotion. The 1958 prohibition was finally lifted in 1978, and the Divine Mercy devotion has since gained a massive following around the world, benefiting in particular from the enthusiastic endorsement of Pope John Paul II. The testimonies of devotees reveal how the devotion’s appeal has changed over time. Originally understood as a method for escaping the torments of hell or purgatory, the devotion developed into a miraculous means to preserve life and, more recently, a therapeutic tool for various forms of malaise. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
On James Sterba’s Refutation of Theistic Arguments to Justify Suffering
Religions 2021, 12(1), 64; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010064 - 18 Jan 2021
Viewed by 327
Abstract
In his recent book Is a Good God Logically Possible? and article by the same name, James Sterba argued that the existence of significant and horrendous evils, both moral and natural, is incompatible with the existence of God. He advances the discussion [...] Read more.
In his recent book Is a Good God Logically Possible? and article by the same name, James Sterba argued that the existence of significant and horrendous evils, both moral and natural, is incompatible with the existence of God. He advances the discussion by invoking three moral requirements and by creating an analogy with how the just state would address such evils, while protecting significant freedoms and rights to which all are entitled. I respond that his argument has important ambiguities and that consistent application of his moral principles will require that God remove all moral and natural evils. This would deleteriously restrict not only human moral decision making, but also the knowledge necessary to make moral judgments. He replies to this critique by appealing to the possibility of limited divine intervention, to which I rejoin with reasons why his middle ground is not viable. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Shifting Paradigms in Islamic Higher Education in Europe: The Case Study of Leiden University
Religions 2021, 12(1), 63; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010063 - 18 Jan 2021
Viewed by 300
Abstract
Islamic higher education finds itself at the cross-roads of a variety of developments: it oscillates between the ‘teaching into’ approach of Theology and the ‘teaching about’ approach of Religious Studies, between the security-driven need for a ‘European Islam’ and a European Muslim-driven need [...] Read more.
Islamic higher education finds itself at the cross-roads of a variety of developments: it oscillates between the ‘teaching into’ approach of Theology and the ‘teaching about’ approach of Religious Studies, between the security-driven need for a ‘European Islam’ and a European Muslim-driven need for a high-quality education in ‘Islam in Europe’, between traditional one-way knowledge dissemination and innovative two-way knowledge sharing, and between Islam as defined and discussed by scholars and Islam as defined and discussed by the public. This myriad of dynamics is challenging and a source of tensions among all parties involved, in particular between lecturers and students. In this article, a qualitative self-study research based on personal experiences with various Islamic higher education programs at Leiden University will be used to reflect on the broader developments in Islamic higher education programs in Europe. It argues that thinking about Islamic higher education is not a process of finding solutions to problems but is a process of educational opportunities and innovation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Between Passion and Compassion: The Story of the Stone and Its Modern Reincarnations
Religions 2021, 12(1), 62; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010062 - 17 Jan 2021
Viewed by 386
Abstract
This study reconsiders The Story of the Stone as a literary exemplum of the “Buddhist conquest of China.” The kind of Buddhism that Stone embodies in its fictional form and makes indelible on the Chinese cultural imagination simultaneously indulges in and wavers from [...] Read more.
This study reconsiders The Story of the Stone as a literary exemplum of the “Buddhist conquest of China.” The kind of Buddhism that Stone embodies in its fictional form and makes indelible on the Chinese cultural imagination simultaneously indulges in and wavers from the Mahāyāna teachings of the nonduality of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. The dialectics of truth and falsehood, love and emptiness, passion and compassion, which Stone dramatizes and problematizes, continues to stir the creative impulses of artists in revolutionary and post-revolutionary China. This study features three of Stone’s modern reincarnations. Tale of the Crimson Silk, a story by the amorous poet-monk Su Manshu (1884–1918), recasts at once the idea of Buddhist monkhood and that of “free love” in early Republican China. In Lust, Caution, a spy story by the celebrated writer Eileen Chang (1920–1995), a revolutionary heroine is compelled to weigh the emptiness/truth of carnal desire against the truth/emptiness of patriotic commitment. Decades later, love and illusion dwell again at the epicenter of a fallen empire in the director Chen Kaige’s (b. 1952) 2017 film, The Legend of the Demon Cat, in which an illustrious poet sings testimony to the (un)witting (com)passion of a femme fatale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Chinese Literature)
Open AccessReview
Death Anxiety, Religiosity and Culture: Implications for Therapeutic Process and Future Research
Religions 2021, 12(1), 61; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010061 - 16 Jan 2021
Viewed by 371
Abstract
Death anxiety is a common phenomenon that humans experience. It is multidimensional. There has been an upsurged interest around the discussion on death anxiety across the globe, however, much of the literature focuses on the concept of death anxiety, religiosity, and its role [...] Read more.
Death anxiety is a common phenomenon that humans experience. It is multidimensional. There has been an upsurged interest around the discussion on death anxiety across the globe, however, much of the literature focuses on the concept of death anxiety, religiosity, and its role in mental health conditions. Further, studies on death anxiety are scattered and at times disconnected. It is important to review existing literature to get an overview of the current direction in research and understand its relevance to facilitate therapeutic processes. In this scoping review, literature was searched in databases such as PubMed, Scopus, and PsychINFO using key words such as “death anxiety”, “fear of death”, religion”, “culture”, and “psychopathology” combined with Boolean operators to narrow down the search results. The initial search yielded 614 records, of which 546 records were removed based on title review (363), abstract review (94), and full-text review (89). Finally, 68 articles were appraised, narratively synthesized, and thematically presented. Major themes revealed in the literature were theoretical frameworks of death anxiety, religiosity, universality, psychological effects of death anxiety, psychopathology, and religious coping strategies. There is a need to assess client’s death anxiety and address them using religious rituals and coping mechanisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Spirituality and Psychology)
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Open AccessArticle
People Love Their Religion: Political Conflict on Religion in Early Independent Mexico
Religions 2021, 12(1), 60; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010060 - 16 Jan 2021
Viewed by 354
Abstract
Global histories commonly attribute the secularization of the state exclusively to Europe. However, the church state conflict over these issues has been an important thread in much of Latin America. In Mexico, questions about the role of religion and the church in society [...] Read more.
Global histories commonly attribute the secularization of the state exclusively to Europe. However, the church state conflict over these issues has been an important thread in much of Latin America. In Mexico, questions about the role of religion and the church in society became a major political conflict after independence. Best known for the Mexican case are the disputes over the constitution of 1857, which laid down the freedom of religion, and the Cristero Revolt in the 1920s. However, the history of struggles over secularization goes back further. In 1835, the First Republic ultimately failed, because of the massive protests against the anticlerical laws of the government. In the paper, this failure is understood as a genuine religious conflict over the question of the proper social and political order, in which large sections of the population were involved. Beginning with the anticlerical laws of 1833, political and religious reaction in Mexico often began with a pronunciamiento (a mixture of rebellion and petitioning the authorities) and evolved into conflicts over federalism vs. centralism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Violence, Rights and Reconciliation)
Open AccessArticle
A Sense of Presence: Mediating an American Apocalypse
Religions 2021, 12(1), 59; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010059 - 15 Jan 2021
Viewed by 318
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)
Open AccessArticle
Racializing the Good Muslim: Muslim White Adjacency and Black Muslim Activism in South Africa
Religions 2021, 12(1), 58; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010058 - 15 Jan 2021
Viewed by 440
Abstract
Founded in Birmingham, England in 1984, Islamic Relief is today the world’s largest and most-recognized Western-based Islamically-inspired non-governmental organization. Framed by an analysis of processes of racialization, I argue that Islamic Relief operationalizes not a singular, but multiple Muslim humanitarianisms. I examine what [...] Read more.
Founded in Birmingham, England in 1984, Islamic Relief is today the world’s largest and most-recognized Western-based Islamically-inspired non-governmental organization. Framed by an analysis of processes of racialization, I argue that Islamic Relief operationalizes not a singular, but multiple Muslim humanitarianisms. I examine what I suggest are competing racial projects of distinct humanitarianisms with regards to HIV and AIDS, health, and wellness. I consider the racial implications of British state-based soft-power interventions that seek to de-radicalize Muslims towards appropriately ‘moderate’ perspectives on gender and sexuality. In South Africa, I argue that Black Muslim staff embrace grassroots efforts aimed towards addressing the material and social conditions of their community, with a focus on economic self-determination and self-sufficiency. I claim that the orientation of these Black Muslim grassroots initiatives denotes a humanitarianism of another kind that challenges the material and ethical implications of a humanitarianism framed within a logic of global white supremacy, and that is conditioned by racial capitalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Africa, Globalization and the Muslim Worlds)
Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to the Special Issue: Seeing and Reading: Art and Literature in Pre-Modern Indian Religions
Religions 2021, 12(1), 57; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010057 - 15 Jan 2021
Viewed by 256
Abstract
Relationships between text and image in pre-modern South Asia1 have been both ignored and exploited throughout the history of western scholarship [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Seeing and Reading: Art and Literature in Pre-Modern Indian Religions)
Open AccessArticle
Bivocational Ministry as the Congregation’s Curriculum
Religions 2021, 12(1), 56; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010056 - 15 Jan 2021
Viewed by 421
Abstract
Ambiguities and uncertainties about defining bivocational ministry are an opportunity for theological reflection and religious education. This article begins by acknowledging a context of anxiety about congregational vitality in North American mainline denominations and utilizes Boyung Lee’s communal approach to religious education to [...] Read more.
Ambiguities and uncertainties about defining bivocational ministry are an opportunity for theological reflection and religious education. This article begins by acknowledging a context of anxiety about congregational vitality in North American mainline denominations and utilizes Boyung Lee’s communal approach to religious education to facilitate imagining new ways of being church for white-majority congregations, which seem to have difficulty coming to terms with bivocational ministry. The central sections of this article proceed descriptively, exploring the breadth of definitions of bivocational ministry and related terms, organized around several loci: vocation and ministry; jobs and finances; and commitment. Constructively, this article conceives of intentional bivocational ministry as the congregation’s curriculum, a practice of the entire faith community. This article concludes with a call for religious educators to assist in this endeavor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Practical Theology & Theological Education — An Overview)
Open AccessArticle
Metamorphosis of the Sacrificial Victimization Imaginary Profile within the Framework of Late Modern Societies
Religions 2021, 12(1), 55; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010055 - 14 Jan 2021
Viewed by 390
Abstract
This article aims to unravel the why and the how of the imaginary profile of the emerging sacrificial victim in late modern societies. To do this, first, under the influence of the formulations proposed by the French School of Sociology, the nature [...] Read more.
This article aims to unravel the why and the how of the imaginary profile of the emerging sacrificial victim in late modern societies. To do this, first, under the influence of the formulations proposed by the French School of Sociology, the nature and the functionality of an anthropological structure linked to a rituality of sacrificial victimization surviving in the historical course of western societies are investigated. Based on this, it analyzes the characterization of the imaginary paradigm of sacrificial victimization crystallized in modernity in contrast to the dominant one in the Old Regime. Finally, the sociological keys that would account for the unique morphology of the imaginary of sacrificial victimization that emerged in late modern societies are explored in the context of the generalization of a climate of violence that transforms any individual into a potential victim of sacrifice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Sacrifice in the Secular Age)
Open AccessArticle
Default Agnosticism
Religions 2021, 12(1), 54; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010054 - 13 Jan 2021
Viewed by 341
Abstract
Agnosticism has always had its fair amount of criticism. Religious believers often described the first agnostics as infidels and it is not uncommon to see them described as somewhat dull fence-sitters. Moreover, the undecided agnostic stance on belief in gods is often compared [...] Read more.
Agnosticism has always had its fair amount of criticism. Religious believers often described the first agnostics as infidels and it is not uncommon to see them described as somewhat dull fence-sitters. Moreover, the undecided agnostic stance on belief in gods is often compared with being unsure about such obviously false statements as the existence of orbiting teapots, invisible dragons or even Santa Claus. In this paper, I maintain that agnosticism can properly be endorsed as a default stance. More precisely, I use a strategy presented by Alvin Plantinga and argue that it is rationally acceptable to be agnostic about the existence of God. I also anticipate and answer a number of objections. Finally, I offer my conclusion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agnosticism)
Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to the Special Issue: The Study of Religious and Spiritual Struggles: An Interdisciplinary Endeavor
Religions 2021, 12(1), 53; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010053 - 13 Jan 2021
Viewed by 281
Abstract
Religious and spiritual (r/s) struggles are relatively common human experiences and refer to pain, anger, fear, doubt, or confusion related to religious and spiritual beliefs, experiences, and practices (Exline 2013; Pargament et al [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Recognition to Come: Towards a Deconstructive Encounter with Iranian Identity in a Globalized World
Religions 2021, 12(1), 52; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010052 - 13 Jan 2021
Viewed by 330
Abstract
Considering the “relativization of identity”, “the positive recognition of the other”, “the mutual evaluation of cultures”, and the “creation of a normative world culture” as “four main kinds of cosmopolitan relationships” and, therefore, using the term cosmopolitanism in a “post-Western” register of meaning, [...] Read more.
Considering the “relativization of identity”, “the positive recognition of the other”, “the mutual evaluation of cultures”, and the “creation of a normative world culture” as “four main kinds of cosmopolitan relationships” and, therefore, using the term cosmopolitanism in a “post-Western” register of meaning, I will make a case that Iranian identity in a post-Islamist condition needs a kind of struggle for recognition if it wants to locate itself at the interface of the local and the global. Taking the correlation between the discourse of post-Islamism and a deconstructive theory of identity into consideration, this paper addresses a central question in identity studies: can a downgraded identity rooted in a decent civilization—one in which both “moral” and “material” values for the globalized word have demoted—be reinvented? I argue that being accorded recognition, however, is different from self-congratulation within the boundaries of a local identity. In the former case, a nation’s identity is recognized for something it offers to the multifacetedness and multidimensionality of the contemporary world. In the latter, that identity retreats to the civilizational memory of ancestors now no longer relevant to the world issues. For a nation to reinvent its cultural identity from a universal vantage point, it is necessary to articulate its experiences in particular cultural forms which can be understood by others. It is only then that one’s self becomes known to the other, as well as to oneself. This paper will deconstruct the concept of identity and then discuss the challenges and prospects of reinventing identity in the particular context of post-Islamist Iran. Challenges refer to the crises of an identity that could prevent its revitalization such as a persistent failure to acknowledge the historical crisis of an identity in terms of both “material” and “cultural” measures. Prospects refer to the availability of internal mechanisms that could enable reinvention of an identity, e.g., the availability of internal mechanisms that would allow the reinvention of cultural identity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Many Faces of Contemporary Post-Islamism)
Open AccessArticle
Religious Freedom in Pakistan: A Case Study of Religious Minorities
Religions 2021, 12(1), 51; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010051 - 13 Jan 2021
Viewed by 399
Abstract
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a multi-racial and multi-religious nation, with Muslims being in the majority. Its 1973 Constitution guarantees religious freedom to all religious minorities, including Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs. This is mainly because Islam itself ensures religious freedom to the [...] Read more.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a multi-racial and multi-religious nation, with Muslims being in the majority. Its 1973 Constitution guarantees religious freedom to all religious minorities, including Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs. This is mainly because Islam itself ensures religious freedom to the whole of humanity. Unfortunately, some Muslim clerics seem to be attempting to deny religious freedom to other faiths in Pakistan. Their opposition to the plurality of faith contradicts Islamic principles. This research paper identifies such Islamic principles and examines the undesirability of the mistreatment of religious minorities in Pakistan, focusing on the arguments for and against religious freedom in Pakistan on the one hand, and the religious rights and freedoms of non-Muslim minorities from an Islamic perspective on the other. The methodology applied in this discussion is critical analysis. The conclusion drawn is that both the Constitution of Pakistan and Islam guarantee religious freedom to the country’s religious minorities. Finally, this study suggests some practical mechanisms to reconcile the different religious groups in Pakistan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Freedom in the Global South)
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Open AccessArticle
Mapping Instructional Barriers during COVID-19 Outbreak: Islamic Education Context
Religions 2021, 12(1), 50; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010050 - 12 Jan 2021
Viewed by 505
Abstract
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is currently the most potent threat to educational systems, a crisis that may become disastrous. For the current study, a qualitative design within a case study tradition was implemented to investigate instructional barriers during COVID-19 faced by Indonesian teachers [...] Read more.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is currently the most potent threat to educational systems, a crisis that may become disastrous. For the current study, a qualitative design within a case study tradition was implemented to investigate instructional barriers during COVID-19 faced by Indonesian teachers in Islamic boarding schools (Pesantren). Within this study, we applied a purposeful convenient sampling in which the access was obtained through communication with the principals of two Pesantren. Seven invited participants with more than ten years of teaching experience agreed to participate. Semi-structured interviews were addressed for data collection; each interview lasted from 40 to 50 min. The interviews were conducted in the participants’ mother tongue to provide an in-depth understanding of their perceptions, ideas, and arguments regarding instructional barriers during the COVID-19 outbreak. The thematic analysis revealed three major findings regarding the barriers; technological barriers, financial barriers, and pedagogical barriers affecting instructional activities in the two Pesantren. Based on the three themes, the development of a qualitative conceptual map of teachers’ instructional barriers was finalized. Recommendations are also proposed by the participants and the study for the betterment of Indonesian Islamic education facing future similar outbreaks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences)
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Open AccessArticle
Post-Islamism and Intellectual Production: A Bibliometric Analysis of the Evolution of Contemporary Islamic Thought
Religions 2021, 12(1), 49; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010049 - 11 Jan 2021
Viewed by 628
Abstract
The advent of the 1990s marked, among other things, the restructuring of the Muslim world in its relation to Islam. This new context has proved to be extremely favorable to the emergence of scholars who define themselves as reformists or modernists. They have [...] Read more.
The advent of the 1990s marked, among other things, the restructuring of the Muslim world in its relation to Islam. This new context has proved to be extremely favorable to the emergence of scholars who define themselves as reformists or modernists. They have dedicated themselves to reform in Islam based on the values of peace, human rights, and secular governance. One can find an example of this approach in the works of renowned intellectuals such as Farid Esack, Mohamed Talbi, or Mohamed Arkoun, to name a few. However, the question of Islamic reform has been debated during the 19th and 20th centuries. This article aims to comprehend the historical evolution of contemporary reformist thinkers in the scientific field. The literature surrounding these intellectuals is based primarily on content analysis. These approaches share a type of reading that focuses on the interaction and codetermination of religious interpretations rather than on the relationships and social dynamics that constitute them. Despite these contributions, it seems vital to question this contemporary thinking differently: what influence does the context of post-Islamism have on the emergence of this intellectual trend? What connections does it have with the social sciences and humanities? How did it evolve historically? In this context, the researchers will analyze co-citations in representative samples to illustrate the theoretical framework in which these intellectuals are located, and its evolution. Using selected cases, this process will help us to both underline the empowerment of contemporary Islamic thought and the formation of a real corpus of works seeking to reform Islam. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Many Faces of Contemporary Post-Islamism)
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Open AccessArticle
A Maximal Understanding of Sacrifice: Bataille, Richard Wagner, Pilgrimage and the Bayreuth Festival
Religions 2021, 12(1), 48; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010048 - 11 Jan 2021
Viewed by 340
Abstract
This paper calls for a broad conception of sacrifice to be developed as a resource for cultural sociology. It argues the term was framed too narrowly in the classical work of Hubert and Mauss. The later approach of Bataille permits a maximal understanding [...] Read more.
This paper calls for a broad conception of sacrifice to be developed as a resource for cultural sociology. It argues the term was framed too narrowly in the classical work of Hubert and Mauss. The later approach of Bataille permits a maximal understanding of sacrifice as non-utilitarian expenditures of money, energy, passion and effort directed towards the experience of transcendence. From this perspective, pilgrimage can be understood as a specific modality of sacrificial activity. This paper applies this understanding of sacrifice and pilgrimage to the annual Bayreuth “Wagner” Festival in Germany. Drawing on a multi-year mixed-methods study involving ethnography, semi-structured interviews and historical research, the article traces sacrificial expenditures at the level of individual festival attendees. These include financial costs, arduous travel, dedicated research of the artworks, and disciplines of the body. Some are lucky enough to experience transcendence in the form of deep emotional experience, and a sense of contact with sacred spaces and forces. Our study is intended as an exemplary paradigm case that can be drawn upon analogically by scholars. We suggest that other aspects of social experience, including many that are more ‘everyday’, can be understood through a maximal model of sacrifice and that a rigorous, wider comparative sociology could be developed using this tool. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Sacrifice in the Secular Age)
Open AccessArticle
Between Dualism and Immanentism Sacramental Ontology and History
Religions 2021, 12(1), 47; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010047 - 11 Jan 2021
Viewed by 290
Abstract
How to deal with religious ideas in religious history (and in history in general) has recently become a matter of discussion. In particular, a number of authors have framed their work around the concept of ‘sacramental ontology,’ that is, a unified vision of [...] Read more.
How to deal with religious ideas in religious history (and in history in general) has recently become a matter of discussion. In particular, a number of authors have framed their work around the concept of ‘sacramental ontology,’ that is, a unified vision of reality in which the secular and the religious come together, although maintaining their distinction. The authors’ choices have been criticized by their fellow colleagues as a form of apologetics and a return to integralism. The aim of this article is to provide a proper context in which to locate the phenomenon of sacramental ontology. I suggest considering (1) the generation of the concept of sacramental ontology as part of the internal dialectic of the Christian intellectual world, not as a reaction to the secular; and (2) the adoption of the concept as a protection against ontological nihilism, not as an attack on scientific knowledge. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Sacramental Approach to the Sacred in Thomistic Perspective
Religions 2021, 12(1), 46; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010046 - 10 Jan 2021
Viewed by 532
Abstract
The main challenge of theology is the adequate manner of the transmission of what is sacred and belongs to the transcendent order by means of appropriate categories of immanent religious language. In history, there was a debate between the univocal and equivocal approach, [...] Read more.
The main challenge of theology is the adequate manner of the transmission of what is sacred and belongs to the transcendent order by means of appropriate categories of immanent religious language. In history, there was a debate between the univocal and equivocal approach, but the main Christian rules of telling about the sacred were shaped by Thomas Aquinas, who proposed analogy as a fundamental tool: in the middle of similarity there is still great dissimilarity. From this perspective, the world is seen as sacramental, so all material reality refers to something more and further. In this way, the sacred has a transitory character. Nowadays, however, the naturalistic narrative dominates among many theories of the sacred. This paper will begin by dealing with several types of theological narrations about the sacred in Christian theology (metaphysical and historical, mediating and representative, etc.). Then it will go into characterizing the Thomistic storytelling and its hermeneutical rules. Finally, it will consider the role of imagination in transmitting the sacred (Chesterton, Lewis, McGrath) and how the new perception of the sacred—so visible in pilgrimages such as Camino de Santiago—can be integrated in a new thinking about the city of the future. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Negotiations of Science and Religion in Nordic Institutions: An Ethnographic Approach
Religions 2021, 12(1), 45; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010045 - 10 Jan 2021
Viewed by 544
Abstract
This article explores how two seemingly contradictory global trends—scientific rationality and religious expressiveness—intersect and are negotiated in people’s lives in Nordic countries. We focus on Finland and Sweden, both countries with reputations of being highly secular and modernized welfare states. The article draws [...] Read more.
This article explores how two seemingly contradictory global trends—scientific rationality and religious expressiveness—intersect and are negotiated in people’s lives in Nordic countries. We focus on Finland and Sweden, both countries with reputations of being highly secular and modernized welfare states. The article draws on our multi-sited ethnography in Finland and Sweden, including interviews with health practitioners, academics, and students identifying as Lutheran, Orthodox, Muslim, or anthroposophic. Building on new institutionalist World Society Theory, the article asks whether individuals perceive any conflict at the intersection of “science” and “religion”, and how they negotiate such a relationship while working or studying in universities and health clinics, prime sites of global secularism and scientific rationality. Our findings attest to people’s creative artistry while managing their religious identifications in a secular, Nordic, organizational culture in which religion is often constructed as old-fashioned or irrelevant. We identify and discuss three widespread modes of negotiation by which people discursively manage and account for the relationship between science and religion in their working space: segregation, estrangement, and incorporation. Such surprising similarities point to the effects of global institutionalized secularism and scientific rationality that shape the negotiation of people’s religious and spiritual identities, while also illustrating how local context must be factored into future, empirical research on discourses of science and religion. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Puritan Lecturers and Anglican Clergymen during the Early Years of the English Civil Wars
Religions 2021, 12(1), 44; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010044 - 09 Jan 2021
Viewed by 419
Abstract
During the early years of the Civil Wars in England, from February 1642 to July 1643, Puritan parishioners in conjunction with the parliament in London set up approximately 150 divines as weekly preachers, or lecturers, in the city and the provinces. This was [...] Read more.
During the early years of the Civil Wars in England, from February 1642 to July 1643, Puritan parishioners in conjunction with the parliament in London set up approximately 150 divines as weekly preachers, or lecturers, in the city and the provinces. This was an exceptional activity surrounding lectureships including the high number of lecturer appointments made over the relatively brief space of time, especially considering the urgent necessity of making preparations for the looming war and fighting it as well. By examining a range of sources, this article seeks to demonstrate that the Puritan MPs and peers, in cooperation with their supporters from across the country, tactically employed the institutional device of weekly preaching, or lectureships, to neutralize the influence of Anglican clergymen perceived as royalists dissatisfied with the parliamentarian cause, and to bolster Puritan and pro-parliamentarian preaching during the critical years of 1642–1643. If successfully employed, the device of weekly lectureships would have significantly widened the base of support for the parliament during this crucial period when people began to take sides, prepared for war, and fought its first battles. Such a program of lectureships, no doubt, contributed to the increasing polarization of the religious and political climate of the country. More broadly, this study seeks to add to our understanding of an early phase of the conflict that eventually embroiled the entire British Isles in a decade of gruesome internecine warfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spiritual Heritage and Spiritual Healing)
Open AccessArticle
Holiness and Imitatio Dei: A Jewish Perspective on the Sanctity of Teaching and Learning
Religions 2021, 12(1), 43; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010043 - 09 Jan 2021
Viewed by 377
Abstract
Research in Jewish studies as well as key passages from Judaism’s sacred texts describe teaching and learning as being among the most important, efficacious and sacred of God’s commandments. However, while this description is well-documented, the specific dynamics of education’s role within a [...] Read more.
Research in Jewish studies as well as key passages from Judaism’s sacred texts describe teaching and learning as being among the most important, efficacious and sacred of God’s commandments. However, while this description is well-documented, the specific dynamics of education’s role within a framework of Judaic holiness remains underexplored. This article first lays a thorough foundation of Judaic sanctity, illustrating a theistic axiom at its core surrounded by several peripheral elements, including connection to God, knowledge of God, holiness as invitation, reciprocal holiness, awakening sacred potentiality and, as the purpose and apex of the entire system, imitatio dei. Having illustrated imitatio dei as a culminating purpose atop the entire system of Judaic holiness, I describe how teaching and learning as prescribed in sacred Jewish texts can be a potent means of achieving this end. Considering that teaching and learning are called kaneged kulam, or equal to all the other commandments of Judaism combined, I argue that education conducted in sacred ways prescribed by Jewish scripture can be considered among Judaism’s most sacred commandments, as well as a most efficacious means of realizing imitatio dei within a Jewish frame. Full article
Open AccessArticle
On the Origins of the Hijrī Calendar: A Multi-Faceted Perspective Based on the Covenants of the Prophet and Specific Date Verification
Religions 2021, 12(1), 42; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010042 - 08 Jan 2021
Viewed by 431
Abstract
There has been much speculation as to the type of calendar that was used by the pre-Islamic Arabs and the early Muslim community. The Hijrī calendar is said to have been adopted by ‘Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb during his Caliphate despite evidence suggesting that [...] Read more.
There has been much speculation as to the type of calendar that was used by the pre-Islamic Arabs and the early Muslim community. The Hijrī calendar is said to have been adopted by ‘Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb during his Caliphate despite evidence suggesting that it was instituted as soon as the Prophet emigrated to Madīnah. In this paper, we argue that a number of competing Arabian calendars existed up until 17 AH/AD 638, after which the Hijrī calendar was adopted as the definitive calendar of the Muslims. We propose that attempts at reconciling dates emanating from different calendars for major events in the Prophet’s life led to miscalculations which subsequently affected the chronology of the sīrah. This study ultimately argues that a purely lunar calendar was used by the pre-Islamic Arabs in parallel to a lunisolar calendar, and that specific dates reported in the covenants of the Prophet and in the historical works could shed new light in reconstructing the chronology of major events in the Prophet’s life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Letters, Treaties, and Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad)
Open AccessArticle
Sayyid Jamāl ad-Dīn Asadābādī Revisited: Reinvigorating the Emancipatory Potential of Post-Islamism
Religions 2021, 12(1), 41; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010041 - 08 Jan 2021
Viewed by 297
Abstract
This article seeks to provide a framework for rereading the works of Sayyid Jamāl ad-Dīn Asadābādī/Afghani in accordance with the main characteristics of “post-Islamism”, which was coined and conceptualized by Asef Bayat. Although the term “post-Islamism” was not explicitly used by Asadābādī/Afghani himself, [...] Read more.
This article seeks to provide a framework for rereading the works of Sayyid Jamāl ad-Dīn Asadābādī/Afghani in accordance with the main characteristics of “post-Islamism”, which was coined and conceptualized by Asef Bayat. Although the term “post-Islamism” was not explicitly used by Asadābādī/Afghani himself, I argue that we may find some of the main features of a post-Islamist discourse in his works. Hence, in this article, post-Islamism does not refer to an era or a historical period, but to an intellectual discourse or project; it is understood conceptually rather than historically. I argue that, while Asadābādī/Afghani foresaw the need to acknowledge the legitimacy crisis of Islam, he nevertheless rejected the adoption of a purely secular perspective as a response. After identifying the fundamental pillars of Asadābādī/Afghani’s thought, I shall demonstrate how his approach corresponds to the reconciliatory position of post-Islamist thinking, which seeks to marry Islam with more modern values of individual choice and freedom. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Many Faces of Contemporary Post-Islamism)
Open AccessArticle
Ibn ʿArabī’s Metaphysics in the Context of Andalusian Mysticism: Some Akbarian Concepts in the Light of Ibn Masarra and Ibn Barrajān
Religions 2021, 12(1), 40; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010040 - 08 Jan 2021
Viewed by 760
Abstract
The aim of this article is to trace the origins of some of the key concepts of Ibn Arabi’s metaphysics and cosmology in earlier Andalusian Sufi masters. Within the context of the seminal works on Ibn Arabi’s cosmology and metaphysics produced from the [...] Read more.
The aim of this article is to trace the origins of some of the key concepts of Ibn Arabi’s metaphysics and cosmology in earlier Andalusian Sufi masters. Within the context of the seminal works on Ibn Arabi’s cosmology and metaphysics produced from the second half of the 20th century onwards and through a comparison of texts by the Sufi masters Ibn Masarra and Ibn Barrajān, we will see which elements are taken from previous sources and how they are transformed or re-interpreted by Ibn ʿArabī in a philosophical-mystical system that would become the point of reference for the later Eastern and Western Sufi tradition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spanish Mysticism)
Open AccessArticle
The Romanian Orthodox Church, the European Union and the Contention on Human Rights
Religions 2021, 12(1), 39; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010039 - 08 Jan 2021
Viewed by 330
Abstract
Since the 1990s, there has been conflictual interactions between Orthodox Christian churches and human rights in South Eastern Europe, especially during the process of European integration. In this work, I shall concentrate on the case of the Romanian Orthodox Church and explore its [...] Read more.
Since the 1990s, there has been conflictual interactions between Orthodox Christian churches and human rights in South Eastern Europe, especially during the process of European integration. In this work, I shall concentrate on the case of the Romanian Orthodox Church and explore its current position towards human rights that has developed within the context of EU membership. Focusing on the influence that European integration has had on the Romanian Orthodox Church, I hypothesise a re-orientation of the latter from a position of closure and a general rejection of human rights in the direction of their partial acceptance, with this being related to its attempt to develop a European identity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Human Rights: Complementary or Contrary?)
Open AccessArticle
Islam and Foreign Policy: Turkey’s Ambivalent Religious Soft Power in the Authoritarian Turn
Religions 2021, 12(1), 38; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010038 - 08 Jan 2021
Viewed by 547
Abstract
Although the pro-democracy agenda of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) gained significant domestic and international credibility throughout the early 2000s, the party has, since approximately 2010, experienced a dramatic process of democratic decline. The AKP has [...] Read more.
Although the pro-democracy agenda of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) gained significant domestic and international credibility throughout the early 2000s, the party has, since approximately 2010, experienced a dramatic process of democratic decline. The AKP has intensively used Islamist policies at home and abroad to consolidate its base of support under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Weaponised in foreign policy, Islam has become both an instrument and an objective of the repressive AKP, and Turkey has emerged as a front runner in a race among countries increasingly using religion as a foreign policy tool. This new role for Turkey has created a slew of disparate perceptions among foreign countries. While some are content with Turkey’s religiously fuelled policies and designate Turkey as an influential actor which can use Islam as a soft power tool, others refuse to define Turkey’s policies within the boundaries of soft power due to its extra-territorial authoritarian practices. This study defines Turkey’s Islamic soft power as ambivalent and scrutinises the reasons behind this ambiguity by exploring examples from other countries in South-eastern and Western Europe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Political Islam in World Politics)
Open AccessArticle
Interpersonal Forgiveness and Meaning in Life in Older Adults: The Mediating and Moderating Roles of the Religious Meaning System
Religions 2021, 12(1), 37; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010037 - 07 Jan 2021
Viewed by 454
Abstract
Forgiving others may play an important role in achieving meaning in life as it offers a valuable platform for deliberate moral acts of acceptance of positive affect, behaviour, and cognition towards a transgressor. The aim of this paper was to analyse the relationship [...] Read more.
Forgiving others may play an important role in achieving meaning in life as it offers a valuable platform for deliberate moral acts of acceptance of positive affect, behaviour, and cognition towards a transgressor. The aim of this paper was to analyse the relationship between forgiveness and presence, and the search for meaning in life, as well as the mediating role of the religious meaning system in this relationship among older adults. A total of 205 older adults, 112 women and 93 men, participated in the study. The mean age was 72.59. The Transgression-Related Interpersonal Motivations Scale, the Meaning in Life Questionnaire, and the Religious Meaning System Questionnaire were employed in the research; revenge and avoidance revealed negative correlations with presence, whereas benevolence showed positive correlations, but not with the search for meaning in life. The religious meaning system was confirmed as a mediator in the relationships between forgiveness (revenge, avoidance, and benevolence) and both presence and the search for meaning. The findings point to the significant role played by religious beliefs and behaviour in the domain of purpose and goals. Additionally, testing the mediation and moderation effects sheds new light on the interaction of compassion- and goal-oriented mechanisms in older adults’ meaning in life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mental Health: Antecedents and Consequences)
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Open AccessArticle
After Hajj: Muslim Pilgrims Refashioning Themselves
Religions 2021, 12(1), 36; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12010036 - 07 Jan 2021
Viewed by 422
Abstract
The Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) is one of the five pillars of Islam and a duty which Muslims must perform—once in a lifetime—if they are physically and financially able to do so. In Morocco, from where thousands of pilgrims travel to Mecca [...] Read more.
The Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) is one of the five pillars of Islam and a duty which Muslims must perform—once in a lifetime—if they are physically and financially able to do so. In Morocco, from where thousands of pilgrims travel to Mecca every year, the Hajj often represents the culmination of years of preparation and planning, both spiritual and logistical. Pilgrims often describe their journey to Mecca as a transformative experience. Upon successfully completing the pilgrimage and returning home, pilgrims must negotiate their new status—and the expectations that come with it—within the mundane and complex reality of everyday life. There are many ambivalences and tensions to be dealt with, including managing the community expectations of piety and moral behavior. On a personal level, pilgrims struggle between staying on the right path, faithful to their pilgrimage experience, and straying from that path as a result of human imperfection and the inability to sustain the ideals inspired by pilgrimage. By ethnographically studying the everyday lives of Moroccans after their return from Mecca, this article seeks to answer the questions: how do pilgrims encounter a variety of competing expectations and demands following their pilgrimage and how are their efforts received by members of their community? How do they shape their social and religious behavior as returned pilgrims? How do they deal with the tensions between the ideals of Hajj and the realities of daily life? In short, this article scrutinizes the religious, social and personal ramifications for pilgrims after the completion of Hajj and return to their community. My research illustrates that pilgrimage contributes to a process of self-formation among pilgrims, with religious and non-religious dimensions, which continues long after Hajj is over and which operates within, and interacts with, specific social contexts. Full article
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