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Religions, Volume 12, Issue 11 (November 2021) – 128 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Art and material culture have been important to the rituals of birth across cultures. Participants in contemporary nonreligious rituals of birth also uphold art and material culture as sacred elements in birth as a rite of passage. This article studies an array of art and material culture used across cultures in different rituals of birth. Taking into consideration the contributions that scholars have made to the emerging field of birth and religion, including the interdisciplinary importance of theories related to birth as a rite of passage, the paper also presents new research on the materiality of contemporary rituals of birth. View this paper
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Article
The Validity of Prayer Importance Scale (PIS)
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1032; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111032 (registering DOI) - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 211
Abstract
Prayer is a central element of religiosity but research has focused primarily on distinguishing its types and analyzing its functional aspect. A particularly important issue is the subjective evaluation of prayer importance, which so far has not been reflected in the form of [...] Read more.
Prayer is a central element of religiosity but research has focused primarily on distinguishing its types and analyzing its functional aspect. A particularly important issue is the subjective evaluation of prayer importance, which so far has not been reflected in the form of an independent psychometric tool. This is why the goal of the presented study was to develop Prayer Importance Scale (PIS) based on Tatala’s definition of the concept. Two studies were conducted to verify reliability and validity of the tool. The proposed model was found to fit the data well. Correlations of PIS with basic parameters of religiosity: religious awareness, religious feelings, religious decisions, bond with a fellowship of believers, religious practices, religious morality, religious experience and forms of profession of faith were found to be significant. PIS can be a quick method providing information on the degree of religiosity and be used in participant selection in research studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prayer: A Psychological Perspective)
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Article
From Tamil Pāṇar to the Bāṇas: Sanskritization and Sovereignty in South India
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1031; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111031 (registering DOI) - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 259
Abstract
Historians include the Bāṇas among the important minor dynasties of South India. They are first mentioned as Bṛhadbāṇas in the Tāḷagunda inscription of the fifth century. Rulers with the Bāṇa name existed up to the sixteenth century in the Tamil country. During their [...] Read more.
Historians include the Bāṇas among the important minor dynasties of South India. They are first mentioned as Bṛhadbāṇas in the Tāḷagunda inscription of the fifth century. Rulers with the Bāṇa name existed up to the sixteenth century in the Tamil country. During their history, they also married into major dynasties like the Cōḻas and claimed to be descendants of a lineage starting from Bali. Many historians have noted the semantic similarity between the term Bṛhadbāṇa and the earlier Tamil bardic Perumpāṇaṉ of the Caṅkam literature. The historians, however, have not explicitly addressed the issues of whether the Bāṇas originated from the Tamil Pāṇar and why they chose to claim Purāṇic Bali to be their progenitor. In the present essay, based on an analysis of Caṅkam texts, and epigraphic data, it is shown first that the Bāṇas must have originated from the Tamil bards. Later, the reasons for the Bāṇas choosing to have Bali as the progenitor of their lineage are explored. It looks like Tamil bardic age values might have played a role in this. Full article
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Article
Dirty South Feminism: The Girlies Got Somethin’ to Say Too! Southern Hip-Hop Women, Fighting Respectability, Talking Mess, and Twerking Up the Dirty South
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1030; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111030 (registering DOI) - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 439
Abstract
Within southern hip-hop, minimal credit has been given to the Black women who have curated sonic and performance narratives within the southern region. Many southern hip-hop scholars and journalists have centralized the accomplishments and masculinities of southern male rap performances. Here, dirty south [...] Read more.
Within southern hip-hop, minimal credit has been given to the Black women who have curated sonic and performance narratives within the southern region. Many southern hip-hop scholars and journalists have centralized the accomplishments and masculinities of southern male rap performances. Here, dirty south feminism works to explore how agency, location, and Black women’s rap (lyrics and rhyme) and dance (twerking) performances in southern hip-hop are established under a contemporary hip-hop womanist framework. I critique the history of southern hip-hop culture by decentralizing male-dominated and hyper-masculine southern hip-hop identities. Second, I extend hip-hop feminist/womanist scholarship that includes tangible reflections of Black womanhood that emerge out of the South to see how these narratives reshape and re-inform representations of Black women and girls within southern hip-hop culture. I use dirty south feminism to include geographical understandings of southern Black women who have grown up in the South and been sexually shamed, objectified and pushed to the margins in southern hip-hop history. I seek to explore the following questions: How does the performance of Black women’s presence in hip-hop dance localize the South to help expand narratives within dirty south hip-hop? How can the “dirty south” as a geographical place within hip-hop be a guide to disrupt a conservative hip-hop South through a hip-hop womanist lens? Full article
Article
Ethics in Classical Hindu Philosophy: Provinces of Consequence, Agency, and Value in the Bhagavad Gītā and Other Epic and Śāstric Texts
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1029; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111029 (registering DOI) - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 170
Abstract
The idea of a univocal property of ‘goodness’ is not clearly found in classical Sanskrit sources; instead, a common ethical strategy was to clarify the ontological nature of the self or world in such a way that ethical implications naturally flow from the [...] Read more.
The idea of a univocal property of ‘goodness’ is not clearly found in classical Sanskrit sources; instead, a common ethical strategy was to clarify the ontological nature of the self or world in such a way that ethical implications naturally flow from the adjustment in our thinking. This article gives a synoptic reading of sources that treat features of ethics—dispositions, agents, causal systems of effect, and even values themselves—as emergent phenomena grounded in complex, shifting, porous configurations. One conclusion of this was that what ‘goodness’ entails varies according to the scope and context of our concern. Firstly, we examine how the Bhagavad Gītā fashions a utilitarianism that assumes no universal intrinsically valuable goal or Good, but aims only to sustain the world as a prerequisite for choice. Recognising that this pushes problems of identifying the Good onto the individual; secondly, we look at accounts of malleable personhood in the Caraka Saṃhitā and Book 12 of the Mahābhārata. Finally, the aesthetic theory of the ṭya Śāstra hints at a context-constituted conception of value itself, reminding us that evaluative emotions are themselves complex, curate-able, and can expand beyond egoism to encompass interpersonal concerns. Together these sources show aspects of an ethical worldview for which each case is a nexus in a larger ethical fabric. Each tries to pry us away from our most personal concerns, so we can reach beyond the ego to do what is of value for a wider province of which we are a part. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Provinces of Moral Theology and Religious Ethics)
Article
Religious Self-Identification and Culture—About the Role of Religiosity in Cultural Participation
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1028; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111028 (registering DOI) - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 200
Abstract
Culture has its source and anchoring in religion, but the presence of religious values in social life takes place in terms of culture and through culture. Religiosity plays a key role in defining the boundaries of cultural differences, and this paper raises questions [...] Read more.
Culture has its source and anchoring in religion, but the presence of religious values in social life takes place in terms of culture and through culture. Religiosity plays a key role in defining the boundaries of cultural differences, and this paper raises questions as to the extent, ways and environments where religiosity may influence active cultural participation. The research paper attempts to identify the impact of religiosity on such activities. This involves determining which dimensions of religiosity should be distinguished and are most relevant for cultural participation in Poland. The study showed that religiosity influences cultural participation, but ambiguously. Religious self-identification and spiritual self-identification turned out to be the most significant factors. Religiosity is relevant for cultural participation, but mainly when it is a significant element of individual identity. Full article
Article
Hermeneutics in Contemporary Turkey: An Analysis of Turkish Historicists
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1027; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111027 (registering DOI) - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 372
Abstract
The hermeneutical turn in Islamic studies has also affected Islamic scholarship in Turkey, a country where traditional Sunnism historically dominates. Historicism in Islamic studies became an influential intellectual and academic current in Turkey after the 1990s. This was mostly because the first generation [...] Read more.
The hermeneutical turn in Islamic studies has also affected Islamic scholarship in Turkey, a country where traditional Sunnism historically dominates. Historicism in Islamic studies became an influential intellectual and academic current in Turkey after the 1990s. This was mostly because the first generation of Turkish scholars, who associated themselves with historicism through complex engagement with Quranic hermeneutics in their studies, emerged in the 1990s. In this article, I analyze Mustafa Öztürk, İlhami Güler, and Ömer Özsoy, the architects of the historicist turn of the 1990s in Turkey who are still prominent. The article explains: (i) The Turkish historicists’ views on the nature of the Quran; (ii) Their hermeneutical approach in interpreting the Quran; and (iii) Illustrates how they apply the hermeneutical approach to the interpretation of the Quran by presenting how they interpret the Quran’s relevant verses on corporal punishment/chopping and divorce. The article aims to detail historicism in Turkey by studying its leading scholars. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Approaches to Qur'anic Hermeneutics in the Muslim World)
Article
To Heaven through Hell: Are There Cognitive Foundations for Purgatory? Evidence from Islamic Cultures
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1026; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111026 (registering DOI) - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 214
Abstract
The purgatory doctrine, which has played a vital role in Christian culture, states that most believers must experience afterlife punishment in order to be cleansed of their sins before entering Heaven. Traditional Islamic theology rejects the notion of purgatory (Al-Motahher) through [...] Read more.
The purgatory doctrine, which has played a vital role in Christian culture, states that most believers must experience afterlife punishment in order to be cleansed of their sins before entering Heaven. Traditional Islamic theology rejects the notion of purgatory (Al-Motahher) through the Balance doctrine (Mizan), which states that if the good deeds performed during a Muslim’s life outweigh their bad deeds, the person will enter heaven without suffering or punishment. This study hypothesizes that folk intuitions and cognitive biases (tendency to proportionality) explain, in part, the emergence and spread of the purgatory doctrine in the Islamic world. Drawing on a cognitive science of religion lens, the current study examines this hypothesis in an Islamic cultural context. Quantitative surveys (three studies) conducted in Jordan (n = 605, and n = 239) and Malaysia (n = 303) indicate that the doctrine of purgatory is prevalent (36% in Jordan and 69% in Malaysia) despite its contradiction with the Balance doctrine as defined by Islamic theology. To our knowledge, this is the first study documenting the phenomenon of theological incorrectness in Muslim afterlife beliefs by using empirical research. Implementation of the findings and suggestions for future research are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Cognitive & Psychological Foundations of Religion)
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Article
From Impulse to Action—Noah (2014) and Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) as Secular Bible Epics
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1025; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111025 (registering DOI) - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 245
Abstract
Several large-scale Bible epics have been produced in the decade after the revival of epic cinema at the turn of the millennium. Yet, while many biblical films of this period were primarily aimed at religious audiences, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (2014) and Ridley Scott’s [...] Read more.
Several large-scale Bible epics have been produced in the decade after the revival of epic cinema at the turn of the millennium. Yet, while many biblical films of this period were primarily aimed at religious audiences, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (2014) and Ridley Scott’s Exodus:Gods and Kings (2014) stand out due to their broader epic appeal and religious skepticism. Using Gilles Deleuze’s concepts of the impulse-image and the action-image as framework, this article analyses some of the nuances and complexities of both films. It argues that although both films offer scale and spectacle consistent with older biblical epics, the portrayal of their lead characters as a man determined on destruction (Noah) and religious skeptic and warrior (Exodus) differentiates them from traditional biblical cinema. Additionally, comparing both films helps articulate nuances within Deleuze’s movement-image that are often overlooked. Having proclaimed that modern cinema brings with it a crisis of truth that challenges the certainties of classic American cinema and its clear ideas on morality and belief, Deleuze ultimately calls for a leap of faith to reinstate the possibility of action. The article concludes that Noah and Exodus offer us a bit of both—spiritual uncertainty and a return of classic epic cinema. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Representation and the Philosophy of Film)
Article
Rituals and Embodied Cultural Practices at the Beginning of Life: African Perspectives
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1024; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111024 (registering DOI) - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 229
Abstract
Cultural beliefs and practices find expression through rituals. Rites of initiation or passage are some of the most common rituals among the indigenous African societies. Pregnancy and Childbirth are not only biological events, but also socially and culturally constructed with associated symbols that [...] Read more.
Cultural beliefs and practices find expression through rituals. Rites of initiation or passage are some of the most common rituals among the indigenous African societies. Pregnancy and Childbirth are not only biological events, but also socially and culturally constructed with associated symbols that represent the social identities and cultural values of Africans. Birth is a rite of passage, and children are perceived as special gifts from the Supreme Being. As such, pregnancy and childbirth are special events cherished and celebrated through varied rituals. Drawing on empirical literature and relevant commentaries, this paper aims to discuss selected rituals and embodied practices surrounding the start of life (pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood). The paper will specifically focus on the following aspects: pregnancy rituals; birth songs and dancing; the omugwo (care after birth); the cord and placenta rituals; and the naming ceremony. Some of the pregnancy rituals are purificatory in nature and therefore beneficial for maternal and infant health. The celebrations surrounding the birth of a child are community events, marked with singing and dancing. Following childbirth, the new mothers are not expected to participate in house chores to allow them time to recuperate. In all, discourses concerning the beginning of life, i.e., pregnancy and the periods surrounding it, are filled with rituals which are embodiments or expressions of cultural values, customs, and beliefs. Full article
Article
Inspiration and Revelation of the Qur’an and Its Relation to the Bible
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1023; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111023 - 21 Nov 2021
Viewed by 271
Abstract
The Qur’an often compares its own inspiration and revelation with previous scriptures to its audience. However, the Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity had manifold understandings of the inspiration and revelation of scripture. The rabbinic tradition posits various degrees of inspiration behind canonical [...] Read more.
The Qur’an often compares its own inspiration and revelation with previous scriptures to its audience. However, the Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity had manifold understandings of the inspiration and revelation of scripture. The rabbinic tradition posits various degrees of inspiration behind canonical scriptures: the Torah was dictated by God to Moses, while other prophets had lesser degrees of divine inspiration. Many Christian churches typically held a dual authorship concept, where the human author wrote under the inspiration of a divine author. Many Muslim traditions held various understandings of the agency, or lack thereof, of Muḥammad in the utterances of the Qur’an. Nonetheless, the Qur’an claims that its own inspiration is no different from some biblical books. Since the rabbinic and Christian views differ, it is imperative to understand the Qur’anic concept of itself on inspiration and revelation (waḥy and tanzīl), especially since it compares itself with other scriptures. Additionally, it is argued that the Qur’an’s self-referentiality as a “kitāb” that descends does not necessarily denote a “book” (neither heavenly nor earthly), but an order or commandment, which is more loyal to the root definition. Full article
Article
Through the Eyes of a Mapmaker: Maritime Shrines on Cyprus during the Late Middle Ages
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1022; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111022 - 21 Nov 2021
Viewed by 207
Abstract
Cyprus acquired special importance, especially from the thirteenth century onwards, on the Eastern Mediterranean’s pilgrimage network. Described by contemporary pilgrims as “Terra christianorum ultima”, the island was considered to be the last Christian land in the south-eastern Mediterranean on the pilgrims’ itinerary on [...] Read more.
Cyprus acquired special importance, especially from the thirteenth century onwards, on the Eastern Mediterranean’s pilgrimage network. Described by contemporary pilgrims as “Terra christianorum ultima”, the island was considered to be the last Christian land in the south-eastern Mediterranean on the pilgrims’ itinerary on their journey to the Holy Land. This study is concentrated on two maps of Cyprus dated to the fourteenth century and preserved in Milan: Biblioteca Ambrosiana, A95 sup. and Venice: Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, gr. XI.21. It aims to explore the physical and spiritual mobility and interconnectivity in Cyprus during the late Middle Ages and to consider how these contribute to the development of pilgrimage sites directly related with maritime routes, seamen and travellers. These unique nautical maps captured the sea voyage which had Cyprus as a stopover, bringing to light new insights into fourteenth century Cyprus. The maritime shrines discussed in this article, which are usually “mixed” sacred sites, are directly related with sailors’ needs. They integrate into a wide network of communication, removing them partially from their local dimension. Full article
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Article
Encountering the Goddess in the Indian Himalaya: On the Contribution of Ethnographic Film to the Study of Religion
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1021; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111021 - 19 Nov 2021
Viewed by 261
Abstract
This paper examines the benefits of ethnographic film for the study of religion. It argues that the exploration of gaps between colloquial descriptions of divinities and their practical manifestation in ritual is instructive of the way religious categories are conceptualized. The argument is [...] Read more.
This paper examines the benefits of ethnographic film for the study of religion. It argues that the exploration of gaps between colloquial descriptions of divinities and their practical manifestation in ritual is instructive of the way religious categories are conceptualized. The argument is developed through an analysis of selected scenes from the documentary AVATARA, a meditation on goddess worship (Śaktism) among the Khas ethnic majority of the Hindu Himalaya (Himachal Pradesh, India). Centering on embodiments of the goddess in spirit possession séances, it points to a fundamental difference between the popular depiction of the deity as a virgin-child (kanyā) who visits followers in their dreams and her actual manifestation as a menacing mother (mātā) during ritual activities. These ostensibly incongruent images are ultimately bridged by the anthropologically informed edition of the material caught on camera, illustrating the added advantage of documentary filmmaking for approximating religious experiences. Full article
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Article
Hebrew, Hebrews, Hubris?: Diagnosing Race and Religion in the Time of COVID-19
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1020; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111020 - 19 Nov 2021
Viewed by 257
Abstract
This thought experiment in comparison ponders a Black man’s conviction that his Hebrew identity would make him immune to COVID-19. Surfacing the history of the claims and the scholar’s own suspicions, the paper examines the layered politics of identification. Contra an essentialist understanding [...] Read more.
This thought experiment in comparison ponders a Black man’s conviction that his Hebrew identity would make him immune to COVID-19. Surfacing the history of the claims and the scholar’s own suspicions, the paper examines the layered politics of identification. Contra an essentialist understanding of the terms, “Hebrew” and “Hebrews” are shown to be classificatory events, ones imbricated in the dynamics of racecraft. Furthermore, a contextualization of the “race religion” model of 19th century scholarship, 20th century US religio-racial movements, and the complicated legacy of Tuskegee in 21st century Black vaccine hesitancy help to outline the need for inquisitiveness rather than hubris in matters of comparison. In so doing, this working paper advances a model of the public scholar as a questioner of categories and a diagnostician of classification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Hebrew Bible, Race, and Racism)
Article
Humility: Virgin or Virtue?
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1019; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111019 (registering DOI) - 19 Nov 2021
Viewed by 300
Abstract
This paper considers Marian iconography in which the Virgin is depicted sitting on the ground, known as the Virgin of Humility. The creation of this Marian type coincides with Saint Thomas’s systematization of the virtues, which resulted in a decline in the importance [...] Read more.
This paper considers Marian iconography in which the Virgin is depicted sitting on the ground, known as the Virgin of Humility. The creation of this Marian type coincides with Saint Thomas’s systematization of the virtues, which resulted in a decline in the importance of the virtue of Humility. The combination of both cultural traditions has led to a correspondence between the virtue of Humility and the images of the Virgin of Humility. The genesis of this latter type is based on the textual sources and part of the visual representation of Humility, which was replaced during the 14th and 15th centuries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Art in the Renaissance)
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Article
Songs of Dissent and Consciousness: Pronouncements of the Bauls of Rural Bengal
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1018; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111018 - 18 Nov 2021
Viewed by 333
Abstract
Bauls, the wandering minstrels of rural Bengal (of both Bangladesh and India), are a socio-religiously marginalized cultural group. While the ritualistic practices and spiritual discourses of the Bauls have received scholarly attention, scholarship on Bauls’ songs about material and communicative adversities and their [...] Read more.
Bauls, the wandering minstrels of rural Bengal (of both Bangladesh and India), are a socio-religiously marginalized cultural group. While the ritualistic practices and spiritual discourses of the Bauls have received scholarly attention, scholarship on Bauls’ songs about material and communicative adversities and their emancipatory visions is lacking. Bauls’ performances and discourses are precursors to envisioning alternative emancipatory possibilities that question dominant intolerances, oppressions, and exploitations. This article documents and reflects on the works of two contemporary Bauls—Shah Abdul Karim and Manimohan Das. Through their songs and performances, they (i) question the power structure and legitimize the sufferings and struggles of the downtrodden, and (ii) seek to raise societal consciousness in imagining a free and just society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Music in World Religions)
Article
Prophetic Disappointment and Ideological Change among Israeli Settlers’ Rabbis: The Case of Rabbis Yehuda Amital and Shmuel Tal
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1017; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111017 - 18 Nov 2021
Viewed by 336
Abstract
In this article, I examine the role of prophetic disappointment in creating ideological change. I discuss the response of two Orthodox rabbis, Rabbi Yehuda Amital (1924–2010) and Rabbi Shmuel Tal (b. 1962), to the crisis of faith they encountered regarding the role of [...] Read more.
In this article, I examine the role of prophetic disappointment in creating ideological change. I discuss the response of two Orthodox rabbis, Rabbi Yehuda Amital (1924–2010) and Rabbi Shmuel Tal (b. 1962), to the crisis of faith they encountered regarding the role of Zionism in the messianic drama. This research describes the process of religious switching they have gone through due to failure of prophetic faith. This work argues that their transformation was an attempt to cope with the tension that results from cognitive dissonance in two different instances while blaming a third party for misunderstanding the true will of God. Their religious switching was an act of theodicy, justifying God’s justice, while renouncing their previous held beliefs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Zionism – Sociology and Theology)
Article
The Earth as “Mother of Men” in Latter-Day Saint Theology
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1016; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111016 - 18 Nov 2021
Viewed by 365
Abstract
Following the completion of work on the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith began his work on expanding the Bible’s scope. Unlike many of his contemporary Bible thinkers who were also working on translations of the Bible, Smith expanded the text in unique ways, [...] Read more.
Following the completion of work on the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith began his work on expanding the Bible’s scope. Unlike many of his contemporary Bible thinkers who were also working on translations of the Bible, Smith expanded the text in unique ways, breathing life into archaic and mysterious figures and developing themes far beyond the Biblical scope. Within the first year of the Church of Jesus Christ, Smith introduced significant information concerning a vision of the pseudepigraphical character of Enoch and additional information concerning the creation narrative. These additions give insight into Smith’s understanding of his theology and his views on the environment. These additional writings connect environmental care and social injustice. The unique theological implication is that the treatment of the marginalized and downtrodden is closely related to the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Latter-day Saint Theology and the Environment)
Article
“Make What You Can of It If You Are a Philosopher”: An Essay on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Christian Spiritualism”
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1015; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111015 - 18 Nov 2021
Viewed by 275
Abstract
A number of years ago, renowned English biographer Andrew Lycett wrote a short piece about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that highlighted the seemingly irreconcilable tension between Doyle the creator of the “super-rational” detective Sherlock Holmes, and Doyle the passionate defender of “Christian Spiritualism”. [...] Read more.
A number of years ago, renowned English biographer Andrew Lycett wrote a short piece about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that highlighted the seemingly irreconcilable tension between Doyle the creator of the “super-rational” detective Sherlock Holmes, and Doyle the passionate defender of “Christian Spiritualism”. In this essay, I aim to explore this alleged tension, ultimately arguing that these two Doyles need not be in tension—the only true tension being between the two terms in Doyle’s preferred philosophy, “Christian Spiritualism”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Representation and the Philosophy of Film)
Article
Intercultural Theology as In-Between Theology
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1014; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111014 - 17 Nov 2021
Viewed by 317
Abstract
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the term intercultural theology has been gaining more and more traction. At the same time, the terms world Christianity and anthropology of Christianity have also become established. This article inquires into the profile of intercultural theology [...] Read more.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the term intercultural theology has been gaining more and more traction. At the same time, the terms world Christianity and anthropology of Christianity have also become established. This article inquires into the profile of intercultural theology against the other two terms and defines the subject as in-between theology with regard to such factors as audience, media, power, methodology, plurality, and connectivity. Looking forward, the author identifies current challenges and proposes that intercultural theology should be understood as a both descriptive and normative discipline, that the driving force behind it is the universal-missionary truth claim of the New Testament message of salvation, and that—as a subject with a primarily systematic orientation—it is committed to a comprehensive understanding of reality and theology. Full article
Article
Quran as Scripture in Classical Muslim Scholarship
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1013; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111013 (registering DOI) - 17 Nov 2021
Viewed by 275
Abstract
Recent scholarship focuses on the plasticity of the concept of “scripture” as it is defined by different religious traditions. Based on its contents, the Quran is most commonly compared to the Bible, yet such an approach misses the distinct way that the Quran [...] Read more.
Recent scholarship focuses on the plasticity of the concept of “scripture” as it is defined by different religious traditions. Based on its contents, the Quran is most commonly compared to the Bible, yet such an approach misses the distinct way that the Quran is understood as an authoritative text by classical Muslim scholarship. Even “basic” information—knowing the number of words, the names of surahs, the structure of the text—is essential to understanding how Muslims see the Quran as scripture and the foundations upon which it is built. Muslims regard the Quran as the word of God, revealed to the prophet Muhammad, the primary source for determining the beliefs and practices of Islam. The text of the Quran is used in the teaching of Arabic and is the focus of Islamic learning. It is regarded as interceding on behalf of those who revere it, is recited as a part of regular rituals, and is treated as a sacred object in ritual and everyday settings. The exegetical and ritual use of the Quran is a fundamental means for Muslims to both relate and distinguish themselves from other religious identities, especially those such as Jews and Christians, with whom they share a common scriptural tradition. Full article
Article
John Amos Comenius: Inciting the Millennium through Educational Reform
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1012; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111012 - 17 Nov 2021
Viewed by 357
Abstract
Comenius is considered by many scholars to be the father of modern education, a title that he has thoroughly earned. His ideas about universal education for all children foreshadowed modern pedagogical developments, and he dedicated more than forty years of his life to [...] Read more.
Comenius is considered by many scholars to be the father of modern education, a title that he has thoroughly earned. His ideas about universal education for all children foreshadowed modern pedagogical developments, and he dedicated more than forty years of his life to reforming education and society. The question guiding this research was: Why was Comenius so dedicated to reform efforts, and why were his ideas about education so peculiar for his time? Through a review of existing scholarship and Comenius’ own writing, namely the Labyrinth, Didactic, and the Orbis Pictus, it became clear that Comenius was inspired by the millenarian ideology prevalent during the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries in Europe as well as the effects that the turbulence of the seventeenth century had on his own life. These factors also led Comenius to believe that educational reform was the key to unlocking Pansophy, which would incite the Millennium, the golden age of peace and prosperity that would precede the second coming of Christ and the final judgement of God. Full article
Article
‘Purest Bones, Sweet Remains, and Most Sacred Relics.’ Re-Fashioning St. Kazimierz Jagiellończyk (1458–84) as a Medieval Saint between Counter-Reformation Italy and Poland-Lithuania
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1011; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111011 - 16 Nov 2021
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Abstract
This article explores the Counter-Reformation medievalization of Polish–Lithuanian St. Kazimierz Jagiellończyk (1458–1484)—whose canonization was only finalized in the seventeenth century—as a case study, taking up questions of the reception of cults of medieval saints in post-medieval societies, or in this case, the retroactive [...] Read more.
This article explores the Counter-Reformation medievalization of Polish–Lithuanian St. Kazimierz Jagiellończyk (1458–1484)—whose canonization was only finalized in the seventeenth century—as a case study, taking up questions of the reception of cults of medieval saints in post-medieval societies, or in this case, the retroactive refashioning into a venerable medieval saint. The article investigates these questions across a transcultural Italo–Baltic context through the activities of principal agents of the saint’s re-fashioning as a venerable saint during the late seventeenth century: the Pacowie from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Medici from the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, during a watershed period of Tuscan–Lithuanian bidirectional interest. During this period, the two dynasties were entangled not only by means of the shared division of Jagiellończyk’s bodily remains through translatio—the ritual relocation of relics of saints and holy persons—but also self-representational strategies that furthered their religio-political agendas and retroactively constructed their houses’ venerable medieval roots back through antiquity. Drawing on distinct genres of textual, visual, and material sources, the article analyzes the Tuscan–Lithuanian refashioning of Kazimierz against a series of precious reliquaries made to translate holy remains between Vilnius to Florence to offer a contribution to the entangled histories of sanctity, art and material culture, and conceptual geography within the transtemporal and transcultural neocolonial context interconnecting the Middle Ages, Age of Reformations, and the Counter-Reformation between Italy and Baltic Europe. Full article
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Article
Controlling the State in the Political Theory of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1010; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111010 - 16 Nov 2021
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Abstract
Existing scholarship has largely focused on the violence of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) when analyzing their response to the Oslo Agreement and the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority (PA) in the 1990s. The Islamist opposition’s contribution to Palestinian political thought [...] Read more.
Existing scholarship has largely focused on the violence of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) when analyzing their response to the Oslo Agreement and the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority (PA) in the 1990s. The Islamist opposition’s contribution to Palestinian political thought has largely been ignored, however, although the prospects of Palestinian self-rule confronted the two movements with fundamental questions about social organization, governance, and the permissibility of democracy. I offer an analysis of key Hamas and PIJ texts from this period to demonstrate that Hamas and PIJ fundamentally differ in their analysis of the state and the organization of just society. While Hamas outlines a state-centric approach to governance through which Islamic values are enforced from above, PIJ perceives the state to be the greatest threat to the just organization of society. This article consequently dispels the myth that the two Palestinian Islamist movements had no significant ideological differences in the 1990s. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islamist Movements in the Middle East)
Article
The Transit of Mary Magdalene’s Soul in Catalan Artistic Production in the 15th Century
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1009; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111009 (registering DOI) - 16 Nov 2021
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Abstract
There are a great many studies on the figure of Mary Magdalene in different areas of knowledge. Nevertheless, there is a gap as regards the image of this character in Catalonia, and specifically regarding the visual representation of her soul at the moment [...] Read more.
There are a great many studies on the figure of Mary Magdalene in different areas of knowledge. Nevertheless, there is a gap as regards the image of this character in Catalonia, and specifically regarding the visual representation of her soul at the moment when she died. This text aims to analyze this matter based on two Catalan altarpieces: the Altarpiece of Saint Mary Magdalene from Perella (Bernat Martorell, 1437–1453) and The Death of Mary Magdalene (Jaume Huguet, 1465–1480). The analysis has been carried out based on the postulates from the tradition of studies on iconography and iconology: the relationships between image and text, the history of the iconographic types and the magnetic power of images. The basic hypothesis is that the representation of Mary Magdalene’s soul in the 15th Century in Catalonia is visually borrowed from the iconographic type of the Dormition of the Mother of God. To test this, comparative analyses have been made of the visual representation of the two women and also of the textual sources, such as the canonical and extracanonical gospels, a variety of medieval legends and different hagiographies or vitas and sermons from the period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Art in the Renaissance)
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Article
Spiritual and Material Conversion in the Alchemical Work of Zosimus of Panopolis
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1008; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111008 - 16 Nov 2021
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Abstract
Zosimus of Panopolis was a Graeco-Egyptian alchemist of the 3rd century whose alchemy was imbued with both technical and Gnostic elements. In this way, the notion of conversion is met in the corpus of Zosimus in both its material and spiritual aspects. The [...] Read more.
Zosimus of Panopolis was a Graeco-Egyptian alchemist of the 3rd century whose alchemy was imbued with both technical and Gnostic elements. In this way, the notion of conversion is met in the corpus of Zosimus in both its material and spiritual aspects. The aim of this paper is to present these two kinds of conversion by having a special focus on the role of the spirit (pneuma) in their procedures. Hence, in the first part of the study I present how pneuma is involved in the conversion of metals, while in the second I deal with the spiritual–Gnostic aspects of his alchemy, which pertain to the notion of the “divine spark.” In the last part of the study, I examine the relation between pneuma and divine water in the work of Zosimus, which serves in turn as an exegetical tool for the Coptic-Gnostic source which is found in the Gospel According to Philip (61, 12b–20a). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conversion Debates in Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity)
Article
Theorizing the (Un)Sounded in Sikhī: Anhad, Sabad, and Kīrtan
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1007; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111007 (registering DOI) - 16 Nov 2021
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Abstract
Listening to sabad kīrtan (sung scriptural verse) is a core, everyday, widespread, and loved worship practice of Sikhs around the globe. Thus, it would be fair to state that sounding is central to Sikh worship. Indeed, the Sikh scripture considers kīrtan to be [...] Read more.
Listening to sabad kīrtan (sung scriptural verse) is a core, everyday, widespread, and loved worship practice of Sikhs around the globe. Thus, it would be fair to state that sounding is central to Sikh worship. Indeed, the Sikh scripture considers kīrtan to be an eminent mode of devotion. Yet, the ultimate aim of this sonic practice is to sense the “unsounded” vibration—anhad—and thereby the divine and divine ethical virtues. Based on a close reading of Sikh sacred texts and ethnographic research, and drawing on the analytic of transduction, the paper explicates the embodied vibratory dimensions of the (unsounded) anhad and (sounded) sabad kīrtan. It argues that the central purpose of the Sikh (un)sounding perceptual practice is embodied ethical attunement for an unmediated experience of the divine and divine ethical virtues, and thereby the development of an ethical life. At the intersection of music, sound, religious, and philosophical studies, the analysis reveals the centrality of the body in worship and ethical development, and contributes to interdisciplinary conversations on sensory epistemologies in faith traditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Music in World Religions)
Article
Whiteness in Christianity and Decoloniality of the African Experience: Developing a Political Theology for ‘Shalom’ in Kenya
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1006; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111006 - 16 Nov 2021
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Abstract
The decolonial discourse around Christianity must not avoid dealing with Whiteness if there is going to be any fruitful decolonization. Colonialism and the Western missionary enterprise were not necessarily two distinct and unrelated entries to precolonial Kenya. How then did Christianity, for decades, [...] Read more.
The decolonial discourse around Christianity must not avoid dealing with Whiteness if there is going to be any fruitful decolonization. Colonialism and the Western missionary enterprise were not necessarily two distinct and unrelated entries to precolonial Kenya. How then did Christianity, for decades, live side by side with colonialism? In this article, we contend that Colonialism in Kenya could not have been possible without the missionary enterprise activity. The impact of that unholy relationship is felt and sustained in contemporary forms of violence. Unfortunately, critics of such a discourse dismiss the decolonial efforts in African Christianity citing intellectual activism. Such voices of dissent may not be far from the truth as Jesus’ ministry involved elements of activism. Whenever he confronted oppressive institutional structures, he used activism tempered with a degree of pacifism. Looking at the history of historical injustices in Kenya, we see instances whereby missionary Christianity conveniently abetted injustices for colonial structures to sustain the oppression of the indigenous Africans. Such injustices have been unresolved to date because the oppressive structures are still in place in the shape of neocolonialism. Land, for example, is a present source of conflict in Kenya. In the precolonial African ontology, the land was in harmony with the people. For land to be taken away from its owners, a separation of the people from the land had to happen. This was facilitated by a Christian theology that created existential dualism, violently separating the African bodies from their souls and the person from the community. Hence, Christian doctrine that emphasized ‘saving souls’ and ‘personal salvation’ was entrenched. This separation and fragmentation are fundamental to Whiteness. Whiteness universalizes truth, even theology; it puts a face of neutrality that obscures specificity. Such has made the church uncritical of oppressive and unjust political structures. Whiteness realizes that it is hard to enter into something that is in harmony. Therefore, separation needs to happen for Whiteness to succeed. Unfortunately, much of our theological understanding today is tempered with a neocolonial mindset that separates the soul from the body for Christian triumphalism. It anesthetizes the pain of oppression with the eschatological promise of future deliverance. This paper will analyze the impact of Whiteness in Kenya during and after colonialism to demonstrate how the British explorer–settler–missionary alliance ‘oiled’ the religious and economic disenfranchising of African people. Secondly, it proposes a political theology that will restore ‘Shalom’ in a socially, economically, and spiritually broken country. It is such a theology undertaken in Africa that will confront oppressive structures and identify with the marginalized communities in Kenya. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research with Religio-Cultural Heritage in Africa)
Article
Islamism, Islamic Modernism and the Search for Modern Authenticity in an Imaginary Past
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1005; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111005 - 16 Nov 2021
Viewed by 368
Abstract
How to be authentically modern? This was the pervasive question behind the ideological elaborations of numerous religious and nationalist movements toward the end of the nineteenth century. Many of them attempted to find the answer in an imaginary past. This article claims that [...] Read more.
How to be authentically modern? This was the pervasive question behind the ideological elaborations of numerous religious and nationalist movements toward the end of the nineteenth century. Many of them attempted to find the answer in an imaginary past. This article claims that Islamist movements are not an exception, but rather an affirmation of this rule. The orientation towards a “golden age” of Islam and its allegedly authentic Islamic way of life has been a crucial feature of Islamist thought across all national, sectarian and ideological divides. The article traces this invocation of the past historically back to the construction of specifically Islamic forms of modernity by representatives of Islamic modernism in the second half of the nineteenth century. Interpreting their modernist thought in the context of more global nineteenth-century concepts and narratives, the article argues from a comparative perspective that Islamic modernism laid the foundations for the ways in which Islamist thinkers have constructed both individual and collective forms of Muslim identities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islamist Movements in the Middle East)
Article
They Are Preserved Forever: Visualising the Memorialisation of Archipelagic Religious and Community Identities
Religions 2021, 12(11), 999; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12110999 - 15 Nov 2021
Viewed by 546
Abstract
In this article, we respond to the Special Issue theme by addressing the complexities of religious identities in archipelagic communities where the dual role of the sea as conduit and barrier has impacted the parish system, farming estates and community life. The focus [...] Read more.
In this article, we respond to the Special Issue theme by addressing the complexities of religious identities in archipelagic communities where the dual role of the sea as conduit and barrier has impacted the parish system, farming estates and community life. The focus is primarily on nineteenth and twentieth century testimonies and material evidence, approached within a broader chronological context going back to the Middle Ages. Using qualitative GIS mapping of the habitations of the people memorialised in two burial grounds in Orkney, we visualise the active role of the islander in constructing identities linking people and place at parish, community and personal levels. The results show that the people with memorial stones were buried within a long-established parochial structure but did not adhere to ecclesiastical norms, with district burial grounds being favoured over a single parish churchyard. We conclude that this approach demonstrates the complexities of identities within an island community and identify its applicability in other contexts combining material culture and historical documentation to investigate religious island identities. Full article
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Article
Australian Christian Conscientious Objectors during the Vietnam War Years 1964–72
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1004; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12111004 - 15 Nov 2021
Viewed by 292
Abstract
Many young Christian men faced a moral dilemma when selective military conscription was introduced in Australia during the Vietnam War from 1964–72. The legislation was the National Service Act in 1964 (NSA). Some believed that their Christian conscience did not allow them to [...] Read more.
Many young Christian men faced a moral dilemma when selective military conscription was introduced in Australia during the Vietnam War from 1964–72. The legislation was the National Service Act in 1964 (NSA). Some believed that their Christian conscience did not allow them to kill or serve in the army. Most of them sought exemption as a conscientious objector decided at a court hearing. Others chose non-compliance with the NSA. All exercised nonviolent Holy Disobedience in their individual opposition to war and conscription for it. Holy disobedience stresses the importance of nonviolent individual action, which was an idea of A.J. Muste, a great Christian pacifist. The research reported here is strongly influenced by his approach. It is believed to be the first study which explicitly considers Christian conscientious objectors. A data set was compiled of known Christian conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War years from authoritative sources. Analysis allowed identification of these men, the grounds on which their conscientious beliefs were based and formed and how they personally responded to their moral dilemma. Many of their personal stories are told in their own words. Their Holy Disobedience contributed to ending Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War and military conscription for it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nonviolence and Religion)
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