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Religions, Volume 13, Issue 4 (April 2022) – 106 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): We all come from somebody. Life means being entangled with others, at all times. We are entangled with our mother or the person who gave birth to us, with those who were present at our birth and those who nurtured us to become the person that we are today. Birth is more than a biological fact; it carries many social, spiritual, and existential meanings. In Hannah Arendt’s view, birth means the start of possibilities and initiatives. While most theories have looked at meaning in life and spirituality from the perspective of death, in this paper, we depart from the beginning of beginnings, our birth, to explore our entanglement with others and the world, and how that relates to secular, in particular humanist, notions of spirituality. View this paper
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Article
Agentic and Receptive Hope: Understanding Hope in the Context of Religiousness and Spirituality through the Narratives of Salvadoran Youth
Religions 2022, 13(4), 376; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040376 - 18 Apr 2022
Viewed by 588
Abstract
Hope contributes to positive development in adolescents, and religious and spiritual contexts may be particularly important for developing and supporting hope. However, extant literature on hope, religion, and spirituality neglects their synergistic relation, leaving questions about how they work together to support development. [...] Read more.
Hope contributes to positive development in adolescents, and religious and spiritual contexts may be particularly important for developing and supporting hope. However, extant literature on hope, religion, and spirituality neglects their synergistic relation, leaving questions about how they work together to support development. In this study, we explore how religiousness and spirituality (R/S) inform hope by identifying unique synergies that might be particularly useful in difficult contexts. Multilevel qualitative content analyses of interviews conducted with 18 thriving Salvadoran adolescents (50% female, Mage = 16.39 years, SD = 1.83) involved in a faith-based program provided evidence that the ideological and relational resources associated with R/S informed these adolescents’ agentic and receptive hopes. Agentic hopes, identified through expressed hopeful future expectations, revealed that adolescents held beyond-the-self hopes focused on benefiting three distinct targets: God, community, and family. Youth also described “sanctified hopes”, which were hopes focused on fulfilling God’s purposes directly and indirectly. Analyses of receptive hopes, which consider how hope is shaped and empowered by context, revealed that for these youth, hope was experienced in seven key contexts: self, caring adult relationships, family, God, youth development sponsor, social activities, and peers. Implications for fostering hope in R/S contexts within low-to-middle-income countries are discussed. Full article
Article
A Thomistic Account of Human Free Will and Divine Providence: Pedro de Ledesma and the De Auxiliis Controversy
Religions 2022, 13(4), 375; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040375 - 18 Apr 2022
Viewed by 475
Abstract
Pedro de Ledesma is one of the Dominican theologians of the School of Salamanca involved in the De Auxiliis controversy, i.e., the disputes around a famous book by Luis de Molina on the relation between divine foreknowledge and providence and our free will. [...] Read more.
Pedro de Ledesma is one of the Dominican theologians of the School of Salamanca involved in the De Auxiliis controversy, i.e., the disputes around a famous book by Luis de Molina on the relation between divine foreknowledge and providence and our free will. Studying an unpublished manuscript by Ledesma and his 1611 book on this subject, the article shows that he opposed Molina with a Thomistic position that we call deflationary. According to this interpretation, God, in moving the created will to do good actions, does not bring about an entity distinct from volition itself. Contrary to other Thomists, he does not think that the immediate effect of the divine motion of the will is an intermediary entity used by God to produce, with the will, the created free act. Ledesma defends his thesis by using some elements of Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics, in particular, a minimalist interpretation of the relation between action and passion already present in Domingo de Soto and the specific causality of immanent acts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Humanities/Philosophies)
Editorial
Introduction to Special Issue: Islam and/in Education in The Netherlands
Religions 2022, 13(4), 374; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040374 - 18 Apr 2022
Viewed by 470
Abstract
This article provides information on the current Dutch educational system, paying special attention to the position of Islam in formal, non-formal and informal education. It briefly sketches the history of the so-called “pillarised educational system”, a system in which the 19th century Dutch [...] Read more.
This article provides information on the current Dutch educational system, paying special attention to the position of Islam in formal, non-formal and informal education. It briefly sketches the history of the so-called “pillarised educational system”, a system in which the 19th century Dutch Christian education system evolved into a compartmentalised system with the pillars of Catholic, Protestant and humanistic education. At the end of the 20th century, a fourth pillar of Islamic education was founded by Dutch Muslim parents. Convinced that religious upbringing in the family and participation in mosque youth clubs constituted only the beginning of the process of becoming a good Muslim, Moroccan and Turkish parents supported the foundation of formal Islamic education in Dutch Islamic schools. This article describes developments in formal, non-formal and informal Islamic education in the light of children’s rights to religious education and parents’ rights to religious upbringing. Religious identity development, including religious literacy training, is presented as an important aspect of educating children to be(come) good Muslims—a process in which parents at home, imams and volunteers at the mosque, as well as teachers at school, play an important role. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam and/in Education in the Netherlands)
Editorial
Introduction: Special Issue on Contemporary Muslim Identity and Thought
Religions 2022, 13(4), 373; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040373 - 18 Apr 2022
Viewed by 521
Abstract
Contemporary Muslim identity and thought include a remarkable diversity of trajectory, orientation, and debate [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Muslim Thought and Identity)
Article
“Are You God? Damn Your Family!”: The Islam–Gender Nexus in Right-Wing Populism and the New Generation of Muslim Feminist Activism in Turkey
Religions 2022, 13(4), 372; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040372 - 16 Apr 2022
Viewed by 575
Abstract
This article examines young Muslim women’s dissident mentalities, practices, and subjectivities that confront the epistemological conditions whereby right-wing populist (RWP) gender politics operates in Turkey. Relying on frame theory in social movement research and the Foucauldian approach to resistance, dissent, and protest, it [...] Read more.
This article examines young Muslim women’s dissident mentalities, practices, and subjectivities that confront the epistemological conditions whereby right-wing populist (RWP) gender politics operates in Turkey. Relying on frame theory in social movement research and the Foucauldian approach to resistance, dissent, and protest, it explores Muslim feminist critique of RWP gender discourse mainly with a focus on the following issues: (i.) Instrumentalization of the headscarf, (ii.) familialist policies, and (iii.) violence against women and the Istanbul Convention (the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence). As a result, it demonstrates that young Muslim women’s dissident mentalities and subjectivities generate a new “political project”, i.e., a set of new meanings and social goals directed at bringing about social change, which comes into being through the act of resistance against RWP gender grammar and carves out new forms of knowledge reclaiming the Islam–gender nexus for a progressive feminist agenda. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Gender and Sexuality)
Article
Hybridized Surviving: The Diaspora Narratives of Joseph, Esther, and Daniel
Religions 2022, 13(4), 371; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040371 - 16 Apr 2022
Viewed by 495
Abstract
There are a number of challenges faced by diasporic people, yet they all seem to be connected to one major issue: “identity”. Their narratives are built on questions surrounding who they are, when they are no longer living in/on their home/land. As they [...] Read more.
There are a number of challenges faced by diasporic people, yet they all seem to be connected to one major issue: “identity”. Their narratives are built on questions surrounding who they are, when they are no longer living in/on their home/land. As they migrate to foreign lands, their notions of identity become clouded, and quite often they struggle to “belong”. Second-generation people could be heard asking: “Where do we belong?” “The lands our parents came from?” “Or the lands we now live?” “Is it both? Or is it neither?” “Do we even know who we are? How do we fit in? How do we survive?” The aim of this essay is to highlight the issue of diasporic identity in the narratives of three biblical migrants: Joseph, Esther, and Daniel. The purposes of these biblical accounts seem to reflect the ambivalence of diasporic existence, where they can achieve success but also experience adversity. Yet these narratives also deal with how identity is problematized in diasporic contexts. I will be engaging these narratives in conversation with my own story, in a bid to view alternative understandings and constructs of diasporic existence, particularly for second-generation migrants within religious communities. Furthermore, the hope is that a re-reading of these narratives may generate alternative theological considerations in light of the struggles of second-generation migrants. Full article
Article
Spiritual Care Competences among Health Care Professionals in Pakistan: Findings from a Cross-Sectional Survey
Religions 2022, 13(4), 370; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040370 - 16 Apr 2022
Viewed by 554
Abstract
Introduction: There is a gap in healthcare literature related to the spiritual competence of physicians and nurses practicing in South Asian Muslim communities. To fill that gap, the Spiritual Care Competence Questionnaire (SCCQ) was applied which was developed to address multi-professional spiritual care [...] Read more.
Introduction: There is a gap in healthcare literature related to the spiritual competence of physicians and nurses practicing in South Asian Muslim communities. To fill that gap, the Spiritual Care Competence Questionnaire (SCCQ) was applied which was developed to address multi-professional spiritual care competences. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study among 294 health professionals (61% physicians, 17% nurses, and 22% other professions) in 10 hospitals in Punjab, Pakistan. Results: The highest scoring competences were “Dealing with patients/Communication competences”, while “Team Spirit” scored lowest. There were no gender related differences, but there were effects related to professions. “Team Spirit”, “Dealing with patients/Communication competences”, and “Empowerment competences” scored significantly higher in nurses as compared to physicians and other health care professionals, while there were no significant differences for their “Perception/Documentation competences”. These competences were not relevantly related to the intensity of their prayer/meditation activity. Conclusions: Health care professional from Punjab were preferred to tolerate the pain and the suffering of patients and their relatives rather than to talk about spiritual care issues. Their spiritual care competences were less developed. Thus, there is a clear need for further specific education and training of health professionals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Existential Issues in Health)
Article
Ijtihād Holds Supremacy in Islamic Law: Muslim Communities and the Evolution of Law
Religions 2022, 13(4), 369; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040369 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 503
Abstract
While the traditional view of Islamic law (sharīʿah) and jurisprudence is to consider the Qur’an as the starting point for legal matters, followed by the prophetic tradition, and then resorting to various forms of “ijtihād”, it is argued [...] Read more.
While the traditional view of Islamic law (sharīʿah) and jurisprudence is to consider the Qur’an as the starting point for legal matters, followed by the prophetic tradition, and then resorting to various forms of “ijtihād”, it is argued here that the Qur’an was not really held in a position of legal supremacy. Since the time of the earliest Muslim community, it is “ijtihād” that has created the criteria by which Qur’anic and even prophetic rules are to be kept, suspended, and contradicted. Therefore, the Qur’an is not viewed historically as having legal supremacy for Islamic law and is not considered similar to some constitutions, against which laws are measured. Hence, in modern-day Islamic legal discourse, it would not be unreasonable to argue that “ijtihād” has supremacy in Islamic law, giving some flexibility to Muslim communities in the evolution of such laws. Full article
Article
The Northern Stronghold Sacrifice and the Political Legitimacy of Ethnic Minority Regimes in the Late Imperial China
Religions 2022, 13(4), 368; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040368 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 501
Abstract
Traditional Chinese state sacrificial ritual represented a symbolic system of integrating religious belief, divine authority, and political legitimacy. The Northern Stronghold (Beizhen 北鎮, i.e., Mount Yiwulü 醫巫閭山) was equal in status to the other four strongholds, which, moreover, served as a strategic military [...] Read more.
Traditional Chinese state sacrificial ritual represented a symbolic system of integrating religious belief, divine authority, and political legitimacy. The Northern Stronghold (Beizhen 北鎮, i.e., Mount Yiwulü 醫巫閭山) was equal in status to the other four strongholds, which, moreover, served as a strategic military fortress and represented the earth virtue in the early state sacrifice system. In the late imperial era of China, and during the Yuan (1279–1368) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties in particular, the Northern Stronghold swiftly achieved prominence and eventually became an instrument used by minority ethnic groups, namely the Mongolians and Manchus, when elaborating upon the legitimacy of their political regimes. During the Yuan dynasty, the mountain spirits of the five strongholds (Wuzhen 五鎮) were formally invested as kings and, as a result, were accorded equivalent sacrifices in comparison to those given to the five sacred peaks (Wuyue 五嶽). Given that the Northern Stronghold was located near the northeast of Beijing, the Yuan government considered it the foundation of the state. Thereafter, the Northern Stronghold was regarded as the most important of the five stronghold mountains. In the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), the Northern Stronghold Temple (Beizhenmiao 北鎮廟) was reconstructed as both a military fortress and religious site, while its representation as a significant site for a foreign conquest dynasty diminished and its significance as a bastion of anti-insurgent suppression emerged. By the Qing dynasty, the Northern Stronghold was regarded as an integral component of the geographic origin of the Manchu people and thereby assumed once again a position of substantial political significance. Several Qing emperors visited the Northern Stronghold and left poems and prose written in graceful Chinese to present their high respect and their mastery of Chinese culture. The history of the Northern Stronghold demonstrates how the ethnic minority regimes successfully utilized the traditional Chinese state sacrificial ritual to serve their political purpose. Full article
Article
Multiculturalism and Women’s Rights: Implications for Victims of Female Genital Cutting
Religions 2022, 13(4), 367; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040367 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 584
Abstract
The evolution of the discourse surrounding human rights has led to calls for multiculturalism in modern society. While human rights originate from a perceived universal need to protect the rights of the individual, their appeal has not been universal, as they are perceived [...] Read more.
The evolution of the discourse surrounding human rights has led to calls for multiculturalism in modern society. While human rights originate from a perceived universal need to protect the rights of the individual, their appeal has not been universal, as they are perceived to be a threat to cultural rights by some. This is because of the perceived conflict or dilemma of negotiating both as entitlements. While arguments for both human rights and cultural rights are compelling, they expose a tension or conflict of rights. Calls for multiculturalism emerged in defense of cultural diversity and other forms of rights. The central question surrounding this tension is as follows: Can human and cultural rights be reconciled without compromising basic individual rights? Attempts to answer this question have occupied scholarship for several decades, with works on cross-cultural universalism and intersectionality emerging as a bridge for the seeming unbridgeable controversy. This essay explores some of these works that relate to the question of women’s rights and the implications for the controversial practice of female genital cutting (FGC). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Gender and Sexuality)
Article
Nodes and Hubs: An Exploration of Yiguandao Temples as ‘Portals of Globalization’
Religions 2022, 13(4), 366; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040366 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 452
Abstract
This paper takes a fresh look at the global spread of the Chinese–Taiwanese new religious movement Yiguandao (一貫道; the emic transcription is “I-Kuan Tao”) by directing attention to the concrete places where transnational connections and interactions actually transpire, i.e., temples, shrines, and other [...] Read more.
This paper takes a fresh look at the global spread of the Chinese–Taiwanese new religious movement Yiguandao (一貫道; the emic transcription is “I-Kuan Tao”) by directing attention to the concrete places where transnational connections and interactions actually transpire, i.e., temples, shrines, and other sites of worship. Emically known as “Buddha halls” (fotang 佛堂), these places range from large-scale temple complexes, to small niches of worship in people’s private residences. Yet, they all share the potential of becoming venues of transregional interactions through processes of migration, the circulation of personnel, and local outreach. I argued that we need to take the distinct character of these localities more seriously, in order to fully understand the global networks of Yiguandao groups. Through their specific embeddedness in both local affairs and transnational projects, these temples are not simply local chapters of the (mostly) Taiwanese headquarters, but instead they are “translocalities” or even “portals of globalization”—two concepts developed in migration and global studies to help understand the significance of place in the recent phase of so-called globalization. By exploring Yiguandao temples across the globe, this paper critically evaluated these approaches, and their usefulness for the study of global religions. Empirically, it drew on both print and online material, as well as ethnographic fieldwork conducted by the author in Taiwan, Vienna (Austria), California, South Africa, and Japan from 2016 to 2018. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Globalization and East Asian Religions)
Article
Christ’s Wounded Body, Sorrowful Soul and Joyful Spirit: The Interpretation of Christ’s Passion in a Forgotten 16th Century Classic of Mystical Literature
Religions 2022, 13(4), 365; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040365 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 503
Abstract
The Passion of Christ is not only an important theme in Christian theological and devotional literature, iconography, and music, but it is likewise the focus of considerable attention in contemplative, mystical literature. This contribution focuses on a specific interpretation of the suffering of [...] Read more.
The Passion of Christ is not only an important theme in Christian theological and devotional literature, iconography, and music, but it is likewise the focus of considerable attention in contemplative, mystical literature. This contribution focuses on a specific interpretation of the suffering of Christ, which is to be found in an important but now somewhat forgotten mystical text, namely the Evangelical Pearl. This text is to be situated within the broad mystical network and initiatives of the Cologne Carthusians in the early sixteenth century. The Pearl has a remarkable interpretation of Christ’s passion, namely that—simultaneously—his body was in terrible pain, his soul was deeply sorrowful and his spirit was joyful. These reflections culminate in a radical theology of deification. Full article
Article
Philosophical Practice as Spiritual Exercises towards Truth, Wisdom, and Virtue
Religions 2022, 13(4), 364; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040364 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 524
Abstract
The concept of spirituality has a long philosophical history. Based on detailed studies of a history of spiritual exercises from Socrates, the Stoics, Epicureanism, to early Christianity, the former catholic priest Pierre Hadot conceives philosophical practice as spiritual exercises in learning how to [...] Read more.
The concept of spirituality has a long philosophical history. Based on detailed studies of a history of spiritual exercises from Socrates, the Stoics, Epicureanism, to early Christianity, the former catholic priest Pierre Hadot conceives philosophical practice as spiritual exercises in learning how to live a philosophical life. Following this idea, a number of philosophers such as Gerd B. Achenbach started the contemporary movement of philosophical practice in the 1980s, which aimed to apply philosophical theories and methods to discussions about issues people constantly encounter in life, mainly in the forms of philosophical counseling and philosophical therapy. In this paper, after showing that philosophical practice has already become a new frontier in philosophical research, we further argue that philosophical practice as spiritual exercises is an exercise of reason and logos, while certain kinds of religious exercises such as Zen arts can also constitute an important part of philosophical practice. We conclude that in light of the distinct plurality of the methods and modes of philosophical practice and the spiritual exercises involved, philosophical practice can be considered a meaningful and applicable approach to pursuing truth, wisdom, and virtue, which is of great didactic and ethical significance in the post-COVID-19 era. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Humanities/Philosophies)
Article
Waking up from Delusion: Mindfulness (Sati) and Right Mind-and-Heart (Bodhicitta) for Educating Activists
Religions 2022, 13(4), 363; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040363 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 521
Abstract
In the face of current turbulent times including climate emergencies, species extinction, the erosion of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism—in short, a suffering world—the authors of this paper propose that education needs to be centrally an activist effort dedicated to healing and [...] Read more.
In the face of current turbulent times including climate emergencies, species extinction, the erosion of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism—in short, a suffering world—the authors of this paper propose that education needs to be centrally an activist effort dedicated to healing and repairing the increasingly wounded and damaged world. To this end, this paper explores Buddhism as an educational program that centralizes a healing curriculum based on the understanding that healing comes from waking up from the delusion of possessive individualism (ego-selves) that gives rise to neoliberal capitalist societies. This delusion is the existential home of suffering. Waking up requires the disciplined effort of seeing through and past individualism to the workings of mutual causality within a universe of interconnection (Interbeing), such as ours. The mindfulness (sati) practice that the historical Buddha taught is such a form of mental discipline. Through the agentic cultivation of sati and subsequent remembrance of our inherent Interbeing, we can rediscover and rekindle the inherently enlightened mind of bodhicitta. This paper explores various psychological, sociocultural, ideological, and relational conditionings that act as barriers to seriously practicing mindfulness, including the currently popular conceptions of mindfulness in North America. While acknowledging that successful practice takes setting up the right conditions, our paper also delves into helpful and supportive conditions for mindfulness practice for activists, namely, ethical motivation and contemplative/healing emotions such as the Four Immeasurables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Practice for the Crises That Face Us)
Article
Children in Need: Evidence for a Children’s Cult from the Roman Temple of Omrit in Northern Israel
Religions 2022, 13(4), 362; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040362 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 491
Abstract
Excavations of the Roman temple at Horvat Omrit, situated in the foothills of Mount Hermon and the Golan, yielded terracotta figurines dated from the first century BC—first century AD. Some 100 fragments of figurines portray young children standing with arms lifted up from [...] Read more.
Excavations of the Roman temple at Horvat Omrit, situated in the foothills of Mount Hermon and the Golan, yielded terracotta figurines dated from the first century BC—first century AD. Some 100 fragments of figurines portray young children standing with arms lifted up from the sides and bent at the elbow, palm turned outward. Although this group is unique in its iconography, it fits in with nearby temples in Phoenicia, where numerous figurines and statues of children were consecrated. Images of children from temples around the Mediterranean are often associated with healing cults and rites of passage. The child figurines from Omrit are examined with regard to their gesture, age, and gender, in order to reconstruct the likely cult that took place in the temple. The picture emerging from the terracottas is of family rites celebrating a crucial threshold in life, when passing from infancy to childhood at around the age of three. This is a vulnerable stage in childhood, since mortality rate among young children was very high in ancient societies, and rites were performed to protect them. These rites have further significance in terms of socialization, in introducing the infant to the family, to the cult, and to society in general. Full article
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Article
Getting to Know the Other: Niqab-Wearing Women in Liberal Democracies
Religions 2022, 13(4), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13040361 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 534
Abstract
Governments around the world have gone to great lengths to discourage and prohibit wearing of the niqab, often relying on the justification that this form of Muslim women’s dress represents and produces the oppression of women. Setting aside that these prohibitions are themselves [...] Read more.
Governments around the world have gone to great lengths to discourage and prohibit wearing of the niqab, often relying on the justification that this form of Muslim women’s dress represents and produces the oppression of women. Setting aside that these prohibitions are themselves detrimental to women’s equality, this article focuses on the voices of women who wear the niqab or face veil. I describe and analyze how women explain their decision to wear the niqab based on interviews in seven liberal democracies. For most women, the primary motivation for wearing the niqab is religious, though supplementary reasons are also offered. The niqab is an embodied practice that represents a personal spiritual journey. Women’s explanations for why and when they wear the niqab suggest a complex intermingling of doctrinal knowledge and practical lived experience that negotiates religion day to day. Women often pair their religious agency with a sophisticated rights-based framework to justify their sartorial choices. Women refute the idea that the niqab makes them submissive. Their empowered interpretations of their religion and their conviction to lead a life that is different from most, in countries with pervasive anti-Muslim racism, suggest a great deal of independence and courage. This research offers nuance to the depiction of women who are typically portrayed monotonously, dispelling inaccurate stereotypes used to support discriminatory decision making about niqab-wearing women. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Muslim Thought and Identity)
Article
Saints, Heroes, and the ‘Other’: Value Orientations of Contemporary Greek Orthodoxy
Religions 2022, 13(4), 360; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040360 - 14 Apr 2022
Viewed by 445
Abstract
This article examines contemporary public discourses and practices of clerical and lay actors who are mainly members of the Orthodox Church of Greece. First, it explains the ubiquitous presence of the Church in the Greek public sphere with reference to its religious functions [...] Read more.
This article examines contemporary public discourses and practices of clerical and lay actors who are mainly members of the Orthodox Church of Greece. First, it explains the ubiquitous presence of the Church in the Greek public sphere with reference to its religious functions and to its close association with both the state and the nation. Then, it shows how different interpretations of the category of the person support contrasting visions about the Church’s role in today’s world. On the one hand, those who espouse ethnoreligious schemata of thought promote the heroic figures of the Neomartyr and Ethnomartyr in their attempt to secure the institutional power of the Church and legitimize its role as ‘ark of the nation’. On the other hand, actors who are motivated by a desire to bring the Church into a constructive dialogue with modernity and the secular world employ the postmodern idea and value of the ‘Other’, which they link to the religious value of the neighbor. Finally, the paper calls attention to the social conditions that make ecclesiastical and social strata prone to support one of the above visions for the Church. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Discourse and Orthodox Christianity)
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Article
The Orthodox Church, Neosecularisation, and the Rise of Anti-Gender Politics in Bulgaria
Religions 2022, 13(4), 359; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040359 - 13 Apr 2022
Viewed by 580
Abstract
In a recent publication, I introduced the theoretical framework of neosecularisation with regard to the Orthodox Church and society in Bulgaria. I argued that neosecularisation, as a complex process of decline of religion’s importance and the hold of religious authority over the social [...] Read more.
In a recent publication, I introduced the theoretical framework of neosecularisation with regard to the Orthodox Church and society in Bulgaria. I argued that neosecularisation, as a complex process of decline of religion’s importance and the hold of religious authority over the social system, while genealogically different from communist secularisation, explicates patterns of continuity with the communist past. Important aspects of this continuity include the persistent grassroots feminisation of the Church and the co-optation of the Church by the state. Drawing on those theoretical insights, in this paper, I seek to understand the rise of anti-gender politics in Bulgaria since 2018 in relation to the condition of neosecularisation and its impact on the Church. I argue that (neo)secularisation remains a much feared “threat” for the Church and plays a role in ecclesiastical anti-gender mobilisation. However, the Church is not a major factor in anti-gender politics in Bulgaria; the roles of far-right nationalists and certain transnationally connected evangelical actors are to be seriously considered. Furthermore, anti-genderism cannot be understood merely as a religious or cultural backlash. It needs to be discussed as a larger protest movement against liberal democracy’s failure to live up to its promises and against the pathologies of neoliberal globalisation, a movement in which the Orthodox Church is only tangentially involved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Discourse and Orthodox Christianity)
Article
Income Tax Progressivity and Nonreligion in Central and Eastern Europe: A Case of the Czech Republic
Religions 2022, 13(4), 358; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040358 - 13 Apr 2022
Viewed by 458
Abstract
Our paper focuses on the tax progressivity and nonreligion in central and eastern Europe using an example of the Czech Republic, one of the most atheistic countries in the world. Religion might imply formal affiliation with a certain confession or active church attendance, [...] Read more.
Our paper focuses on the tax progressivity and nonreligion in central and eastern Europe using an example of the Czech Republic, one of the most atheistic countries in the world. Religion might imply formal affiliation with a certain confession or active church attendance, but it might also become a determinant of taxation preferences. We employ ordinal regression analyses to study direct and mediation effects of both church affiliation and church attendance on a representative sample from the Czech Republic (n = 1924, 54.8% female, aged 18–95, M ± SD: 52.0 ± 16.9; 19.4% with higher education) controlling for employment status, social class and socio-demographics. The results suggest that neither church affiliation nor church attendance were related to desired income tax progressivity; social class plaid the most important role. The frequency of church attendance was significantly related to the perceived adequacy of taxation of higher incomes, where the more respondents attended the religious services, the more they believed that the taxes on the rich are too high. However, the churches’ ideas to help the needy were manifested in the preferences for international tax progressivity, where the frequent churchgoers were more inclined to the idea that the rich countries should pay additional taxes to help the poor countries. These controversial results may indicate the rivalrous position of the church and the state in the Czech Republic in terms of taxation of the wealthy. We suggest that under the condition of no church tax, the state taxation of the rich may be viewed as diverting funds, which could otherwise be directed to the church. These results might be of some interest to the state, the church and to the academic researchers alike and significantly contribute to the discussion on specific features of nonreligiosity in central and eastern Europe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nonreligion in Central and Eastern Europe)
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Editorial
Beyond the Mainland: An Introduction
Religions 2022, 13(4), 357; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040357 - 13 Apr 2022
Viewed by 455
Abstract
Mention “Southeast Asian Buddhism” and what comes to mind is often Theravāda Buddhism, the dominant religion in the mainland Southeast Asian states of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beyond the Mainland: Buddhist Communities in Maritime Southeast Asia)
Article
A Journey toward Connection and Belonging: Autoethnography of a Jewish Student in Christian Higher Education
Religions 2022, 13(4), 356; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040356 - 13 Apr 2022
Viewed by 438
Abstract
Despite the progress that has been made over the past 60 years, relationships between members of different faith communities can be tenuous. The purpose of this study is to explore how challenging circumstances related to Jewish–Christian relations can be opportunities for spiritual transformation. [...] Read more.
Despite the progress that has been made over the past 60 years, relationships between members of different faith communities can be tenuous. The purpose of this study is to explore how challenging circumstances related to Jewish–Christian relations can be opportunities for spiritual transformation. Using autoethnography, the author reflects upon and interprets her experiences as a Jewish student in Christian higher education through the lens of her spirituality. There are three significant findings: (1) being a Jew who converted from Christianity and had prior interactions with Christian institutions prepared the author to engage with difference; (2) context, openness to dialogue, and empathy can influence the interpretation of interfaith interactions; and (3) spiritual growth can develop through adverse experiences. The results demonstrate that searching for belonging and connection are spiritual practices, illustrate that spiritual meaning can be revealed over time as adverse experiences are contemplated, and suggest opportunities for practicing spiritual leadership. Full article
Article
Kids Reading Tanakh: The Child as Interpreter
Religions 2022, 13(4), 355; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040355 - 13 Apr 2022
Viewed by 439
Abstract
This essay examines two fourth-grade students’ task-based read-aloud interviews on the biblical text of Numbers 13. Taking up the New London Group’s call for a pedagogy of multiliteracies this article examines how educators and adults might sensitize themselves to the interpretive identities children [...] Read more.
This essay examines two fourth-grade students’ task-based read-aloud interviews on the biblical text of Numbers 13. Taking up the New London Group’s call for a pedagogy of multiliteracies this article examines how educators and adults might sensitize themselves to the interpretive identities children bring to their reading of biblical texts. This work is intricately tied to child development, as we move religious education from a deficit model and perspective towards the child to a more welcoming asset model and perspective. Full article
Article
Faster, Higher, More Moral: Human Enhancement and Christianity
Religions 2022, 13(4), 354; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040354 - 13 Apr 2022
Viewed by 505
Abstract
The three authors of this article explore the intersection of moral enhancement, ethics, and Christianity. Trothen reviews the meaning and potential of moral enhancements, considering some of the risks and limitations. Trothen identifies three broad ethical questions, which all three authors agree upon, [...] Read more.
The three authors of this article explore the intersection of moral enhancement, ethics, and Christianity. Trothen reviews the meaning and potential of moral enhancements, considering some of the risks and limitations. Trothen identifies three broad ethical questions, which all three authors agree upon, that arise from a Christian theological perspective: what it means to be human, choice, and social justice. Trothen concludes that respect for human dignity and social justice requires rejecting a reductive view of moral improvement as purely biochemical. Buttrey then argues that biomedical moral enhancement (BME) is simply one in a series of attempts to morally improve human beings and can be compared to other efforts such as neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics. He argues that BME cannot be simultaneously more reliable than moral education in virtue and no more restrictive of human freedom. He concludes by suggesting that tensions between BME and Thomistic virtue are even stronger due to Christian conceptions of martyrdom and radical self-denial. Finally, McQueen argues that Christianity emphasizes the common good and social justice as essential for human flourishing. Building on the foundation established by Trothen and Buttrey, McQueen insists that accurate cognitive knowledge is needed to make good conscience decisions, but emphasizes that right human action also requires the exercise of the will, which can be undermined by AI, automation, and perhaps also BME. She concludes by encouraging further attention to the true nature of human agency, human freedom, and wisdom in debates over AI and biomedical enhancement. The authors conclude that BMEs, if they become medically safe, may be theologically justifiable and helpful as a supplement to moral improvement. Full article
Article
The Governor, the Cow-Head, and the Thrashing Pillows: Negotiated “Restrictive Islam” in Early Twenty-First Century Southeast Asia?
Religions 2022, 13(4), 353; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040353 - 13 Apr 2022
Viewed by 522
Abstract
There are obviously several ways to explore the issue of Islamic radicalism in Southeast Asia. Instead of focusing on explicit violence such as those carried out by jihadi groups or those associated with them, this research article chooses to examine three empirical cases [...] Read more.
There are obviously several ways to explore the issue of Islamic radicalism in Southeast Asia. Instead of focusing on explicit violence such as those carried out by jihadi groups or those associated with them, this research article chooses to examine three empirical cases of Muslims’ expression of “restrictive Islam” that have taken place in the public sphere in both majority and minority Muslim contexts of Southeast Asia. They are: Muslims’ calling for the removal of an elected Chinese Christian governor of Jakarta on account of blasphemy in Indonesia; Muslims’ cow head protest to intimidate Hindus in Malaysia; and some Muslims’ thrashing of pillows at a hospital for COVID-19 patients as an expression of vehement faith-based refusal and protest in Buddhist Thailand against health protocols issued by Thai officials in the current fight against the pandemic in Southern Thailand. This article argues that the “restrictive” lives that some Muslims lead in Southeast Asia today have to assume a negotiated form that is a mixture of “high artificiality”, recently adopted from a version of purist Islam they claim to be authentic, and the “pure normality” resulting from a combination of political reality informed by existing forms of governance in these countries and the legacy of how historical Islam arrived in this land. The result is that the “restrictive Islam” espoused by many Southeast Asian Muslims could not be overly “extreme” or “radical” but tends to appear in a somewhat “negotiated” form. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Muslim Thought and Identity)
Article
Catholic Seminarians on “Real Men”, Sexuality, and Essential Male Inclusivity
Religions 2022, 13(4), 352; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040352 - 12 Apr 2022
Viewed by 435
Abstract
This paper is based on an empirical study using in-depth qualitative interviews that examines how Roman Catholic undergraduate seminarians in the United States understand gender, sexuality and masculinity. The findings describe how seminarians reject interactionist and social constructionist models of gender, and rely [...] Read more.
This paper is based on an empirical study using in-depth qualitative interviews that examines how Roman Catholic undergraduate seminarians in the United States understand gender, sexuality and masculinity. The findings describe how seminarians reject interactionist and social constructionist models of gender, and rely on a strict biological based model where sex/gender are seen as a unified concept. This leads them to adopt an “essential male inclusivity”, where they argue that all people assigned male at birth have equal claim to “manhood”, which eases pressures on them to act in gender normative ways. The social-psychological and identity-based motivations of these beliefs are examined in connection to their life in the seminary and other anticipated occupational characteristics. In contrast, the seminary’s mandates around both celibacy and compulsory heterosexuality, make sexuality more fraught than gender for seminarians. The larger consequences of these perspectives are also explored in regard to gender inequality, homophobia, and the lack of acceptance for the LGBTIQ+ community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Gender and Sexuality)
Article
Choreographing the Dance of Dissent: Roman Catholic Womenpriests’ Claims to Authority
Religions 2022, 13(4), 351; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040351 - 12 Apr 2022
Viewed by 455
Abstract
In June 2002, seven Roman Catholic women were ordained to the priesthood by two bishops on a boat floating on the Danube River in the presence of hundreds of spectators. Their ordinations broke with two millennia of Catholic tradition prohibiting women priests and [...] Read more.
In June 2002, seven Roman Catholic women were ordained to the priesthood by two bishops on a boat floating on the Danube River in the presence of hundreds of spectators. Their ordinations broke with two millennia of Catholic tradition prohibiting women priests and started a global movement. Post-ordination, the women priests were excommunicated by the Vatican, yet they still identify as Catholic priests. We explored the central tension of being insiders/outsiders by examining womenpriests’ claims to authority. The thematic analysis of interviews with over one hundred womenpriests and bishops led us to note an emerging theme in their language regarding claims to authority. In this analysis, we asked: how do womenpriests claim authority in ways that differentiate them from Roman Catholic Church authority as well as in ways that clearly position them within the tradition? We found four main strategies by which they make these claims: reclaiming the history and tradition of the early church; claiming the role of the magisterium; embodying authority; and community-based sources of power and authority. We concluded that the womenpriests are engaged in a delicate choreography of the dance of dissent, positioning themselves as the change some people may want to see in Catholicism while remaining true to Catholic roots and rituals. Full article
Article
Buddhist Modernism and the Piety of Female Sex Workers in Northern Thailand
Religions 2022, 13(4), 350; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040350 - 12 Apr 2022
Viewed by 511
Abstract
This paper highlights Thailand’s distinctive form of Buddhist Modernism through an exploration of religious piety among female sex workers in the city of Chiangmai. The generally accepted key basis of Buddhist Modernism, as depicted by certain Western Buddhist scholars, is interaction and engagement [...] Read more.
This paper highlights Thailand’s distinctive form of Buddhist Modernism through an exploration of religious piety among female sex workers in the city of Chiangmai. The generally accepted key basis of Buddhist Modernism, as depicted by certain Western Buddhist scholars, is interaction and engagement with modernity. More specifically, it is seen as incorporating modern science into the Buddhist worldview, and as regarding meditation as a core practice of ‘true Buddhism’. Crucial components of popular Buddhism, such as magical monks and mystical rituals, are excluded from this depiction of Buddhist Modernism, and even decried as ‘false Buddhism’, despite their canonical basis and long-term acceptance. Using ethnographic methods, this paper argues instead that the result of interactions with modernity by popular Buddhists always includes engagement with and mythologizing of traditional cosmology. That is, rather than solely involving global networks and scientific rationalism, Thai Buddhist Modernism is the product of complex patterns of interaction among local beliefs, mystical practices, and modernity. The purpose of this integration of modern and popular Buddhism in the religious practices of sex workers is to create loving-kindness (metta). Metta, in turn, is held to bring luck and attractiveness to practitioners, allowing them to earn an income to support their impoverished families and live well in modern society, as well as to accumulate good merit (bun) to improve their religious lives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhism and Modernity in Asian Societies)
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Article
Russian World and Ukrainian Autocephaly: Religious Narratives in Anti-Colonial Nationalism of Ukraine
Religions 2022, 13(4), 349; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040349 - 12 Apr 2022
Viewed by 843
Abstract
The paper examines the role of religious narratives in the on-going Russo-Ukrainian conflict. The literature on religious nationalism offers several ways in which religion plays a role in national identity narratives. The strong connection between the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the Russian [...] Read more.
The paper examines the role of religious narratives in the on-going Russo-Ukrainian conflict. The literature on religious nationalism offers several ways in which religion plays a role in national identity narratives. The strong connection between the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the Russian state have been well-known. The narrative of the “chosen” nation and “third Rome” have fueled Russian neo-imperial national discourse of Russkii Mir (Russian World) which shapes Russian Foreign Policy in the “near abroad”. The Church is used as tool to shape and disseminate these narratives, as a means for justification of Russian aggression in Ukraine. This paper seeks to analyze the role of the religious narratives of Russia neo-colonial and post-colonial nationalism in Ukraine. It argues that Ukrainian religious nationalism, should it develop, will do so in response to the Russian actions driven by the ideological religious narrative. President Poroshenko’s decision to support the recognition of an autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) in 2018 was a valiant effort to aid in the construction of Ukraine’s anti-colonial religious national narrative. Prior to the Russian invasion, there seemed to be relatively weak public support for the religious nationalist narrative in Ukraine. The evidence shows that commitment to religious pluralism continues to be prevalent in Ukrainian society. Full article
Article
Narrating and Remembrance in the Face of Abuse in the Church
Religions 2022, 13(4), 348; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040348 - 12 Apr 2022
Viewed by 488
Abstract
Contrary to the priority of protecting the institutional Church and its clergy, prevailing for decades and centuries, today the testimonies of victims of sexual abuse are increasingly being heard. This article focuses on autobiographical accounts of women, published in recent years, who as [...] Read more.
Contrary to the priority of protecting the institutional Church and its clergy, prevailing for decades and centuries, today the testimonies of victims of sexual abuse are increasingly being heard. This article focuses on autobiographical accounts of women, published in recent years, who as adults suffered from sexual and spiritual violence within the Catholic Church. It analyses characteristics of spiritual and sexual abuse, identifies specific constellations and a misogynistic theology. Complementary to this, traumatic experiences of flight and expulsion, as described by the theologian Katharina Elliger, are examined. Thus, this article describes the meaning of narrating one’s traumatic experiences for the authors themselves and suggests collective remembrance as an appropriate reaction of the Church and the society. Full article
Article
Structure and Meaning in the Interpretation of the Laozi: Cheng Xuanying’s Hermeneutic Toolkit and His Interpretation of Dao as a Compassionate Savior
Religions 2022, 13(4), 347; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel13040347 - 12 Apr 2022
Viewed by 490
Abstract
Cheng Xuanying’s Expository Commentary to the Daode jing presents the Laozi as the origin of Daoism—a Daoism which, by his time in the seventh century, included many beliefs and concepts coopted from Buddhism. The commentary is representative of chongxuan xue (Twofold Mystery philosophy), [...] Read more.
Cheng Xuanying’s Expository Commentary to the Daode jing presents the Laozi as the origin of Daoism—a Daoism which, by his time in the seventh century, included many beliefs and concepts coopted from Buddhism. The commentary is representative of chongxuan xue (Twofold Mystery philosophy), which is characterized by the integration of Buddhist concepts and methods into the interpretation of the Laozi. Taking the integration of the Buddhist concept of the bodhisattva as universal savior of limitless compassion, this paper investigates the “why” and “how” of this cooption. The question of why Cheng Xuanying wanted to read the Daode jing as a testimony to Laozi and Dao being a compassionate, universal savior is addressed with a contextualization of the commentary in its time and location: early Tang Chang’an. Next, the paper discusses, in detail, the hermeneutic tools Cheng Xuanying used to achieve his reading. Cheng Xuanying integrated his commentary and the original text of the Laozi in a complex structure, combining the kepan technique, interlinear interpretation, and added structuring comments, in addition to what might be termed “strategic citations”. This paper analyzes how he worked with these means to construct arguments and specific readings of the Laozi. Full article
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