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Religions, Volume 14, Issue 4 (April 2023) – 131 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): In Western theological reflection, the relationship between openness and commitment in interreligious dialogue is often construed as a relationship between two ends of a seesaw: raising one end lowers the other. One cannot therefore be simultaneously fully committed and open. This paper argues that this is the case because in many modern and postmodern epistemologies of religion, both commitment and openness are primarily rooted in the capacities of the religious subject. However, Christianity understands faith as a response to the divine initiative of God in Christ, and therefore, it understands commitment as grounded in confidence in this decisive divine salvific event. From this standpoint, both full confidence and openness are reconcilable and can even strengthen each other rather than being considered incompatible and in competition. View this paper
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18 pages, 3560 KiB  
Article
Ólöf the Rich and a Cloth from Svalbarð, Iceland
by Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir and Guðjón Þór Erlendsson
Religions 2023, 14(4), 559; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040559 - 21 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1844
Abstract
About fifteen illustrated cloths have been preserved from medieval times in Iceland. One of them is an antependium from Svalbarð church on Svalbarðsströnd. The embroidered iconography on it is believed to depict the story of John the Apostle, who was the patron saint [...] Read more.
About fifteen illustrated cloths have been preserved from medieval times in Iceland. One of them is an antependium from Svalbarð church on Svalbarðsströnd. The embroidered iconography on it is believed to depict the story of John the Apostle, who was the patron saint of the Svalbarð church. Upon closer inspection, the cloth appears to have been cut from a larger cloth, most likely a wall-hanging, in order to be used as an antependium. Moreover, the story that is embroidered on it seems to be related to secular people, because none of those appearing on it have halos around their heads, but halos are generally used in iconography to differentiate sanctified people from seculars. In this article, this discovery is discussed, and a theory that the embroidery shows the story of the most prominent woman of medieval Iceland, Ólöf the Rich, is proposed. Full article
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12 pages, 278 KiB  
Article
A Christological Critique of Divine Command Theory
by Martin Jakobsen
Religions 2023, 14(4), 558; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040558 - 21 Apr 2023
Viewed by 2137
Abstract
This paper presents a theological critique of divine command theory, a metaethical theory stating that moral wrongness is constituted by God’s command. First, I argue that this theory does not qualify as a Christian moral theory because it lacks connections to central parts [...] Read more.
This paper presents a theological critique of divine command theory, a metaethical theory stating that moral wrongness is constituted by God’s command. First, I argue that this theory does not qualify as a Christian moral theory because it lacks connections to central parts of Christian theology, such as Christology. This argument does not imply that the theory is wrong nor that it is inconsistent with Christianity—only that it is not Christian as such. Second, I argue that divine command theory does not fit well with the New Testament’s vision of the moral life, in which being conformed to the image of Christ has primacy over adherence to law. This argument implies that the Christian ethicist should look elsewhere for a metaethical theory. I next argue in favour of a moral theory of imitation, in which the moral life consists of imitating God, the prime exemplar of goodness, which is made possible through an imitation of Christ. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)
16 pages, 956 KiB  
Article
Liberation Theology Today: Tasks of Criticism in Interpellation to the Present World
by Javier Recio Huetos
Religions 2023, 14(4), 557; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040557 - 21 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1986
Abstract
Latin American liberation theology appears to be an obsolete phenomenon that is unable to speak about the realities of today’s world. Since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published two instructions on liberation theology, the Vatican has been considered to have [...] Read more.
Latin American liberation theology appears to be an obsolete phenomenon that is unable to speak about the realities of today’s world. Since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published two instructions on liberation theology, the Vatican has been considered to have condemned it. Likewise, the Vatican of John Paul II and Benedict XVI focused on the reprobation of several liberation theologians attempting to silence their voices. However, liberation theology aimed at the realisation of justice in a world in which the injustice that gave birth to this phenomenon still prevails in new ways. This article establishes a relationship between liberation theology and critical thinking to offer an alternative to the future of liberation theology. We insist that, despite the end of the era in which both were born, they continue to challenge the present world. Using Adornian optics, we establish how critical thought constitutes a prophetic denunciation. Thus, liberation theology will be understood within this critical tradition and how it critiques the current reality, in which the logic of late capitalism prevails. Afterwards, the contemporary world will be studied from this point of view to try to discover the pending tasks of criticism. It is the question of discovering the tasks of critiques to challenge the present. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Liberation Theologies)
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15 pages, 285 KiB  
Article
The Qurʾān and the Future of Islamic Analytic Theology
by Mohammed Gamal Abdelnour
Religions 2023, 14(4), 556; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040556 - 20 Apr 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2838
Abstract
Islamic analytic theology emerges into an uncharted territory that is dominated by two loosely defined areas: analytic philosophy and analytic theology. As a nascent field, this article argues that for Islamic analytic theology to move forward, it needs to place the Qurʾān at [...] Read more.
Islamic analytic theology emerges into an uncharted territory that is dominated by two loosely defined areas: analytic philosophy and analytic theology. As a nascent field, this article argues that for Islamic analytic theology to move forward, it needs to place the Qurʾān at its centre. To have a clear understanding of our terms, I begin by attempting a definition of Islamic analytic theology. Taking a normative approach to the subject, I consolidate the discussion with five methodical questions. Firstly, what has been going on in Islamic theology? (The descriptive task). Secondly, why has this been going on? (The interpretative task). Thirdly, what ought to be going on? (The normative task). Fourthly, how might we, as Muslim theologians, respond? (The pragmatic task). Fifthly, why should Muslim theologians conduct analytic theology? (The functional task) To situate Islamic analytic theology within this wider discussion, I end the article by offering some insights on how Islamic analytic theology relates to old Kalām. By the end of the article, we will have laid the groundwork showing the way forward for a more developed Islamic analytic theology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Voices in Philosophical Theology)
12 pages, 233 KiB  
Article
Cultural and Religious Diversity in Early Childhood Education Implications of Socialization and Education for the Geographies of Childhood
by Christoph Knoblauch
Religions 2023, 14(4), 555; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040555 - 20 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4228
Abstract
Cultural and Religious Diversity in ECE is discussed from multiple perspectives and influenced by different parameters. In this context, culturally and religiously sensitive education faces various dynamic and conflictual challenges, such as different comprehensions of the concepts of culture and religion or current [...] Read more.
Cultural and Religious Diversity in ECE is discussed from multiple perspectives and influenced by different parameters. In this context, culturally and religiously sensitive education faces various dynamic and conflictual challenges, such as different comprehensions of the concepts of culture and religion or current transformations in society. Social spaces such as kindergartens play a major role in offering the potential for diversity to be experienced and reflected in the context of socialization and education. Focusing on the manifold relations between cultural and religious diversity in education, this paper discusses evaluation findings from a qualitative study in the German Early Education sector. Perspectives from children, parents, and educators on the implications of socialization and education for the geographies of childhood are presented with a special focus on options for culturally and religiously sensitive education. The empirical findings, therefore, focus on experiences and assessments from different participants in the field of ECE, offering a multiperspective view on the topic. The study uses semi-structured qualitative interviews and content-based evaluation, interviewing over 200 children, educators, and parents in group interviews. The results are discussed in categories such as socialization of children, competencies of educators, underlying pedagogical concepts, experiential learning, and others. In this context, the paper offers an in depth discussion of the potential of a culturally and religiously sensitive education and the role of communities and religious institutions. Against this backdrop, the question discussed is how these results can be constructively implemented to improve the constructive perception and the usage of educational spaces in ECE. Full article
10 pages, 247 KiB  
Article
An Exploration of Marian Spiritual Practices: Toward a Daily Transcendent Spiritual Life with Mother Mary
by Yong-Gil Lee
Religions 2023, 14(4), 554; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040554 - 20 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1357
Abstract
Mother Mary has been and can be a spiritual role model for Korean Catholics to live out their faith, a faith that is based on a dynamic understanding of a spiritual model of Mary, that is, spiritual growth coming from Eastern Mariology, particularly [...] Read more.
Mother Mary has been and can be a spiritual role model for Korean Catholics to live out their faith, a faith that is based on a dynamic understanding of a spiritual model of Mary, that is, spiritual growth coming from Eastern Mariology, particularly Mariology based on Gregory Palamas. For this dynamic understanding of Marian spirituality, I review the Scriptures on Mary, including Luke, and Palamas’ reflection on Mary’s spiritual life. This dynamic understanding of Mary and Her spiritual life never contradicts the static approach to Mariology, the Immaculate Conception, through which Jesus, who is God, was born. I believe Mother Mary in Heaven still loves Her Son and God, and Her love is becoming deeper and deeper in Heaven, which means that some virtues, such as wisdom, knowledge, prudence, vigilance, and endurance, could be interim virtues “until heaven and earth pass away” (Mt 5:19), for love and intimacy with God are permanent in Heaven. This is the belief that we can grow our love continuously with Mary forever. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Theologies)
17 pages, 844 KiB  
Article
For the Common Good: The Symbiosis between Individual and Community in the Philosophy of Xunzi
by Rouzhu Wang
Religions 2023, 14(4), 553; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040553 - 20 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1530
Abstract
The concept of community within Confucianism is deeply rooted in its unique understanding of individuals. This is exemplified by Xunzi, who claims that individuals, driven by their growing desires for satisfaction, would fight over limited resources and hence lead themselves to social disorder [...] Read more.
The concept of community within Confucianism is deeply rooted in its unique understanding of individuals. This is exemplified by Xunzi, who claims that individuals, driven by their growing desires for satisfaction, would fight over limited resources and hence lead themselves to social disorder and distress. Thus, he evaluates human nature to be evil, thereby highlighting the necessity of forming a community. Keeping in view Xunzi’s aims of establishing a harmonious co-existence amongst individuals who “desire or hate the same things” (yuwu tongwu 欲恶同物), this paper explores his considerations and justifications when accessing the individual and the community. Firstly, the origins of community arise from the survival crises of individuals in the state of nature. As individuals face the dilemma of disorder, they opt to form a community. This would, to a certain extent, endow individuals with rationality and the capacity to suppress their desires, therefore differentiating them from animals. Secondly, the principle of fen 分 (social division) is important in maintaining social order and uniting individuals under the governance of the jun 君 (lord). Differentiated justice embodied in the concept of fen also presents a contrast from the universal implications of qun 群 (community). Following social distinctions and affiliations, people are then absorbed into the ritual structure and social relationships as embedded individuals. Thirdly, realizing the common good would depend on the moral transformation of individuals and their identification with values that define an ideal community on a spiritual level, ultimately reflecting the essence of ancient Chinese universalism. Full article
9 pages, 233 KiB  
Article
On the Symbolic Use of Dragons by Jacobus de Voragine and J. R. R. Tolkien
by Camilo Peralta
Religions 2023, 14(4), 552; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040552 - 20 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1496
Abstract
This article focuses on the symbolic use of dragons in several works by J. R. R. Tolkien and The Golden Legend, a popular compilation of saints’ lives by Jacobus de Voragine. In the medieval tradition, as recounted by Voragine, dragons serve as [...] Read more.
This article focuses on the symbolic use of dragons in several works by J. R. R. Tolkien and The Golden Legend, a popular compilation of saints’ lives by Jacobus de Voragine. In the medieval tradition, as recounted by Voragine, dragons serve as symbols of powerful evil through which the inherent weakness of postlapsarian (“after the Fall”) humans can be emphasized. The sudden, miraculous defeat of dragons also illustrates what is possible through faith and the grace of God, anticipating Tolkien’s notion of eucatastrophe, the unexpected reversal in fortune that characterizes the best fairy tales, which is now recognized as a key component of his own approach to mythopoeia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Humanities/Philosophies)
12 pages, 551 KiB  
Article
The Courage to Preach in the Digital Age
by Casey T. Sigmon
Religions 2023, 14(4), 551; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040551 - 20 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1544
Abstract
This article is an invitation to truly postmodern conversational approaches to preaching beyond a monological modern mass media sermon dressed up in conversational style. This involves proposing a new who and how for preaching in the digital age, resulting in a New (Media) [...] Read more.
This article is an invitation to truly postmodern conversational approaches to preaching beyond a monological modern mass media sermon dressed up in conversational style. This involves proposing a new who and how for preaching in the digital age, resulting in a New (Media) homiletic. Engaging with Parker J. Palmer’s The Courage to Teach, this article first explores issues with the traditional top-down model for preaching solidified during the age of mass media technoculture. Next this article names some stumbling blocks to dialogical preaching in a mainline Protestant US context. Then this article explores what difference the implementation of Palmer’s Community of Truth model could make for preaching in this digital age. The technoculture of social media allows for and expects preachers to be more conversational in the who and how of sermon delivery, preparation, and feedback. Full article
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19 pages, 319 KiB  
Article
Keeping Up with Caputo: Of Specters and Spooks—Transcendence and Happiness in Caputo’s Radical Theology
by Joeri Schrijvers
Religions 2023, 14(4), 550; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040550 - 19 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1372
Abstract
This essay serves two purposes. First, it wants to introduce readers to John D. Caputo’s Radical Theology by way of his recent Specters of God (2022) in which his radical theology truly comes to fruition. The essay provides in this introduction through elucidating [...] Read more.
This essay serves two purposes. First, it wants to introduce readers to John D. Caputo’s Radical Theology by way of his recent Specters of God (2022) in which his radical theology truly comes to fruition. The essay provides in this introduction through elucidating this recent work and by pointing to earlier discussions of similar themes and figures in Caputo’s corpus. It will be shown that Caputo’s work is a genuine contemporary search for transcendence, asking all the right questions at the right time. Recently, for instance, Caputo is asking what becomes of the human search for meaning if this entire cosmos is destined to fade away in a Big Crunch. Second, this essay wants to critically address some remaining unclarities in this radical theology. It is to be noted, for instance, that at crucial stages Caputo repeats some aspects of the thought of divinity in theism that he nonetheless says he wants to overcome; at these stages, then, ‘God’ is allowed to be an exception to the worries of the world after all. This essay, too, wants to investigate Caputo’s rather enigmatic insistence of the possibility of joy and happiness in a mortal, finite world that would celebrate only a finite, mortal God. That finitude, instead of lasting and eternal salvation, serves as the very condition of possibility of true joy is an unexamined axiom running through Caputo’s recent works. In this regard, this essay wants to point to both the beauty but also the frailty of this thought. Full article
19 pages, 324 KiB  
Article
Understanding Responses to Worship Regulations in the Pandemic Era: Text Data Mining Analysis in the Indonesian Context
by Muhammad Adil and Miftachul Huda
Religions 2023, 14(4), 549; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040549 - 19 Apr 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1245
Abstract
This paper aims to examine the critical discourse on responses to worship regulations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Diverse responses emanated from the media, religious leaders, and civil society organizations in the Indonesian context. The wide range of responses to worship regulations is [...] Read more.
This paper aims to examine the critical discourse on responses to worship regulations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Diverse responses emanated from the media, religious leaders, and civil society organizations in the Indonesian context. The wide range of responses to worship regulations is reflected in continuous debate, demonstrating two primary groups, one in support of the government regulations and the other opposed to limitations on congregational worship activities. This shows the need for the proper messaging of content and dissemination to promote behavioral changes relative to relevant health issues. In order to achieve the main objective, we employed a qualitative method involving a discourse analysis of several leading online news sources’ viewpoints, religious leaders’ viewpoints, and religious organizations’ public statements. This study found two main factors associated with the response to worship regulations in the pandemic era. The main finding involved supportive and contradictive orientations. The supportive path indicated a supportive response, referring to the enhancement of the proper analysis of public worship regulations, while the contradictive one referred to the continuation of life as normal, free of restrictions and regulations. This study suggests that clear details on the reasons for restrictions and regulations are required on all forms of social media in order to provide all parties with a better understanding of the need for these measures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences)
8 pages, 191 KiB  
Article
“A Fun and Funky Disco Pastiche”: David Crowder Confronts Evangelical Performance Anxiety
by Joshua Kalin Busman
Religions 2023, 14(4), 548; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040548 - 19 Apr 2023
Viewed by 861
Abstract
Within evangelical communities, “worship” and “performance” are often diametrically opposed, with the latter instantly evoking damning connotations of pretense or artifice. This leads many artists to utilize a strategy of disavowal to legitimize their music-making as worship—erasing the “performance” category in order to [...] Read more.
Within evangelical communities, “worship” and “performance” are often diametrically opposed, with the latter instantly evoking damning connotations of pretense or artifice. This leads many artists to utilize a strategy of disavowal to legitimize their music-making as worship—erasing the “performance” category in order to highlight the ultimate worshipful aim of their actions. David Crowder, especially during his lengthy tenure with the David Crowder*Band (DC*B), places performative elements front and center through calculated uses of sound in live performances and on recordings. My analysis in this essay will focus on the ways that David Crowder legitimates “performance” as its own distinct musical space, using a dialectical move to navigate the performance/worship problem by emphasizing its divide rather than simply trying to erase it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Performing and Performance in Contemporary Musical Worship)
22 pages, 868 KiB  
Article
Biblical Perspectives as a Guide to Research on Life’s Origin and History
by Hugh Norman Ross
Religions 2023, 14(4), 547; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040547 - 18 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 6724
Abstract
The more than thirty spacetime theorems developed over the past five decades establish that the universe and its spacetime dimensions have emerged from a cause/causal agent beyond the cosmos. Thus, to infer that this cause/causal agent may have intervened in the origin and [...] Read more.
The more than thirty spacetime theorems developed over the past five decades establish that the universe and its spacetime dimensions have emerged from a cause/causal agent beyond the cosmos. Thus, to infer that this cause/causal agent may have intervened in the origin and history of Earth and Earth’s life resides well within the bounds of reason. Meanwhile, proponents of each of the three prevailing naturalistic models (abiogenesis, panspermia, and directed panspermia) for the origin and history of Earth’s life have marshaled arguments and evidence that effectively undermine and refute the other two models. A biblical perspective and approach to Earth’s life can help resolve this impasse. While a superficial and pervasive appeal to divine intervention thwarts scientific advance, so does a rigid adherence to naturalism. A productive way forward is to identify which models (or parts of models), whether naturalistic, theistic, or a combination, most effectively narrow, rather than widen, knowledge gaps, minimize anomalies, offer the most comprehensive and detailed explanation of the data, and prove most successful in predicting scientific discoveries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Science from a Biblical Perspective)
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27 pages, 329 KiB  
Article
A Critical Assessment of Shafer-Landau’s Ethical Non-Naturalism
by J. P. Moreland
Religions 2023, 14(4), 546; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040546 - 18 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1714
Abstract
I focus on the ethical non-naturalism of Russ Shafer-Landau. First, I spend a good bit of time specifying the nature of two versions of naturalism and arguing that one is embraced ubiquitously—more importantly, should be embraced—by contemporary naturalists. I do so because if [...] Read more.
I focus on the ethical non-naturalism of Russ Shafer-Landau. First, I spend a good bit of time specifying the nature of two versions of naturalism and arguing that one is embraced ubiquitously—more importantly, should be embraced—by contemporary naturalists. I do so because if I am right about this, before we investigate the details of Shafer-Landau’s ethical non-naturalism, there will be a significant burden of proof for him to meet. In my view, that burden is strong enough to justify the claim that a critic’s epistemic task is merely to provide undercutting defeaters for Shafer-Landau’s position, and not to proffer rebutting defeaters, though I will attempt to supply both. After presenting a crucial characterization of contemporary naturalism followed by a critique of naturalist emergent properties, I state and critique Shafer-Landau’s ontology followed by the same for his epistemology. Both will be evaluated with a particular focus on their plausibility to support his ethical non-naturalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)
27 pages, 1094 KiB  
Article
From the Imagination to the Reality: Historical Aspects of Rewriting Six Dynasties Buddhist Avadāna Stories
by Wei Li
Religions 2023, 14(4), 545; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040545 - 18 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1805
Abstract
In at least two aspects, Buddhist Avadāna literature shares a strong affinity with Chinese literature. One type of stories can be seen as parallel tales that bear striking resemblances to Chinese tales, while the other type has been assimilated by Chinese writers and [...] Read more.
In at least two aspects, Buddhist Avadāna literature shares a strong affinity with Chinese literature. One type of stories can be seen as parallel tales that bear striking resemblances to Chinese tales, while the other type has been assimilated by Chinese writers and transformed into Chinese tales. Regarding the first kind, there are many parallels between Buddhist and Chinese stories throughout the Six Dynasties (222–589), and it was only later that these stories were somehow compiled into collections that brought these parallels to light. As an example of the second type, in linggui zhi 靈鬼志 (The Record of Magical Ghosts) of the Jin Dynasty (265–402), the story of waiguo daoren 外國道人 (“the Foreign Master”) adapts the magical plot in which a man throws up a jug from the story of fanzhi tuhu 梵志吐壺 (“a Brahmin Spits a jug”) in the Buddhist text, yet it changes certain objects of the story to items with Chinese characteristics and develops new meaning. In Xu qixiezhi 續齊諧志 (Further Records of Qixie [Supernatural tales]), the famous e’long shusheng 鵝籠書生 (“the Goose Cage Scholar”, also known as the yangxian shusheng 陽羨書生” (the Scholar from Yangxian)”), takes the same story to another level. The structure of the story is changed, and a number of literati aesthetic interests are added, improving the literary color, smoothing down the language, and making substitutions in the text’s specifics, thus, bolstering the sense of realism and history. Meanwhile, in Liu Yiqing’s 劉義慶 (403–444) Xuanyan ji 宣驗記 (Records Manifest Records of Manifest Miracles), the Avadāna tale yingwu jiuhuo 鸚鵡救火 (“the Parrot Putting Out the Fire”) that he collected is not only associated with Buddhism but can also be seen as a commentary on the turbulent times and a hint of literati optimism if we view it in the context of Liu Yiqing’s Youminglu 幽明錄 (Record of the Hidden and Visible Worlds). The literary elites of the Six Dynasties drew inspiration from Buddhist Avadāna sources and imaginatively mixed them with historical circumstances to create Chinese fiction with new intentions. The rich resources of Avadāna literature from India and the fable tradition in Chinese literature create cultural conditions for these two sources to combine and mutually develop, forming a world of literature with colorful and meaningful stories. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Narrative Literature)
20 pages, 10931 KiB  
Article
Material Heritage of the Sāgaramatiparipṛcchā: Manuscripts and Inscribed Tablets
by Jaehee Han and Jens Braarvig
Religions 2023, 14(4), 544; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040544 - 17 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1632
Abstract
The Sāgaramatiparipṛcchā, “Questions of the Oceanic Intelligence,” is the fifth chapter of the Mahāsaṃnipāta, “Great Collection,” and is a canonical work belonging to the tradition of Mahāyāna sūtra literature. This sūtra is highly valued in the long history of Mahāyāna Buddhism [...] Read more.
The Sāgaramatiparipṛcchā, “Questions of the Oceanic Intelligence,” is the fifth chapter of the Mahāsaṃnipāta, “Great Collection,” and is a canonical work belonging to the tradition of Mahāyāna sūtra literature. This sūtra is highly valued in the long history of Mahāyāna Buddhism for its thematic and metaphorical richness, as it personifies the ocean (Skt. sāgara) to represent core aspects of the Mahāyāna doctrinal system. This paper presents two small Sanskrit fragments of the Sāgaramatiparipṛcchā recently identified in the Schøyen Collection, with transliteration and annotated translation. In order to provide a fuller picture of the textual history of the Sāgaramatiparipṛcchā, a quotation from the text on votive tablets from Kedah, Malaysia, is also discussed. These materials are employed as a case study within the context of tangible and intangible heritage. On the basis of the UNESCO declaration of 2003, it is argued that these two kinds of heritage are intrinsically interlinked, and that the categories and their pertaining definitions can be broadened so as to be relevant to more traditions and their heritage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Doctrine and Buddhist Material Culture)
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9 pages, 274 KiB  
Editorial
Editorial: Ethical and Epistemological Aspects of ‘Dialogue’: Exploring the Potential of the Second-Person Perspective §
by Claudia Welz
Religions 2023, 14(4), 543; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040543 - 17 Apr 2023
Viewed by 845
Abstract
This Special Issue of Religions is devoted to ‘dialogue’—a trans-disciplinary key concept par excellence that is not to be used as a strategy to produce some ultimate synthesis, but rather to foster a conversation (Mendes-Flohr 2015a) [...] Full article
10 pages, 860 KiB  
Article
Lady White Bone: The Making of a Monstress
by I-Hsien Wu
Religions 2023, 14(4), 542; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040542 - 17 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1520
Abstract
Lady White Bone, a demon from the sixteenth-century novel Journey to the West (Xiyou ji 西遊記), has grown into one of the most celebrated femme fatales in popular imagination. This paper explores the formation of this monster as a gendered skeleton and [...] Read more.
Lady White Bone, a demon from the sixteenth-century novel Journey to the West (Xiyou ji 西遊記), has grown into one of the most celebrated femme fatales in popular imagination. This paper explores the formation of this monster as a gendered skeleton and its association with the dead body. Contextualizing this character in a broadly defined genre of skeleton fantasy, I investigate her lineage in a textual network of literature and religion, focusing on zhiguai 志怪 (accounts of anomalies) short stories and the Buddhist meditation “White Bone Contemplation” (baigu guan 白骨觀), which in turn, leads to the notion of “beauty is white bone” (meiren baigu 美人白骨), a highly gendered rendering of the Buddhist notion “form is void” (se ji shi kong 色即是空). To study the creation and development of this dazzling undead is to examine how women are posed as danger in various traditions, and to understand how this character continues to fascinate readers and viewers centuries after its creation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Supernatural in East Asia)
18 pages, 363 KiB  
Article
Self-Purification and Social Dramatization; from Simone Weil to Martin Luther King Jr.
by Michail Theodosiadis
Religions 2023, 14(4), 541; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040541 - 17 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1326
Abstract
This article begins with an analysis of Simone Weil’s notion of “impersonality”, which implies disengagement from earthly attachments, deep introspection, and connection with an “anonymous” God, that is, with an imagined spiritual force of purity, located beyond the observable secular world. “Impersonality” encourages [...] Read more.
This article begins with an analysis of Simone Weil’s notion of “impersonality”, which implies disengagement from earthly attachments, deep introspection, and connection with an “anonymous” God, that is, with an imagined spiritual force of purity, located beyond the observable secular world. “Impersonality” encourages purification (or catharsis) from frantic passions (excited by such attachments); it inspires love, which Weil associates with respect and selfless devotion to social justice. My goal is to identify a shared set of similarities between Weil and Martin Luther King Jr. on the issue of individual catharsis, acknowledging also important divergences. King—contra Weil—claimed that rejection of frantic passions is incited through connection with a “personal” (rather than “anonymous”) God, with a high moral power, which responds to individual prayers and leads men and women into the path of love. Like Weil, King associated love with mutual respect and social justice. Both Weil and King believed that individual catharsis should lead to civil disobedience, whose ultimate objective is collective catharsis, that is, the abandonment of deeply rooted attitudes and beliefs (on behalf of a collectivity) that (sometimes unknowingly) perpetuate injustices, causing great suffering. By reflecting on the viewpoints offered by these thinkers, the present study will attempt to shed light on the process by which collective catharsis shifts public attitudes. The aim of civil disobedience, I will explain, is to dramatize social evils (such as racism and social exclusion), making large portions of a society aware of their passive reproduction of attitudes that contribute to the perpetuation of such unjust practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Humanities/Philosophies)
20 pages, 366 KiB  
Article
The Dispute around Same-Sex Marriage in Costa Rica: Arguments and Actions of Conservative Religious Activism (2017–2021)
by Arantxa León-Carvajal and Andrey Pineda-Sancho
Religions 2023, 14(4), 540; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040540 - 17 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1182
Abstract
This article examines the role assumed by Costa Rican conservative religious activism during the public controversy that arose in the Central American country regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage. This public debate found its highest point during the presidential elections of 2018. The [...] Read more.
This article examines the role assumed by Costa Rican conservative religious activism during the public controversy that arose in the Central American country regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage. This public debate found its highest point during the presidential elections of 2018. The article is divided into two parts. Firstly, it identifies the arguments used by conservative actors during the controversy, with special emphasis on the conceptions of democracy and human rights that informed their political praxis. Secondly, it ponders the significance that the politicization of religion in a conservative direction has had on the dynamics and democratic institutions of contemporary Costa Rica. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Right and International Relations)
4 pages, 170 KiB  
Editorial
Editorial: Catholic Education and the Liberal Arts
by Leonardo Franchi
Religions 2023, 14(4), 539; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040539 - 17 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1086
Abstract
This Special Issue of Religions offers a welcome opportunity to explore the argument that the Liberal Arts lie at the heart of the Catholic vision of education [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Education and the Liberal Arts)
18 pages, 335 KiB  
Article
Exploring the Benefits of Yoga for Mental and Physical Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Radhika Patel and Daniel Veidlinger
Religions 2023, 14(4), 538; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040538 - 17 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2927
Abstract
This article examines the efficacy of the postures, breath control techniques, and meditative states of yoga, specifically Haṭha Yoga, in promoting overall mental and physical health. It then examines whether this form of yoga could be effective in reducing morbidity or serious illness [...] Read more.
This article examines the efficacy of the postures, breath control techniques, and meditative states of yoga, specifically Haṭha Yoga, in promoting overall mental and physical health. It then examines whether this form of yoga could be effective in reducing morbidity or serious illness during the COVID-19 pandemic. We assess the potential efficacy of three claims made for Haṭha Yoga. They are the following: (1) breathing exercises associated with yoga may help maintain pulmonary health and protect the upper respiratory tract, the portal of entry for the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection; (2) improved immunity resulting from sustained yoga practice may help prevent COVID-19 contraction; (3) stress reduction of yoga may be effective in maintaining the mental well-being needed to combat the extra stress of living during a pandemic. Related to this claim, we examine testimony to the effect that yoga also gave people meaning and purpose in their lives during the isolating lockdown period. While exploring these beneficent advantages, we further address a serious health-related counterclaim that the community practice of yoga has the potential to create conditions that facilitate disease transmission due to heavy breathing in small, enclosed spaces. This balanced analysis introduces an interesting tension relevant to public health policy, namely that well-intended attempts to minimize indoor interaction for the sake of reducing the spread of infection may impact the effectiveness of yogic therapies and impede the freedom to practice the spiritual discipline of yoga. They may also not reduce the spread of infection enough to warrant their damaging effects on yoga practice. We suggest ways for resolving this tension and conclude with some concrete recommendations for facilitating yoga practice in future pandemics. These include (1) that public health policymakers consider programs that provide access to yoga by ensuring hospital prayer rooms appropriate in size and that, where feasible, yoga studios conduct their lessons outside in open areas; (2) that resources be devoted to providing therapeutic access to virtual yoga as a federal program, despite potential resistance to this idea of government involvement due to concerns that yoga has its origins in heterodox religious practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Public Health during the Time of COVID-19)
13 pages, 247 KiB  
Article
Teaching a Biblical Text among African Christian and Muslim Asylum-Seeker Children in Israel
by Dolly Eliyahu-Levi and Michal Ganz-Meishar
Religions 2023, 14(4), 537; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040537 - 17 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1200
Abstract
Educators in Israel face significant school diversity while struggling to adequately respond to the unique needs of diverse national and cultural communities and students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Bible teachers in elementary school face tensions and conflicts between the religious concepts and beliefs [...] Read more.
Educators in Israel face significant school diversity while struggling to adequately respond to the unique needs of diverse national and cultural communities and students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Bible teachers in elementary school face tensions and conflicts between the religious concepts and beliefs of the parents and the children and the accepted concepts in Israeli Jewish society. This qualitative study was conducted among fifteen teachers working in elementary schools in the country’s center where students from national, religious, social, and social–cultural populations attend, including children from families of asylum seekers. The findings revealed two central tensions: (1) emotional religious tension and (2) pedagogical tension. It was found that Bible teachers play the role of social–religious mediators in Israeli society. In the context of religious tension, teachers find themselves in situations of uncertainty, without the pedagogical skills to help them bridge the gaps and soften the strain. As a result, they are passive and remain silent. On the other hand, in the context of pedagogical tension, the teachers try to take the initiative, go beyond the boundaries of the familiar and known, and try to adapt classroom activities to the culture of the country of origin and the everyday social contexts. Full article
11 pages, 252 KiB  
Article
Baron Eric Hermelin—Translation and the Merge of Traditions; Encoding and Reception of Persian Sufi Poetry in 20th Century Sweden
by Rikard Friberg von Sydow
Religions 2023, 14(4), 536; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040536 - 16 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1186
Abstract
The mysticism of the 19th and 20th centuries has often been perceived as a reaction towards the new fast, dense, and modern world. But is it not so that it thrives on the same material foundations, globalism, networks, and mass production of text, [...] Read more.
The mysticism of the 19th and 20th centuries has often been perceived as a reaction towards the new fast, dense, and modern world. But is it not so that it thrives on the same material foundations, globalism, networks, and mass production of text, that built our contemporary global information society? In this article, thoughts found in the writings of the Swedish mystic and translator Baron Eric Hermelin are analyzed. Hermelin was born into a Swedish noble aristocratic family in 1860. After traveling through the British Empire as a soldier in his youth, he returned to Sweden with books and knowledge. Unfortunately, he spent most of his remaining life incarcerated in the mental hospital St. Lars in the university town of Lund in the south of Sweden. But from the hospital, he released translations of Rumi, Khayyam, and other Persian mystics as well as reflections on Böhme and Swedenborg. The analysis will use Eric Hermelin’s work and focus on the process of creating and delivering the texts of the Persian Sufis to a Swedish audience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mystical Theology and Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Volume II)
21 pages, 360 KiB  
Article
Cultural Heritage and Religious Phenomenon between Urbicide and Cancel Culture: The Other Side of the Russian–Ukrainian Conflict
by Federica Botti and Cristina Bianchi
Religions 2023, 14(4), 535; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040535 - 16 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1972
Abstract
The Russian–Ukrainian conflict, in addition to causing an unacceptable loss of human life, is straining the integrity of Ukraine’s cultural heritage, despite the fact that both countries involved are parties to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the [...] Read more.
The Russian–Ukrainian conflict, in addition to causing an unacceptable loss of human life, is straining the integrity of Ukraine’s cultural heritage, despite the fact that both countries involved are parties to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its First Protocol. Churches are one of Ukraine’s most important historical assets, as well as symbolic places of Orthodox religious identity common to both the invaders and the invaded. The destruction of these places and their deliberate damage on the part of both sides appear to be part of a more general conflict concerning internal disagreements between Russian and Ukrainian Orthodoxy, which, in turn, reflect two different historical views of the Russian–Ukrainian relationship. A brief reconstruction of relations between the Orthodox Churches operating on the territory of Ukraine demonstrates how religious affiliation has affected the conflict, causing it to become decisive and deeply divisive, so much so that the Patriarchate of Moscow has become an active part of the conflict. This circumstance favours the hypothesis that it is precisely the religious cultural heritage that is most at risk of deliberate destruction. The Russians, by destroying the symbolic places of Ukrainian religious identity (urbicide), affirm the spiritual unity of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples. For their part, the Ukrainians attempt to erase the Russian presence and the common religious cultural roots by destroying buildings of worship dear to the tradition of the Moscow Patriarchate (cancel culture). They reject the imperial traditions of Russia and, at the same time, claim an independent Church. The question arises as to whether the reconstruction process following the war will take into account the original cultural–religious identities, or whether it will take the opportunity to adopt a new (also) religious identity instead, and whether the old and new instruments offered by law are adequate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Law and Religion in Europe in an Age of Fear and Insecurity)
25 pages, 425 KiB  
Article
Religion and Cultural Mediations: Perspectives from Contemporary Portuguese Society
by Alfredo Teixeira
Religions 2023, 14(4), 534; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040534 - 16 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1764
Abstract
The article reviews the concept of “cultural religion”, pursuing its different modulations. The limits of the idea oscillate between its interpretation as a form of obsolescence of religion in secularized societies and the possibility that it is a specific modality of religious identification. [...] Read more.
The article reviews the concept of “cultural religion”, pursuing its different modulations. The limits of the idea oscillate between its interpretation as a form of obsolescence of religion in secularized societies and the possibility that it is a specific modality of religious identification. However, this theoretical construct does not sufficiently incorporate a focus on the processes of cultural transmission in complex societies. From the notion of “cultural mediation (medium)”, an observation framework of contemporary Portuguese society is attempted in order to identify the structuring dimensions that facilitate the mobilization of religious memory in different logics of action. Full article
14 pages, 2339 KiB  
Article
The Abbesses of Iceland
by Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir
Religions 2023, 14(4), 533; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040533 - 16 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1827
Abstract
The female monasteries that operated in Iceland during medieval times, Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Reynistaðarklaustur, are the largest- and longest-operating institutions run by women to ever exist in the country. The names of the abbesses—the leaders of the female monasteries, some of which led the [...] Read more.
The female monasteries that operated in Iceland during medieval times, Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Reynistaðarklaustur, are the largest- and longest-operating institutions run by women to ever exist in the country. The names of the abbesses—the leaders of the female monasteries, some of which led the monasteries for up to half a century—are known from written documents and material remains that describe the abbesses’ diverse tasks and obligations while in office. In the article, the stories of the Icelandic abbesses will be told not only in order to highlight their contributions to the overall development of medieval Icelandic society but also to show their influence on the lives of people, lay and religious, in the country. Moreover, the abbesses’ stories demonstrate how each of them managed to synchronize with their natural and social surroundings while faithfully keeping their dedication to the Benedictine Order. Full article
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14 pages, 261 KiB  
Article
Uses and Abuses of Religion in the Contemporary Legal Development of Montenegro: Undermining the Principle of Secularity
by Aleksandra Vukasinovic and Biljana Damjanović
Religions 2023, 14(4), 532; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040532 - 15 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1178
Abstract
In the context of contemporary legal and political development, this work aims to analyze, through the prism of the constitutional principles of secularism and the civic state, the growing influence of religion on politics in Montenegro which has indirectly caused tectonic changes in [...] Read more.
In the context of contemporary legal and political development, this work aims to analyze, through the prism of the constitutional principles of secularism and the civic state, the growing influence of religion on politics in Montenegro which has indirectly caused tectonic changes in the current legal relationship between the state and religious communities, at least temporarily questioning these everlasting values of constitutional democracy. Our basic hypothesis is that, in this correlation between the state and the Orthodox Church, religion is being used not only as a belief system which primarily belongs to the spiritual sphere of individuals, but also as a tool in redefining national identity and achieving politically desirable results at the public level. In the interpretation of positive legal regulations, this paper predominantly uses teleological and normative methodology together with sociological and axiological methods, necessary for understanding the broader context of the widened scope of bonding between religion and politics. This paper is also accompanied by relevant literature, which is promising in terms of solving the very interesting issues which once belonged to the “spirits of the past” and yet in the twenty-first century have been modernized at the place where the internal legal order of Montenegro and the Orthodox Church meet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Religious Phenomenon from the Secularism Perspective)
10 pages, 785 KiB  
Article
Between History and Theology—Zerubbabel and Nehemiah as Governors of Judah from the Perspective of Literary History
by Sarah Schulz
Religions 2023, 14(4), 531; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040531 - 14 Apr 2023
Viewed by 3232
Abstract
Hag/Zech 1–8 and Ezr/Neh have in common that they are often rated as primary sources when it comes to the development of Second Temple Judaism(s). Consequently, it is mostly assumed that the Persian governors of Judah (like the Persian kings) significantly contributed to [...] Read more.
Hag/Zech 1–8 and Ezr/Neh have in common that they are often rated as primary sources when it comes to the development of Second Temple Judaism(s). Consequently, it is mostly assumed that the Persian governors of Judah (like the Persian kings) significantly contributed to the (re-)formation of the Jewish community in Jerusalem after the exile: Zerubbabel built the temple, Nehemiah the wall of Jerusalem. As a rule of thumb, literary analysis within these books, if applied at all, is less critical than elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible. However, a literary critical approach gives rise to serious doubts about the historic reliability of these accounts. Based on a literary critical analysis of the relevant texts from Hag/Zech 1–8 and Neh, this article aims to show that it is only in the course of redaction history that the office of governor of Judah is ascribed to both individuals. Thus, the attribution of the office of governor to them reflects theological interests and concerns in the early Second Temple Period rather than the historical reality. As the texts not only attribute aspects of royal leadership to Zerubbabel and Nehemiah as governors of Judah, but also present the holders of a Persian office as custodians of Jewish interests (temple and Torah), it will be argued that the texts contribute to the political and religious reorganization of Judaism and, thus, to the formation of a collective Jewish identity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The History of Literature and Theology in the Hebrew Bible)
13 pages, 614 KiB  
Article
Pauline Pseudepigrapha and Early Christian Literacy: Are the Clues Hidden Right in Front of US?
by Justin P. Paley
Religions 2023, 14(4), 530; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040530 - 14 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1631
Abstract
Within Biblical scholarship, there have been a limited number of studies which examine ancient literacy and education in relation to the production of the Deutero-Pauline letters. When such topics are addressed together, the discussions rarely go beyond some generalities, and this article seeks [...] Read more.
Within Biblical scholarship, there have been a limited number of studies which examine ancient literacy and education in relation to the production of the Deutero-Pauline letters. When such topics are addressed together, the discussions rarely go beyond some generalities, and this article seeks to partly address that gap. Literacy rates in the Greco-Roman world, of which the earliest Christians were a part, are universally agreed to be significantly lower than modern literacy rates, with most estimates being between 5 and 15%. This fact, coupled with the limited number of Christians by the end of the first and the beginning of the second century CE, should be taken more seriously when considering how the Deutero-Pauline literature came to be produced and, eventually, circulate with other authentic Pauline letters. In short, this article will argue that when the realities of the educational landscape of the New Testament world are taken in conjunction with what we know about textual production, early Christian communities and leadership structures, there is a plausible argument to be made that those who were responsible for at least some of the Deutero-Pauline letters may be hiding in plain sight. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biblical Texts and Traditions: Paul’s Letters)
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