Spiritual Elasticity and Crisis: From Non-religiosity to Transreligiosity

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2023) | Viewed by 12813

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA/ISCTE-IUL), Lisbon University Institute, 1649-026 Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: transnational religiosity; contemporary spirituality; new age; holistic healing and wellbeing; spiritual elasticity; pluralism; creativity; crisis; vernacular religion; lived religion

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Guest Editor
Department of Asian and Mediterranean African Studies, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, 30123 Venezia, Italy
Interests: Japanese shamanism; contemporary spirituality; contemporary Japanese religiosity; media and religion

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Guest Editor
Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA/NOVA), New University of Lisbon, 1649-026 Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: Afro-Cuban religion; contemporary religiosity; crisis; death; divination; historical imagination; secularism; spirit possession; wellbeing

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

From the socio-economic and political crisis in southern Europe during the last decades, to the more recent global healthcare crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, contemporary societies have faced and are still under the impact of considerable sociocultural change. The domain of religiosity has certainly not remained unaffected at the level of institutional, vernacular religion (Bowman and Valk 2012) and lived religion (McGuire 2008; Ammerman 2021) and of religious “belief without belonging” (Davie 1994) or “believing in belonging” (Day 2011). One of the most prominent consequences with reference to the shifting boundaries of contemporary religiosity, for example, is the rising popularity of non-denominational forms of “holistic” (Sointu and Woodhead 2008) and/or “New Age” (Heelas 1996; Sutcliffe and Gilhus 2013) spirituality.

With such a framework of sociological and anthropological, mostly, contextualization of religion and spirituality as a starting point, the aim of the Special Issue is to expand upon the above-mentioned themes and examine the spiritual elasticity with which contemporary religiosity is practiced today, in direct relation to crisis. We perceive the boundaries of crisis open: it can refer to socio-economic, political and global health/pandemic crisis in society at large, and/or to personal critical instants at a more individualized level. We also consider the contexts within which spiritual elasticity can occur open: non-religion, conversion, secularization, transreligiosity can all serve as vehicles of investigating the elasticity—or lack of—in and of contemporary religiosity. How do the boundaries of distinct or similar religious and spiritual traditions, between religion and spirituality and/or between spiritual belief and belonging adapt during and after a crisis? Do they stretch, break, become more elastic, become less flexible? What kind of transgressions can we witness in the process? We introduce and employ the term “transreligiosity” as a conceptual condensation of these transgressions of borders (between religion and spirituality, religiosity and non-religiosity or secularism, religiosity and wellbeing and/or healing, among others).

We welcome original articles that are empirically based, theoretically based or both, which may include (but not limited to) the following themes:

  • Spiritual Elasticity;
  • Contexts of Crisis;
  • Vernacular and Lived Religion and Spirituality;
  • Religion, Spirituality and Health;
  • Non-Religion, Atheism and Secularism;
  • Religio-Spiritual Conversion;
  • Transnational Religion;
  • Gender and Religiosity.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Eugenia Roussou
Dr. Silvia Rivadossi
Dr. Anastasios Panagiotopoulos
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • elasticity
  • crisis
  • contemporary religion and spirituality
  • non-religion
  • secularism
  • conversion
  • spirituality/religiosity and health
  • transnational religion
  • transreligiosity.

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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11 pages, 211 KiB  
Editorial
Spiritual Elasticity and Crisis: From Non-Religiosity to Transreligiosity—An Introduction
by Anastasios Panagiotopoulos, Eugenia Roussou and Silvia Rivadossi
Religions 2024, 15(3), 373; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030373 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 858
Abstract
From the socio-economic and political crisis in southern Europe during the last few decades, to the more recent global healthcare crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, contemporary societies have faced and are still under the impact of considerable sociocultural change [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

17 pages, 357 KiB  
Article
A Sacred Place, an Enchanted Space: Crisis and Spiritual Elasticity in the Mountain of the Moon
by Clara Saraiva
Religions 2023, 14(9), 1153; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14091153 - 9 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1376
Abstract
This article explores the notion of the “magic of a place” and the way a space attracts groups and individuals who follow various forms of vernacular or lived religion and spirituality. The space is Sintra, an “enchanted” mountain facing the westernmost point of [...] Read more.
This article explores the notion of the “magic of a place” and the way a space attracts groups and individuals who follow various forms of vernacular or lived religion and spirituality. The space is Sintra, an “enchanted” mountain facing the westernmost point of Europe, the Roca Cape. Classified by UNESCO as Cultural Landscape, Sintra is a unique place, a “sensuous sacred geography”; its sacredness comes from its natural setting, combined with historical layers of religious use and the way these are nowadays interpreted by individuals who live spirituality as “sensational forms” (configurations of imaginations and sensations in a context of religious and spiritual traditions). Thought of as an encapsulated magical place where innumerous groups perform their ceremonies, meditations, and spiritual retreats, Sintra is a scenario where Tweed’s discussion on the sacredness of a place is highly suitable and transreligiosity and spiritual elasticity are the norm. Furthermore, through the ethnographic data presented, we will see how, within this “spiritual elasticity” directly relating to the astonishing nature of the Sintra mountain, individuals find relief for their personal crises or their collective eco-anxiety. Full article
18 pages, 293 KiB  
Article
Mobilities in Religious Knowledge: Phiroz Mehta and the Logics of Transreligiosity in 1970s–80s South London
by Karen O’Brien-Kop
Religions 2023, 14(7), 907; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14070907 - 13 Jul 2023
Viewed by 809
Abstract
This paper examines transreligiosity in the context of the transmission of South Asian concepts of spirituality to the UK in the 20th century. Between the 1920s and 1990s, Indian teacher and author Phiroz Mehta (1902–1994) crossed borders in a colonial and postcolonial shuttling [...] Read more.
This paper examines transreligiosity in the context of the transmission of South Asian concepts of spirituality to the UK in the 20th century. Between the 1920s and 1990s, Indian teacher and author Phiroz Mehta (1902–1994) crossed borders in a colonial and postcolonial shuttling between India and the UK but also transgressed conceptual and practice borders of religion, teaching Indian religious concepts to post-Christian spiritual seekers in 1970s–80s South London. Mehta cultivated an elasticity between many religious and philosophical traditions, recognising the post-institutional fatigue of subjects who sought alternative forms of ‘belonging without believing’. Privileging the domestic space for teaching, as well as transitory ‘camp’ gatherings in the UK and Germany, Mehta often operated in the social margins, combining teachings from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity with Zoroastrianism, Judaism (specifically Kabbalah), and Daoism. He offered his tutees the freedom to practice religion in whatever way they chose by drawing on a broad range of traditions concurrently to create a transreligiosity. This paper examines Panagiotopoulos and Roussou’s ‘transgressional webs of practising individualised forms of alternative spirituality’ in relation to Mehta’s followers in the 1970s-1980s and asks how transreligiosity relates to other theoretical analyses, such as religious exoticism, bricolage, religious appropriation, cultural re-articulation or assemblage. This paper focuses on qualitative interviews with original members of the Mehta community conducted between 2021 and 2022. Full article
20 pages, 333 KiB  
Article
Contemporary Mindfulness and Transreligious Learning Paths of Mental Health Professionals
by Ville Husgafvel and Terhi Utriainen
Religions 2023, 14(6), 807; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060807 - 19 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1613
Abstract
In this article, we apply and assess the concept of transreligiosity in the study of formally educated and licensed psychologists and psychotherapists in Finland who integrate mindfulness practices in their professional toolkit. Our analytical focus complements the discussion on the use of religious [...] Read more.
In this article, we apply and assess the concept of transreligiosity in the study of formally educated and licensed psychologists and psychotherapists in Finland who integrate mindfulness practices in their professional toolkit. Our analytical focus complements the discussion on the use of religious and spiritual traditions as therapeutic resources by turning scholarly attention from individual coping tools to the professional skills of therapeutic work and from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices to mainstream health care and education. In the field of mindfulness research, we add to the cumulative body of ethnographic approaches by analyzing the mindfulness-related individual learning paths of mental health professionals through qualitative interview data. Based on our analysis, we conclude that the professional skills of using mindfulness practices in secular health care and education can result from transreligious learning trajectories, in which psychologists and psychotherapists supplement science-based academic education with learning in Buddhist communities and training with Buddhist teachers. This role of Buddhist environments and resources points to a blind spot in the current understanding of adult and professional learning, in which the value and position of religious traditions as possible complementary sources of professional knowledge and skills are not sufficiently recognized. Full article
18 pages, 354 KiB  
Article
A Preliminary Genealogy of Yoga in Italy: Between Religion and Contemporary Spirituality
by Matteo Di Placido and Stefania Palmisano
Religions 2023, 14(6), 800; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060800 - 16 Jun 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1297
Abstract
In this article, we design a preliminary genealogy of yoga in Italy, showing its positioning within the growing field of “contemporary spiritualities”, their premodern, esoteric and theosophical roots and Catholicism. Our main claim is that yoga and contemporary spiritualities as practiced in XXI-century [...] Read more.
In this article, we design a preliminary genealogy of yoga in Italy, showing its positioning within the growing field of “contemporary spiritualities”, their premodern, esoteric and theosophical roots and Catholicism. Our main claim is that yoga and contemporary spiritualities as practiced in XXI-century Italy are neither entirely new nor are they clearly an alternative to more established religions. We rely on the methods and tools of a “discursive study of religion” approach to unpack the intricacies, genealogical roots and definitional boundaries that yoga, contemporary spiritualities and religion in Italy share. More specifically, we question the novelty of contemporary spiritualities in Italy, unveiling some of their esoteric, theosophical and anthroposophical roots, presenting, in turn, a preliminary genealogy of yoga in Italy, discussing its positioning amid Catholicism and contemporary spiritualities. We conclude by reflecting on the creation, use and limits of sociocultural theorizing about interpreting and understanding the spiritual and religious field, with a specific emphasis on the overlapping and porous boundaries between the concepts of religion, contemporary spiritualities, Western esotericism and modern yoga. Full article
14 pages, 268 KiB  
Article
Elastic Rituals: A Multi-Religious Analysis of Adaptations to the COVID-19 Crisis
by Monica Cornejo-Valle and Borja Martin-Andino
Religions 2023, 14(6), 773; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060773 - 12 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1167
Abstract
The COVID-19 crisis truly challenged social interaction, the use of space and objects, as well as our sense of purpose and meaning in life. In this context, religious communities faced sudden interruption of their usual activities, lack of access to communal spaces and [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 crisis truly challenged social interaction, the use of space and objects, as well as our sense of purpose and meaning in life. In this context, religious communities faced sudden interruption of their usual activities, lack of access to communal spaces and a global epidemic that summoned ancient “medieval plague” anxieties to work with. This article focuses on the vast repertoire of adaptations and reactions to the crisis that several religious communities developed in Spain. Our research is based on 40 conversations with members of Protestant and Evangelical denominations, Sunni Islam, Orthodox churches, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Church of Scientology, Baha’i, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Christian Science and Paganism, all of them minorities in the traditionally Catholic country. To analyze this repertoire of adaptations we focus on three aspects: the general context of changes and challenges, the ritual adaptations and the subjective experience of the adaptations. Grace Q. Zhang’s theories on linguistic elasticity will be applied to understand the elasticity of ritual adaptations in COVID times. Full article
15 pages, 1209 KiB  
Article
Transreligiosity and Religious Revitalization in Modern Greece: Bridging Religion and Science through Geomythology
by Evgenia Fotiou
Religions 2023, 14(6), 754; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060754 - 7 Jun 2023
Viewed by 2697
Abstract
This article examines the revitalization of the ancient Greek religion in modern Greece and the way some of its adherents approach mythology. This religious movement challenges the dominant religious discourse in modern Greece by claiming legitimacy through indigeneity, while making important arguments regarding [...] Read more.
This article examines the revitalization of the ancient Greek religion in modern Greece and the way some of its adherents approach mythology. This religious movement challenges the dominant religious discourse in modern Greece by claiming legitimacy through indigeneity, while making important arguments regarding the perceived spiritual and value crisis in their culture. At a time that right-wing extremisms and fundamentalisms are rising globally, this religious movement places emphasis on worldview and imagines a kind of citizen who engages with universal ideals while maintaining a strong connection to a unique ethnic identity. At the same time, Ethnikoi Hellenes challenge prevailing understandings of religion by making ‘logos’ or reason central to their theology. Thus, they challenge the association of Indigenous religions with “irrationality”, while pointing out the inconsistencies and irrationalities of monotheistic religions, which they consider responsible for the widespread “cultural” crisis facing humanity. The example of one group’s engagement with geomythology has been used to demonstrate that they do not conceive religion and science as contradictory but complementary, thus exhibiting transreligiosity. Full article
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10 pages, 245 KiB  
Article
Transreligiosity and the Messiness of Religious and Social Worlds: Towards a Deleuzian Methodological Imagination for Religious Studies
by Paul-François Tremlett
Religions 2023, 14(4), 527; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040527 - 13 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1123
Abstract
Research methods and concepts in religious studies are conventionally understood as procedures and rules for representing religious and social worlds. However, religious and social worlds are simultaneously messy, lively and elusive, and arguably transreligious ones are especially so. In this essay I reflect [...] Read more.
Research methods and concepts in religious studies are conventionally understood as procedures and rules for representing religious and social worlds. However, religious and social worlds are simultaneously messy, lively and elusive, and arguably transreligious ones are especially so. In this essay I reflect on Panagiotopoulos and Roussou’s concept of “transreligiosity” as a means for re-thinking classical and contemporary methodological debates in religious studies, and for reflecting on methods as social practices. Full article
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