Religions is an international, interdisciplinary, open access journal on religions and theology, published monthly online by Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). MDPI's Editorial Office is in Basel, Switzerland.


The Globethics library contains articles of Religions as of vol. 1(2010) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • “Justpeace-Diaconia” and the Challenges of Reconciliation in the Canadian Context

    Wendy Kroeker (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    This article argues for the necessity of an approach to diaconal work that can best be defined as active and sustainable peacebuilding and reconciliation toward social transformation. It explores ways in which a diaconia specifically informed by justice and peace perspectives, called “justpeace-diaconia” by the author, should serve as an entry point for engagement into the complex dynamics towards reconciliation in the Canadian context, deepened by its colonial legacy that still pervades the social fabric. These challenges and diversities—even complicities—of perspective are viewed through the lens of peace-diaconia to examine the implications for diaconal work in Canada and explore whether meaningful journeys for reconciling and building relationships are possible.
  • Martyrs and Madonnas: Inácio de Azevedo, the Brazil Martyrs, and the Global Circulation of the Madonna of Santa Maria Maggiore

    Paul Nelles (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    The article offers a revisionist account of the early circulation of copies of the Madonna of Santa Maria Maggiore, known since the nineteenth century as the Salus Populi Romani. Traditionally, the propulsion of the image into global circulation has been attributed variously to Pius V or Francisco Borja, the third Superior General of the Society of Jesus. The article argues that the circulation of the Saint Luke Madonna, as it was known at the time, was closely tied to the martyr’s cult that grew up around the Jesuit missionary Inácio de Azevedo and the so-called Brazil Martyrs, a group of Jesuits murdered by Calvinist corsairs off the Canary Islands in 1570. Azevedo had intended to carry a copy of the Roman icon to Brazil, a copy that perished at sea with Azevedo and the party of Jesuit missionaries. The article suggests that the popularity of the image among Jesuits in Europe and the overseas missions was fueled by the nascent martyr’s cult that followed Azevedo’s death. Painted copies of the Saint Luke Madonna came to function, together with relics of the Eleven Thousand Virgins of Cologne, as proxies for the missing material remains of the martyred Jesuits. The article argues that while the distribution of the image was globally extensive, circulation was restricted to an internal Jesuit martyr’s cult.
  • This Is Your Miḥrāb: Sacred Spaces and Power in Early Islamic North Africa—Al-Qayrawān as a Case Study

    Javier Albarrán (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    Al-Qayrawān has long been figured, especially in the culture of the Islamic West, as the Islamic city par excellence, as the fourth sacred place after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem. The prominence of this garrison city—supposedly founded by ‘Uqba b. Nāfi‘ in the year 50/670–671—is undeniable in the traditional account of the Islamic conquest of Ifrīqiyya. Through a case study of al-Qayrawān and an analysis of the sources recounting its miraculous foundation as well as the construction of its mosque, this article aims to study the process of sacralisation of space, how this is inserted into a given context and related to power and its consolidation, particularly in times of political, cultural, and religious transition, and how it uses, appropriates, or eliminates the previous reality. To this end, the article provides a context for the creation of al-Qayrawān as a sacred space, which relates directly to the region’s Christian past and the construction of a new Islamic identity.
  • Streamable Services: Affinities for Streaming in Pre-Pandemic Congregational Worship

    Joseph Roso (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    Following the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, many congregational leaders had to scramble to set up streaming or recording systems in order to continue their worship services without putting congregants at risk, but some congregations had already set up such systems in the years leading up to the pandemic. Previous research has found that these capabilities were not evenly distributed throughout the population of congregations, but this work has primarily focused on how technological divides are the result of a lack of economic resources. However, economic resources were not the only factor associated with whether congregations had streaming options or not. Using Wave 4 of the National Congregations Study (NCS) conducted in 2018–2019, I find that, prior to the pandemic, Catholic congregations and Protestant congregations with more enthusiastic worship services were more likely to have streaming or recording systems even after controlling for economic resources, technological knowledge, and other organizational features. The elective affinities between certain worship practices and online streaming meant that some congregations were in a better position to meet the unexpected challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. These findings highlight the important role congregations’ cultural beliefs and practices can play in shaping their activities.
  • The Challenge of Muhammad Iqbal’s Philosophy of Khudi to Ibn ‘Arabi’s Metaphysical Anthropology

    Antonio De Diego González (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    The period between the publication of Asrār-i Khūdī (Secrets of the Self) in 1915 and The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam in 1930 marked the consolidation of the philosophy of khūdī (self) from the perspective of the Indian philosopher Muhammad Iqbal. A philosophical project for the contemporary Islamic world that sought to overcome, from the acceptance of science and few elements of Western philosophy, the limitations of the Islamic tradition and, above all, of Sufism, which the author labels as pantheism. Among the deep dialogues he maintains with Islamic tradition, Iqbal carried out a very special one with Muḥyī l-Dīn Ibn ʻArabī (1165–1240), who was one of the most notorious mystics and philosophers of Islam. A metahistorical dialogue, in the form of a critique, that invites us to see the convergences and divergences in metaphysical and anthropological aspects of both authors.
  • Religion and Democracy in Argentina Religious Opposition to the Legalization of Abortion

    Marcos Carbonelli; Maria Pilar García Bossio (MDPI AG, 2023-04-01)
    This article analyzes the ways in which religious actors opposing the legalization of abortion adjusted their arguments and public actions to the Argentine democratic culture between 2018 and 2020. Data were collected through a qualitative research approach by conducting in-depth interviews with activists, studying public position statements in secondary sources, and analyzing pronouncements and interactions on social media platforms. Religious agents conceived of democracy as the rule of the majority that they intended to promote by means of secular arguments, demonstrations in public spaces, and the construction of electoral alternatives. Marginally, the categorization of feminism through conspiracy theories and the use of dilatory legal maneuvers ran counter to the logic of the expansion of rights. According to the empirical evidence gathered, the religious agents showed increasing adjustments to the language and criteria inherent to democratic life.
  • “Ich Werdend Spreche Ich Du”: Creative Dialogue in the Relational Anthropologies of Martin Luther and Martin Buber

    Sasja Emilie Mathiasen Stopa (MDPI AG, 2023-04-01)
    This article compares the relational anthropologies of Martin Luther and Martin Buber and suggests that both thinkers presuppose a notion of creative dialogue. This notion captures the understanding in the Hebrew Bible of the world as created and sustained through God’s utterance and, thus, of reality as spoken and human existence as reliant upon dialogue with God. It argues that this common grounding led Luther and Buber to suggest anthropologies that focus on relation rather than substance, on the role of language, and on creative dialogue as the kernel of sound interpersonal relationships, which articulate the human relationship with God. The perception of reality as constituted through dialogical relationships made them both question the prevailing philosophical ontology of their time: in Luther’s case, Aristotelean substance ontology, and in Buber’s case, Kantian subject–object dualism.
  • Perceived Threat, Reactive Identification, and Religious Change: Right-Wing Secularization in Germany, 1999–2017

    Anthony Albanese (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    In this article, I integrate symbolic threat dynamics into a theoretical discussion of religious change. Specifically, this article demonstrates how symbolic threat can lead to increases in salient collective characteristics among members of the threatened group. To make this case, I examine the religious and historical idiosyncrasies of East and West Germany. In the context of East Germany, I find a dramatic reduction in religious activity among the right-wing between 1999 and 2017, as well as a strong relationship between secularity and fear of foreign domination. Mediated by the deeply atheistic history of East Germany, secularization is here presented as a reaction of eastern identification that repeatedly emerges in the face of cultural threat. To empirically illustrate my theoretical contentions, I rely on survey data from the European Values Study (EVS) and German General Social Survey (ALLBUS).
  • Beheading the Hydra: Antonio Castelvetro, The Congregation of the Index, and an Imagined Future for Print Censorship

    Hannah Marcus (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    In 1587, Antonio Castelvetro, a little-known physician from a well-known Modenese family, circulated a manuscript treatise that proposed a radical new vision for a Catholic press and a reformed system of press censorship: The Brief Treatise on the Reform of the Press (Trattato breve sopra la riforma della stampa). Historians have typically treated this text with a combination of amusement and outright ridicule, but this essay explains the ways that Castelvetro’s text captured a particular ethos of expertise and reform at the end of the sixteenth century in Italy. Although never implemented, Castelvetro’s treatise represents a moment of creative tactics in confrontation with the hydra of print. Censorship lay firmly within the project of the Counter-Reformation—a response directed at undermining and controlling the immediate and long-term effects of religious upheaval across Europe. However, systemic solutions to managing the press were part of the creative process of Catholic Reform. As Castelvetro’s treatise shows, some of these suggestions were more far-fetched and self-aggrandizing than others, but each contributed to a flourishing landscape of ideas aimed at combatting heresy and restructuring Catholic life.
  • Monasticism and Ecologism: Between Economic Opportunity and Religious Convictions?

    Isabelle Jonveaux (MDPI AG, 2023-04-01)
    Monasteries, especially Benedictine monasteries, have developed a close relationship with nature based on a respect for creation and a goal of self-sufficiency. There seems to be an elective affinity between monasticism and ecologism. Since the second half of the 20th century, monasteries have been engaging in ecological practices, and in many cases have been pioneers in these practices in their region. How can the role of monasteries in ecology be explained? To what extent is the ecology practiced by monasteries different from that of society? And what developments can we observe in this field over the last 20 years? After presenting the background of the elective affinity between monasticism and ecologism, I will explore the practices that monastics put in place to act sustainably for the protection of the environment. The last part of the paper deals with the shift from respect for creation to ecologism in the vocabulary monastics use today and to what extent we can speak of a charismatic ecologism. This article is based on field inquiries conducted in monastic communities in six countries in Europe and four countries in Africa between 2004 and 2019.
  • Friendship and Spiritual Learning: Seedbed for Synodality

    John William Sullivan (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    In the literature about learning in general and also with regard to faith learning, the experience and practice of friendship has been neglected. In the early years of the church, and at various other times, social networks of Christians preserved and handed on the life of faith without the benefit of formal educational institutions or strong ecclesial structures. This article explores the potential of friendship to contribute to the kind of spiritual learning that underpins synodality. The experience of friendship plays an important role in how people access, interpret, welcome and embrace truth and in their paths towards transformation. Friendship is considered here as a form of peer ministry. There can be no social friendship, along the lines advocated by Pope Francis in Fratelli tutti, without the laboratory and engine room of everyday personal friendships. Key features of friendship are related to the implications of synodality and to the conditions that support spiritual learning.
  • Twentieth-Century Hasidic-Zionist Homiletics: The Case of Netivot Shalom by “the Rebbe Painter”, Avraham Ya‘akov Shapira of Drohobych

    Leore Sachs-Shmueli (MDPI AG, 2023-04-01)
    Much has been written about the theological, cultural, and social foundations of the Zionist movement and its historical development. While scholars have discussed the immigration of the first Hasidim to the Land of Israel in the late eighteenth century, little attention has been paid to the Hasidic leaders who were active in Mandatory Palestine between the two World Wars, some of whom had a positive attitude toward Zionism. My article addresses this scholarly gap and focuses on one figure: the Rebbe painter (Admor ha-Tsayar) Avraham Yaakov Shapira (1886–1962) of the Drohobych dynasty. In this first academic study examining his sermon book Netivot Shalom, I will show how he coherently used the Hasidic homiletic style, as well as textual and oral traditions, to reinforce a commitment to the settlement of Zion and cultivate a positive attitude toward the Jewish people, including the secular settlers. Following in his father’s footsteps, he fervently taught that the way to the hearts of secular settlers was not through rebuke, but through peace, shared mission, and unity. He viewed the activists’ approach to settling Zion as an act of divine action revealing the “new Torah”, and saw their success as a miracle manifested through nature.
  • Spirit, Word and Love: Insights of Pietro Rossano towards a Mystical Theology of the Christian-Muslim Dialogue

    Giulio Osto (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    Pietro Rossano was an important protagonist of interreligious dialogue in the 20th century, serving for more than twenty years in the Vatican office in charge of this field. His experience and writings show how dialogue has many anthropological and theological dimensions and, because we are talking about an event between religious people, dialogue also has a mystical dimension. Rossano was very involved in the dialogue with Muslims, both in the theoretical study and in some meetings, like the one in Tripoli in 1976 and others. Spirit, Word and Love can be seen as the three keys to interpreting Rossano’s testimony in relation to the Bible, to dialogical thought—in particular, Ferdinand Ebner—and to the Christian theology of dialogue.
  • “This Is No Performance”: Exploring the Complicated Relationship between the Church and Contemporary Congregational Songs

    Daniel Thornton (MDPI AG, 2023-04-01)
    “Performing” and “performance” are potentially contentious words within the context of contemporary Christian worship. However, performative elements are explicit in the lyrics of contemporary congregational songs (CCS), and in video recordings of CCS, through the actions of those on stage and in the congregation, as well as in the broader context of staging, lighting, projection, production, and video editing. However, to date, there is only a handful of scholarly works that explore performing in contemporary worship or contemporary worship as performance and most of them are ethnomusicological. This paper seeks to address notions of performing and performance through a broader lens of the most-sung CCS globally, examined through the disciplinary fields of performance studies, musicology, media studies and theology. It involves a two-fold complementary textual analysis of the most-sung CCS lyrics and the most-watched ‘live worship’ videos of those songs on YouTube. In so doing, this study identifies how the Christian music industry at large officially portrays and languages performance in worship songs and also identifies how performative elements are enacted in the live worship videos released. These analyses are finally synthesized to identify how performing and performance are understood and actively portrayed to and by the contemporary church.
  • Civilizational Populism in Domestic and Foreign Policy: The Case of Turkey

    Ihsan Yilmaz; Nicholas Morieson (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    This article investigates whether Turkish populism has undergone a ‘civilizational turn’ akin to what Brubaker, Haynes, Yilmaz, and Morieson have described occurring among populist parties in Europe and North America. The article applies Yilmaz and Morieson’s definition of ‘civilizational populism’ to Turkey under the rule of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) in order to determine whether the party conforms to this definition. The article investigates how the AKP, an Islamist and populist political party lead by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has increasingly incorporated what we term ‘civilizational populism’ into its discourse. The article shows the impact of civilizational populism on Turkey’s domestic and foreign policy under the AKP rule. The article finds that the AKP has increasingly, and especially since the 2013 Gezi Park protests and the mysterious coup attempt in 2016, construed opposition between the Turkish ‘self’ and the ‘other’ not in primarily nationalist terms, but in religious and civilizational terms, and as a conflict between the Ottoman-Islamic ‘self’ and ‘Western’ other. Furthermore, the article finds that the AKP’s domestic and foreign policies reflect its civilizational populist division of Turkish society insofar as the party is attempting to raise a ‘pious generation’ that supports its Islamizing of Turkey society, and its nostalgic neo-Ottomanist power projections in the Middle East. Finally, the paper discusses how the AKP’s civilizational populism has become a transnational populist phenomenon due to the party’s ability to produce successful television shows that reflect its anti-Western worldview and justify its neo-Ottoman imperialism in the Middle East.
  • Editorial: Rethinking Catholicism in Early Modern Italy

    John Christopoulos; Diego Pirillo (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    In 1925, having spent six months on the island of Capri, Walter Benjamin and Asja Lãcis published a short essay on the city of Naples in the Frankfurter Zeitung [...]
  • Connecting the Sacred: Network Analysis of Buddhist Images on Early Medieval Chinese Pagodas from Nannieshui, Shanxi

    Jinchao Zhao (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    The production of stone sculptures in the form of statues, steles, and pagodas was arguably one of the most prominent forms of Buddhist devotion in early medieval China. The abundant Buddhist imagery and devotional inscriptions adorning their surfaces provide rich information on their creation, commission, consecration, and worship, which is essential for comprehending the local community’s religious landscape. This paper employs a network analysis approach to visualize and analyze the spatial arrangement of Buddhist images on the surfaces of pagodas from Nannieshui 南涅水, Shanxi 山西 Province. Network analysis reveals that Nannieshui pagodas were commissioned and worshipped differently from other kinds of stone sculpture, as shown by its emphasis on the spatial and sequential order of Buddhist images depicted on the exterior of these pagodas.
  • The Adriatic Catholic Marian Pilgrimage in Nin near Zadar as a Maritime Pilgrimage

    Mirela Hrovatin (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    Following the general approach to pilgrimage as established by anthropologists and other scientists, the paper analyses the pilgrimage in Nin to Our Lady of Zečevo. More specifically, this pilgrimage will be observed as a maritime pilgrimage, following relevant recent research. Based on the oral story about the apparition of Virgin Mary to a widow, the statue of Mary is transported from Nin in a boat procession via sea to a mediaeval church on the nearby uninhabited island of Zečevo. Pilgrimage practices include many sensorial and symbolic practices, so it will be analysed from several points of view and more than one theoretical approach, including the relational approach and mobility turn, applied also to maritime pilgrimage with a reflection on influence of tourism on pilgrimage activities, especially in the Mediterranean. The paper relies on the field research from 2020–2023 in Nin near Zadar in Croatia which has been supported in part by the Croatian Science Foundation under the project ‘PILGRIMAR’ (UIP-2019-04-8226).
  • Sacralizing a Battlefield: The Religious Heritage of the Battle of Warsaw 1920

    Kamila Baraniecka-Olszewska (MDPI AG, 2023-04-01)
    This article presents a process of creating religious heritage that goes beyond the “sacralization of heritage” or the “heritagization of religion”. It is grounded in the assumption that religious heritage may be an element of lived religion, while the strategies of managing the past (and of preserving and transmitting values) observable within Roman Catholicism all fit within the discourse of heritage. This text focuses on the heritage of the Battle of Warsaw developed in Roman Catholic religious practice. The battles fought in 1920 are also referred to as the “Miracle on the Vistula”, since the Polish victory in that confrontation is seen as resulting from a divine intervention. Such an image of the battle permeates its heritage, allowing the Roman Catholic Church to shape it in accordance with religious teachings. This article is based on fieldwork on the anniversary events of the Battle of Warsaw. It aims to illustrate how the battlefield may become sacralized, blurring the lines between religious practices and heritage. The haptically experienced materiality of the battlefield makes it possible to localize heritage perceived not only as the site of bloody conflict, but also as the scene of the Virgin Mary’s intercession and divine intervention.
  • Is There a Root of Being? Indic Philosophies and the Parmenidean Problem

    Winfried Corduan (MDPI AG, 2023-05-01)
    This article is a survey of various philosophical schools, focusing primarily on South Asian ones, and how they address the problem of being and nonbeing. The early Greek poet Parmenides stated that nonbeing is something that we cannot actually conceptualize and, thus, cannot speak of meaningfully. Plato and Aristotle are two examples of Western philosophers who came up with different ways of resolving the issue. As we turn to Indic schools of philosophy, we encounter a colorful array of different approaches. The Upanishads gave rise to a variety of points of view, though the Advaita Vedānta school of Adi Śaṅkara has dominated the discussion over the last few centuries. Other schools represented in this survey are Sāṃkhya, Buddhism (Therāvada, Sarvāstivāda, Sautantrika, Yogācāra, and Mādhyamaka), Vaiśeṣika, and Nyāya. Unsurprisingly, each comes up with different constructs that are frequently mutually exclusive, despite efforts by some writers to look past some obvious differences that are not reconcilable. There are also some conceptual similarities with Western philosophy, but the different cultural backdrops limit the ability to easily transfer ideas from one context to the other. My method is to quote short passages from the central writings (usually the “official” sutras) and show how they fit into their particular systems.

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