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

Recent Submissions

  • The Gender of God’s Gifts—Dividual Personhood, Spirits and the Statue of Mother Mary in a Sepik Society, Papua New Guinea

    Christiane Falck (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    A Sepik myth tells of a time in which women were in charge of powerful spirits before jealous men reversed the gender roles by force. Today, the men of Timbunmeli (Nyaura, West Iatmul) have lost control over spirits who have started to act through female bodies. Christian charismatic rituals hint at mythical times, and remind villagers that women are the original custodians of spirits now understood as being spirits of God. While previously, male bodies represented spirits in shamanic rituals and through male ritual regalia, now women are the predominant recipients of God’s gifts. This paper analyzes the current religious practices as onto-praxis in relation to the local concept of personhood and the relational ontology informing the Nyaura’s lifeworld. Building on Strathern, Bird-David, and Gell’s theories about the personhood of humans and things from an anthropology of ontology perspective and adding a gender perspective to the discussion, this paper argues that dividuality put into practice has not only informed the way the Nyaura have made charismatic Christianity their own, but is also central for understanding current events impacting gender relations in which material objects representing spirits play a crucial role.
  • The Thomistic Dissolution of the Logical Problem of Evil

    Edward Feser (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    In his book ‘Is a Good God Logically Possible?’, James Sterba argues that the existence of much of the evil to be found in the world is logically incompatible with the existence of God. I defend the Thomistic view that when one properly understands the nature of God and of his relationship to the world, this so-called logical problem of evil does not arise. While Sterba has responded to the version of the Thomistic position presented by Brian Davies, I argue that his response fails.
  • When the Gap between Academic Theology and the Church Makes Possible the Orthodox–Evangelical Dialogue

    Dănuț Jemna; Dănuț Mănăstireanu (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    In the church tradition, we find that the great theologians were also deeply involved in the life of the church as bishops, priests, or pastors who served the believers in their parishes, though, even at that time, practicing theology started to drift apart from performing pastoral work. In Modernity, however, things began to change radically, especially with the development of theology as an academic discipline and even more so with the development of the profession of the theologian specializing in religious studies. This phenomenon penetrated Protestant churches in particular, but it is also found in Orthodoxy. In this study, we advance the hypothesis that, despite its negative connotation, the gap between academic theology and church life opens up the possibility of a promising dialogue between Evangelicals and the Orthodox in Romania. Especially in the last 30 years, theologians from both communities have interacted in the context of doctoral research, scientific conferences, and research projects, although the dialogue between church leaders and hierarchs is almost non-existent. We analyze whether this incipient theological dialogue could possibly create a bridge between the two communities and within them and between academia and the church. We believe that one of the best ways to reduce the distance between them is to build on the interest of the current generation of theologians from both churches in Biblical studies, in Patristic theology, and in the work of the Romanian theologian Dumitru Stăniloae.
  • Connections of Maghrebin and Sub-Saharan Intellectuals: Trajectories and Representations

    Mansour Kedidir (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Faced with the complex reality of their countries in the grip of multifaceted crises, the intellectuals in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa are baffled. Indeed, this situation, with a wealth of lessons, ought to challenge them to reflect together on the current upheavals in their societies. Nevertheless, faced with the intricacy of current problems and their heterogeneity, these intellectuals find themselves scattered. Yet, in the past, they were bound by the same objectives. Thus, if the religious elites of the Maghreb had, during the 15th century, forged links with scholars of sub-Saharan Africa, a second wave of intellectuals succeeded them to think about the liberation of Africa and the Pan-African ideal in colonial and post-colonial contexts. However, immediately after this generation disappeared, the one that followed did not resist the disenchantment of the populations and the expansion of Arabism that influenced the formation of a generation of Maghrebin thinkers. With the bankruptcy of the socialist regimes, this hiatus heralded an era of intellectuals crumbling to the point that, with globalisation in the 21st century and the eruption of a plurality of questions, they found themselves helpless in these countries. Apart from a few attempts at building common frameworks for reflection such as those of CODESRIA or the “Esprit Panaf” pavilion at the Algiers International Book Fair, links between intellectuals from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa are rare. Opposed to this type of scholars, mainly Francophone and secularised, a second type of intellectuals, rather Islamised, sharing the same representations, dominate the different spaces of the countries concerned. This paper is an attempt to explore the historical trajectory of these two types of intellectuals and then explain why, in recent decades, such a connection has marked the future of the relationship between the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • When Yogis Become Warriors—The Embodied Spirituality of Kaḷaripayaṯṯu

    Maciej Karasinski-Sroka (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    This study examines the relationship between body and spirituality in kaḷaripayaṯṯu (kaḷarippayaṯṯu), a South Indian martial art that incorporates yogic techniques in its training regimen. The paper is based on ethnographic material gathered during my fieldwork in Kerala and interviews with practitioners of kaḷaripayaṯṯu and members of the Nāyar clans. The Nāyars of Kerala created their own martial arts that were further developed in their family gymnasia (<i>kaḷari</i>). These <i>kaḷari</i>s had their own training routines, initiations and patron deities. <i>Kaḷari</i>s were not only training grounds, but temples consecrated with daily rituals and spiritual exercises performed in the presence of masters of the art called <i>gurukkal</i>s. For <i>gurukkal</i>s, the term <i>kaḷari</i> has a broader spectrum of meaning—it denotes the threefold system of Nāyar education: Hindu doctrines, physical training, and yogico-meditative exercises. This short article investigates selected aspects of embodied spirituality in kaḷaripayaṯṯu and argues that body in <i>kaḷari</i> is not only trained but also textualized and ritualized.
  • Atheism in US and UK Newspapers: Negativity about Non-Belief and Non-Believers

    A. Maurits van der Veen; Erik Bleich (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Atheists are among the most disliked “religious” groups in the United States, but the origins of this aversion remain poorly understood. Because the media are an important source of public attitudes, we analyze coverage of atheism and atheists in American and British newspapers. Using computational text analysis techniques, including sentiment analysis and topic modeling, we show that atheism is portrayed negatively by the print media. Significantly, we show that greater negativity is associated with <i>atheism as a concept</i> than with <i>atheists as individuals</i>. Building on this insight, and challenging arguments that prominent atheist intellectuals attract negative coverage, we also find that coverage of famous atheists is actually more positive than that of atheists or atheism in general. Overall, our findings add a new dimension to scholarship on differences between individual-targeted and group-targeted tolerance in public attitudes, establishing for the first time that media coverage mirrors such differences.
  • Exploring Religions in Relation to Populism: A Tour around the World

    Ihsan Yilmaz; Nicholas Morieson; Mustafa Demir (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    This paper explores the emerging scholarship investigating the relationship between religion(s) and populism. It systematically reviews the various aspects of the phenomenon going beyond the Western world and discusses how religion and populism interact in various contexts around the globe. It looks at Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity and how in different regions and cultural contexts, they merge with populism and surface as the bases of populist appeals in the 21st century. In doing so, this paper contends that there is a scarcity of literature on this topic particularly in the non-Western and Judeo-Christian context. The paper concludes with recommendations on various gaps in the field of study of religious populism.
  • Milk, Yogurt and Butter in Medieval East Asia: Dairy Products from China to Japan in Medicine and Buddhism

    Jeffrey Kotyk (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Dairy products have existed in China from at least the Han Dynasty onward. Later, under the influence of Buddhism, dairy items such as yogurt, butter and ghee were required for ritual purposes. The domestic dairy industry in medieval China is an understudied topic, but even more so is the use of dairy in contemporary Japan, where Chinese traditions of Buddhism were transplanted in full. The <i>kanji</i> describing various dairy products were also known in Japan, but we must ask whether these substances were available in Japan, and to what extent. Unlike luxury consumables such as aromatics and medicines, perishable foodstuffs were unlikely to have been transported from the mainland. This study will document and discuss the transmission of a dairy industry from China to Japan, with a focus on the role of these products in religious and medical contexts.
  • Shamanism, Globalisation and Religion in the Contemporary Art of Said Atabekov and the Kazakh Art Collective Kyzyl Tractor

    Emina Yessekeyeva; Eric Venbrux (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Central Asia’s most famous artist Said Atabekov both interrogates and imagines religiosity in post-Soviet Kazakhstan in his art. He has been doing so as a member of the Kyzyl Tractor (Red Tractor) art collective and in his own art practice. They perform as shamans and explore the nomadic steppe culture of the days of yore. Offering a nuanced and often ironic critique of present-day developments in his art, Atabekov seeks to make his audience think about meaning making or the lack thereof. He highlights the inclusiveness of vernacular religion while simultaneously drawing attention to the vacuousness of the hegemonic ideologies of the day, ranging from communism to capitalism to dogmatic religion. From his oeuvre, we discuss works that concern a dervish shaman, the nomadic game of <i>kokpar</i> and the advent of rigid religion, respectively.
  • Catholicism and European Politics: Introducing Contemporary Dynamics

    Michael Daniel Driessen (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Recent research on political Catholicism in Europe has sought to theorize the ways in which Catholic politics, including Catholic political parties, political ideals, and political entrepreneurs, have survived and navigated in a post-secular political environment [...]
  • A Systematic Literature Review of Populism, Religion and Emotions

    Ihsan Yilmaz; Nicholas Morieson (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    This paper examines the existing literature on the relationship between religion and populism, and is intended as a starting point for further examination of the relationships between populism, religion, and emotions. This paper systematically reviews the various aspects of the populist phenomenon. After a discussion on different definitions of populism, this paper looks at how the literature discusses the causes of populism, mainly socio-economic factors and emotive factors. Then it discusses how religion and populism interact and can be divided in two broad categories of <i>religious populism</i> and <i>identitarian populism.</i> While, on the surface, the two share similarities, this paper reviews populist manifestations across the world to draw the distinct features between the two forms. Lastly, while pointing out the salient features of <i>religious populism</i> and <i>identitarian populism</i>, this study points out gaps in the research on the relationship between religious populism and other phenomena such as transnational populism, the psychology of populism, the role of emotions in creating support for populism, and populism in Western and non-Western contexts for future areas of research in the field.
  • Recovering the Irrecoverable: Blackness, Melancholy, and Duplicities That Bind

    Joseph Winters (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    In this article, I critically engage Stephen Best’s provocative text, None Like Us. The article agrees with Best’s general concerns regarding longings for a unified black community or a We before the collective crime of slavery. Yet I contend that melancholy, which Best associates with black studies’ desire to recover a lost object, can be read in a different direction, one that includes both attachment and wound, investment and dissolution. To think with and against Best, I examine Spike Lee’s School Daze in conversation with Freud, Benjamin, and Morrison.
  • The Hybrid Researcher: Entering the Field, Ethnography and Research among Dutch Muslim Women from 2009 to 2019

    Bat sheva Hass (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    This paper focuses on ethnography among Dutch Muslim women who chose to practice Islam (whether they were born Muslim, known as ‘Newly practicing Muslims,’ or they chose to convert, known as ‘New Muslims’), which is often considered by the native Dutch population as a religion oppressive to women. This paper is part of a larger project that seeks to understand how these Dutch Muslim women build their identity in a way that it is both Dutch and Muslim, whether or not they mix Dutch parameters in their Muslim identity, while at the same time intersplicing Islamic principles in their Dutch senses of self. This study is based on an annual ethnography conducted in the city of Amsterdam from September 2009 to October 2019, that combines insights taken from in-depth interviews with Dutch Muslimas, observations in gatherings for Quranic and Religious studies, observations in a mosque located in a block of neighborhoods with a high percentage of immigrant and Muslim populations, and one-time events occurring during special times (i.e., Ramadan, the summer, Christmas, and the Burka Ban). This paper has a special focus on the ethnography and the positionality of the author as a researcher who is both an insider and outsider in this specific field and her subjective experiences that could be methodologically relevant for other scholars and ethnographers. This paper will explore the techniques that helped the author enter the field, collect data for this ethnography and the construction of knowledge in this specific field, including the insider–outsider axis, code switching, emotions and assumptions in the field and positionality, which will all be explained in detail. This paper takes the reader on the journey of entering the field and shows them the various techniques that were used to enter the field in order to build report and trust between the researcher and the participants in this study.
  • Is an Integrative Model of Neurotheology Possible?

    Leandro M. Gaitan; Javier S. Castresana (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    This article examines the basic and dialogical models of neurotheology and suggests a third model based on the work of Aldous Huxley. In other words, this proposal is not limited to understanding this discipline as a mere pursuit of neural correlates or as a dialogue between neuroscience and theology. Instead, it is the search for an integrative understanding of religious experiences in which the study of neuronal correlates is only one of the multilevels to be integrated within the framework of a plural and conveniently articulated explanation of such phenomena. This model, which we call integrative neurotheology, hopes to achieve knowledge of religious experiences that includes a comprehensive range of disciplines. In order to update and give argumentative consistency to this model, we will use philosopher Sandra D. Mitchell’s theory of integrative pluralism, which is a more epistemologically refined expression of Huxley’s intuitions. We conclude that a comprehensive model is feasible although we are aware that this article cannot give answers to all the difficulties that this model possesses. Nevertheless, we expect to open up a new pathway in the studies of religious experience.
  • Silent Accord: <i>Qi </i>契 as a Metaphor for Enlightenment and Transmission in Chan Buddhist Discourse

    Aleksi Järvelä; Tero Tähtinen (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    In this paper, we explore the historical background and the semantic underpinnings of a central, if marginally treated, metaphor of enlightenment and transmission in Chan discourse, “silent accord” 默契. It features centrally in <i>Essentials of the Transmission of Mind </i>傳心法要, a text that gathers the teachings of Chan master Huangbo Xiyun (d. ca. 850), a major Tang dynasty figure. “Silent accord” is related to the concept of mind-to-mind transmission, which lies at the very core of Chan Buddhist self-understanding. However, Chan historiography has shown that this self-understanding was partially a product of the Song dynasty lineage records, historically retroactive syncretic constructs produced by monks and literati as efforts towards doctrinal and political recognition and orthodoxy. There are thus lacunae in the history of Chan thought opened up by the retrospective fictions of Song dynasty, and a lack of reliable, dateable documents from the preceding Tang dynasty era, possibly fraught with later additions. We situate the metaphor “silent accord” in the history of Chan thought by searching for its origins, mapping its functions in Chan literature, arguing for its influence and thereby its role in helping to bridge the 9th century gap.
  • Robots, Extinction, and Salvation: On Altruism in Human–Posthuman Interactions

    Juraj Odorčák; Pavlína Bakošová (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Posthumanism and transhumanism are philosophies that envision possible relations between humans and posthumans. Critical versions of posthumanism and transhumanism examine the idea of potential threats involved in human–posthuman interactions (i.e., species extinction, species domination, AI takeover) and propose precautionary measures against these threats by elaborating protocols for the prosocial use of technology. Critics of these philosophies usually argue against the reality of the threats or dispute the feasibility of the proposed measures. We take this debate back to its modern roots. The play that gave the world the term “robot” (<i>R.U.R.: Rossum’s Universal Robots</i>) is nowadays remembered mostly as a particular instance of an absurd apocalyptic vision about the doom of the human species through technology. However, we demonstrate that Karel Čapek assumed that a negative interpretation of human–posthuman interactions emerges mainly from the human inability to think clearly about extinction, spirituality, and technology. We propose that the conflictual interpretation of human–posthuman interactions can be overcome by embracing Čapek’s religiously and philosophically-inspired theory of altruism remediated by technology. We argue that this reinterpretation of altruism may strengthen the case for a more positive outlook on human–posthuman interactions.
  • Sexuality and Affection in the Time of Technological Innovation: Artificial Partners in the Japanese Context

    Beatriz Yumi Aoki; Takeshi Kimura (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Recent years have witnessed an increase in the number of academic studies on the impact of technological advancements on human life, including possible transformations and changes in human sexuality following the development of sex-related devices, such as sex robots. In this context, terms such as posthuman sexuality, digisexuality, and techno-sexuality have emerged, signaling possible new understandings of sexual, intimacy, and emotional practices. It is important to note that ancient history shows that humankind has for a long time been fascinated with their relationship to non-living things, mostly human-like figures, such as dolls. The Ningyo (人形, the Japanese term for doll) has a long history of usage, and has deep religious and animistic significance in the Japanese context—there are records of sexual use as early as the 18th century. With this context in mind, this paper focuses on three Japanese examples, aiming to shine a light on beyond-human relationships, which include a Japanese man’s marriage to a digital character, sex dolls, and communicative robots, from both a sexual and emotional perspective. In a new horizon of sexual and romantic possibilities, how will humans respond, and what can emerge from these interactions?
  • Nationalist Mobilization, Ethno-Religious Contention, and Legal Innovation in a Stateless Nation: Explaining Catalonia’s 2009 “Law on Centers of Worship”

    Avi Astor (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    This article analyzes the development and framing of Catalonia’s “Law on Centers of Worship”, an innovative law dedicated exclusively to the regulation of religious temples that was passed by the regional parliament in 2009. The law was a legal novelty in Spain, as well as in Europe, where regulations pertaining to places of worship are typically folded into regional or municipal laws and ordinances dealing with zoning and construction. This analysis highlights how the law aimed not only to address the challenges generated by the proliferation of places of worship serving religious minorities, but also to legally reinforce and symbolically affirm Catalonia’s political autonomy and cultural distinctiveness vis-à-vis Spain. I place particular emphasis on how the temporal confluence of heightened nationalist mobilization, on the one hand, and tensions surrounding ethno-religious diversification, on the other, contributed to the development of a legal innovation that integrated the governance of religious diversity within the broader nation-building project. The findings illustrate the role of historical timing and conjunctural causality in shaping the dynamic nexus between religion, law, and politics.
  • The Loss of Self-Dignity and Anger among Polish Young Adults: The Moderating Role of Religiosity

    Wojciech Rodzeń; Małgorzata Maria Kulik; Agnieszka Malinowska; Zdzisław Kroplewski; Małgorzata Szcześniak (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Does the way we think or feel about ourselves have an impact on our anger-based reactions? Is the direction and strength of this relationship direct, or affected by other factors as well? Given that there is a lack of research on the loss of self-dignity and anger, the first aim of the present study consisted in examining whether or not there is a connection between both variables, with particular emphasis on early adulthood. The second purpose was to explore the moderating role of religiosity on the relationship between loss of self-dignity and anger. Methods: Data were gathered from 462 participants aged 18 to 35. The main methods applied were the Questionnaire of Sense of Self-Dignity, Buss–Perry Aggression Questionnaire, and Religious Meaning System Questionnaire. The results show a statistically significant positive correlation between loss of self-dignity and anger, a negative correlation between religiosity and anger, and no significant association between the loss of self-dignity and religiosity. However, all other dimensions of the sense of self-dignity correlated positively with religiosity. Our findings also confirm that the level of anger resulting from the loss of self-dignity is significantly lower as the level of religiosity increases. Such outcomes seem to support the conception that religiosity may act as a protective factor between the risk (loss of self-dignity) and the outcome factor (anger).
  • A Divine Rebellion: Indigenous Sacraments among Global “Lamanites”

    Daniel Hernandez (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    This essay engages with some of the experiences and metaphysics of Indigenous peoples who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism/LDS/the Church) by responding to their structural construction as “Lamanites”. Lamanites have been interpreted within Mormonism to be ancestors of various global Indigenous peoples of the “Americas” and “Polynesia”. This essay reveals how contemporary Indigenous agency by presumed descendants of the Lamanites, who embrace both an Indigenous and a Mormon identity, shifts the cosmology of the Church. Interpretations of <i>The</i><i>Book of Mormon</i> that empower contemporary Indigenous agency paradoxically materialize a divinely inspired cultural rebellion within the Church itself. However, this tension that is mediated by Lamanites in the Church is not framed as an exclusive response to the Church itself but, rather, to a larger global hegemony of coloniality to which the Church is subject. These Lamanite worldviews can be understood as a process of restoring ancestral Indigenous sacraments (rituals) through Mormon paradigms, which are found and nurtured in the cracks and fissures of both the material and ontological infrastructure of Mormonism’s dominant paradigm. When Indigenous Mormons assert autonomous authorship of their own cosmogony and metaphysics, the Church beliefs of restoring a ‘primitive Christian church’ and ‘becoming Gods’ is creatively transformed into a more relevant and liberating possibility here and now.

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