• A Biblical Poetics for Filmmakers

      Dennis Packard; Preston Campbell; Jason McDonald (MDPI AG, 2014-06-01)
      In this paper, we present a poetics, or guide manual, for making narrative films that resemble biblical narratives. It is similar to Aristotle’s Poetics, only his was for creating drama (though it is of course often used for film now) and was based on Greek dramas and epics. Our poetics is specifically for making films and is based on an even more ancient body of narratives—the Hebrew Bible. In articulating a biblical poetics for filmmakers, we draw heavily on the work of a few of the many biblical-narrative scholars of the last half-century, who draw in turn from the even more extensive research that has been done on narrative theory in general. Our project is one that Aristotle might have undertaken if he had read the Bible and its commentators and known about film.
    • A Claim Forfeiting Its Own Right. Why Job Got It Wrong—and Why This Matters for the Rationality of Religion

      Heiko Schulz (MDPI AG, 2019-03-01)
      The article aims to uncover a deep ambivalence in the figure of Job, as it is presented in the book of the same title, especially in the latter’s “poetry” or dialogue section. This ambivalence corresponds to and in fact emerges from what appears to be a pragmatic paradox: Job is in the wrong (i.e., guilty) in relation to God, precisely by claiming to be right (i.e., innocent); conversely, he can be and must be considered right, if and to the extent that he honestly renounces the latter claim. Accordingly, he cannot both be right (or wrong) and claim to be right or (or wrong)—a special case of what is observed, within epistemology, as an incompatibility of truth and assertibility conditions. In the present text, this core thesis is developed in four steps: the first introduces and briefly contextualizes the claim; the second tries to demonstrate that it provides at least sufficient means for making narrative sense of the book as a whole and, in particular, the controversy between Job and his friends; a third paragraph tackles the (philosophical and/or theological) presuppositions and implications of the thesis from a Christian standpoint, whereas the conclusion addresses the question of if and how the previous findings bear upon the rationality issue. Here, a final paradox emerges: that which would appear to be most rational from a Christian perspective (the task of sin consciousness) must be deemed humanly impossible to fulfill; considering the latter possible renders the task futile, hence irrational.
    • A Cognitive Approach to Tantric Language

      Sthaneshwar Timalsina (MDPI AG, 2016-11-01)
      By applying the contemporary theories of schema, metonymy, metaphor, and conceptual blending, I argue in this paper that salient cognitive categories facilitate a deeper analysis of Tantric language. Tantras use a wide range of symbolic language expressed in terms of mantric speech and visual maṇḍalas, and Tantric texts relate the process of deciphering meaning with the surge of mystical experience. In this essay, I will focus on some distinctive varieties of Tantric language with a conviction that select cognitive tools facilitate coherent reading of these expressions. Mystical language broadly utilizes images and metaphors. Deciphering Tantric language should therefore also provide a framework for reading other varieties of mystical expressions across cultures.
    • A Cognitive Science View of Abhinavagupta’s Understanding of Consciousness

      Loriliai Biernacki (MDPI AG, 2014-08-01)
      This paper offers a comparative analysis of the nature of consciousness correlating the insights of the 11th century Śaiva philosopher Abhinavagupta with the work of some contemporary philosophers of consciousness. Ultimately these comparisons especially bring to light possibilities for constructing a materialist paradigm that might operate from a prioritization of subjectivity rather than objectivity. I propose that the Hindu, nondual Śaivite system that Abhinavagupta lays out offers a framework that may be useful for contemporary cognitive science and philosophy of mind precisely because Abhinavagupta offers a theory for connecting the material with the phenomenal.
    • A Commentary on Michael King. “The Challenge of Research into Religion and Spirituality.” Journal for the Study of Spirituality 4 (2014): 106–20

      Fiona Timmins; Sílvia Caldeira; Margaret Theresa Naughton; Sotirios Plakas; Harold G. Koenig (MDPI AG, 2016-04-01)
      King’s publication based on a key note presentation at the 2014 British Association of the Study of Spirituality (BASS) conference, a well written and thought provoking paper, leads us to consider the contribution of this critique of spirituality research to contemporary debates on the topic The views expressed within the paper are important and foster debate about the validity of research in the field of spirituality and religion. However, at the same time, this debate is reminiscent of the negative responses sometimes expressed about research publications in this field. At the same time, it must be recognised that there is a view held that there is an extra yard stick required for researchers in this field, who can be subjected to much higher standards and expectations than other researchers simply because of the topic and the deep seated conflicting views that advocates and critics hold. This paper considers the merits and challenges of this paper in light of this.
    • A Comparative Survey Study on Meaning-Making Coping among Cancer Patients in Turkey

      Önver A. Cetrez; Fereshteh Ahmadi; Pelin Erbil (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
      (1) Background: The role of culture in secular, spiritual, and religious coping methods is important, but needs more attention in research. The aim has been to (1) investigate the meaning-making coping methods among cancer patients in Turkey and (2) whether there were differences in two separate samples (compared to Study 2, Study 1 had a younger age group, was more educated, and grew up in a big city), (3) paying specific attention to gender, age, education, and area of residence. (2) Methods: Quantitative study using a convenience sampling in two time periods, Study 1 (<i>n </i>= 94) and Study 2 (<i>n </i>= 57). (3) Results: In Study 2, there is a significant increase in several religious and spiritual coping strategies. Additionally, there is a positive correlation between being a woman and using more religious or spiritual coping strategies. Secular meaning-making coping strategies also increase significantly in Study 2. The results confirmed the hypotheses for gender, educational, and age differences in seeking support from religious leaders. The results also confirmed the hypotheses for gender and educational level in a punishing God reappraisal and demonic reappraisal. (4) Conclusions: As Turkey is a country at the junction of strong religiosity and deep-rooted secularism, dividing up the meaning-making coping methods into the religious and spiritual, on one hand, and the secular, on the other, reveals interesting results.
    • A Concept Analysis of Spiritual Care Based on Islamic Sources

      Rahmatollah Marzband; Seyed Hamzeh Hosseini; Zeinab Hamzehgardeshi (MDPI AG, 2016-05-01)
      The cultural and religious resources of every community influence the definition of spiritual care. This paper discusses a concept analysis of spiritual care in an Islamic context. The Quran, narrations (Shie’h) and commentarial books were searched, for information data. The data was used to provide a comprehensive definition of the concept of spiritual care from Islamic literature. We identified the attributes, antecedents and consequences of spiritual care according to Roger’s concept analysis approach. The review of the Islamic text showed that spiritual care is a series of spiritual skills or competencies that help patients to achieve excellent life. It is grouped into categories and has numerous positive effects on patients and caregivers. This study will be useful to Muslim clinicians and nurse educators as they strive to understand and incorporate spiritual care within their practice for Muslim patients.
    • A Context-Grounded Approach to Religious Freedom: The Case of Orthodoxy in the Moldovan Republic

      Davide N. Carnevale (MDPI AG, 2019-05-01)
      This paper explores the relationship between human rights and social analysis within the main historical and theoretical perspectives adopted by social sciences. In particular, religious freedom will be analysed as one of the central issues in the recent engagement of the social sciences with human rights. After examining current narratives and mainstream approaches of the social sciences towards the right to religious freedom, this article will then underline the importance of a social epistemology which goes beyond a normative and legal perspective, bridging the gap between the framework of human rights and the social roles of religion in context. Within this framework, religious freedom represents a social construct, whose perception, definition and implementation dynamically evolves according to its influence, at different levels, in the lived dimension of social relations. The second part of the article proposes a context-grounded analysis of religious freedom in the Republic of Moldova. This case study is characterised by the impressive growth of Orthodoxy after the demise of the Soviet Union and by a complex and contradictory political approach towards religious freedom, both as a legal standard and as a concept. Emerging through the analysis of local political narratives and some preliminary ethnographical observations, the social importance of religion will be investigated both as a governmental instrument and as an embodied means of dealing with widespread socio-economic insecurity, creating tensions between religious rootedness and religious freedom. The local debate on religious freedom will then be related to the influence of geopolitical borders, the topic of traditional identity and the religious form of adaptation to the ineffectiveness of the new secular local policies, with orthodox institutions and parishes having new socio-political roles at both a global and local scale.
    • A Contribution to Comparative Theology: Probing the Depth of Islamic Thought

      Mouhanad Khorchide; Ufuk Topkara (MDPI AG, 2013-01-01)
      Muslim theologians, as much as ordinary Muslims, will immediately agree with the characterization of God as all compassionate. However, it remains rather opaque how God’s compassion can be fully explained in terms of comparative theology. How can Muslims relate to God’s compassion? What role does God’s compassion precisely play in the Quranic revelation and the daily practice of Muslims?
    • A Cristo moreno in Barcelona: The Staging of Identity-Based Unity and Difference in the Procession of the Lord of Miracles

      M. Esther Fernandez-Mostaza; Wilson Muñoz Henriquez (MDPI AG, 2018-04-01)
      The procession known as “Lord of Miracles” is a massive religious phenomenon that takes place in various cities around the world in October. The purpose of this study is to describe and analyze certain elements of the procession, which champion not only the idea of unity (religious, cultural, ethnical, and national), but also the sociocultural differences. With this in mind, we conducted ethnographical research focused on the processions that took place in Barcelona, Spain, in 2016 and 2017. Along with a number of practices and talks intended to activate and strengthen the image of religious unity (Brothers in Christ) and national unity (Brothers of Peru), there are certain dynamics that point to differences, which call that unity into question. Specifically, we focused our study on two seasons of the procession: the scissors dance and the Marian, both dances for the Lord. However, the type of interaction that happens with each of them shows inner differences, which the members establish with the image of the Cristo moreno. These differences are expressed in the special-temporal location of certain stations—which represent subordinate sociocultural manifestations—and in the type of interaction, which the members establish with the image of the Cristo moreno.
    • A Critical Evaluation of Religious Education in Korea

      Chae Young Kim (MDPI AG, 2018-11-01)
      This essay will discuss the general orientation of Korean religious education and some of the problematic issues that are related to its position within the current Korean educational systems. It will focus especially on four critical aspects pertaining to religious education as found today in the Republic of Korea (we will not consider the situation of religious education in North Korea because it is so difficult to get accurate information). The first section will begin to identify the contemporary ‘communicational dilemma’ of religious education in Korea and its roots in the lack of a proper understanding of religious education from a non-confessional academic perspective. The second section will place the problem in the context of Korean religious demography as it pertains to the necessity of religious education and the conventional image of religious education within schools. The third section will enumerate a number of critical issues and analyze their impact on the direction of religious education policy since the establishment of the government’s equalization educational policy in 1969. The fourth section will critically examine a number of constitutional issues as they bear on the question of where compulsion exists in current religious education.
    • A Day in the Life of an Aesthetic Tāntrika: From Synaesthetic Garden to Lucid Dreaming and Spaciousness

      Kerry Martin Skora (MDPI AG, 2018-03-01)
      This essay addresses the question of the relationship between Aesthetics and Tantra, in the world-view and life-world of Hindu Tantric visionary Abhinavagupta (ca. 975–1025 C.E.) and his tradition. I respond to a classic work on Abhinavagupta’s understanding of aesthetic experience and religious experience by shifting the focus from ultimate experience to the life of a liberated being. I argue that Abhinavagupta’s blending of Aesthetics and Tantra naturally follows from his view of liberation, which re-integrates the body and senses into the religious life, and affirms the reality of the material world in which the liberated being is embedded. I recover the very humanness and boundedness of Abhinavagupta as an additional way of understanding liberation. I draw on hymns of praise, descriptions of ritual, thoughts on hermeneutics of Being, and complex metaphors, from Abhinavagupta’s tradition, and engage with various thinkers, including Performance Theorist Richard Schechner and neurologist James Austin, to flesh out complex metaphors depicting the relationship between consciousness and the world. I conclude by reflecting on similarities between the Trika model of Self, as interpreted by Abhinavagupta’s student Kṣemarāja, and lucid dreaming.
    • A Deep-Language Mathematical Analysis of Gospels, Acts and Revelation

      Emilio Matricciani; Liberato De Caro (MDPI AG, 2019-04-01)
      The paper aims at casting some light on the interrelations among the Gospels, Acts and Revelation. We do not consider words ranking and their frequency of occurrence, as largely done in the literature, but we analyze, statistically, some mathematical aspects of the texts, which the authors were not conscious of. We use mathematical methods developed for specifically studying deep-language parameters of literary texts, such as the number of words per sentence, the number of characters per word, the number of words per interpunctions, the number of interpunctions per sentence, all very likely peculiar to the writer’s style, after having recalled the punctuation in classical languages. First, we consider the full texts of the canonical Gospels, Acts and Revelation, then the partial texts attributable to the Triple Tradition (Matthew, Mark and Luke), to the Double Tradition (Matthew and Luke), Own Tradition (Matthew and Luke) and Q source. The mathematical/statistical tool used confirms and reinforces some general results concerning the Gospels, Acts, Revelation and Q source, but also evidences some interesting differences concerning the number of words per sentence and words per interpunctions, likely casting some light on the capacity of the short-term memory of the readers/listeners of these texts. All these New Testament writings fit very well in the larger Greek literature of the time. The existence of a proto gospel seems more probable than other possible hypotheses.
    • A European (German) View on Comparative Theology: Dialogue with My Own Past

      Ulrich Dehn (MDPI AG, 2012-11-01)
      For the last couple of years, particularly after the publication of the (German) book “Comparative Theology” by Bernhold Reinhardt and Klaus von Stosch, there was a significant attentiveness of this subject amongst German scholars. For many, it was the long anticipated antithesis/alternative to the pluralist theology of religions, even if it had not been devised explicitly to serve as such an alternative. For others, it has been an appropriate way to express their desire for a substantial interreligious dialogue in a theologically responsible way. This paper tries to review some of the major German contributions (being read alongside international ones) and reactions to Comparative Theology and to search for the motive behind its sudden popularity in some circles. It will also try to reconstruct the possibilities for Comparative Theology within the wider setting of the process and development of religious traditions as they grow and change in never-ending interaction and communication within the history of religions, ideas and society.
    • A Feasibility Study of Taste & See: A Church Based Programme to Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food

      Riya Patel; Deborah Lycett; Anne Coufopoulos; Andy Turner (MDPI AG, 2017-02-01)
      Holistic approaches which include a religious element are a promising intervention within obesity, but have not been explored in the UK. Objective: To conduct a feasibility study of a three-month, Christian-based intuitive-eating programme in a church. Methods: A total of 18 adults participated. Ethical approval was granted by Coventry University Ethics Committee. Participant and facilitator experience was investigated qualitatively. Results showed participants accepted the programme and engaged well with its spiritual component. Lay facilitators managed to adequately run the programme, although some difficulties identified training needs. Clinical, psychological and spiritual measures were analysed using intention to treat; baseline observation carried forward to input missing data. Mental well-being, anxiety, depression, quality of life, pain/discomfort uncontrolled-eating, emotional-eating, cognitive-restrained-eating, intuitive-eating and Body Mass Index (BMI) improved significantly post-intervention. There were improvements in spiritual well-being, and reductions in energy, fat and saturated fat intake. Between the end of the intervention and a six-month follow-up, there were no statistically significant changes. However, the extent that weight and BMI returned to baseline levels meant that the reduction from baseline was no longer significant or clinically important. Mean changes in other variables, including uncontrolled eating, emotional eating, mental well-being and anxiety remained statistically improved from baseline. At six-month follow-up, improvements in intuitive eating were fully sustained at this time point and total fat, saturated fat and sugar intake had reduced further even though these values did not reach statistical significance. Conclusion: It is feasible to recruit to, deliver and evaluate Taste & See in a UK church, with lay volunteers. Clinical outcomes were positive, but a larger, controlled study is needed.
    • A Feasibility Study of Taste & See: A Church Based Programme to Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food

      Riya Patel; Deborah Lycett; Anne Coufopoulos; Andy Turner (MDPI AG, 2017-02-01)
      Holistic approaches which include a religious element are a promising intervention within obesity, but have not been explored in the UK. Objective: To conduct a feasibility study of a three-month, Christian-based intuitive-eating programme in a church. Methods: A total of 18 adults participated. Ethical approval was granted by Coventry University Ethics Committee. Participant and facilitator experience was investigated qualitatively. Results showed participants accepted the programme and engaged well with its spiritual component. Lay facilitators managed to adequately run the programme, although some difficulties identified training needs. Clinical, psychological and spiritual measures were analysed using intention to treat; baseline observation carried forward to input missing data. Mental well-being, anxiety, depression, quality of life, pain/discomfort uncontrolled-eating, emotional-eating, cognitive-restrained-eating, intuitive-eating and Body Mass Index (BMI) improved significantly post-intervention. There were improvements in spiritual well-being, and reductions in energy, fat and saturated fat intake. Between the end of the intervention and a six-month follow-up, there were no statistically significant changes. However, the extent that weight and BMI returned to baseline levels meant that the reduction from baseline was no longer significant or clinically important. Mean changes in other variables, including uncontrolled eating, emotional eating, mental well-being and anxiety remained statistically improved from baseline. At six-month follow-up, improvements in intuitive eating were fully sustained at this time point and total fat, saturated fat and sugar intake had reduced further even though these values did not reach statistical significance. Conclusion: It is feasible to recruit to, deliver and evaluate Taste & See in a UK church, with lay volunteers. Clinical outcomes were positive, but a larger, controlled study is needed.
    • A Flexible Indeterminate Theory of Religion: Thinking through Chinese Religious Phenomena

      Tak-ling Terry Woo (MDPI AG, 2019-07-01)
      This essay explores a few of the reasons for the failure of Western theories to capture Chinese religious experiences. It will include Durkheim’s insight that “The sacred … is society in disguised form” and variants of secularization theories in contrast to Confucian ones, especially Xunzi’s theory about ritual, read as representative of religion. This article will examine the impossibility of asserting a straightforward claim, without exception, that could capture the three thousand years of historical and contemporary diversity manifested by the three institutional religions (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism), the continuous formation of popular religious movements, ever developing sectarian groups, and pan-Chinese quasi-religious practices like ancestor veneration, divination, healing practices and the like. The study will start by looking at variable categories used in the study of different religions, the similarities in assumptions among the three institutional religions such as the “good” and self-cultivation, and the central place of secularization theory in the contemporary study of Chinese religions. A theoretical orientation of both flexibility and indeterminacy is suggested based on indigenous ideas.
    • “A Fourfold Vision: Nature Religion and the Wages of Scientism in Ursula K. Le Guin’s ‘Newton’s Sleep’”

      Catherine L. Newell (MDPI AG, 2018-09-01)
      Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1991 short story ‘Newton’s Sleep’ begins in a utopic society that escaped the environmental and social calamity of a near-future Earth and created an enlightened culture on a space station. The group, led by a scientific elite, pride themselves on eradicating the irrational prejudices and unempirical mentality that hamstringed Earth; but chaos blossoms as the society struggles with the reappearance of religious intolerance, and becomes confused by an outbreak of mass hallucinations of the Earth they left behind. This narrative trope of the necessity of nature for the survival of humanity—physically, mentally, and spiritually—represents a new and relatively common allegory in contemporary science fiction in an era distinguished by separation from the natural world.
    • A Glossary of New Testament Narrative Criticism with Illustrations

      James L. Resseguie (MDPI AG, 2019-03-01)
      This is the first stand-alone glossary of New Testament narrative-critical terms in the English language. It is an alphabetical listing of prominent terms, concepts, and techniques of narrative criticism with illustrations and cross-references. Commonly used terms are defined and illustrated, these include character, characterization, double entendre, misunderstanding, implied author, implied reader, irony, narrator, point of view, plot, rhetoric, and other constitutive elements of a narrative. Lesser-known terms and concepts are also defined, such as carnivalesque, composite character, defamiliarization, fabula, syuzhet, hybrid character, MacGuffin, masterplot, primacy/recency effect, and type-scene. Major disciplines—for example, narratology, New Criticism, and reader-response criticism—are explained with glances at prominent literary critics/theorists, such as Aristotle, Mikhail Bakhtin, Wayne Booth, Seymour Chatman, Stanley Fish, E. M. Forster, Gérard Genette, Wolfgang Iser, and Susan Sniader Lanser.
    • A Jewish America and a Protestant Civil Religion: Will Herberg, Robert Bellah, and Mid-Twentieth Century American Religion

      Ronit Y. Stahl (MDPI AG, 2015-04-01)
      This essay reads Will Herberg’s Protestant-Catholic-Jew alongside Robert Bellah’s “Civil Religion in America” to illuminate how mid-century thinkers constructed, rather than merely observed, a vision of, and for, American religion. Placing Herberg in direct conversation with Bellah illuminates why Herberg’s religious triptych depiction of America endured while his argument for an “American Way of Life”—the prototype for Bellah’s widely accepted idea of civil religion—flailed. Although Herberg’s “American Way of Life” and Bellah’s “Civil Religion” resemble one another as systems built on but distinct from faith traditions, they emerged from intellectual struggles with two distinct issues. Herberg’s work stemmed from the challenges wrought by ethnic and religious diversity in America, while Bellah wrote out of frustration with Cold War conformity. Both men used civil religion to critique American complacency, but Herberg agonized over trite formulations of faith while Bellah derided uncritical affirmations of patriotism. Bellah’s civil religion co-existed with and, more importantly, contained Herberg’s “Protestant-Catholic-Jew” triad and obscured the American Way of Life. In an increasingly diverse and divisive America, Bellah’s civil religion provided a more optimistic template for national self-critique, even as Herberg’s American Way of Life more accurately described the limits of national self-understanding.