• Babe Ruth: Religious Icon

      Rebecca Alpert (MDPI AG, 2019-05-01)
      Babe Ruth is a mythic figure in American baseball history. His extraordinary skills and legendary exploits are central to the idea of baseball as America’s national pastime and are woven into the fabric of American history and iconography. Much has been written about Ruth’s life, his extraordinary physical powers, and the legends that grew up around him that made him a mythic figure. The story of Babe Ruth as it has been told, however, has not included its meaning from the perspective of the study of religion and sport. This paper explores the life and legends of Babe Ruth to illustrate the significance of Ruth’s identity as a Catholic in early twentieth-century America and the fundamental connections between Ruth’s story and the Christian myth and ritual that is foundational to American civil religion.
    • Bad Religion as False Religion: An Empirical Study of UK Religious Education Teachers’ Essentialist Religious Discourse

      David R. Smith; Graeme Nixon; Jo Pearce (MDPI AG, 2018-11-01)
      We argue that there is a well-intentioned—yet mistaken—definitional turn within contemporary cultural discourse in which ‘true’ religion, being essentially loving and peaceful, is distinguished from ‘false’ religion. Concerned with the possibility that this discourse might be prevalent in school Religious Education (RE), we surveyed practicing RE teachers within the United Kingdom (UK) on their beliefs about religion. We wanted to see how far the surveyed teachers evidenced a strand of contemporary cultural discourse which, we argue, conceptualizes bad religion as false religion. Responses from 465 teachers to our online survey indicate that many RE teachers understand religion(s) as essentially benign or pro-social—and present it/them as such in the classroom. We argue that RE can only foster religious literacy if religions are presented as multifarious, complex, social phenomena. This cannot be predicated upon an essentialist conceptualization of harmful religion as false religion, which is inimical to understanding religion in the world today—as in times past. We conclude that this conceptualization is a barrier to UK RE meeting both its extrinsic purpose to educate, and one of its intrinsic purposes to foster tolerance and pro-social attitudes.
    • Bailu’s Catholicism in China: Religious Inculturation, Tourist Attraction, or Secularization

      Xianghui Liao (MDPI AG, 2021-08-01)
      My article explores how Catholicism interacts with various forces and players in the local and political arena since it migrated into Bailu, China. My argument is based on extensive fieldwork done at two seminaries and one church there. I have shown that: (1) Catholicism encountered different secular forces and survived through effective interaction with them, (2) a market-oriented economy led to the commercialization of once-authentic religious sites for tourism and economic development, and (3) the secularization of Catholicism results in a unique paradox: Catholicism’s public influence on tourism and economic development has been increasing, while its activities and church attendance have not followed synchronously. This paradox manifests itself in two facts: though the town has benefited from Catholicism’s presence, measured by religious symbols and in numbers have been gradually reduced and even removed; and though its French influence makes this town a tourist destination, the prevailing Chinese culture has not been undermined but reinforced.
    • Baptism in the Holy Spirit-and-Fire: Luke’s Implicitly Pneumatological Theory of Atonement

      Frank D. Macchia (MDPI AG, 2018-02-01)
      Historically, theologies of atonement have neglected the Holy Spirit. Luke provides us with an important canonical voice for addressing this neglect. Luke locates Christ’s salvific work within his mission to baptize all flesh in the Holy Spirit and fire. He is to occasion a “river” of the Spirit through which all must pass, either unto destruction or salvation. Christ must himself pass through this river to be the Spirit Baptizer. He must pass through the baptism of fire on the cross so as to bring others into the blessings of the Spirit.
    • Bare Feet and Sacred Ground: “Viṣṇu Was Here”

      Albertina Nugteren (MDPI AG, 2018-07-01)
      The meaning of a symbol is not intrinsic and should best be seen in relation to the symbolic order underlying it. In this article we explore the ritual complexities pertaining to the body’s most lowly and dirty part: the feet. On entering sacred ground persons are admonished to take off their footwear. In many parts of Asia pointing one’s feet in the direction of an altar, one’s teacher or one’s elders is considered disrespectful. Divine feet, however, are in many ways focal points of devotion. By reverently bowing down and touching the feet of a deity’s statue, the believer acts out a specific type of expressive performance. The core of this article consists of a closer look at ritualized behavior in front of a particular type of divine feet: the natural ‘footprint’ (viṣṇupāda) at Gayā, in the state of Bihar, India. By studying its ‘storied’ meaning we aspire to a deepened understanding of the ‘divine footprint’ in both its embodiedness and embeddedness. Through a combination of approaches—textual studies, ritual studies, ethnography—we emplace the ritual object in a setting in which regional, pan-Indian, and even cosmogonic myths are interlocked. We conclude that by an exclusive focus on a single ritual object—as encountered in a particular location—an object lesson about feet, footsteps, foot-soles, and footprints opens up a particular ‘grammar of devotion’ in terms of both absence and presence.
    • Bare Rocks and Fallen Angels: Environmental Change, Climate Perceptions and Ritual Practice in the Peruvian Andes

      Karsten Paerregaard (MDPI AG, 2013-05-01)
      One of the many dimensions of globalization is climate change that in recent years has caused much concern in the developed world. The aim of this article is to explore how people living on the margins of the global world conceive climate change. Drawing on ethnographic field data from the 1980s and today it examines how the ritual practice and the religious belief of a rural community in the Peruvian Andes has changed during the last 27 years and how the villagers perceive this change. It argues that the villagers traditionally conceive the environment as co-habited by humans and non-humans but that recent environmental change in the Andes has caused a shift in this world-view. Today, many villagers have adopted the global vocabulary on climate change and are concerned with their own impact in the environment. However, the villagers reject the idea that it is human activities in other parts of the world that cause environmental problems in their community and claim that these must be addressed locally. It suggests that even though the villagers’ reluctance to subscribe to the global discourse of climate change makes them look like the companions of climate skeptics in the developed world, their reasons are very different.
    • Be Careful, Ye Catholic: The Entanglement of Mormonism and Money in Peru

      Jason Palmer (MDPI AG, 2021-03-01)
      Globalization is not only the feverish insistence that land’s superfluity is increasing exponentially, but it is also the willful ignorance of the reality underlying that illusion: Distance has not been annihilated. Distance, and the land it spans, is more important than ever. Globalization imagines away the land’s importance because of whom it imagines to be “of the land”. This entity, indigeneity, threatens to expose the lie upon which globalization is founded. According to many people of the land surrounding the mid-Andean city of Arequipa, Peru, globalization’s promise of unidirectional wealth accumulation severs their connection to sustainable, terrestrial cyclicity. For some of these <i>arequipeños</i>, few institutions embody this existential disruption more menacingly than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Mormonism, therefore, becomes a material and mythological threat to the lifeways of their land. This article grounds the fraught, mimetic relationship between globalization and land in Peru through the lens of anti-Mormonism.
    • Be Gentle to Them: Animal Welfare and the Protection of Draft Animals in the Ottoman <i>Fatwā</i> Literature and Legislation

      Necmettin Kızılkaya (MDPI AG, 2020-10-01)
      Animal studies in the Islamic context have greatly increased in number in recent years. These studies mostly examine the subject of animal treatment through the two main sources of Islam, namely, the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad. Some studies that go beyond this examine the subject of animal treatment through the texts of various disciplines, especially that of Islamic jurisprudence and law. Although these two research approaches draw a picture on the subject of animal treatment, it is still not a full one. Other sources, such as <i>fatwā</i> books and archive documents, should be used to fill in the gaps. By incorporating these into the pool of research, we will be better enabled to understand how the principles expressed in the main sources of Islam are reflected in daily life. In this article, I shall examine animal welfare and animal protection in the Ottoman context based on the <i>fatāwā</i> of Shaykh al-Islām Ebū’s-Suʿūd Efendi and archival documents.
    • Be(com)ing a Christian Is Not a Social Identity: Kierkegaard and the Refusal of Social Roles

      Charles Djordjevic (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
      This paper examines aspects of Kierkegaard’s authorship in relation to contemporary identity politics. Specifically, it argues that several pseudonymous voices in Kierkegaard’s works and identity politics share the contention that ethics presupposes concrete practical identities in order to function. Given this, one conception of liberalism, predicated on procedural equality, is not viable. However, it also argues that other voices in Kierkegaard’s oeuvres press beyond identities and proffer a radically new way to make sense of differences and equality, one predicated on infinity.
    • Beastly Boasts and Apocalyptic Affects: Reading Revelation in a Time of Trump and a Time of Plague

      Stephen D. Moore (MDPI AG, 2020-07-01)
      Waxing “biblical,” Donald Trump has described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “plague.” In a different but related register, millions of Christians worldwide have interpreted the pandemic as one of the eschatological plagues prophesied in the Book of Revelation. This article appropriates the reading tactics of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, together with the resources of affect theory, to connect the Book of Revelation with both the Trump phenomenon and the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the article attempts to relate Revelation’s Beast to Trump (to unleash the Beast against Trump) non-eschatologically, in a non-representationalist reading strategy, and to analyze how Trump has manipulated the pandemic for his post-ideological ends.
    • “Beautiful and New”: The Logic of Complementarity in <i>Hedwig and the Angry Inch</i>

      Adam Beyt (MDPI AG, 2019-11-01)
      This article suggests that reading John Cameron Mitchell’s musical <i>Hedwig and the Angry Inch</i> as a religious classic undermines the logic of complementarity within Catholic theological anthropology, particularly the Theology of the Body of John Paul II. A religious classic, a term coined by theologian David Tracy, describes a work with an “excess of meaning” that offers hope and resistance against a normative social structure. <i>Hedwig</i> resists the hegemonic structure of sexual dimorphism, as represented by the logic of complementarity operative within the Theology of the Body. This theological anthropology proposes a normative framework for human beings as gendered and sexual agents who “complete” each other through heterosexual and monogamous marital acts, reinforcing heterosexist and transphobic bodily norms. The work of Judith Butler helps illuminate the embodied performance of gender that the musical so brilliantly subverts. <i>Hedwig</i>, while toying with gender norms, also undermines the idea of the logic of complementarity—namely, that each person has another “half” that will cause completion, bringing human flourishing. In the title character not finding a version of “completeness” by the end of the show, the musical, thus, offers hope for those who cannot fit into gendered bodily norms.
    • “Become This Whole World”: The Phenomenology of Metaphysical Religion in <i>Chāndogya Upaniṣad</i> 6–8

      Jessica Frazier (MDPI AG, 2019-06-01)
      Implicit in Heidegger’s 1920−1921 <i>Phenomenology of Religious Life</i> is an account of religion as a radical transformation of the very structures of experience. This article seeks to apply that account to a classical Indian discourse on reality and the self, <i>Chāndogya Upaniṣad</i> chapter six. This classical source-text for two thousand years of Hindu theology advocates a new ‘religious life’ achieved through phenomenologically reorienting the very structures of cognition toward the <i>broadest</i> truths of reality, rather than the finite features of the world. The goal is to create a new form of primordial subjectivity with an altered relationship to phenomena, finitude, and the divine. The article proceeds in two parts: The first section brings out Heidegger’s theory of religion through a reading of Heidegger’s 1920 <i>Phenomenology of Religious Life</i> with the help of his lectures, <i>On the Definition of Philosophy</i>, from the previous year. The second section tries to demonstrate the value of integrating traditional textual/historical scholarship in the <i>Chāndogya Upaniṣad</i> with Heidegger’s method. The juxtaposition aims to both (1) foreground the phenomenologically transformative goals of this influential Indian text, and (2) challenge Heidegger’s scepticism about the religious value of metaphysical reflection.
    • “Become This Whole World”: The Phenomenology of Metaphysical Religion in Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6–8

      Jessica Frazier (MDPI AG, 2019-06-01)
      Implicit in Heidegger’s 1920–1921 Phenomenology of Religious Life is an account of religion as a radical transformation of the very structures of experience. This article seeks to apply that account to a classical Indian discourse on reality and the self, Chāndogya Upaniṣad chapter six. This classical source-text for two thousand years of Hindu theology advocates a new ‘religious life’ achieved through phenomenologically reorienting the very structures of cognition toward the broadest truths of reality, rather than the finite features of the world. The goal is to create a new form of primordial subjectivity with an altered relationship to phenomena, finitude, and the divine. The article proceeds in two parts: The first section brings out Heidegger’s theory of religion through a reading of Heidegger’s 1920 Phenomenology of Religious Life with the help of his lectures, On the Definition of Philosophy, from the previous year. The second section tries to demonstrate the value of integrating traditional textual/historical scholarship in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad with Heidegger’s method. The juxtaposition aims to both (1) foreground the phenomenologically transformative goals of this influential Indian text, and (2) challenge Heidegger’s scepticism about the religious value of metaphysical reflection.
    • Becoming a Shaman: Narratives of Apprenticeship and Initiation in Contemporary Shamanism

      Carolina Ivanescu; Sterre Berentzen (MDPI AG, 2020-07-01)
      This article, based on an open-question survey completed in 2018, engages with McAdams and Manczak’s approaches to life stories (2015) and Mayer’s ten elements of the shaman myth (2008) to explore the way contemporary people based in the UK, who define themselves as shamans, talk about their becoming a shaman. Individual narratives point out the intricate meeting points between different shamanic traditions and the importance of continuous innovation. They highlight the complex network of human and beyond-human authority and problematize the place, meaning and agency of the self. Contemporary shamanism is a widespread, manifold and multifaceted phenomenon, which we argue is not as different from traditional forms of shamanism as some studies suggest.
    • Becoming Animal: Karma and the Animal Realm Envisioned through an Early Yogācāra Lens

      Daniel M. Stuart (MDPI AG, 2019-06-01)
      In an early discourse from the Saṃyuttanikāya, the Buddha states: “I do not see any other order of living beings so diversified as those in the animal realm. Even those beings in the animal realm have been diversified by the mind, yet the mind is even more diverse than those beings in the animal realm.” This paper explores how this key early Buddhist idea gets elaborated in various layers of Buddhist discourse during a millennium of historical development. I focus in particular on a middle period Buddhist sūtra, the Saddharmasmṛtyupasthānasūtra, which serves as a bridge between early Buddhist theories of mind and karma, and later more developed theories. This third-century South Asian Buddhist Sanskrit text on meditation practice, karma theory, and cosmology psychologizes animal behavior and places it on a spectrum with the behavior of humans and divine beings. It allows for an exploration of the conceptual interstices of Buddhist philosophy of mind and contemporary theories of embodied cognition. Exploring animal embodiments—and their karmic limitations—becomes a means to exploring all beings, an exploration that can’t be separated from the human mind among beings.
    • Becoming Ourselves: Anthropological Musings for Christian Psychologists

      Charles DeGroat (MDPI AG, 2014-03-01)
      A Christian narrative of the self provides a critique of a contemporary highly ennobled therapeutic and individualistic understanding of the self. Within a Christian anthropological narrative, the self is ennobled not in and of itself, but by virtue of its union with God. This leads theologians, both ancient and contemporary, to speak boldly about becoming fully human, and even more, becoming God. Herein, this Christian story of the self is explored, with implications for Christian psychology and its dialogue with other psychological perspectives.
    • Beggar-Thy-Neighbour vs. Danube Basin Strategy: Habsburg Economic Networks in Interwar Europe

      Andreas Weigl (MDPI AG, 2016-11-01)
      After the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire, leaders in successor states were eager to become economically independent from the former capital Vienna. They therefore quickly implemented a set of neomercantilistic measures, especially nationalization programs. Nevertheless, the 1920s saw a reestablishment of the common market in the former territories of the Habsburg Empire in terms of interregional trade and interlocking directorates, mainly because of the business strategy of international financial syndicates that were based on the traditional Viennese commercial relations with the successor states. The international credit of Jewish bankers like Louis Rothschild, Rudolf Sieghart, and Max Feilchenfeld and others mattered. After the “Big Bang” at Wall Street in 1929, the industrial holdings of the Viennese banks and the maturity problem (short-term borrowing, long-term lending) in their relations to East European debtors and Western financiers caused the Creditanstalt-crisis of 1931 and put an end to Vienna’s position as a financial hub in East Central Europe. However, even during the crisis of the 1930s, the share of the successor states in the bilateral balances of trade indicates path dependency on a smaller scale.
    • Being a Church in a Time of Violence: Peruvian Church during the Armed Internal Conflict 1980 to 2000

      Cecilia Tovar Samanez (MDPI AG, 2020-10-01)
      During the war with Shining Path (1980–2000) violence in Peru was brutal and extensive. Massive violations of human rights were common, with victims from all regions and social classes, but were particularly intense in rural areas like Ayacucho where the insurgency began. The churches supported and defended rights by providing organizational space, legal defense, publicity (through their radio networks) and by remaining among populations in danger, working with them and often sharing their fate. Important elements in the churches including leaders, priests, members of religious orders, sisters catechists, and ordinary people working through church organizations, were prominent among the victims. They were attacked both by Shining Path (who saw them as competitors) and by army and police forces, who saw their commitment to social justice and collective action as subversive. The choice to defend human rights in theory and action is rooted in a long term process of transformation in the church which drew strength and inspiration from the “option for the poor” articulated at the Catholic bishops meetings in Medellin (1968) and Puebla (1979), and in numerous statements and organizational efforts since then. The process of violence in Peru and the role of the churches is documented in the reports of the Peruvian Commission for Truth and Reconciliation and others from the Peruvian church as well from as regional and local groups.
    • Being a ‘White Muslima’ in the Netherlands Ethnicity, Friendships and Relationships—The Dutch Conversion Narrative

      Bat Sheva Hass (MDPI AG, 2020-07-01)
      This article, which is part of a larger ongoing project, examines relationships, friendships and levels of belonging in Dutch society, as well as in the Dutch Muslim community in narratives of women converted to Islam. The ethnicity of these women is always visible as ‘native Dutch’ and shapes their conversion narratives. This ethnography raises a number of questions that form the basis for the analysis presented here: How do Dutch Muslim women shape their identity in a way that is both Dutch and Muslim? Do they incorporate Dutch parameters into their Muslim identity, while at the same time weaving Islamic principles into their Dutch sense of self? The findings show how the conversion narrative can be mobilized by Dutch Muslim women to serve identity formation, levels of belonging and personal (religious) choice in the Netherlands, where Islam is largely considered by the non-Muslim population to be a religion that is oppressive and discriminatory towards women and is associated with foreignness and being the Other. It is argued that, in the context of being Dutch and Muslim, these women express their freedom of choice, which is manifested through friendships, relationships and marriages (Islamic vs. civil), while their ethnicity and conversion experience is a visible component in their identity. In so doing, these women push the limits of the archetypal Dutch identity and are able to criticize Dutch society while simultaneously stretching the meaning of Islam and being critical of Dutch Muslim communities to craft their own hybrid identity.
    • Being Christian through External Giving

      Steve Wai Lung Cheung; Khun Eng Kuah (MDPI AG, 2019-09-01)
      This study examines how Christian informants understand and practice external (charitable) giving outside of their church, both in terms of money and volunteering time and effort. While existing quantitative researches have informed us primarily about the determinants of giving in the West, we carry out a small case study in a church in an Asian city of Hong Kong to explore how local Christians understand and practice external giving. It is found that external giving is not just an obligatory religious code of conduct that the Christians are obliged to follow. More essentially, drawing reference from the concept of technology of the self, we argue that giving is an integral part of the making of the Christian self. Through giving, individual Christians redefine, transform, and enact their sacred selves in relation to God and others in the community of the faithful. At a collective level, external giving contributes to the construction of a sacred moral economy, which places Christian givers and the needy recipients in a transcendent social relationship. In this state of transcendent social relationship, the givers and recipients are all children of God, hence of equal status. As such, the secular social distinction and material hierarchy distinction between these two groups pales into insignificance. Furthermore, we argue that while secular considerations of economic rationality colour how Christians select the recipients of their giving, these practical concerns are also spiritualized and incorporated into their logic of Christian morality.