• Dabo Swinney, Universal Whiteness, and a “Sin Problem”

      Jeffrey Scholes (MDPI AG, 2020-04-01)
      Clemson University head football coach Dabo Swinney was asked to respond to Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police killings of unarmed black men and women by kneeling for the national anthem. Swinney’s response was surprisingly comprehensive and illuminating into his stance on race, religion, and sport. He crystallizes his overall interpretation of societal problems with the statement, “It’s so easy to say we have a race problem, but we got a sin problem.” In this essay, I examine “whiteness” as that which endows whites with a kind of universal authority to establish norms as well as provide a protective cloak of invisibility that effectively hides the identity of those constructing the norms. I argue that Swinney’s unconscious display of his own whiteness coupled with the additional cloak of universal sin, that purportedly knows no color, serves to downplay and dismiss Kaepernick’s call for racial justice.
    • Dalit Theology and Indian Christian History in Dialogue: Constructive and Practical Possibilities

      Andrew Ronnevik (MDPI AG, 2021-03-01)
      In this article, I consider how an integration of Dalit theology and Indian Christian history could help Dalit theologians in their efforts to connect more deeply with the lived realities of today’s Dalit Christians. Drawing from the foundational work of such scholars as James Massey and John C. B. Webster, I argue for and begin a deeper and more comprehensive Dalit reading and theological analysis of the history of Christianity and mission in India. My explorations—touching on India’s Thomas/Syrian, Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal traditions—reveal the persistence and complexity of caste oppression throughout Christian history in India, and they simultaneously draw attention to over-looked, empowering, and liberative resources that are bound to Dalit Christians lives, both past and present. More broadly, I suggest that historians and theologians in a variety of contexts—not just in India—can benefit from blurring the lines between their disciplines.
    • Dark of the World, Shine on Us: The Redemption of Blackness in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther

      George Faithful (MDPI AG, 2018-10-01)
      Directed by Ryan Coogler, the film Black Panther portrays the heroes of the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda as godlike. They possess otherworldly sophistication by virtue of their blackness, in contrast to longstanding tendencies in mainstream film toward tokenism, stereotyping, and victimhood in depictions of people of African descent. The superhero the Black Panther, a.k.a. King T’Challa, learns to stand in solidarity with the oppressed, even those in whose oppression he has been unwittingly complicit, such as the children of the African diaspora. As a result, the film can function as catalyst for reflection on the part of viewers in terms of how they might perceive more clearly the complexity, variety, and ambiguity represented by blackness, whether others’ or their own, and how they, too, might identify with the Other.
    • Dazzling Displays and Hidden Departures: Bodhisattva Pedagogy as Performance in the Biographies of Two Twentieth Century Tibetan Buddhist Masters

      Annabella Pitkin (MDPI AG, 2017-09-01)
      This article, part of a special issue on pedagogy and performance in Tibetan Buddhism, explores two closely-related yet apparently opposite Tibetan repertoires of virtuoso Buddhist mastery as sites of performative pedagogy. One of these modes of Buddhist mastery is connected with the ideal virtuoso figure of the yogic siddha, or druptop (Tib. grub thob), and with remarkable manifestations of yogic prowess (what are sometimes called yogic “miracles” in English). The other mode is connected with the ideal of renunciation, and the Tibetan Buddhist virtuoso figure of the renunciant hermit-wanderer, or chatralwa (Tib. bya bral ba). In Indic and Tibetan literature, both of these repertoires of Buddhist mastery are classically associated with a bodhisattva’s teaching activity in the world, and with a bodhisattva’s use of many kinds of skillful means (Skt. upāya; Tib. thabs) to develop individuals on the Buddhist path. (A bodhisattva, in Mahayana Buddhist terms, is someone who has vowed to achieve Buddhahood to benefit others.) I explore how these related modes of virtuoso pedagogical performance emerge in oral and textual life stories of two notable twentieth-century Tibetan masters. These modes of virtuoso Buddhist pedagogy and Tibetan ways of talking about them challenge our understandings of what it means to “perform” and what it means to “renounce,” with renunciation emerging as a guarantor of the genuineness of someone’s altruism.
    • Deaf Liberation Theology and Social Justice

      Hannah Lewis (MDPI AG, 2017-10-01)
      Deaf Liberation Theology is a branch of theology that has been developed over the past twenty years, with the book Deaf Liberation Theology published by Ashgate in 2007 (Lewis 2007) as a focal point of this development. This article briefly looks at the roots of Deaf Liberation Theology in both the concept of Deaf people as an oppressed linguistic minority and the principles of Liberation theology as an engaged contextual theology using the methodology of the hermeneutical circle. It then seeks to examine the impact of Deaf Liberation Theology in practice over the past decade, in particular the impact especially through increasing self-confidence and self-esteem so that deaf people themselves feel empowered to work for social justice. It will use personal reflections by a number of deaf individuals in the UK as source material, and look at how this experience and developments in Deaf studies might develop into the future to further develop social justice.
    • Death and Dying in Orthodox Liturgy

      Nicholas Denysenko (MDPI AG, 2017-02-01)
      The Orthodox Church is known for its liturgical aesthetics. The rich liturgical cycle consists of several liturgical offices celebrated throughout the year, complete with icons, chant, polyphony, and powerful ritual gestures. The Divine Liturgy is the external symbol of the typical Orthodox liturgy. The liturgical celebration profoundly shapes the inner and outer lives of the liturgical participants, as liturgy is a constant and repetitive rehearsal of dying and rising to new life. This article examines the most salient patterns and instances of dying and rising to new life in Orthodox liturgy and concludes with a reflection on how engaging this process might have a greater impact on the daily lives of Orthodox Christians today.
    • Death Anxiety, Religiosity and Culture: Implications for Therapeutic Process and Future Research

      Apurva-kumar Pandya; Tripti Kathuria (MDPI AG, 2021-01-01)
      Death anxiety is a common phenomenon that humans experience. It is multidimensional. There has been an upsurged interest around the discussion on death anxiety across the globe, however, much of the literature focuses on the concept of death anxiety, religiosity, and its role in mental health conditions. Further, studies on death anxiety are scattered and at times disconnected. It is important to review existing literature to get an overview of the current direction in research and understand its relevance to facilitate therapeutic processes. In this scoping review, literature was searched in databases such as PubMed, Scopus, and PsychINFO using key words such as “death anxiety”, “fear of death”, religion”, “culture”, and “psychopathology” combined with Boolean operators to narrow down the search results. The initial search yielded 614 records, of which 546 records were removed based on title review (363), abstract review (94), and full-text review (89). Finally, 68 articles were appraised, narratively synthesized, and thematically presented. Major themes revealed in the literature were theoretical frameworks of death anxiety, religiosity, universality, psychological effects of death anxiety, psychopathology, and religious coping strategies. There is a need to assess client’s death anxiety and address them using religious rituals and coping mechanisms.
    • Death, Resurrection, and Shrine Visitations: An Islamic Perspective

      Mohamed Elaskary; Eun Kyeong Yun (MDPI AG, 2017-02-01)
      This paper discusses the concept of death, resurrection and shrine visitation from an Islamic point of view. It is divided into two integral parts. In the first part, we examine the Islamic eschatological concepts of death, resurrection, and the Day of Judgment. The second part deals with one of the most disputed topics in Islamic thought, those of graves and shrines and the cult of saints. We will be arguing that in spite of the fact that Muslims are not allowed (from a fundamentalist point of view) to construct ornamented tombs or shrines, the cult of saints is widespread in many parts of the Muslim world. We contend that this phenomenon stems from cultural rather than religious factors. In many cases, Muslims were unable to divest themselves of cultural aspects that interfered or were incompatible with their religious beliefs. We assert that the cult of saints is more common in Shia- than Sunni-dominated countries. In response to the ongoing recent attacks on shrines, the researchers suggest dialogue among Muslim sects.
    • Debt and Sacrifice: The Role of Scapegoats in the Economic Crises

      Luis Enrique Alonso; Carlos J. Fernández Rodríguez (MDPI AG, 2021-02-01)
      Despite the process of secularization and modernization, in contemporary societies, the role of sacrifice is still relevant. One of the spaces where sacrifice actually performs a critical role is the realm of modern economy, particularly in the event of a financial crisis. Such crises represent situations defined by an outrageous symbolic violence in which social and economic relations experience drastic transformations, and their victims end up suffering personal bankruptcy, indebtedness, lower standards of living or poverty. Crises show the flagrant domination present in social relations: this is proven in the way crises evolve, when more and more social groups marred by a growing vulnerability are sacrificed to appease financial markets. Inspired by the theoretical framework of the French anthropologist René Girard, our intention is to explore how the hegemonic narrative about the crisis has been developed, highlighting its sacrificial aspects.
    • Decolonizing the Intercultural: A Call for Decolonizing Consciousness in Settler-Colonial Australia

      Abraham Bradfield (MDPI AG, 2019-08-01)
      Throughout this article I make a case for decolonizing consciousness as a reflexive orientation that reforms the ways in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous life-worlds are navigated and mutually apprehended in a settler colonial context. I consider how through decolonizing dominant habits of thought and action an intercultural dialogue responsive of diverse and mutually informing realities may be cultivated. This article aims to first introduce the key characteristics of ‘decolonizing consciousness’, this being reflexivity, deep listening, and border thinking. Using the Darling River in New South Wales, Australia, as a backdrop, I consider how place and environment are agents and facilitators of a contested intercultural dialogue where Indigenous and non-Indigenous ontologies, epistemologies, and axiologies often come to head. Drawing on fieldwork conducted with Aboriginal residents in far western New South Wales, as well as literature on decolonizing theory and Indigenous knowledge systems from different socio-cultural contexts, I argue that intercultural dialogue begins with reflexive contemplation of how one’s lived experiences is embedded in the realities of others.
    • Deconversion Processes in Adolescence—The Role of Parental and Peer Factors

      Małgorzata Łysiak; Beata Zarzycka; Małgorzata Puchalska-Wasyl (MDPI AG, 2020-12-01)
      The phenomenon of abandonment of faith, which in psychology is referred to as deconversion, is observed today. Deconversion is particularly widespread in young people. In this paper we examine the parents’ religiosity, parents’ care, and social support as potential predictors of deconversion in adolescents. Specifically, we aimed to analyse whether or not parents’ religiousness, individual differences in childrens’ attachment to their parents, and received support from family, friends, and significant others differentiate adolescents in deconversion processes. The hypotheses were tested on a sample of 232 adolescents in a cross-sectional study, which applied three scales. The Adolescent Deconversion Scale, Parental Bonding Instrument, and Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support. The results showed that adolescents having both caring and religious parents are less prone to abandon faith and to moral criticism than those having caring but not religious parents or those having religious but not caring parents. The low social support group was more likely to abandon faith and moral criticism than moderate or high social support groups. Regression analyses revealed that deconversion in adolescence is negatively predicted by the mother’s care and friends’ support.
    • Deconversion, Sport, and Rehabilitative Hope

      Terry Shoemaker (MDPI AG, 2019-05-01)
      This article, based on qualitative interviews and ethnographic research, explores three types of on-the-ground rehabilitative hope supplied by sport for many post-evangelicals within the upper Bible Belt region traversing through the process of deconversion. First, sport is an often-cited space that is identified as broadening social networks, leading to initial questioning of inherited religiosity. Second, sport offers a level of amelioration of relational fissures caused by religious shifts away from evangelicalism. Last, this research indicates that post-evangelicals highly value spaces for discussions of social justice, and athletic activism offers symbolic solidarity. Thus, sport and deconversion can be intertwined for Southern post-evangelicals. In the end, I argue that the triangulation of deconversion, hope, and sport within a Southern context creates a way of understanding the changing Southern ethos and pathos demarcated by a shifting away from a conservative Protestantism historically dominant in the region.
    • Deep Culture and the Mystical Agency of Mary in Eastern Christianity

      Ali Qadir; Tatiana Tiaynen-Qadir (MDPI AG, 2018-11-01)
      The Virgin Mother Mary has always been venerated in Eastern Christianity far beyond her scriptural role. In this paper, we propose a symbolic framework of deep culture and apply it to understanding the prominence of Mary and the manner in which she plays a role in people’s lives through a bewildering variety of Marian icons. The framework begins with a mystical/esoteric perspective to appreciate Mary as a symbol that is multivalent, irreplaceable, archetypal, interior, and manifest yet hidden. We analyze images and stories of five highly venerated icons in Greece, Russia, Finland, and amongst diasporic Orthodox Churches, as well as associated hymns. Our analysis reveals that Mary’s significance for Orthodox faithful is best understood in her role as symbolic doorway to mystical religiosity. This role is highly agentic, although not in the sense in which agency is typically—exoterically—understood as analytical and external, but rather as esoterically affective and internally transformative. We show how a deep culture framework adds to our knowledge of Mary in Orthodox Christianity and how it can be used to examine similar figures in other contemporary and historical religious traditions.
    • ‘Deep Learning’ in Studies of Religion and Worldviews in Norwegian Schools? The Implications of the National Curriculum Renewal in 2020

      Oddrun M H Bråten; Geir Skeie (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
      From 2020, the National Curriculum in Norway has been totally renewed for primary, secondary, and upper secondary education. This includes the introduction of such new concepts as ‘deep learning’ and ‘core elements’ in school education. In this article, we unpack the significance of the reform for studies in religion and worldviews in Norwegian schools. We explore continuities and changes by looking at general educational trends and debates and how they become significant, specifically for the study of religion and worldviews in schools. While the changes may stem from international trends, they have been formed in a Norwegian discourse that also draws on traditions from previous curricula. Three interdisciplinary topics have been introduced: ‘health and life skills’, ‘democracy and citizenship’, and ‘sustainable development’. Emphasis is placed on competence-oriented relevance and less on the traditional classroom learning of ‘facts’. Our research question is: Which continuities and which changes are found when comparing studies of religion and worldviews in the previous and the new curricula? Our hypothesis is that continuities stem from national traditions while incentives to change are connected to rapid social change that is also reflected in supranational developments in education. Our methodology is a contextual presentation and discussion of studies of religion and worldviews, where the context we are considering includes both national and international discourses. Our objective is to inform a broader audience about recent developments in the Norwegian school, as well as to bring together important elements in this reform in a focused discussion on the framework for studies of religion and worldviews in Norwegian schools today. We identify both continuity and change, along a subject-specific—general-educational policy axis and along a national-international axis. The continued relevance of teaching about religion and worldviews in schools is strengthened in the reform, because of the potential for significant contributions to general aims of education now reflected in ‘core elements’, including for continued development of a functioning democracy.
    • Default Agnosticism

      Francis Jonbäck (MDPI AG, 2021-01-01)
      Agnosticism has always had its fair amount of criticism. Religious believers often described the first agnostics as infidels and it is not uncommon to see them described as somewhat dull fence-sitters. Moreover, the undecided agnostic stance on belief in gods is often compared with being unsure about such obviously false statements as the existence of orbiting teapots, invisible dragons or even Santa Claus. In this paper, I maintain that agnosticism can properly be endorsed as a default stance. More precisely, I use a strategy presented by Alvin Plantinga and argue that it is rationally acceptable to be agnostic about the existence of God. I also anticipate and answer a number of objections. Finally, I offer my conclusion.
    • Deity and Display: Meanings, Transformations, and Exhibitions of Tibetan Buddhist Objects

      Louise Tythacott; Chiara Bellini (MDPI AG, 2020-02-01)
      This paper analyses the values and uses of Tibetan sacred artefacts in their original contexts as well as the transformation of meanings once placed in museums. It discusses the perception of statues, paintings, ritual instruments and books from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective, examining the iconographic and iconometric functions of the images, and asserting that a primary purpose is as a ‘support for practice’ (tib. sku rten, ‘body-support’). Sacred images represent the embodiment of the Buddhas, deities and masters and, once consecrated by lamas, are considered to have the power to confer blessings. Despite the instrumental function of such artefacts, however, it is also possible to identify and delineate a complex Himalayan concept of aesthetics. The text moves on to analyse the effects of the transition of Tibetan Buddhist images into different museological contexts, comparing the display of Tibetan material in the consecrated spaces of Himalayan monastery museums with their exhibition in secular museological sites in the West.
    • Deity Citadels: Sacred Sites of Bio-Cultural Resistance and Resilience in Bhutan

      Elizabeth Allison (MDPI AG, 2019-04-01)
      Consistent with the pan-Himalayan tendency to see the landscape as lively and animated, protector deities and local spirits are perceived to inhabit various features of the landscape in Bhutan, causing these places to be treated with reverence and respect. Local spiritual beliefs are prized as central to the cultural identity of the Kingdom, making their way into government planning documents, town planning negotiations, and the 2008 Constitution. This elevation of local spiritual belief has been central to the maintenance and preservation of Bhutanese culture in its encounter with globally hegemonic social, economic, and political norms. Spirits and deities are believed to be the original owners of the land predating the introduction of Buddhism from Tibet. According to terma texts—spiritual treasures hidden by great Buddhist teachers to be discovered later—the initial introduction of Buddhism into Bhutan occurred in the seventh century. At that time, the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo, the 32nd king of the Yarlung dynasty, built two temples in western and central parts of Bhutan as part of a strategy to pin down a demoness who was ravaging the Himalaya. About a century after the construction of the temples, Padmasambhava, known throughout the Himalayas as Guru Rimpoche, or “Precious Teacher,” arrived in Bhutan, subjugated eight classes of local spirits and made them sworn protectors of the Dharma. In this way, local deities and spirits became incorporated into Bhutan’s Vajrayana Buddhism to the extent that images of them are found at Buddhist temples and monasteries. Vajrayana Buddhism and local deities and spirits twine together in Bhutan to shape a cosmology that recognizes a spectrum of sentient beings, only some of whom are visible. The presence of deities and spirits informs local land use. Deity abodes or “citadels” (Dz.: pho brang) are restricted from human use. The presence of a deity citadel is sufficient in some locales to cause the diversion or reconsideration of human construction and resource use. By grounding spiritual beliefs in specific sites of the landscape, the citadels of deities sanctify the landscape, becoming nodes of resistance and resilience that support the Bhutanese in inhabiting their own internally-consistent cosmology, even as the pressures of global integration seek to impose hegemonic Western norms.
    • Deleuze’s Interpretation of Job as a Heroic Figure in the History of Rationality

      Bradley H. McLean (MDPI AG, 2019-02-01)
      Traditional rationality takes the form of thinking-as-representation. Motivated by the conviction that it is possible to articulate one true account of the real, the three theologians in the Book of Job employed concepts to reduce objects to categories of sameness. In his exposition of such thinking-as-representation, Deleuze demonstrates how the four elements of representation thinking subordinate difference to conceptual categories of identity, opposition, analogy, and resemblance. Deleuze considers Job to be a heroic figure in the history of thinking, for Job demonstrates that the subject has nothing to say in his own name, as long as the subject adheres to norms of representational thinking. Job’s disavowal of blame amounts to a transgression against traditional theology of his time. The figure of Job exemplifies the heroic potential that lies within this crisis of theological representation.
    • Deposito Diademate: Augustine’s Emperors

      Peter Iver Kaufman (MDPI AG, 2015-03-01)
      To assist colleagues from other disciplines who teach Augustine’s texts in their core courses, this contribution to the Lilly Colloquium discusses Augustine’s assessments of Emperors Constantine and Theodosius. His presentations of their tenure in office and their virtues suggest that his position on political leadership corresponds with his general skepticism about political platforms and platitudes. Yet careful reading of his revision of Ambrose’s account of Emperor Theodosius’s public penance and reconsideration of the last five sections of his fifth book City of God—as well as a reappraisal of several of his sermons on the Psalms—suggest that he proposes a radical alternative to political conformity relevant to undergraduates’ conventional expectations of society’s progress and their parts in it.
    • Depression and Spiritual Distress in Adult Palliative Patients: A Cross-Sectional Study

      Teresa Velosa; Sílvia Caldeira; Manuel Luís Capelas (MDPI AG, 2017-08-01)
      Palliative care patients have been associated with a high probability of having depression and spiritual distress. However, there is a gap in research about the clinical indicators that can promote an effective differential diagnosis of depression and spiritual distress. This study aimed to identify the prevalence and the clinical indicators of depression and spiritual distress in palliative patients in primary care. An observational and cross-sectional study was conducted in 2016 in a Portuguese primary care unit. From a General Practitioners patients’ file of 1457 adult patients, a sample of 30 palliative patients was recruited throughout two steps: (1) selection of patients with chronic disease criteria; (2) selection of patients with Prognostic Indicator Guidance criteria. Exclusion criteria included cognitive impairment and psychotic disorders. Participants completed the self-assessment Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy—Spiritual Well-Being Scale (FACIT-Sp12) scales, which were sealed in opaque envelopes. Clinical data collection used semi-structured interviews for the diagnosis of depression and spiritual distress. The prevalence of depression was 23% (n = 7), while the prevalence of spiritual distress was 23% (n = 7). Four patients (13%) fulfilled both the depression and the spiritual distress criteria. Depression and spiritual distress seem to be both linked to the spiritual dimensions of the human being, but seem to differ in the dimensions of suffering and pharmacologic treatment.