• Jacques Derrida: The Double Liminality of a Philosophical Marrano

      Emilie Kutash (MDPI AG, 2019-01-01)
      There is an analogy between two types of liminality: the geographic or cultural ‘outside’ space of the Marrano Jew, alienated from his/her original religion and the one he or she has been forced to adopt, and, a philosophical position that is outside of both Athens and Jerusalem. Derrida finds and re-finds ‘h’ors- texte’, an ‘internal desert’, a ‘secret’ outside place: alien to both the western philosophical tradition and the Hebraic archive. In this liminal space he questions the otherness of the French language to which he was acculturated, and, in a turn to a less discursive modality, autobiography, finds, in the words of Helene Cixous, “the Jew-who-doesn’t know-that-he-is”. Derrida’s galut (exile) is neither Hebrew nor Greek. It is a private place outside of all discourse, which he claims, is inevitably ethnocentric. In inhabiting this outside space, he exercises the prerogative of a Marrano, equipped to critique the French language of his acculturation and the western philosophy of the scholars. French and Hebrew are irreconcilable binaries, western philosophy and his Hebrew legacy is as well. These issues will be discussed in this paper with reference to <i>Monolingualism of the Other</i> and <i>Archive Fever</i> as they augment some of his earlier work, <i>Writing and Difference</i> and <i>Speech and Phenomena</i>.
    • Jain Narrative Literature in Brajbhāṣā: Discussions from an Understudied Field

      Adrian Plau (MDPI AG, 2019-04-01)
      Jain narrative literature in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Apabhraṃśa is rightly recognised as one of South Asia’s great cultural heritages and a vital source of material for insight into premodern Jain teachings, practices, and everyday life. However, Jain studies is yet to fully engage with the rich archive of Jain narrative literature in Brajbhāṣā, and a wealth of untapped manuscript material is waiting to be explored. In this article, I argue that by going beyond the too-broad moniker of “Jain Hindī literature” to recognise Jain narrative literature in Brajbhāṣā as a distinct category, we may better understand the Jains of early modern North India as partakers of a wider literary and religious culture. More particularly, by comparing the form and religious outlook of Rāmcand Bālak’s Sītācarit, a seventeenth-century Rāmāyaṇa treatment, with the works of the more well-known Banārsīdās, we see that even amongst the Jains who used Brajbhāṣā, considerable variety of outlooks and approaches existed.
    • Jain Veganism: Ancient Wisdom, New Opportunities

      Christopher Jain Miller; Jonathan Dickstein (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
      This article seeks to elevate contemporary Jain voices calling for the adoption of a vegan lifestyle as a sign of solidarity with the transnational vegan movement and its animal rights, environmental protection, and health aspirations. Just as important, however, this article also seeks to present some of the unique features of contemporary Jain veganism, including, most specifically, Jain veganism as an ascetic practice aimed at the embodiment of non-violence (<i>ahiṃsā</i>), the eradication (<i>nirjarā</i>) of karma, and the liberation (<i>mokṣa</i>) of the Self (<i>jīva</i>). These are distinctive features of Jain veganism often overlooked and yet worthy of our attention. We begin the article with a brief discussion of transnational veganism and Jain veganism’s place within this global movement. This is followed by an overview of Jain karma theory as it appears in the <i>Tattvārtha Sūtra</i>, an authoritative diasporic Jain text. Next, we present two case studies of contemporary Jain expressions of veganism: (1) The UK-based organization known as “Jain Vegans” and (2) The US-based organization known as “Vegan Jains”. Both organizations have found new opportunities in transnational veganism to practice and embody the virtue of <i>ahiṃsā</i> as well as Jain karma theory. As we will show, though both organizations share the animal, human, and environmental protection aspirations found in transnational veganism, Jain Vegans and Vegan Jains simultaneously promote <i>ahiṃsā</i> to varying degrees in service of the Jain path to liberation. We conclude the article with a brief reconsideration of Marcus Banks’s diasporic “three tendencies” model to demonstrate how contemporary manifestations of Jain veganism compel us to revisit our understanding of diasporic expressions of Jain religious belief and praxis.
    • Jainism, Yoga, and Ecology: A Course in Contemplative Practice for a World in Pain

      Christopher Patrick Miller (MDPI AG, 2019-03-01)
      This article proposes an introductory course to Jainism vis-à-vis the categories of yoga and ecology. Following a short introduction, the main section of this paper introduces the contents of the syllabus for this upper division undergraduate theological studies course. Students will learn not only the history and philosophy of Jainism, but will also undertake basic Jain contemplative practices. Contemplative practice is used not merely as a technique of self-care, but rather, following some of Jainism’s foundational textual sources, first and foremost as a method for helping students to form a sense of ethical relationship and empathy with the world around them. Using such a pedagogical approach, which I situate as a specific form of “high-impact” learning, I suggest that at the completion of the course students will be better equipped to respond to our shared social and environmental crises. This article serves as both an introduction of this course to the academic community, as well as an invitation to scholars and professors of South Asian religious traditions to adopt the pedagogical approach proposed herein.
    • James Baldwin and the “Lie of Whiteness”: Toward an Ethic of Culpability, Complicity, and Confession

      Michael Oliver (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
      This article is an attempt to draw on James Baldwin’s depiction of white identity as the “the lie of whiteness” to tease out a nascent ethics that centers the role of genuine, honest confrontation with this so-called “lie.” In order to connect the dots between excavation of Baldwin’s lie of whiteness and the provinces of religious ethics, we will explore the role that truth-telling plays in the form of something like a religious notion of confession, limiting our engagement with confession to an honest and genuine encounter with culpability and responsibility through truth-telling. The analysis will be guided by several questions: how might a genuine reckoning with the reality and prevalence of what Baldwin intimately describes about whiteness and its connection to anti-black racism be understood morally? How might this confrontation with the truth be understood in relation to a religious concept like confession, as defined above? Finally, how might this process of confrontation further expose the machinations of Baldwin’s “lie of whiteness” and, in so doing, offer an ethical response that includes culpability and complicity? In so doing, this article seeks to begin sketching out an ethics of the role of confession in the struggle against the evils of anti-black racism, through direct engagement with Baldwin’s description of the “lie of whiteness.”
    • James Sterba’s New Argument from Evil

      William Hasker (MDPI AG, 2021-12-01)
      This article addresses the main argument in James Sterba’s book, an argument which claims that the existence of a good God is logically incompatible with the evil in the world. I claim to show that his main premise, MEPRI, is implausible and is not a secure foundation for such an argument.
    • Japanese Buddhism, Relativization, and Glocalization

      Ugo Dessì (MDPI AG, 2017-01-01)
      Within the field of study on Japanese religions, the issue of globalization tends to be associated with the missionary activities of some successful new religious movements, and there is a certain reluctance to approach analytically the dynamics of glocalization/hybridization and the power issues at stake. In this article, I address these and other related problems by taking my cue from the relativizing effects of globalization and a working definition of religion based on the concept of authority. To this aim, I focus on two case studies. The first concerns the ongoing greening of Japanese Buddhism. The second revolves around the adoption of meditational techniques by priests and lay practitioners in Hawaiian Shin Buddhism. My findings show that there are at least four factors underlying the glocalization of Japanese Buddhism, that is, global consciousness, resonance with the local tradition, decontextualization, and quest for power. Moreover, they indicate that it is possible to distinguish between two types of glocalization (glocalization and chauvinistic glocalization) and two configurations of glocalization (juxtaposition and integration).
    • Je Suis Charlie or the Fragility of the Republican Sacred: On January 11th, 2015 and Its Afterlives

      S. Romi Mukherjee (MDPI AG, 2019-03-01)
      Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the demonstrations or “public mourning” of January 11th, 2015 were heralded by many as the return of the republican sacred, the re-crystallization of a long dormant people, and the resurrection of French fraternity en vivo. However, in the saturation of these political hagiographies, a series of trenchant critiques and observations quickly sought to deconstruct the meaning and putative symbolic power of January 11th. One was struck by the homogeneity of “the people” and the ostensible absence of Arabo-Muslim voices in the somber effervescence that typified the post-Charlie ambiance. Moments of silence were mocked in the banlieue and the homage rendered to the “blasphemers” was blasphemed itself. The imperative to “be Charlie” emerged less as a totemic index of republican solidarity than a Manichean strategy which exacerbated the generally perceived “fracture française”. The result was not only a calling into question of the legitimacy of January 11th, but also a series of counter-articulations which affirmed inter alia “Je ne suis pas Charlie” or worse “Je suis Coulibaly”. January 11th also divided the French left between those who read the event as the re-enchantment of the republican sacred and the people and “liberal” missives which deemed it a simulacra of solidarity, a racist demonstration comprised of “Catholic Zombies” and “Islamophobes”. This paper examines the cleavages engendered by January 11th and its afterlives which reveal not only the fragility of the Republic as a project, but also the fragility of the political sacred that has historically girded this project. At stake is not simply the question “who is Charlie”, but rather “who are the people” and what form they can or should take in a pluralist republic plunged in the perilous entre-deux between communitarianism and the possibility of a cosmopolitan republicanism. January 11th, far from being a simple demonstration, is a metaphor, a nodal point, and a seismograph of the force and frailness of the republican sacred and its capacity to enthrall, convince, and console.
    • Jeong: A Practical Theology of Postcolonial Interfaith Relations

      Sue Kim Park (MDPI AG, 2020-10-01)
      This<b> </b>article examines Korean American Christians’ involvement in interfaith relations from a practical theology perspective. The author begins the research with the broad question, “What is going on with Korean American Christians in interfaith engagement?” and interrogates more specifically the methods through which they participate in it. Gathering results from ethnographic research, the author claims that Korean American Christians build interfaith relationships through jeong, a collective sentiment many Koreans share. Jeong is an emotional bond that develops and matures over time in interpersonal relationships. As for interfaith engagements, Korean American Christians cultivate organic, messy, affectionate, and sticky relationships, letting jeong seep into their lives across religious, faith, and non-faith lines. The praxis of jeong is analyzed in three categories: (1) love and affection, (2) liberating and healing power, and (3) stickiness and vulnerability.
    • Jesuit and Feminist Hospitality: Pope Francis’ Virtue Response to Inequality

      Kate Ward (MDPI AG, 2017-04-01)
      Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope and has made economic inequality a theme of his pontificate. This article shows that Pope Francis diagnoses economic inequality as both a structural problem and a problem of virtue, and that the virtue he calls for in response is what James F. Keenan, SJ has called Jesuit hospitality. Reviewing contemporary theological work on hospitality, I show that Francis’ Jesuit hospitality shares many features with hospitality as described by feminist theologians. Namely, it is risky, takes place across difference, acknowledges the marginality of both host and guest, and promises mutual benefit to each party. Francis’ account of the spiritual practice of encounter provides a concrete vision of Jesuit hospitality in action. This article contributes to existing literature on the uniquely Jesuit nature of Francis’ theology and to work showing the resonance of his intellectual standpoint with feminist approaches. It proposes a Christian virtue response to the pressing contemporary problem of economic inequality.
    • Jesus “The Way” According to Origen and Marcellus: Confronting Two Patristic Traditions

      Samuel Fernández (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
      The article aims to examine and compare the evangelic title of Jesus the Way (John 14:6) in two Christian authors who belonged to two opposing theological traditions, namely, Origen of Alexandria and Marcellus of Ancyra. This comparison, based on original texts, aims not only to show the differences between these two patristic traditions, but rather to identify some common traits that belong to the core of Christian faith. Thus, Origen of Alexandria and Marcellus of Ancyra, two very dissimilar Christian authors, were of the same mind in confessing that only if the Son of God became fully human, could he be the Way for humankind towards the Father.
    • Jewels Set in Stone: Hindu Temple Recipes in Medieval Cōḻa Epigraphy

      Andrea Gutiérrez (MDPI AG, 2018-09-01)
      Scholarship abounds on contemporary Hindu food offerings, yet there is scant literature treating the history of food in Hinduism beyond topics of food restrictions, purity, and food as medicine. A virtually unexplored archive is Hindu temple epigraphy from the time that was perhaps the theological height of embodied temple ritual practices, i.e., the Cōḻa period (ninth-thirteenth centuries CE). The vast archive of South Indian temple inscriptions allows a surprising glimpse into lived Hinduism as it was enacted daily, monthly, and annually through food offerings cooked in temple kitchens and served to gods residing in those temples. Through analyzing thousands of Tamiḻ inscriptions from the tenth through the fourteenth centuries CE, I have gleaned information concerning two distinct material cultural facets. (1) The practice of writing these rare but remarkable recipes which themselves are culinary textual artifacts has allowed us to access (2) Hindu food offerings of the past, also complex, sensory historical artifacts. In exploring these medieval religious recipes for the first time, I aim to show: the importance that food preparation held for temple devotees, the theological reality of feeding the actual bodies of the gods held in these temples, and the originality of the Cōḻa inscriptional corpus in bringing about a novel culinary writing practice that would be adopted more extensively in the Vijayanagara period (fourteenth-seventeenth centuries CE). This study, a radical new attempt at using historical sources inscribed in stone, sheds new light on medieval Hindu devotees’ priorities of serving and feeding god. The examination of this under-explored archive can help us move our academic analysis of Hindu food offerings beyond the hitherto utilized lenses of economics, sociology, and anthropology. Further, it contributes to our understanding of medieval temple worship, early culinary studies, and the history of food in India.
    • Jewish and Hebrew Books in Marsh’s Library: Materiality and Intercultural Engagement in Early Modern Ireland

      Bradford A. Anderson; Jason McElligott (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
      Marsh’s Library in Dublin, Ireland, is an immaculately preserved library from the early eighteenth century. Founded by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, the library has an extensive collection of Jewish and Hebrew books which includes Hebrew Bibles, Talmudic texts, rabbinic writings, and Yiddish books that date back to the early modern period. This study explores a cross section of the Jewish and Hebrew books in Marsh’s collection, with particular focus on issues of materiality—that is, how these books as material artefacts can inform our understanding of early modern history, religion, and intercultural engagement. We suggest that these books, a majority of which come from Marsh’s personal collection, are a valuable resource for reflection on (1) Christian engagement with Jewish culture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, (2) the production, use, and travel of Jewish books in early modern Europe, and (3) snapshots of Jewish life in early modern Ireland and beyond.
    • Jewish Diaspora and the Stakes of Nationalism: Margarete Susman’s Theodicy

      Yael Almog (MDPI AG, 2019-02-01)
      This article unpacks Margarete Susman’s political and theological arguments at the core of her reading of the Book of Job. As I show through a reading of her oeuvre, Susman rejects political projects that she takes to be based on eschatology such as political Zionism. However, Susman should not be viewed merely as a critic of Zionism. I argue that an analysis tuned to the historical circumstances of her writing should recognize her stance on the nation-building project in Palestine as ambivalent rather than antagonistic. Susman’s conception of the Jewish spirit as rooted in self-sacrifice allows her to appreciate the national aspirations at the core of the Zionist project while rejecting Zionism’s exclusion of other Jewish national projects. I contend that Susman’s understanding of Jewish messianism as immanent rather than teleological informs her ambivalence toward Zionism as well as her original vision of Jewish political action. I argue in closing that Susman’s theodicy offers a novel vision for Jewish ethics that is not limited to the historical moment of its formulation. Susman’s theodicy also resonates within contemporary debates on Jewish diaspora in providing a non-centralized vision of Jewish national projects.
    • “Jewish Mindfulness” as Spiritual Didactics Teaching Orthodox Jewish Religion through Mindfulness Meditation

      Mira Niculescu (MDPI AG, 2019-12-01)
      Since the late 1990s, the expression “Jewish Mindfulness” has become ubiquitous in Jewish community centers (JCCs) and synagogues in America, in Israel, and in the Western diaspora. “Mindfulness”, a secular meditation technique originating from Buddhism which has been popularized in Western culture through its recontextualization within the Western therapeutic culture, has been increasingly used in Jewish Religious settings, including Modern Orthodox. How do Modern Orthodox rabbis describe their use of “Mindfulness” in their religious teachings? Why do they refer to Mindfulness Meditation rather than to Jewish Meditation? In this article, I comparatively analyze the discourses spoken—online, and in print—of American rabbis from various Modern Orthodox trends as a case to study strategies of adaptation in the current context of globalization. By identifying three types of use of Mindfulness—<i>through,</i> <i>and</i> or <i>as</i> Judaism—I seek to highlight the various ways in which today’s Orthodox educators use “Mindfulness”, both as a meditation technique and as a spiritual mindset, and how this is reshaping the way they teach Jewish religion. Observing contemporary Orthodox discourses on Mindfulness within Jewish religious pedagogy can help us better understand the processes of cultural appropriation and translation as well as religious change in the making, as part of a boundary maintenance work within today’s cosmopolitan cultures.
    • Jews in Church: Rethinking Jewish-Christian Relations in Nineteenth-Century America

      Shari Rabin (MDPI AG, 2018-08-01)
      Studies of Jewish-Christian relations in the nineteenth century have largely centered on anti-Semitism, missionary endeavors, and processes of Protestantization. In this literature, Jews and Judaism are presented as radically separate from Christians and Christianity, which threaten them, either by reinforcing their difference or by diminishing it, whether as a deliberate project or as an unconscious outcome of pressure or attraction. And yet, Jews and Christians interacted with one another’s religious traditions not only through literature and discussion, but also within worship spaces. This paper will focus on the practice of churchgoing by Jewish individuals, with some attention to Christian synagogue-going. Most Jews went to church because of curiosity, sociability, or experimentation. Within churches, they became familiar with their neighbors and with Christian beliefs but also further clarified and even strengthened their own understandings and identities. For Jews, as for other Americans, the relationship between identification and spatial presence, belief and knowledge, worship and entertainment, were complicated and religious boundaries often unclear. The forgotten practice of Jewish churchgoing sheds light on the intimacies and complexities of Jewish-Christian relations in American history.
    • Jingjiao under the Lenses of Chinese Political Theology

      Chin Ken-pa (MDPI AG, 2019-09-01)
      Conflict between religion and state politics is a persistent phenomenon in human history. Hence it is not surprising that the propagation of Christianity often faces the challenge of “political theology”. When the Church of the East monk Aluoben reached China in 635 during the reign of Emperor Tang Taizong, he received the favorable invitation of the emperor to translate Christian sacred texts for the collections of Tang Imperial Library. This marks the beginning of Jingjiao (景教) mission in China. In historiographical sense, China has always been a political domineering society where the role of religion is subservient and secondary. A school of scholarship in Jingjiao studies holds that the fall of Jingjiao in China is the obvious result of its over-involvement in local politics. The flaw of such an assumption is the overlooking of the fact that in the Tang context, it is impossible for any religious establishments to avoid getting in touch with the Tang government. In the light of this notion, this article attempts to approach this issue from the perspective of “political theology” and argues that instead of over-involvement, it is rather the clashing of “ideologies” between the Jingjiao establishment and the ever-changing Tang court’s policies towards foreigners and religious bodies that caused the downfall of Jingjiao Christianity in China. This article will posit its argument based on the analysis of the Chinese Jingjiao canonical texts, especially the Xian Stele, and takes this as a point of departure to observe the political dynamics between Jingjiao and Tang court. The finding of this paper does show that the intellectual history of Chinese Christianity is in a sense a comprehensive history of “political theology”.
    • Job and the Bible’s Theo-Political Divide

      Menachem Fisch (MDPI AG, 2019-01-01)
      The book of Job presents a unique and detailed contrastive study of two fundamental and fundamentally opposed religious personae: Job, on the one hand, and the collective image of his friends on the other. It is a normative dispute about the religion’s most basic norm of disposition. How is one to respond to inexplicable disaster when one believes one is blameless? What is the religiously appropriate response to catastrophe? To confront God’s judgment as did Job, or to submissively surrender to it, as his four friends insist he should? Is one supposed to question divine justice when deemed to be wanting, as did Job, or to suppress any thought to the contrary and deem it to be just, come what may? Rather than expound (once again) upon the theological implications of the Job dispute, this paper focuses on its theological-political dimensions, and its looming and vivid, yet largely overlooked presence in the Hebrew Bible’s master narrative; and more specifically, on the marked, if inevitable antinomian nature of the Jobian side to the divide.
    • Job Status of Women Head Clergy: Findings from the National Congregations Study, 1998, 2006, and 2012

      Catherine Hoegeman (MDPI AG, 2017-08-01)
      This paper investigates occupational gender inequality among head clergy in U.S. religious congregations. Prior research emphasized the stratification of the clergy occupational structure and the under-representation of women in head clergy positions. This paper focuses on women who are leading congregations. Data are from the National Congregations Study (1998, 2006, and 2012). I review the representation of women among head clergy, investigate the differences in congregational characteristics between those led by men and women, and explore whether men or women are more likely to have positions with non-standard employment forms. Findings show a mixed picture regarding equality for women clergy. By 2012, while women are still less likely than men to be head clergy, among head clergy there is not a significant difference between women and men in the likelihood of being a senior pastor (supervising other clergy). Also, there are no significant differences related to non-standard employment. The only significant congregational member characteristic is that women are more likely to lead predominantly white congregations. However, in 1998, 2006, and 2012, women were consistently significantly more likely than men to lead smaller congregations. While there may be few other differences between men and women head clergy job statuses, congregation size is arguably what matters most. Women’s lack of representation in larger congregations suggests continued gender inequality among head clergy.
    • John Calvin and John Locke on the Sensus Divinitatis and Innatism

      J. Caleb Clanton (MDPI AG, 2017-02-01)
      Inheritors of the Calvinist Reformed tradition have long disagreed about whether knowledge of God’s nature and existence can be or need be acquired inferentially by means of the standard arguments of natural theology. Nonetheless, they have traditionally coalesced around the thought that some sense or awareness of God is naturally implanted or innate in human beings. A root of this orientation can be found in John Calvin’s discussion of the sensus divinitatis in the first book of The Institutes of the Christian Religion. This paper outlines a pedagogical strategy for organizing and evaluating Calvin’s treatment of the sensus divinitatis, chiefly by putting it in tension with John Locke’s polemic against innatism in Book I of An Essay concerning Human Understanding. I begin by reconstructing Calvin’s depiction of the sensus divinitatis, as well as his case for thinking that it is innate. I then explain how Locke’s critique of innatism offers a fairly direct response to Calvin and, hence, a useful framework for exploring the limits of Calvin’s treatment of the sensus divinitatis.