• Namaste Theory: A Quantitative Grounded Theory on Religion and Spirituality in Mental Health Treatment

      Holly K. Oxhandler (MDPI AG, 2017-08-01)
      A growing body of research is beginning to identify characteristics that influence or are related to helping professionals’ integration of clients’ religion and spirituality (RS) in mental health treatment. This article presents Namaste Theory, a new theory for understanding the role of mental health practitioners’ RS in clinical practice. Using Glaser’s (2008) formal quantitative grounded theory approach, this article describes an emerging theme in the author’s line of work—particularly that practitioners’ intrinsic religiosity is significantly related to their consideration of clients’ RS—and explores the findings of related, interdisciplinary studies. The Hindu term, Namaste, meaning, “the sacred in me recognizes the sacred in you”, provided a framework to explain the emerging theme. Specifically, Namaste Theory introduces the concept that as helping professionals infuse their own RS beliefs/practices into their daily lives, deepening their intrinsic religiosity and awareness of what they deem sacred, they tend to consider and integrate clients’ RS beliefs/practices, and what clients consider sacred as well. In order words, as the helping professional recognizes the sacred within him or herself, s/he appears to be more open to recognizing the sacred within his/her client. Future directions for research, as well as practice and education implications, are discussed.
    • Naming the Mystery: An Augustinian Ideal

      Allan Fitzgerald (MDPI AG, 2015-03-01)
      This article, by noticing Augustine’s constant questioning, shows that he often talks about not knowing and about his need for God’s help to know more. It is therefore better to see how he identifies the mystery than to focus on his answers, because he too recognizes his limits. His intellectual prowess can be seen more clearly when he “names the mystery” than by thinking that he has solved it.
    • Narrative and the Politics of Identity: Patterns of the Spread and Acceptance of Radicalism and Terrorism in Indonesia

      Firdaus Syam; Fachruddin Majeri Mangunjaya; Ajeng Rizqi Rahmanillah; Robi Nurhadi (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
      This study aims to examine Islamic narratives heard at mosques and in study groups in the greater metropolitan area of Jakarta, Indonesia. The article asks if youth and leaders of youth organizations in Jakarta are receptive to radical/terrorist discourse or if they deliberate and weigh what certain narratives mean. Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with 24 subjects. These included Rohani Islamic group leaders who hold extracurricular study groups after middle and high school classes, as well as Islamic Mission organizations or Lembaga Da’wah Kampus (LDK—literally translates as Campus Mission Organization; they are some senior students and may invite Islamic scholars or themselves teach Islam and preach to students who are willing to learn Islam specially only at the university as an extracurricular activity; in this article, we translate it as Islamic Mission organization.). which exist on Jakarta’s university campuses where radical narratives are discussed. Other organizations and their leaders were also included. Questions posed to members of these organizations by the authors of this article asked if they accepted, rejected, or negotiated certain ideas regarded as radical by the Indonesian government. Respondents were asked if they believed violent acts against non-reform Muslims and non-Muslims were justified. Respondents were also asked if the Indonesian constitution, Pancasila, should continue its secular democratic legal format, or if it should be replaced by sharia law. Ultimately, most informants took more moderate stances, somewhere in between pure secularism and pure radical terrorism. In this way, this study disproves scholars such as Martin van Bruinessen (2013) who claim that Indonesian Islam is becoming more conservative, and others such as Harsono who claim Indonesian Islam is becoming more violent. While violence was condoned by some respondents, this article reveals that a majority of respondents rejected the view that sharia law should prevail. Ultimately most respondents in this study decided a balanced viewpoint was the best. Thus, this article reveals the degree of moderation of most Jakarta residents, and the nuance and depth of consideration that devout individuals give to a range of contemporary ideas as they negotiate their stance on religion, the state, and their local identities.
    • Narratives in Action: Modelling the Types and Drivers of Sikh Activism in Diaspora

      Jasjit Singh (MDPI AG, 2020-10-01)
      Using data gathered for an investigation of “Sikh radicalisation in Britain”, in this article I develop a typology of different types of activism among Sikhs in diaspora based on an analysis of historic and contemporary media sources (newspapers, radio, television, online), academic literature, ethnographic fieldwork and a series of semi-structured interviews with self-identifying Sikh activists. I assess the reasons behind a variety of different incidents involving Sikh activists, how Sikh activists view the drivers of their activism and to what extent this activism can be regarded as being “religiously motivated”. I critique existing typologies of “religious activism” by developing a typology of Sikh activism which challenges the distinction often made between “religious” and “political” action. I argue that “religiously motivated actions” must be understood in conjunction with narratives, incidents and issues specific to particular religious traditions and that generic motivations for these actions cannot be applied across all religious traditions.
    • Narrativism and the Unity of Opposites: Theory, Practice, and Exegesis: A Study of Three Stories from the Talmud

      Avinoam Rosenak; Sharon Leshem Zinger (MDPI AG, 2019-06-01)
      In this article, we pursue a double mission: First, we will demonstrate the unique nature of dynamic group facilitation as it emerges from the concept of the unity of opposites and its relation to situations of conflict, as well as the pedagogical challenges that teachers face in the classroom. This approach underlines the value of a more dialogical and dynamic understanding of the intricate networks of relationships that take place between students and with a teacher at any given moment in a classroom situation. Second, we will examine three Talmudic midrashim that focus on conflict and reconciliation through the lens of facilitation, while casting light on the theology behind the facilitation method and its hermeneutic power. Again, this approach to the interpretation of these texts allows them to emerge as valuable not only to the learning process, but also to the dynamics of interaction that saturate the learning situation. To this end, we will highlight the links and differences between two styles of facilitation—the narrative and the unity of opposites. These links and differences will help us illuminate the similarities and differences between the facilitation processes they employ. Because (1) the notion of exegesis is strongly embedded in narrative theory; (2) theology has deep roots in the concept of the unity of opposites; and (3) both styles address conflict and its resolution, in the second part of this article, we take the insights of the narrative and unity of opposites approaches and juxtapose them as hermeneutic tools for reading three related Talmudic midrashim that focus on conflict and reconciliation. In this way, we hope to exemplify how the different approaches can be applied to the design of the different facilitation styles, both in conflict dialogue groups and as a lens through which we can read these seminal tales that have shaped consciousness, identity, and the attitude towards the culture of debate in Judaism.
    • Nation as a Neo-Idol: Muslim Political Theology and the Critique of Secular Nationalism in Modern South Asia

      Mohammad Adnan Rehman (MDPI AG, 2018-11-01)
      Modern perspectives on nationalism tend to privilege structuralist readings which approach nationalism as entailing economic and political restructuring, thereby overlooking the necessary role of human factors in the functioning of nationalism. Religious opposition to secular nationalism is then condemned as backward, reactionary, fundamentalist, or ideological. However, a different understanding of nationalism is uncovered when the role of human factors in nationalism are scrutinized. Toward discerning the role of human factors in nationalism and its relation to religion in general, I turn to Liah Greenfeld’s analysis of social psychology of nationalism as a secular ideology. In exploring the effects of nationalist ideology on religion, I return to the earliest Muslim debates on nationalism in South Asia between two critics of nationalism, Muhammad Iqbal and Abu’l A’laa Mawdudi, and their opponents, Abul Kalam Azad and Husayn Ahmad Madani.
    • Nation, Race, and Religious Identity in the Early Nazi Movement

      Derek Hastings (MDPI AG, 2018-10-01)
      This paper examines the dissemination of radical nationalist and racist ideas among Catholics within the early Nazi movement in Munich. While the relationship between the Nazi regime and the Catholic faith was often antagonistic after 1933, a close examination of the earliest years of the Nazi movement reveals a different picture. In the immediate aftermath of the First World War and within the specific context of Munich and its overwhelmingly Catholic environs, early Nazi activists attempted to resacralize political life, synthesizing radical völkisch nationalism with reformist, “modern” conceptions of Catholic faith and identity. In so doing, they often built on ideas that circulated in Catholic circles before the First World War, particularly within the Reform Catholic movement in Munich. By examining depictions of nation and race among three important Catholic groups—reform-oriented priests, publicists, and university students—this paper strives not only to shed light on the conditions under which the Nazi movement was able to survive its tumultuous infancy, but also to offer brief broader reflections on the interplay between nationalism, racism, and religious identity. The article ultimately suggests it was specifically the malleability and conceptual imprecision of those terms that often enhanced their ability to penetrate and circulate effectively within religious communities.
    • Nationalist Mobilization, Ethno-Religious Contention, and Legal Innovation in a Stateless Nation: Explaining Catalonia’s 2009 “Law on Centers of Worship”

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

      Tobias Cremer (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
      Right-wing populists across many western countries have markedly intensified their references to Christianity in recent years. However, Christian communities’ reactions to such developments often vary significantly, ranging from disproportionate support in some countries to outspoken opposition in others. This paper explores the role of structural factors, and in particular of Church–State relations, in accounting for some of these differences. Specifically, this article explores how Church–State relations in Germany and the United States have produced different incentives and opportunity structures for faith leaders when facing right-wing populism. Based on quantitative studies, survey data, and 31 in-depth elite interviews, this research suggests that whereas Germany’s system of “benevolent neutrality” encourages highly centralised churches whose leaders perceive themselves as integral part and defenders of the current system, and are therefore both <i>willing</i> and <i>able</i> to create social taboos against right-wing populism, America’s “Wall of separation” favours a de-centralised religious marketplace, in which church leaders are more prone to agree with populists’ anti-elitist rhetoric, and face higher costs and barriers against publicly condemning right-wing populism. Taking such structural factors into greater account when analysing Christian responses to right-wing populism is central to understanding current and future dynamics between politics and religion in western democracies.
    • Natives Need Prison: The Sanctification of Racialized Incarceration

      Jennifer Graber (MDPI AG, 2019-01-01)
      This paper draws on literary scholar Susan Ryan’s work to show how Americans worked out national as well as racial identities through benevolent activity, including forms of reformative incarceration. Reformers operated as true citizens by sustaining themselves and providing for others. Recipients, on the other hand, functioned as people in need. Ryan argues that benevolent activists ascribed need to entire groups of people. As a result, “the categories of blackness, Indianness, and Irishness…came to signify need itself.„ Elite Americans thereby “raced„ need, assigning essential difference to populations they sought to relieve. Ryan’s work on racialized need can help us understand the connections between Christianity, race, and mass incarceration. I explore how one nineteenth-century military prison—and the disciplinary institutions later modeled on it—was created in direct response to presumed (and raced) need among Native Americans. I also consider how Christian reformers obscured and concealed the racialized nature of this institution—and how, in that avoidance, they came to sanctify mass incarceration for racial minorities. Finally, I look at two incarcerated Native artists’ drawings to show how people caught up in racialized renderings of their need have something else to say about who they are and what prison is.
    • Natural Science and Supernatural Thought Experiments

      James Robert Brown (MDPI AG, 2019-06-01)
      Religious notions have long played a role in epistemology. Theological thought experiments, in particular, have been effective in a wide range of situations in the sciences. Some of these are merely picturesque, others have been heuristically important, and still others, as I will argue, have played a role that could be called essential. I will illustrate the difference between heuristic and essential with two examples. One of these stems from the Newton−Leibniz debate over the nature of space and time; the other is a thought experiment of my own constructed with the aim of making a case for a more liberal view of evidence in mathematics.
    • Naturalism, Normativity, and the Study of Religion

      Anil Mundra (MDPI AG, 2017-10-01)
      This article repudiates the common view that the study of religion, in order to qualify as academic, must be descriptively neutral and naturalistic rather than normative or prescriptive. Following philosophers like John McDowell, John Cottingham, and Tyler Roberts, I claim that such a methodological stance amounts to viewing humans as determined rather than free agents. On the basis of W.V.O. Quine and Donald Davidson’s analysis of translation, I argue that normativity is ineliminable from humanistic scholarship, which is itself inextricable from religious studies. Robert Pippin and Thomas A. Lewis’s readings of Hegel then provide resources to reconcile human freedom and constraint in religion.
    • Nature and Magic as Representation of “The Sami”—Sami Shamanistic Material in Popular Culture

      Anne Kalvig (MDPI AG, 2020-09-01)
      This article examines how magic and nature become representations of both “the Sami” and “Sami shamanism” in animation films <i>Frozen 2</i> and <i>Klaus</i>, in the television crime series <i>Midnattssol</i> (<i>Midnight Sun</i>) and in three Eurovision Song Contest contributions partly by Sami artists, containing joik. With a methodological ludism approach and with material theory, the article asks how “the Sami” and shamanism are made relevant as spiritual or religious categories within popular cultural products, and how (and why) spirituality is being constructed and communicated on a more general level in a time of eco-crisis, where there is a growing global interest in perceived shamanistic and animistic perceptions of the world, nature, and ourselves.
    • Nature, Spirit, and Spirituality in Husserl’s Phenomenology

      María Celeste Vecino (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
      This article deals with the relationship between Spirit (<i>Geist</i>) and Nature (<i>Natur</i>) in Husserl’s phenomenology and the potentially religious motifs involved in its treatment. I begin by outlining two different approaches that can be found in Husserl’s work regarding the dyad Nature-Spirit: firstly, a schematic opposition between the two, and secondly, the recognition of their fundamental intertwinement. I claim that, even in this second approach, there remains a sense of subordination of Nature to Spirit that is due to the transcendental character of Husserl’s phenomenology. I analyze this primacy in the context of Husserl’s monadological theory, bringing forward certain religious elements of his account in order to connect this notion of spirit to a more contemporary idea of spirituality.
    • Navigating Religion Online: Jewish and Muslim Responses to Social Media

      Jauhara Ferguson; Elaine Howard Ecklund; Connor Rothschild (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
      Although social media use among religious communities is proliferating, significant gaps remain in our understanding of how religious minorities perceive social media in relation to their faith and community. Thus, we ask how individuals use religion to frame moral attitudes around social media for Jews and Muslims. Specifically, how does social media shape understandings of community? We analyze 52 interviews with Jews and Muslims sampled from Houston and Chicago. We find that Jews and Muslims view social media as a “double-edged sword”—providing opportunities to expand intracommunal ties and access to religious resources, while also diluting the quality of ties and increasing exposure to religious distractions. These findings help us understand what it is about being a religious minority in the US that might shape how individuals engage with social media. Moreover, they suggest that social media may be transforming faith communities in less embodied ways, a topic that is of particular relevance in our pandemic times.
    • Navigating Voyages in Real and Religious Life: The Big-Dipper Belief and Shipbuilding in Premodern China

      Yiwen Li (MDPI AG, 2020-08-01)
      Sailors in premodern China performed various types of rituals to pray for safe voyages. This article investigates a unique seven-dot image discovered from shipwrecks dated to thirteenth- and fourteenth-century China. Comparing the seven-dot image with the Big-Dipper image in premodern navigation maps, this article demonstrates that the seven-dot image represents the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper in premodern China was both an essential, practical guidance in maritime voyages and a religious symbol that the faithful believed could prolong the human’s lifespan and command the element of water. The dual function of the Big Dipper endowed the Big-Dipper images in ships with a dual meaning and made it particularly auspicious. The Big Dipper’s practical function prompted the carvers to present the image accurately, making it distinctive from other Big-Dipper images in the religious context.
    • Negative Ecodomy in Romanian Politics and Religion: Anti-Muslim Attitudes in the Bucharest Mosque Scandal during the Summer of 2015

      Corneliu C. Simuț (MDPI AG, 2015-12-01)
      This paper focuses on a chronology of events presented by the Romanian media, especially newspapers with national coverage and impact like Gândul and Adevărul, between the first week of June to the first week of September 2015, when the issue of having a mosque erected in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, was intensely debated by intellectuals, politicians, and religious professionals. The debates were intensely heated from the onset of these events and most of them revealed that most of the participants were driven by anti-Muslim attitudes, xenophobia, and assertive nationalism, a complex of feelings that I called “negative ecodomy”. The concept of “negative ecodomy” presupposes an attempt to built a safe environment, in this case for Romanians in their own country, but the adjective “negative” was added to the the positive idea of “ecodomy” because these efforts to offer a safe context for Romanians were accompanied by the negativity of anti-Muslim, xenophobic, and nationalistic activities. This array of negative ecodomic attitudes were displayed by Romanians not only in online media but also in the street through protests and other similar actions in a country which has been a member of the European Union for almost a decade and was supposed to adhere to the European Union’s basic principles of multiculturalism and the free circulation of persons. The totality of these events show that Romanians are still rather far from accepting the European Union’s fundamental philosophy or perhaps these principles themselves should be reconsidered and reinterpreted in the context of the massive Middle Eastern and African immigration and the constant, if not increasing threat of Islamic terrorism.
    • Negotiating Ambivalent Gender Spaces for Collective and Individual Empowerment: Sikh Women’s Life Writing in the Diaspora

      Jaspal Kaur Singh (MDPI AG, 2019-10-01)
      In order to examine gender and identity within Sikh literature and culture and to understand the construction of gender and the practice of <i>Sikhi</i> within the contemporary Sikh diaspora in the US, I analyze a selection from creative non-fiction pieces, variously termed essays, personal narrative, or life writing, in Meeta Kaur’s edited collection, <i>Her Name is Kaur: Sikh American Women Write About Love, Courage, and Faith</i>. Gender, understood as a social construct (Butler, among others), is almost always inconsistent and is related to religion, which, too, is a construct and is also almost always inconsistent in many ways. Therefore, my reading critically engages with the following questions regarding life writing through a postcolonial feminist and intersectional lens: What are lived religions and how are the practices, narratives, activities and performances of ‘being’ Sikh imagined differently in the diaspora as represent in my chosen essays? What are some of the tenets of Sikhism, viewed predominantly as patriarchal within dominant cultural spaces, and how do women resist or appropriate some of them to reconstruct their own ideas of being a Sikh? In Kaur’s collection of essays, there are elements of traditional autobiography, such as the construction of the individual self, along with the formation of communal identity, in the postcolonial life writing. I will critique four narrative in Kaur’s anthology as testimonies to bear witness and to uncover Sikh women’s hybrid cultural and religious practices as reimagined and practiced by the female Sikh writers.
    • Negotiating Gender Justice between State, Religion, and NGOs: A Lebanese Case

      Anne Hege Grung (MDPI AG, 2018-05-01)
      This article explores part of the process of passing a law in the Lebanese Parliament on 1 April 2014 called “Law on the protection of women and other members of the family from domestic violence,” also known as the ‘Protection Law’ or Law 293. In a United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) project on Religion, Politics and Gender Equality, the theorists José Casanova and Anne Phillips are engaged in establishing a transnational perspective on religious gender politics. The article then draws on written documentation regarding the discourse connected to the draft law at that time and on field interviews. The interviews were conducted in the period 2013–2016 with religious leaders and resource persons in Christian, Sunni, and Shi’a communities in Lebanon, and with key persons in the NGOs KAFA and ABAAD. An analysis of the arguments for and against the law before it was passed displays the larger field of intersection between feminism and religious practices and the consequences of the Lebanese dual court system. As a study from the Lebanese context when Law 293 was being intensively discussed, the article shows both the authority and the vulnerability of the religious leaders associated with the dual court system. The article also reveals the ambiguity of feminist activists and NGOs toward the role of the religious communities and leaders in Lebanon.
    • Negotiating Gendered Religious Space: Australian Muslim Women and the Mosque

      Nafiseh Ghafournia (MDPI AG, 2020-12-01)
      Women’s presence and role in contemporary mosques in Western countries is contested within and outside Muslim communities, but research on this topic is limited and only a few studies consider women’s roles inside mosques in Australia. There is a complex intersection of gender and religion in public sacred spaces in all religious communities, including Muslim communities. Women’s role in these spaces has often been restricted. They are largely invisible in both public sacred spaces and in public rituals such as congregational prayers. Applying a feminist lens to religion and gender, this article explores how a mosque as a socially constructed space can both enable and restrict Australian Muslim women’s religious identity, participation, belonging and activism. Based on written online qualitative interviews with twenty Muslim women members of three Australian Muslim online Facebook groups, this article analyses the women’s experiences with their local mosques as well as their views on gender segregation.