• Sacramental Communion with Nature: From Emerson on the Lord’s Supper to Thoreau’s Transcendental Picnic

      John Gatta (MDPI AG, 2018-02-01)
      For both Emerson and Thoreau, ocular attentiveness was a crucial means of at least disposing the soul toward experiencing moments of otherwise unpredictable, ecstatic encounter with the divine soul of Nature. But the eye alone was not the sole sensory pathway toward receiving such revelations. Especially in later writing, Thoreau focused special attention on eating and drinking as key bodily—yet also spiritual—modes of experiencing communion with the earth. He applied this sacramental understanding to the several processes of obtaining, preparing, and consuming food, but above all to the thankful appreciation of locally gathered, wild fruits and nuts. Such gifts, freely given, presumably invite “us to picnic with Nature,” thereby dramatizing how “man at length stands in such a relation to Nature as the animals which pluck and eat as they go.” Though Emerson never embraced a comparably sacramental vision of Nature, or showed the same interest in gustatory encounter with wildness, one might interpret his attraction toward other diverse and often spiritualized concepts of communion as a compensatory outcome of his ministerial decision in 1832 to cease administering the Christian church’s sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
    • Sacramental Exchange: Eschatological Economy and Consumption Ritual

      Kimberly Belcher (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
      Contemporary sacramental theology construes the sacraments as a symbolic gift exchange between God and humanity; God initiates in the ministry of Jesus Christ, and human beings acknowledge and respond to God’s gift. The gratuity of that initial gift is ensured not only by reference to God’s all-sufficient nature, but also in many cases by excising economic value and economic exchange from the symbolic realm within which the sacramental gift exchange proceeds. This poses an intellectual and a practical problem. Intellectually, economic exchange is fundamentally symbolic and even ritualistic, so that the division between them is difficult to define and maintain. Practically, economic behavior is morally relevant, and the sacraments ought to give some purchase on marketplace behavior. In this essay, anthropological and economic work on “consumption rituals,” based on the work of Mary Douglas and Baron Isherwood, is brought to bear on defining the relationship between sacraments and economic exchange and articulating the sociological preconditions for experiencing market exchange as an extension of sacramental gift exchange.
    • Sacramentality, Chaos Theory and Decoloniality

      Edward Foley (MDPI AG, 2019-07-01)
      This essay considers how an expanded understanding of sacramentality is enhanced by engagement with chaos theory and decolonial theory. These unique lenses enlarge traditional Roman Catholic frameworks for considering God’s self-communication through sacramental action as well as the agency of ordinary believers and even non-believers in the sacramental enterprise.
    • Sacred and Profane: Tabooing in Russian Magical Manuscripts of the 17th–18th Centuries (Incantations and Herbals)

      Aleksandra B. Ippolitova (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
      Linguistic taboos (euphemisms, omissions, and other) are an essential part of Slavic verbal and written culture. In this article, we analyze cryptography as a form of tabooing in the magical texts of the grassroots manuscript tradition of the 17th and 18th centuries (handwritten incantations and herbals). Our main objective is trying to see a system behind separate examples and define which kinds of texts are usually tabooed in incantations and herbals, their topics, and messages. We have managed to find out that the function of keeping secrecy is not relevant for the magical tradition; rather, encryption was used to emphasize the elements that are of special importance. In the book of incantations called the Olonets Codex, dating back to the 17th century, ciphering was used for the names and titles of sacred and demonological characters, antagonists, descriptions of certain rituals, closing phrases for the incantations (amen, “key”), etc. We hypothesize that the encryption is used in the Olonets Codex as a means of retaining the magical strength of all the texts in the manuscripts, protecting from hostile beings, sacralizing where necessary, tabooing what was considered sinful for religious reasons, accentuating the main meanings of the incantations, etc. In the herbals, cryptography is basically used for tabooing of “sinful” or trappy topics (love magic, magic used against courts and authorities, some contexts concerning sorcery, jinx, and “secret” knowledge), and in the texts that had to bear sacral meaning (incantations and prayers).
    • Sacred Architecture and Public Space under the Conditions of a New Visibility of Religion

      Jakob Helmut Deibl (MDPI AG, 2020-07-01)
      Embedded in the paradigm of the “New Visibility of Religion,” this article addresses the question of the significance of sacred buildings for public spaces. ‘Visibility’ is conceived as religion’s presence in cities through the medium of architecture. In maintaining sacred buildings in cities, religions expose themselves to the conditions of how cities work. They cannot avoid questions such as how to counteract the tendency of public space to erode. Following some preliminary remarks on the “New Visibility of Religion,” I examine selected sacred buildings in Vienna. Next, I focus on the motifs of the city, the “ark” as a model for sacred buildings and the aesthetic dimension of public space. Finally, I consider the contribution of sacred buildings to contemporary public spaces. What is at issue is not the subject that moves in public and visits sacred buildings with the aim of acquiring knowledge or with the urgency to act, but rather the subject that feels and experiences itself in its dealings with public space and sacred buildings. In this context, I refer to the experience of disinterested beauty (Kant), anachronism, multi-perspectivity (Klaus Heinrich), and openness (Hans-Dieter Bahr).
    • Sacred Covenant and Huguenot Ideology of Resistance: The Biblical Image of the Contractual Monarchy in <i>Vindiciae, Contra Tyrannos</i>

      Andrei Constantin Sălăvăstru (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
      The Bible had been a fundamental source of legitimacy for the French monarchy, with biblical imagery wielded as a powerful propaganda weapon in the ideological warfare which the kings of France often had to wage. All Christian monarchies tried to build around themselves a sacral aura, but the French kings had soon set themselves apart: they were the “most Christian”, anointed with holy oil brought from heaven, endowed with the power of healing, and the eldest sons of the Church. Biblical text was called upon to support this image of the monarchy, as the kings of France were depicted as following in the footsteps of the virtuous kings of the Old Testament and possessing the necessary biblical virtues. However, the Bible could prove a double-edged sword which could be turned against the monarchy, as the ideological battles unleashed by the Reformation were to prove. In search for a justification for their resistance against the French Crown, in particular after 1572, the Huguenots polemicists looked to the Bible in order to find examples of limited monarchies and overthrown tyrants. In putting forward the template of a proto-constitutional monarchy, one of the notions advanced by the Huguenots was the Biblical covenant between God, kings and the people, which imposed limits and obligations on the kings. This paper aims to examine the occurrence of this image in <i>Vindiciae</i>, <i>contra tyrannos</i> (1579), one of the most important Huguenot political works advocating resistance against tyrannical kings, and the role it played in the construction of the Huguenot theory of resistance.
    • Sacred Journeys: Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage

      Chadwick Co Sy Su (MDPI AG, 2018-08-01)
      Pilgrimage, being an ancient practice and a global phenomenon, continues to gain a growinginterest among scholars as its scope traverses many other disciplines and perspectives.[...]
    • Sacred Music and Hindu Religious Experience: From Ancient Roots to the Modern Classical Tradition

      Guy L. Beck (MDPI AG, 2019-01-01)
      While music plays a significant role in many of the world’s religions, it is in the Hindu religion that one finds one of the closest bonds between music and religious experience extending for millennia. The recitation of the syllable OM and the chanting of Sanskrit Mantras and hymns from the Vedas formed the core of ancient fire sacrifices. The Upanishads articulated OM as Śabda-Brahman, the Sound-Absolute that became the object of meditation in Yoga. First described by Bharata in the <i>Nātya-Śāstra</i> as a sacred art with reference to Rasa (emotional states), ancient music or Sangīta was a vehicle of liberation (Mokṣa) founded in the worship of deities such as Brahmā, Vishnu, Śiva, and Goddess Sarasvatī. Medieval Tantra and music texts introduced the concept of Nāda-Brahman as the source of sacred music that was understood in terms of Rāgas, melodic formulas, and Tālas, rhythms, forming the basis of Indian music today. Nearly all genres of Indian music, whether the classical Dhrupad and Khayal, or the devotional Bhajan and Kīrtan, share a common theoretical and practical understanding, and are bound together in a mystical spirituality based on the experience of sacred sound. Drawing upon ancient and medieval texts and Bhakti traditions, this article describes how music enables Hindu religious experience in fundamental ways. By citing several examples from the modern Hindustani classical vocal tradition of Khayal, including text and audio/video weblinks, it is revealed how the classical songs contain the wisdom of Hinduism and provide a deeper appreciation of the many musical styles that currently permeate the Hindu and Yoga landscapes of the West.
    • Sacred Nature. Diverging Use and Understanding of Old Sámi Offering Sites in Alta, Northern Norway

      Marte Spangen; Tiina Äikäs (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
      This study focuses on the contemporary use of two well-known Sámi offering sites in Alta, Finnmark, Norway. Today, these are hiking destinations and sightseeing points for both the Sámi and the non-Sámi local population, as well as a few non-local visitors. Many of these visitors leave objects at the sites, such as parts of recently slaughtered reindeer, clothing, coins, toys, sweet wrappers and toilet paper. This indicates that visitors have different levels of knowledge about and reverence for the traditional significance of these places. Through repeated surveys over several years, we also observed a certain development and change in the number and character of these depositions, as well as a variation in depositions between different sites. A series of interviews with various users and key stakeholders were performed to clarify the reasons for these changing practices, as well as what individuals and groups visit these sites, their motivation for doing so and for leaving specific objects, and what potential conflict of interest there is between different users. Furthermore, we surveyed what information has been available to the public about these sites and their significance in Sámi religion and cultural history over time. The results show that a diverse group of individuals visit the sites for a variety of reasons, and that there are contrasting views on their use, even among different Sámi stakeholders. While it is difficult to limit the knowledge and use of these places because they are already well known, more information about old Sámi ritual practices and appropriate behaviour at such sites may mediate latent conflicts and promote a better understanding of the importance of offering sites in both past and present Sámi societies.
    • Sacred Places and Planetary Stresses: Sanctuaries as Laboratories of Religious and Ecological Change

      Willis Jenkins (MDPI AG, 2020-04-01)
      How are global relations and planetary flows experienced, interpreted, and managed from places set aside from everyday use, as “sacred” in that sense? Sanctuary Lab, a transdisciplinary initiative at UVA, investigates how religious processes interact with planetary stresses. Provisionally adopting a keyword in religious studies, the sacred, opens a post-disciplinary angle of inquiry into Anthropocene processes of cultural and environmental change. Focusing on dynamics of change in places regarded as sanctuaries affords unique perspective on how rapid planetary changes interact with particular inherited streams of normativity and imagination. This essay integrates field note illustrations from Yellowstone and Bhutan with critical reflection on the lab’s approach in order to share initial hypotheses, collaborative research practices, and potential significance. It suggests that sacralization is part of the process through which cultures make sense of rapid changes; that nonhumans participate in sacralization; that sanctuaries offer unique laboratories of coupled change; and that arts-based exercises can help drive critical reflection on experience and method.
    • Sacred Places and Sustainable Development

      Anna Halafoff; Matthew Clarke (MDPI AG, 2018-10-01)
      Religious beliefs are not only profound, some of them are also pervasive, persistent and persuasive. It follows that the cultural and religious experiences of communities often play a central role in determining their worldviews and the ways in which they understand their own circumstances. These worldviews, it follows, can thereby assist in providing narratives for community development in places that have particular meaning to these communities and individuals within them, and thereby enhance the long-term success of such initiatives. One often-overlooked aspect in research up until recently is the role that these often sacred places can play in sustainable development. This paper undertakes a study of development spaces situated in sacred places, in this case of a women’s Buddhist monastery on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, devoted to gender equity. It begins with an overview of research pertaining to religion and development, religion in contemporary societies, and sacred places, and concludes with an analysis of the case study data that recognizes the need to consider the significance of sacred places, and narratives attached to them, in sustainable community development.
    • Sacred Psychotherapy in the “Age of Authenticity”: Healing and Cultural Revivalism in Contemporary Finland

      James M. Wilce (MDPI AG, 2011-10-01)
      Like other European countries, contemporary Finland has witnessed an explosion of healing modalities designatable as “New Age” (though not without profound controversy, [1]). This paper focuses on Finnish courses in lament (wept song, tuneful weeping with words) that combine healing conceived along psychotherapeutic lines and lessons from the lament tradition of rural Karelia, a region some Finns regard as their cultural heartland. A primary goal of the paper is to explicate a concept of “authenticity” emerging in lament courses, in which disclosing the depths of one’s feelings is supported not only by invoking “psy-“ discourses of self-help, but also by construing the genuine emotional self-disclosure that characterizes neolamentation as a sacred activity and a vital contribution to the welfare of the Finnish people.
    • Sacred Secularities: Ritual and Social Engagement in a Global Buddhist China

      Jens Reinke (MDPI AG, 2018-10-01)
      The Taiwanese order Fo Guang Shan is a major representative of renjian Buddhism. The order maintains a global network of over 200 temples and practice centers that spans over not only most of the Asian continent, but also includes Oceania, the Americas, Europe and Africa. This article examines how the order negotiates the modern secular/religious divide by considering the example of its flagship diaspora temple Hsi Lai Temple in L.A., California. Particular attention is given to two prevalent religious practices at the temple—ritual and social engagements—that are often associated with the ‘religious’ and the ‘secular’ respectively. Based on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork, the article aims to assess the relationship between the two practices and discusses how they resonate with a new generation of highly educated, affluent Chinese migrants.
    • Sacred Sites Protection and Indigenous Women’s Activism: Empowering Grassroots Social Movements to Influence Public Policy. A Look into the “Women of Standing Rock” and “Idle No More” Indigenous Movements

      Francesca Gottardi (MDPI AG, 2020-07-01)
      Religion and public policy are interconnected across a variety of issues. One aspect where this linkage has been understudied is religion and Indigenous sacred sites protection. This article aims to address this gap by analyzing how Indigenous women’s activism advances this cause. The focus is on how Indigenous Peoples, specifically women, use grassroots activism to provoke change on public policy in the context of the protection of Indigenous sacred sites. Two case studies are used to illustrate this concept: the American “Women of Standing Rock” and the Canadian “Idle No More” grassroots social movements. My analysis draws from interpretative methods. Interpretative research revolves around the concept of individuals as active producers of meaning. The women-led grassroots social movements at issue highlight a fundamental lack of awareness of the historical and current struggles of Indigenous Peoples, both in the US and Canada. Modern technologies and social media provide democratic means for grassroots social movements to be heard and empowered. The growing movement by Indigenous women to assert their rights, and their quest for self-determination in land use and sacred sites protection create a positive discourse that advances Indigenous women’s position in crossing the obstacles onto “institutional places of privilege,” hence influencing public policy.
    • Sacred Trees, Mystic Caves, Holy Wells: Devotional Titles in Spanish Rural Sanctuaries

      Jaime Tatay (MDPI AG, 2021-03-01)
      This paper explores how local, lived religion has creatively linked spiritual insights and popular devotions in ecologically valuable settings helping generate and preserve the rich Spanish biocultural heritage. Focusing on a selection of Sacred Natural Sites (SNS), mostly Marian sanctuaries, it shows that local “geopiety” and religious creativity have generated “devotional titles” related to vegetation types, geomorphological features, water, and celestial bodies. It also argues that, despite mass migration to urban centers, the questioning of “popular religion” after the Second Vatican Council, and the rapid secularization of Spanish society over the past fifty years, a set of distinctive rituals and public expressions of faith—some of them dating back to the Middle Ages—have remained alive or even thrived in certain rural sanctuaries. These vernacular devotions, however, do not necessarily announce the advent of the postsecular. Finally, it suggests that Protected Area (PA) managers, regional governments, custodians, anthropologists, tourism scholars, and theologians should work together in order to analyze, interpret, and help solve the management challenges highly popular SNS face.
    • Sacred Watersheds and the Fate of the Village Body Politic in Tibetan and Han Communities Under China’s <i>Ecological Civilization</i>

      Chris Coggins (MDPI AG, 2019-10-01)
      The “spirit” in spiritual ecology is an active political force deserving sustained scholarly analysis and public recognition. This article reports on 15 years of field research on “animate landscapes,” associated with gods and spirits in Tibetan communities, and “vital landscapes” associated with <i>fengshui</i> in Han Villages. Despite a century of dramatic sociopolitical change across rural areas in the People’s Republic of China, many villages maintain significant geo-phenomenological connections between body, mind, and land, comprising a body politic maintained through ritual cycles and dwelling practices that uphold the sanctity and integrity of vital watersheds. Comparative analysis of Han and Tibetan spiritual ecologies reveals that cosmological landscapes comprise the armature of relational ontologies grounding and informing everyday life, livelihood, and power relations. As dynamic, emergent, and flexible systems of socio-ecological adaptation that both shape and are shaped by regional and transnational media, they play significant roles in policy initiatives associated with <i>Ecological Civilization</i> and hold potential for broadening the horizons of Anthropocene scholarship, socio-ecological activism, and meaningful settlement in a profoundly unsettled world.
    • “Sacrifice” in the Trump Era

      Kathryn McClymond (MDPI AG, 2019-01-01)
      This article examines public conversations about sacrifice involving Donald Trump, his supporters and his critics. The author demonstrates that Trump, as a candidate and while president, has used specific discursive strategies in defining, ignoring and denigrating sacrificial acts. These strategies, as played out in conversations about sacrifice, distinguish Trump from previous presidents, maintaining his position as a “Washington outsider” even while in office and reinforcing his alignment with his base while isolating other communities within the country and sidelining the mainstream media. In redefining, dismissing and denigrating sacrifice, he undercuts prominent institutions (Congress, mainstream media) and publicly devalues specific communities within the United States.
    • Sad Paradise: Jack Kerouac’s Nostalgic Buddhism

      Sarah F. Haynes (MDPI AG, 2019-04-01)
      Jack Kerouac’s study of Buddhism started in earnest in 1953 and is traditionally believed to have ended in 1958. This paper considers the relationship between Kerouac’s Buddhist practice and his multi-layered nostalgia. Based on a close reading of his unpublished diaries from the mid-1950s through mid-1960s, I argue that Buddhism was a means of coping with his suffering and spiritual uncertainty. Kerouac’s nostalgic Buddhism was a product of orientalist interpretations of the religion that allowed him to replace his idealized version of his past with an idealized form of Buddhism.
    • Safeguarding, Chaplaincy and English Professional Football

      Mark Oliver; Andrew Parker (MDPI AG, 2019-09-01)
      In recent years, English professional football has been rocked by allegations of historical sexual abuse and safeguarding concerns around young players. This paper examines the potential contribution that sports chaplains can make to the specific welfare needs of elite youth footballers within the wider context of safeguarding practices and protocols. Comprising a small-scale, sociological study involving welfare personnel at English Premier League and English Football League Championship clubs, the paper identifies the scope and potential of sports chaplaincy in relation to the practical outworking of safeguarding policy. Findings reveal that elite youth footballers face a number of pressures specific to the highly competitive environment in which they work and that various safeguarding issues routinely arise amidst these pressures. The paper concludes by suggesting that sports chaplains are ideally placed to provide safeguarding and wider welfare support to young players as a consequence of their independence from team management structures and their prioritization of holistic care above performance-related issues.
    • Saint Anselm of Canterbury and Charismatic Authority

      William M. Aird (MDPI AG, 2014-02-01)
      The early career of Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033–1109) provides an opportunity to explore the operation of charismatic authority in a monastic setting. It is argued that the choice of Anselm for the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury in 1093 was the result of his growing reputation cultivated during his years as prior and abbot of the influential Norman monastery of Bec. The article explores various aspects of Anselm’s charismatic authority including his performance of charisma, the charisma derived from his fame as a scholar, and his reputation as a miracle-working holy man.