• Walking in Balance: Native American Recovery Programmes

      Suzanne Owen (MDPI AG, 2014-10-01)
      This article reviews Native American ritual practices, frameworks and key concepts employed by several substance abuse treatments centres in the U.S. and Canada. It also examines the way Alcoholics Anonymous’ Twelve Step programme has been modified to attract and serve the needs of Native Americans and First Nations and its potential impact on the ritual practices. Native concepts of wellbeing are highlighted and linked to the idea of living in “balance”.
    • Walking Meditation: Being Present and Being Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago

      Alison T. Smith (MDPI AG, 2018-03-01)
      The Camino de Santiago has witnessed an unprecedented number of walkers in recent years. Traditionalists feel that the Camino is suffering from excess—too many visitors and too much strain on the infrastructure, accompanied by an ignorance of what it means to be an “authentic” pilgrim. Contemporary pilgrims often use ancillary services to transport their bags, approaching the Camino as an athletic event or a holiday excursion. For scholars and people of faith, these superficial attitudes to the ancient pilgrimage route are disturbing. How can serious pilgrims make peace with those who have neither the historical nor the religious background to understand the magnitude of their endeavor? Vietnamese Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn offers us the practice of walking meditation as a means of being present. I believe that pilgrims can benefit from studying the principles of walking meditation as it is observed in the Buddhist tradition. Pilgrims of all faiths and backgrounds can make use of Thich Nhat Hahn’s practice to enhance their experience. Travelers who incorporate the custom of walking meditation may find common ground. Certainly, those who choose to do walking meditation while on pilgrimage will be more mindful of their journey.
    • Wang Yi and the 95 Theses of the Chinese Reformed Church

      Chloë Starr (MDPI AG, 2016-12-01)
      In August 2015, a group of pastors and elders from an urban house church in Chengdu, Sichuan, posted 95 theses online. This bold move, challenging the state and the Chinese churches has created controversy in China and abroad. The theses address a series of issues on sovereignty and authority with regard to God, the church and the government. This article considers briefly the historical and theological resemblances to Luther’s act, then examines three of the most controversial aspects of the document: its analysis of church–state relations, its rejection of the “sinicization” of Christianity, and its excoriation of the state-registered church. Of these three, the article focuses on church–state relations, since perspectives on the state church and sinicization stem from the same arguments. The article shows how the thinking of this Reformed church and its senior pastor Wang Yi draws on a particular reading of the bible, church tradition, and the role of conscience, and traces these to pastor Wang Yi’s earlier writings and his reading of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Reformed thought.
    • Warriors Who Do Not Kill in War: A Buddhist Interpretation of the Warrior’s Role in Relation to the Precept against Killing

      Tsunehiko Sugiki (MDPI AG, 2020-10-01)
      Buddhist scriptures in ancient South Asia include discourses that teach measures by which a warrior can face problems in confrontation with foreign armies and domestic rebel troops without resorting to killing them in battle. These moderate measures have not attracted much attention in previous studies on Buddhist statecraft and warfare. There are eleven kinds, and they can be organized according to the following three types: retreat from the role of warrior, resolution without pitched battle, and fighting in a pitched battle without killing. Similar ideas regarding measures for resolving military confrontations can be found in Indian Classics in the context of statecraft. The compilers of the Buddhist discourses collected ideas about similar measures from common sources and reshaped those borrowed ideas from the perspective of the Buddhist precept against killing. A warrior who implemented such measures did not acquire as much negative karmic potential as intentional killing produces. In premodern warrior societies, religion often provided the institutional basis for both a code of ethics and a soteriology for warriors, for whom fighting was in fulfillment of their social role. The compilation of discourses containing measures that do not involve killing represents an aspect of Buddhism’s function in ancient South Asia.
    • Was a Sacred Curtain (Parokhet) Depicted on Portable Shrines in the Ancient Near East?

      Madeleine Mumcuoglu; Yosef Garfinkel (MDPI AG, 2020-09-01)
      The Parokhet, or sacred curtain, was an important item of cultic paraphernalia in the ancient Near East. It is known from the Sumerian and Akkadian texts, the biblical tradition, the Second Temple in Jerusalem, Greek temples, and synagogues of the Roman and Byzantine eras, and is still in use today. We suggest that such a sacred curtain is depicted on several of the miniature clay objects known as portable shrines. In Egypt, thanks to the dry climate, a miniature curtain of this kind has indeed been preserved in association with a portable shrine. Depictions of shrines on Egyptian sacred barks also include life-size curtains.
    • Was Swami Vivekananda a Hindu Supremacist? Revisiting a Long-Standing Debate

      Swami Medhananda (MDPI AG, 2020-07-01)
      In the past several decades, numerous scholars have contended that Swami Vivekananda was a Hindu supremacist in the guise of a liberal preacher of the harmony of all religions. Jyotirmaya Sharma follows their lead in his provocative book, <i>A Restatement of Religion: Swami Vivekananda and the Making of Hindu Nationalism</i> (2013). According to Sharma, Vivekananda was “the father and preceptor of Hindutva,” a Hindu chauvinist who favored the existing caste system, denigrated non-Hindu religions, and deviated from his guru Sri Ramakrishna’s more liberal and egalitarian teachings. This article has two main aims. First, I critically examine the central arguments of Sharma’s book and identify serious weaknesses in his methodology and his specific interpretations of Vivekananda’s work. Second, I try to shed new light on Vivekananda’s views on Hinduism, religious diversity, the caste system, and Ramakrishna by building on the existing scholarship, taking into account various facets of his complex thought, and examining the ways that his views evolved in certain respects. I argue that Vivekananda was not a Hindu supremacist but a cosmopolitan patriot who strove to prepare the spiritual foundations for the Indian freedom movement, scathingly criticized the hereditary caste system, and followed Ramakrishna in championing the pluralist doctrine that various religions are equally capable of leading to salvation.
    • Was the Temple on Mount Gerizim Modelled after the Jerusalem Temple?

      Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme (MDPI AG, 2020-02-01)
      Was the Yahweh temple on Mount Gerizim modelled after the temple in Jerusalem? This question is important for our understanding of the sanctuary on Mount Gerizim and the people who worshipped there in the Persian and Hellenistic period; if the Gerizim temple was modelled after the Jerusalem temple, the argument in favour of the Gerizim cult as derived from the cult in Jerusalem is strengthened. On the other hand, if no such connection can be demonstrated convincingly, one must look elsewhere for the answer to the question of Samaritan origins. The present study gives a brief introduction to the relationship between early Judaism and early Samaritanism, or rather Southern and Northern Yahwism, followed by a presentation of Mount Gerizim and the excavations that were carried out there between 1982 and 2006. Finally, I shall turn to the theory that the temple on Mount Gerizim was modelled after the Jerusalem temple, which has been recast by Dr Yitzhak Magen (2008). I conclude that the archaeological remains from the Persian-period sanctuary on Mount Gerizim offer no evidence that this temple was modelled on the temple in Jerusalem.
    • ‘We Are Children of God’: An Ethnography of a Catholic Community in Rural China in the COVID-19 Pandemic

      Wei Xiong; Xinan Li (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
      Academic studies of the relationship between religion and pandemics have been emerging since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many of these studies have been conducted in Euro-American contexts, with little attention paid to non-Western cases. This article provides a local case study from China, the earliest epicenter of the pandemic. The study focused on a Catholic community in rural China, Little Rome, through the lens of lived religion, exploring the relationship between religion and the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants in our ethnographic study indicated that the Church plays an essential role in responding to the pandemic. In contrast to conventional studies of lived religion, in this ethnographic study on Catholicism in China, we contend that while the study of the lived experience of individuals is central to the lived-religion approach, more attention needs to be paid to the role of religious institutions such as the church, which mediate relations between individuals, society, and other social institutions. This article also argues that investigating different places and cultures can provide rich data for understanding the dynamic and diverse relationship between religion and the pandemic.
    • “We Are Doing Everything That Our Resources Will Allow”: The Black Church and Foundation Philanthropy, 1959–1979

      Philip D. Byers (MDPI AG, 2018-08-01)
      Contemporary wealth inequality has prompted a renewed and increased interest in the role that external funding plays in civil society. While observers frequently consider how big philanthropy influences education, politics, and social services, few historical treatments of the postwar era have addressed the interaction between foundation philanthropy and American religion. Black Christianity stands as one clear example of this oversight. Numerous studies of black life in the twentieth-century have engaged the tensions between internal prerogatives and external influences without applying those questions to black churches. This article begins that exploration by focusing on Lilly Endowment, Inc.—the most consistent twentieth-century source of foundation support for religion—and analyzing its interactions with a series of summer seminars for black ministers hosted at Virginia Union University. Though contextual changes in the latter twentieth century altered the nature of Lilly Endowment’s relationship with its recipients, two decades of collaboration reveal how black Christians exerted substantial influence over the trajectory of Lilly Endowment’s growing program in religious giving.
    • We Drew a Swastika of Grain: Vernacular Religion in the Tibetan Songs of Nubri, Nepal

      Mason Brown (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
      The academic study of Tibetan Buddhism has long emphasized the textual, philological, and monastic, and sometimes tended to ignore, dismiss, or undervalue the everyday practices and beliefs of ordinary people. In this article, I show that traditional folk songs, especially <i>changlü</i>, are windows into the vernacular religion of ethnically Tibetan Himalayans from the Nubri valley of Gorkha District, Nepal. While <i>changlü</i> literally means “beer song”, and they are often sung while celebrating, they usually have deeply religious subject matter, and function to transmit Buddhist values, reinforce social or religious hierarchies, and to emplace the community in relation to the landscape and to greater Tibet and Nepal. They do this mainly through three different tropes: (1) exhortations to practice and to remember such things as impermanence and death; (2) explications of hierarchy; and (3) employment of spatialized language that evokes the <i>maṇḍala</i>. They also sometimes carry opaque references to vernacular rituals, such as “drawing a swastika of grain” after storing the harvest. In the song texts translated here, I will point out elements that reproduce a Buddhist worldview, such as references to deities, sacred landscape, and Buddhist values, and argue that they impart vernacular religious knowledge intergenerationally in an implicit, natural, and sonic way, ensuring that younger generations internalize community values organically.
    • We Have Come Back Home: The Spanish-Moroccan Community, Collective Memory, and Sacred Spaces in Contemporary Spain

      Anwar Ouassini (MDPI AG, 2019-02-01)
      This paper examines the role of Islamic sacred spaces in Spanish-Moroccan identity negotiations in contemporary Madrid, Spain. In doing so, I explore how these sacred sites produce diverse meanings and practices that resist the Spanish states hegemonic narratives of place. I argue that the multilayered resistance via the “memory„ and “place„ of these sacred sites ostensibly reconciles and situates Spanish-Moroccans within the larger Spanish imagined community. The paper will first discuss the trans-local experiences of the Spanish-Moroccan community and how their liminal state of being neither “here or there„ necessitates an anchor (Muslim sacred spaces) to the new home context. I will then outline a brief historical narrative of the Muslim presence in Spain and then analyze the meanings attached to the sacrality of Islamic monuments and mosques to the Spanish-Moroccan community. Finally, the paper will explore how the historical memories and their discursive meanings attached to these sacred sites allow Spanish-Moroccans to produce counterhegemonic frameworks that challenge and reshape nationalistic spaces.
    • We Spring from that History: Bernard Lazare, between Universalism and Particularism

      Joel Swanson (MDPI AG, 2018-10-01)
      This paper examines the evolution of Jewish identity in the works of writer and critic Bernard Lazare. It suggests that Lazare’s oeuvre elucidates one of the central tensions in modern Jewish thought: the division between those thinkers who use the reputedly universalist Greek philosophical tradition as a lens to analyze and critique Judaism, and those who use the Jewish textual tradition to challenge and reconceive non-Jewish philosophy. Lazare situated himself on both sides of this divide during his life. In his early work, he used the universalist, laical ideology of French republicanism to attack what he perceived as the inflexible, regressive, anti-modernist character of Talmudic Judaism. Lazare’s thought later shifted in the wake of his involvement in the Dreyfus Affair, and he sought to reclaim an ethnic, nationalist conception of Jewish identity as the source for a communal Jewish political response to rising anti-Semitism. Yet through a close reading of Lazare’s writings, the paper suggests that Lazare’s intellectual evolution was never as complete or totalizing as he perhaps wished. His earlier work occasionally used Jewish sources to critique philosophical universalism, while hints of philosophical critiques of the particularism of Jewish texts such as the Talmud remained in his later revalorization of Jewish identity. Lazare thereby reveals how universalism and particularism remain mutually implicated within modern Jewish thought. The paper thus suggests avenues for Lazare to be productively read within the broader canon of modern Jewish thinkers.
    • “We Stand for Black Livity!”: Trodding the Path of Rastafari in Ghana

      Shamara Wyllie Alhassan (MDPI AG, 2020-07-01)
      Rastafari is a Pan-African socio-spiritual movement and way of life that was created by indigent Black people in the grip of British colonialism in 1930s Jamaica. Although Rastafari is often studied as a Jamaican phenomenon, I center the ways the movement has articulated itself in the Ghanaian polity. Ghana has become the epicenter of the movement on the continent through its representatives’ leadership in the Rastafari Continental Council. Based on fourteen years of ethnography with Rastafari in Ghana and with special emphasis on an interview with one Ghanaian Rastafari woman, this paper analyzes some of the reasons Ghanaians choose to “trod the path” of Rastafari and the long-term consequences of their choices. While some scholars use the term “conversion” to refer to the ways people become Rastafari, I choose to use “trodding the path” to center the ways Rastafari theorize their own understanding of becoming. In the context of this essay, trodding the path of Rastafari denotes the orientations and world-sensorial life ways that Rastafari provides for communal and self-making practices. I argue that Ghanaians trod the path of Rastafari to affirm their African identity and participate in Pan-African anti-colonial politics despite adverse social consequences.
    • “Weak Thought” and Christianity: Some Aspects of Vattimo’s Philosophy of Religion, Confrontation with Otakar Funda

      Martin Vašek; Andrea Javorská (MDPI AG, 2015-08-01)
      The article expresses the philosophical thoughts of an Italian philosopher, G.Vattimo and his development of the philosophy of M. Heidegger and essential aspects of Vattimo’s philosophy of religion. In the first part, we clarify Vattimo’s interpretation of Heidegger’s destruction of traditional metaphysics, the occurrence of ontological difference and the historical process of the oblivion of Being. According to Vattimo, the oblivion of Being is Heidegger’s reaction to European nihilism. It brings with it his philosophical questions on metaphysics, the substance of technology and course of technical civilisation. For Vattimo, it was only secularisation which enables one to pose questions about God, sense, and meaning. In a postmodern world, the world of technology and science has an ontological meaning for human beings and awakens them to who they are. In the article, we also focus our attention on some problematic points in his philosophy of religion. The first problem is a conflict among differentiated interpretations. Vattimo claims that kenosis has neither anything in common with “indefinite negation of God”, nor does it apologise for any interpretation of the Holy Scripture. In addition, he refuses radical demythologisation. In his opinion, there are no necessary reasons to follow this step. There are some authors who have serious reasons for it and the interpretation of kenosis leads to atheism. We will confront Vattimo’s philosophy with the thinking of the current Czech atheistic philosopher Otakar Funda. The next problem is a reduction of soteriology on the process of human being’s emancipation. There is no place for metaphysical evil here.
    • Wealth, Well-Being, and the Danger of Having Too Much

      Dustin Crummett (MDPI AG, 2017-05-01)
      It is impossible for an agent who is classically economically rational to have so much wealth that it is harmful for them, since such an agent would simply give away their excess wealth. Actual agents, vulnerable to akrasia and lacking full information, are not economically rational, but economists, ethicists and political philosophers have nonetheless mostly ignored the possibility that having too much might be harmful in some ways. I survey the major philosophical theories of well-being and draw on ethics and the social sciences to point out several ways in which, on the most plausible of these theories, having too much, relative to other members of one’s society, might be harmful to oneself (for instance, by making it harder for one to have appropriate relationships with others, or by making it more likely than one will develop undesirable character traits). I argue that because egalitarian policies prevent these harms and provide the advantaged with other benefits (such as access to public goods which help rich and poor alike), egalitarian policies are not as harmful to the rich as is commonly supposed, and may even be helpful to them on balance. I close by discussing the practical implications of this.
    • Wearing the Good: A Kierkegaardian Exploration of “Messaged” Apparel

      Céire Kealty (MDPI AG, 2021-08-01)
      What might it mean to “wear the good?” This question arises from a dominating trend in contemporary spaces where objects such as clothing are employed to communicate desires and demonstrate ethical commitments to social causes, political institutions, beliefs, and ideologies. This paper explores the use of garments to convey messages, ethical stances, and even public virtues. It specifically attends to how “messaged” garments, or clothing items that bear images, symbols, and phrases, achieve these ends. Fashion theorist Malcom Barnard rightly intuits that “we have to use things to stand for our thoughts.” Yet the use of these garments warrants concern. This paper explores how such garments are enmeshed in the fashion industry and marketplace, identifying specific troubles that arise therein. Engaging the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, this paper attends to the ethical and spiritual complexities of “messaged” apparel, revealing their failure to supersede ambiguities, and ultimately collapsing ethical desires into aesthetic paralysis. The paper argues that a Kierkegaardian conception of hope can effectively guide those who wear such garments, countering the inadequacy of these wares to sustain personal and communal commitments. Hope directs the “worn” person beyond politicized and ethically “messaged” apparel towards new ways of dressing: adorned in finitude, humility, and an absurd perseverance towards the good.
    • Welcome to Religions, a New Open Access, Multidisciplinary and Comprehensive Online Journal

      Peter Iver Kaufman (MDPI AG, 2010-06-01)
      We always seem to be in the wake of some current event or controversy that reminds us just how important scholarly interest in religions has been, is, and will be. Fortunately, new sources for religious movements—even sources that illumine those movements’ origins—keep turning up, and many sources, long considered critical, are now accessible online. Furthermore, fresh developments in the disciplines that consistently make significant contributions to our understanding of religious personality, authority, devotion, and community—disciplines ranging from psychology, sociology, and anthropology to history, art history, philosophy, literary criticism, and political science—fuel general, as well as scholarly, interest in the world’s religions. Without exaggeration, one can claim we have an embarrassment of riches. Consequently, the study of religious crises, commitments, and critics of the latter has never been livelier. [...]
    • Wesleyan (Anti)Feminism: A Religious Construction of Gender Equality

      Lisa Weaver Swartz (MDPI AG, 2018-03-01)
      Using ethnographic research and interviews, this article explored the construction of gender equality among students and faculty members at the Asbury Theological Seminary. The institution constructed an unusual blend of egalitarianism and anti-feminism using explicitly religious tools. Specifically, it was found that community members constructed firm commitments to gender equality from their heavily individualistic theology and from identification with the New Testament Church. The community’s resonance with feminism was also limited by evangelical anti-structuralism and an ethic of Christian humility and moderation. Established constructions of gender equality and inequality in established scholarly, and especially feminist, literature could not fully explain this unusual blend. This paper argues that agency and empowerment can be available to women because of the theological content of their religion.
    • What about Rats? Buddhist Disciplinary Guidelines on Rats: Daoxuan’s <i>Vinaya</i> Commentaries

      Ann Heirman (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
      Buddhist texts generally prohibit the killing or harming of any sentient being. However, while such a ban may seem straightforward, it becomes much more complex when annoying or dangerous animals are involved. This paper focuses on one such animal—the rat. These rodents feature prominently in monastics’ daily lives, so it should come as no surprise that both Indian and Chinese Buddhist masters pay attention to them. In the first part of the paper, we investigate the problems that rats can cause, how monastics deal with them, and what the authors-compilers of Buddhist <i>vinaya</i> (disciplinary) texts have to say about them. In the second part, we focus on how Daoxuan 道宣 (596–667)—one of the most prominent <i>vinaya</i> masters of the early Tang Dynasty—interprets the <i>vinaya</i> guidelines and their implementation in Chinese monasteries. As we will see, he raises a number of potential issues with regard to strict adherence to the Buddhist principles of no killing and no harming, and so reveals some of the problematic realities that he felt monastics faced in seventh century China.
    • What and How Hybrid Forms of Christian Social Enterprises Are Created and Sustained in Cambodia? A Critical Realist Institutional Logics Perspective

      Rikio Kimura (MDPI AG, 2021-08-01)
      On top of the well-known dilemma of social enterprises as hybrid organizations, the form in which they struggle to balance business viability and the fulfillment of social missions, faith-based social enterprises have an added dimension: their spirituality manifested as organizational culture and practices based on their spiritual values and mission to spread their faith. By employing critical realist institutional logics and an identity-based and biographical approach to social entrepreneurship, this study identifies a typology of different hybrid forms of Christian social enterprises in Cambodia and the tensions associated with them. Moreover, this study explores how and why their social entrepreneurs have created and sustained such forms. I analyzed the qualitative data of 12 Christian social enterprises mainly from interviews with their entrepreneurs. Broadly speaking, the analysis revealed that the hybrid forms of these enterprises depend on the entrepreneurs’ agency, which is influenced by their biographies and contexts. Particularly, in addition to the entrepreneurs’ possession and enactment of multiple identities, boards of directors (as part of the context) and their accountability pressures are crucial for Christian social enterprises to achieve the triple bottom line of business viability, social missions, and spiritual outcomes.