Religions is an international, interdisciplinary, open access journal on religions and theology, published monthly online by Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). MDPI's Editorial Office is in Basel, Switzerland.

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The Globethics.net library contains articles of Religions as of vol. 1(2010) to current.

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  • Introduction to the Special Issue: Religion, Power, and Resistance: New Ideas for a Divided World

    Anna Halafoff; Sam Han; Caroline Starkey; James V. Spickard (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    The world is currently gripped by pressing environmental, social, and economic challenges [...]
  • Hagiography as Source: Gender and Conversion Narratives in <i>The Book of the Saints of the Ethiopian Church</i>

    Anna Redhair Wells (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Drawing on the work of Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent, this essay proposes utilizing hagiographies from the <i>The Book of the Saints of the Ethiopian Church</i>, a fifteenth-century Ethiopian collection of saints’ lives, to explore various aspects of conversion. Other scholars employ a similar approach when analyzing hagiographical literature found in medieval Europe. While acknowledging that these texts do not provide details about the historical experience of conversion, they can assist scholars in understanding the conception of conversion in the imagination of the culture that created them. This essay specifically focuses on the role of women in conversion throughout the text and argues that, although men and women were almost equally represented as agents of conversion, a closer examination reveals that their participation remained gendered. Women more frequently converted someone with whom they had a prior relationship, especially a member of their familial network. Significantly, these observations mirror the patterns uncovered by contemporary scholars such as Dana Robert, who notes how women contributed to the spread of Christianity primarily through human relationships. By integrating these representations of conversion from late medieval Ethiopia, scholarship will gain a more robust picture of conversion in Africa more broadly and widen its understanding of world Christianity.
  • Meaning Agnosticism and Pragmatism

    Sami Pihlström (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    This paper proposes to reconsider agnosticism by taking a step onto a meta-level, investigating agnosticism not as an epistemic stance regarding the choice between theism and atheism, but as a stance toward the question concerning the cognitive meaningfulness and/or truth-aptness of religious discourse. It is argued that this “meta-level” meaning agnosticism may actually be an attractive articulation of a certain kind of religious attitude. While pragmatists like William James have claimed that (epistemic) agnosticism practically collapses into atheism, meaning agnosticism at the meta-level can in fact be a pragmatist position focusing on our human condition and its limits. Additional issues, such as the relations between agnosticism and the theodicism vs. antitheodicism debate regarding the problem of evil and suffering, are also briefly examined.
  • Ham Sok Hon, a Pioneer of Korean Cosmopolitanism

    Song-Chong Lee (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    This paper discusses an aspect of Ham Sok Hon’s philosophy, which the author argues would reflect, and contribute to enriching, the theory of cosmopolitanism. Ham was arguably one of the 20th century’s most influential, yet controversial, thinkers and political activists—particularly in the progressive movement of modern Korea. The author revisits his philosophy of <i>ssial</i>/<i>saengmyŏng</i> to find a more persuasive metaphysical ground to draw an enlarged and deepened sense of community than that of dominant cosmopolitan theories. To properly place his philosophy within the larger discussion of cosmopolitanism and highlight its uniqueness, the author presents a brief overview of major cosmopolitan theories first, along with their shortcomings, and then constructs Ham’s cosmopolitan vision by focusing on three specific insights: (1) <i>ssial/saengmyŏng</i> (씨알/生命, life) as the agent, (2) religion and politics for <i>ipch’ejŏk in’gan</i> (立體的人間 the multi-dimensional human), and (3) narrative and memory as the driving force of cosmopolitanism.
  • “Headship”: Making the Case for Fruitful Equality in a World of Indifferent Sameness and Unbridgeable Difference

    Margaret Harper McCarthy (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    The article takes up the biblical category of “headship,” one of the “third rails” for Christians in a context dominated by the limited conceptions of equality, especially those assumed by “second wave” and “difference” feminism, viz., that of interchangeable sameness and unbridgeable difference. Headship is easily dismissed as an instance of (bad) cultural influence that spoiled Christianity’s egalitarian beginnings. Less radically, headship is simply avoided, or glossed over with apologetic caveats. Headship is an embarrassment, because it suggests not only exclusive differences—the “head” is not the “body”—but an order between them. Head and body are “subject to each other” in distinct and coordinated ways. In what follows, the author claims that headship is not only not an affront to equality, but its very condition between <i>subjects who belong to each other in a generous relation of reciprocal and fruitful unity and distinction</i>. Moreover, it is the expression of the novelty of Christianity, regarding first of all the nature of God in whom there is an original Head, and a “positive other,” without any hint of subordinationism (inequality). On the contrary, the Father is never absolute, but always already determined by the Son. This original headship then informs the Christian conception of the world, its positivity, even to the point that it can give something to God. Finally, it informs the this-worldly headships (Christ–Church and husband–wife). There, headship <i>counters </i>the status quo<i>, </i>by countering the “body’s” default immanentistic “certainty” about her exclusive life-giving power, enjoining her to acknowledge a transcendent source. It restores <i>equality to the head</i>. For the “head,” it counters the false absolutist image of God, while enjoining him to “radiate” something of which he is first “subject,” to “be involved with,” and determined by, the woman, as a positive other. It restores <i>equality to the body</i>. In sum, the article urges us to turn towards the deepest resources of Christianity, to find therein a more fruitful equality.
  • The New Visibility of Religion and Its Impact on Populist Politics

    Michael Hoelzl (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    The marginalised research field of populism and religion has mainly focused on the positive aspects of how religion and populism can be combined with mutual benefits for both parties, whereas the critical potential and limitations that religion and theology pose to populist politics has often been overlooked. The following essay intends to contribute to the complex research area of religion and populism, by focusing on the negative side, that is, the incompatibilities of religion and theology with populism. It is suggested that the very nature of religious belief and theological convictions impose limits on their use in populist politics.
  • Youth Ministry after the Synod on Young People— Ten Points of No Return

    Rossano Sala (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    From October 2016 to March 2019, the Catholic Church engaged in a lengthy journey together with young people. Over these two and a half years, some important documents were produced, including the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation <i>Christus Vivit</i> by Pope Francis. The Synod on Youth has involved the entire Catholic Church, mobilizing all Church communities around the world. After explaining the identity and meaning of a Synod for the Catholic Church, the author offers ten points of no return, which are to be considered the main fruits of this journey. They are leaven for the renewal of youth ministry in the Catholic context and elements for further exploration, comparison and dialogue with other Christian denominations.
  • Academization of Pious Learning: A Student’s Quest in Religious Education

    Mieke Groeninck (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    This paper focuses on the move towards “academization” of Islamic religious education in private institutes belonging to the reform movement in Brussels. An attempt is made to think through this move in terms of the sacred knowledge concerned, and the alleged implications for teachers and students of Islam. Some of the crucial elements that go with this shift are the aspiration for “distantiation” in teaching and knowing aspects of internal diversity, as well as in aspired changes in the professor–student (instead of shaykh–disciple) relationship. By focusing on ethnographic examples, the aim is to contribute to our understanding of the importance of the internal debates instigated by an attempt towards academization, the search for coherence that goes with it, its repercussions on people’s daily life and personal sensibilities, as well as on Islamic expert authority formation.
  • Implementing “Link Nurses” as Spiritual Care Support in a General Hospital

    Bart Cusveller; Aliza Damsma-Bakker; Theotimus Streefkerk; René van Leeuwen (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Background: spiritual care by nurses may be omitted from clinical practice when not structurally embedded in daily professional care routines. Method: a mixed method study was designed to measure qualitative and quantitative outcomes of a “link nurse” as a spiritual care resource (LNSC). Data were gathered from nurses (n = 123–86), link nurses (n = 15–18) and patients (n = 131–122) before and after an implementation and education project among (link) nurses. Results: findings show a self-reported increase of competency in providing spiritual care, especially assessment, counseling and referral in nurses, and referral in link nurses. In interviews afterwards, link nurses (n = 10) and nurses (n = 8) indicated more confidence in providing spiritual care. Patients reported high satisfaction with spiritual care by nurses, although differences in satisfaction between measurements before and after the project could not be demonstrated. Referral frequency to chaplaincy increased during the project. Conclusion(s): nurses may be willing to include spiritual care and collaboration as part of their professional role when support is provided by the hospital leadership. Education and practice development in spiritual care are supported by the implementation of link nurses, while the hospital’s leadership needs to take its responsibility to provide preconditions. Intervention evaluation suggested that the wider context of professional practice, collaboration, and organization needs to be addressed as well.
  • The Female Line in the Bible. Ratzinger’s Deepening of the Church’s Understanding of Tradition and Mary

    Mary Frances McKenna (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    This paper explores the female line in the Bible that Joseph Ratzinger identifies as running in parallel to, and being indispensable for, the male line in the Bible. This female line expands the understanding of Salvation History as described by <i>Dei Verbum</i> so that it runs not just from Abraham through to Jesus, but also from Adam and Eve to Mary and Jesus, the final Adam. Ratzinger’s female line demonstrates that women are at the heart of God’s plan for humanity. I illustrate that this line is evident when Ratzinger’s method of biblical interpretation is applied to the women of Scripture. Its full potential comes into view through Ratzinger’s development of the Christian notion of person: Person as revealed by Jesus Christ is relatedness without reserve with God and is fully applicable to the human being through Christ. I argue that together, the male and female lines in the Bible form the human line in the Bible, in which the male line represents “the humanity”, every human being, while the female line represents the communal aspect of humanity. Moreover, I contend that Christianity’s notion of mother in relation to God (as Father, Son and Holy Spirit) should be understood through Mary’s response at the Annunciation. Mother in relation to God is to be understood through the Incarnation when Mary, as person, lived her life wholly in relation with and for God.
  • Strong and Weak Teleology in the Life Sciences Post-Darwin

    Michael A. Flannery (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    It is often assumed that direction and purpose in nature—teleology—is a dead relic of the past, a result of Charles Darwin’s <i>Origin of Species</i> (1859) and <i>Descent of Man</i> (1871). But teleology has had a long and complex relationship with science. This paper will trace its general history with an emphasis upon the life sciences, especially biology. Particularly important is the fact that all teleology is not equal; strong (transcendent) teleology (designated T<sub>s</sub>) should be distinguished from weak (purely descriptive and utilitarian) teleology (designated T<sub>w</sub>). A working definition of teleology in its most meaningful aspects is then given. The challenges that Darwinism faced in dealing with purpose in nature are discussed, as is their proposed solution in the evolutionary synthesis, and the persistence of T<sub>s</sub> following that synthesis is outlined and critiqued. Evidence of T<sub>s</sub> persistence in the life sciences is presented with several relevant examples, and strong teleology is further differentiated by specific (T<sub>s+</sub>) and nonspecific (T<sub>s−</sub>) varieties. This essay concludes that T<sub>s</sub> remains an ongoing and integral part of the life sciences and will likely remain so, even though it may be true but not verifiable empirically.
  • Melancholy, Narcissism and Hope in Truth

    Catherine Pickstock (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    The fate of a ‘correlational’ approach to truth, which defines contemporary epistemological theories of knowledge, is described as inescapable by Quentin Meillasoux. If Meillasoux is right, then we are far from being able to hope in truth, if we are to follow the philosopher, Andrea Bellantone’s identification of correlation with narcissism and melancholia in <i>La métaphysique possible</i>. In order to understand correlation as narcissism and melancholy, one needs to reconsider the ineluctability of a metaphysical perspective, which pivots around the ultimacy of both being or reality, and the disclosive power of mind. According to Bellantone, human existence is faced with the overwhelming, superabundant and inexhaustible circumstance of being and its multiplicity. In the face of this multiple donation, one cannot avoid offering a joyous response, an appropriate counter-gift. As to what this gift is to be, this depends upon one’s intuitive and interpretative understanding of the import of being as such. Although this question is unanswerable, one cannot avoid it. Even a single being presents a saturated presence to one: a stone does not disclose all of itself, or all of its infinitely ramifying connections with other entities. A metaphysical answer to reality, a certain ‘taking’ of the real, even though one must ceaselessly modify this taking, is unavoidable.
  • Claiming the Term “Liberal” in Academic Religious Discourse

    Sofia Betancourt; Dan McKanan; Tisa Wenger; Sheri Prud’homme (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    The three papers which follow were originally presented at the triennial Unitarian Universalist Convocation in 2016, sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society and Collegium, an Association for Liberal Religious Studies [...]
  • The Impact of Religion and National Origin on Attitudes towards Refugee Rights: An International Comparative Empirical Study

    Alexander Unser; Hans-Georg Ziebertz (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    This paper is concerned with the rights of refugees. The refugee issue has been an acutely charged item on the political agenda for several years. Although the great waves of influx have flattened out, people are continually venturing into Europe. Europe’s handling of refugees has been subject to strong criticism, and the accusation that various actions contradict internationally agreed law is particularly serious. It remains a question of how to respond appropriately to the influx of people fearing for their lives. This paper examines empirically how young people from different denominations in Germany (n = 2022) and how Roman Catholics from 10 countries (n = 5363) evaluate refugee rights. It also investigates whether individual religiosity moderates the influence of denomination or national context. The results show that there are no significant differences between respondents from different denominations, but there are significant differences between respondents from different countries. However, religiosity was not found to moderate the influence of denomination or national context. These findings suggest that attitudes towards refugee rights depend more on the national context in which people live rather than on their religious affiliation or individual religiosity.
  • Religion, Creative Practice and Aestheticisation in Nick Cave’s The Red Hand Files

    Sarah K. Balstrup (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    In 2018, Nick Cave launched The Red Hand Files website, where fans ask personal questions and the artist responds. This ongoing dialogue presents a unique iteration of religious visibility at the nexus of religion and the arts. Here, Cave articulates his personal religiosity in the wake of his son’s death, detailing the role of creative practice, performance and communication. Cave’s personal spirituality engages processes of aestheticisation that awaken experiences of inspiration and mystery. The epistemological orientation of alternative spirituality that values encounters with the ineffable and seeks to be free from static beliefs had previously found its antithesis in organised religion, but more recently, the fervent dogmatism of political correctness has applied its own pressure. As an example of religious aestheticisation within the tradition of alternative spirituality, The Red Hand Files exhibits the continued salience of this worldview despite the countervailing influence of politically correct culture.
  • The Creation of the Devil and the End of the White Man’s Rule: The Theological Influence of the Nation of Islam on Early Black Theology

    Marjorie Corbman (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    This article examines the emergence of the Black Theology movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the context of the religiously diverse milieu of Black political movements during the same period. In particular, the theology of the Nation of Islam was widely understood by contemporary commentators as a major source of the confrontational rhetoric and tactics of the Black Power movement. Drawing upon the writings of the radical Black nationalist minister Albert B. Cleage, Jr., this article examines the importance of what Cleage termed the Nation of Islam’s “Black cultural mythology” in providing the possibility of a break in identification with white Christianity. In particular, it traces the influence of the Nation of Islam’s proclamation of God’s imminent apocalyptic destruction of white America on the theology of James H. Cone and Cleage. In doing so, this article argues for the importance of examining questions of racial and religious difference in American history alongside one another. It was precisely through creative appropriation of a non-Christian framework of biblical interpretation, rooted in faith in God’s complete identification with Black humanity and the consequent imminent judgment of white America, that early (Christian) Black Theologians were able to retain their Christian identity and sever its entanglement with white supremacy.
  • <i>Ecce Homo</i>—Behold the Human! Reading Life-Narratives in Times of Colonial Modernity

    Nandini Bhattacharya (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    The essay explores Bankimchandra Chatterjee’s <i>Krishnacaritra</i>—published in 1886—the life of a humanised god, as engaged in cross cultural dialogues with John Robert Seeley’s <i>Ecce Homo</i>, <i>Natural Religion</i>, and <i>The Expansion of England</i> in particular, and the broader European tendency of naturalising religions in general. It contends that the rise of historicised life writing genres in Europe was organically related to the demythologised, verifiable god-lives writing project. Bankimchandra’s <i>Krishnacarita</i> is embedded within a dense matrix of nineteenth century Indian secular life writing projects and its projection of Krishna as a cultural icon within an incipient nationalist imagining. The essay while exploring such fraught writing projects in Victorian England and nineteenth century colonial Bengal, concludes that ‘secularism’ arrives as not as religion’s Other but as its camouflaging in ethico-cultural guise. Secularism rides on the backs of such demystified god life narratives to rationalise ethico-culturally informed global empires.
  • Hostility toward Gender in Catholic and Political Right-Wing Movements

    Ute Leimgruber (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Starting with a speech by Theodor Adorno, the essay analyzes some thematic parallels between political and religious populism regarding the view on gender and feminism. In both certain traditional Catholic circles and right-wing political parties, an explicit hostility toward gender can be observed. In this article, this resentment is discussed in three aspects: the defense of a traditional image of the family, the instrumentalization of women’s rights against “the Islam”, and, generally, the propaganda of anti-feminism or anti-genderism. Moreover, the text considers the fact that in spite of anti-feminist positions, many women are part of these movements, sometimes even as leaders. The text will prove that this is only a superficial contradiction. The right-wing populist groups—both secular and religious—promise to reduce the potential threat to modern societies while “preserving” the traditional order. The coalitions between them run along the lines of the “values” represented, including anti-feminism and anti-genderism. The danger that these “alliances” pose to a liberal society must not be underestimated by the religious and secular actors who value and protect ambiguity and diversity.
  • Buddhist Modernism Underway in Bhutan: Gross National Happiness and Buddhist Political Theory

    Jessica Locke (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    This article synthesizes and clarifies the significance of the last half-century’s developments in Bhutan’s politics within the frame of Buddhist political thought. During this time, Bhutan has held a curious position in the international community, both celebrated as a Buddhist Shangri-La defending its culture in the face of globalized modernity, and at times, criticized for defending its heritage too conservatively at the expense of ethnic minorities’ human rights. In other words, Bhutan is praised for being anti-modern and illiberal and denounced for being anti-modern and illiberal. As an alternative to understanding Bhutan vis-à-vis this unhelpful schema, and in order to better grasp what exactly is underway in Bhutan’s political developments, I read Bhutan’s politics from within the tradition of Buddhist political literature. I argue that the theory of governance driving Bhutan’s politics is an example of Buddhist modernism—both ancient and modern, deeply Buddhist and yet manifestly inflected by western liberalism. To elucidate Bhutan’s contiguity with (and occasional departures from) the tradition of Buddhist political thought, I read two politically-themed Buddhist texts, Nāgārjuna’s <i>Precious Garland</i> and Mipham’s <i>Treatise on Ethics for Kings,</i> drawing out their most relevant points on Buddhist governance. I then use these themes as a lens for analyzing three significant political developments in Bhutan: its recent transition to constitutional monarchy, its signature policy of Gross National Happiness, and its fraught ethnic politics. Reading Bhutan’s politics in this manner reveals the extent to which Buddhist political thought is underway in this moment. Bhutan’s Buddhist-modernist theory of governance is a hybrid political tradition that evinces a lasting commitment to the core values of Buddhist political thought while at the same time being responsive to modern geopolitical and intellectual influences.
  • Religion across Axes of Inequality in the United States: Belonging, Behaving, and Believing at the Intersections of Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality

    Landon Schnabel (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Much research considers group differences in religious belonging, behaving, and/or believing by gender, race, ethnicity, class, or sexuality. This study, however, considers all these factors at once, providing the first comprehensive snapshot of religious belonging, behaving, and believing across and within these axes of inequality in the United States. Leveraging unique data with an exceptionally large sample, I explore religion across 40 unique configurations of intersecting identities (e.g., one is non-Latina Black heterosexual college-educated women). Across all measures considered, Black women are at the top—however, depending on the measure, there are different subsets of Black women at the top. And whereas most sexual minorities are among the least religious Americans, Black sexual minorities—and especially those with a college degree—exhibit high levels of religious belonging, behaving, and believing. In fact, Black sexual minority women with a college degree meditate more frequently than any other group considered. Overall, whereas we see clear divides in how religious people are by factors like gender, education, and sexual orientation among most racial groups, race appears to overpower other factors for Black Americans who are consistently religious regardless of their other characteristics. By presenting levels of religious belonging, behaving, and believing across configurations of gender, race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality in the contemporary United States, this study provides a more complex and complete picture of American religion and spirituality.

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