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Religions, Volume 8, Issue 10 (October 2017)

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Cover Story Miniature pagodas from the Liao empire (907-1125) offer an opportunity to rethink the function of [...] Read more.
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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Special Issue “International Conference of Spirituality in Healthcare. Nurturing the Spirit”—Trinity College Dublin 2016
Religions 2017, 8(10), 204; doi:10.3390/rel8100204
Received: 12 September 2017 / Revised: 13 September 2017 / Accepted: 13 September 2017 / Published: 26 September 2017
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Abstract
This is an editorial of a Special Issue regarding the International Conference of Spirituality in Healthcare held in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, Republic of Ireland (ROI), on June 2016 (Spirituality Research and Innovation Group 2016).[...] Full article
Open AccessEditorial Introduction: “Inward Being and Outward Identity: The Orthodox Churches in the 21st Century”
Religions 2017, 8(10), 231; doi:10.3390/rel8100231
Received: 19 October 2017 / Revised: 23 October 2017 / Accepted: 23 October 2017 / Published: 24 October 2017
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Abstract
As the title indicates, taken together the thirteen papers in this Special Issue of Religions give a broad view of what might be called the inner and outer life of the Orthodox Church, with each of the papers focusing on a particular area
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As the title indicates, taken together the thirteen papers in this Special Issue of Religions give a broad view of what might be called the inner and outer life of the Orthodox Church, with each of the papers focusing on a particular area of research and reflection [...]
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Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle Reframing Catholic Theological Ethics from a Scotistic Perspective
Religions 2017, 8(10), 200; doi:10.3390/rel8100200
Received: 17 August 2017 / Revised: 14 September 2017 / Accepted: 16 September 2017 / Published: 21 September 2017
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Abstract
The article engages with Joseph Selling’s most recent publication Reframing Catholic Theological Ethics in which he invites theological ethicists to re-think the post-Tridentine development of theological ethics by noting its methodological deficiencies, misrepresentation of sources, and an insufficient interest in the most fundamental
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The article engages with Joseph Selling’s most recent publication Reframing Catholic Theological Ethics in which he invites theological ethicists to re-think the post-Tridentine development of theological ethics by noting its methodological deficiencies, misrepresentation of sources, and an insufficient interest in the most fundamental question: What is it that we are trying to achieve in our moral lives in the first place? In order to re-orient the discipline, Selling proposes a new reading of Thomas Aquinas’ Treatise on Human Acts (ST I-II, 1-21), but the present author argues that this might not be enough, given the debate within the discipline on how Aquinas’ text ought to be interpreted. Hence, the author proposes an alternative route to ‘reframing Catholic theological ethics’ via the works of John Duns Scotus and explores his ethical ideas that might be pertinent for such a project. The main focus of the article is a reflection on Scotus’ ‘case study’ of marriage and bigamy in the Old Testament that justifies drawing a parallel between his work and Selling’s attempt to reframe Catholic theological ethics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Catholic Theological Ethics)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle “My Conscience is Clear” (1 Cor 4:4). The Potential Relevance of Paul’s Understanding of Conscience for Today’s Fundamental Moral Theology
Religions 2017, 8(10), 201; doi:10.3390/rel8100201
Received: 17 August 2017 / Revised: 17 September 2017 / Accepted: 21 September 2017 / Published: 23 September 2017
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Abstract
The objective of this paper is to examine the Pauline understanding of conscience, with the view of gaining an inspiration from it for the contemporary discussion on the foundations of the Christian ethics. The meaning Paul attaches to it depends on the context
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The objective of this paper is to examine the Pauline understanding of conscience, with the view of gaining an inspiration from it for the contemporary discussion on the foundations of the Christian ethics. The meaning Paul attaches to it depends on the context (mainly in Rom and 1 and 2 Cor), ranging from the personal to the communal one. Conscience holds the secrets of human hearts, evaluates concrete circumstances, and discerns right from wrong. It enjoys special relationship with the Holy Spirit, who gives it credibility. Paul’s teaching on conscience extends beyond the personal to the communal. One of the most important inspirations we can draw from him is the one concerning the proper relationship between various members of the ecclesia: those appointed to hold authority, and those supposed to submit to it. How should we balance the communal demands and personal freedom of every baptized member of the community? What is common and what is personal? Despite a multitude of cultural differences and real-life problems in the world of Saint Paul and our own, a careful lecture of his writings may stimulate our debates on the foundations of Christian ethics in a positive way and ensure that they do remain the theological ones. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Catholic Theological Ethics)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Performative Framing: Dza Patrul Rinpoche’s Performative Pedagogy
Religions 2017, 8(10), 202; doi:10.3390/rel8100202
Received: 9 August 2017 / Revised: 16 September 2017 / Accepted: 18 September 2017 / Published: 23 September 2017
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Abstract
This essay explores the pedagogy of Dza Patrul Rinpoche (1808–1887), a well-respected Buddhist teacher from Eastern Tibet, by considering examples where Patrul frames his teachings as oratorical performances. Patrul operates under the guiding pedagogical principle that self-promoting performance is good teaching. The term
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This essay explores the pedagogy of Dza Patrul Rinpoche (1808–1887), a well-respected Buddhist teacher from Eastern Tibet, by considering examples where Patrul frames his teachings as oratorical performances. Patrul operates under the guiding pedagogical principle that self-promoting performance is good teaching. The term “performance” describes the competitive exchanges that appear in certain of Patrul’s writings, where the quality of the sermons in question is at issue. Patrul habitually directs focus to his teachings’ delivery, including instances where his lessons emerge out of conversations between invented characters. Patrul puts the oratorical capacity of his protagonists under a microscope and accentuates the artistry of their teachings. In so doing, he draws attention back to his own mastery, prolixity, cunning, and wordplay. His style allows him to communicate content while demonstrating competence and creativity. By telegraphing these qualities, he interests students in aspiring to similar expertise and provides them with opportunities to generate devotion towards him. According to Patrul, devotion is a crucial mechanism for learning, as it transforms and empowers each step of students’ progress along the path to awakening. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pedagogy and Performance in Tibetan Buddhism)
Open AccessArticle Reframing Catholic Theological Ethics: Summary and Application
Religions 2017, 8(10), 203; doi:10.3390/rel8100203
Received: 21 August 2017 / Revised: 20 September 2017 / Accepted: 20 September 2017 / Published: 25 September 2017
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Abstract
This text represents a summary of the major points developed in the book, Reframing Catholic Theological Ethics, and a brief overview of how the author understands the relation between religion, ethics, and the building of a virtuous community. The main points of the
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This text represents a summary of the major points developed in the book, Reframing Catholic Theological Ethics, and a brief overview of how the author understands the relation between religion, ethics, and the building of a virtuous community. The main points of the book involve the anatomy of “the moral event” that includes a breakdown of all the elements necessary to consider before one arrives at ethical judgments and decision-making. Foundations are brought forth for these elements, each of which exhibits its own characteristics. The good and evil details of actions and circumstances that make up behavior are based upon an analysis of what is beneficial or harmful to human persons, integrally and adequately considered. Behaviors themselves are considered right or wrong in relation to whether they are appropriate ways of achieving one’s intended ends. Then, the distinction between good and bad is related to one’s virtuous or vicious dispositions, which necessitates a revised understanding of virtue. Based upon a view of religion that provides a formulation of principles that guide the life of the believing community, it is suggested that these principles encourage a commitment to ends or goals that serve the maintenance and advance of a community’s ethics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Catholic Theological Ethics)
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Open AccessArticle Tsipporah, Her Son, and the Bridegroom of Blood: Attending to the Bodies in Ex 4:24–26
Religions 2017, 8(10), 205; doi:10.3390/rel8100205
Received: 31 August 2017 / Accepted: 9 September 2017 / Published: 26 September 2017
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Abstract
Through the centuries, scholars and readers have looked through a variety of lenses to discover what might be revealed by the story of Tsipporah’s circumcision of her son in Exodus 4, and to assign meanings to it. The ambiguity of the language and
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Through the centuries, scholars and readers have looked through a variety of lenses to discover what might be revealed by the story of Tsipporah’s circumcision of her son in Exodus 4, and to assign meanings to it. The ambiguity of the language and the particular interests of readers in their contexts allow for a breadth of possibilities. However, in most cases, the son and his body fail to attract much scholarly concern. In this reading, I suggest that considering more intently the bodies of the son, Tsipporah, and the deity through the lens of affect theory offers a fresh understanding of Tsipporah’s utterance following the cutting of her son’s foreskin. Teresa Brennan’s work on the transmission of affect breaks down the “foundational fallacy” of the individuated bodies of the three, allowing the deity’s threat, the son’s pain, and the mother’s response to affect the way Tsipporah’s words might be heard and understood. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Body in the Bible)
Open AccessArticle Virtual Pilgrimage and Virtual Geography: Power of Liao Miniature Pagodas (907-1125)
Religions 2017, 8(10), 206; doi:10.3390/rel8100206
Received: 7 August 2017 / Revised: 10 September 2017 / Accepted: 15 September 2017 / Published: 26 September 2017
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Abstract
This paper examines the role of the miniature in Buddhist ritual, through analyses of miniature pagodas from middle-period China. Due to the otherworldly sensations they evoked and their theatrical nature, miniatures were often endowed with magical and performative power in funerary and religious
[...] Read more.
This paper examines the role of the miniature in Buddhist ritual, through analyses of miniature pagodas from middle-period China. Due to the otherworldly sensations they evoked and their theatrical nature, miniatures were often endowed with magical and performative power in funerary and religious contexts. The miniature pagodas from the Liao empire (907–1125) were replicas of the stupa monuments (the prototype of the pagoda) at the Eight Great Sacred Places in India. Adopting ritual theories and a comparative approach, this paper illuminates how the Liao miniature pagodas were devised to symbolically transfer the sacred places to the Liao empire in northeast China, allowing Liao Buddhists to make a virtual pilgrimage to the Buddha’s homeland by circumambulating the pagoda. The ways in which they functioned in the Buddhist ritual were similar to the small-scale copies of the Holy Sepulcher in medieval Europe. Their power—contrary to common sense—originated from their miniature size and intentional rejection of their sacred prototype. Through these miniatures, the banal ritual of pagoda circumambulation was transformed into an imaginary journey to the distant holy land, which was believed to be more efficacious and meritorious than an actual pilgrimage, and the prairie of northeast China was turned into the most sacred place in the Buddhist world. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Hermeneutic and Teleology in Ethics across Denominations—Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth
Religions 2017, 8(10), 207; doi:10.3390/rel8100207
Received: 17 August 2017 / Revised: 15 September 2017 / Accepted: 17 September 2017 / Published: 27 September 2017
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Abstract
This study arises from the context of current debates in the Catholic Church on the place of rule and law in moral reasoning. I suggest that ethics may be best served by approaches that place the human subject in a teleogical context and
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This study arises from the context of current debates in the Catholic Church on the place of rule and law in moral reasoning. I suggest that ethics may be best served by approaches that place the human subject in a teleogical context and that recognise the need for interpretation of circumstances surrounding actions to be evaluated. This is in contrast to normative rule approaches. The insights retrieved from the account of moral reasoning in Thomas Aquinas by Joseph Selling are compared with an account of the ethical implications of Karl Barth’s theology of hope as expressed in Volume Four of the Church Dogmatics. It is concluded that, in an ecumenical convergence, neither propose a normative rule approach. Rather both use a teleological context and require a hermeneutic of evaluation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Catholic Theological Ethics)
Open AccessArticle Assessing Religious Orientations: Replication and Validation of the Commitment-Reflectivity Circumplex (CRC) Model
Religions 2017, 8(10), 208; doi:10.3390/rel8100208
Received: 5 September 2017 / Revised: 20 September 2017 / Accepted: 25 September 2017 / Published: 28 September 2017
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Abstract
The Commitment-Reflectivity Circumplex (CRC) model is a structural model of religious orientation that was designed to help organize and clarify measurement of foundational aspect of religiousness. The current study successfully replicated the CRC model using multidimensional scaling, and further evaluated the reliability, structure,
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The Commitment-Reflectivity Circumplex (CRC) model is a structural model of religious orientation that was designed to help organize and clarify measurement of foundational aspect of religiousness. The current study successfully replicated the CRC model using multidimensional scaling, and further evaluated the reliability, structure, and validity of their measures in both a university student sample (Study 1) and a nationally representative sample (Study 2). All 10 subscales of the Circumplex Religious Orientation Inventory (CROI) demonstrated good reliability across both samples. A two-week test-retest of the CROI showed that the subscales are stable over time. A confirmatory factor analysis of the CROI in the representative adult sample demonstrated good model fit. Finally, the CROI’s validity was examined in relation to the Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Quest measures. Overall, the CROI appears to clarify much of the ambiguity inherent in the established scales by breaking down what were very broad orientations into very specific suborientations. The results suggest that the CRC model is applicable for diverse populations of adults. In addition, the CROI appears to be construct valid with good structural and psychometric properties across all 10 subscales. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Television Dramas, Disability, and Religious Knowledge: Considering Call the Midwife and Grey’s Anatomy as Religiously Significant Texts
Religions 2017, 8(10), 209; doi:10.3390/rel8100209
Received: 15 August 2017 / Revised: 21 September 2017 / Accepted: 21 September 2017 / Published: 28 September 2017
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Abstract
Images and narratives of people with disabilities in popular culture shape the perceptions of people with and without disabilities. When these narratives raise philosophical and religious questions emerging from the lives of people with disabilities, and depict meaningful engagements between people with disabilities
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Images and narratives of people with disabilities in popular culture shape the perceptions of people with and without disabilities. When these narratives raise philosophical and religious questions emerging from the lives of people with disabilities, and depict meaningful engagements between people with disabilities and religious practices, an underexamined body of knowledge emerges. The television series Call the Midwife and Grey’s Anatomy both have episodes that depict families responding to a disability diagnosis in a newborn infant, and each offers a potentially significant account of what it means to be a person born with a disability. While popular culture depictions of disability often reinscribe stigmatizing stereotypes, they can also disrupt those stereotypes and identify people with disabilities as authoritative, underrecognized sources of knowledge and experience, including religious understanding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Disability, and Social Justice: Building Coalitions)
Open AccessArticle Association between Health Behaviours and Religion in Austrian High School Pupils—A Cross-Sectional Survey
Religions 2017, 8(10), 210; doi:10.3390/rel8100210
Received: 14 August 2017 / Revised: 23 September 2017 / Accepted: 25 September 2017 / Published: 28 September 2017
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Abstract
The prevalence of risk factors for chronic diseases such as smoking, alcohol abuse, low fruit and vegetable consumption, and lack of physical activity is high among young adults. Health behaviours are influenced by many factors and also by religious orientation, as American studies
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The prevalence of risk factors for chronic diseases such as smoking, alcohol abuse, low fruit and vegetable consumption, and lack of physical activity is high among young adults. Health behaviours are influenced by many factors and also by religious orientation, as American studies show. The aim of the present study was to explore whether a similar association with religion exists in Austria (Europe). A cross-sectional survey was carried out in seven randomly selected high schools, whereby a total of 225 11th-grade pupils (64% girls, 36% boys; average age 16.4 years) were surveyed by means of an online questionnaire. The study reveals a positive association between religion and healthy food choices as well as meal patterns. Smoking (number of cigarettes smoked daily) and alcohol consumption (getting drunk) was negatively associated with religion. These negative associations remained after adjusting for confounding factors using logistic regression analysis. Thus, the study showed that religion is associated with a reduction in these risky health behaviours in Austrian high school pupils. However, due to the limitations of the study design, causality cannot be inferred. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integrating Religion and Spirituality into Clinical Practice)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Normative Virtue Theory in Theological Ethics
Religions 2017, 8(10), 211; doi:10.3390/rel8100211
Received: 17 August 2017 / Revised: 13 September 2017 / Accepted: 18 September 2017 / Published: 29 September 2017
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Abstract
What place is there for virtue theory in theological ethics? Many question the normative significance of virtue theory in theological ethics today, leaving it to rule-based ethics to provide action-guidance. There are three key objections to the normativity of virtue theory: that virtue
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What place is there for virtue theory in theological ethics? Many question the normative significance of virtue theory in theological ethics today, leaving it to rule-based ethics to provide action-guidance. There are three key objections to the normativity of virtue theory: that virtue theory is about agents rather than actions, that virtue theory has nothing to say directly about the morality of actions, and that the virtues are too vague to be of normative or action-guiding significance. This essay, drawing on Thomas Aquinas’s account of virtue, challenges these perceptions and argues for a genuinely normative, action-guiding virtue theory within theological ethics. Theological ethics, in turn, can contribute to virtue theory, especially by its emphasis on the ecstatic nature of mature moral virtue, and through its reflection on the virtue of spiritual discernment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Catholic Theological Ethics)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Cross-Cultural Kingship in Early Medieval Kāmarūpa: Blood, Desire and Magic
Religions 2017, 8(10), 212; doi:10.3390/rel8100212
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 31 August 2017 / Accepted: 25 September 2017 / Published: 29 September 2017
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Abstract
Kingship in early medieval Kāmarūpa (Assam) was influenced by the collision of orthodox and heterodox Brahmanic traditions with various tribal cultures. Since the last part of the Śālastambha period (seventh–tenth century) the royal tutelary deity of Kāmarūpa was the menstruating Kāmākhyā, an ancient
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Kingship in early medieval Kāmarūpa (Assam) was influenced by the collision of orthodox and heterodox Brahmanic traditions with various tribal cultures. Since the last part of the Śālastambha period (seventh–tenth century) the royal tutelary deity of Kāmarūpa was the menstruating Kāmākhyā, an ancient kirāta goddess. According to the Puranic tradition, the cult of Kāmākhyā was absorbed within Hindu religious folds by the mytho-historical king Naraka of Kāmarūpa. According to textual and epigraphic records, Naraka was conceived by Pṛthvī (Earth goddess) during her menstrual period, through a sexual intercourse with varāha (boar form of Viṣṇu). All early medieval dynasties of Kāmarūpa traced back their origins to Naraka, connecting their lines to the divine power but also to the menstrual blood—a substance considered extremely impure though powerful in Vedic and post-Vedic traditions. The king operated as a cross-cultural mediator: he was the only actor who was able to harness the produced polluted forces, through the Tantric rituals, in order to strengthen the political power. Thence, this essay aims to demonstrate, through inter- and intra-textual evidences, epigraphic records, and ethnographic data, that in Assam throughout the early medieval ages, the kingship grounded its roots in an osmotic cross-cultural process which was influenced by tribal traditions and orthodox and heterodox Hindu sects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Society for Tantric Studies Proceedings (2016))
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Adorned by Power: The Individualized Experience of the Mojo Bag
Religions 2017, 8(10), 213; doi:10.3390/rel8100213
Received: 15 August 2017 / Revised: 18 September 2017 / Accepted: 19 September 2017 / Published: 29 September 2017
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Abstract
In America, no religion better exemplifies the power of the individual than Hoodoo. Within these peripheral communities in the South, enslaved persons created spaces in which individual practitioners could choose which rituals, objects, and beliefs they prioritized for their own salvation. Out of
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In America, no religion better exemplifies the power of the individual than Hoodoo. Within these peripheral communities in the South, enslaved persons created spaces in which individual practitioners could choose which rituals, objects, and beliefs they prioritized for their own salvation. Out of this tradition of “selection” came the development of adornments like Mojo Bags, an amalgamation of objects, both natural and manufactured, that connect the individual directly with the sacred. When adorned with these Mojo Bags, primarily under clothes to assure contact with the skin, practitioners are provided with the power they have previously been denied. I will argue in my paper, therefore, that this method of adornment provides the locus of power needed to address the psychological and physical bondage practitioners faced during the period of enslavement, highlighted by the case of Frederick Douglass’ use of a root that led to his success in fighting with Mr. Covey. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race and Religion: New Approaches to African American Religions)
Open AccessArticle Do Not Despise the Discipline of the Almighty: God as Leather Daddy and Reading Job through Althaus-Reid
Religions 2017, 8(10), 214; doi:10.3390/rel8100214
Received: 4 August 2017 / Revised: 26 September 2017 / Accepted: 28 September 2017 / Published: 1 October 2017
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Abstract
The feminist queer theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid (1952–2009) wrote about what it meant to be an “indecent theologian” and claimed that sexual stories from the margins of society can help transform theological issues. What can “indecent theology” mean for the problem of evil specifically
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The feminist queer theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid (1952–2009) wrote about what it meant to be an “indecent theologian” and claimed that sexual stories from the margins of society can help transform theological issues. What can “indecent theology” mean for the problem of evil specifically as it is addressed in the book of Job? This article will use Althaus-Reid’s creative methodology, which engages in a dialogue between theology, sexual theory, politics, and personal narrative. This methodology will be applied to the hermeneutic of suffering in the book of Job. I propose that this engagement of theodicy through a queer lens and more specifically within the category of gay sadomasochism in particular, while not definitively addressing the broader problem of evil, can be a creative lens to reinterpret the book of Job. By queering Job, I offer an alternative understanding of the problem of suffering and evil that can find a space within contextual theology. The article concludes with a remark on how such a reading can be used as a liberating text for the queer community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
Open AccessArticle Reframing Catholic Ethics: Is the Person an Integral and Adequate Starting Point?
Religions 2017, 8(10), 215; doi:10.3390/rel8100215
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 20 September 2017 / Accepted: 23 September 2017 / Published: 2 October 2017
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Abstract
Joseph Selling rightly defines human intentions and motivations as part of human nature and an important determinant of the morality of personal actions. The thesis of this paper is that Selling’s view of agency, as focused on the individual, must be expanded to
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Joseph Selling rightly defines human intentions and motivations as part of human nature and an important determinant of the morality of personal actions. The thesis of this paper is that Selling’s view of agency, as focused on the individual, must be expanded to include social relationships and the social constitution of selves and communities. This requires cross-cultural dialogue about human nature, the goods for persons and societies, and social ethics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Catholic Theological Ethics)
Open AccessArticle Neo-Hindu Fundamentalism Challenging the Secular and Pluralistic Indian State
Religions 2017, 8(10), 216; doi:10.3390/rel8100216
Received: 29 August 2017 / Revised: 13 September 2017 / Accepted: 25 September 2017 / Published: 3 October 2017
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Abstract
Secularism seems to require separation between religion and State. Regarding India, it would be better to speak of ‘equidistance’ between State and religious denominations. Nonetheless a ‘balanced treatment’ towards the religions leaves the question open as to what form that equidistance should take.
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Secularism seems to require separation between religion and State. Regarding India, it would be better to speak of ‘equidistance’ between State and religious denominations. Nonetheless a ‘balanced treatment’ towards the religions leaves the question open as to what form that equidistance should take. This is the reason of some contradictions in today’s Indian social and political life. It is likely that without the Moghul and British domination Hinduism would not have acquired a militant identity. It was the ‘epiphany’ of well-armed, powerful ‘Others’ (Muslim, Christian or secular) which generated frustration and fear to such an extent that a religious nationalism (Hindutva) was born. Nehru and the Left of the Congress Party leadership thought that modernity would overcome religion, which is a remnant of the past. They were confident that a political culture based on pluralism and tolerance would become the foundations of the new society. This is exactly what Hindu Nationalism takes issue with: the ‘pseudo-seculars’ project of building the national identity without Hinduism or against Hinduism. Hindutva asserts that Hinduism is the basis of the Indian civilization. The Hindu ethos is the soul of the nation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
Open AccessArticle Reinscribing the Goddess into the Culturally Relative Minutiae of Tantric Texts and Practices: A Perennialist Response to Tantric Visual Culture
Religions 2017, 8(10), 217; doi:10.3390/rel8100217
Received: 27 July 2017 / Revised: 30 September 2017 / Accepted: 1 October 2017 / Published: 3 October 2017
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Abstract
A celebration and critical evaluation of Sthaneshwar Timalsina’s brilliant book, Tantric Visual Culture: A Cognitive Approach. In this groundbreaking work, Timalsina utilizes the lens of cognitive studies to shed interpretive light on the Tantric visualization practices that he knows both as a
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A celebration and critical evaluation of Sthaneshwar Timalsina’s brilliant book, Tantric Visual Culture: A Cognitive Approach. In this groundbreaking work, Timalsina utilizes the lens of cognitive studies to shed interpretive light on the Tantric visualization practices that he knows both as a scholar and lifetime practitioner. Timalsina argues that mastery of Tantric practice requires immersion in the culturally relative metonymic and holographic logic framed by the Tantric ritual texts. The conclusion that arises from his analysis is that Tantric “truths” are bound to the linguistic and cultural systems that frame them. In response, I herewith offer a perennialist critique and argument for a more nuanced consideration of the transcendent “truth” or “being” that is the stated aim of Tantric practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Society for Tantric Studies Proceedings (2016))
Open AccessArticle Habermas and Religious Communication: The Insufficiency of the Translation Proviso
Religions 2017, 8(10), 218; doi:10.3390/rel8100218
Received: 17 August 2017 / Revised: 28 September 2017 / Accepted: 2 October 2017 / Published: 9 October 2017
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Abstract
Much has been debated and written about the translation proviso, its implications, and its rationality. At its core, it is about communication and a transition in religious communication that means it can become secularly engaged. This paper argues that the theory of the
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Much has been debated and written about the translation proviso, its implications, and its rationality. At its core, it is about communication and a transition in religious communication that means it can become secularly engaged. This paper argues that the theory of the translation proviso is insufficient to accommodate religious communication and, in order to support the arguments made, considers associated aspects of the work of Habermas, such as solidarity, tolerance and universalism, as well, of course, as communication. Considerations in this wider context lead to a growing awareness that the translation proviso and its prescriptive tendencies may be seen as being an ominous contradiction of much of the other work of Habermas and that, far from being postmetaphysical and postmodern, it may have elements of being a ‘big idea’. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Remembering the Neighborhood: Church, Disability, and Religious Memory
Religions 2017, 8(10), 219; doi:10.3390/rel8100219
Received: 18 August 2017 / Revised: 27 September 2017 / Accepted: 30 September 2017 / Published: 10 October 2017
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Abstract
This article focuses on rituals of community life within a North American church in which many of the congregants live with psychiatric disabilities and whose participation in religious life is affected by their experiences of poverty and gentrification. I begin by exploring an
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This article focuses on rituals of community life within a North American church in which many of the congregants live with psychiatric disabilities and whose participation in religious life is affected by their experiences of poverty and gentrification. I begin by exploring an aesthetic practice of remembrance that the postcolonial scholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak identifies and performs in an essay entitled “Harlem”. Drawing upon Spivak’s description of an imaginative practice she identifies as “teleiopoiesis” and my own ethnographic research, including participant observation and interviews, I analyze an example of how this community incorporates visual art into its practices of communal memory as part of one church’s weeklong liturgy. I then argue for the church’s gathering of members from across the city as a practice of remembrance across time and space that confronts the structures and injustices of urban life that challenge the communal identity emerging from this congregation’s religious practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Disability, and Social Justice: Building Coalitions)
Open AccessArticle Naturalism, Normativity, and the Study of Religion
Religions 2017, 8(10), 220; doi:10.3390/rel8100220
Received: 1 September 2017 / Revised: 19 September 2017 / Accepted: 20 September 2017 / Published: 10 October 2017
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Abstract
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
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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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Description, Prescription, and Value in the Study of Religion)
Open AccessArticle The Dead Speak: A Case Study from the Tiwa Tribe Highlighting the Hybrid World of Śākta Tantra in Assam
Religions 2017, 8(10), 221; doi:10.3390/rel8100221
Received: 5 July 2017 / Revised: 20 September 2017 / Accepted: 25 September 2017 / Published: 11 October 2017
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Abstract
In this paper, we shall examine how possession is understood in Assam, India. We are aware that the larger northeastern frontier of India retained indigenous practices, religious festivals, and beliefs in a plethora of exotic goddesses, rituals, which have continued unabated through modern
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In this paper, we shall examine how possession is understood in Assam, India. We are aware that the larger northeastern frontier of India retained indigenous practices, religious festivals, and beliefs in a plethora of exotic goddesses, rituals, which have continued unabated through modern times. This has resulted in cross-pollination between the Vedic or traditional Brahmanical or orthodox Hindu practices and the indigenous practices, which in turn has yielded a hybrid world of Śākta Tantra rituals and practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Society for Tantric Studies Proceedings (2016))
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Open AccessArticle Reincarnation in America: A Brief Historical Overview
Religions 2017, 8(10), 222; doi:10.3390/rel8100222
Received: 14 September 2017 / Revised: 1 October 2017 / Accepted: 3 October 2017 / Published: 11 October 2017
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Abstract
American theories of reincarnation have a long and complex history, dating from 1680s to the present. It is the purpose of this paper to highlight the main currents of reincarnation theory in the American context, giving a brief historical survey. Sources surveyed begin
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American theories of reincarnation have a long and complex history, dating from 1680s to the present. It is the purpose of this paper to highlight the main currents of reincarnation theory in the American context, giving a brief historical survey. Sources surveyed begin with Native American traditions, and then move to immigrant traditions based in Western Esotericism, Christianity, Judaism, missionary Hinduism and Buddhism, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, and concludes with more current theoretical influences, based in paranormal science research. The paper demonstrates that current theories of reincarnation are increasingly less dependent upon religious support and increasingly based in direct personal experience, paranormal research, and new therapeutic models. The paper concludes with some reflections on the complexity of reincarnation theory and raises questions concerning the future development of such theory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Reincarnation: Hindu, Christian, and Scientific)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle On Not Understanding Extraordinary Language in the Buddhist Tantra of Japan
Religions 2017, 8(10), 223; doi:10.3390/rel8100223
Received: 28 August 2017 / Revised: 1 October 2017 / Accepted: 6 October 2017 / Published: 11 October 2017
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Abstract
The question motivating this essay is how tantric Buddhist practitioners in Japan understood language such as to believe that mantra, dhāraṇī, and related forms are efficacious. “Extraordinary language” is introduced as a cover term for these several similar language uses found in
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The question motivating this essay is how tantric Buddhist practitioners in Japan understood language such as to believe that mantra, dhāraṇī, and related forms are efficacious. “Extraordinary language” is introduced as a cover term for these several similar language uses found in tantric Buddhist practices in Japan. The essay proceeds to a critical examination of Anglo-American philosophy of language to determine whether the concepts, categories, and concerns of that field can contribute to the analysis and understanding of extraordinary language. However, that philosophy of language does not contribute to this analysis, as it is constrained by its continuing focus on its founding concepts, dating particularly from the work of Frege. Comparing it to Indic thought regarding language reveals a distinct mismatch, further indicating the limiting character of the philosophy of language. The analysis then turns to examine two other explanations of tantric language use found in religious studies literature: magical language and performative language. These also, however, prove to be unhelpful. While the essay is primarily critical, one candidate for future constructive study is historical pragmatics, as suggested by Ronald Davidson. The central place of extraordinary language indicates that Indic reflections on the nature of language informed tantric Buddhist practice in Japan and are not simply cultural baggage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Society for Tantric Studies Proceedings (2016))
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Theocentric Love Ethics
Religions 2017, 8(10), 224; doi:10.3390/rel8100224
Received: 17 August 2017 / Revised: 1 October 2017 / Accepted: 7 October 2017 / Published: 11 October 2017
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Abstract
Joseph Selling proposes a contemporary revision of natural law ethics, making it more person-centered. Earlier James Gustafson insisted that natural law ethics was too egoist or anthropocentric, so his work proposed theocentrism as a corrective. Richard Gula in turn proposed an ethics that
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Joseph Selling proposes a contemporary revision of natural law ethics, making it more person-centered. Earlier James Gustafson insisted that natural law ethics was too egoist or anthropocentric, so his work proposed theocentrism as a corrective. Richard Gula in turn proposed an ethics that centers on imitating God’s relationships. This essay combines the merits of all three with the author’s own love-covenant basis for ethics. It contrasts secular and religious ethics, with the latter incorporating cooperation in communion with God. One strand of Aquinas’s theology indicates that religious discernment is an affective process of union with God, but the typical ways of describing this union court significant dangers of reducing either God to self or self to God. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Catholic Theological Ethics)
Open AccessArticle “He Who Enters the Bath-House Utters Two Blessings”: On the Evolvement and Decline of an Ancient Jewish Prayer
Religions 2017, 8(10), 225; doi:10.3390/rel8100225
Received: 10 August 2017 / Revised: 25 August 2017 / Accepted: 12 October 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
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Abstract
One of the improvements introduced by the Romans was the public bath-house. This article discusses the formation of Jewish prayers, which were composed during the early rabbinic period, following the dangers of the public baths. Sages from late antiquity published two prayers: Before
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One of the improvements introduced by the Romans was the public bath-house. This article discusses the formation of Jewish prayers, which were composed during the early rabbinic period, following the dangers of the public baths. Sages from late antiquity published two prayers: Before entering to the bathhouse, the bather has to pray for his safety, and after leaving the bath-house he has to thank Gd for not having suffered harm. The dangers of the bathhouse were deemed to include: Weakness, fainting or dehydration due to the heat of the bathhouse; Legs injury of the bathers due to the heat of the warm floor; Dental damage; Sliding on the wet floor; Fear of death due to collapse of the hypocaust. Due to changes in the bath-house in the modern era; these prayers lost their relevance up to a point; or at any rate; they were no longer prescribed or recorded in practice. Bathhouse heaters were no longer located in the hypocaust; and were rather only located close to the wall of the upper room. Hence; falling into the hot lower space was irrelevant. Following the introduction of domestic baths; these prayers have completely vanished. Full article
Open AccessArticle How a Model of Communication Can Assist Nurses to Foster Hope When Communicating with Patients Living with a Terminal Prognosis
Religions 2017, 8(10), 227; doi:10.3390/rel8100227
Received: 8 September 2017 / Revised: 12 October 2017 / Accepted: 13 October 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
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Abstract
Nurses play a central role in joint decision-making and person-centred care, whereby care is focused on the needs of an individual patient. A key part of person-centred care is the way nurses engage with patients because good communication can impact on a person’s
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Nurses play a central role in joint decision-making and person-centred care, whereby care is focused on the needs of an individual patient. A key part of person-centred care is the way nurses engage with patients because good communication can impact on a person’s spiritual wellbeing, particularly in relation to their ability to have hope. The way nurses communicate can be even more pertinent for people living with a terminal prognosis as the issues discussed can in themselves significantly influence a person’s spiritual wellbeing. This paper combines contemporary research on how health professionals can foster hope in patients living with a terminal prognosis with The Awareness Context Theory described by Glaser and Strauss in 1965. A model of communication is then used to demonstrate how the research on hope and The Awareness Context Theory can be applied to practice. Full article
Open AccessArticle Goal-Oriented Ethics: Framing the Goal-Setting Concretely
Religions 2017, 8(10), 228; doi:10.3390/rel8100228
Received: 17 August 2017 / Revised: 30 September 2017 / Accepted: 7 October 2017 / Published: 17 October 2017
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Abstract
Joseph Selling, professor emeritus from KU Leuven, Belgium, recently made a significant contribution towards ethical methodology. It is in fact a continuation of the in-house conversations that have been in vogue about methods in moral reasoning since Vatican II in the discipline called
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Joseph Selling, professor emeritus from KU Leuven, Belgium, recently made a significant contribution towards ethical methodology. It is in fact a continuation of the in-house conversations that have been in vogue about methods in moral reasoning since Vatican II in the discipline called theological ethics. What is specific about Selling’s attempt is that he re-orients or reframes the evaluation of the moral event to consider human intentionality or motivation before considering human behavior or human acts. He convincingly establishes his method by a meticulous reading of Thomas Aquinas. This paper is a response to the goal-oriented ethics that he has posited. As illustrated below, this paper evaluates the goal-oriented approach as solid and sufficient. While fully endorsing this approach, this paper argues that the process of ethical goal-setting is to be framed concretely. In a concrete historical context, so that a goal-oriented approach fully serves its purpose, this paper proposes that it is to be reinforced by four supportive pillars, which are in fact assumed by Selling in his work. They are openness to human sciences, conversation among various narratives, positing a theological frame for ethical reasoning, and recourse to non-discursive reasoning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Catholic Theological Ethics)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Religious Diversity and Freedom of Conscience in the Arabic Countries Facing Globalization and Migration
Religions 2017, 8(10), 229; doi:10.3390/rel8100229
Received: 22 August 2017 / Revised: 9 October 2017 / Accepted: 9 October 2017 / Published: 18 October 2017
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Abstract
Muslim societies are facing the new challenges of cultural and religious diversity. They are experiencing migratory phenomena, or because they are countries of immigration (such as in the Persian Gulf monarchies and emirates) or countries that are becoming a new destination of migrants
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Muslim societies are facing the new challenges of cultural and religious diversity. They are experiencing migratory phenomena, or because they are countries of immigration (such as in the Persian Gulf monarchies and emirates) or countries that are becoming a new destination of migrants (such as Morocco and other North African nations). These challenges are increasingly urgent due to the effects of other globalization vectors such as new communication technologies that cross all boundaries and foster unprecedented conversions. The purpose of this contribution is limited to the religious aspect of the new forms of diversification faced by Muslim countries. The goal is to analyze to what extent this process biases traditional ways of managing religious diversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
Open AccessArticle Five-Factor Structure of the Spiritual Transcendence Scale and Its Relationship with Clinical Psychological Distress in Emerging Adults
Religions 2017, 8(10), 230; doi:10.3390/rel8100230
Received: 22 July 2017 / Revised: 5 October 2017 / Accepted: 18 October 2017 / Published: 20 October 2017
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Abstract
This study examined the factor structure of the Spiritual Transcendence Scale (STS) and its relation to clinically significant psychological distress in 644 (445 female) emerging adults from a private, Catholic university. The STS is broadly used in psychological research as a measure of
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This study examined the factor structure of the Spiritual Transcendence Scale (STS) and its relation to clinically significant psychological distress in 644 (445 female) emerging adults from a private, Catholic university. The STS is broadly used in psychological research as a measure of spirituality. However, previous work has identified extensive psychometric problems with the STS, including variable factor structures and poor internal consistencies for its subscales. Results from exploratory factor analyses suggested a five-factor structure that accounted for over 57% of variance. Confirmatory factor analyses suggested this five-factor structure provided significantly better fit than the originally purported three-factor structure. Females reported significantly higher STS scores. Males with low reported spirituality reported significantly greater (and clinically significant) symptoms of psychological distress than lowly and moderately spiritual males. Females reporting low, moderate, and high levels of spirituality did not report significantly different levels of psychological distress. The findings provided contrasting conclusions from previous psychometric work on the STS, encourage continued study of its dimensionality across populations, and suggest a unique relationship between the STS and clinically significant psychological distress in emerging adults. Full article
Open AccessArticle Deaf Liberation Theology and Social Justice
Religions 2017, 8(10), 232; doi:10.3390/rel8100232
Received: 3 September 2017 / Revised: 29 September 2017 / Accepted: 17 October 2017 / Published: 24 October 2017
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Abstract
Deaf Liberation Theology is a branch of theology that has been developed over the past twenty years, with the book Deaf Liberation Theology published by Ashgate in 2007 (Lewis 2007) as a focal point of this development. This article briefly looks at the
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Deaf Liberation Theology is a branch of theology that has been developed over the past twenty years, with the book Deaf Liberation Theology published by Ashgate in 2007 (Lewis 2007) as a focal point of this development. This article briefly looks at the roots of Deaf Liberation Theology in both the concept of Deaf people as an oppressed linguistic minority and the principles of Liberation theology as an engaged contextual theology using the methodology of the hermeneutical circle. It then seeks to examine the impact of Deaf Liberation Theology in practice over the past decade, in particular the impact especially through increasing self-confidence and self-esteem so that deaf people themselves feel empowered to work for social justice. It will use personal reflections by a number of deaf individuals in the UK as source material, and look at how this experience and developments in Deaf studies might develop into the future to further develop social justice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Disability, and Social Justice: Building Coalitions)
Open AccessArticle Theology Facing Religious Diversity: The Perspective of Latin American Pluralist Theology
Religions 2017, 8(10), 233; doi:10.3390/rel8100233
Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 5 October 2017 / Accepted: 7 October 2017 / Published: 24 October 2017
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Abstract
Life is plural and diverse, biodiverse. This reality has always provoked philosophy, the sciences, and also theology. But how does theological thinking reflect on this eco-human diversity? What about religious diversity? Are diversity and pluralism the same phenomenon? These questions express the aim
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Life is plural and diverse, biodiverse. This reality has always provoked philosophy, the sciences, and also theology. But how does theological thinking reflect on this eco-human diversity? What about religious diversity? Are diversity and pluralism the same phenomenon? These questions express the aim of this article: to reflect on theology in the face of diversity and pluralism. With the methodology of bibliographic analysis, the article begins by discussing the challenges of this reality. Then it deals with how theology confronts diversity and pluralism. In the end, it reflects on the possibility of Latin American Liberation Theology being conceived as pluralist, articulating itself with the Theology of Religious Pluralism—especially from the 1990s. One of the exponents of the Latin American Liberation Theology that justifies such a paradigm shift is the theologian Leonardo Boff. With his outputs, Latin American theology starts to realize, from the ecological paradigm, the articulation between liberation and dialogue, then being called pluralistic liberation theology. The conclusions of the article point out that cultural change, the ecological paradigm and, recently, the questions of decolonial theology, have led theological thinking to transform more, facing the socio-environmental challenges of diversity, conflicts, and interreligious dialogue, accepting even more the awareness of pluralism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)

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Open AccessReview Spirituality in Nursing: An Overview of Research Methods
Religions 2017, 8(10), 226; doi:10.3390/rel8100226
Received: 17 August 2017 / Revised: 12 October 2017 / Accepted: 13 October 2017 / Published: 17 October 2017
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Abstract
Spirituality has been widely considered important for patients’ health and for healthcare practice and is related to connectedness, meaning in life, and transcendence. Research concerning spirituality is growing rapidly, and the implementation of spiritual care should be based on evidence. This literature review
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Spirituality has been widely considered important for patients’ health and for healthcare practice and is related to connectedness, meaning in life, and transcendence. Research concerning spirituality is growing rapidly, and the implementation of spiritual care should be based on evidence. This literature review aims to describe the methods that have been used in nursing research focusing on spirituality. The electronic search on databases through EBSCOhost identified 2091 citations, and a total of 231 studies were included. The methods used in research on spirituality in nursing are mostly quantitative (52.4%), but some are qualitative (42.8%) and mixed (4.8%). Regarding the quantitative research, most studies are observational (90.9%), and these are mainly descriptive (82.7%) and correlational (17.3%). Most studies used a cross-sectional design (98.7%), and few used longitudinal design (1.3%). The qualitative research is descriptive (39.4%), phenomenological (26.3%), and grounded theory (14.1%). Research on spirituality in nursing is based on both main paradigms (quantitative and qualitative), but also on mixed methods. Studies have mainly been conducted using cross-sectional designs when compared to longitudinal designs. The latter seem to constitute a gap in nursing knowledge and evidence regarding the changes of spirituality over time, which is particularly important for nurses’ delivery of spiritual care. Full article
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