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Religions, Volume 8, Issue 6 (June 2017)

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Cover Story Little is known about youth opinions of the built environment and in particular disused religious [...] Read more.
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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Monstrosities: Religion, Identity and Belief
Religions 2017, 8(6), 102; doi:10.3390/rel8060102
Received: 17 May 2017 / Revised: 22 May 2017 / Accepted: 22 May 2017 / Published: 23 May 2017
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the Individual: Belief, Practice, and Identity)

Research

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Open AccessArticle Rethinking Neo-Vedānta: Swami Vivekananda and the Selective Historiography of Advaita Vedānta1
Religions 2017, 8(6), 101; doi:10.3390/rel8060101
Received: 10 April 2017 / Revised: 8 May 2017 / Accepted: 16 May 2017 / Published: 24 May 2017
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Abstract
This paper problematizes the prevalent model of studying the “Neo-Vedānta” of Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902) principally in terms of an influx of Western ideas and nationalism. In particular, I demonstrate how scholarly constructions of “Neo-Vedānta” consistently appeal to a high culture, staticized understanding of
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This paper problematizes the prevalent model of studying the “Neo-Vedānta” of Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902) principally in terms of an influx of Western ideas and nationalism. In particular, I demonstrate how scholarly constructions of “Neo-Vedānta” consistently appeal to a high culture, staticized understanding of “traditional” Advaita Vedānta as the alterity for locating Vivekananda’s “neo” or new teachings. In doing so, such studies ignore the diverse medieval and early modern developments in advaitic and Advaita Vedāntic traditions which were well-known to Vivekananda and other “Neo-Vedāntins”. Redressing this discursive imbalance, I propose that close attention to the way in which Swami Vivekananda drew from Indic texts opens up a wider frame for understanding the swami and the genealogy of his cosmopolitan theology. Full article
Open AccessArticle Islam and Democracy: Conflicts and Congruence
Religions 2017, 8(6), 104; doi:10.3390/rel8060104
Received: 27 January 2017 / Revised: 21 May 2017 / Accepted: 23 May 2017 / Published: 27 May 2017
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Abstract
Is authoritarianism intrinsic to Islam? Is Islam incompatible with democracy? These questions are frequently debated in the context of the study of the relationship between the Western and Islamic civilization. The debate has gained momentum since the last decade of the twentieth century,
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Is authoritarianism intrinsic to Islam? Is Islam incompatible with democracy? These questions are frequently debated in the context of the study of the relationship between the Western and Islamic civilization. The debate has gained momentum since the last decade of the twentieth century, especially after the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the subsequent transition of socialist states in Eastern Europe and other authoritarian states in Asia and Latin America to democracy. The publication of The Clash of Civilizations by American scholar Samuel Huntington, in which he presented a controversial argument about a cultural divide and clash between the Islamic world and the West, pushed the debate even further. Apart from Muslim intellectuals, Western academics have spent a significant amount of time on these questions, with a multitude of articles and volumes examining the compatibility of Islam and democracy. In this paper, we will examine Islam’s relationship with democracy from normative and philosophical viewpoints, examining how the established values and principles of Islam as reflected in the Qur’anic and prophetic traditions correspond to Western democratic norms and practices. In order to obtain a profound understanding of this subject, we have delved into, through content analysis, the thoughts of several early modernist Islamic scholars who have had tremendous impact on contemporary Islamic revivalist movements throughout the world, and interviewed a number of contemporary Islamic thinkers in Bangladesh. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Reformers and Tradition: Seeing the Roots of the Problem
Religions 2017, 8(6), 105; doi:10.3390/rel8060105
Received: 10 February 2017 / Revised: 15 May 2017 / Accepted: 15 May 2017 / Published: 31 May 2017
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Abstract
Challenges the ideal of scripture vs. tradition as a manner of separating Protestants from Catholics in the early modern period, to argue instead that historians should be setting out a continuum of continuity with the medieval inheritance, and considering our typologies of the
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Challenges the ideal of scripture vs. tradition as a manner of separating Protestants from Catholics in the early modern period, to argue instead that historians should be setting out a continuum of continuity with the medieval inheritance, and considering our typologies of the Reform movements against that. Then, as we teach the Christian Intellectual Tradition, we can see both genealogical and influential links across the eras, and present a better picture of what was going on in the Era of the Reformations, and through that, come to a greater understanding of the human condition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching the Reformations)
Open AccessArticle The Catholic Church and Technological Progress: Past, Present, and Future
Religions 2017, 8(6), 106; doi:10.3390/rel8060106
Received: 18 February 2017 / Revised: 26 April 2017 / Accepted: 17 May 2017 / Published: 1 June 2017
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Abstract
Over 2000 years the Catholic Church has slowly developed a posture towards technology which is predominantly techno-optimist and techno-progressive, and yet the Church does not have this reputation today. Concomitantly, Church institutions and individuals have made crucial contributions to the advance of science
[...] Read more.
Over 2000 years the Catholic Church has slowly developed a posture towards technology which is predominantly techno-optimist and techno-progressive, and yet the Church does not have this reputation today. Concomitantly, Church institutions and individuals have made crucial contributions to the advance of science and technology, yet despite this practical effort to better human development, Christian theology has been remarkably uninterested in the subject of technology. This lack of interest is no longer tenable; scholars of religion and theologians should seriously engage technology because it is empowering humanity in ways that were previously reserved only for gods. This blind spot has not only hampered the Church’s ability to understand itself and our world, but also impeded the ability of the Church to fulfill its mission. Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si has begun to address this neglect, but is best understood in the context of Christian history, not only as written, but more so as practiced. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the New Technologies)
Open AccessArticle Disused Religious Space: Youth Participation in Built Heritage Regeneration
Religions 2017, 8(6), 107; doi:10.3390/rel8060107
Received: 27 February 2017 / Revised: 24 May 2017 / Accepted: 30 May 2017 / Published: 6 June 2017
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Abstract
The rights of young people to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives has been encouraged since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Since then, policy-makers and planners have started to consider the views of youth, especially
[...] Read more.
The rights of young people to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives has been encouraged since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Since then, policy-makers and planners have started to consider the views of youth, especially those aged 11–17. The size of the youth population and their feelings of social isolation are two important reasons to include them in the decision-making that affects their local built environment. Little is known about youth opinions of the built environment and in particular disused religious buildings which can become a significant part of local cultural heritage. This paper explores youth perceptions, place attachment and influence on identity of a prominent disused local Methodist church in the City of Belfast. The paper details the expressive methodological approach designed to encourage youth participation in the regeneration scheme. The findings of the study showcase the valuable connections that can be made between youth and heritage religious buildings through education programmes. The project conclusions also highlight the benefits to be gained from engaging youth in local built heritage and will be of interest to those involved in the design, planning and redevelopment processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sacred Spaces)
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Open AccessArticle Icons of Just Is: Justice, Suffering, and the Artwork of Samuel Bak
Religions 2017, 8(6), 108; doi:10.3390/rel8060108
Received: 22 April 2017 / Revised: 2 June 2017 / Accepted: 5 June 2017 / Published: 13 June 2017
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Abstract
This paper examines select paintings by Holocaust survivor and painter Samuel Bak from his recent Just Is series. The essay explores ways Bak’s art bears witness to suffering. He creatively interrogates and reanimates the iconic figure of Lady Justice and the biblical principle
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This paper examines select paintings by Holocaust survivor and painter Samuel Bak from his recent Just Is series. The essay explores ways Bak’s art bears witness to suffering. He creatively interrogates and reanimates the iconic figure of Lady Justice and the biblical principle of the lex talionis (“eye for an eye”) in order to fashion alternative icons fit for an age of atrocity and loss. Bak’s artwork gives visual expression to Theodor Adorno’s view of the precariousness of art after Auschwitz. It is art’s responsibility to attend to the burden of real suffering experiences (the burden of the empirical) and to think in contradictions, which renders art both adequate and inadequate in standing up against the injustice of other’s suffering. Through inventive juxtaposition of secular and sacred symbols, Bak displays the paradox of representation after the Holocaust and art’s precarious responsibility giving voice to suffering. Bak fashions visual spaces in which barbarity and beauty coincide and collide. He invites viewers into this space and into dialogue about justice’s standing and promises. Do Bak's remade icons of Just Is lament a permanent loss of justice and peace, or do they point tentatively to possibilities of life lived in a damaged world with an alternative Just Is? Bak’s artwork prompts such vexing questions for his viewers to contemplate and leaves them to decide what must be done. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Genocide)
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Open AccessArticle Economic Inequality and the New School of American Economics
Religions 2017, 8(6), 99; doi:10.3390/rel8060099
Received: 4 February 2017 / Revised: 3 May 2017 / Accepted: 10 May 2017 / Published: 24 May 2017
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Abstract
This essay analyzes economic inequality in the Gilded Age, roughly from 1865 to 1900. It focuses specifically on a group of economists who identified working-class consumption as an economic stimulus, and accordingly advocated an increase in wages to bring this about. It is
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This essay analyzes economic inequality in the Gilded Age, roughly from 1865 to 1900. It focuses specifically on a group of economists who identified working-class consumption as an economic stimulus, and accordingly advocated an increase in wages to bring this about. It is structured in three sections: first, it demonstrates how industrialization in the late-nineteenth century sparked social tensions, convincing observers that there was a crisis of inequality; second, it explains how these tensions produced a “New School” of economics who sought to alleviate these issues by changing economic doctrine; it concludes by noting how this New School exerted an influence on public policy in the Progressive Era. In their conception, economics should be redesigned to promote a more equal distribution of wealth. Therefore, higher wages would stimulate working-class consumption, which would stabilize the economy and overall alleviate class conflict. This story offers a unique way to view the development of consumerism and social reform in American history. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Healing Spirituality of Eastern Orthodoxy: A Personal Journey of Discovery
Religions 2017, 8(6), 109; doi:10.3390/rel8060109
Received: 4 April 2017 / Revised: 26 May 2017 / Accepted: 2 June 2017 / Published: 8 June 2017
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Abstract
It is generally assumed by western scholars and spiritual seekers that mystical, experiential religion and spirituality are primarily a hallmark of the far East, as exemplified by Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and tribal religions like native American shamanism. In this overview, based on thirty
[...] Read more.
It is generally assumed by western scholars and spiritual seekers that mystical, experiential religion and spirituality are primarily a hallmark of the far East, as exemplified by Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and tribal religions like native American shamanism. In this overview, based on thirty years of field research as a sociologist, I have tried to show that such mystical practices and spiritual approaches exist in Eastern Christianity among groups of lay people, as well as in ancient monasteries like those found on Mt. Athos in northern Greece. It is argued that these thousand-year-old practices in the Christian East may contribute to what some thinkers have called the “eye of contemplation”, namely the cultivation of the intuitive, spiritual side of human beings that has been repressed over the centuries because of the dominance of rationalism and scientific materialism. Full article
Open AccessArticle Literary Fiction or Ancient Astronomical and Meteorological Observations in the Work of Maria Valtorta?
Religions 2017, 8(6), 110; doi:10.3390/rel8060110
Received: 11 April 2017 / Revised: 29 May 2017 / Accepted: 6 June 2017 / Published: 9 June 2017
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Abstract
In The Gospel as revealed to me, Maria Valtorta reports a lot of information on the Holy Land at the time of Jesus: historical, archaeological, astronomical, geographical, meteorological. She states she has written what seen “in vision”. By a detailed astronomical analysis of
[...] Read more.
In The Gospel as revealed to me, Maria Valtorta reports a lot of information on the Holy Land at the time of Jesus: historical, archaeological, astronomical, geographical, meteorological. She states she has written what seen “in vision”. By a detailed astronomical analysis of explicit and implicit calendar information reported while she narrates detailed episodes concerning the three years of Jesus’ public life—possible because of many references to lunar phases, constellations, planets visible in the night sky in her writings—it is ascertained that every event described implies a precise date—day, month, year—without being explicitly reported by her. For example, Jesus’ crucifixion should have occurred on Friday April 23 of the year 34, a date proposed by Isaac Newton. She has also recorded the occurrence of rain so that the number of rainy days reported can be compared to the current meteorological data, supposing random observations and no important changes in rainfall daily frequency in the last 2000 years, the latter issue discussed in the paper. Unexpectedly, both the annual and monthly averages of rainy days deduced from the data available from the Israel Meteorological Service and similar averages deduced from her writings agree very well. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Religion and Violence: Thinking again about the Link
Religions 2017, 8(6), 111; doi:10.3390/rel8060111
Received: 28 March 2017 / Revised: 31 May 2017 / Accepted: 1 June 2017 / Published: 12 June 2017
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Abstract
This article is a contribution to a Special Issue on religion and genocide edited by Dr. Steven Jacobs. The aim of the article is to suggest a dimension of research not often considered to be part of the discussion. Because genocidal events have
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This article is a contribution to a Special Issue on religion and genocide edited by Dr. Steven Jacobs. The aim of the article is to suggest a dimension of research not often considered to be part of the discussion. Because genocidal events have happened in conjunction with religious holidays, the article suggests that researchers must consider the role that worship and the texts of worship play in shaping the context for genocide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Genocide)
Open AccessArticle Religion and Genocide Nexuses: Bosnia as Case Study
Religions 2017, 8(6), 112; doi:10.3390/rel8060112
Received: 3 April 2017 / Revised: 6 June 2017 / Accepted: 8 June 2017 / Published: 14 June 2017
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Abstract
Social scientists have been involved in systematic research on genocide for over forty years, yet an under-examined aspect of genocide literature is a sustained focus on the nexuses of religion and genocide, a lacuna that this article seeks to address. Four ways religion
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Social scientists have been involved in systematic research on genocide for over forty years, yet an under-examined aspect of genocide literature is a sustained focus on the nexuses of religion and genocide, a lacuna that this article seeks to address. Four ways religion and genocide intersect are proposed, of which two will receive specific attention: (1) how religious rhetoric and (2) how religious individuals and institutions foment genocide. These two intersections are further nuanced by combining a Weberian method of typologies, the Durkheimian theory of collective violence, and empirical data in the form of rhetoric espoused by perpetrators and supporters of the 1995 Bosnian genocide. This combination yields the three typologies of “othering”, justification, and authorization, which are further supported by a review of genocide literature. The typologies provide a framework for analyzing the synergistic relationship between religion and genocide in the interest of devising a model that can be applied to other genocides for investigative and comparative purposes and reveal that religion is both instrumentalized by individuals and institutionally instrumental in genocide perpetration. Individuals explicitly employ religious rhetoric to prey on the fear of the masses, and religious institutions and individuals are indispensable to lending religious justification and moral authority to genocidal campaigns. These results may serve as a starting point for devising strategies that neuter the destructive links between genocide and religion as well as leveraging the ambiguity of religion in favor of its constructive and obviating potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Genocide)
Open AccessArticle Between Toleration and Emancipation: The Self-Empowerment of Jewish Intellectuals in the Habsburg Monarchy
Religions 2017, 8(6), 113; doi:10.3390/rel8060113
Received: 6 February 2017 / Revised: 16 May 2017 / Accepted: 23 May 2017 / Published: 16 June 2017
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Abstract
Analyzing a sample of prominent Jewish intellectuals from the Bohemian lands, this article explores Jewish networks as well as cultural and political activism in the Vormärz period and during the 1848 revolution. It seeks to answer the question of whether Joseph II’s ‘Edicts
[...] Read more.
Analyzing a sample of prominent Jewish intellectuals from the Bohemian lands, this article explores Jewish networks as well as cultural and political activism in the Vormärz period and during the 1848 revolution. It seeks to answer the question of whether Joseph II’s ‘Edicts of Toleration’ had, unintentionally, generated a new group within Jewish society that was determined to fight for their rights. Already during the Vormärz period, these Jewish intellectuals enjoyed a high level of social integration, but also fought the repressive structure of the Metternich regime. After the removal of legal discriminations in 1867, the majority felt a deep sense of loyalty to the state and significantly enriched the cultural and political life of the Monarchy. Full article

Other

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Open AccessConference Report Art Images in Holistic Nursing Education
Religions 2017, 8(6), 103; doi:10.3390/rel8060103
Received: 30 November 2016 / Revised: 8 May 2017 / Accepted: 22 May 2017 / Published: 25 May 2017
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Abstract
Background: Nursing research has concentrated on empirical knowing with little focus on aesthetic knowing. Evidence from the literature suggests that using visual art in nursing education enhances both clinical observation skills and interpersonal skills. The purpose of this review was to explore how
[...] Read more.
Background: Nursing research has concentrated on empirical knowing with little focus on aesthetic knowing. Evidence from the literature suggests that using visual art in nursing education enhances both clinical observation skills and interpersonal skills. The purpose of this review was to explore how visual art has been used in baccalaureate nursing education. Methods: Of 712 records, 13 studies met the criteria of art, nursing and education among baccalaureate nursing students published in English. Results: Three quantitative studies demonstrated statistical significance between nursing students who participated in arts-based learning compared to nursing students who received traditional learning. Findings included improved recall, increased critical thinking and enhanced emotional investment. Themes identified in 10 qualitative studies included spirituality as role enhancement, empathy, and creativity. Conclusion: Visual arts-based learning in pre-licensure curriculum complements traditional content. It supports spirituality as role enhancement in nurse training. Visual art has been successfully used to enhance both critical thinking and interpersonal relations. Nursing students may experience a greater intra-connectedness that results in better inter-connectedness with patients and colleagues. Incorporating visual arts into pre-licensure curriculums is necessary to nurture holistic nursing practice. Full article
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