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Religions, Volume 9, Issue 1 (January 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) The article presents a new theodicy arguing that a good God would want to actualize many different [...] Read more.
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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Description, Prescription, and Value in the Study of Religion
Religions 2018, 9(1), 10; doi:10.3390/rel9010010
Received: 23 August 2017 / Revised: 25 December 2017 / Accepted: 25 December 2017 / Published: 2 January 2018
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Abstract
The study of religion is commonly divided into two sides. On the one side is the descriptive approach, including social scientific and historical scholars who seek to account for religion as it has been practiced. On the other side is the prescriptive approach,
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The study of religion is commonly divided into two sides. On the one side is the descriptive approach, including social scientific and historical scholars who seek to account for religion as it has been practiced. On the other side is the prescriptive approach, including religious ethicists, philosophers of religion, and theologians who seek to evaluate and prescribe religious practices and beliefs. But is this divide desirable or even tenable? Some scholars believe so, holding that the proper aim of religious studies ought to be delimited to the analysis and description of religious phenomena. Such a view, however, excludes those who pursue prescriptive inquiry. The contributors to this focus issue are trained primarily in either descriptive or prescriptive methodologies. Through their respective contributions, they highlight how they understand and may offer ways past the seemingly ossified division within religious studies, focusing especially on the nature and place of value in the study of religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Description, Prescription, and Value in the Study of Religion)
Open AccessEditorial Introduction to the Special Issue of Religions—“The Future of Catholic Theological Ethics”
Religions 2018, 9(1), 19; doi:10.3390/rel9010019
Received: 7 December 2017 / Revised: 19 December 2017 / Accepted: 19 December 2017 / Published: 10 January 2018
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Abstract
If the past is said to be a foreign country, then the future must be even less native.[...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Catholic Theological Ethics)
Open AccessEditorial Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Religions in 2017
Religions 2018, 9(1), 25; doi:10.3390/rel9010025
Received: 9 January 2018 / Revised: 9 January 2018 / Accepted: 9 January 2018 / Published: 16 January 2018
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Abstract
Peer review is an essential part in the publication process, ensuring that Religions maintains high quality standards for its published papers.[...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Other

Open AccessArticle Entanglement in Fir: Thinking Matter in Peter Larkin’s “praying // firs \\ attenuate”
Religions 2018, 9(1), 1; doi:10.3390/rel9010001
Received: 24 November 2017 / Revised: 19 December 2017 / Accepted: 19 December 2017 / Published: 21 December 2017
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Abstract
This article reads Peter Larkin’s poem “praying // firs \\ attenuate” (2014) as a way to think the divine in relation to the ecological as a mutual poetic giving. It suggests that the poem entangles the reader in a series of relational imaginings
[...] Read more.
This article reads Peter Larkin’s poem “praying // firs \\ attenuate” (2014) as a way to think the divine in relation to the ecological as a mutual poetic giving. It suggests that the poem entangles the reader in a series of relational imaginings that complicates the modern commodification of the nonhuman and questions a secular fatigue with the divine. Through a Catholic metaphysics in which all things—human, nonhuman, holy—are entangled, Larkin’s religious ecology maps the way to horizons promising that which cannot yet be imagined. In an entangled, layered, rhythmic, and echoing poetic form, Larkin reveals the intimate relationship between plenitude and the attenuated, gift and scarcity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue English Poetry and Christianity)
Open AccessArticle The Problem of Church’s Defensiveness and Reductionism in Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s Ecclesiology (Based on His Journals)
Religions 2018, 9(1), 2; doi:10.3390/rel9010002
Received: 1 November 2017 / Revised: 15 December 2017 / Accepted: 17 December 2017 / Published: 21 December 2017
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Abstract
This article analyzes Schmemann’s ecclesiology in the context of his attempt to give an assessment of the Church’s attitude to life; as well as the problem of defensiveness in Orthodoxy; reductionism of ecclesial culture; “rejection” of the world and traditionalistic isolation. The author
[...] Read more.
This article analyzes Schmemann’s ecclesiology in the context of his attempt to give an assessment of the Church’s attitude to life; as well as the problem of defensiveness in Orthodoxy; reductionism of ecclesial culture; “rejection” of the world and traditionalistic isolation. The author focuses upon the socio-cultural interpretation given by Schmemann to such important categories of the ecclesial language as “piety,” “humility,” “churchliness,” “spirituality,” etc.; showing that in real life these categories express the isolation and stereotypification of Orthodoxy. In the context of “lived” religion, these categories deliver a protective and reductionist message, justifying a kind of anthropological pessimism, “religion of guilt” and psychological self-closure of a person. The theologian juxtaposes two religious traditions: one based on the defensiveness and the other based on a sense of joy; the feeling of God’s presence and affinity to the Kingdom of Heaven. According to the author, the accents put by Schmemann in his ecclesiology can promote the formation of ethics of laity and a more adequate attitude towards the world in the 21st century Orthodoxy. Full article
Open AccessArticle Religion and Depression in South Korea: A Comparison between Buddhism, Protestantism, and Roman Catholicism
Religions 2018, 9(1), 3; doi:10.3390/rel9010003
Received: 1 July 2017 / Accepted: 18 December 2017 / Published: 22 December 2017
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Abstract
Over the past few years, the occurrence of depression in South Korea has significantly increased. Even though Buddhism was the main religion in historical South Korea, Christianity has recently emerged as a dominant faith tradition. However, the relationship between religion and depression among
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Over the past few years, the occurrence of depression in South Korea has significantly increased. Even though Buddhism was the main religion in historical South Korea, Christianity has recently emerged as a dominant faith tradition. However, the relationship between religion and depression among older Korean adults is understudied. The present study is designed to investigate religious variations and the role of religious participation in depression among older Korean adults using the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (KLoSA). From the KLoSA database, 6817 participants were extracted and analyzed. Utilizing the Korean version of the 10-item Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D 10) and the generalized linear models (GLM), a significant difference in depressive symptoms between religious groups (p < 0.05) and religious nones surfaced. This significant difference remained even after adjusting for the confounding factors. When the levels of depressive symptoms were compared across various faith traditions, the lowest depression score was detected from Buddhists (7.04), followed by Roman Catholics (7.12), and Protestants (7.71). Moreover, a significant difference in depressive symptoms between Buddhists and Protestants was observed. With regard to the frequency of religious participation, a significant difference in the depression score was observed only for Protestants. That is, the depression score for those who reported attending religious meetings ‘once to six times a year’ was significantly higher than the others. It is concluded that those who are religiously involved had significantly less depression symptoms than religious nones. Moreover, of the three faith traditions, Buddhists and Protestants showed a significant difference in depressive symptoms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Mental Health Outcomes)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Pātañjala Yoga’s Theory of ‘Many-Lives’ through Karma and Rebirth and Its Eccentric ‘Theism’
Religions 2018, 9(1), 4; doi:10.3390/rel9010004
Received: 30 July 2017 / Revised: 7 December 2017 / Accepted: 19 December 2017 / Published: 23 December 2017
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Abstract
This paper discusses the theory of rebirth as set forth in Classical Samkhya and Yoga and offers a new interpretive perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Reincarnation: Hindu, Christian, and Scientific)
Open AccessArticle Actualizing Unique Type and Token Values as a Solution to the Problem of Evil
Religions 2018, 9(1), 5; doi:10.3390/rel9010005
Received: 30 November 2017 / Revised: 21 December 2017 / Accepted: 22 December 2017 / Published: 24 December 2017
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Abstract
Concerning the problem of evil, I suggest that God's goodness and omnipotence causes God to want to actualize many different values and things, not solely angels in heaven, but also type unique values like independence, self-formation, creativity, and surprise, and token unique goods
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Concerning the problem of evil, I suggest that God's goodness and omnipotence causes God to want to actualize many different values and things, not solely angels in heaven, but also type unique values like independence, self-formation, creativity, and surprise, and token unique goods like animals and human beings. Such a universe as ours, though, requires undisturbed indeterministic self-formation as actualized by a good God to give those token unique beings access to those type unique values and allow them the opportunity to live forever with God after completion of this self-formation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
Open AccessArticle The Effect of Materialistic Value-Orientation on Religiosity in Bangladesh: An Empirical Investigation
Religions 2018, 9(1), 6; doi:10.3390/rel9010006
Received: 29 October 2017 / Revised: 2 December 2017 / Accepted: 12 December 2017 / Published: 24 December 2017
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Abstract
The rising middle-class of the developing nations is found to be emphasizing more on the acquisition of goods and property in the pursuit of the good life. This often leads towards the materialistic value-orientation and form materialism. Religiosity, conversely, implies restraining from the
[...] Read more.
The rising middle-class of the developing nations is found to be emphasizing more on the acquisition of goods and property in the pursuit of the good life. This often leads towards the materialistic value-orientation and form materialism. Religiosity, conversely, implies restraining from the earthy pleasure in the form of happy life, and often imposes prohibitory behavioral rules in the economic sphere. Hence, ‘Materialism’ and ‘Religiosity’ are two of the most incompatible yet dominant components of normative value-systems that are always in contention with each other. Literature is abundant to relate ‘Emotional Connection’, ‘Subjective Well-Being’, ‘Happiness’ or ‘Life Satisfaction’ with that of ‘Materialism’ and ‘Religiosity’; nonetheless, what is hardly addressed is the effect of materialistic value-orientation to the religiosity in the transitional societies. This paper investigates materialism and religiosity in the developing economy context like Bangladesh and outlines the underlying relationships between the constructs. A survey on a sample of four hundred and twelve (412) respondents using self-administered questionnaires is the source of quantitative information that is used to formulate the tentative explanations of the variables of interest. Age is considered as a moderator. A negative relationship between the level of materialism and religiosity is found, if materialism is considered as a reflective construct, and religiosity is treated as a second-order formative construct in the structural equation modeling. Full article
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Open AccessArticle TheoArtistry, and a Contemporary Perspective on Composing Sacred Choral Music
Religions 2018, 9(1), 7; doi:10.3390/rel9010007
Received: 13 November 2017 / Revised: 18 December 2017 / Accepted: 19 December 2017 / Published: 28 December 2017
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Abstract
This article presents the methodology and research underpinning the TheoArtistry Composers’ Scheme, a project based in ITIA (the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts), School of Divinity, University of St Andrews (2016–2017). I analyse Sir James MacMillan’s theology of music, outline
[...] Read more.
This article presents the methodology and research underpinning the TheoArtistry Composers’ Scheme, a project based in ITIA (the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts), School of Divinity, University of St Andrews (2016–2017). I analyse Sir James MacMillan’s theology of music, outline some practical and theoretical issues that arose in setting up theologian-composer partnerships, and reflect critically on the six new works of sacred choral music that emerged (these are printed as supplementary materials). The article assesses the implications of such collaboration for future work at the interface between theology and music, and between theology and the arts more generally. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Music: Its Theologies and Spiritualities—A Global Perspective)
Open AccessArticle Protestant Millennials, Religious Doubt, & the Local Church
Religions 2018, 9(1), 8; doi:10.3390/rel9010008
Received: 17 November 2017 / Revised: 12 December 2017 / Accepted: 12 December 2017 / Published: 29 December 2017
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Abstract
Millennials are the most analyzed and populous generation in the United States. Collectively, they have been slowly re-shaping the American culture. Protestant Millennials, a subset of this generation, have been ruffling feathers in their local churches. Many, who once regularly attended, are leaving.
[...] Read more.
Millennials are the most analyzed and populous generation in the United States. Collectively, they have been slowly re-shaping the American culture. Protestant Millennials, a subset of this generation, have been ruffling feathers in their local churches. Many, who once regularly attended, are leaving. Unwise responses by local church leaders to their young parishioners’ doubting habits significantly contributed to the departure. This study pursued a sample of college-aged Protestant Millennials to know them in a psychological sense. The intentions were twofold: to discover social personality traits that predict their doubting practices and to develop practical and proactive relational strategies for local church leaders. Self-report data on personality features and doubt phenomena were obtained from 532 religiously committed undergraduates in the United States. Results from multivariate regression procedures revealed three social personality dispositions contributed to the prediction of the doubt constructs. Implications and applications of the findings are discussed. Full article
Open AccessArticle Women’s Circles and the Rise of the New Feminine: Reclaiming Sisterhood, Spirituality, and Wellbeing
Religions 2018, 9(1), 9; doi:10.3390/rel9010009
Received: 11 November 2017 / Revised: 23 December 2017 / Accepted: 30 December 2017 / Published: 1 January 2018
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Abstract
This paper draws on the results of ethnographic research on ‘women’s circles’; women-only spaces that celebrate sisterhood and the ‘feminine’, including the increasingly globally popular ‘Red Tent’. Women’s circles are non-institutionalized, often monthly gatherings, for women to come together and relax, meditate, share
[...] Read more.
This paper draws on the results of ethnographic research on ‘women’s circles’; women-only spaces that celebrate sisterhood and the ‘feminine’, including the increasingly globally popular ‘Red Tent’. Women’s circles are non-institutionalized, often monthly gatherings, for women to come together and relax, meditate, share stories, partake in rituals, heal, nourish, and empower themselves. Based on fieldwork and in-depth interviews with founders and organizer-practitioners of women’s circles in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, the study shows how they offer a growing number of women from diverse backgrounds a space that they find lacking in secular-liberal society, out of a desire to ‘re/connect’ with each other, their bodies, their inner selves, and sometimes with the sacred. Women’s circles are indicative of women’s heightened participation in the realm of subjective wellbeing culture, including both elements of spirituality and more secular ‘personal growth’. Against the presumption that circles would be merely expressive of neo-liberal individualist consumer culture or retrograde gender essentialism, the paper argues they can be viewed as sites of sisterhood, solidarity, and dissent, cultivating a new type of femininity grounded in both affirmative and more oppositional forms of emerging feminist consciousness. In response to the so-called ‘post-secular turn in feminism’ and the growing interest for religion and, more recently, spirituality in (secular) feminist theory, the paper pleads for a re-consideration of the rise of women’s spirituality/wellbeing culture in the West as a form of post-secular agency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feminisms and the Study of “Religions”)
Open AccessArticle The Distance between Zurich and Todtnauberg
Religions 2018, 9(1), 11; doi:10.3390/rel9010011
Received: 1 December 2017 / Revised: 13 December 2017 / Accepted: 27 December 2017 / Published: 2 January 2018
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Abstract
This paper focuses on two poems written by Paul Celan after first encounters he had with writers who held great significance for him. In 1960 Celan met fellow Jewish poet Nelly Sachs at the Stork Inn in Zurich, and afterwards recorded the event
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This paper focuses on two poems written by Paul Celan after first encounters he had with writers who held great significance for him. In 1960 Celan met fellow Jewish poet Nelly Sachs at the Stork Inn in Zurich, and afterwards recorded the event in the poem “Zürich, Zum Storchen”. Seven years later, Celan visited Martin Heidegger at his hut in the German mountains. Celan’s depiction of this encounter is found in the poem “Todtnauberg”. In this essay, I make a two-fold argument regarding the Zurich poem. First I claim that “Todtnauberg” is clearly crafted in light of the earlier Sachs text, a fact that has been overlooked by previous scholarship. As such, it is only in placing the two texts side by side that a complete understanding of “Todtnauberg” comes into view. Second I will indicate how the Zurich poem reflects key elements of an approach to the problem of evil that I term an “enestological theodicy.” Such a term needed to be coined, since this sort of theodicy does not fit in the more traditional narrative categories related to the problem of evil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
Open AccessArticle ‘Partakers of the Divine Nature’: Ripley’s Discourses and the Transcendental Annus Mirabilis
Religions 2018, 9(1), 12; doi:10.3390/rel9010012
Received: 11 December 2017 / Revised: 2 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 January 2018 / Published: 5 January 2018
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Abstract
In declaring 1836 the “Annus Mirabilis” of Transcendentalism, Perry Miller captured the emerging vitality of a new religious movement, described by Convers Francis as “the spiritual philosophy”. Francis first listed George Ripley’s Discourses on the Philosophy of Religion (1836) as a sign of
[...] Read more.
In declaring 1836 the “Annus Mirabilis” of Transcendentalism, Perry Miller captured the emerging vitality of a new religious movement, described by Convers Francis as “the spiritual philosophy”. Francis first listed George Ripley’s Discourses on the Philosophy of Religion (1836) as a sign of the new movement. Ripley’s book, strongly influenced by William Ellery Channing’s sermon “Likeness to God” (1828), captured the metamorphosis of Transcendentalism from its Unitarian theological roots, and sheds light on the Transcendentalists’ theory of religious experience. Ripley presented Transcendentalism as the purist form of Christian theology. This new religious awareness enabled a realization of the divine “inner nature”, and described a religious life dedicated to the practice of spiritual self-cultivation. This new awareness brought with it “universal love”, and a vision of what it meant to partake of divinity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transcendentalism and the Religious Experience)
Open AccessArticle Factor Structure of the Spiritual Needs Questionnaire (SpNQ) in Persons with Chronic Diseases, Elderly and Healthy Individuals
Religions 2018, 9(1), 13; doi:10.3390/rel9010013
Received: 18 December 2017 / Revised: 29 December 2017 / Accepted: 3 January 2018 / Published: 5 January 2018
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Abstract
The Spiritual Needs Questionnaire (SpNQ) is an established measure of psychosocial, existential and spiritual needs. Its 4-factor structure has been primarily validated in persons with chronic diseases, but until now has not been done in elderly and stressed healthy populations. Therefore, we tested
[...] Read more.
The Spiritual Needs Questionnaire (SpNQ) is an established measure of psychosocial, existential and spiritual needs. Its 4-factor structure has been primarily validated in persons with chronic diseases, but until now has not been done in elderly and stressed healthy populations. Therefore, we tested the factor structure of the SpNQ in: (1) persons with chronic diseases (n = 627); (2) persons with chronic disease plus elderly (n = 940); (3) healthy persons (i.e., adults and elderly) (n = 1468); and (4) chronically ill, elderly, and healthy persons together (n = 2095). The suggested structure was then validated using structured equation modelling (SEM). The 4-factor structure of the 20-item SpNQ (SpNQ-20) was confirmed, differentiating Religious Needs, Existential Needs, Inner Peace Needs, and Giving/Generativity Needs. The psychometric properties of the measure indicated (CFI = 0.96, TLI = 0.95, RMSEA = 0.04 and SRMR = 0.03), with good reliability indices (Cronbach’s alpha varying from 0.71 to 0.81). This latest version of the SpNQ provides researchers with a reliable and valid instrument that can now be used in comparative studies. Cultural and religious differences can be addressed using their different language versions, assuming the SpNQ’s structure is maintained. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Measures of Spirituality/Religiosity (2018))
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Open AccessArticle From Religious Diversity to Political Competition: The Differentiation Process of Pentecostalism in Brazil
Religions 2018, 9(1), 14; doi:10.3390/rel9010014
Received: 11 November 2017 / Revised: 21 December 2017 / Accepted: 29 December 2017 / Published: 5 January 2018
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Abstract
The growing religious diversity in Brazil has more to do with a differentiation process within Pentecostalism itself than with the presence of very diverse religious groups. Starting with the analysis of such differentiation process, the article aims to discuss the need of terminological
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The growing religious diversity in Brazil has more to do with a differentiation process within Pentecostalism itself than with the presence of very diverse religious groups. Starting with the analysis of such differentiation process, the article aims to discuss the need of terminological improvement and eventually the necessity of Keynesian rules adopted by the State to regulate ultraliberal religious markets. In unequal societies and religious markets such as those in Brazil, Pentecostal leaders’ greedy attitudes regarding their own adherents and aggressive intolerance against other religions’ followers are coherent with a functionalist religious market conception. In this view, highly aggressive strategies of some Pentecostal churches vis-à-vis other adversaries are seen as belonging to the normal functioning of a (neo-liberal) self-regulated social subsystem. Therefore, reflections on religious diversity inspired on a market model assume neoliberal macro conditions (total deregulation and free competition) as granted or desirable. Religious diversity would appear as the “natural” consequence of religious competition. However, put in Beckford’s terms, how can religious pluralism be achieved under terrible conditions of religious diversity? Intolerant attitudes of neo-Pentecostal leaders undermine the very bases of democracy and put the discussion on religious diversity and pluralism under new theoretical and political exigencies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
Open AccessArticle Religious Orientation and Its Relationship to Suicidality: A Study in One of the Least Religious Countries
Religions 2018, 9(1), 15; doi:10.3390/rel9010015
Received: 15 November 2017 / Revised: 23 December 2017 / Accepted: 3 January 2018 / Published: 7 January 2018
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Abstract
The relationship between religious orientation and suicidality can be more complex in samples of low religious rate. The present study was conducted in China, one of the least religious countries, with the purpose of exploring different aspects of religious orientation and their relationships
[...] Read more.
The relationship between religious orientation and suicidality can be more complex in samples of low religious rate. The present study was conducted in China, one of the least religious countries, with the purpose of exploring different aspects of religious orientation and their relationships to suicidality. Among a university sample of 2074 respondents, 122 respondents reported being religious and responded to our measures of religious orientation and suicidality. Extrinsic religious orientation, while being distinct from intrinsic religious orientation, could be subdivided into personally-oriented and socially-oriented dimensions to predict suicidality in our sample. Results from regression analysis showed that respondents with higher intrinsic religious orientation and lower personally-oriented extrinsic religious orientation are more likely to have lower suicidality. These findings support that intrinsic orientation is embodied with positive outcomes whereas extrinsic orientation is embodied with negative outcomes. It is noteworthy that socially-oriented extrinsic religious orientation did not predict suicidality in our sample, as it was speculated that the role of socially-oriented extrinsic religious orientation cannot function when there are few religious people to socialize with in the community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Matěj of Janov: Corpus Mysticum, Communionem, and the Lost Treatise of His Regulae
Religions 2018, 9(1), 16; doi:10.3390/rel9010016
Received: 12 December 2017 / Revised: 23 December 2017 / Accepted: 25 December 2017 / Published: 9 January 2018
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Abstract
The Bohemian theologian Matěj of Janov (d.1393) is little known outside of Czech Hussite scholarship, yet his Regulae Veteris et Novi Testamentum is arguably as important an influence on the genesis and development of Hussitism, as is the thought of John Wyclif. The
[...] Read more.
The Bohemian theologian Matěj of Janov (d.1393) is little known outside of Czech Hussite scholarship, yet his Regulae Veteris et Novi Testamentum is arguably as important an influence on the genesis and development of Hussitism, as is the thought of John Wyclif. The chief Hussite theologian Jakoubek of Střibro relied on his works, and his emphasis on the need for daily Eucharist for all Christians seems to have been central to the utraquist ideal central to Hussitism. This article describes the structure and content of Matěj’s Regulae, a carefully constructed sustained argument of the threat of Antichrist facing the church, and the nature of the reforms needed to respond to them. The editions of Kybal (1908–1926) and Nechutová (1993) present the extant books of the Regulae, but Book Two treatise 2 appears to have been lost. Based on my argument for the overall structure of the Regulae, I attempt to reconstruct the contents of this book, which I will argue is directly related to Matěj’s very high regard for his predecessor, the preacher Jan Milič of Kromeřiž. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Canonical Black Body: Alternative African American Religions and the Disruptive Politics of Sacrality
Religions 2018, 9(1), 17; doi:10.3390/rel9010017
Received: 17 November 2017 / Revised: 1 January 2018 / Accepted: 3 January 2018 / Published: 9 January 2018
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Abstract
“The Canonical Black Body” argues that central to the study of African American religions is a focus on the black body and the production and engagement of canons on the sacred black body within the black public sphere. Furthermore, this essay suggests that,
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“The Canonical Black Body” argues that central to the study of African American religions is a focus on the black body and the production and engagement of canons on the sacred black body within the black public sphere. Furthermore, this essay suggests that, by paying attention to alternative African American religions in the twentieth century, we can better engage the relationship between African American religion and the long history of creating these canons on the black body, debating their relationship to black freedom, and circulating the canons to contest the oppressive, exclusive practices of modern democracy. Through a critical engagement of the fields of Black Theology and New Religious Movements and using the resources offered by Delores Williams’ accounts of variety and experience and Vincent Wimbush’s category of signifying, this essay will argue for how a return to the body provides resources and tools for not only theorizing African American religions but thinking about the production and creation of competing black publics, including the important role of alternative black sacred publics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race and Religion: New Approaches to African American Religions)
Open AccessArticle God, Evil, and Infinite Value
Religions 2018, 9(1), 20; doi:10.3390/rel9010020
Received: 1 December 2017 / Revised: 17 December 2017 / Accepted: 8 January 2018 / Published: 11 January 2018
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Abstract
Prominent approaches to the problems of evil assume that even if the Anselmian God exists, some worlds are better than others, all else being equal. But the assumptions that the Anselmian God exists and that some worlds are better than others cannot be
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Prominent approaches to the problems of evil assume that even if the Anselmian God exists, some worlds are better than others, all else being equal. But the assumptions that the Anselmian God exists and that some worlds are better than others cannot be true together. One description, by Mark Johnston and Georg Cantor, values God’s existence as exceeding any transfinite cardinal value. For any finite or infinite amount of goodness in any possible world, God’s value infinitely exceeds that amount. This conception is not obviously inconsistent with the Anselmian God. As a result, the prominent approaches to the problems of evil are mistaken. The elimination of evil does not, in fact, improve the value of any world as commonly thought. Permitting evil does not, in fact, diminish the value of any world as commonly thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
Open AccessArticle Rescue US: Birth, Django, and the Violence of Racial Redemption
Religions 2018, 9(1), 21; doi:10.3390/rel9010021
Received: 19 December 2017 / Revised: 8 January 2018 / Accepted: 8 January 2018 / Published: 12 January 2018
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Abstract
In this article, I show how the relationship between race, violence, and redemption is articulated and visualized through film. By juxtaposing DW Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, I contend that the latter inverts the logic of
[...] Read more.
In this article, I show how the relationship between race, violence, and redemption is articulated and visualized through film. By juxtaposing DW Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, I contend that the latter inverts the logic of the former. While Birth sacrifices black bodies and explains away anti-black violence for the sake of restoring white sovereignty (or rescuing the nation from threatening forms of blackness), Django adopts a rescue narrative in order to show the excessive violence that structured slavery and the emergence of the nation-state. As an immanent break within the rescue narrative, Tarantino’s film works to “rescue” images and sounds of anguish from forgetful versions of history. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race and Religion: New Approaches to African American Religions)
Open AccessArticle Diversity without Pluralism: Religious Landscape in Mainland China
Religions 2018, 9(1), 22; doi:10.3390/rel9010022
Received: 3 October 2017 / Revised: 6 January 2018 / Accepted: 9 January 2018 / Published: 12 January 2018
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Abstract
The paper explores religious diversity and pluralism in the religioscape of mainland China with three examples. While religious diversity is de facto practice, “religious pluralism” is not socially recognised, culturally legitimised, or discursively institutionalised. On the one hand, state co-option of religious groups
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The paper explores religious diversity and pluralism in the religioscape of mainland China with three examples. While religious diversity is de facto practice, “religious pluralism” is not socially recognised, culturally legitimised, or discursively institutionalised. On the one hand, state co-option of religious groups is achieved through particular definition of “religion” without the conceptualisation of pluralism, leaving undefined religious activities to cultural policy or national security measures. On the other hand, practices that might be identified as religious elsewhere does not usually self-identified as such, not to say seek for the right of religious freedom. To explain the absence of articulated/institutionalised “religious pluralism” in China, the paper provides three examples—civil activism against tomb-levelling campaign, “the Society of Disciples” (mentuhui), and a ritual service provider. The paper argues that the religioscape of mainland China is one with de facto religious diversity without the ideology of religious pluralism, because the diverse religious practices do not make a conscious reference to pluralism, remain non-institutional, disinterested in religious freedom, and, most important of all, below the state’s radar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
Open AccessArticle One Philosopher’s Bug Can Be Another’s Feature: Reply to Almeida’s “Multiverse and Divine Creation”
Religions 2018, 9(1), 23; doi:10.3390/rel9010023
Received: 14 December 2017 / Revised: 4 January 2018 / Accepted: 4 January 2018 / Published: 12 January 2018
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Abstract
Michael Almeida once told me that he thought we were just a couple of hours of conversation away from reaching deep agreement about some important topics in the philosophy of religion pertaining to God, multiverses, and modality. This paper represents my attempt to
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Michael Almeida once told me that he thought we were just a couple of hours of conversation away from reaching deep agreement about some important topics in the philosophy of religion pertaining to God, multiverses, and modality. This paper represents my attempt to move this conversation forward and to seek this common ground. Specifically, I respond to Almeida’s paper entitled “The Multiverse and Divine Creation”. In the first four sections, I record my disagreement with him concerning some smaller matters. In Section 5, I try to persuade him that what he considers a ‘bug’ in the theistic multiverse is actually a feature—and a desirable one at that. In Section 6, I close by identifying some points at which our views seem to converge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
Open AccessArticle How is Chaplaincy Marginalised—By Our Faith Communities and by Our Institutions and Can We Change It?
Religions 2018, 9(1), 24; doi:10.3390/rel9010024
Received: 30 November 2017 / Revised: 9 January 2018 / Accepted: 15 January 2018 / Published: 17 January 2018
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Abstract
This paper reviews the issues confronting chaplaincy/spiritual care in the 21st century. It looks at how faith communities are changing their view of chaplaincy as well how institutions respond. The paper looks at two qualitative studies and what can be learned from them
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This paper reviews the issues confronting chaplaincy/spiritual care in the 21st century. It looks at how faith communities are changing their view of chaplaincy as well how institutions respond. The paper looks at two qualitative studies and what can be learned from them in confronting the questions raised at the beginning. It concludes with the question of how the evidence base can be expanded to make chaplaincy/spiritual care more relevant over the next few years. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Christianity, Antisemitism, and the Holocaust
Religions 2018, 9(1), 26; doi:10.3390/rel9010026
Received: 7 December 2017 / Revised: 10 January 2018 / Accepted: 12 January 2018 / Published: 16 January 2018
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Abstract
There is, in principle, a fundamental difference between Nazi racial antisemitism and the traditional anti-Judaism of Christianity. The church’s official view has been that conversion transforms a Jew into a Christian, whereas the Nazi view was that a Jewish convert to Christianity remained
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There is, in principle, a fundamental difference between Nazi racial antisemitism and the traditional anti-Judaism of Christianity. The church’s official view has been that conversion transforms a Jew into a Christian, whereas the Nazi view was that a Jewish convert to Christianity remained a Jew. Nevertheless, the distinction between racial and religious antisemitism has often been less clear-cut than is often claimed by those who claim that Christian churches bear no responsibility for the Holocaust. That is not to say that it is illusory, just that it has often been less clear-cut than is often claimed. During the Holocaust and the decades that preceded it, Christian clergy often stressed the same themes as the Nazis, notably with respect to the Jews being “parasitic” capitalists exploiting Christians, as well as communists seeking to overthrow the governments and traditional Christian values of Europe (Passelecq and Suchecky 1997, pp. 123–36). We shall see that these clerics often also spoke of Jews in racial, as well as religious terms. Conversely, the Nazis often exploited traditional Christian themes, such as the diabolical nature of the Jew, the image of the Jew as “Christ-killer,” and the contrast between “carnal” (materialistic) Judaism and spiritual Christianity. In other words, the Nazis effectively exploited two millennia of Christian demonization of the Jew. Most scholars who have studied the role of the Christian churches during the Holocaust are well aware of most of these facts (Barnett 1992; Bergen 1996; Ericksen and Heschel 1999a; Kertzer 2001). Yet many comparative studies of religion and violence ignore the role played by Christian churches during the Holocaust—apparently on the assumption that the most horrific mass murder in human history was a purely secular phenomenon. In fact, some prominent scholars, including the best-selling authors Karen Armstrong and—incredibly—Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, go so far as to attribute the Shoah to the demise of religious values in Europe (Armstrong 2014; Sacks 2015)! This article is an attempt to correct these mistaken assumptions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Genocide)
Open AccessArticle Child Sexual Abuse in Protestant Christian Congregations: A Descriptive Analysis of Offense and Offender Characteristics
Religions 2018, 9(1), 27; doi:10.3390/rel9010027
Received: 27 December 2017 / Revised: 12 January 2018 / Accepted: 15 January 2018 / Published: 18 January 2018
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Abstract
Utilizing data from 326 cases of alleged child sexual abuse that occurred at or through activities provided by Protestant Christian congregations, this study examines demographic and contextual characteristics of alleged child sexual abuse that took place within the most prevalent religious environment in
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Utilizing data from 326 cases of alleged child sexual abuse that occurred at or through activities provided by Protestant Christian congregations, this study examines demographic and contextual characteristics of alleged child sexual abuse that took place within the most prevalent religious environment in the United States. Research questions are addressed in this study. First, what type of child sexual abuse most commonly occurs at or through activities provided by Protestant Christian congregations? Second, where do such offenses physically take place? Third, who are the offenders and what role(s) do they assume in the congregations? We find that the overwhelming majority of offenses were contact offenses that occurred on church premises or at the offender’s home, and that most offenders were white male pastors or youth ministers who were approximately 40 years in age. We conclude with policy implications and recommendations for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Crime: Theory, Research, and Practice)
Open AccessArticle Building Coalitions with NGOs: Religion Scholars and Disability Justice Activism
Religions 2018, 9(1), 28; doi:10.3390/rel9010028
Received: 18 December 2017 / Revised: 10 January 2018 / Accepted: 16 January 2018 / Published: 18 January 2018
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Abstract
The World Council of Churches (WCC), an organization of 348 member churches, is a model of coalition building particularly through its support of individuals, churches, and their ministries for the inclusion, participation, and contributions of people with disabilities in its ecumenical work. The
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The World Council of Churches (WCC), an organization of 348 member churches, is a model of coalition building particularly through its support of individuals, churches, and their ministries for the inclusion, participation, and contributions of people with disabilities in its ecumenical work. The Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) informs one of the initiatives of the WCC—faith in Jesus Christ and communion fellowship—in the journey toward visible unity and justice for people who were too often missing the banquet of a church of all and for all. EDAN and other international disability advocates have most recently embedded its agenda of inclusion into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nations explicitly recognizes the Human Rights for persons with disabilities and, with the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), has raised protections against discrimination, exploitation, and abuse of people with disabilities to the level of international law. The World Health Organization works collaboratively in gathering data and local analyses of efforts to minimize preventable disability and maximize rehabilitation program availability with partners across the globe. These organizations, global in nature, have benefitted from the insights raised by people with disabilities and scholars working at the intersections of disability, religion, and justice. This essay examines the efficacy and opportunities of international coalitions available with these organizations so as to challenge the ethics of simple accommodations with a more robust social justice of affirmation and advocacy for people with disabilities: a new paradigm for our churches and our world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Disability, and Social Justice: Building Coalitions)

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Open AccessEssay Romantism, Amazement, Imagination—A trias religiosa
Religions 2018, 9(1), 18; doi:10.3390/rel9010018
Received: 14 November 2017 / Revised: 28 December 2017 / Accepted: 2 January 2018 / Published: 9 January 2018
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Abstract
To wonder is a gift of the romanticist in particular. Wonder seeks explanation. If reason doesn’t provide that, imagination provides a way out. One imagines a transcendental world of which the God-idea may become the central point and the explanatory model of that
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To wonder is a gift of the romanticist in particular. Wonder seeks explanation. If reason doesn’t provide that, imagination provides a way out. One imagines a transcendental world of which the God-idea may become the central point and the explanatory model of that that invoked wonder. The God-idea implies wonder, wonder that live exists, that things exist at all. Wonder promotes religiosity—i.c., the need to provide life with a vertical dimension—and religiosity facilitates, in its turn, wonder. Thus the circle is closed: romanticism, wonder, imagination, religiosity, wonder. A circle providing life with an important bonus, i.e., sense, meaning with a supernatural signature. This augments the chance that hope will be preserved, even as dark clouds begin to hover above one’s life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
Open AccessErratum Erratum: Belief in Reincarnation and Some Unresolved Questions in Catholic Eschatology. Religions 2017, 8, 176
Religions 2018, 9(1), 29; doi:10.3390/rel9010029 (registering DOI)
Received: 15 January 2018 / Revised: 15 January 2018 / Accepted: 15 January 2018 / Published: 19 January 2018
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Reincarnation: Hindu, Christian, and Scientific)
Open AccessEssay Christian Ethical Boundaries of Suicide Prevention
Religions 2018, 9(1), 30; doi:10.3390/rel9010030 (registering DOI)
Received: 12 December 2017 / Revised: 14 January 2018 / Accepted: 16 January 2018 / Published: 19 January 2018
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Abstract
In Western countries the general rule is that caregivers do everything possible to prevent suicide. The aim of this essay is to critically reflect on that position along three questions: is there an unconditional obligation to live, how far does the duty reach
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In Western countries the general rule is that caregivers do everything possible to prevent suicide. The aim of this essay is to critically reflect on that position along three questions: is there an unconditional obligation to live, how far does the duty reach to safeguard life, and how does one deal with the tension between suicide prevention and euthanasia? The study material consists of Christian theological and ethical literature and relevant legislation, while the method is a religious ethical reflection, clarified by means of a case study. We consider suicide as an expression of an existential search for meaning and interwoven with psychiatric problems. After discussing the three ethical arguments against suicide, we conclude that the inviolability of life is a generally recognized and fundamental value, but that there is no unconditional obligation to live. Nevertheless, there is a legal duty to safeguard life. In practice however, restriction of freedom and coercion are counterproductive in the search for meaning and require a proportional assessment between inviolability of life and autonomy. Finally, the legal possibility of euthanasia in mental suffering or medically assisted suicide brings caregivers in a confusing situation. Good companionship of the euthanasia request may help finding a new life perspective and hence may contribute to suicide prevention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
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