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In the Second World War years, the long-dreamed-of idea of a politically united Europe finally began to be realized, if only in Western Europe. At the heart of this project for a united Europe was the principle of “unity in diversity,” with the diversity lying in the distinct national cultures across Europe. Chapter 8 focuses first on the various reflections on the idea of a “European spirit” discussed at major international conference in Geneva in 1947, before considering the ways in which the notion of “unity in diversity” served to provide an ideological underpinning for this new Europe. Among the many writers and thinkers discussed in this chapter are T. S. Eliot, Denis de Rougemont, Georg Lukács, Stephen Spender, Georges Bernanos, and Karl Jaspers. The chapter highlights just how challenging it is to break with Eurocentric, Euro-supremacist, and Euro-universalist agendas even when the emphasis is placed on diversity. The case of Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Fascists in the interwar years, is particularly instructive. As this chapter shows, he was among the most ardent advocates of a united Europe, his arguments having profound implications for any progressive idea of Europe.
Much of the history of the idea of Europe has played out in Western Europe, with the important exception of Russia in the nineteenth century. However, in the twentieth century, there were a number of influential reflections on the idea of Europe in both Central and Eastern Europe, notably by writers and thinkers including Czesław Miłosz, Milan Kundera, and Julia Kristeva. Chapter 9 focuses on these reflections from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the complex view of Europe from Turkey, particularly through the work of the pro-European Turkish writer Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar and the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, as well as those from former European colonies in North Africa and South America, with key figures in this regard including the violently anti-European Frantz Fanon as well as the philosopher Jacques Derrida and the writer Jorge Luis Borges. This chapter considers some of the ways in which the traditional center/periphery conception of Europe might be rethought, while also revealing the extent to which Eurocentric and Euro-supremacist assumptions are far from being limited to the Western European discourse on the idea of Europe. It also reflects on the abiding idea of Europe as essential a Christian culture.
This chapter traces the arc of Heaney’s progression from faithful and engaged Catholic in the 1940s, 191950s and even 60s to a more sceptical stance in the years following Vatican Council II. It sees Station Island (1984) as the axial moment where disbelief is fully acknowledged. Still, the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland make a cultural departure from Roman Catholicism moot, while the poet’s respect for a believing Czesław Miłosz and others cautions against total rejection. Heaney’s tortured conflict with Philip Larkin’s 'Aubade' points to the attraction of the latter’s post-religious stance even as the narrowness of its focus is achingly condemned. A consciously unorthodox Heaney exits with most of the rites of a more liberal but declining Irish Catholic Church that celebrates his passing without rigorously scrutinizing his creedal beliefs.
What do Christians do when they read? How can Christian reading be understood anthropologically? Anthropologists of Christianity have offered many ethnographic descriptions of the interplay among people, words, and material objects across Christian groups, but descriptions of Christian reading have often posited an androgynous reader. In response to this we begin from the observation that while reading cannot be done without words, it also cannot be done without a body. We propose that an analytic approach of placing language and materiality (including bodies) together will help clarify that reading texts is an embodied practice, while not undermining the importance of working with words. We draw inspiration from the recent interest in bringing linguistic anthropology and materiality studies together into the same analytic frame of “language materiality.” We explore a language-materiality approach to reading by comparing how the biblical story of Mary and Martha was read by Protestant women in two historical situations: 1920s Norway and the 1950s United States. We argue that in these cases the readers’ gendered, raced, and classed bodies were central to the activity of reading texts, including their bodies’ material engagements with the world, such as carrying out women's work. We suggest that paying attention to embodied reading—that is, readers’ social entanglements with both language and materiality—yields a fuller analysis of what reading is in particular historical situations, and ultimately questions the notion of a singular Protestant semiotic ideology that works consistently toward purification.
Archaeology increasingly attests the complex and cosmopolitan nature of societies in medieval Ethiopia (c. seventh to early eighteenth centuries AD). Without negating the existence of relations of dominance and periods of isolation, key emergent themes of such research are pluralism and interaction. Four religious traditions are relevant to this theme: Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Indigenous religions. This article introduces a special section of contributions on medieval Ethiopia and sets the scheme by highlighting the temporality of cosmopolitanism as episodic rather than continuous. The following articles address varied aspects of this cosmopolitanism, identifying issues of general relevance for studies of the archaeology of religion, as well as the need for further research in Ethiopia.
The final chapter presents the conclusions of the book, looking specifically at how speaking publicly gives people authority, particularly when others listen to and support them. Then it discusses the challenges and opportunities of speaking about one's faith in contemporary, technologically mediated contexts. Finally, how diversity of belief is managed within religious communities is discussed, in relation to the data analysed in the previous chapters.
This chapter focuses on how authority is claimed by individuals in religious traditions and the role of sacred texts as the 'word of God' in both Christianity and Islam. How individuals take on that authority for themselves, using scared texts in their discourse is analysed, with a discussion of how people of different faiths discuss the differences in their sacred texts, and how they establish authority when cultural norms change.
This chapter begins with defining the key terms of religion and discourse, presenting how different approaches to language have influenced the understanding of religious experience and vice versa. A definition of discourse is provided which focuses on functions, embodied cognition, and emergence. Religion and spiritual experience have been described from a variety of perspectives with attempts to understand language with various perspectives (functional, embodied cognition, and emergence) applied to religious language and talk about religious experience. Finally, the emergence and influence of mediatisation and secularisation are discussed in terms of their effects on religious believers.
This chapter focuses on giving theoretical and methodological frameworks for dealing with religious discourse. While religious discourse can be observed in a variety of places, given the focus of this research on language-in-use and the development of religious belief and practice in these contexts, public dialogues about religion, in both supportive and antagonistic settings, are used as the primary data in this study. The data represents the ways in which speakers, foregrounding their religious identity, speak about religious belief and practice together, with a focus on instances in which the speakers are addressing challenges to the beliefs posed by social changes, such as those about homosexuality. Data sources were identified as a part of an ongoing, ten-year longitudinal observation of religious users online following principles of Discourse-Centred Online Ethnography and describing the changes in systems in interaction over time, following the principles of a Discourse-Dynamics Approach and discourse analysis using Positioning Theory.
This chapter focuses on how religion is reprented in contemporary life and how categories like 'Christian' and 'Muslim' are established both within one's own religious community and in contrast to people of different faiths. The role of religion in the wider world is then considered with a particualr focus on how religions adapt to changing cultural norms.
This chapter addresses the opportunities and challenges for believers living in the contemporary world, balancing the pressures of their own communities and their individual belief. The chapter discusses the influence of the market economy on the the presentation of belief in the contemporary world, and how debates between people of the same faith arise and are resolved. The focus on individual choice and personal conviction is analysed in relation to topics of debate within Christianity and Islam.
Is debate on issues related to faith and reason still possible when dialogue between believers and non-believers has collapsed? Taking God Seriously not only proves that it is possible, but also demonstrates that such dialogue produces fruitful results. Here, Brian Davies, a Dominican priest and leading scholar of Thomas Aquinas, and Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science and well-known non-believer, offer an extended discussion on the nature and plausibility of belief in God and Christianity. They explore key topics in the study of religion, notably the nature of faith, the place of reason in discussions about religion, proofs for the existence of God, the problem of evil, and the problem of multiple competing religious systems, as well as the core concepts of Christian belief including the Trinity and the justification of morality. Written in a jargon-free manner, avoiding the extremes of evangelical literalism and New Atheism prejudice, Taking God Seriously does not compromise integrity or shy from discussing important or difficult issues.
How do people of faith use language to position themselves, and their beliefs and practices, in the contemporary world? This pioneering and original study looks closely at how Christians and Muslims talk to people inside and outside of their own communities about what they think are the right things to believe and do. From debates, to podcasts and YouTube videos, the book covers a range of engaging texts and contexts, showing how doctrine and beliefs are not nearly as fixed and static as we might think, and that people are prone to change what they say they believe, depending on who they are talking to. From abortion, to hell, to whether it's okay to sell alcohol, Pihlaja investigates how Christians and Muslims struggle with different elements of their own faith, and try to make decisions about what to do when there are so many different voices to believe.
Studies of liberationist Christianity in Argentina have largely explained its emergence with reference to changes or continuities within the Catholic Church. This article instead analyses firstly how Marxist humanism, dependency theory and left nationalism shaped a rapprochement with Christianity in the 1960s, with Peronism often functioning as an intermediary. Moreover, it demonstrates the ways in which the ongoing ambivalent relationship between Marxism and the liberationist Christian movement in Argentina manifested in the fragmentation of the Movimiento de Sacerdotes para el Tercer Mundo (Movement of Priests for the Third World) in the first half of the 1970s. In doing so, it identifies Marxism not as merely a passive repository of ideas but as an active agent in liberationist Christianity's development, and adds a new layer of understanding of the dynamics and fragmentation of the movement.
The focus of Chapter 3 is mainly on Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God. I argue that the expansion of social subsystems triggered by colonial modernity unfolds against a background of different historical rhythms, not all of which are explicitly foregrounded within the novels. I suggest that these barely visible overlapping histories generate a number of rhetorical sedimentations to the representation of both historical processes and the Igbo ethno-text (ethnographic details) that also illustrate the subtle and not-so-subtle disruptions of colonial modernity. To grasp the nature of the multi-synchronous historical character of these texts, I read both the historical and ethnographic details of Achebe’s novels as discursive thresholds rather than as cultural particularities. Thus, the characters Okonkwo and Ezeulu are both victims of historical transformations of which they are barely conscious.
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God, Okonkwo, Ezeulu, colonial modernity, colonial interpellation, Fanon, foundational narratives, gossip, osu (sacred caste), slavery in nineteenth-century West Africa, David Scott, Georg Lukács, the historical novel, Tolstoy’s Hadji Murat, volatile proximity between different historical lifeworlds, Christianity, ethical choice.
The aims of this review article are two-fold: (1) to set out the key theoretical trends in the study of religion, populism and social policy as antithetical concepts that also share common concerns; (2) to re-assert the relevance of social policy to the social and political sciences by making the case for studying outlier or indeed rival topics together – in this case populism and religion. Social policy scholars do not necessarily associate these two topics with modern social policy, yet they have a long history of influence on societies all over the world; populism is also especially timely in our current era. The article contributes to the literature by: (a) helping social policy better understand its diverse and at times contradictory constituencies; (b) contributing to a more complex and inclusive understanding of social policy and, therefore, social welfare. In setting out the state-of-the-art, the article also draws upon research on social policy which spans various continents (North America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and Latin America) and a preceding paper collaboration by the authors on religion and social policy (Pavolini et al., 2017).
In the Christian literature of the first centuries, notions such as those of harmonia, symphōnia and epōidē – just to mention a few – as well as many musical instruments and musical myths borrowed from pagan culture, appear, in an adequately reinterpreted form, in the description and explanation of fundamental aspects of Christian doctrine. The chapter examines some musical concepts and images in Clement of Alexandria’s and Origen’s works, with a specific focus on the Greek musical culture that lies in the background of this rich musical imagery. By analysing Clement’s and Origen’s strategy of reinterpretation and appropriation of fundamental figures and notions drawn from the Greek musical world – such as the figure of Orpheus and the notion of symphōnia – the chapter shows that the use of music stands out as a momentous feature in the apologetic and exegetical activities of these Christian writers, touching upon some crucial issues, such as the Christian attitude to pagan culture and the relationship between Christianity and philosophy.
Although The Spirit of Law (1748) was greeted very favorably in many quarters, a Jansenist writer in the Nouvelles Ecclésiastiques charged Montesquieu with lack of respect for Christianity and with being a follower of natural religion. Montesquieu’s response was that his critic had failed to understand that he was writing, not as a theologian, but as a “jurisconsult” (legal scholar) exploring what laws are most suitable for a given people considering their character and situation. Montesquieu acknowledges that although he had discussed many non-Christian customs, he was “not justifying the customs but giving the reasons for them.” He also stressed that he had rebutted the views of both Bayle and Spinoza. He notes that he had called out Bayle for his error in believing that “a society of true Christians could not survive” and had refuted Spinoza’s fatalism by asserting that “those who have said that a blind fate has produced all the effects that we see in the world have uttered a great absurdity.”
In The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy, Robert D. Woodberry (2012) claims that conversionary Protestantism influenced the emergence of stable democracies around the world. While his historical analysis is exhaustive, the accompanying empirical evidence suffers from severe inconsistencies. This letter replicates Woodberry's analysis using twenty-six alternative democracy measures and extends the time period over which the democracy measures are averaged. These two simple modifications lead to the breakdown of Woodberry's results. We find no significant relationship between Protestant missions and the development of democracy, which raises concerns about the robustness and broader applicability of Woodberry's findings. The letter discusses some alternative explanations for Woodberry's results, which can inform future research on this topic.
The Japanese are multireligious, non-religious or neither, depending upon how religiosity is defined. This chapter endeavors to make sense of Japanese religiosity and to unravel the ways in which it has formed an undercurrent in Japanese society. The first section focuses on the characteristics of traditional religions which took hold in premodern Japan: Shinto, Japan’s native religion, and two imported religions: Buddhism and Christianity. The second section analyzes newer religions that were founded in the twentieth century and scrutinizes the more recent emergence of a cultural trend in which individuals seek forms of spirituality outside of established religious spheres. The third section looks at this-worldly financial and political activities of these old and new religions, and the fourth sketches how the general trend of secularization faces the revitalization of religious practices.