Coping with Evil in Religion and Culture

Case Studies


The various Christian, Muslim, traditional (African), and secular (Western) ways of imagining and coping with evil collected in this volume have several things in common. The most crucial perhaps and certainly the most striking aspect is the problem of defining the nature or characteristics of evil as such. Some argue that evil has an essence that remains constant, whereas others say its interpretation depends on time and place.
However much religious and secular interpretations of evil may have changed, the human search for sense and meaning never ends. Questions of whom to blame and whom to address—God, the devil, fate, bad luck, or humans—remain at the center of our explanations and our strategies to comprehend, define, counter, or process the evil we do and the evil done to us by people, God, nature, or accident. Using approaches from cultural anthropology, religious studies, theology, philosophy, psychology, and history, the contributors to this volume analyze how several religious and secular traditions imagine and cope with evil.

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Nelly van DOORN-HARDER and Lourens MINNEMA: The Problem of Defining Evil
Part I: Evil in Spirit
Birgit MEYER: Images of Evil in Popular Ghanaian Christianity
Jacqueline BORSJE: Druids, Deer and “Words of Power”: Coming to Terms with Evil in Medieval Ireland
Marthinus L. DANEEL: Coping with Wizardry in Zimbabwe in African Initiated Churches (AICs)
Edien BARTELS: The Evil Comes from Outside: Evil within Religion as a Psychosocial Problem among Adolescent Moroccan Girls in the Netherlands
J. Kwabena ASAMOAH-GYADU: Conquering Satan, Demons, Principalities, and Powers: Ghanaian Traditional and Christian Perspectives on Religion, Evil, and Deliverance
Peter VERSTEEG and André DROOGERS: A Schema Repertoire Approach to Exorcism: Two Case Studies of Spiritual Warfare
Reender KRANENBORG: How ‘Satanic’ Is Satanism? A Normative Description
Part II: Evil in Society
Martijn de KONING: “You Follow the Path of the Shaitan; We Try to Follow the Righteous Path”: Negotiating Evil in the Identity Construction of Young Moroccan-Dutch Muslims
Nelly van DOORN-HARDER: Defining Evil to the Strengthen Islam: Muhammadiyah Ideologies of Gender and Marriage
Frans WIJSSEN: Beyond Ujamaa: African Religion and Societal Evil
Part III: Coping with Evil
André LASCARIS: Religion and Evil from the Perspective of Mimetic Theory
Lourens MINNEMA: Coping with Human Evil: Shakespeare’s Sense of Tragic Revenge
Edwin KOSTER: The Power and Limits of Stories: On the Questions “How to Cope with Evil?” and “How to Avoid Evil?”
Christiane TIETZ: Prayer as a Means of Coping with Evil: Approaches from the Perspective of Lutheran Dogmatics
R. Ruard GANZEVOORT: Coping with Tragedy and Malice
General Index
Contributors to this Volume