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Context and Catholicity in the Science and Religion Debate

Intercultural contributions from French-speaking Africa

Series:

Klaas Bom and Benno van der Toren

For years the fact that the debate on science and religion was not related to cultural diversity was considered only a minor issue. However, lately, there is a growing concern that the dominance of ‘Western’ perspectives in this field do not allow for new understandings. This book testifies to the growing interest in the different cultural embeddings of the science and religion interface and proposes a framework that makes an intercultural debate possible. This proposal is based on a thorough study of the ‘lived theology’ of Christian students and university professors in Abidjan, Kinshasa and Yaoundé. The outcomes of the field research are related to a worldwide perspective of doing theology and a broader scope of scholarly discussions.

Series:

Edited by Jørn Borup, Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger and Lene Kühle

The religious landscape in Asia has long been diverse, with various forms of syncretic traditions and pragmatic practices continuously having been challenged by centrifugal forces of differentiation. This anthology explores representations and managements of religious diversity in Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and diaspora religions originating in these countries, seen through the lenses of history, identity, state, ritual and geography. In addition to presenting empirical cases, the chapters also address theoretical and methodological reflections using Asia as a laboratory for further comparative research of the relevance and use of 'religious diversity'.

Religious Diversity in Asia was made possible by a framework grant from the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation allowing the grant holder (Jørn Borup) and two colleagues (Marianne Q. Fibiger and Lene Kühle) to host a workshop at Aarhus University and to co-arrange workshops in Delhi and Nagoya. We would like to thank professors Arshad Alam and Michiaki Okuyama for hosting these latter workshops at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Nanzan University, and we would like to thank Professor Chong-Suh Kim for the invitation for Jørn Borup to visit Seoul National University. We would also like to extend our gratitude to all the scholars who participated in the workshops and to all the authors we subsequently invited to contribute to our endeavor to create this academically relevant volume.

Esther Eidinow

Abstract

This article discusses the challenges facing scholars exploring the nature of belief in ancient Greek religion. While recent scholarship has raised questions about individual religious activities, and work on ritual, the body, and the senses has broadened our methodological palette, the nature and dynamics of generally held “low intensity” beliefs still tend to be described simply as “unquestioned” or “embedded” in society. But examining scholarship on divine personifications suggests that ancient beliefs were — and our perceptions of them are — more complex. This article first explores the example of Tyche (“Chance”), in order to highlight some of the problems that surround the use of the term “belief.” It then turns to the theories of “ideology” of Slavoj Žižek and Robert Pfaller and argues that these can offer provocative insights into the nature and dynamics of ritual and belief in ancient Greek culture.

Arresting Alternatives

Religious Prejudice and Bacchantic Worship in Greek Literature

Marika Rauhala

Abstract

Ancient Greek descriptions of ecstatic and mystic rituals, here broadly labeled as Bacchantic worship, regularly include elements of moral corruption and dissolution of social unity. Suspicions were mostly directed against unofficial cult groups that exploited Dionysiac experiences in secluded settings. As the introduction of copious new cults attests, Greek religion was receptive to external influences. This basic openness, however, was not synonymous with tolerance, and pious respect for all deities did not automatically include their worshippers. This article reconsiders the current view of ancient religious intolerance by regarding these negative stereotypes as expressions of prejudice and by investigating the social dynamics behind them. Prejudices against private Bacchantic groups are regarded as part of the process of buttressing the religious authority of certain elite quarters in situations where they perceive that their position is being threatened by rival claims. It is suggested that both the accentuation and alleviation of prejudice is best understood in relation to the relative stability of the elite and the religious control it exerted.

Everton E. C. Lima, José H. C. Monteiro da Silva and Vegard Skirbekk

We analyze cohort fertility by religion and education in Latin America from periods previous to the general decline in period fertility in 1950s. We reconstruct cohort fertility and parity progression ratios of women born in 1930–1970 in a number of countries in the region, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru. Our main aim is to understand the past developments of cohort fertility in the course of fertility transition in Latin America and to assess the role of religious affiliation, as well as to understand these developments controlling for a number of socioeconomic characteristics. We also seek to grasp if religion becomes more or less important with rising school levels and human capital over time.