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Victor van Bijlert

Hinduism is often regarded as a tolerant and non-violent religion. Whenever there is violence or injustice perpetrated by large groups of Hindus, there is a tendency to explain this as an anomaly. The lowest groups in Hindu society especially, the so-called Untouchables or Dalits and—even more so—Dalit converts to Christianity, often face Hindu aggression. In order to reveal the motivation for Hindu resentment, this essay analyses Hinduism in terms of a universally internalised social model. This model is more basic to Hinduism than any particular scripture or cult. It explains the fundamental Hindu view of the universe as a hierarchically structured sacred world order with its complement, a non-hierarchical sphere of renunciation and numinous individualism. This essay argues that if this model is properly understood, it explains the subordinate role of Untouchables in Hindu society as well as the strategies available to cope with oppression.

Dutch Colonialism and Indonesian Islam

Contacts and Conflicts 1596-1950. Second Revised Edition

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Karel Steenbrink

This book tells the story of the contacts and conflicts between muslims and christians in Southeast Asia during the Dutch colonial history from 1596 until 1950. The author draws from a great variety of sources to shed light on this period: the letters of the colonial pioneer Jan Pietersz. Coen, the writings of 17th century Dutch theologians, the minutes of the Batavia church council, the contracts of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) with the sultans in the Indies, documents from the files of colonial civil servants from the 19th and 20th centuries, to mention just a few. The colonial situation was not a good starting-point for a religious dialogue. With Dutch power on the increase there was even less understanding for the religion of the muslims . In 1620 J.P. Coen, the strait-laced calvinist, had actually a better understanding and respect for the muslims than the liberal colonial leaders from the early 20th century, convinced as they were of western supremacy.

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Edited by Claude Ozankom and Chibueze C. Udeani

The process of Globalisation has subjected cultures, religions and societies or communities of the world to fundamental changes, which are primarily characterised and conditioned by new communication technologies, migration, worldwide exchange of goods and capital. This development has led to the rise of plural societies, which not only mean chances and opportunities but also a potential of threat for the future of humanity.
Subsequent to this development this international conference addresses the question of how living together in a global age could succeed and be fruitful.
Im Zuge des Globalisierungsprozesses befinden sich alle Kulturen, Religionen und damit alle Gesellschaften der Welt in einem grundlegenden Wandel, der vor allem durch neue Kommunikationstechnologien, Migration, weltweiten Austausch von Kapital und Gütern bedingt ist. Diese Entwicklung hat zur Entstehung pluraler Gesellschaften geführt, die nicht nur eine Chance, sondern auch ein Bedrohungspotenzial für die Zukunft der Menschheit bedeutet.
Vor diesem Hintergrund stellt sich für die Tagung die Frage, wie ein Zusammenleben der Menschen in einer zunehmend multireligiösen und multikulturellen Welt gelingen kann

Mapping the Sacred

Religion, Geography and Postcolonial Literatures

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Edited by Jamie S. Scott and Paul Simpson-Housley

Interweaving the interpretative methods of religious studies, literary criticism and cultural geography, the essays in this volume focus on issues associated with the representation of place and space in the writing and reading of the postcolonial. The collection charts the ways in which contemporary writers extend and deepen our awareness of the ambiguities of economic, social and political relations implicated in “sacred space” - the sense of spiritual significance associated with those concrete locations in which adherents of different religious traditions, past and present, maintain a ritual sense of the sanctity of life and its cycles. Part I, “Land, Religion and Literature after Britain,” explores how postcolonial writers dramatize the contested processes of colonization, resistance and decolonization by which lands and landscapes may be viewed as now sacred, now desacralized, now resacralized. Part II, “Sacred Landscapes and Postcoloniality across International Literatures,” draws upon postcolonial theory to inquire into how contemporary fiction, drama and poetry represent themes of divine dispensation, dispossession and reclamation in regions as diverse as Haiti, Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Arctic, and the North American frontier. A critical “Afterword” considers the implications of such multi-disciplinary approaches to postcolonial literatures for present and future research in the field. Writers discussed in the essays include Russell Banks; James K. Baxter; Ursula Bethell; Erna Brodber; Marcus Clarke; Allen Curnow; Edwidge Danticat; Mak Dizdar; Sara Jeannette Duncan; Zee Edgell; “Grey Owl”; Haruki Murakami; Seamus Heaney; Peter Høeg; Hugh Hood; Janette Turner Hospital; James Houston; Dany Laferrière; B. Kojo Laing; Lee Kok Liang; K.S. Maniam; Mudrooroo; R.K. Narayan; Ngugi wa Thiong'o; Ben Okri; Chava Pinchas-Cohen; Mary Prince; Nancy Prince; Nayantara Sahgal; Ken Saro-Wiwa; Ibrahim Tahir; Amos Tutuola; W.D. Valgardson; Derek Walcott; and Rudy Wiebe. Maps accompany almost every essay.

Rewriting God

Spirituality in contemporary Australian women’s fiction

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Elaine Lindsay

Women are rarely if ever mentioned in commentaries upon Australian Christianity and spirituality. Only exceptional women are recognized as authorities on religious matters. Why is this so? Does it matter? Don't people from the same religious tradition share similar experiences of the divine, regardless of their gender?
Rewriting God asks whether women have been writing about the divine and whether their insights are different from those contained in malestream accounts of Australian Christianity and spirituality. An analysis of the writings of popular theologians and religious commentators over the last twenty years suggests that the most popular form of spirituality among Australian theologians is Desert Spirituality. An analysis of women's autobiographical writings, however, suggests that the desert is irrelevant to many women's spiritual experiences. This book, through a close investigation of the fictions of Thea Astley, Elizabeth Jolley and Barbara Hanrahan, attempts to posit alternative forms of women's spirituality and to signal ways in which this spirituality is already being expressed.
From the evidence gathered here, it becomes obvious that traditional expressions of Australian Christianity and spirituality are gender-specific and that they have functioned to deny women's religious experiences and to silence their claims to equality in the sight and service of the divine. It becomes obvious, too, that women have been developing their own forms of religious expression and that these may be expected to supplant gradually withering images of Desert Spirituality. Whether this new imagery will strengthen Australian Christianity or whether it merely marks a decline in the authority of Christianity remains a moot point.

Human Rights and Religious Values

An Uneasy Relationship?

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Edited by Abdullah A. An-na'im, Jerald D. Gort, Henry Jansen and Hendrik M. Vroom