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Abstract

The article advances a political interpretation of ritual behavior in religious communes, grounded in costly signaling theory of religion. Both asceticism, often involving self-inflicted pain or severe deprivation, and ecstatic behavior, incurring considerable energetic and emotional expenditure, can perform the role of voluntary costly signals (VCS) – uncoerced displays broadcasting features that predispose the signaler to higher status or position of authority in the community. VCS, as all costly signals, help the group determine the distribution of relevant traits, but, in contrast to most applications of the signaling theory, it is leadership qualifications, and not commitment, that these signals communicate. The discussion of the VCS’ empowering mechanism is illustrated with cross-cultural evidence, focusing on Russian Skoptsy and American Shakers. Voluntary costly signaling had demonstrably contributed to the creation and stability of these groups’ power regimes.

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
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Abstract

This article presents the Swiss-Iraqi director Samir Jamal Aldin and his thriller Baghdad in My Shadow (2019) and puts it into a context of the re-negotiation of identities in a culturally diverse Europe. The director’s intention is presented as a wish to deal with taboo issues related to gay rights, women’s emancipation, and religious fundamentalism within an Iraqi community in contemporary London.

The film is analysed with the help of (1) theories analysing tensions between liberal-secular and religious-fundamentalist standpoints, and (2) theories about film viewers’ engagement, amplifying audiences’ emotions and thoughts about complex societal issues.

The film could be said to advocate a standpoint of dynamic secularism promoting individual rights. The article argues, furthermore, that Samir as a Swiss-Iraqi filmmaker encourages thick viewing through his thriller format and invites the audience to a deeper emotional and intellectual understanding of liberal principles, honour culture, and hybrid identity positions in contemporary Europe.

Open Access
In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture

Abstract

The fire that destroyed a large part of the world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral in France in April 2019 shocked the world. A lively expression of thoughts and feelings during and after the fire arose on Twitter. In this article, we will analyze the discourses about the Notre Dame fire on Twitter, with a specific focus on emoji, focusing on the thoughts and feelings emoji express and how they convey the meanings religious buildings have for people. Based on a dataset of almost 2 million tweets collected in the week following the incident, this paper leverages a variety of computational and qualitative methods to explore the topic from different angles. Temporal analysis and topic modelling show the dynamics of emoji usage, which drastically changes after a few days from expressing sorrow to expressing skepticism. Semantic analysis using the word2vec model reveals the implicit meaning of potentially ambiguous emoji characters.

In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture

Abstract

isis’s media projected the group’s vision of an Islamic utopia upon declaring its so-called Caliphate in 2014. In response, many counter-messaging campaigns have emerged. Although many examine isis’s media and anti-extremism interventions, very few assess faith-based initiatives in Arab countries. Integrating two bodies of scholarly literature on religious and political conversions and entertainment-education, this study explores al-Siham al-Marika, a faith-based Arab drama portraying life under isis. The study uses mixed-methods to analyze the show’s religious underpinnings, the depiction of positive/negative role models, and the portrayals of religious-political conversions. Focusing on spiritual outcomes, the show illustrates cross-cultural differences in conceptualizing rewards and punishments and uses drama to bolster the persuasive power of religious-political conversion narratives. The study concludes with a discussion on the implications of faith-based entertainment-education in combating extremism and its potential role as a catalyst for bridging the perceived schism between religion and popular culture in some Muslim societies.

In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture

Abstract

The coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19) pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home advisories issued by many states encouraged many houses of worship to begin live streaming or to improve existing capabilities. Even as restrictions on gathering loosened, many people continued to avoid large gatherings out of an abundance of caution, causing many religious institutions to have split congregations: part in person and part virtual. This study examined the motivations and decisions made by U.S.-based Protestant churches of various sizes regarding starting, improving, and continuing live streaming in the face of sudden changes in their ability to reach their congregations. The diffusion of innovations theory was used as a framework to understand how live streaming spread through the Protestant church and how the crisis of the pandemic accelerated that diffusion.

In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
Authors: and

Abstract

Despite growing recognition of the important role which culture and religion play in risk communication and framing theory, research on framing in religious media is limited. In the context of health risks, framing remains virtually unexplored. In an attempt to address this gap, this study looks at risk reporting in religious media. By means of a content analysis of 331 news reports and articles published in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious media in Israel during the covid-19 outbreak in Israel, this study serves the dual purpose of offering the empirical evaluation of the “quality of risk information” as well as the framing of health-risks in religious media. Drawing upon the constructivist approach to framing theory, the study’s findings shed light on the mediation of frames through cultural-religious prisms and its effects on the quality of risk information. In addition, the findings provide a conceptual basis for comparative analysis across various cultural and religious groups.

In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
Author:

Abstract

This article contributes to the interpretation of the relationship between esotericism and psychology by analysing the theory known as “the family unconscious”. As a variation of the collective unconscious (or collective psyche), the concept of family unconscious was first elaborated by the Hungarian endocrinologist, neurologist, and psychiatrist Leopold Szondi. During the 1930s, Szondi developed his comprehensive theory and psychotherapeutic approach regarding “fate-analysis” within which the assumption of the family unconscious gained central significance. According to fate-analysis, ancestral experiences are preserved in genes and determine the life of descendants. Introduced by Bert Hellinger, the popular psychotherapeutic modality, “family constellation method” displays a variation of the psychological theory of the family unconscious. This paper argues that the approach utilised in Hellinger’s method retains characteristics of “classical” esotericism far more in its interpretation of the family unconscious than the fate-analysis of Szondi. By introducing a genetic interpretation, Szondi managed to “scientize” the family unconscious and put his system on mechanistic grounds.

In: Aries