In this volume, we bring together research on African derived Religions in Latin America and African American Religions in the USA. Theoretically, the concepts of hybridity and syncretism are discussed, in the introduction as well as in the papers included. The papers featured deal with Brazilian Umbanda, Cuban Santería, US African Black Hebrew Israelites, the Five Percenter movement (an offspring of the Nation of Islam), and one single person, Robert T. Browne, an activist in the Black Nationalist movement. In the religions covered – that are an outcome of the historical circumstances of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade – elements taken from West and Central African traditions, European Christianity, and Kardecian Spiritism blend to new forms of religious movements. This being the “fundamental” transformation of religion addressed here, some essays in the volume also look at the further transformation of those traditions in a “glocalized” world.
In response to rising awareness of environmental and climate change crises, some theologians have examined more deeply the ways in which God’s presence is revealed through the natural world. While such explorations are important and necessary, they need to be balanced by complementary reflections on God’s presence in human activities as well. Cities have posed a special problem for such reflections. Cities are commonly regarded as sources of the corruption of human beings and the natural environment alike. While the problems posed by cities cannot be denied, this one-sided view obscures the special ways in which God’s presence is also manifested in urban life. This article draws upon the work of Jane Jacobs, Bernard Lonergan, M. Shawn Copeland and Gregory Boyle to draw attention to these manifestations.
The threat now posed by human beings to the future of life on Earth demands a genuinely global response. It would seem to require a global ethic of some kind that is more than the sum of humanity’s existing declarations of rights and freedoms, wars of intercession, and judicial systems of redress – a concrete ethic of global responsibility which normalises altruistic behaviours while at the same time greatly extending their scope. This article makes the case for such an ethic. It is underpinned by the conviction that human beings do not ‘begin and end with themselves in their knowing’ and takes the view that to see the world as meaningful and whole in its own right; to embrace wholeheartedly the idea that everything is connected; to see oneself as real only in relationship, as free only for others, and as finally responsible – before God – for one’s actions, shapes a way of being in the world that gives those who practise it the opportunity to construct a fully inclusive ethic of justice, care, and compassion for the whole creation.
The challenge of finding a Protestant public theology appropriate for a pluralist, newly independent, Muslim majority nation was taken up initially by a mixed group of lay and ordained theologians, among them T. B. Simatupang, a recently retired lieutenant-general, still in his late thirties. This study links Simatupang’s experience as a soldier-diplomat and strategic planner in Indonesia’s struggle for independence to the objectives and values he promoted and endeavoured to safeguard in his second career as an ecumenical strategist and mentor. Some attention is given to more recent criticism and the argument that a less confrontational Christian stance toward politically active Islam is called for in today’s era of interfaith conversations.
This article examines metaphysics as a method for religious thinking in public. Such a method invites criticism because 1) no one institution or population group can determine how well others use reason and 2) religious justifications for optimal reason-sharing emanate from privileged institutions. Reason is worth using and sharing when traditions share limit-questions. On what basis had the determination – that some use and share reason better than others – seemed plausible? Some scholars base their determination on appeals to metaphysics. The first part of this article introduces public theology’s origins in American civil religious discourse. The second part examines a foundational method for public reason. These parts establish a relationship between a description of public theology and an examination of its use of reason in David Tracy’s methodological justification of metaphysics. The third part shows how Afro-protestant thought mediates public and emancipatory reason by asking whose inquiry liberates and why.
This article argues that ritual can play a positive role in democratic politics in conditions of pluralism. It situates discussions of ritual and pluralism in the context of anthropological and social theory. It examines two insights scholars have made with regards to ritual that make it both compatible with and enabling of pluralism: ritual creates cohesion without agreement and a ‘subjunctive’ space for managing ambiguity. Finally, it develops an account of how these important social benefits of ritual are connected to a democratic pluralist politics, especially its formal, institutional dimensions. Drawing on the work of Luke Bretherton and Chantal Mouffe, it argues that ritual can strengthen the informal dimensions of citizenship and thus affective bonds toward the political community. The claim is also made that ritual constructs shared discourse by creating forms of life from which agreement can emerge in discursive political contexts.
While public theology initially developed amid concerns about secularization, its continued flourishing requires attention to the digital. Shaped especially by mediatization, digital intimacy, and accessibility issues, the digital sphere impacts both the idea of ‘public-ness’ and the practice of theology. Building on the work of David Tracy, this article offers four possible approaches in light of his methodological connection between publics and theological subdisciplines: the digital is only an extension of existing forms of mediation, the digital is a feature of society and practical theology, the digital is a new public and needs a new subdiscipline, or the digital is a new context for the various publics and thus requires a contextual theology.