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In this contribution to a review symposium on Robert T. Tally’s book For a Ruthless Critique of All that Exists, Craig Martin responds to criticisms of critique made by scholars such as Eve Kosofsky.

In: Religion and Theology
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In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

Christianity from its inception has expressed a tension between imperium and sacerdotium; after the Reformation, this tension has only been aggravated. Avowals of religious freedom thereafter have often rightly insisted on the capacity of spiritual communities to invoke limits for the state. This is readily apparent in South Africa, past and present. However, scholarship has shown that “religious liberty” has an ambiguous function, such as its privatisation of belief, based on a liberalised notion of “negative” freedom that allows the state to grant the “right” to “belief,” while simultaneously rendering belief a purely private or “otherworldly” affair. This is traceable to overly-Protestant conceptions of “religion” and “freedom” that are pervasive – including South Africa. From a theological perspective, I argue that this conception of “religious freedom” might sit in tension with aspects of ecclesiology and that the discursive deployment of “religious freedom” should therefore be engaged critically.

In: Religion and Theology
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From an anthropological and religious studies point of view, the Catholic liturgical reform in the wake of Vatican II is a highly intriguing event and/or process. The type of change to the ritual represented by this reform raises the question of its impact on Catholicism. This article proposes to look at this problem from the perspective of Roy A. Rappaport’s theory of ritual, primarily in terms of the ritual stabilisation of meaning. The breakdown in terms of the semiotics of immutability that resulted from the reform, and the far-reaching shift towards verbal communication that this brought about in the post-conciliar liturgy, seem to have been the main factors responsible for destabilizing the Catholic universe of meaning as regards its relationship to “truth.” As a result, instead of just one Catholicism, today we can speak of many “post-Catholicisms.”

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

The article provides a survey of the development of Manichaean studies over the past 450 years. Since the last few decades in particular, one may speak of “Manichaeology” as a new and rapidly developing new discipline of the human sciences. This survey and critical assessment aims to introduce into the discipline, at the same time stressing the recurrent discussion about the importance of Iranian and/or (Jewish-)Christian elements as the core of Mani’s message that became a unique Gnostic world religion.

In: Religion and Theology
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This article serves as a response to Johannes van Oort’s creative and erudite analysis of the status quaestionis and constitution of Manichaean studies, most aptly termed, “Manichaeology”. What I aim to achieve with this short study is a reflection and some suggestions on how the study of Manichaeology, in relation to early Christian studies, can assist us in better conceptualizing how we might understand religious identity in Late Antiquity. Several scholars of Manichaeism have made major strides in locating Manichaeism and early Christianity as what we might call proximate discursive formations. These discursive formations constantly overlap, constitute, construct and, indeed, deconstruct elements of shared religious identity in the late ancient world, and their interaction offers us a useful case study for developing a more cautious, nuanced, and considered approach to understanding religious identity during this period.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

Achieving ecologically sustainable societies necessitates fundamental social and cultural transformations. Religion has the potential to foster the required paradigm shifts in mindsets, behaviour and policy. Moreover, in many religious communities there is increasing engagement with questions of environment, climate change and ecological sustainability. This has led to an increasing corpus of literature engaging with the nexus between religion, environment, development and sustainability. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of recent ecological trends in religious traditions as well as the literature on religion and sustainable development and on religion and ecology. While an ecological turn is evident in many religious communities and has been well documented in the literature, it emerges that more research is necessary on the way that this phenomenon manifests in environmental action at individual and institutional levels.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

This article responds to Robert Tally, For a Ruthless Critique of All that Exists. It relates his ideas to practical and public theology. Tally bemoans the negative attitude towards critical theory within the humanities. This tendency, away from theory towards surface reading of contexts, phenomena, and texts, is something that the theological disciplines in practical and public theology also need to take cognisance of, but it is also clearly visible in the public debate. I specifically focus on public and practical theology as these are the disciplines that directly engage with contemporary public discourses. Surface reading of texts and contexts might be the only option left if one understands the world as a capitalist world without any alternatives, or a universe of technical images, and yet in this article, I will seek to argue with Tally that there is more, namely that which calls these texts forth.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

This introductory essay takes recourse to the work of Edward Said on travelling theories and Michel Foucault on discursive formations, to highlight the historicity of all theorising, and the manufacturedness of all theoretical work. Particular attention is paid to experience as embeddedness, the construction of knowledge formations and disciplines, and the effects on knowledge formation of reappropriations and recontextualisations of theories and concepts. The metaphor of travel and of being in transit has been appropriated across diverse discourses and disciplinary domains to signal adaptions and re-applications of theories and concepts from one context to another, from one conceptual domain or discipline to another, and the embedment of theories and concepts in the concrete historical vicissitudes affecting the life of the theorist. This serves to frame the essays collected in this issue by the constellation of issues highlighted with appeal to discursive formations, retooling disciplines, and hosting travelling theories.

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In: Religion and Theology
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Apologies are frequently called for today, and can make a valuable contribution to the public good. However, many so-called apologies are actually vague regret, blaming, placating, excusing or merely mourning. Given their importance, this article explores their nature and proposes a taxonomy of sorrow that elucidates the meaning of claims to apology. Simply saying ‘I am sorry’, or worse, adding ‘that you’, ‘if I’, ‘but’ or ‘that’ does not make an apology. Such a statement is only an apology when responsibility and regret are both offered, without excuse, such as the confessing ‘I am sorry that I …’. Given apologies can help heal victims, restore offenders, encourage forgiveness, repair relationships, and contribute to justice and peace-making efforts, the development of such a taxonomy to improve apologies is in the public interest.

In: International Journal of Public Theology