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Participatory Learning

Religious Education in a Globalizing Society

Chris Hermans

In many respects children and youths receiving religious instruction in our culture resemble extraterrestrial beings doing an orientation course. Religion and religiosity are unknown quantities which they have hardly encountered at home. Religion seems something else, something greater. This book is a study of the foundations of religious education, centered around six concepts: religion in a globalizing society, religious tradition, religion, the religious self, learning through participation and interreligious learning.
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Chris Hermans

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The Journal of Empirical Theology publishes articles on comparative research in religion on the macro-level of society (especially the function of religion with regard to equality and inequality, social order and cohesion and the process of rationalization), the meso-level of institutions (especially family, public and religiously affiliated schools, health and welfare institutions and religious institutions), and the micro-level of patterns and processes of identity formation and group formation. The journal offers an international forum for scholars from different religions and contexts. It presents articles on empirical research in theology and religious studies, both qualitative and quantitative. The journal contributes to reflection on empirical research methodology and research methods. Each issue contains articles based on empirical research and/or research methodology, as well as a section of book reviews. Special attention is paid to research on topics relevant to religiously affiliated schools, such as religious and spiritual education, moral education and school leadership.
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Towards a Theory of Spiritual and Religious Experiences

A Building Block Approach of the Unexpected Possible

Chris A. M. Hermans

How do we define religious experiences? And what would be the relationship with spiritual experiences? The author claims that the cognitive turn in science gives us new opportunities to map the territory of religion and spirituality. In line with other authors (Taves, Wildman), he proposes a building block approach of cognitive mechanisms that can deal with questions regarding the specificity, origin, and complexity of religious experiences. Two concepts are presented that bridge the great divide which is presumed to exist between sciences that study the brain and humanities, namely the encultured brain and predictive minds. In section three, six building blocks of the structure of religious experience are formulated. New in his approach is the unexpected possible as distinctive ground between normal experiences and what we consider spiritual and religious experiences. Finally, the author presents a critical reflection on his proposal and challenges for the road ahead.

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Hermeneutics and Empirical Research in Practical Theology

The Contribution of Empirical Theology by Johannes A. van der Ven

Edited by Chris Hermans and Mary Moore

There is a growing consensus among scholars in different countries about the object of practical theology. Hans van der Ven has contributed much to this consensus through his writings on the foundations of practical theology, the empirical paradigm within practical theology, and specific subdisciplines within practical theology, especially religious education, moral education, church development and ministry. At the center of this growing consensus is an understanding of the independent hermeneutical role of religious experiences and practices of people in the process of theological theory-building. If contemporary religious experiences and practices have a critical role with regard to religious tradition (and the ministry of this tradition), then practical theology cannot just be a form of applied theology. The contributors of this volume focus on this hermeneutical core, foundations of practical theology and on empirical research as a research method within practical theology in the work of Van der Ven.
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Chris A.M. Hermans