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Abstract

This article outlines the current state of East Asian religiosity in Austria, divided into five areas: (1) Buddhism; (2) Christianity; (3) ethnic religions; (4) alternative traditions/holistic offerings; and (5) popular religious realities. In doing so, a glance is cast at the relevant scholarship, which is subsequently addressed in systematic terms. Next, three chief thematic lacunae in the research are expounded upon: (1) historical documentation; (2) sociological examination; and (3) material-aesthetical exploration. Finally, a range of challenges for the scholar of East Asian religiosity in Austria (and beyond) are addressed, including (1) language; (2) cultural competence; (3) accessibility; (4) ephemerality, marginality, and clandestineness; (5) historical blindness; (6) conceptual complexity; and (7) systemic discouragement.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society

Abstract

This article provides a diachronic panorama of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Euro-American esoteric images of Confucius. After selected appraisals capturing the polyphony of nineteenth-century notions of Confucius, emphasis is given to spiritualist and Theosophical appropriations. Next, his soteriological elevation and the introduction of fellow Chinese Masters within the Ascended Masters context are explored in relation to the I AM Activity and, specifically, the post-Second World War groups The Bridge to Freedom (present-day The Bridge to Spiritual Freedom) and The Church Universal and Triumphant. Overall, this article traces the transformation of the esoteric Confucius trope, which substantially contributed to the wider public perception of Confucius and Confucianism.

Open Access
In: Numen

The Universal Peace Federation or UPF is a United Nations-affiliated NGO established in 2005 by Mun Sŏn-myŏng (1920–2012), the founder of the South Korean Unification Movement. Mun deemed the UPF’s formation “the most revolutionary and wondrous event since God’s creation of humankind,” assigning the organisation a pivotal role in his millenarian project. This article continues the discussion in Pokorny and Zoehrer 2022 (which addressed the context, birth, and millenarian anatomy of the UPF), outlining the history of the UPF with a focus on its changing self-conception, leadership shifts, and global activities. It examines how the UPF has articulated and put into practice its millenarian founding ideal over the course of three stages of its development. Finally, it highlights major external and internal challenges, which not only informed the UPF’s identity-building and public perception but render the organisation systemically vulnerable.

Open Access
In: Vienna Journal of East Asian Studies

Abstract

In the last fifty years there has been an increasing interest in alternative “spiritualities” in the European context, which have crystallised to a significant extent around “Eastern” religious forms. Whereas an important impulse has certainly been given in this respect by Orientalist views, the role played by missionaries in the transmission of Asian religious forms to Europe has been equally important. Still another major factor behind the transmission of “Eastern” religions to Europe is migration, which is becoming more and more relevant with the increasing number of immigrants from Asian countries. Against this general framework, the articles collected in this special issue attempt to shed more light on selected aspects of Asian religions in the European context, with particular attention to institutional, semi-institutional, and more informal practices, still relatively understudied areas (e.g., parts of Eastern Europe), and broad historical developments.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society

Abstract

This article introduces the special issue “Euro-American Esoteric Readings of East Asia.” First, the genesis of the special issue is explained, after which working definitions of the key terminology are given, namely, “East Asia,” “Euro-American,” “Western,” and “esotericism.” Next, the rationale of the special issue as well as short synopses of its five contributions are presented. The article argues that esoteric readings of things East Asia have saliently coshaped their Western reception history.

Open Access
In: Numen
This book explores how East Asian religions affect EU countries, both through Asian diaspora communities and through European converts and sympathisers. East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam) and the EU are two of the planet's most dynamic regions economically, politically, and culturally. East Asian diasporas have a long history in Europe and represent a growing part of the EU's population. Meanwhile, Europeans have long been attracted to and interested in East Asian religion and are increasingly converting or incorporating elements of East Asian religiosities into their own identities.
For the first time ever, this book presents the state of the art of research in this area, with chapters on most of the EU's 27 countries and on themes such as migration, Orientalism, gender and sexuality. It covers, among others, East Asian Buddhism and Christianity, Daoism and new religious movements, as well as martial arts and other looser forms of spirituality.