This article is a research note addressing various theoretical and methodological issues in the measurement and analysis of religiosity and secularism and their relationship to quantifiable measures of social health in advanced and prosperous democracies. Particular attention is given to cross-national frameworks for studying religiosity and secularism as well as to the conceptualization and statistical analysis of these notions for research design. Various procedural suggestions regarding the use of comparative frameworks are presented to assist in the development and implementation of future studies gauging the impact of worldview commitments upon societal wellbeing.
This paper examines the striking intersections between the Christian Right and the Neoconservative movement in contemporary U.S. foreign policy. Using as my specific example the wildly popular series of evangelical fiction,Left Behind, I suggest that there is an important “fit” or “elective affinity” between the aggressive foreign policies of the Neoconservatives and the millenarian vision of theLeft Behindseries. The former seeks a “New American Century” and a “benevolent hegemony” of the globe by U.S. power, ushered in by the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq; the latter seeks a “New Millennium” of divine rule ushered in by Christ’s imminent return and by apocalyptic war in the Middle East, first in Babylon and then in Jerusalem. Mr. Bush, I suggest, serves as the key structural link that helps tie together the Neoconservative ideologues and their most powerful base of popular support in the Christian Right.
This paper examines the impact of the inclusion of non-Catholic students on Catholic students in four urban Western Canadian Catholic high schools. The study employs grounded theory as the methodology and focus groups as the method. The qualitative findings indicate that although inclusion was beneficial to Catholic students’ sense of faith, appreciation of diversity and the school’s faith community, the issue of orthopraxis overwhelming orthodoxy led to questions concerning religious relativism, perhaps in part due to inclusion, which has implications for the evangelization of Catholic students in Catholic schools.
Against the historical-hermeneutic dissimulation of the theologies of liberation, we propose here a return to the Ellacurian synthesis of the Hegelian-Marxian dialectic and the Zubirian radicalization of Scholastic realism.
An exercise in hermeneutical suspicion, this article engages the extent to which the burgeoning appearance of ostensibly Eastern concepts and practices within everyday late-modern discourse and practice can actually be said to represent a thoroughgoing “Easternization” of Western culture. Using insights from Pierre Bourdieu, this article argues that Eastern themes have been appropriated by successive generations in the West relative to a range of hermeneutical dynamics, most relevant of which aretechnologizedconceptualizations of the self, adepersonalizedview of the cosmos, and themetaphorizationof the modern cultural field. Holding that appropriated Eastern concepts and practices have been tailored to the contours of the Western habitus, the article concludes that what we have is more of a westernization of eastern themes than an Easternization of the western paradigm. The hermeneutics of suspicion detailed in the article thereby raises doubts concerning the extent to which purportedly eastern-looking “counter cultural” movements such as theosophy, the new age, and contemporary mysticisms/spiritualities actually run “counter” to the Western culture they purport to reject.
This article explores the major factors involved in why a sample of Messianic Jews have chosen this system of belief rather than stay within traditional Judaism or become Christian. Those interviewed are critical of their religious upbringing as Jews, although traditional aspects of Judaism remain important and relevant to their Messianic belief. The anti-Judaism present within the Church, both past and present, is their primary reason for not becoming Christian. The challenge that Messianic Jews present for both religions is how effective they are in helping people to live a faith perspective that has meaning in the complex, multi-faceted contemporary world.
Although religion has been viewed as playing an important role in the maintenance of moral order, the most recent analysis of variation in homicide rates among nations argues that homicide is facilitated by high levels of religiosity (Paul). That analysis, however, was based on scatter-plots for eighteen “prosperous nations” and focused primarily on the United States compared to “secular” nations. Because there are numerous dimensions to religiosity and a variety of alternative explanations of homicide rates, a more complex analysis is required before more definitive conclusions can be reached. This study attempts such an analysis for a much larger sample of nations and tests Durkheim’s hypotheses that religious passion, as a variable characteristic of nations, is a positive correlate of homicide rates. A multiple regression analysis reveals a complex relationship with some dimensions of religiosity encouraging homicide and other dimensions discouraging it. The relationships found not only survive controls for variables proposed in prior research, but also suggest major modifications to theories focusing on economic variables as characteristics of nations.
The contemporary landscape of Eastern Europe comprises social and ontological projects that reinterpret local traditions and histories while challenging imported modernities. This paper explores the New Jerusalem movement, an apocalyptic Romanian Orthodox revitalization movement characterized by a complex synthesis of Orthodox asceticism and messianic nationalism, which is socially and spiritually assisted in its journey by the dramatic expressions of two gifted visual artists, Victoria and Marian Zidaru. Seeing discipline and transcendence of self as acts of freedom grounded in an Orthodox understanding of the person, this work addresses New Jerusalem movement’s distinctive engagement with reformulating a common ground and purpose for self and nation.
In this paper I compare Paul and Muhammad, placing them side-by-side in Jerusalem and Mecca, in the Diaspora and on the caravan routes, with the objective of providing a more complete picture to explain the rise of universalistic monotheism. In so doing, it is my intention to add to the studies that have been produced on the social origins of Christianity and Islam. The question I raise is the following: What accounts for the dismantling of the old pagan pluralistic cults of the Roman Empire, and the tribal paganism of Arabia, followed by the emergence of a much more abstract monotheism? I argue that there are strong sociological reasons for this sequence of events in both contexts, and that a comparative study of Paul and Muhammad is a useful means of discovering them.
In the age of the internet people are finding new ways to connect with each other and also new ways to connect with the divine. This study explores the relationships between people in an online religious worship service at the UK-based Church of Fools and assesses whether the virtual bonds of community are strong enough to provide spiritual fulfillment. The project also investigates offering Holy Communion in a virtual church environment to assess why some worshippers would be satisfied with an online representation of the Eucharist and others would still look to physical churches for the ritual of Holy Communion. The results suggest a link between those who visited the church more often, developed a stronger bond with others worshippers, and subsequently received a higher level of spiritual fulfillment from the online service, including being more receptive to receiving virtual communion.
Twelve Episcopal priests address questions of role function and meaning through semi-structured interview. Participants are rectors, associate rectors, and priests-in-charge at various church communities in Chicago’s western and southern suburbs. Priests acknowledge the presence of conflicting tasks and expectations within the role, yet do not accord these a central shaping influence. Instead, five key attributes of effective, optimal role performance are identified through the interviews:listening, praying, laughing, teaching, delegating. Each attribute is examined in terms of its contribution to the day-to-day functions and overall meaning of priests’ work. A central, integrating theme (“It’s Not About Me”) emerges from the data on role attributes, and implications for continued research on questions of occupational meaning for a wider, more diverse sample of clergy are discussed.
The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society’sRevelation: Its Grand Climax at Hand!is a substantial commentary of John’s Apocalypse (319 pages) with a remarkably wide distribution - more than 16.6 million copies of its various editions were in print by 1988. Yet because of the organization’s reclusive nature there is minimal dialogue with the academy and by all appearances no sustained analysis of this particular book by biblical scholars. This paper offers a commentary on a commentary, using Stanley Fish’s theory of interpretive communities as a way into this idiosyncratic study of the Apocalypse.
Recent research on evangelicals has lead to the conclusion that they are relying upon patriarchal gender ideologies, specifically the male breadwinner and female domestic family, as identity markers to distinguish themselves from others in mainstream America. The evidence from this study supports this notion in that (a) three gender ideology scales constructed of attitudinal items either maintain high levels of ordemonstrate increasesin the adoption of patriarchal gender ideologies in theology, women’s roles in the church, and women’s roles in the workforce, and (b) identity boundary maintenance concerns familial roles, specifically gender ideology.
This paper critically explores the political theology of Carl Schmitt. It argues that Schmitt’s analysis, which links the transcendence of God with the political concept of sovereignty, is both too nostalgic and too severe. In the place of Schmitt’s political theology that disdains democracy for the failures of modern liberalism, this paper instead draws on the recent collaborative works of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri to make the case for a more thoroughgoing commitment to democracy, a commitment that goes beyond the modern liberal concept of popular sovereignty by appealing to the disparate and sometimes unruly voices of the multitude.