Mainstream feminism has for decades asserted that women’s empowerment requires a radical readjustment of society. Not surprisingly, this view largely disregards empowerment claims made by women in traditional religious systems. In the case of North American Orthodox Judaism, women’s empowerment tends to be spiritual, finding in traditional gender roles a psycho-spiritual antidote to the drudgery of everyday life. In Latin American Pentecostalism, on the other hand, empowerment is more practical, as a woman’s (and thus her family’s) embrace of the religion often leads to increased familial and economic stability. As such, these “liberating traditions” present the private sphere as a legitimate location for women’s emancipation, a reality often lost in the public-centered focus of the contemporary West.
The evacuation of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip is analyzed as the case of a failed prophecy, namely the collapse of the belief in the imminent Coming of the Messiah if Jews settle the Holy Land. Believers have coped with the failure in ways postulated in previous studies. But the political aspect of this prophecy, namely settling in occupied territory, provided more detailed insights into the manner in which faith in a prophecy can be sustained despite the disruption of the means for its fulfillment. Some believers lost their faith in the prophecy. But since the faithful had not seceded from Judaism, apostasy was only one marginal result of this disillusionment, which took several forms besides.
This article focuses on a Jewish lending organization known as thegemach.Thegemach, most often found among Orthodox Jews, provides a mechanism to share and circulate a wide variety of items including ritual objects, clothing, furniture, cell phones, computers, and EZ Pass stickers. Participation in agemachallows members to practice religious ideals of compassion for others, to share resources, and to recycle items no longer needed in a meaningful way. The reasons for the growing practice of thegemachand some of its problems are discussed.
The conflict in Israel-Palestine has helped to produce one of the world’s most consistently volatile geographical hotbeds. Although the reasons for this conflict are many and complex, religious difference is universally cited as one of the region’s most explosive and decisive issues. This paper deals with eschatology, or the study of last things, as one branch of religion that is particularly prone to produce violent reactions. There are two principle reasons why this is the case. First, apocalyptic prophecies are inherently violent. This violent tendency is, moreover, compounded in Israel-Palestine because Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all predict that Jerusalem will be the site of the bloody events of the end of days. Second, these apocalyptic visions deepen the problem by contributing to situations that are likely to produce wide-scale violence as predicted by the theories of Manus Midlarsky, Thomas Robbins, Jessica Stern, and James Waller.
An established approach to the emergence and consolidation of secular democracy maintains that democracy requires a supportive culture, and that certain national and religious cultures are better suited to democracy than others. Catholicism (especially pre-Vatican II Catholicism) is typically portrayed by scholars in this school as being inimical to democracy. The rational choice perspective, by contrast, posits that interests, resources, and strategic power relationships drive the democratization process, and that culture is largely irrelevant. This paper examines the historical relationship between the Catholic Church and secular democratic institutions and concludes that the rational choice model offers more insight into that relationship than the cultural model. Specifically, the notion that Catholicism was an impediment to democratization is shown to be problematic.
This article argues for a democratic theory rooted in natural law. Humanity’s earliest wave of democratization took place in the Axial Era and was intimately bound up with efforts on the part of ordinary people to gain full participate in deliberation regarding fundamental questions of meaning and value. Modern democratic theory, by comparison, tends to exclude deliberation around fundamental questions and focuses debate around themeansto realizing a given end: the modern project of transcending finitude by means of scientific and technological progress. The paper argues for grounding democracy in the shared capacity of all human beings to deliberate around fundamental questions of meaning and value and for understanding democracy as just precisely such a deliberation.
Previous research has indicated that African-Americans benefit physically, psychologically, and socially when they are involved with religious organizations. While research has consistently highlighted the importance of the African-American church for individuals, couples, and families, little research has examined the benefits of church involvement from the perspectives of congregants, church staff, and the church pastor. To address this largely overlooked disparity in the research, in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 17 African-Americans who were regular and active members in an African-American Baptist church organization in the Midwest. Although participants represented only one religious denomination, they represented a variety of social classes and educational levels. The participants were asked questions that explored their views regarding what they considered to be the most beneficial aspects of church attendance. The qualitative data were analyzed using a grounded theory methodology to determine recurring themes that were mentioned and explained by the participants. The findings were compiled through detailed ethnographic fieldwork, transcripts, observational materials, and interviews. This paper will explore seven recurring themes, including: (a) Fellowship; (b) Evangelism and Discipleship; (c) Positive Internal experiences; (d) Family-like Connections; (e) The Provision of Hope; (f) Extensive Community Outreach; and (g) Pastoral Love for the Church. Narratives will be offered to support and illustrate each of these themes. Implications regarding the value of creating strong partnerships between social service agencies and African-American church organizations are also provided.
The purpose of the study was to determine the relationship between political evangelicalism and both critical thinking and selected sociopolitical perspectives in a sample of Southeastern university students in late 2007. The findings showed that political evangelicalism was negatively correlated with critical thinking, critical patriotism, and respect for civil liberties but positively correlated with uncritical patriotism, emphasis on national security, militarism, threat of Saddam Hussein, and support for the Iraq War. Compared with media reports highlighting evangelicals’ sociopolitical perspectives near the beginning of the Iraq War, the current findings show that these perspectives have remained strong despite the subsequent course of the war.
Jihad (Islamic holy war) is a fundamental foreign policy concept in Islam. Following the 9/11 incident, a considerable number of scholarly works in the West have squarely equated jihad with terrorism. In recent Islamic scholarship as well, the usage of the concept either tends to be avoided or is increasingly being depoliticized. The popular understanding of the concept has made it a necessary evil. This article argues that jihad is not just a war, rather it can be understood from a universal humane perspective and its philosophical moral principles can be used in greater human and social welfare.
Amidst the resurgence of interest in Paul and asceticism relatively little focus has been put upon one Pauline text with seemingly obvious ascetic potential: “I beat my body” (1 Corinthians 9:27a). After a brief introduction to the discussion of asceticism and an ascetic Paul, this article will survey theWirkungsgeschichteof this text, especially in the patristic era, engage in exegesis of 1 Corinthians 9:27a, and draw conclusions as to the relevance of the text for discussion of Pauline asceticism.
The study of Jewish approaches to Paul has tended to focus on theological issues. For some Jewish thinkers, however, the apostle was of interest for reasons other than interfaith dialogue or religious polemic. The psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Hanns Sachs discovered in Paul’s writings support for their own ideological concerns to offer a powerful critique of the place of religion in society. In terms of understanding Jewish-non-Jewish relations in the modern world, the study of how the Apostle to the Gentiles features in the works of these so-called marginal Jewish thinkers is a useful reminder of the complexity of Jewish identity.
The current study finds that Detroit area white Evangelical Protestants are less likely than are white Mainline Protestants and Catholics to believe that housing discrimination exists. However, white Evangelicals are more likely than are white non-Evangelicals to prefer living in racially integrated neighborhoods. This paper maintains that Evangelical Protestants’ reliance upon freewill individualist cultural tools, which de-emphasize structural inequality and racial group distinctions, explain such findings. Nonetheless, white Evangelicals and white non-Evangelicals maintain similar support for and opposition to open housing policies.
This paper critically examines the liberation theology of José Porfirio Miranda, as expressed in hisMarx and the Bible, with a focus on the central idea (and subtitle) of this work: the “Critique of the Philosophy of Oppression.” Miranda’s critique is examined via certain key tropes such as “power,” “justice,” and “freedom,” both in the context of late twentieth-century Latin American society, and in the state of the “post-Christian” and “post-Marxist” world more generally,vis-à-viscontemporary liberal justice theory. Close examination of the potentialities, paradoxes, and subtle evasions in Miranda’s critique leads to the conclusion that Miranda does not go far enough in his application of Christian principles to justice theory.