The study of religious conversion has historically neglected how nonbelievers (i.e. atheists) come to adopt a belief in a god or gods, and thus cannot address whether findings and theories from previous research apply to atheists. In order to assess how atheists converted to Christianity, we performed a thematic analysis of 111 biographical narratives obtained from the open Internet. Our analysis yielded 10 recurring thematic elements, which we termed: hardship; authentic example; unfamiliarity/pseudo-familiarity (with Christianity or Christians); contra atheism; religious study; intellectualism; numinous experiences; openness to experience; ritual behaviors; and social ties. We draw logical connections between these themes and connect them to previous research. Our results impress the need for a more flexible, and therefore less sequential or stage-based, theoretical approach to conversion.
This article explores the way that members of a political milieu of the New Christian Right in Norway reason about an alliance between local and global forces to open the borders to Muslim immigrants as part of a plot to remove Christianity from Norwegian society or weaken its influence. The context for the research is the refugee crisis of 2015 and 2016, which made these topics politically and culturally salient. The article looks at how this milieu understands the most important elements in the alleged plot against Christianity: the Labour Party, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), Muslim immigrants, and the Church of Norway.
Remnant Afromontane forests in northern Ethiopia are under threat from development pressures both within Ethiopia and from international interests. These biodiversity hotspots are currently protected by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC), which views the forests as sacred. The academic literature is divided on how to provide food security in this drought-prone nation. This article examines these tensions in the academic literature before turning to the eco-theology of the Ethiopian Orthodox, which both protects these forest fragments and strengthens the communitarianism of traditional Ethiopian society. A case is then made for the continued management of these forests by the EOTC.
Meaning, purpose, and hope in the context of religion and spirituality in the lives of individuals sentenced to a state penitentiary who demonstrate leadership qualities was investigated. Utilizing in-depth interviewing of 23 subjects, an experienced doctoral level sociologist and participant observer explored questions about attitudes and practices related to religion and spirituality. Results confirmed that nearly all of the subjects drew strength from spirituality, while utilizing differing strategies to cultivate meaning, hope, and purpose.
Liberation psychology is an emerging field of psychological theory with an orientation towards justice as the telos of psychology. Rejecting the traditional European psychological practices which have based psychological work on the isolated individual, liberation psychology theorizes that individual wellness is inextricably connected to societal forces of oppression. This paper discusses Islamic connections to liberation psychology, including psychological approaches that are consistent with Islamic assumptions and conceptualizations of the self, human rights in relationship to the principle of tawhid, environmental justice, and an analysis of pathologies of violence in relationship to the Muslim community and the human community.
This paper examines understandings of evil, suffering, and sickness among Lubavitcher Hasidim, a group well known for their messianic assertions. It problematizes the relationship between theological teachings and how people use these ideas “on the ground” during periods of sickness. My focus is upon how these understandings are informed by their mystical text –Tanya – the Rebbe’s discourses, and through websites such as Chabad.org. On the one hand, Lubavitchers teach that evil is illusory, on the other, suffering will cease in the Messianic era. Furthermore, suffering is integral to the structure of the universe, human suffering will end following the cosmic repair. But how do these understandings impact their experience of sickness? For the most part, theology did not directly inform praxis and everyday cognition. Lubavitchers were concerned about practical alleviation of suffering.
Since Trump’s ascendancy in American politics and his subsequent election, a number of articles have surfaced in the media trying to explain evangelical voters’ support of Trump. This paper analyzes common descriptions and conceptions of evangelicals by identifying recurring descriptions of evangelicals in 110 online articles published in a two-and-a-half-year period surrounding Trump’s presidential campaign and election. The results indicate that the answer to the question as to why evangelicals support Trump resides not so much in their theology, but in their aspirations for America and assumptions of what America should be like. This paper argues that it is crucial to recognize and address evangelicals’ prevailing attributes as perceived and portrayed by members of their own society in order to keep evangelicalism from descending into an insular, invalid expression.
This essay analyses masterpieces of Hudson River School landscape painting within relevant religious, artistic, and literary contexts. The Hudson River School, America’s first indigenous art movement, included Thomas Cole, Asher Brown Durand, Frederic Edwin Church, and George Inness. The essay rediscovers significant spiritual meaning within recurring visual motifs, specifically tree arches and rib vaults, and forest cathedrals. The motifs illustrate themes that captured the imagination of nineteenth-century America, the sublime wilderness and divine nature. Viewing these major landscape paintings from wider perspectives contributes to critical religious and socio-cultural discourses.
Modernist Islamic thought has grown in a variety of ways for the last two centuries. This paper argues that two distinct directions can be detected in the works of contemporary Muslim thinkers in the Maghrib, namely revivalism and reconstructionism. These two intellectual trends were already present as tendencies in tension within the contributions of early modernist reformers. Since the second half of the twentieth century, they have evolved into two distinct perspectives that have formulated two different projects of reforming Islam. The writings of influential feminist Muslim thinkers Fatima Mernissi and Asma Lamrabet provide us with instructive examples of reconstructionism and revivalism respectively.
This article argues that contemporary selfie-practice sometimes display patterns that have otherwise been associated with religion. Selfies manifesting ideals, or with a more crude description bragging-selfies, can be shown to deliver transcendence to users of social media. These representations transcend the object, the corporeal and temporal, and for those entering wholly into their frame of reference, also the self. In a situation of competition for likes, selfie-takers end up providing the gaze of the other themselves, resulting in a self-creating subject. These selfies can be understood as ideal icons, which the selfie-practitioner is the first to desire and consume.