A peer-reviewed Journal, that brings together
- the study of society and of religion
- the theoretical and the applied
- the intelligent and the interesting
and in which articles qualify by content, not the number of footnotes!
For contributors guidelines please see inside back cover.
Abstracts of Vol XIX, no. 1, 2016
The Anglican Sense of “Implicit Religion”: A Tribute to Edward Bailey (P 49)
The origin of Edward Bailey’s concern, which he came to name “implicit religion,” was his lived experience as an Anglican priest of what the Prayer Book Ordinal call the “cure of souls.” Anglican ministry is based in a pastoral concern for the ordinary lives of—in principle—all the people living in the parish. This concern has typically been expressed by the Anglican clergy and laity in the forms of verse, prose and music; Bailey attempted to give this focus a sociological form. The context of this project is described. This subject-matter has meant his ideas have been both fruitful and elusive; in particular, the many attempts to “operationalize” them and give them clearer academic focus have sometimes failed, in part because of the deliberately anti-theological cast of the contemporary sociological discipline, and in part because of the resolutely non-theological nature of contemporary Anglican thought. In this tribute, I explore some of the implications of this analysis.
Sense Giving in the Art of Henri Matisse (P 55)
Both in face-to-face interactions and in indirect forms of communication, such as art, we are constantly involved with communicating our definition of reality, something which even holds for the ultimate meaning of life, death and suffering. Several works of Henri Matisse, most notably those in the Chapelle du Rosaire at Vence, shed light on aspects of this process of sense giving. Although grounded in everyday life, Matisse’s art rises to the realm of ultimate meaning, and thus provided him with a means of transcending his own suffering.
Implicit Religion and Psychological Wellbeing: A Study Among Adolescents Without Formal Religious Affiliation or Practice (P 61)
This study examines Bailey’s notion of the persistence of implicit religion among a sample of 8,619 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 15 years in England and Wales who have no formal religious affiliation or practice. Implicit religion is operationalised as attachment to traditional Christian rites of passage. Young people who remain attached to these aspects of implicit religion display higher levels of psychological wellbeing, suggesting that implicit religion serves similar psychological functions to explicit religion.
Krishna’s Frolics with the Milkmaids: Humanizing Divinity or Sacralizing Profanity (P 79)
The story of the sporting experience of Kṛṣṇa with a group of milkmaids is most popular in the Hindu Vaiṣṇava tradition. It portrays Kṛṣṇa as both a kinsman of the shepherd community in Vṛndāvana (Vraj) and the supreme God, synonymous to Viṣṇu. The story starts with Kṛṣṇa playing his flute and milkmaids rushing to meet him. They leave their dear ones at home and it shows their unswerving love for their Lord. While the pleasant conversation and amorous behaviour reach a climax, Kṛṣṇa disappears and the young women become remorseful and are caught up in the fever of love. Kṛṣṇa reappears blossoming and after explaining that separation intensifies love, the culmination happens in a whirlpool circle dance in the moonlight. Passion and compassion, individuality and plurality, and erotic and divine mix and mingle, which is both liberating and unifying. The picture is stimulating for a creative discussion on sex and the sacred.
Blue Suede Shoes to Doc Marten Boots: Music, Protest and Implicit Religion (P 93)
This paper will focus on two seemingly disparate music based case studies—Elvis and punk rock—and their associated “religions.” An argument will be made that Elvis and “his religion” could be viewed as what is often represented as a traditional “Catholic” tradition with pilgrimages, flowers, candles, prayers and miracles (including resurrection). Ethics and charity work are undertaken as emulation or invocation of Elvis rather than a morally driven action or compulsion. Concurrently, punk music (in its various forms) could be viewed as what is traditionally represented as “Protestant” with its stringent self-reliance, rejection of hierarchy and questioning of authority, its crucial importance on questioning, action and black and white view of the world. Ethics form a key part of punk and are driven by strong morality and a desire to wrest change. However the dialogue between these two case studies (and indeed geographies of USA and UK) can be made all the more coherent and fruitful when structured through an Implicit Religion framework and thus stand in tribute to Edward Bailey and the partnerships he sought to create through Implicit Religion.
From “Explicit” to “Implicit” in Recent Religious Art (P 117)
This essay questions today’s implicit cultural assumption that Western Christianity continues to provide a cultural and credal framework within which the relationship between art and religion is acted out. It argues instead that today’s artists are unlikely to be keyed into religious culture because there is no longer any identifiable religious culture for them to be keyed into. The reasons for this are explored, and include secularization (however problematically defined), an increasing transition from a religious to an aesthetic validation of experience, post-modernity and its so-called “crisis in representation,” and the increasingly second-order status of the visual within at least the Western Christian tradition. Yet this scenario does not necessarily predicate terminal decline. Instead it is argued that today’s artists are more likely to disclose the implicitly numinous rather than the explicitly incarnational, offering us generalized religious experience rather than Christian revelation, hence moving religious art beyond its traditionally didactic and narrative parameters, and firmly towards the primarily experiential. Such art does more than provide undemanding spiritual massage for Christians and post-Christians alike. It may also “democratise” religious art and widen public access to the transcendent. Drawing specifically on the work of Bill Viola, Anthony Gormley and the late Craigie Aitchison, several mixed, if not necessarily conflicting messages emerge—a cultural mutation way from “religion” and towards “spirituality,” a transition from a narrowly and exclusively Christian art towards what one critic calls “works which are only implicitly religious in their inspiration and so without identifiable religious themes and traditional symbols,” and, above all, evidence of today’s “religious” artists increasingly seeking for meaning within themselves rather than from the supernatural stories or rituals of institutional churches. In this sense they provide an aesthetic response to Edward Bailey’s own enticing “Invitation One” when operationalising the concept of “Implicit Religion” i.e. “to relate religion, consciousness and experience.”
A Phoney Holy War: Reflections on the Myth of Spiritual Revolution (P 439)
This article provides an ideology-critique of the just-so story of “the spiritual turn,” aiming at the ahistorical and mythopoeic illusions of this contemporary fable as embedded in the fashionable nostrum, “the spiritual revolution.” This faux dramatic expression purports to describe a “turn” away from the external authority of “religion” in favour of self-chosen “spirituality” as the locus of faith commitment in the late modern world. Nine fundamental fallacies are identified with this contemporary secular myth. The “revolutionary” separation of “religiosity” and “spirituality” is untenable as scientific judgement. A more nuanced and constructive intellectual framework for engaging with the radical coinherence of the religious and the spiritual, I suggest, is “implicit religion.”
Abstracts of Vol XVIII, no. 4, 2015 (Implicit Religion in Popular Culture: The Case of Doctor Who)
Implicit Religion in Popular Culture: The Case of Doctor Who (P 439)
Science fiction has often been presented as an ideal lens through which to examine the presence of implicit religion in contemporary society. This article provides an overview of the way in which both implicit and explicit religion has been read through the British science fiction show Doctor Who (1963–present). Commentators have argued for Buddhist, Christian or Humanist themes as predominant within the diegesis, although such claims are shown to be problematic. Instead, Doctor Who presents a variety of religious positions which can be used in a polysemic manner to discuss religion by both religious and non-religious viewers. The show has been recognised by some fans and commentators as fulfilling an implicitly religious function in and of itself, and the diegetic setting, producers, and fans are all shown to have expressed interest in exploring the concept of implicit religion. In spite of this, the article concludes with a note of caution over the dangers of over-reading implicit religiosity into contemporary cultural forms such as fandom.
The Impossible Pit: Satan, Hell, and Teaching with Doctor Who (P 457)
The Doctor Who episodes “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit” provide students the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in introductory Western religion courses to science fiction. As part of the final exam for Introduction to Western Religions (taught as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA), the episodes were viewed in class, followed by a group discussion of the major themes. Students were then asked to examine religious themes within the episodes and to write three-page responses in which they applied the themes of Western religion. Their insightful responses far exceeded my expectations, and given the success of the experiment, I have continued to use these episodes in my classes. This article explores the assignment itself, the responses from students, and merits of using science-fiction, especially Doctor Who, in teaching religious studies.
Explicit and Implicit Religion in Doctor Who and Star Trek (P 471)
It has often been proposed that the original series of Star Trek reflected a modern, enlightenment perspective on religion, and that subsequent spinoffs like Deep Space Nine moved in a more post-modern direction. Doctor Who, the longest running science fiction show, provides an interesting basis for comparison. Both television shows offer similar tropes, and in both instances, the rhetoric that claims to explain away religion in scientific terms ends up treating it as literally true. Both shows depict our universe as populated with “natural gods” which are sometimes explicitly identified with the gods and demons of ancient human religious literature.
The Doctor’s Original Face: Watching Doctor Who Episodes as Buddhist Koans (P 485)
This article discusses the portrayal and usage of Buddhist themes in the classic era Doctor Who television series (1963—1996). Here we map out specific influences of Buddhism on the construction of Doctor Who’s characters, illustrating how popular culture participates in the religious dialogue contained within everyday life. We argue that an interpretive lens informed by an understanding of the interplay of different religious and philosophical influences contributes to a more productive conversation about the nature of the Doctor. A survey of serials that explicitly involve Buddhist settings such as the Jon Pertwee era “Planet of the Spiders” is provided. One section of this essay will focus on how writer Christopher Bailey utilized his personal Buddhist beliefs to inform story elements of the Peter Davison era serials “Kinda” and its sequel “Snakedance.” We will then proceed to investigate particular Buddhist conceptions of impermanence, change and temporality, and relate these to the characterization of the Doctor and how his transformations illustrate the instability of identity, serving as a potential contrast to messianic readings of this science fiction television show.
Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again: Exploring Faith, Doubt, and the Disciple Journey of a Companion to the Doctor (P 499)
Often in the universe of Doctor Who, our best means for understanding the Doctor is through the lens of his companion. Almost always present, the role of the companion is a central narrative of the Doctor. Furthermore, a comprehension of the role of the companion is essential in an effort to understand the motivation and nature of the Doctor. In this paper I argue that the relationship between the Doctor and his companion corresponds to that of Christ and Christian, especially in regards to issues of faith and doubt. This is seen through the arc of character development of each companion, especially in his or her moments of confusion and frustration with the antics of the Doctor. We will also find some relief, if not resolution, through concepts of faith given by Tillich. Though the exploration of the Doctor as a Soteriological actor have been drawn, this article addresses the interplay of Doctor as Soter and that of a Companion who may vacillate between dedication and confusion. Such an exploration will give us unique tools for understanding both individual and collective relationships with the Doctor and insight into the often counterintuitive decision to embark on a mystifying journey.
Doctor Who and Immortality: Influence of Christian and Buddhist Ethics (P 507)
This article serves as an introduction to an examination of how Christian and Buddhist ethics have influenced the depiction of immortality in Doctor Who. Both Christianity and Buddhism could be said to have clearly defined stances regarding immortality—simply put, both generally regard the human pursuit of eternal life as reprehensible, albeit for somewhat different reasons. During its run, Doctor Who has tackled a variety of ethical issues, the problematic aspects of immortality being a recurring theme. As an overview of selected Doctor Who episodes illustrates, the series tends to agree on viewing immortality as ethically questionable, and furthermore, to reflect the views of both Christianity and Buddhism in how it communicates its own approach. Whether the emphasis is on Christian or Buddhist ideas (such as an authoritative concept of law or the essential nature of life as suffering, respectively) varies from one story to another, but it appears that both have played, and continue to play, an integral part in how narratives regarding immortality are shaped and dealt with in the series. The findings from Doctor Who suggest that the series is a fruitful source in terms of examining the role of religious influences in the discussion regarding ethical dilemmas.
Doctor Who and the Iconographic Search for an Ecstatic Human Religious Experiences (P 517)
The concept of the leading character from Doctor Who, the Doctor, as the perennial Everyman is directly taken from the medieval play, uplifting and educating viewers whilst making religious morality lessons into entertainment. This article claims that the Doctor, focusing on his eleventh incarnation portrayed by actor Matt Smith, is Everyman and yet no man. He is a Time Lord on a human quest for an ecstatic religious experience. Yet by his journey alone, the Doctor glimpses a hope that ultimately eludes him. This modern television programme, through iconic imagery and performance, creates the world of the Doctor whilst teaching a Christian way of living without ever using the term Christ.
“As We See, So We Learn”: Doctor Who as Religious Education (P 527)
Conceived by Sydney Newman and released on British television screens from 1963, Doctor Who has, except for a 16 year hiatus from 1989 to 2005, been established Saturday evening viewing for more than 50 years. Spawning hundreds of products related to the show, as well as numerous spin-offs in multiple media, Doctor Who has transcended its humble beginnings to become a lucrative and popular franchise. More importantly, the show has become embedded in public consciousness, a national institution described in definitive terms. Nevertheless, the show’s subsequent success, as entertainment science fiction, partially obscures its origins. Initially conceptualised as an educational programme, some of the earliest serials from the series feature the title character and his companions interacting with real historical persons, and witness actual historical events, with little or no science fiction elements, bar the means by which the characters arrive at their destination. The following article explores this genesis of Doctor Who as an educational programme, arguing that early serials such as The Aztecs exposed the viewership to an intelligent treatment of religious themes, touching mythology, ritual, and the interplay between religion and culture, as well as wider issues of morality, relativism and tolerance. Against this background, the paper examines the continuing validity of Doctor Who as a resource for contemporary religious education. Comparisons with recent episodes from the revived series, in which religion featured prominently, namely the 2014 episode The Rings of Akhaten, are presented, demonstrating the continuing usefulness of Doctor Who to religious educators. The paper concludes that whilst Doctor Who has evolved beyond its original remit to instruct and inform, the series nevertheless endures as a rich and important resource enabling reflection on the role of religion in contemporary society.
Into the Arms of Dr Who: Implicit Religion and a Cowboy’s Redemption (P 541)
How Doctor Who rescued me from childhood neurosis and the part a blue plastic water pistol with orange fins played in my voyage of redemption.
Screenwriters as Theologians: Doctor Who’s Scope for Theological Exploration (P 565)
Although Doctor Who in its earliest incarnations did little to include or question religious belief in its stories, over time there has been a growing tendency for the show to engage with religious themes. In this article I look at examples of this shift in narrative stance, and ask what might be behind the change. I suggest that writers and showrunners, given the post-modern acceptability of interrogating religions and spiritual themes, are allowed new opportunities to ask questions of ultimate meaning and purpose. This, in conjunction with Doctor Who’s access to all of time and space as a canvas, gives writers unparalleled scope to explore such questions. I conclude that the resultant work should properly be considered a means of doing theology through narrative, and that in understanding culture as richly engaged with theology, we are given theological insights that might otherwise be missed.
Abstracts of Vol XVIII, no. 3, 2015
Granulated Faith-Holding: Examples from the Vocation of Science (Max Weber, Edward Shils, David Martin) (P 279)
The contention here is that however firmly faiths are formally promulgated in creeds and public declarations, there exist innumerable “granulated” ways in which they are ‘held” by groups and individuals. There is little published research work on granulated faith-holding, particularly on informal and implicit calibrations of shared and multi-faith frameworks of conviction and commitment in relation to the structuration of faith traditions. Building on the work of Bailey, Schnell and Francis, in particular, the concept of “traditioning” is introduced to address the missing “historical” dimension to theorizing in this field. Three ideal-typical modes of granulated faith-holding are constructed: monist, dualist and pluralist, and explored in the context of the critical rational Wertfreiheit vocational scientific tradition. Key biographies of three major contributors to the sociological study of religion, culture and society—Max Weber, Edward Shils and David Martin—are employed as source materials for three contrasting cameos of granulated scientific vocational faith-holding. As granulated faith-holding is likely to be evident within other domains of culture and society, such as, for example, religion, politics, intimate relations, and “fanships” in sport, élite and popular culture, the article concludes with some general lines of application of the theoretical framework formulated here.
The Dharma of Doctor Strange: The Shifting Representations of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism within a Comic Book Serial (P 247)
In 1963, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created a mystical comic book superhero named Doctor Strange. In the last fifty years, the character has appeared in hundreds of monthly serials, guest cameos, and graphic novels. In this article, I argue that the sequential panels of art, along with the narratives plotting Doctor Strange’s adventures, provide three different (but interrelated) histories of late twentieth-/early twenty-first century America. First, they document a visual history of a distinctly American pop-fascination with the “Orient,” and with Tibet in particular. Second, over the course of a half-century the comic serial maps the Americanization of quasi-occult and quasi-Buddhist practices. Third, the transformation of Doctor Strange, as an individual with hopes, fears, and an evolving worldview, provides insight into the implied but seldom expressed religiosity of generations of Buddhist studies scholars.
Implicit Religion, Explicit Religion and Attitude Toward Substances: An Empirical Enquiry Among 13- to 15-year-old Adolescents (P 373)
A recent research tradition has employed Bailey’s (1997, 1998) notion of implicit religion to explore the ways in which Christian believing in the UK may be persisting in spite of declining levels of church attendance. Working within this framework the first aim of this study is to explore the prevalence of implicit religion, operationalized as attachment to traditional Christian rites of passage, among young people living within the UK. The second aim of this study, following the analytic model proposed by Francis (2013a, 2013b) exploring the psychological functions served by explicit religion and implicit religion, is to test the hypothesis that explicit religiosity (operationalized as church attendance) and implicit religiosity (operationalized as attachment to Christian rites of passage) are both associated with proscriptive attitudes toward substances among young people. Data provided by a sample of 12,252 13- to 15- year-old young people support this hypothesis.
The Theory of the Earth Energy: Academia and the Vernacular in Search of the Supernaturall (P 399)
Using the concept of “implicit religion,” this article attempts to show how the broad field of vernacular ideas and practices, related to the “forces beyond,” provide an explanation for living in general. The idea that reality is shaped by an imperceptible “force” or “radiation,” which has an impact on human health and cognition, is the background for curiosity about dowsing practices. The discussions of early miners in Germany show the accommodation of vernacular practice within the framework of natural science and technology during the early modern period. A similar approach was also present at the end of the 1980s when the Baltic Dowsers’ Association formulated its activities, as seen in the collections of articles generated by their periodical conferences. The article concludes with an analysis of the formulation of vernacular truth about Earth energies alongside the material sciences, and presents the usage of such place legends and vernacular practices in the fringes of Academia.
Winter Wandering on Snow Shoes: Manifestation of Transcendence and Spirituality in Participants’ Mind-Maps (P 423)
The purpose of this article is to show the changes of understanding in participants’ mind maps, following the winter Outward Bound course in the Czech Republic. The two-week program includes walking on snow shoes in winter for 10 kilometers—more than 6 miles—every day, bivouacking in the open before sunset, collecting firewood, making preparations for food and sleep: all, of course, profane activities. Participants’ mind maps, however, show radical changes in their understanding of the Course (and probably changes in their understanding of life). Transcendence (a sign of spirituality) is made visible in some mind-maps. Such experience manifests some kind of pilgrimage experience, without of course a religious framework. Such a journey should therefore be classified as spiritual. Spirituality, which can be perceived not only as an aspect of religiosity, but as an individual’s way of existence, could be perceived as the central concept for such travelling. Authenticity and spirituality are basic terms for the right understanding of particular travellers’ modes of experience.
Abstracts of Vol XVIII, no. 2, 2015
Sociology and Theology: With and Against the Grain of “the World” (P 159)
The argument turns on a Weberian account of Christianity as a rejection of “the world” understood as a domain dominated by power, wealth, status, sex and violence; and on a Weberian understanding of how that creates a persistent tension with the realities of power and wealth as articulated by sociology, political science etc. in the economic, political, symbolic and aesthetic spheres. Thus theology, insofar as it articulates the original radical template of Christianity, is against, and sociology is with, “the grain” of the world. Although the Church has to compromise with wealth and power, the template of Christianity implicitly provides a sacred reference point for a whole civilisation, whatever people’s dogmatic commitments or lack of them. The argument examines these compromises, and considers how theology and sociology interact as neighbouring cultural disciplines very different from natural science disciplines. Sociology and theology are cognate in their narrative and contingent character, in spite of different modes of operation.
The Orange Order: A Religious Institution or an Expression of Implicit Religious Spinning? (P 177)
Implicit Religion has long been utilised within academia, and religious studies in particular, as an analytical tool with which to examine and critique commonly held conceptions and iterations of what “religion” is or could be. However there is application potentiality outside of academia for Implicit Religion, and this paper seeks to utilise the power of such an approach to expose the oversimplified use of traditional religious categories in regards to the Northern Irish Troubles. By applying the framework of Implicit Religion, as outlined by Edward Bailey, to the Orange Order this paper seeks to demonstrate how it can provide key insights and understandings to a very complicated and confusing situation. In areas of extended conflict and civil war, religion as an identity marker is often ignored or subsumed within attempts to deal with immediate crises, disarmament and political stability. Using tools such as Implicit Religion could help to bring religion back into the wider picture of the social, political and cultural issues that surround such contexts as Northern Ireland. It should be noted, though, that this paper is not arguing that the Orange Order is a form of Implicit Religion or should even be considered as a new religious movement. This paper is using the tools of Implicit Religion and shining them on to the Orange Order as an example of how those tools can better reveal what is actually going on under the surface.
The Invocation at Tilburg: Mysticism, Implicit Religion and Gravetemple’s Drone Metal (P 209)
This paper investigates implicitly religious practices and explicitly (though ambiguously) religious descriptions of the extreme heavy metal music subgenre of drone metal, in a case study focussing on a concert tour of the band Gravetemple. Responding to a conception of “experience” found in scholarship on mysticism and in Bailey’s theoretical framework of Implicit Religion, I suggest a contribution via the work of Michel de Certeau. In The Possession at Loudon (1966), Certeau investigates a seventeenth century incident of demonic possession by presenting a “history of the history” of the event in a compilation of documents with commentary. Adapting this methodology to include ethnographic participant observation fieldwork at Gravetemple concerts and interviews with audience members, I also examine and present here fragments of previews, promotion material, artwork, reviews and comments by attendees, in order to assess the relation between such texts, understandings of implicit religion, and listeners’ experience of drone metal.
Striving for Significance: The Relationships Between Religiousness, Spirituality, and Meaning in Life (P 233)
The aim of this study was to investigate whether religiousness and spirituality are associated with meaning in life, and which dimensions of religiousness and spirituality show the closest links with meaning in life. It was assumed that those religious and spiritual dimensions which are most imbued with meaning would be more significant for the presence of meaning than for the search for meaning in life. Two studies were conducted. The results of Study 1 showed that the “religious meaning system” was positively associated with “meaning in life,” with stronger connections for “presence of meaning” than for “search.” As regards “religious coping,” positive coping was positively related to presence and search, whereas negative coping was negatively associated with presence. Positive coping also had positive links with personal meaning, while negative coping had negative relations. In Study 2, overall spirituality was positively linked with search for meaning and personal meaning. Two dimensions of spirituality (harmony and ethical sensitivity) were predictors for presence of meaning, but not for search. These findings suggest that meaning in life is a crucial element of religiousness and spirituality, and is intrinsically contained within their internal structures.
Abstracts of Vol XVIII, no. 1, 2015
The Ritualization of Consumer Capitalism: Catherine Bell's Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice in the Age of Starbucks (P 3)
According to Max Weber, within the differentiated order of modernity, instrumental reason (Zweckrationalität) came to dominate economic life (as well as law, science and architecture). Weber juxtaposed instrumental reason against religious, traditional and affective life. However, the history of consumption, past and present, challenges these distinctions. A major feature of neoliberalism is the increasingly explicit and self reflexive ritualization of consumption, such that paradigms of ritual and consumption appear to cohere. The primary focus of this article does not lie in the mechanics of consumer rituals themselves, as an empirical matter, but, instead, in the conceptual entailments that exist between contemporary discourses of ritual and branding. Taking Starbucks as a case study, the article notes some key similarities between Catherine Bell’s discussion of ritualization and contemporary branding theory and practice, suggesting the possibility that religious studies and marketing share a similar epistemic context which also implies that our own intellectual labors as scholars of religion are enmeshed in the logic and doings of capital. A method for materializing religious studies within contemporary late capitalist conditions, which is deemed urgent, is therefore also proposed.
An Implicit Religious Reflex to Mechanism and a Holistic Alternative: Social Theory as a Case in Point (P 45)
This article looks at how medieval Christian politics and modes of thought have led to a an implicitly religious reflex toward mechanism in social theory. Social theoretical activity of the past 75 years has criticized conceptions of modernity, science, objectivity, and reason as artifacts of European or western thought from the 1500s onwards. Such critiques can be supplemented by looking at the way these ideas grew out of dominant monotheistic Christianity in the Middle Ages (400s–1400s) in territories that later became Europe. They were carried, via religious scholasticism, into the formation and maintenance of academia. This mechanistic reflex persists and might be transformed by alternative holistic epistemology.
Systemic Constellation as a Trans-Rational Image of the Unconscious: Non-Religious Spirituality, or Implicit Religion? (P 63)
“Systemic constellation” is a particular method for achieving a deeper understanding of our life at the level of our unconsciousness. It is based on C.G. Jung’s psychology and we can understand “constellation” in this context as some kind of “role play”. It becomes possible to visualize specific problems or topics, to depict abstract themes or things that oppress us, to identify what is more interesting to us and/or appeals to us more deeply. It is an experiential and existential modus; and it is not easy to put such phenomena into words. However, the substance of the principle of Systemic Constellations is still hidden, some kind of secret. Yet we can meet with something bigger than we are: a kind of wholeness, a system with its bonding and relationships. The article asks whether it is preferable to understand this approach in the framework of “implicit religion,” or of “non-religious spirituality.”
Atheism, Christianity and the British Press: Press Coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 State Visit to the UK (P 77)
This study analyses the way twenty British newspapers (15th to 20th September 2010) covered Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 state visit to the UK. We found that one important framing narrative used by the British press was an atheism/Christianity binary. This binary was characterised by mutual antagonism over the role of religion in civil society and yet this binary also existed alongside a call for calm and a defence of a ‘gentler secularism’ by journalists who, in the main, defended themselves (and ‘the majority of the public’) as having liberal democratic values. The net effect of which was that the British press simultaneously found itself in the position of framing the visit in terms of extreme views and mutual antagonism, whist at the same time endorsing both a civil space bleached of atheism/Christian contestation and ideals of Christianity and atheism as private and non-threatening, deprived of any problematic Otherness.
Abstracts of Vol XVII, no. 4, 2014 (Special Issue on Science Fiction)
The Speed of Belief: Religion and Science Fiction, an Introduction to the Implicit Religions of Science Fiction (P 367)
This article considers the relationship between religion and literature as refracted through the genre of science fiction writing. Connor explores the possibilities for religions created in the hyphen between “science” and “fiction.” Religion and science fiction each offers a conception of reality that inclines toward different explanations not just of human behavior but of divine (supernatural) behavior and each suggests differing ideas about how to respond. Using poetry as an additional literary from for understanding the relationship between religion and science fiction literature, Connor explores some of the spaces for the invention and expression of religion in its implicit forms.
Where We Have Gone Before: Star Trek Into and Out of Darkness (P 379)
Star Trek functions as a religion though its universe is explicitly humanistic and secular. Star Trek Into Darkness offers an interpretation of 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the creators may not have intended the film as a religious text, it offers an analysis of what happened, a set of responses, pointing to a path forward, incorporating those events into the Star Trek (and ultimately our own) universe. I will offer a close reading of Star Trek Into Darkness that explores the negotiation of what it means to be human and our place in the post- 9/11 world. My thesis is that the film can be read as implicitly religious in two senses. First, it offers a vision of what is human in the face of questions of terrorism and pre-emptive strikes, duty and honor, life and death. Second, it offers viewers a reflection on possible responses to 9/11 and the aftermath, pointing forward. It is a secular homily on being human in the past, present, and future.
Religion/Science/Fiction: Beyond the Final Frontier (P 395)
Science fiction is conventionally assumed to be hostile to religion. This article argues that science fiction stories not only belie this assumption, but can even promote religious speculation. Science fiction’s techniques, the intervention by African American and other ethnic minority writers in the literature, and the use of science fiction in the college classroom, all call into question any definitive boundary between science and religion.
Salvation from Illusion, Salvation by Illusion: The Gospel According to Christopher Nolan (P 405)
That science fiction implicitly conveys religious world views is evident in the cinematic corpus of writer-director Christopher Nolan. The Prestige, Inception, and Nolan’s Batman trilogy represent a variation on Gnosticism, in that salvation comes from a secret way of seeing the world. Nolan’s vision, however, is a repudiation of Gnostic norms, for salvation hinges not on the truth, but on the perfect lie. Illusion is both what is being redeemed, and the means of its redemption. Contrary to traditional Western religious norms, in Nolan’s stories the truth is destructive; it is deception that is salvific. Yet, counter the mainstreams of post-modern culture, in the worlds that Nolan crafts not all constructed perspectives are equally viable. To understand Nolan’s work clearly is to have insight into popular culture, into those who consume it, and, perhaps, into reality itself.
A Novel Society: Science Fiction Novels as Religious Actors (P 417)
Science fiction—as a literature of the fantastic—has become a part of the religious landscape of modernity. In a secular world, not all of religious activity is explicitly so; indeed, much contemporary religious thought and practice happens implicitly, in ostensibly secular arenas. Yet the human need for meaning and enchantment has gone undiminished in the age of secularism, and science fiction is a powerful route for such desires. In China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station, we see how traditionally religious themes are woven into a science fiction story, but also how the book itself illustrates a religious goal of divine creation. Using actor-network theory, this essay contributes to the building of a sociology of religion that acknowledges the powerful ways in which science fiction texts like Perdido Street Station offer transformative experiences for readers and for culture.
We Are the Walking Dead: Robert Kirkman’s Zombies and Buddhist Body Image (P 433)
Robert Kirkman’s popular horror comic The Walking Dead offers the basis for a constructive Buddhist reading of the identification of the body with the authentic self. By applying both traditional Buddhist readings of charnel ground meditations and theorist Julia Kristeva’s understanding of “abjection,” this article argues that the comic can be read in a socially progressive mode, destabilizing the identification of authentic personhood with specific and particular bodies.
Turning into Gods: Transhumanist Insight on Tomorrow’s Religiosity (P 443)
Transhumanism has been a part of modern culture since the early years of the twentieth century. Since Julian Huxley, (brother of the famous writer Aldous Huxley), first used the term in 1957 to describe what he called a “new belief ” in the capability of the human species to “transcend itself,” transhumanism has been going through a continuous institutionalization process. After spending the second half of the twentieth century as a major leitmotiv of science fiction, since the dawn of the new millennium a large number of texts dealing with the creation of a new human species have been published as non-fiction: thus, what was considered a few years ago to be genuine science fiction themes, are now presented as non fiction. However much this crossover from fictional to non-fictional may have changed the face of transhumanism, it has nevertheless left intact its narrative dimension. In this article we argue that this narrative is what gives transhumanism its implicit religious dimension.
The Greatest Adventure Awaiting Humankind: Destination Moon and Faith in the Future (P 459)
In 1946, Hollywood director and producer George Pal read an article in Life magazine titled “Trip to the Moon by Rocket,” and decided his next film would be what he called a science fact (as opposed to fiction) “documentary of the near future.” The result was Destination Moon (1950), a science fiction classic, credited with introducing the concept of space travel to post war America. The film makes reaching space an exercise in overcoming the unheimlich and unfamiliar, and negotiates the boundary between the known and the other. Pal hired Robert A. Heinlein to adapt his novel, Rocket Ship Galileo, for the film; the original story played into contemporary fears about Communism and a resurgence of Nazi power. But rather than make a film that resonated with social and political concerns, Pal—a Hungarian-born Jew, who fled Germany in 1934—chose to make a film that was about faith in technology, faith in the future, and used science fiction to illustrate his belief that the space age was going to be “The Beginning” of a new future for humanity. Part of the success of Destination Moon is that it tapped into a larger religious feeling in America at the time of its premier: one divorced from institutional religions, and which sociologist Will Herberg called America’s “faith in faith.” The film’s themes of discovery, sacrifice, triumph over circumstance, and the necessity of technology, are representative of Americans’ belief in a collective ability to overcome evil, and of a newfound faith in their destiny to conquer the “final frontier.”
Time is of the Essence: Hindu Cosmology in Science Fiction (P 481)
In the academic study of religion, theories about the nature of time reside in the realm of cosmology. They shape and form assumptions about the nature of chronology, sequence, duration, cause and effect. In those beginnings are sown the seeds of endings: both define the parameters of meaning. One of the most fascinating and consistent conceits of the science fiction genre is the nature and manipulation of time. Like religion, science fiction constructs worldviews. To challenge fundamental assumptions regarding of time and space has always been one of science fiction’s most endearing qualities. In South Asian and specifically Hindu cosmology, not only is time circular and cyclical, it is fundamentally illusory. There is a mysterious and delightful congruence between Hindu cosmology and western science fiction in this respect. This article proposes to examine some of the ways in which traditional Hindu concepts of time are represented in western science fiction.
Fluid Selfhood, Human and Otherwise: Hindu and Buddhist Themes in Science Fiction (P 489)
Science fiction has creatively imagined future and alternative worlds in which Hindu and Buddhist concepts figure prominently. Rebirth is a particularly rich idea, manifested both literally and metaphorically in the literary works considered here. The distinctive Indic understandings of human consciousness that underlie the Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions’ conceptions of human nature lend themselves to literary incarnations of artificial intelligence in a variety of ways. Traditional Hindu and Buddhist religious discourses on selfhood and rebirth have been adapted and integrated into the science fiction works discussed in this article in their reflections on human nature and artificial intelligence. However, this fiction also presents science and technology as implicitly religious, as being means to attain traditional religious goals such as immortal life.
Authoring the Sacred: Humanism and Invented Scripture in Octavia Butler, Kurt Vonnegut and Dan Simmons (P 509)
In Octavia E. Butler’s novels Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, teenager Lauren Olamina writes her own scripture, The Books of the Living, as a guide to a way of life she calls Earthseed. The Books of Bokonon, written by a self-styled holy man, provide Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical Cat’s Cradle with the often absurd tenets governing the invented religion of Bokononism. And in Dan Simmons’ four-book Hyperion Cantos series, an eponymous epic poem penned by a misanthropic poet relates the “sacred history” of events leading humanity to a critical juncture. These creative works and their invented scriptures invite readers to immerse themselves in worldviews and value systems laid out along similar themes. Each considers possible outcomes of catastrophic crises, and comments realistically if despairingly on the nature of human failing. Each, in contrast, endorses the power of language to advance human thriving, and makes an ultimate virtue of simple human compassion and empathy.
Abstracts of Vol XVII, no. 3, 2014
Calvinism Without God: American Environmentalism as Implicit Calvinism (P 249)
Environmentalism has emerged as an important part of the American public debate since the 1960s. It challenges the longstanding implicit faith in economic progress as the path of salvation of the world. The exercise of human scientific and economic mastery is instead seen as frequently doing great damage to the natural world, including to the global climate and the endangerment of whole species of plants and animals. To a greater degree than most environmentalists realize, the real roots of their thinking lie in Christian (and Jewish) sources. One might describe environmentalism as an implicit Christianity—a religion in disguise. In the United States, reflecting the large historic influence of Puritanism on the intellectual and political life of the nation, American environmentalism is an implicit Calvinism. This has been a major contributing factor to its wide success and impact there. Assessing the future prospects for American environmentalism will require the development of a more complete understanding of its deeply religious essence.
Religious and Scientific Forces of Commoditization of Implicit Religion with Their Custodians as “Entrepreneurs” (P 275)
In this article we take a fresh look, in the context of implicit religion (characterized by commitment, integrating foci and intensive concerns with extensive effects), at some contemporary explicit religious phenomena, and suggest that there is little significant difference between them and certain phenomena in natural science that have a welfare motive. Examples have been drawn from India to depict how different versions of explicit religion have been commoditized by their advocates, acting almost as entrepreneurs, and how the success or failure of such organizations depends, at least in part, on their relative compliance with, or deviation from, their welfare motive, suggesting that it is the motivation (best understood as implicit religion) lying behind the entrepreneurialism, that can unite both gurus and scientists.
Remembering and the Creation of Sacred Place: Glastonbury, Anglican Christian Theology, and Identity (P 297)
This article seeks to unravel some of the complex issues behind what are termed acts of “double remembering” at Glastonbury, particularly in Anglican Christian thought. The article will argue that contemporary Christian thinking around acts of pilgrimage are so multivalent and diverse that we cannot simply seek to understand even a fairly small scale issue like Anglican/Anglo Catholic pilgrimage to Glastonbury in terms of any general theoretical perspective, but that many conflicted, and often conflicting, acts of remembering which relate to the identity of those involved, are being enacted. This exposition is set against the context of contemporary Anglican thinking on pilgrimage, some significant theoretical constructions of pilgrimage, and the Christian and New Age understanding of Glastonbury and its meanings. Some aspects of implicit religion theory will be used to help discuss the issues.
Christian Themes in the Heavy Metal Music of Black Sabbath? (P 321)
This article looks at the music and lyrics of heavy-metal, rock music pioneers Black Sabbath. Though often labeled a “satanic” band, for their eerie sounds and dark lyrics, a closer look reveals that the band actually penned many songs with Christian themes, which range from outright endorsement of the faith to questioning explorations of it. This is remarkable for two reasons. One, Sabbath was the first major rock band to explore Christian themes so thoroughly. Two, the band’s members are not practising Christians, although bassist and lyricist Geezer Butler did have a strong Roman Catholic upbringing. It is perhaps this background of Butler’s that comes to the fore in the band’s music, infusing the songs with Christian topics that are all the more remarkable, given the atheism, or at least agnosticism, apparently manifested in the personal lives of the band’s members.
Abstracts of Vol XVII, no. 2, 2014
Music as an Aid to Philosophizing about Religion (P 127)
Music and religion have long been experienced together, yet music’s significance for implicit religion awaits thoroughgoing study. This paper tackles a related task: using music as an example to help develop a philosophical approach to religion as a whole, which is broad and flexible enough to do justice to contemporary religious studies, including the study of implicit religion and spirituality. D.Z. Phillips’s (Wittgenstein-influenced) “contemplative” philosophy of religion offers a promising development, beyond the predominantly Western, monotheistic and conceptual approach of much post-war philosophy of religion. However it needs fresh and accessible examples of distinctive “forms of life” drawn from beyond religion. Here is where music can help. Music, whether lay or professional, highbrow or lowbrow, reminds us of an area of life which has its own distinctive discourse, within which notions of transcendence, spirit, perfection and the like seem thoroughly at home. To understand this fully requires a contemplative (or “appreciative”) approach of involvement and participation. Comparing word-use in religious and musical contexts shows up significant common aspects such as performance, recreation and entertainment. When religion is appreciated as more like music and other arts, then modern scientific theories as to its origins, and philosophical questions about its truth or falsity, ontology, epistemology or rationality, seem less obviously applicable, or troubling.
Sport, Religion, Wellbeing, and Cameron’s Big Society (P 139)
Forms of sport and forms of religion are near-global phenomena. This article starts by summarising participation in both domains, and the benefits to individuals and society arising therefrom in terms of health, social capital and wellbeing. Sport is such a major social activity that some have suggested it also is a religion. This I refute; but it is an aspect of popular passion, an implicit religion. It is also recovering more links now with religious practice, after three-quarters of a century of decline. Both generate a large volume of social activity and capital, and contribute positively to health and well being. David Cameron, interested in measuring what truly matters to people, instituted a major new survey. He also espoused the idea of the “Big Society,” as a growth of freedom for local social development, which received a mixed response in the light of broader government policies for cutting public expenditure. With sport as one of the largest segments of volunteering, one might think here was potential for it to take on an even more significant role, but (this paper suggests) there are reasons for significant limits to the further development of its potential importance.
The Subjective Secularization of Great Britain, 1991—2007 (P 165)
Scholarly debates continue to abound on the theme and the theory of secularization and its counterpart, sacralization. This paper will present a succinct review of relevant sources that address this debate. The focus will be on what Berger terms “subjective secularization,” and evidence from a longitudinal study of British subjects surveyed from 1991 to 2007 will provide substantial support for a subjective secularization thesis.
The Engineer is Professionally a Person of Faith: A Theological-Historical Perspective (P 183)
The professional engineer exists, thanks to his own particular form of faith. Without this faith, his professional group cannot exist, as is the case with other professions: doctors, nurses, teachers and lawyers. This article restricts itself to members of this one specific professional group. It describes the genesis and the development of their living conditions, a spirituality of their own. The problem this article focuses on is the lack of linguistic skills among engineers. In expressing themselves, they prefer mathematical or physical formulations. That is their forte. But existential motives can rarely be embodied in that language, whereas those are indeed at the core of their profession. With a few exceptions, engineers depend on others to make their inner motivations more explicit. In this article, a theologian dares to probe these motives.
On Why Gaita Doesn’t Describe Eichmann as Sacred (P 197)
In this article we examine a potential problem for Raimond Gaita (born 1946). It arises from the way that Gaita, in Good and Evil: An Absolute Conception, affirms the value of describing Eichmann as sacred, yet says that he, as a non-religious person, is unable to describe Eichmann as sacred. We argue that the tension in Gaita’s position does not in reality amount to a contradiction, and so we defuse the potential problem.
Measuring Spirituality as Personal Belief in Supernatural Forces: Is the Character Strength Inventory-Spirituality subscale a brief, reliable and valid measure? (P 211)
Critical evaluations of commonly used spirituality measures find many wanting— with most lacking the properties required of scientific measures. Common deficiencies include using non-representative development samples, a failure to satisfy normality assumptions, and the confounding of related yet-distinct constructs (e.g. religiosity, wellbeing, civility, prosociality, virtues, etc). The current paper utilizes two studies to examine the psychometric properties of the 7-item Character Strength Inventory-Spirituality (CSI-Spirit; Isaacowitz, Seligman and Valiant 2003). Factor analytic investigations (exploratory and confirmatory) suggest that six items reliably (Cronbach’s α > .70) capture a single latent construct that accounts for around 45% of the variance in responses. This truncated CSI-Spirit appears normally distributed and uni-dimensional. Item difficulty (as reflected by mean scores on items) varies and total scores converge meaningfully with religious affiliation and measures of religiosity, spirituality, paranormal beliefs, wellbeing, agreeableness and conscientiousness. In summary, the CSI-Spirit appears statistically robust and its brevity makes it ideal for individual assessment (in psychological practice) and large scale socioepidemiological research purposes.
Body Image and Celebrity Worship (P 223)
We surveyed college students to determine the relationship between body image and celebrity admiration. We administered the Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS), the Self-Objectification Questionnaire (SOQ), the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT), and a slightly modified version of the (ESS,) to 279 participants from three universities and one college. We hypothesized that, as the tendency to worship celebrities increased, so would self-objectification, enjoyment of sexualization, and eating pathology. We thought that this would be particularly true for women and those whose favorite celebrity was perceived as being physically attractive. Results confirmed that men (but not women) who tend to worship celebrities are more likely to show eating disorders and enjoy being sexualized. Our modified version of the ESS has good reliability, and we showed that men are just as likely to enjoy being sexualized as women are. Further, the correlation between ESS and EAT scores was stronger for men than for women. Implications for the further study of attitudes toward celebrities and the need to include males in research on enjoyment of being sexualized were discussed.
Abstracts of Vol XVII, no. 1, 2014
Implicit Soulfulness: A Dramatic Perspective (P 3)
The sociological study of religion has established that people do in fact behave in ways which are implicitly religious, without their actually belonging to an explicitly religious organisation of any kind. What remains to be investigated, however, is why they do this. This paper aims to make a contribution to such an enquiry by using theatre to argue that these individuals are drawn in the direction of religious belief by the inalienable characteristics of the human soul—particularly its voraciousness and flexibility.
Believing, Belonging, Begatting: The Implicit Sapiential Faith of Academia (P 11)
A transdisciplinary implicit religion framework is deployed to illuminate the cultic academic milieu of late modern university culture. Applying the three related “real” religion tropes (believing, belonging, begatting), structural and cultural features of subterranean “sapiential faiths” are identified and critiqued, with a view to enhancing reflexive knowledge of the academic form of life and contributing to the enlargement of the conversation on faith and reason.
It’s Not Business, It’s Personal: Implicit Religion in the Corporate Personhood Debate (P 47)
Debate surrounding the United States Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC is ostensibly about the legal rights of corporations. However, I argue that the debate about corporate personhood is infused with religious concerns, rooted in the Protestant Reformation, about the proper identification of agentive subjects and the consequences of misidentification for human personhood. Focusing on the language used by opponents and defenders in the popular media, I show how both sides are animated by Protestant notions of human agency, and share similar anxieties about the threats to that agency posed by abstract corporate or governmental entities. Attending to this fundamentally religious dimension not only improves our understanding of the moral stakes in the debate over corporations’ legal rights: it also illuminates the implicit religious underpinnings of American political discourse.
Bigger Than Religion: Hip Hop’s Post-Modern Prophetic Challenge (P 63)
Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann describes prophetic religion as the poetic, counter-imperial acts of an alternative consciousness that empowers marginalized sub-communities standing in tension with the dominant culture. Hip hop culture is argued to constitute an implicit contemporary example of such a subcommunity, both in its origin in African-American culture and in its connection to other marginalized groups throughout the world who have appropriated hip hop culture. After developing hip hop as an implicit paradigm for prophetic religion and distinguishing between prophetic and non-prophetic forms of hip hop, specific examples are given from hip hop lyrics which illustrate prophetic criticisms of dominant religious consciousness while energizing the people in their community to move in an alternative direction. First is the critique of religion as pacification to justify and maintain an oppressive status quo. Second will be the critique of religious exclusivism and the otherworldly concept of heaven and hell, and finally, the critique of religion as institutional and authoritarian. Each of these is complemented by models of empowerment for the disenfranchised, an emphasis on inclusivity which embraces the concrete struggles of real people in the present, and the mobilization of democratic grassroots movements as a source of power and authority.
Sports in Post-secular America: The “Tebow Phenomenon” (P 81)
Whether found in curses believed to plague certain baseball teams or in religious-like devotion that fans express towards their team, the relationship between religion and sports is alive and well in the United States. This relationship is frequently assumed to be one of a turf war that pits religion and sports against each other. Such a stance is often predicated on the idea that sports and religious discourses occupy separate realms, yet it is at odds with the historical evidence of the intertwining of the sacred and secular in America. In this paper, I assert that while the “separatist” model has always permeated the American consciousness, an “integrationist” model that draws on a post-secular perspective is appropriate when analyzing the way that sports and religion come together in the figure of football player, Tim Tebow.
De Steps of MoTiv: Chaplaincy as “Discourse of Disclosure”; (P 93)
As pastors of MoTiv, formerly known as Delft University Chaplaincy, over the course of some thirty years, we have experienced a very drastic development, a metamorphosis, in our understanding and task of interpretation, and in the way in which we even approach our work field. Such a transition process never takes place in a straightforward way, but tentatively, struggling and doubting, with an insight surfacing now and then, as a confirming experience. As someone involved in such a process, it is not easy keeping your distance and putting into words how that development has taken place. The fact that we can now make an attempt to do so in this article can largely be attributed to the thesis on the Delft University Chaplaincy that was written by Arnold de Jong.1
Abstracts of Vol XVI, no. 4, 2013
A Short History of the (Muslim) Veil (P 387)
The concept of implicit religion recognizes the many connections between the secular and the religious, unlike mainstream social narratives that continue to oppose them. Understanding that religious and non-religious worldviews both fulfil the human need for meaning and that they are equally capable of becoming intransigent ideologies, is ever more critical because of the instrumentalization of the religious-secular divide in present- day domestic and international politics. Modernity’s dualism possesses global ramifications; by conflating Western identity and progress with secularism, it painted the rest of the world—particularly the Orient—with the brush of religion and backwardness. The Muslim veil has constituted a symbol to denote Muslim religious fanaticism and misogyny, in contrast to Western freedom, feminism and democracy. Its constitutive role in producing modern Western self-identity, through contradistinction, explains the continued debates on Muslim veiling practices, as well as the tenacity of the veil sign. This article traces the history of the veil with the aim of simultaneously charting and unpacking its reification in Western contexts.
The Veiled Muslim Woman as Subject in Contemporary Art: The Role of Location, Autobiography, and the Documentary Image (P 417)
That the veil sign often operates to deny both veiled and unveiled Muslim women their status as subjects implies that references to veiled subjectivity propose an alternative vision. This article examines representations of the veil in contemporary art that displace Western mainstream perceptions by effectively portraying veiled Muslim women as subjects, therefore laying claim to the transformative capacity of selfhood and image. These representations are intimately linked to the phenomenon of globalization in that their recent visibility is due both to artists looking and working through another gaze/cultural screen and to a shift in the Western art apparatus that now exhibits their work. While they relate to other types of images of the veil in contemporary art in that they implicitly contextualize the veil and challenge the stereotypes surrounding it, they differ in that they are neither nostalgic nor contestatory. Rather, the art works discussed, relating to location, autobiography and the desire to document, are rooted in daily life and memory. Their pictorial language is not alien to Western visual culture, making their novel depictions of veiled women, and thus by extension their and the veil’s diversity, more salient.
(Re)Envisioning the Veil (P 443)
This article examines some of the many shifting meanings of the veil within monotheistic religions and secular societies. Focusing on women’s head-coverings within Hasidic Jewish communities, the practice of veiling within Christianity as demonstrated by the habit worn by Catholic nuns, and headscarves as adopted by some Muslim women, I explore how these modes of dress can be read as forms of resistance, of subverting sexual objectification, and as ways to gain access to the public sphere. By drawing comparisons across the main three monotheistic religions, I work to challenge colonial narratives which predominantly single out Islamic headscarves, while ignoring other existing practices of women’s headcoverings in Jewish and Christian communities. Ultimately, this paper aims to situate perspectives from Judaism, Christianity and Islam in conversation with each other, so as to broaden dominant interpretations of veiling practices.
“An Affair of the Heart”: Hijab Narratives of Arab Muslim Women in Malta (P 461)
This article looks at the self-representations of Arab and Muslim women living in Malta, with respect to whether they veil or not. Most of the women participating in this research decided to veil at their later stage of adulthood, after periods of indecision and preparation for what they refer to as a long-term and serious commitment. Contrary to my initial expectations, other women who were interviewed and who do not wear the hijab, are not against the Islamic concept of veiling. They explain that they haven’t yet taken the decision to veil, because they do not feel ready to take this important step in their life. As the title of the article suggests, putting on the hijab is generally represented as “an affair of the heart”, an act that has to be carried out in an appropriate way. I therefore argue that this representation goes against the stereotype of “veil equals gender oppression,” which depicts Muslim women as simply passive agents. Moreover, the women’s decisions to veil indicate that rather than looking at the hijab by using the traditional-modern dichotomy, it is more adequate to analyse it as a “product” of modernity. Rather than a mere act of submission, the women’s accounts reflect a hybrid and complex embodiment of religion, identity and socio-politics. The religious aspect is explained both in terms of going through an individual spiritual path and in being exposed to the Islamist discourse that emphasizes modesty. The identity and socio political aspects are analysed by looking at the women’s transnational standing. It is seen that the women’s decisions are also influenced by the socio-political situations, not only of their homeland but also of the European countries in which their relatives may be residing. Finally, the article ends by referring to Islamic feminism as the more adept kind of feminism that reflects the women’s convincing arguments in favour of the hijab.
More Than Just a Piece of Cloth: The German “Headscarf ” Debate (P 483)
This article highlights the blurred and often confused nature of the distinction between religious, cultural and political issues, within debates around the legal regulation of Muslim women’s dress codes. It focuses on party-political debates in Germany about female Muslim state school teachers” right to wear, or duty to remove, a hijab, and highlights implicit assumptions about the role of religion in German culture, politics, legislation, education and notions of citizenship that have informed this debate.
Let Modesty Be Her Raiment: The Classical Context of Ancient-Christian Veiling (P 493)
Our societal obsession with hair and how it looks seems to know no bounds. Consumers are bombarded with innovative advertisements telling us that our hair is always in need of a miraculous product that can change our lives forever. Contrastingly, sensationalized media reports, which accomplish little else than instilling fear of the “Other,” have no shortage of images of presumably oppressed and unhappy Muslim women, who are almost always veiled in a chador, burqa, or even simply the hijab. Often seen as the most poignant characteristic of the Islamic civilization, the veil is consistently portrayed as a symbol of repression, patriarchal tyranny, barbarism, and even anti-western sentiment (Heath 2008, 18). However, veiling also has a crucial place in the main religious tradition of the Western world, Christianity. In this article, I argue that early Christian women often understood this practice as indicating modesty and respectability. For many Christians, women’s veiling was an important part of their religious identity and moral values. As modesty was the dominant justification for women’s veiling in the Greek and Roman worlds, Christians who observed and promoted the veil were building on the values and practices of their cultural environment. Eventually, however, the Christian veil was reserved for consecrated virgins, and the Latin Church fathers wrote copiously to instill its observance. This article will examine the practice of veiling in antiquity, beginning with Greco-Roman cultural norms, followed by Paul’s instructions to Corinthian women, and concluding with Ambrose of Milan’s treatment of the subject in relation to consecrated virgins. This trajectory will demonstrate that the practice of veiling evolved these three periods; however, its core purpose of safeguarding modesty, remained embedded during each of them.
Abstracts of Vol XVI, no. 3, 2013
Acknowledging a Global Shift: A Primer for Thinking about Religion in Consumer Societies (P 261)
Preliminary remark: the concept of “implicit religion”: does implicit religion really exist?
The starting point of this article is the observation that the new form of cultural political economy, which has emerged in the last half of the twentieth century and become dominant since the 1980s, has had profound consequences for religious belief, practice and expression worldwide. The rise of consumerism in the post-Second World War years, accompanied by the ever-growing and globalizing media-sphere, as well as the growing influence of neo-liberalism, have been pivotal in religious change. The article calls for work in this direction, and starts by a critical review of classical works on religion and economy, before surveying contemporary works, in a four-fold typology. Centering on consumerism, the article then argues that the rise of consumerism as a dominant cultural ethos, radicalizes the dynamics of identity and recognition that are typical of modern subjectivisation and community, which in turn shape contemporary religious phenomena.
America's Heirloom Comfort Song: "Amazing Grace" (P 277)
An historical, sociological, theological, cultural inquiry into the popularity of Newton’s hymn across the racial (and class) lines that divide North Americans. This “heirloom,” this “cultural icon,” functions widely and continually, primarily as a “comfort song” (like “comfort” food). The religious and non-religious alike return again and again to (the first three stanzas of) “America’s most beloved song”: a staple of funerals, preserved in over a thousand recordings, most of them in the “popular” realm. This article explores the continuing nature of its long-proven appeal to a diverse breadth of Americans, in increasingly secularized times. The article notes, however, its apparent failure to energize reconciliation of the black and white races, both of which remain deeply devoted to it.
Embodied Activism: Israeli Folk Dance Creating Social Change in the Jewish Community (P 289)
When voices are silenced, the body can often be the most powerful instrument for social change and activism, or the expression of personal feelings and commitments. This article describes how the development of Israeli folk dance changed the emerging Jewish society in Israel, in three ways. First, Israeli folk dance changed and countered negative perceptions of the Jewish body throughout Europe. Second, this folk dance changed Jewish society’s treatment of women in ritual leadership. And third, Israeli folk dance changed a dispersed Jewish people into a community that works, dances, and worships hand-in-hand. Implicit Religion invites us to look at elements of ordinary life for things that bear some resemblance to what we call religion, so that we might better understand these seemingly secular elements of life if we approach them through the lens of religion. The founder of Israeli folk dance, Gurit Kadman, embodied her activism by giving the Jewish community a reason to be proud of their bodies and their faith, by empowering women to assume ritual leadership responsibilities, and by creating a living, breathing community in the midst of Holocaust and Diaspora. Gurit Kadman was an activist whose folk dances changed society. Her seemingly secular work—dance—had a profoundly religious impact on Jewish society.
“I Really Don’t Do It For The Spirituality”: How Often Do Belly Dancers Infuse Artistic Leisure with Spiritual Meaning? (P 301)
To what extent does spirituality play a role in artistic leisure? Utilizing semi-structured interviews with 35 belly dancers in the United States, this article discusses how although many participants attach spiritual meaning to belly dance, there is a wide range in how often and within what contexts people do so. Findings show that some dancers infuse belly dance with spiritual meaning almost every time they engage in the activity, but for most participants, spirituality does not make up the majority of their belly dance experiences. Many dancers rarely or never attach spiritual significance to belly dance. Furthermore, the context in which dancers attach spiritual meaning to belly dance varies. If dancers infuse belly dance with spirituality, they will most likely do so when they are dancing alone in their homes. Only dancers who associate belly dance with spirituality most of the time they dance experience spirituality when dancing outside their home, such as performances or teaching their dance students.
Celebrity Worship and Religion Revisited (P 319)
We administered the Celebrity Attitude Scale, Quest Scale, and the Age-Universal I-E scale-12 to 164 undergraduates from three institutions in the United States in order to compare their religious values with a sample of English participants obtained by Maltby, et al. (2002). Results showed no overall relationship between the tendency to admire celebrities and religiosity, as measured by Quest and the Age-Universal I-E scale-12. The mean of the 12 relationships reported here was only +.12, indicating that many religious persons either ignore the Christian teaching that “Thou shalt worship no other Gods,” or they fail to link it to their worship of celebrities. Results were discussed in light of the previous study and suggestions were made for the further study of the relationship between celebrity worship and religiosity.
Abstracts of Vol XVI, no. 2, 2013
Modeling the Religious Field: Religion, Spirituality, Mysticism, and Related World Views (P 137)
Preliminary remark: the concept of “implicit religion”: does implicit religion really exist?
Mapping the religious field of present-day Western cultures such as America and Europe requires a synopsis of perspectives. There are, on the one hand, classical ways of defining religion in theology, sociology and psychology, and also established sociological models of the religious field; and there are, on the other hand, recent changes in how people on the street implicitly and explicitly understand themselves and behave. Many are reluctant to identify as religious persons, but self-identify as “spiritual” or “spiritual, not religious.” In this text we introduce our conceptualization of religion and of the religious field. Key concepts of religion are transcendence and ultimacy. For structuring the religious field, we attend to the distinction between vertical and horizontal symbolization of transcendence and ultimacy, and to the distinction between institutional mediation and individual immediacy.
The Merging of the Sacred and the Profane: What Substitutes for Ritual in the Baha’i Faith? (P 157)
The Baha’i Faith has very few communal rituals. There is little structure or set form to the regular meetings of the community or to such ceremonial occasions as weddings and funerals. Furthermore, there are textual instructions in the authoritative texts of the Baha’i Faith that prohibit the creation of a clerical class and the development of rituals over time. If then ritual is an essential part of religion, what substitutes for ritual in the Baha&rsuo;i community? To answer this question, this paper goes back to Durkheim’s functionalist ideas that ritual creates the boundaries between the sacred and the profane (or secular), and also creates a sense of awe and an experience of the community as a living reality, reinforcing the sense of unity and strengthening the community. With regard to the first of these functions, in fact the boundaries between the sacred and the profane are deliberately blurred in the Baha’i Faith, and all of space and time potentially sacralized; conversely, it could be said that much of what would be regarded in other religious communities as sacred space and sacred time is secularized. With regard to the second of these functions, if Durkheim’s analysis is correct, ritual is not essential to religion for its own sake, but rather on account of the unity and reinforcement of the sense of community that it creates. When we come to consider the Baha’i Faith, there are a number of other factors that create unity and a sense of community. First, there are doctrinal factors such as the doctrine of the Covenant. Second, there are psychological factors such as a common vision (oneness of humanity and world unity). Third, there is the camaraderie of working together to achieve that vision—a common pathway along which all Baha’is are travelling. In all, these factors appear to be sufficient to substitute for the function of ritual in the Baha’i Faith.
A “Church” of Implicit Religion? A Study in Psychological Type Theory and Measurement (P 169)
Since 1978, some of the key members of the “Bailey school of implicit religion,” along, always, with some first-timers, have congregated for a weekend conference during May at Denton Hall, to practise the study of implicit religion and to shape and discuss the findings of their research within that field. This paper argues that they can be conceptualized as themselves comprising some sort of a religious group, or as we might call it, a church. Drawing on psychological type theory to provide a theoretical framework and empirical methodology through which different religious expressions can be profiled, this study compares the psychological type profile of 31 members of the “church” of Implicit Religion with data from previous studies reporting the psychological type profile of 327 Anglican churchgoers and of 75 practising British Druids. All three of these varied traditions attract more introverts than extraverts and more judging types than perceiving types. While both Anglican congregations and Druidic festivals attract more feeling types than thinking types, the “church” of Implicit Religion is a church for thinking types. While Anglican congregations attract more sensing types than intuitive types, both Druidic festivals and the “church” of Implicit Religion provide a context for intuitive types. The dichotomous preferences within the “church” of Implicit Religion favour introversion (71%), intuition (77%), thinking (65%), and judging (74%). Indeed the combined INTJ preference accounts for 32% of the participants at the “Church of Implicit Religion”, compared with 2% of Anglican churchgoers, 11% of practising British Druids, and 1.4% of the British population. The distinctiveness of this INTJ profile may help to account for the rich diversity and strong individuality within the Church of Implicit Religion.
Verticality as Non-Religious Spirituality (P 191)
Spirituality is often perceived as a synonym for religion. In this article, I would like to point to some alternative definitions of spirituality grounded in Max Scheler’s philosophical anthropology. Scheler states that the essence of a human being is not exhausted by practical intelligence, as though it was the culmination of a gradational anthropology. The distinctive principle characterizing the human way of being, is “the spirit” (der Geist). At the centre of its various manifestations is a person, with its freedom, its “openness to the world.” Spirituality can therefore become a symbol of searching for the meaning of life. Thus, the spiritual dimension (also called the vertical dimension, in the light of “deep” ideas and “high” ideals) of human life, represents an area for the development of our potential. The paper outlines this understanding of spirituality, and explores in particular its connection with sport and education.
Abstracts of Vol XVI, no. 1, 2013
The Tenacity of the God-Problem: The Notion of God in Implicit Religion (P 1)
Whereas the concept of implicit religion relates to the emergence of new religious attitudes within, and apart from, explicitly religious traditions, the god-problem presents itself as an issue of particular concern, especially when it seems to be irrelevant. To shed light on this problem the paper concentrates on the formation of god-symbols and the relations between them by taking into consideration that the dynamics of cultural reality generates its own god-symbols. Since this process necessarily leads to the one symbol of cultural reality, it compels us to think of this symbol as the ultimately one god-symbol which collects all other god-symbols as its elements, to the effect that it precedes them in terms of measure and principle. The paper discusses some of the ramifications of this symbol by focusing on its meaning in religious traditions, as well as in connection with doctrinal considerations which accompany and mark the emergence of implicit religion.
It Isn’t Just about the Money: The Implicit Religion of Amway Corporation (P 27)
Half-way along the continuum linking religious and secular organizations can be found quasi-religious organizations, an example of hybridization characterized by the concurrence of commercial activity and symbolic practices connected with an implicitly religious dimension. Amway Corporation (a company operating in the direct-selling sector) is a representative example. This article presents the findings of ethnography carried out in Amway’s Italian context. In particular, it dwells on qualitative interviews conducted with sales operatives. From an analysis of the textual corpus, it becomes clear that belonging to the organization implies an experience of identity-transformation analogous to that of religious conversion.
A Fourth Time of Trial: Towards an Implicit and Inclusive American Civil Religion (P 47)
This article revisits Robert Bellah’s conception of civil religion in America (using his methodology of deconstructing presidential addresses and other important political discourses), to posit that America is in the midst of a fourth time of trial, for which consensus on American identity and meaning in the world is in jeopardy. To that end, I revisit Bellah’s third time of trial to account for salient themes that have been added to American civil religion resulting from this period. Next, I analyse the public discourse of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama regarding the impact of 9/11 on American attitudes towards Muslims in America, to determine how the tenets of American civil religion have been affirmed, challenged, and critiqued in this time of trial, arguing for the need of a more implicit and inclusive understanding of civil religion. Finally, I suggest examples of Muslim Americans contributing to the broadening of recognizably American identity that aligns with the ways in which the post-9/11 presidents have made the case for an increase in American tolerance and diversity.
Spirituality and Religious Tolerance (P 65)
Claims of exclusive possession of the truth within Western Christianity have often been associated with intolerance of other religions. Over the past 40 years, an increased number of people around the world have described themselves as “spiritual” rather than as “religious”. As some forms of spirituality do not involve the acceptance of particular doctrines as truths, it might be expected that the spiritual might be more tolerant of various religious perspectives than those committed to a particular religion. An analysis of data from 40 countries around the globe, gathered in the International Social Survey Program (2008), shows that whether those who described themselves as spiritual were more tolerant than those who described themselves as religious, or those who said they were neither spiritual nor religious were more tolerant, varied from one country to another. The data shows that “spirituality” is sometimes associated with belief in God, sometimes not. In a number of countries where spirituality was not widely associated with belief in God, spirituality was associated with greater religious tolerance. However, in several countries where spirituality was associated with belief in God, those who described themselves as neither religious nor spiritual were the most tolerant. The data demonstrates the varied nature of “spirituality” and “religion” and suggests that the level of tolerance is partly dependent on the contexts in which the expressions of religion and spirituality have been developed.
The Association Between Suicidal Ideation, Explicit Religion and Implicit Religion: An Empirical Enquiry Among 13 to 15 Year-old Adolescents (P 93)
In his analysis of the construct “implicit religion” Edward Bailey speaks of those individuals “who believe in Christianity” but who do not display the behaviours of explicit religion, such as church attendance. A recent research tradition has tried to operationalize this understanding of implicit religion by studying those who believe that they can be a Christian without going to church. A longer established research tradition has demonstrated the association between explicit religiosity and a lower level of suicidal ideation. The aim of the present study is to test the hypothesis that implicit religiosity (in the sense of believing that you can be a Christian without going to church) is also associated with a lower level of suicidal ideation. Data provided by a sample of 25,726 13- to 15- year-old adolescents fail to support this hypothesis.
Abstracts of Vol XV, no. 4, 2012 (Special Issue)
“Spiritual Labour”: Working on the Spiritual Marketplace and Producing Spirituality (P 395)
Preliminary remark: the concept of “implicit religion”: does implicit religion really exist?
“Implicit religion” religion has been abused by both adherents and critics of the concept. A major point of confusion and debate has been whether it exists or not: is it legitimate to label phenomena that do not match common sense understandings of religion as such? Does the term not imply that everything is religious? Can one really pinpoint manifestations of implicit religion in the world around us?
Such “takes” on implicit religion have missed the point of the concept. The application of the term is not part of an effort to define what the essence of religion is, or to establish that everything around us is religious. Implicit religion does not exist beyond scholarship; it is an analytical concept, which can yield refreshing insights. The concept can offer ways to connect fields that are often seen as distinct (e.g. technology and faith, or work, economic capital and spirituality). It can reveal that ritual and worship are not limited to institutionalised religions, and that religious activity can be concerned with praxis, bodily experiences, ambitions and expertise, rather than just with beliefs and elevated commitments. In my talk, I shall argue that the concept of implicit religion needs sharpening and re-definition, and above all empirical studies that can underline its continued usefulness for social scientific scholarship.
On Method: A Foundation for Empirical Research on Implicit Religion (P 407)
Innsbruck University, Institute of Psychology
Implicit Religion can be used as a hermeneutical tool for interpreting reality (IR-as-tool), or it can aim to describe, explain and predict aspects of the social world (IR-as-theory). The second approach demands the formulation of a theory, including a definitional core and related assumptions. IR-as-theory can be evaluated through methodical empirical investigation. In this paper, a foundation for empirical research on IR is outlined. A post-empiricist, constructivist epistemological background for doing research on IR is suggested. The need of explication and definition is argued, as is the necessity of anchoring IR in nomological frameworks by determining convergence with and divergence from related concepts. The process of operationalization is described, taking into account different levels (content, structure, function) and units (individual, organizational, institutional, social) of analysis. Finally, the requirement of testability is addressed. To determine a theory’s viability, theoretical claims have to be translated into empirically falsifiable hypotheses. Falsification can indicate biased or erroneous assumptions, whereas accumulation of support for theoretically deduced hypotheses corroborates the viability of the theory. In conclusion, it is proposed that, although initially reducing the complexity of IR, empirical research will enhance the understanding of Implicit Religion, raise valuable new questions, inspire further exploration and suggest constructive applications of the theory of IR.
The Emergence of Post-dogmatic Religion (P 423)
University of Agder, Norway
Historically, religion in Western Europe has tended to be defined by churches which distinguish themselves doctrinally. Therefore, religion is commonly thought of in doctrinal, cognitive terms. However, since the Second World War ended by affirming democracy and human rights, the pedagogical system has been subject to a silent revolution, and consequently, religion has been subject to a subtle change. New generations have been taught to question authorities, including religious ones. Religion has become regarded less as allegiance to doctrines and more as an emotional affiliation. This post-dogmatic stance is not implicitly superficial, volatile or egocentric. It may be intense, integrated and social. It is however related to other types of networks and media than those of the traditional churches, and therefore more difficult to trace sociologically.
Nominal Christian Adherence: Ethnic, Natal, Aspirational (P 439)
Senior Research Fellow, University of Kent
It is the desire for belonging, not believing, that explains why so many apparently non-religious people who do not believe in even the minimal tenets of organized religion will claim a religious identity in specific contexts. This paper draws on qualitative longitundial empirical research seeking to explain that claim through exploring mainstream religious belief and identity in Euro-American countries. What is often described as nominal, fuzzy, or marginal adherence is far from an empty category, but one loaded with significance and similar to an ever-present, implicit religious oritentation described by Durkheim. The author develops nominalism as characterised by a lack of a strong belief in a higher power, and indifference towards churches, but an (irregular) adherence to religion as a significant cultural, familial, and moral marker.
Playing with Religion in Contemporary Theatre (P 457)
University of Tilburg, Netherlands
Contemporary theatre sometimes uses religious language, symbols and poses. What do these references mean? Reflection on four productions shows the usefulness of tools developed in the study of liturgy. First, this helps to produce an account of the roles of the sacred and of community in theatre shows. Secondly, this throws light on the appearance of religion in “liquid modernity.” Thirdly, the study of religion in theatre shows how boundaries between fields are fluid&emdash;not only between arts and religion, but also between the filed of arts and the academic field. Both deal with the significance of religion in a world where religious traditions are questioned and used, both in and outside the religious sphere.
Theorizing the Sacred: the Role of the Implicit in Yearning “Away” (P 477)
Erasmus University, Rotterdam
Existentially, what is it to live within the secular without the sacred? In the absence of religion, can secular frames of reference provide worthwhile sources of significance? For Charles Taylor, “religious longing, the longing for and response to a more-than-immanent transformation perspective ... remains a strong independent source of motivation in modernity.” In line with this contention, I argue that the secular is frequently taken to be inadequate: to self-deflate. This essay applies a range of arguments: the role played by ideals, the implicit, the yearning emanating from the imperfect (that is, the secular frame of reference); and the roles played by what the perfect (that is, the sacred) has to promise. Rather than being some kind of end-point (self-sustaining, self-containing, self-limiting) the secular frame of reference readily generates momentum towards, sometimes into, the “truly” perfect. The notion of “a secular age” has to be qualified accordingly.
The Concepts of Implicit and Non-Institutional Religion: Theoretical Implications (P 523)
(Formerly) Department of Sociology, University of Reading, UK
If man is an animal religiosum this suggests that religion is rooted in evolved cognitive and emotional structures of the human brain and mind. Although obviously a cultural system, which takes extraordinarily varied form across different cultures, the application of evolutionary theory and evolutionary psychology to the understanding and explanation of religion, which has become increasingly prevalent in the last decade or so, is potentially a fruitful line of investigation. Rather than religion involving the transcending of our biological nature, as Luckmann argued, this approach would see religion as rooted in that biological nature. There are two rather different stances within evolutionary psychology, namely that which sees religion as a by-product of otherwise adaptive traits, and that which sees religion as itself adaptive, either at the individual or at the social level. These may have rather different implications for the concepts of implicit and non-institutional religion. These concepts might seem to relate more closely to more fundamental cognitive proclivities, rather than to socially adaptive and, consequently, institutionalised forms. The study of implicit and non-institutional forms of religion might thus throw considerable light on such deeply rooted factors. Here a number of fundamental cognitive mechanisms that may be relevant for the concepts of implicit and non-institutionalised religion are briefly examined. From this it is concluded that it may be time to discard a unitary definition of religion as such and concentrate instead on those diverse aspects of what has for so long inevitably defied attempts at coherent definition.
Qualifying Secular Sacralizations (P 533)
Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands)
We propose a model for qualifying the experiences that people have with “free floating objects and events of religion.” The theories of implicit religion or non-religion do not offer such a refinement. With the help of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age we conceptualize both religion and secularity in a positive way. Using Meerten ter Borg’s theory, we distinguish within the secular field three degrees of religiosity that are rather near to religion in the strict sense: (1) functional equivalents of religion, (2) moments of sacralisation, and (3) fragments of sacralization. Some examples and analogies confirm the adequacy of this model.
Future Directions in the Sociology of Non-Institutional Religion (P 553)
Sociology of Religion, University of Leiden
A shift is taking place in the religious field from collective, institutional, and tradition-bound religion to increasingly individual, non-institutional, and post-traditional religious forms. This article examines how the sociology of religion has responded to this empirical development, paying special attention to two issues to which Meerten Ter Borg has contributed, namely the typologisation of the various modes of non-institutional religion and the foundation of non-institutional religion in human nature. I suggest that the sociology of non-institutional religion can advance, particularly if it adopts a substantial definition of religion, opens up for co-operation with cognitive scholars, and turns its attention to religious bricolage, the modes of belief, and the effect of the internet on non-institutional religion.
Beyond (P 571)
University of Leiden, Netherlands
After years of fruitful debate on “implicit religion” it is worth asking, “Where did it bring us?” It led to a focus on “religious,” on sense-making aspects in fields where they might have been least expected. I was able, for example, to point out strong traces of “implicit religiosity” in the worlds of economics and medicine. I also suggested implicit religious tendencies in art, the media and in politics. I acknowledged a strong connection between sense-making and power. So I became a bit notorious in the Netherlands as someone who labeled practically anything as having some sort of religion, from spontaneous adoration and mourning (Lady Di), to football.
Standing on the shoulders of giants and in co-operation with colleagues, I developed such theoretical concepts as “transcendence and ontological security,” to clarify how similar phenomena could appear in such diverse fields. It all boils down to this. People need sense-making systems in all fields of human activity. They are, however, both able to and willing, to a larger or lesser extent, to transcend the limits of their particular sense-system or world-view. But this extraordinary capacity for transcendence also endangers their peace of mind, their “ontological security.” I elaborated on the ways in which individuals and collectives find the balance between these two inescapable poles of human existence, which, to a milder or fiercer degree, hangs in the nexus of the tremendum and fascinosum. It is here that the ideas of non-institutional and implicit religion are just starting to flower.
Abstracts of Vol XV, no. 3, 2012
“Punk Rock Is My Religion”: the spirituality of Straight Edge punks (P 259)
University of Stirling, Scotland
Considering and engaging with spiritual identity and practices, particularly within today’s modern Western societies, often religious/secular divide, and has rightly been at the fore of much academic consideration of late. For there are a number of newly emerging forms of spirituality (both in terms of practice and of identity) that are in many ways sidestepping that paradigm and creating a new approach to religion, the secular, and spirituality. Research amongst Straight Edge punks has revealed a specifically “post-secular” approach to these concerns and ideas. This is a spiritual identity located firmly within a secular (one could even argue, profane) subculture. Their wilfully syncretic approach to spirituality is deliberately mingled with secular practices and ideas as they refuse to acknowledge distinctions or borders. This article aims to explore and locate the implicit and explicit approaches to religion and spirituality, both as it is found and practiced within Straight Edge punk and within the wider theoretical concerns of sociology of religion.
“The Parish Must Be Where The People Are”: a study of a parish shopping-centre project, viewed as communication (P 289)
Collegium for Advanced Study, University of Helsinki
During the last decades religiosity in Western countries has both decreased in its public forms and increased in the form of individuals’ interest in spiritual matters. Having a connection with members is challenging, even if crucially central, to all religious communities. That was the aim of the development project of the Olari parish, conducted in the Iso Omena shopping centre in Finland. This article investigates this entire shopping centre project (not only its communication) from the perspective of communication: what was the message that the parish wanted to send out to people, and what messages did the people receive? The theoretical framework of the article includes the perspective of communication as a multifaceted and process-natured phenomenon. The data includes 418 interviews. The discussion on the findings includes both theoretical and practical conclusions.
Freemasonry Through the Eyes of Anglican Clergy: insights from Implicit Religion? (P 339)
Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit, University of Warwick
St Mary’s Centre, Wales, UK
The nature of the relationship between the Christian churches and Freemasonry has been controversial in England since the latter emerged in an organised form with the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717. Unlike some other Christian Churches, the Church of England has never consistently pronounced against Freemasonry, although a range of views are evident as illustrated by the General Synod Debate in 1987. In part the debate concerns the extent to which Freemasonry itself functions as an alternative religion. The present study approaches Freemasonry from the perspective of 518 Archdeacons, Area Deans and Rural Deans in the Church of England, and explores the connection between their conceptions of Freemasonry and Ninian Smart’s (1989, 1996) seven recognisable components of religion articulated as the ritual or practical dimension, the doctrinal or philosophical dimension, the mythic or narrative dimension, the experiential or emotional dimension, the ethical or legal dimension, the organisational or social dimension, and the material or artistic dimension. The significance of the results is then discussed with regard to implicit religion and perceived relationships between Freemasonry and the Church of England.
Abstracts of Vol XV, no. 2, 2012
The Return of the Repressed? Psychoanalysis as Spirituality
The University of Central Florida, Orlando
Recent years have witnessed an increasing embrace of forms of religion and spirituality within the field of psychoanalysis. This paper examines the emergence of the phenomena of “psychoanalysis as spirituality,” namely the radical claims, advanced by a number of influential contemporary analysts, that the unconscious has an inherently mystical dimension and that psychoanalysis can function as a modern secular spiritual practice. It creatively adopts Freud’s concept of the “return of the repressed,” the return of desires that, being socially unacceptable, have been excluded from consciousness, to suggest that the current conflation of psychoanalysis and spirituality signifies a recovery of the hidden historic religious and esoteric origins of psychoanalysis. It concludes that the wider post-modern shift within psychoanalysis has undermined oppositions between the scientific and the religious, the objective and subjective, the ego and id, and created a contemporary context in which these repressed esoteric roots can manifest in culturally acceptable ways.
Sounding the Depth of the Secular: Tillich with Thoreau
By examining some of the thought of Paul Tillich and Henry David Thoreau, this essay articulates a version of the concept of depth that is socially critical. For both thinkers, depth is a concept that works to disrupt the rigid division between the secular and the religious. Such criticism, of a structure so fundamental to modern experience, suggests that the concept of depth is not simply a mystifying supporter of established power. Instead, it can play an important role in a religious, yet progressive, critical social thought.
Sport as (Spi)rituality
Universitą Roma Tre, Dipartimento di Scienze dell”Educazione
This essay deals with the relationship between sport and (spi)rituality from an anthropological and sociological point of view. There are several convergences but also many differences between the two spheres. However, the affinities appear to be more numerous and meaningful than the divergences. In particular the presence of prayer during sporting events is stressed to foreground the notion of games as a metaphor of life. Another significant role is played by symbols whose religious content is evident. The author refers, particularly, to the significance of the contribution made by Turner’s approach to the transition from rite to spectacle (or theatre).
Implicit Religion: What Might That Be?
Visiting Professor, Glyndwr University
The term “Implicit Religion” was (effectively) first coined in 1969, when it was adopted in preference to its predecessor, “secular religion.” The historical and ideological contexts of the concept will be sketched, before three definitions (or, better, “descriptions”) of the intended meaning are offered. Three studies, undertaken as test-cases for the utility of the concept, will be briefly reported, along with the subsequent development of study in the area of implicit religion, and its relationship with explicit religion and spirituality.
Humanitarian Physicians’ Views on Spirituality
Department of Psychology, Bentley University, Waltham MA
The role of spirituality in medicine has become a focal point for an ongoing international debate and conversation. How do physicians who are recognized as outstanding humanitarians define the importance of spirituality, in their lives and in their professional work? Fourteen winners of the American Medical Association Foundation’s Excellence in Medicine: Pride in the Profession Award were interviewed to ascertain their views on spirituality. This article focuses on the doctors’ perceptions of how their spiritual underpinnings affect their lives and work in medicine. All of the doctors felt spirituality was important to their own experience and to the task of understanding their patients holistically. A significant theme tying together the physicians’ views was that each one acknowledged that spirituality was a part of their undergirding support system, both in their private lives and in their profession. All of the doctors lived by a creed of “doing good while doing well by the patient”&emdash;inside or outside of traditional spiritual terminology.
Another Kind of Implicitness in Religion: beliefs and practices of some older Christian women disaffiliates
This article considers a group of older women disaffiliates from a Christian church and the use they continue to make of Christian goods and services, although disaffiliated. Davie speaks of “vicarious believers” in a number of recent writings: the notion that while people may no longer attend church, they still rely on the vicarious believers to maintain the church, its beliefs and practices, on their behalf. I shall describe one such case, but this article focuses mainly on two other groups of women, who do not look to the churches (or certainly not to churchgoers) for any form of believing or belonging, yet who could be seen as maintaining connections with explicitly Christian beliefs and practices. I examine the reasons why, and argue that all these women, although disaffiliated, continue the practice of both the explicitly sacred in some form, and the secular sacred, through caring for others, a more implicit form of religion. Thereby, they contribute to the social and cultural resources of the communities in which they live.
The Enduring Problem of Dualism: Christianity and Sports
Good Game: Christianity and the Culture of Sports by Shirl James Hoffman. 2010.
Waco, TX: Baylor University Press.
Arguments on how religion interfaces with sports are not new, and in particular, sports activity itself has been characterized as religion, namely, “cultural,” “natural,” “civil,” and “folk.” In this paper, I want to consider a recent proposal by Shirl Hoffman in Good Game: Christianity and the Culture of Sports. Hoffman attempts to reimagine how the Christian religion and sports should relate (on account of the problems of modern muscular Christianity), by justifying the sacredness of sports, in order to heal or put it back together; he appeals to sport’s intrinsic religious or hierarchical spiritual value. I will argue that, in his effort to redress the problems of modern muscular Christianity, Hoffman in the end falls prey to the same problem of dualism that has beset modern muscular Christianity. Specifically, dualism for Hoffman is both metaphysical and eschatological, both of which affect how he construes the human player and play itself.
Abstracts of Vol XV, no. 1, 2012
Family Resemblances Twixt Implicit Religion and Post-modernity: a fecund framework for engaging new times (P 5)
Department of Theology, Philosophy and Religious Studies, Liverpool Hope University
Paralleling an elusive object in constant mutation, one must apply a labile and sinuous kind of thinking process, one that does not fear repetitions.
[Michel Maffesoli (1996: x) The Contemplation of the World]
This article explores parallels and convergences between implicit religion and post-modernity. The elective affinity between them is considered as a constructive combined “take” on late modern religion, culture and society. The aim is primarily to identify some overlap, some family resemblances, between key post-modern concepts and a number of the central themata of implicit religion, construed as a perspective or point of view on the human social and cultural condition. Drawing upon a variety of contributors to post-modern theory and implicit religion studies, this meta-analysis illuminates ways in which the “third way” conception of sacrality (cf. Bailey), inherent in the implicit religion (IR) perspective, resonates with the “liquidity” (cf. Bauman) of post-modernity (POMO). This holistic IR-POMO point of view, it is suggested, offers a challenging heuristic alternative to the “static polarities” (cf. Elias) of “gnostic thought” (cf. Jonas), and a “post-secular” mode of creative resistance to modernist hyper-secularism.
Implicit Religion and the Meaning Making Model (P 25)
Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut
This article explores the potential contributions of a model of meaning making (Park, 2010) to the emerging study of implicit religion. A model of meaning making is first explicated; this model describes the ways in which meaning is central to human beings in both their everyday lives and in stressful circumstances and delineates global and situational levels of meaning. Previous applications of the meaning making model to religiousness/spirituality are discussed. The concept of implicit religion is introduced, and implications of its integration into a broader religious meaning-making model are considered. Suggestions for future research on implicit religion and meaning-making conclude the article.
Criminalized Women and Twelve Step Programs: Addressing Violations of the Law With a Spiritual Cure (P 37)
Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous hold a uniquely institutionalized status within the United States correctional system. Twelve Step meetings are held in rehabilitation and detoxification programs and inside prisons; Courts often mandate Twelve Step participation for parolees; and women who have been under correctional supervision may need to show proof of attending Twelve Step meetings in order to regain custody of their children. Drawing on four years of fieldwork with a community of criminalized women in Massachusetts, this paper highlights the convergence of cultural categories of illness, crime and sin as well as the interpenetration of social institutions of medicine, law and religion in the United States’ response to drug addiction. Arguing that AA / NA should properly be seen as a religious movement, this paper questions common contemporary assumptions regarding non-denominational “spirituality” as a vaguely universal and benign therapeutic modality.
We Have an Imaginary Friend in Jesus: What Can Imaginary Companions Teach Us About Religion? (P 61)
This article investigates the plausibility of using studies of imaginative play to illuminate and explain the contemporary prevalence and popularity of religious imaginal dialogue. Emphasis is given to conceptual considerations arising from the application of recent findings in the neuroscience of social cognition and cognitive theories of childhood development to the study of religion.
Believing Beyond Religion: Secular Transcendence and the Primacy of Believing (P 81)
Theologians have traditionally sought to correlate the transcendent and the secular. I identify three models; the Revelation, the Immanentist and the Ethical. All three I judge to be lacking in some important aspects: the Revelation and Immanentist models because they presuppose a metaphysical transcendence without justification; the Ethical because its exponents either do not explain the significance of human valuing, or because they seek to move back to a more traditional metaphysical concept. The secular transcendence which I am arguing for allows a primacy to believing in the creation of meaning. Such meaning cannot be derived directly from a random and contingent world. We create meaning on the basis of our own self-awareness, the cultural contexts in which we are nurtured, and the natural world. We create an existential reality which we inhabit “as if” it were real, believing it to be so. Such a believing, while wholly secular, recognizes religion as an important tool in the creation of meaning, provided that its epistemological limitations are acknowledged.
Abstracts of Vol XIV, no. 3, September 2011
Protagoras’s Assertion Revisited: American Atheism and its Accompanying Obscurities (P 257)
Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University
How scholars (and others) culturally frame what we mean by atheism matters when it comes to our analysis of it. Because we tend to frame it as something quite simple and certain—as a firm conviction that God does not exist, in other words—we seldom examine our presumptions in doing so or truly appreciate atheism’s connection to the oft-underestimated degree of religious uncertainty among Americans. We also tend to overlook the fact that the variety of atheism with which Americans are most familiar is actually one among conceivable others, a reality that this article examines with respect to its “official” iterations and then more fully in terms of what I call “non-official” or “lived” atheism. For this latter category, I explore two strands of atheist literature—atheist conversion accounts and atheist spirituality books—to argue that, at this popular level, atheists’ cultural frames are surprisingly similar to those deployed by other Americans, including religious ones, when thinking about their own lives.
Levitating the Pentagon: Exorcism as Politics, Politics as Exorcism (P 295)
On 21 October 1967 Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, and Ed Sanders of the band The Fugs, and others, organized an “exorcism” of the Pentagon in which several thousand demonstrators participated. Most historians have regarded this event as “a put on” or at best as “performance art.” This article takes seriously the nominal status of the ritual as a “sacred” or “magical” event. It argues that the organizers were utilizing innovative strategies of social action to alter the terms of debate regarding the Vietnam War.
Inasmuch as these strategies drew on “secret” insights into the nature of social reality, they were seen as “magical” and in continuity with pre-modern esoteric traditions. Finally, it is argued that the new left turned to such tactics out of a deep frustration with traditional forms of democratic political engagement.
“A Quaint and Dangerous Anachronism”? Who Supports the (Dis)Establishment of the Church of England? (P 319)
This article synthesizes the contemporary evidence base for attitudes towards the Establishment of the Church of England, both as a principle and in terms of some of its specific manifestations. Secondary analysis is undertaken of 59 surveys of the general population, initially at headline level and subsequently by demographic sub-groups. Results from 22 studies of committed Anglicans (laity and clergy) are then summarized, for comparative purposes. Establishment and disestablishment do not emerge from this review as pressing issues, about which the majority of people feel especially strongly or are very knowledgeable. Nor are they necessarily holistic concepts, individual components being “ picked and mixed” at will. There is no obvious groundswell of opinion for radical and urgent change, and thus little prospect of early steps to sever church-state links completely. Establishment is part of England’s religious furniture which is, in large measure, taken for granted or grudgingly accepted. It no longer entails much commitment and thus fails to meet the classic definition of implicit religion.
Assaying the Pope: Francis Bacon’s Interrogation of Religion (P 343)
Critical & Contextual Studies, University of Chester
The artist Francis Bacon vehemently denied that he was religious and yet in his art he employed numerous examples of Christian symbols, such as the Crucifixion and the Pope. The use of religious symbols by artists who profess either atheism ora mere lack of a religious interest is uncontroversial. However, Bacon did not use isolated examples of religious symbols: he employed them throughout his career. His use was ongoing and frequent and this raises questions about his motivation. I am not disputing his atheism but believe that his attitude towards religion was reactive and complex. Religion, with the existential issues it raises, needs to be addressed and this is what his art does. Bacon worked with and through religious ideas and symbols to express his unbelief. One indisputable and paradoxical notion is that, in order to articulate his unbelief, he was dependent on the very tradition that he denounced. Bacon spent the early part of his career, particularly the 1930s and ’40s, articulating his interpretations of the Crucifixion, before moving on to the symbol of the Pope, a subject that he concentrated on in the 1950s. For reasons of space I have limited my study to the symbol of the Pope. In his pursuit of the Pope, Bacon traps and strips him down to reveal “the scream of the abyss.”
Abstracts of Vol XIV, no. 2, June 2011
Incarnating the Money-Sign: notes on an implicit theopolitics (P 129)
Principal, Ripon College Cuddesdon & the Oxford Ministry Course
This paper initiates an investigation into the theological and political dynamics surrounding the nature and function of money. Contrary to views of money’s spontaneous emergence and efficacy, or ideas of its intrinsic worth, I present the understanding of money as an authoritatively instituted sign. Whether emperor, monarch, or state, authorizing institutions and discourses are necessary to render money’s performance successful in a given territory. Since in our day this implicates the nation-state, predictions of the state’s demise in light of financial market preponderance appear incoherent. In broaching an analysis of the many elements of money’s function in the nexus of power, politics, and economy, I propose the Christian concept of incarnation as a useful hermeneutic. Incarnational dynamics shed light on attempts at an enforced codification of reality by money’s semiotic institution by the powers, and open up a space for potential critique.
There and Back Again: Transhumanist Evangelism in Science Fiction and Popular Science (P 141)
Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Manhattan College
Popular science, and science-fiction depictions of immortality through uploading minds, are “authentic fakes”: secular practices that do authentic religious work for transhumanist communities. Although in the 1980s science fiction departed from this practice and rejected transhuman promises of “mind-uploading” and immortality through technology, in the twenty-first century science fiction has rejoined pop science as a genre advocating transhumanist salvation. Accelerando by Charles Stross and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow illustrate the powerful way in which science fiction once again normalizes radical visions of our future, and thereby encourages belief in key transhuman concepts such as a scarcity-free economy, the Singularity, and an immortality obtained by uploading human consciousnesses into machines.
Boots, Indecency, and Secular Sacred Spaces: Implicit Religious Motives Underlying an Aspect of Airline Dress Codes (P 173)
Department of Linguistics & English Language, Lancaster University
In this paper I shall draw on the distinction between “decent” and “indecent”, a pair of concepts highlighted in religious studies by Althaus-Reid (2000), and also on the role of ritual in delimiting the sacred in a secular context (Smith 1987, Knott 2005, 2007, Knott & Franks 2007), in order to show how the former can be seen to underlie a small part of the (female) flight attendant dress codes of commercial passenger airlines. It will be my argument that a widely adopted move away from allowing flight attendants to wear knee-high boots, especially inside the aircraft, stems from a growing cultural evaluation of these boots as “indecent,” and a simultaneous conceptualization of the aircraft’s interior as a secular sacred space. Using this case study, I hope to illustrate that at least one aspect of the contemporary culture of air travel can be usefully explored in terms of implicit religion (Bailey 1998), and a spatial approach to the sacred. I shall also suggest that the airline example has clear parallels in some other secular contexts.
In section 1, I shall outline the relevant aspects of the theory of implicit religion and show how they relate to the notions of “decency” and “indecency.” I shall then, in section 2, sketch out a brief history of knee-high boots within airline dress codes, before moving on to argue, in section 3, that they have become progressively entangled in a largely unconscious associative relationship with “indecency.” In section 4, I shall draw attention to the requirement of many airlines that their flight attendants should remove their knee-high boots once they have boarded the aircraft, and I shall argue that this, in conjunction with other boundary markers and rituals, underlines the implicit sacrality of the aircraft cabin. Finally, in section 5, I shall anticipate and respond to some possible objections to this analysis.
Charles: An Implicitly Religious Confusion (P 193)
Just as acceptance of explicitly religious systems and membership of officially religious organizations can give rise to psychological conflict, as well as helping to resolve it, so implicitly religious conformity can produce epistemological conflict and confusion, in the event of cognitive dissonance. The case of Charles, employed by a large international bank, illustrates this, and draws attention to the ethical dimension of organizational religions—and of Implied Religion itself.
Abstracts of Vol XIV, no. 1, April 2011
Culture Shock as Implicit Religion in the Romantic Tradition (P 1)
Oulu City Council, and Oulu University
This article will examine the religious dimensions to the phenomenon of Culture Shock. Drawing upon a functionalist definition of religion, it will argue, with some nuances, that Culture Shock sits in the Romantic tradition of Cultural Relativism and that this is best understood in religious terms. It will also compare Culture Shock to Religious Experience and Conversion Experience, further demonstrating its implicit religiosity. It will recommend changes in the way it is taught at many universities, as part of the burgeoning field of Intercultural Education.
Implicit Religion and the Quest for Meaning: the relationship between purpose in life and conventional (Christian) and unconventional (paranormal) transcendent beliefs
Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit, The University of Warwick
A range of theoretical perspectives postulate that religion, in both its implicit and explicit manifestations, is associated with the quest for meaning and purpose in life. This theoretical perspective is examined by the administration of the Purpose in Life Test (developed by Crumbaugh & Maholick) to a sample of 139 undergraduate students from Northern Ireland and Wales, alongside measures concerned with contrasting views of transcendence: the Revised Paranormal Belief Scale (developed by Tobacyk) and the Scale of Attitude towards Christianity (developed by Francis). The data demonstrate that purpose in life is significantly related to conceptualisations of transcendence. The implications of these fascinating findings for nuancing the construct of implicit religion are discussed.
Professional’s Calling: Mental Healthcare Staff Attitudes to Spiritual Care (P 23)
Spirituality Research Programme, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, and Staffordshire University
Mental health professionals enter the service with a desire to work to provide better outcomes for service users and carers. However sometimes the system gets in the way and produces unintended consequences. Recently service users have requested that the spiritual dimension of their lives be given greater attention, and this fits strongly with the recovery approach and its accent on service users being able to take control of their own lives.
Research undertaken at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust has found that staff across all professional groups have recognised the importance of spirituality and spiritual care and wish to receive greater guidance and education in how to respond to services user needs.
The Enchanting Dream of “Spiritual Capital” (P 67)
School of City & Regional Planning, Cardiff University
Spiritual capital has gained prominence in the past decade as the social capital of faith based organisations (FBOs). In a previous issue of Implicit Religion, Chris Baker and Jonathan Miles-Watson, of the William Temple Foundation (WTF), presented an exhaustive review of the relevant literature on social capital and spiritual capital, and proposed a notion of spiritual capital that includes religious culture motivating social action (Baker and Miles-Watson 2010). This interpretation has transformed the original notion of spiritual capital into a normative concept that seeks to celebrate spirituality rather than understand it. This paper presents a critical reflection on the implications of such an approach and argues for the differentiation and analysis of religious phenomena.
Response to Montemaggi’s Dream of Spiritual Capital (P 87)
William Temple Foundation
We are grateful for Francesca Montemaggi’s extended critique of our literature review. We are also grateful to the Editor of Implicit Religion for giving us the opportunity to respond to her critique. Our response will have two emphases. One is a review of Montemaggi’s interpretation of our original article. The other takes a broader and more thematic perspective.
Playing Games with Death: Reflections on the Irish Wake (P 93)
The symbolism of chaos which emerges from the “amusements” around which traditional Irish funerals were organized brings home an essential truth about corporate rituals: that they serve to focus our awareness of a global truth embodies within an articulated gesture of human meaning. In the act which signifies a specific dying, a message about all human life is encapsulated. The funeral is seen as a communication about survival. Examples of this are given, and it is argued that the structure of such ceremonies reveals the underlying function of ritual itself. Corporate rites present us with a paradigm of the use of chaos to clear a way for new kinds of order. In their three-fold configuration, rites of passage reveal the need for genuine beginnings to be preceded by actual endings.
Abstracts of Vol XIII, no. 3, November 2010
Towards a Common Sense Religion? The Young and Religion in Italy (P 261)
Università di Padova
The culture of pluralism, understood as the legitimation of the most diverse life options, seems to unite more and more both church-goers and non church-goers, even in a country like Italy where Catholicism still holds a position of “relative monopoly.” A research carried on with a sample of eight hundred Italian eighteen year old young people has highlighted their opinions about a few particularly “hot” questions inside Catholicism: women’s and homosexual people’s ordination, priests’ marriage, Holy Communion for divorced people who are re-marrying, the relation between various religions and truth. Although a few differences remain between those who regularly take part in religious rites and those who don’t, a “common sense religion” seems to be emerging which, through progressive erosion of the differences between these two groups, legitimates the freedom of choice for the individuals, especially for what concerns the ambit of the individual life.
Implicit Religion and Ordinary Prayer (P 275)
St Mary’s Centre, St Deiniol’s Library and Religions and Education Research Unit, University of Warwick
Research in implicit religion has been conducted in a wide range of contexts, including those commonly associated with explicit religion. This study explores ordinary prayer by analysing 1,067 prayer cards left in one rural church over a sixteenth-month period. The analysis is placed in theoretical contexts defined by the study of implicit religion and the study of ordinary prayer. It uses a conceptual framework which distinguishes between three aspects of ordinary—intercessory and supplicatory—prayer, defined as reference, intention, and objective (ap Siôn 2007), and explores areas relevant to implicit religion by drawing on Lord’s (2006) nine types of implicit religion. Results of the analysis show that specific concrete issues were not included in 30% of prayer requests, but in the 70% of requests where concrete contexts were provided, 29% cited illness and 20% death. Overall, there were more examples of primary control (55%) than secondary control (45%), and primary control was found more often in requests which had the prayer author as a key focus and in the categories of illness, growth, work, relationships, conflict or disaster, sport or recreation, travel and general requests. Secondary control was found mainly in death and the open intention category. These results, alongside the exemplification of categories, give rise to a number of hypotheses regarding ordinary prayer and implicit religion.
Exploring the Nexus between Wilderness and Therapeutic Experiences(P 295)
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, York St John University
This article was written in South Africa, where there are still tracts of wilderness in which people are able to spend a number of days away from the pressures of modern existence. The narrative draws from personal experiences in the wilderness, and explores aspects of the “call” of the wilderness for some, and links between wilderness experiences and effective psychotherapy. The cognitive freedom possible in the wilderness is contrasted with the ever-tightening influence of technology and “progress” on human well-being, providing a recurring theme. Shared metaphors, the nature of the journey and encounters with the self are explored in the contexts of the wilderness and therapy, and draw from a form of spiritual experience. Some of the emergent ideas are intended to be thought provoking, engaging the reader in questions about the promotion of well-being.
Superstition and Human Agency (P 307)
Institute of Education, University of Warwick
While much ink has been spilled on the phenomena of human (and indeed, avian) superstition, most of this attention has been focused on a process seen as somehow pejorative, as negative—as correlated with feelings of inadequacy or powerlessness, or with faulty understanding of science and causality. This paper proposes a different thesis: that there are some forms of superstition which actually reflect an exercise of human agency, of exertion of control over a universe which is perceived as capricious, rather than as predetermined or fated. To this end, a new system of classifying superstitious beliefs and practices is proposed, which categorises superstitions not on the purported outcome of the action but on the level of human agency involved. Positive active superstitions are based on the premise that willed human action can have an effect on the future.
You don’t have to go to church to be a good Christian: the implicit religion of rural Anglican churchgoers celebrating harvest (P 319)
Glyndŵr University, and University of Warwick
The notion that you don’t have to go to church to be a good Christian is accepted as an indicator of the form of implicit religiosity espoused by those who (in Bailey’s analysis) say that they “believe in Christianity.” The prevalence of this belief was examined in a sample of 1226 individuals attending harvest festival services in Anglican churches in rural Worcestershire. The data demonstrate that around two out of every three attenders (63%) endorsed this view of Christianity. The levels were highest among those who attended church less than six times a year (84%), and among those who never prayed (81%). Such high levels of endorsement among those who attend church for harvest festival services suggest that de-institutionalised implicit religion may be superseding commitment to conventional explicit religious attendance. This form of implicit religion could erode further the already weak connection between the rural church and rural society.
Abstracts of Vol XIII, no. 2, July 2010
New Environmental Movements and Implicit Religion: what faith might learn from the growth of Transition Initiatives. (P 129)
William Temple Foundation, Manchester, and Department of Religions & Theology, University of Manchester
The paper revisits an earlier article which drew parallels between New Social Movements and developing contextual theologies. It argues that a contemporary form of this debate is to be found in an examination of links between the Transition Initiatives Movement and Implicit Religion. It then employs three frameworks, the first two of which come from within the academic study of Implicit Religion, those of Prof Edward Bailey and Dr Karen Lord, and then a third framework developed by the author, to determine the extent to which the Transition movement can be identified with the motivations to be found within a religious setting. It concludes that there are indeed common themes at work as well as areas where faith can learn from the ideas and practices of this environmental discussion, but also significant differences that are to be acknowledged as those of faith engage with the Transition movement.
Agency of Child Imagery in the Ritual Abuse Scare
Institute of Philosophy & Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences
This paper seeks to uncover a hegemonic strategy of aligning different interest groups which exerted anti-Satanist social control practices during the 1980s and 1990s in the US and Britain. It will be argued that a variety of social movements succeeded in disseminating anti-Satanist discourse because they managed to link their particular agendas with the powerful imagery of the endangered children. Finally, in line with Durkheim, it will be demonstrated that childhood imagery functioned as a totemic figure in social reproductive processes during the ritual abuse moral panic.
Children’s Literature as Implicit Religion:The Concept of Grace unpacked (P 161)
Director of Education, The Church of England, Southwell & Nottingham Diocese
This article is a development of research into children’s literature that investigates how religious concepts are present in the writings of well-known children’s authors. Previous work has considered atonement theories and this considers the concept of grace. Grace is identified as unconditional love seen as forgiveness (without a demand for justice), moving on (without vengeance) and extravagant offering. These three hallmarks are used as a lens through which to scrutinise The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis), The Lord of the Rings (Tolkein) and the Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling). Grace is concluded to be a core concept within implicit religion.
Cultural Uniqueness and Implicit Religion (P 173)
University of Oulu, Finland
This article will argue that “uniqueness” can be understood as a form of Implicit Religion. This will be demonstrated through an analysis of the word and the use of fieldwork in two cultures in which “uniqueness” is a strong component of the nationalist discourse. In doing so, it will respond to serious and superficially persuasive criticisms of the idea that uniqueness relates to religion and, implicitly, of Implicit Religion as a concept. It will highlight the logically sustainable philosophical presuppositions underlying Implicit Religion and the false rationalist and unsustainable philosophical presuppositions underlying the critique. It will conclude that the critique itself would be fruitful pasture for Implicit Religion analysis.
On Creation Myths (P 195)
Department of Religious Studies, University of Winnipeg (retired)
Some of the methodological assumptions operative in this essay are: all faiths express themselves through a variety of forms. One can never observe a faith directly, but only through its expressions. A religion is a shared faith, expressing itself through particular manifestations that have sufficiently shared meanings. One of the forms through which any religion manifests itself is myth. By “myth” is meant a narrative told for the purpose of inculcating a particular sense of the meaning and purpose of life.
The Personality Cult of Prince: Purple Rain, Sex and the Sacred, and the Implicit Religion Surrounding a Popular Icon (P 151)
Department of Music and Drama, University of Huddersfield, UK
Prince is an artist who uses popular iconography to present himself as an icon of consumer culture, as a deified “rock god” worshipped by his fans, leading his audience like a preacher his congregation. His personality cult mixes spirituality and sexuality freely, and deals with issues of ecstasy and liberation, a transgressional approach that draws both controversy and public interest. This paper looks at the traditions that inform Prince’s work, and at what it means to call a pop star an icon within contemporary culture. It investigates the roles of physicality and sexuality in this process. It discusses to what extent popular musical culture has taken the place of religious practice within contemporary western culture. The paper investigates Prince’s semi-fictional character development, his manipulation of the star system, and how he uses popular iconography to blur the distinctions between spirituality and sexuality, the idealised performer and the real world, the sacred and the secular, and the human and the divine. It explores how he possesses, and is possessed by, the audience, who enter into the hollow vessel he offers up to his fans. It suggests that personality cults such as that of Prince, are a form of implicit religion, that they are breaking down the traditional distinctions between the secular and the sacred, and are part of the impact of post-modernity on religion.
Abstracts of Vol XIII, no. 1, April 2010
A New Paradigm for the Study of Religion: a re-examination (P 3)
University of New Brunswick
The assumptions of traditional secularization theory continue to be applied to contemporary religious experience. In an increasingly individualized society, and especially since the advent of the internet, it may be quite pointless to use such theory to explain religious life by comparing current religious experience with a more traditional religious past. This paper argues that the old secularization paradigm fails to consider ways that religious groups reflexively react to changing social circumstances, and that it does not explain ways that religion itself has changed in a globalized world. The idea of a new paradigm is re-examined with regard to its potential to understand contemporary religious life.
Faith and traditional capitals: defining the public scope of spiritual and religious capital – a literature review (P 17)
William Temple Foundation, Luther King House, Manchester
This discursive literature review was originally produced for the Leverhulme Trust in 2007 by the William Temple Foundation as a part of a research project to test the concept of religious capital (along with associated ideas of spiritual, faithful and religious social capital) with new empirical research. The research project aims also to explore emerging alternative paradigms to “capital” as a way of describing and evaluating the role and contribution of faiths to civil society. To that end, the article traces the historical development of the concept of social capital and its use by three influential thinkers in the field, namely Pierre Bourdieu, James Coleman and Robert Putnam. It then proceeds to map emerging developments in the construction of definitions of religious and spiritual capital (and including ideas of religious social and faithful capital). It concludes with an extended discussion concerning some of the public policy implications of this research field, including the emerging concept of secular spiritual capital and its contribution to discerning common core values within the public domain.
Constructing religion in unexpected places: phishers of men and women (P 71)
Department of Sociology, University of Warwick
This paper aims to respond positively to the criticism—sometimes expressed in forms of realism in Religious Studies—that social constructionist perspectives throw relatively little light on religion. These perspectives frame social and cultural phenomena as the result of the claims-making, negotiation and contestation that underlie all social processes, structures and interactions—both formal and informal. After considering the philosophical objections to constructionism, the paper will present a range of empirical evidence showing that investigation of the social processes involved in negotiating and challenging the meaning of religion should be central to sociological analysis of religious phenomena. Special attention will be given to the incidence of religion in unexpected places.
Towards a sociology of budō: studying the implicit religious issues (P 85)
University of Milano
Aikido is “Zen in motion,” while Zen is merely “Aikido at rest.”
(Kamata & Shimizu 1992, 5)
In the first part of the paper is described how the religious implication of Japanese budō can be studied sociologically. The author discusses the results of his research on aikidō gathered within and compared across training settings in Japan and Italy. Interviews and Internet data include US, France, and Malta. This research investigated whether a relationship exists between religious issues and points of emphasis in the training in martial arts where the spiritual perceptions among practitioners generate religious-related concepts. The methods employed here emphasize qualitative approaches, but connect them to quantitative approaches as well and can be useful to study a variety of religion-related issues in not strictly religious settings. Although this presentation is narrowed down to Japan, some of the ideas and theories can be applied to the traditions of other locations such as China, Korea, and the Philippines.
Abstracts of Vol XII, no. 3, November 2009
Canada’s Data-less Debate About Religion: The Precarious Role of Research in Identifying Implicit and Explicit Religion (P 251)
University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Scholars interested in the study of implicit religion often appear to work from the assumption that traditional forms of organised religion have become less pervasive, but that less visible and important religious expressions nonetheless persist. The argument has been particularly pertinent when observers have tried to understand what happens to religion in settings where secularisation seems apparent. A somewhat different pattern also warrants examination—where fairly overt or explicit expressions of religion are minimized by individuals and institutions, and defined as “implicit” even though the facts suggest otherwise. In this paper, the author shows how organised religion in Canada has known relative health since at the least the mid-1980s, complete with significant public participation. However, despite the data at hand, the media and most academics have held unwaveringly to a secularisation framework, depicting participation in organised religion as being in an ongoing free-fall, with the prevalent message one of decline and insignificance. A considerable gap has consequently come to exist between public perception and reality. The result is that objectively explicit religion has been relegated by meaning-makers to implicit religion—where it is depicted as being embraced by diminishing numbers and largely irrelevant to public life and discourse. The author concludes with a discussion of the implications of this “Canadian case study” of perception and deception for an understanding of religious developments elsewhere.
Implicit Religion in Popular Culture: the Religious Dimensions of Fan Communities (P 271)
Studies of the relationship between religion and popular culture are not new, and the past decade has seen a dramatic burgeoning of interest in this relationship. Explorations of everything from Star Trek to Elvis have appeared in the scholarly literature, often making comparative arguments regarding the religious dimensions of popular culture. However, when scholars explore the religious dimensions of fan communities, analyses tend to pathologize the implicitly religious dimensions of fan experience. The concept of “authenticity” is used to undermine and devalue the sacred spaces that fans create, raising the question of what it means to be authentically religious.
Helping Students See What Ordinarily Remains Hidden: How Implicit Religion Can Enrich Teaching (P 281)
Dept of Political Science, University of Victoria, Canada
Often, when teaching in fields focused on the exploration of human society, an instructor who is concerned with the pervasive societal importance of religion faces the challenge of students informed by a contrary cultural assumption about religion’s significance. The notion that religion is fundamentally severable from other spheres of life is taken for granted in modern liberal, secular society, but is, nonetheless, a highly problematic idea that hides the profound extent to which multiple forms of religious experience are manifested throughout that same society. In teaching about such humanistic topics as politics and religion, political theory, modern world history, and the 2008 United States presidential election, I have discovered that introducing students to implicit religion, and ‘parallel’ phenomena such as civil religion, offers them revealing tools with which to better grasp how, even within a seemingly secular milieu, humankind’s religious life intertwines with all domains of society. Accordingly, it is pedagogically enriching for students, and theoretically beneficial for the conceptualizing both of implicit religion and of religion more broadly, to discuss in the classroom such embodiments of implicit religion as: political and economic ideologies and practices, such as liberal capitalism and communism; nationalism; cultural mores; impassioned social movements such as environmentalism; popular music; and sports. This approach not only inspires students to critically evaluate the narrow concept of religion that is peculiar to modern society; it also makes concrete, intimate, and compelling, such phenomena as transcendence, the sacred, and ultimate commitments, thereby deepening students’ understanding of how religious experience imbues the whole of human life.
Faith and the Scientific Mind / Faith in the Scientific Mind: the implicit religion of science in contemporary Britain (P 303)
University of Cambridge.
Consultation at St George’s House, Windsor Castle, 11-12 February 2008: Social Values in a secular age: what sort of religion do they imply?
Modern sciences share a number of characteristics concerning the kind of knowledge they produce, the communities of scientists who produce such knowledge, and the relation of the motivation behind the research to the discoveries made. From the social scientific point of view, the interesting question is how the discoveries of science are recaptured by the categories of common sense, and put to work in moral descriptions of the world, mappings that are very selective regarding which characteristics of scientific practices they choose to notice. These “moral” employments of science fall under two broad heads. First, there are hybrids of various moral authorities— scientific and religious—that allow us to offer a description of the historical development of “non-standard” religious forms (Fundamentalisms, New Religious Movements, New Age…) in the last century. And second, there is a spectrum of literature, from Fantasy and Science Fiction to popular science, which plays on the same materials and issues, again in a strictly time- and context-bound fashion. This latter material (which includes, among others, Dawkins’ discussions of faith and science) may be said to represent an urban folklore, and is both diffuse and influential. The project of critical thinking is, then, less a matter of relating science and faith, and more a matter of comparing the relations of orthodox to popular faith with those of orthodox to popular science.
“Fresh Expressions”: A Journey into Implicit Theology (P 313)
Principal, Ripon College Cuddesdon & the Oxford Ministry Course
Strictly speaking, the vast majority of theology should be the study of the implicit rather than the explicit. For it is in the life of congregations and denominations that the gospel is discerned, interpreted and lived. Theology, for the most part, “happens” in discipleship; it is not “read” in textbooks. For example, reading the treatises of Martin Luther King Jr. can only form a small part of the process of assessing his contribution to theology and society. It is really only in hearing and experiencing his radio or TV broadcasts that one begins to get a sense of how his theology performed; how it moved and motivated his followers. The style of presentation matters at least as much as the substance of the message: the sensate and persuasive timbre of the rhetoric conveyed in the performance is itself theological material. Likewise, the key to understanding the theology of churches—their declared theological priorities— can never be a matter of mere textual analysis. Such an approach would miss the fact that “church” is an interpretation and performance of theology that takes on a life it its own.
Abstracts of Vol XII, no. 2, July 2009
Spirituality Meets Civic Engagement* (P 125)
Virginia Episcopal Seminary
*This transcript is of a Lecture given on 5 December 2008, at the Launch of Leeds Metropolitan University’s Institute of Spirituality, Religion and Public Life.
This paper starts with David Hay’s data about the vast increase over the last fifteen years in people in the UK having religious experiences. This data confirms the underlying religious dispositions of the British, although there is clearly a significant decline of participation in religious institutions. However, as many have noted, religious organizations are amongst the strongest in civic society (more people are in church than are involved in political parties). So we need to tap into the spiritual motivation to encourage a range of participation in civic society, from Boy Scouts to Rotary. The American sociologist Nancy Ammerman has shown that the more a person is involved in one organization the more they end up being involved in lots of organizations. Therefore spirituality is an important basis for civic engagement.
Patterns of Secularization and Religious Rationalization in Emile Durkheim and Max Weber (P 135)
Center for Critical Research on Religion, Florida, USA
Emile Durkheim’s and Max Weber’s sociologies of religion contain three different patterns of secularization and religious rationalization, the unilinear, the dialectical, and the nonlinear, which includes the paradoxical. Based on an analysis of Durkheim’s and Weber’s writings on religion, this paper argues that the process of religious rationalization and secularization is not always linear but can also take place in a dialectical or paradoxical manner. Whereas in the unilinear and dialectical theories of religious rationalization and secularization there is a progressive development, in the nonlinear or paradoxical theory, development is arrested. While the unilinear and dialectical theories are associated with the Occidental development to modernity, the paradoxical nature of theoretical religious rationalization was characteristic of the arrested development of the Orient, while the paradoxical aspects of secularization are associated with unresolved contradictions of modernity (the postmodern).
The Religious Dimensions of Compulsive Buying (P 165)
Senior lecturer in Art History and Theory, University of Chester
This paper examines the implicit religiosity of compulsive buying. Much of the extant literature on the subject focuses on biological and/or psychological factors. I argue that the cycle of behaviour in compulsive buying, which oscillates between euphoria and depression, can be paralleled with Durkheim’s exposition of collective effervescence. In my paper I argue that many of the behaviours expressed in the cycles of compulsive buying can be described as religious, and that the sense of fulfilment striven for in the pursuit of commodity after commodity can be viewed as a desperate need to heal the self and, invariably, to find salvation. My understanding of the religious is discussed in a relationship between the sacred and the profane in the context of Durkheim and then Bataille, which leads me to the conclusion that compulsive buying is an implicitly religious activity.
Globalization, Syncretism, and Identity: The Growth and Success of Self-Realization Fellowship (P 187)
Department of Sociology, Stephen F. Austin State University
Paramahansa Yogananda founded Self Realization Fellowship in 1920 in Boston, which continued the work of Yogoda Satsanga in India. From its beginnings, it has grown to become an international organization with a rapidly-increasing membership based in 178 countries. The explanations for this growth include, at the macro level: strong centralized administrative organization; consistency of message and mission; fostering an attitude of tolerance among other groups; and extraordinary success in solving the problem that Max Weber termed the “routinization of charisma.” Explanations at the micro level include: creation of a common identity among members; facilitating close and direct communication with members despite growth in numbers; and introducing members to an expanding base of knowledge. Through an integration of religions, this perspective allows for the implicit incorporation of beliefs that previously were not considered as religious, on the part of individuals.
Divinity and Power in Minute Particulars: Politics and Panentheism in the Implicit Religion of Marist Socks (P 201)
Division of Politics & Sociology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham
Take no thought for raiment … (Luke 12: 22)
When our Lord bade his disciples to consider the lilies, He gave His sanction to the mysticism based on natural objects. (Inge 1947/1969, 111)
The intention here is to explore the “implicit spirituality” of socks as a component of the religious wardrobe in relation to the larger theological themes of panentheism, sacramentalism and related mystical orientations. The early nineteenth-century case of the Marist socks is employed to demonstrate the fecundity and utility of “implicit religion” as a concept and category that helps “make sense” of the Marist Founder’s valorization of this otherwise relatively insignificant item of male dress. In the grander theological and sociological scheme of things, Marist socks assume religious significance as a salutary sartorial symbol. Drawing on the Marist archives, the sock history of the Little Brothers of Mary is uncovered to reveal how, in religion, even the most neglected and least important of things in the eyes of the world can assume extraordinary spiritual and political significance.
Abstracts of Vol XII, no. 1, April 2009
Rogue Agents, Religion, and the Rule of Law: The Limits of Legalism in the Face of Weapons of Mass Destruction (P 3)
Department of Religion, Colgate University
This article explores the resurgence of a certain quasi-religious discourse of nuclear threat within the post-9/11 policymaking of the Bush Administration; a discourse which has inflected American nuclear policymaking throughout the past sixty years, but which has proven profoundly dissonant within the international legal landscape of the early twenty-first century. Drawing upon Carl Schmitt’s concept of ‘political theology’, I elucidate the manner in which nuclear weapons technology has served since 1945 to undergird a powerful praxis of American sovereignty—a sovereignty threatened simultaneously by the dissemination of nuclear technology throughout the world and by the ever-burgeoning regulatory mechanisms of international law. Ultimately, I assert that the concept of political theology not only provides us with an important means of deciphering the Bush Administration’s eschatological policymaking language, but that it clarifies what has proven to be an intimate connection between the discourse of nuclear threat and this Administration’s endeavor to bolster the sovereignty of the US—particularly of its executive branch.
The ‘Sin’ of Wal-Mart Architecture: a visual theology reflecting economic realities (P 21)
Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, Ca
Whether one is conscious of it or not, the ever-present and inundating visual signs and symbols of the social world perform a socializing function, similar to performing routines, reminding people who they are and where they are. These constant and inescapable visual signs and symbols often represent a community’s most deeply internalized beliefs. They surround individuals and communities and become fixtures in the landscape of a person’s identity—defining and shaping beliefs, values, and behaviors. Visual theologies emerge from these internalized signs and symbols and manifest aspects of implicit belief that may or may not be linguistically articulated but, regardless, communicate powerful meanings and messages. Therefore, according to visual theology, what is seen in visual culture affects what is believed by society, but also what is believed by society is evident in what is seen in visual culture.
The Many Faces of Spirituality: A Conceptual Framework Considering Belly Dance (P 51)
Ball State University, Muncie, IN
While the public’s interest in spirituality and the number of people claiming they are spiritual is growing, scholars debate what constitutes spirituality. Much is written about spirituality and its many dimensions corresponding to a variety of human experiences, such as the body, relationships, sense of self, and creativity. However, discussions surrounding spirituality and its different aspects are separated in the literature. The purpose of this paper is to combine these disjointed discussions into a conceptual framework of spirituality, which consists of five dimensions of spirituality related to various areas of human existence. Belly dance, as a spiritual activity, is used to illustrate each dimension. This conceptual framework will ideally sensitize scholars to possible spiritual dimensions relevant to the cases they examine and/or challenge them to consider new paths that may not appear to be spiritual on the surface. Such examinations will help create a more holistic understanding of spirituality.
Implicit Religion (P 81)
Department of Religious Studies, University of Quebec in Montreal
Edward Bailey’s book, Implicit Religion: An Introduction, was published in 1998 by Middlesex University Press (London). This translation is part of a broader project to introduce an area of study which has been developing in Great Britain and in other English-speaking countries for about thirty years, to the French-speaking world. In 1996, Religiologiques, the journal of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal, devoted an issue to this field of study by publishing a ‘selection’ of ten articles by British authors illustrating the fertile diversity of this approach to the phenomenon of religion. Unfortunately, despite some incursion into French-speaking territory, it remains largely unknown here. And yet today, more than ten years ago perhaps, the prospects opened up by this line of research are by their nature capable of contributing to the renewal of our understanding of the phenomenon of religion and its current evolution. So it seemed important to me to translate this short treatise which introduces the origins and the broader themes of the concept of implicit religion, together with some of the principal results of the research it has inspired.
Religious Meanings on Francis Bacon: A Review of the Francis Bacon Retrospective Exhibition at Tate Britain from September 11 - January 4 2009 (P 95)
Senior Lecturer IN critical & Contextual Studies, University of Chester.
Francis Bacon is arguably the most well-known British artist after J. M. W Turner, and his forthcoming centenary in 2009 has been well documented in both the art world and the mass media. The BBC archive contains a comprehensive range of interviews and footage with the artist. To commemorate the centenary, the Tate has put together the third retrospective on Bacon (the previous ones were in 1962 and 1985 and were also held at the Tate), which has brought together some of his best works from different periods of his life. This extensive exhibition will then move to the Prado (Madrid) from 3 February-19 April 2009, and then on to the Metropolitan Museum in New York from 18 May-6 August 2009.
Abstracts of Vol XI, no. 3, November 2008
Transcendence and Religion (P 229)
University of Leiden, Netherlands
This essay deals with the relationship between religion, both implicit and explicit, and transcendence. The starting point is Thomas Luckmann’s idea that man is a religious animal. After all, it is necessary for human beings to transcend their biological habitus in order to survive. It is suggested that transcendence is a necessary, rather than a sufficient precondition for religion.
Church Attendance, Implicit Religion and Belief in Luck: The relationship between conventional religiosity and alternative spirituality among adolescents (P 239)
Religions and Education Research Unit, University of Warwick
This study was designed to examine the complex pattern of relationships between conventional religious practice (in the sense of church attendance), implicit religion (in the sense of persisting Christian beliefs and values, unsupported by church attendance), and alternative spirituality (in the sense of non-conventional beliefs). In this context implicit religion was operationalized in terms of attitude toward the explicit religion of Christianity, and alternative spirituality was operationalized in terms of belief in luck. Data were provided by a sample of 1,133 13- to 15-year-old adolescents in South Wales who completed the Belief in Luck Index (BILI) and the Francis Scale of Attitude toward Christianity (FSAC), alongside information about frequency of church attendance. These data demonstrate that among non-churchgoers there is a significant positive correlation between attitude toward Christianity and belief in luck. Among churchgoers, however, these two variables were uncorrelated. These findings support the view that a general eclectic belief system is underpinning the spirituality of the unchurched rather than a widespread rejection of transcendence in favour of secularity.
Soul Retrieval via the Internet—Bringing Keti Back from the Land of the Dead (P 255)
Soul loss is the term used to describe the way parts of the psyche become detached when we are faced with traumatic situations. In psychological terms, it is known as dissociation and it works as a defence mechanism, a means of displacing unpleasant feelings, impulses or thoughts into the unconscious. In shamanic terms, these split-off parts can be found in non-ordinary reality and are only accessible to those familiar with its topography. Soul retrieval entails the shaman journeying to find the missing parts and then returning them to the client seeking help. This paper consists of an account of a soul retrieval that was carried out over the internet by the shamanic practitioner, Jonathan Horwitz, over a period of two weeks between December 2006 and January 2007, to bring my partner Keti back from the Land of the Dead after she had an aneurism, was in a coma, and after a priest had been called to deliver the last rites.
Spirituality—the emergence of a working definition for use within healthcare practice (P 265)
York St John University, York
Considerations of a person’s spirituality and/or spiritual needs are necessary in order to provide holistic and person-centred intervention within healthcare. However, the term “spirituality” is difficult to define clearly, so healthcare professionals are often unsure as to what exactly spiritual needs are, and also what their role is in addressing these. An in-depth literature review was therefore carried out in order to evaluate the various definitions: firstly, to evaluate how health professionals define spirituality, and, secondly, to explore the relationship between spirituality and health. The review revealed that spirituality is a highly subjective concept, with personal meanings and unique realities for individuals. Some people believe it involves recognition of a deity or a personal relationship with God, while others argue it can be defined simply as an expression of our truest selves or inner beings. Many prefer to use religious language in describing spiritual needs, thus supporting the inclusion of reference to the sacred or supernatural in any proposed definition of spirituality. Exploration of the concept of spirituality also uncovered its relationship to disability, illness, recovery, and health/well being. A working definition has emerged from analysis of the literature which is proving to be of use to healthcare professionals within their practice.
Three Types of Liquid Religion (P 277)
Faculty of Catholic Theology, Tilburg University
This article explores ways to think of religion using Zygmunt Bauman’s concept of liquid modernity. The concept of liquid religion opens up perspectives for both “new” and “old” social forms of religion that seem to flourish within a liquid milieu. Attention is also drawn to three types of relationship between solid and liquid religion. The first type consists of liquid phenomena in the religious sphere: religious events, small communities, global religious networks and virtual communities. The second type consists of phenomena on the boundaries between the religious and the secular sphere, such as religious services in a hospital or a prison. The third type consists of meetings and collective activities outside the religious sphere, such as those in the political and cultural spheres, which nonetheless have important religious qualities. This typology is used to make general observations on the basis of empirical research, mainly conducted in the Netherlands.
Implicit Sacraments in Atonement: The Movie (P 297)
Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick UK
The movie version of Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement, directed by Joe Wright, raises interesting questions about implicit religion in films. This paper explores how the film of Atonement develops and introduces Christian themes into the storyline, and the way in which this might reflect more widely upon the place of Christianity in a secular world.
Abstracts of Vol XI, no. 2, July 2008
Vegetarianism as an Example of Dispersed Religiosity (P 111)
Institute for the Scientific Studies of Religion, Jagiellonian University
May the vegetarian movement be regarded as a field where a modern dispersed religiosity can manifest itself? This article presents a summary of my research, aimed to answer this question, at least in regard to the Polish case. A theoretical background will be outlined, together with the justification for the choice of material that was analyzed, and the Polish vegetarian movement will be briefly described. Then the results of my research will be presented, including a description of the values that are crucial for Polish vegetarianism. Most attention, however, will be focused on the process of the formation of a vegetarian worldview within individuals’ biographies.
Non-institutional Religion in Modern Society (P 127)
University of Leiden, Netherlands
This is the lecture given by Meerten ter Borg upon accepting the Chair in Noninstitutional Religion in Modern Society at the University of Leiden, Netherlands. It opens by outlining a theoretical model which explains why religion is a timeless phenomenon. It goes on to give an impression of the relationship between institutional and non-institutional religion. Then it suggests what the causes are of the growing importance of religion in modern society. It then uses the theoretical model to make it clear why this so-called comeback of religion is partly non-institutional. The conclusion provides a few examples of non-institutional religion.
Religion under Siege: a Scientific Response: A Lecture given to the Alister Hardy Society meeting at Oxford, 1 December 2007 (P 143)
Divinity & Religious Studies, University of Aberdeen
Last year, shortly before he published The God Delusion, I went to see Richard Dawkins in the Zoology Department in Oxford. I was gathering material for my biography of Alister Hardy and it so happened that Hardy had been head of the Zoology Department when Dawkins arrived there as an undergraduate in 1959. Both were advocates of evolution by natural selection, Hardy defending religion, and Dawkins attacking it on biological grounds drawn from Darwin. Hardy’s deeply religious nature and the juxtaposition with Dawkins’ atheism looked as though it might provide a good story for inclusion in my biography. If I was expecting fireworks, I didn’t get them. Richard remembered Alister as a very loveable man, which indeed he was, and claimed to be entirely unaware of his religious interests. He certainly makes no reference to his old professor in The God Delusion. That is an unfortunate omission, for it means that he never discusses Hardy’s important contribution to the empirical investigation of the biological roots of religion.
Sacro-Egoism and the Shifting Paradigm of Religiosity (P 153)
George Fox University
Utilizing the methodology of the Kendal Project (Heelas et al. 2005), data collected from McMinnville, Oregon, was compared with data gathered from Kendal, England, to test British and American sociological theories of religion and specifically the “Spiritual Revolution” theory within the state of Oregon. The McMinnville Project evidence suggests that rather than a spiritual revolution in Oregon, by which churchgoing is declining and interest in a holistic milieu is expanding, “Sacro-Egoism” is the phenomenon that best describes the nature of personal spirituality in Oregon (and potentially the West as a whole). It points toward the relationship between secularization and the self, participation in religious practices and belief, and the emergence of a new, radical, individualized expression of faith. This paper contains a description of Sacro-Egoism and outlines key features of this modern personal approach to religiosity and spirituality: a radical authority/priority of the self, an antagonism or ambivalence to institutionalism, a personal or pragmatic commitment to the spiritual journey (specifically concerning Jesus and the Bible), and an openness to and toleration of non-traditional beliefs and practices.
Abstracts of Vol XI, no. 1, April 2008
Introducing Irreligious Experiences (P 7)
Christ Church, Oxford
Reports of an emphatic awareness of the absence of God, or of unexplainable feelings of elation or despair at the thought of God’s non-existence, are well-documented from both believers and nonbelievers alike. Such irreligious experiences are, however, widely unknown, even among those engaged in the academic study of their “religious” counterparts. The purpose of this short article is to shed some light on an unjustly neglected phenomenon in the social sciences and religious studies. Although other reports are cited, the focus here is on fifteen contemporary case-studies (given in full as an appendix to the article). These are divided into two main genres, with common features identified. Brief parallels are drawn to similar experiences in the Christian mystical tradition, before some remarks concerning the future study of irreligious experiences conclude the piece.
The Meaning of “Spirituality:” a discussion with its starting point in an investigation among alternative therapists ( P 25)
Faculty of Theology, University of Aarhus
In the contemporary Western world one can observe a remarkable popularity of the term “spirituality.” However, there are different understandings of the concept. Among other things, discussion is occupied with the problem of how to differentiate “spirituality” from “religiosity.” However, my intention here is not to present yet another definition, or to give guidelines on how to differentiate it from “religiosity.” My objective is much more limited. On the one hand I intend to propose some beliefs and practices that ought to be included in a substantive definition of “spirituality.” On the other hand I want to discuss some problems involved in this enterprise. My approach is indirect. I have not asked any respondents how they perceive or define “spirituality.” So it may be asked: How is it possible to say what beliefs and practices people refer to, if you don’t ask them directly?
Some Ideas about the Persistence of Rituals (P 39)
University of Leiden, Netherlands
In this essay, one particular function of rituals is explored: that of ritual as markers. It is the social importance function as marker that often lends rituals a religious nature, and consequently the religious aspects do not disappear entirely in the course of the process of secularisation, but remain in existence, explicitly at times, and at times also implicitly.
Abstracts of Vol X, no. 3, November 2007
State Power as a Vehicle for the Expression and Propagation of Implicit Religion: The Case Study of the ‘War on Terrorism’ (P 244)
The ‘war on terrorism’ spearheaded by the United States provides a telling example of how state power may act to express and propagate a specific mode of implicit religion, and, moreover, how this variety of implicit religion demonstrates the permeable boundaries between explicit religion and implicit religion. In representing a liberal, democratic capitalist, nationalist ideology that is peculiar for its conflation of evangelical Protestantism together with naturalistic principles, US state power functions as a secular social and political entity, which is simultaneously experienced as a manifestation of the sacred or holy. Employing juridical weaponry ranging from domestic legislation to global military, political, and economic measures, the ‘war on terrorism’ depicts the US as a worldly deliverer of transcendent virtue, anointed to save the world from the evil of ‘terrorism’. On a domestic level, this depiction bespeaks a form of implicit religion that parallels the idea of US civil religion made famous by Bellah, and relies on a concept of terrorism that discursively asserts the implicit sacredness of US national ideology. Meanwhile, on an international scale, the US attempt to compel worldwide conversions to liberal capitalism equates to an effort at pursuing global salvation; this, by carrying forth an implicit religious crusade in which a secular ideology functions as a site for the experiencing of transcendence.
Membership of Nordic ‘National’ Churches (P 262)
The article treats the specifically Nordic paradox, of a high level of church membership in four national populations combining with a low level of religious practice and church attendance. This fact has often been explained as the outcome of a spirit of a civil religiosity, which makes the church a symbol of the nation and of national culture. Church membership is in this view an aspect of the identification of individuals with their country. The concept of civil religiosity is here studied through the data from four Nordic countries in the 1999-2000 European Values Study survey, concentrating on variables that marginally relate to religious traditions without designating identification with church dogmas. Through factor analysis Nordic civil religiosity seems to appear in two forms; broadly, as carrying elements of traditional ritual behaviour and individual religiosity, and, narrowly, as focusing on church-administered celebrations of family rites of passage. Finally, a ‘civil religious’ model as a prediction of church-membership among the respondents is applied with varying results for the four countries.
Implicit Religion from Below (P 281)
As I was writing this paper, I realized that a better title than ‘Implicit Religion from Below’ would have been ‘The Birth and Development of Implicit Religion’. The fact is that little has been written on this topic. Why? Because implicit religions illustrate wonderfully well that aphorism that religion is not created but encountered. Of course, this is the perspective of the believer or practitioner, not that of the scholar of religion. However, even the founder denies making up the doctrine and ethics that he promulgates; instead he ‘receives’ this knowledge; he is only a ‘messenger’.
Abstracts of Vol X, no. 2, July 2007
Why (and when) Should We Speak of Implicit Religion? (P 132)
In contrast to an understanding of religion which centres on phenomena we associate explicitly with religious traditions, we can, and have to, think of religion as it presents itself implicitly in the formation of these and other phenomena. In terms of their formation, they belong to the field of religious developments, regardless of whether or not we happen to associate them with the explicit understanding of religion. The paper is an attempt to explain the meaning of implicit religion as a symbol which directs the mind to the formation of religious phenomena and to forms of actual religiosity which either precede the stage in which they present themselves in terms of a specific tradition, or are not explicitly identified as religion.
Civil Religion at the Hearth: Current Trends in American Civil Religion from the Perspective of Domestic Arrangment (P151)
In this paper, I bring both functionalist and conflict perspectives onto an intimate stage where the interplay between civic and private religious life can be observed: the home. I will argue that American civil religion in its current state is the result of two competing visions of the relation between public policy and private religious experience. Further, that these incompatible visions derive from the archaic structure of the early Roman civilization that provided the origin of America’s civil religion, and the modern civic structure of the post-Enlightenment era through which America’s civil religion matured. Finally, I will show that the struggle between these visions is clearly illustrated in the effort to bring public policy and private religious experience to bear on an ideology of the family.
‘We’ll Hang Ourselves Tomorrow’: Boredom as Implicit Religion (P 164)
‘Waiting for Godot’ is a play about behaviour which is identifiably religious from a sociological point of view, although not explicitly so. Because it is a play, it is an icon of implicitness, as plays don’t say what they mean in the form of explicit messages from the author to the audience, but communicate implicitly through fictitious events and personages. In this particular play, the main characters demonstrate by means of what they say and do, that, for them, life’s meaning is associated with a longed-for consummation, a life- and purpose- giving encounter, and that the action of waiting for this provides the focus for all their other actions and intentions, affecting the way they interpret whatever occurs in their world. They are committed to waiting for Godot to arrive; a state of mind encapsulated within the symbolic scenario which is the play. In other words, then, their behaviour chimes with the three defining characteristics of Implicit Religion: commitment, integrating focus, and extensive effects which proceed from an intensive concern, when these occur in circumstances which are not associated with explicit religion of any kind. The tramps themselves never mention God or religion, and the play’s author is recorded as saying ‘If I had meant God I would have said God’. Nevertheless the parabolic shape and the poetic language of the play produce an effect similar to that of religious ritual.
Living with Implicit Religion, 1967-2007: a memoir, from the 30th Denton Conference 2007 (P 172)
Centre for the Study of Implicit Religion and Contemporary Spirituality
The Editor of this journal shares personal reflections on ‘life with Implicit Religion’, these last 30 or 40 years.
Abstracts of Vol X, no. 1, April 2007
The Sacred Paradox of English Law
Extending the application of the work of Bailey (1997, 1998) and Smart (1998) to law, this article explores in more detail the construction of English law as an implicit religion, arguing that English law carries within it a ‘sacred paradox’ created by the tension between two aspects of law’s religious patterning. The first aspect is the secularising tendency within law, which is patterned by Christianity and constructs law as an implicit religion. The second aspect is a powerful motivational Christian discourse embedded in the texts of law. Again patterned by Christianity, it constructs within the law as an implicit religion a strong voice of the explicit religion of the implicit religious form.
The article sets out in detail the proposed basic theoretical model of the sacred paradox of English law. It argues that the contours of this sacred paradox can be located in the language of certain types of legal judgement; particularly at the micro level of figurative language, and the macro level of narrative structure and discourse. Concrete examples of law, as an implicit religion in conflict with the structuring influence of its explicit templating religion, Christianity, are given through the analysis of the language of two law cases dealing with New Religious Movements: a conflict that reveals the sacred paradox at the very heart of English law.
The Implicit Religion of Organs: Transformative Experiences, Enduring Connections and Sensuous Nations
Religion is not absent from the study of organ transplant. However, it is the formal, explicit components of religion that are attended to. This paper argues the concept of implicit religion more aptly describes and evaluates the language, rituals and symbols that pervade recipient narratives, transplant communities and broader public discourse about organ exchange. Drawing on ethnographic research with transplant recipients and other transplant populations, the paper endeavours to show how this hermeneutic tool illuminates both the individual and collective dimensions of transplant. An implicit religion of organs is evident in the transformations that transplant recipients attest to. An implicit religion of organs also underwrites contemporary understandings of death and immortality. And, finally, an implicit religion of organs is deployed in civil ceremonies designed to solidify, engage and envision the republic.
‘Religion’ in the Middle East: Implicit and/or Invisible
A personal, reflective account of a probing for indications in the Muslim Middle East of anything resembling ‘implicit’ religion as noted in the West. Tentative result: initial dismissal of parallels to ‘civil’ religion, followed by argument that Thomas Luckmann’s ‘invisible’ rather than an ‘implicit’ religion theory invites more appropriate consideration when appraising general religious life as observed by a visiting Western religionist during two extended residencies in, first, Gaza and then Jordan. Risking a charge of ‘orientalism,’ the conclusion holds that eventually an evolving, eclectic ‘invisible’ religiousness, responding as it will to steadily seeping Western-powered globalization, will moderate the more extreme forms of reactionary Islamism in the region – as it increasingly empowers individualization and subjectivization.
Faith, Facts and Fidelity: H. Richard Niebuhr’s Anonymous God
Response in the light of John Hey’s, ‘Religious Identity: In Praise of the Anonymity of Critical Believing’, in Implicit Religion, Volume 9, No. 1, April 2006.
Reinhold’s younger brother H. Richard Niebuhr ‘made his bones’ with 1920s and 1930s books and articles that scathingly exposed American Protestantism’s exceptional role in creating ‘the gospel of a Christ without a cross’, comfortable for the churches of the middle class. As believing Christian and rigorous theologian, Niebuhr also took quite seriously the challenges to personal faith posed by ‘depth psychology’ and the social sciences in general. Aware that even our finest ideas and deepest feelings are entirely contextualized (‘we are in history as the fish is in water’), he wrestled throughout the 1930s for a ‘critical faith’ so empirically realistic that not even a Freud could persuasively reduce it to wishful thinking. Out of that struggle grew The Meaning of Revelation (1941), which fully anticipated and constructively responded to critical challenges that would half a century later be called post-modern and deconstructive. Sharply expressed in his World War II articles, Niebuhr’s critically confessional understanding of revelation was so stark and powerful that it eventually scared off most of his liberal contemporaries. National and World Council of Churches fellows who owed him so much instead fretted that he ‘no longer believes in the Christian God’. Indeed, his very Protestant understanding of ‘historical faith’ as realistic fidelity led to a ‘radical monotheism’ far more rigorous than Catholic Karl Rahner’s ‘anonymous Christianity’, far more honest than most liberal Protestant church preaching ever since, and far more solidly grounding inter-religious pluralism than some of that dialogue’s leading exponents are yet ready to concede. As Catholic spiritual masters and evangelical Protestants have (differently!) confessed, faith is a saving ‘grace’ given by the Holy Spirit. As postmodernists have insisted, any rendering of such experience (‘born again’ or less dramatic, explicit or implicit) is a human, cultural ‘construction’. Since such experience and constructions are personally and socially common, empowering and dangerous, implicit rediscoveries and explicit developments of Niebuhr’s challenging insights are urgent. As John Hey puts it, ‘critical believing is process-oriented’. Explicit or implicit, however, faith is more about our commitments than about its own nature. Truly postmodern theologians are committed to good faith’s good works. In this, they follow Niebuhr’s example.
Abstracts of Vol IX, no. 3, November 2006
Spirituality: A Healthcare Perspective
Professor of Mental Health Nursing, Staffordshire University and South Staffs Healthcare NHS Trust
In his book, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, Porter states that according to all the standard benchmarks, the western nations of the world have never been more healthy, and yet their citizens have never been more anxious about their health. Freedom from the fear of not being able to pay for treatment if we become ill, or of not being able to find treatment for ourselves and our family, is a privilege not shared by the majority of people in the world. This raises the question of whether so many people, including health professionals, continue to worry about their health because they are out of touch with their own bodies, unsure how to recognise states of well being and of dis-ease, and ignorant of what steps to take to maintain or rectify the balance in their lives. Bertrand Russell lamented how little progress had been made in understanding the human spirit, in improving human relationships, and in self-knowledge, even though what had been achieved in the fields of science and technology in the course of a lifetime was truly astounding. He advised that the spiritual journey is best undertaken by ‘being with people who help your being’. The ethos and structure of today’s health services make it difficult for staff to stand alongside those they are caring for, to support their ‘being’; rather they are focused on government targets and outcomes, which often have little to do with helping individuals take responsibility for attaining and maintaining an optimum state of health. The same lack of focus is found in other of our human services.
Spirituality in Scotland
Lecturer in Practical Theology, School of Divinity, University of St Andrews
This paper explores data included in the 2001 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (National Centre for Social Research, 2001) and sets it within a discussion of spirituality in Scotland. A scale of spirituality is constructed encompassing a person’s self-classification, awareness of other possible realms of reality and engagement in a small range of practices. Associations with age and gender are explored. Within the broad field of personal and political identity further associations are identified and discussed which shed some light, tentatively, upon the profile of Scotland’s political party supporters and intentions to vote in general. Lack of association with some key economic and social indicators is noted. Pointers are offered for qualitative research that might build on the findings of this survey with respect to the relationship between spirituality and citizenship in the contemporary context.
The Unconventional Beliefs of Conventional Churchgoers: The Matter of Luck
Welsh National Centre for Religious Education, University of Wales, Bangor, UK
A sample of 65 men and 93 women attending eight Anglican churches in Wales completed a questionnaire concerned with beliefs, attitudes and practices. Alongside conventional Christian belief, unconventional belief was assessed by eight items relating to good luck and eight items relating to bad luck. Alongside conventional Christian behaviour, unconventional behaviour was assessed by eight items relating to protection from bad luck or promotion of good luck. The data demonstrate how many churchgoers combine their conventional Christian beliefs about God with unconventional beliefs about good and bad luck. It is perhaps this special blend of conventional Christian beliefs and practices with unconventional beliefs and practices that helps to define the implicit religion of Anglicans in Britain today.
Abstracts of Vol IX, no. 2, July 2006
English Law as Implicit Religion (P 136)
Birkbeck College, University of London
This article applies the concept of implicit religion to law in order to give a new understanding of English law: its sacredness and its theology; its organisational structures and its social forms. Having constructed a table of potential elements, illustrating the concept of implicit religion, read against both Christianity and Law, three entries on that table are explored in further detail. Ultimately the article argues that not only is English law an implicit religion templated by Christianity, but that it contains within itself a sacred paradox, formed by the interaction of its implicit and explicit religious dimensions.
Implicit Religious Assumptions within the Resurgence of Civil Religion in the USA since 9/11 (P 166)
Association for the Sociology of Religion, United States
Any number of societal reactions to the attacks of 11 September 2001 could be conceived as theoretical possibilities within the United States. In this article I want to make the argument that what a number of writers, but most notably Robert Bellah, have identified as civil religion in America provided the principal cultural resource that served to reintegrate and unite Americans in a coherent national response to the crisis. This is true because civil religion already existed as a cultural substratum and because it was, in fact, aspects of this very substratum that were under attack in the particular dynamics of these events. The thesis I propose is not a restudy of the civil religion concept qua concept. A variety of such studies have appeared from the 1970s to the 1990s and can be easily consulted by those interested in issues of conceptual development, refinement, elaboration, critique, and so on. I want to take the concept as broadly defined by Bellah, and empirically specified by Ronald Wimberley and colleagues in a series of subsequent investigations, and apply it to understanding the nature, function, and possible outcomes of the American response.
Believe in the Net: the Construction of the Sacred in Utopian Tales of the Internet (P 180)
In the course of the 1990s the Internet gave rise to highly optimistic scenarios regarding its significance for humanity. In the media, in the business-guru circuit and in politics, a euphoric discourse emerged that strongly adhered to the belief that the Internet and related business methods would change the world radically and be the long-awaited vessels of earthly salvation. This paper attempts to account for such belief. It suggests that the trust invested in the extraordinary qualities of the Internet was largely based on the special meaning granted to it, which can be described as sacred. This article looks at the sources of this contemporary manifestation of the sacred and considers how the Internet became a belief with religious traits. An historical comparison between the Internet craze and the fascination with the telegraph in the nineteenth century will serve to demonstrate that there exists a longer tradition of associating new technologies with the sacred and the transcendent.
Implicit Religion: Definition and Application (P 205)
University of Wales
This article provides a foundational definition of implicit religion, using the characteristics identified by the research of Edward Bailey, and examines the applicability of this construct as a research tool in the analysis of religious behaviour. Types of implicit religion and their relationship to concepts such as civil religion, folk religion, invisible religion and wild religion are discussed, demonstrating that the boundaries of religion are not objectively defined. The paper concludes by recommending the construct of implicit religion as a tool to gain a new perspective on the study of religious behaviour.
A Citation Analysis of Research in Implicit Religion Published Outside the Journal Implicit Religion:For Whom the Citations Toll (P 220)
University of Ulster at Magee College
Lewis (2005) provided a bibliometric analysis of the term ‘implicit religion’ within a selection of popular databases, and found that only a modest amount of articles actually cited the term (n = 77). He concluded the term ‘implicit religion’ has not yet gained widespread attention. Tangentially, Lewis questioned if the literature on ‘implicit religion’ was dominated by a small number of highly influential, and hence widely cited, articles. To test this, the present study empirically examined the frequency with which each of these 77 publications that cited the term ‘implicit religion’ had been subsequently cited. Each of these publications was entered into the Web of Science Citation Index database.
In total, the 77 publications had been collectively cited 98 times, and the frequency of citations ranged from 0 to 27, with a mean citation count of 1.28. Of the 77 publications entered into the database, only 19 publications were cited. The five most highly cited publications were: Davie (1990; 27 citations), Bailey (1983; 17 citations), Bailey (1990c; 9 citations) and Allcock (1988; 8 citations). These data suggest that the implicit religion literature is dominated by a small number of publications that are published by a small number of authors. However, these publications are not widely cited themselves. Limitations of the present study are discussed.
Abstracts of Vol IX, no. 1, April 2006
The Fifth Corner: Hip Hop’s New Geometry of Adolescent Religiousity (P 7)
University of San Francisco, United States
This ethnography explores the ways in which hip hop culture functions as a secular form of religiosity for adolescent males in the United States. The data is based on the author’s experience as an instructor at a private high school where she observed the behaviour here described. ‘The Fifth Corner’—a site created by eight teenage boys for enacting hip hop principles—displayed elements of religious life that historians of religion conventionally ascribe to religious behaviour. It was a designated sacred space carved out of a secular realm that provided what the secular environment did not: the opportunity for a community of believers to congregate, to compose scripture, and to generate symbolic and ritual activity that elicited a spiritual feeling which promoted an ethical posture and led to the development of a doctrine of faith.
Viewing Advertising through the Lens of Faith: Finding God in Images of Mammon (P 29)
Iona College, United States
Various scholars have noted connections between traditional Protestantism and advertising in the United States. Not only did the two institutions inform one another as modern advertising emerged and matured, but, arguably, the two systems also exhibit parallel rhetorical formats and functions today. In this qualitative study, it is suggested that a shift in emphasis, from advertising’s relationship to explicit religion to its interaction with implicit religiosity, could provide fresh insights. This framework was explored through focus group interviews, participant journal entries, and one-on-one, in-depth interviews with Protestants from three mainline congregations. The findings show that some of the participants can, on occasion, touch the spiritual realm through transactions with advertising. Indeed, it is contended that, although they belong to formal religious organizations, these respondents can also engage in practices associated with implicit religion. At the same time, the interviewees also indicated they have little awareness of how advertising perpetuates the economic status quo. Displaying hegemony at work, they are seemingly able to pursue both explicit and implicit religious experiences and support their market-driven culture without bearing significant cognitive dissonance. The paper makes the case that advertising can sometimes function as a vehicle for helping to reconcile this apparent conflict.
Religious Identity: In Praise of the Anonymity of Critical Believing (P 54)
This is an essay about believing rather than beliefs. I use the term ‘anonymous’ to analyse Karl Rahner’s concept of ‘anonymous Christianity’, and to underline the universality of believing. Rahner’s ‘anonymous Christianity’ seeks to render universal a traditional exclusive Christian message of salvation. However, in insisting that Christ remains the pivot of this message, Rahner subverts the promise of his concept. I use the term ‘anonymous believing’ to emphasize that believing is a universal human instinct to create meaning, from within an existence whose contingency inevitably lies beyond explanation. Believing has a natural primacy over knowing. Critical believing is the attempt to create meaning amidst the complexities of our subjectivity, and the cultural contexts of our lives and of the physical world, knowledge of which is constantly growing. My contention is that the primacy of believing is undermined by the primacy accorded to the knowledge-based assertions that are currently characteristic of religious creeds and moral injunctions. Anonymous critical believing eschews creeds, but embraces the values of justice, compassion and well-being, which religions also espouse. There are close links between ‘implicit religion’ and‘critical believing’. However, I believe the two are categorically different: implicit religion is predominantly descriptive and substantival, while critical believing is process orientated.
Believing and Implicit Religion beyond the Churches: Religion, Superstition, Luck and Fear among 13-15 Year-old Girls in Wales (P 74)
University of Wales, Bangor
A sample of 1,133 year-nine and year-ten pupils (13-15 year-olds), attending six state-maintained secondary schools in South Wales, completed a survey concerned with beliefs in the afterlife, beliefs in supernatural forces, beliefs about good luck, beliefs about bad luck, beliefs about protection from harm, and fear of the supernatural. The analysis distinguishes between the belief patterns of females who belong to and attend a Christian group (the churched) and females who neither belong to nor attend any religious group (the unchurched). The data demonstrate significantly greater belief in (but no significantly greater fear of) some aspects of the supernatural among the unchurched.
Pastoral Work: Search for a Common Language (P 90)
Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Expanding on the concept of implicit religion, when explicit religion is becoming ever more marginal, this article explores rather than investigates an intuition of two campus chaplains. It is their first attempt to reveal in a non-proclaiming way the spirituality of many members of their generation. It tells the experience of young people who discover they have a thing like a self or even a soul. It tells the pastoral experience of these chaplains who have to redefine their job after this discovery. Often this discovery is a shocking experience to all concerned. Currently, methods are lacking to describe it in an appropriate way. This article can also be considered a first attempt to look for an acceptable method of description: a search for a common language.
Abstracts of Vol VIII, no. 3, November 2005
Orpheus and the Underground: Raves and Implicit Religion From Interpretation to Critique (P 217)
Department of Religious Studies, University of Québec in Montréal
This three-part article highlights a personal liaison with the concept of implicit religion as both cultural analyst and religion theorist. The lack of unity and methodological rigour which characterize the reception of the concept of implicit religion to date fuels the desire to apply it in a systematic fashion to a contemporary youth culture phenomenon which satisfies the orphic metaphor of initiation, night-time and music, and has been widely interpreted as harbouring some sort of religiosity or rapport with the sacred: the English-born-turned-global phenomenon of techno-music-fuelled raves. The first section presents general information on raves, methodological considerations and an ethnographic account stemming from field research conducted with a small group of Montreal ravers in 2002. The second section is interpretative, starting with a synthesis of existing interpretations according to which raves are driven by various religious anthropo-logics. The three definitional vectors of implicit religion are then systematically applied to the material presented in section one, while drawing parallels with Baileys (1997) presentation. The third and last part uses the prior analysis as a basis from which to critique the concept of implicit religion. It tries to show how the definition of implicit religion has shortcomings with regards to the orphic or, more precisely, the transgressive pole of religion, paramount in the study of raves. It also argues that the concept of implicit religion is tributary of a typically modern inflexion permeating sociological theories on religion; an inflexion which has oriented research to date in this field and which has led to confusion as to the status of implicit religion as religion or something like it. The article closes with a few hints as to which theoretical avenues the author thinks could overcome the conceptual difficulties outlined.
O Come, All Ye Faithful ...: Contemporary Sexuality, Transcendence and Implicit Religion (P 266)
Department of Religious Studies, University of Québec in Montréal
Centuries of Judeo-Christianity have accustomed us to a quite radical dissociation between sex and spirituality. The history of humanity is however permeated with cultures which envisaged the body and its passions as a privileged road towards transcendence, as a vital quest for meaning and as a genuine religious experience. Through the study of four of its contemporary figures (the rave phenomenon, the fetish scene, roaming sexuality, and risky sexual behaviour), this paper suggests that this could still be a valid way to assess many aspects of sexuality in our times.
Implicit Religion in Dreams (P 281)
Professor Psychology of Religion, Univerity of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Throughout history, virtually every major religion has prized dreams as a primary means of divine revelation. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, many in the fields of psychotherapy and pastoral counseling have recognized that dreams can help their clients develop the religious and spiritual dimensions of their lives. This article argues that the concept of implicit religion can encourage dreamers to appreciate spiritual wisdom they might otherwise overlook in the secular and nonreligious imagery of their dreams.
Abstracts of Vol VIII, no. 2, July 2005
The Pursuit of Happiness: Evolutionary Origins, Psychological Research, and Implications for Implicit Religion (P 118)
Scientific studies of happiness (as subjective well-being) provide a lot of information about it: thus, a persons level of happiness usually stays within a certain genetically determined range despite lifes ups and downs, happiness relates to activity in specific parts of the brain and to the presence or absence of serotonin and dopamine, and we have evolved to pursue happiness. Raising happiness within the set range can involve high self-esteem, a sense of control over life, and an outgoing, optimistic personality. In addition, the persons view of the world influences his or her level of happiness. Flow, personal relationships, and having values and goals can also contribute. Pursuing happiness and seeking to remove unhappiness appear to be primary human motivations, biologically based. The study of implicit religion, therefore, ought at least to look at happiness and ask about the relationship between it and implicit religion.
Sacred Persons in Contemporary Culture (P 133)
Assistant Director of Research, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Cambridge
In this paper, I am concerned with various narrative accounts, told by sociologists, of who we are and how we got to be that way. I share an interest in the nature of the modern person with a number of the papers at this conference; my particular approach is to view the problem through the history of sociology.
The Quest for Myth as a Key to Implicit Religion (P 147)
Department of Philosophy, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands
The theme I would like to develop concerns the basis and background of religious beliefs and attitudes, both as they are essential to the formation of explicit religions and as they relate to the occurrence of various kinds of implicit religion. From a theoretical point of view I am interested in the perspectives which are available to the study of religion, and which must be used if we intend to come to an adequate understanding of religious issues.
The Faith of Actors: Implicit Religion and Acting (P 166)
Potchefstroom University, South Africa
Over a period of several months, twenty-five actors were invited to answer the question What is acting really about? Eighteen out of the twenty-five replied. Their response provides evidence for the claim that theatre is itself an inherently spiritual medium (as well as a vehicle for explicitly religious plays), and that the relationship of professional actors to their craft may be considered to be implicitly religious.
Implicit Religion: 72% Christian, 8% Attendance (P 178)
This paper examines the gap between the relatively high percentage who professed to be Christian in the 2001 U.K. Population Census and the much smaller percentage who attend church, and the causes for this disparity, by examining the possible reasons for those ticking Christian and other statistics from a wide variety of sources which may be taken to affirm the Census figure. The implications of such a large difference are also considered by reference to the religious structure of the population.
Abstracts of Vol VIII, no. 1, April 2005
The Internal Morality of Medicine in the Contexts of Implicit Religion and Spirituality (P 7)
Center for Biomedical Ethics, University of Virginia
The internal morality of medicine is the moral framework that entails the duties and virtues of physicians in their curing, healing and caring for the sick. It is claimed in this essay that when medicine is practiced as a secular vocation, as opposed to that of a business or a job, it meets the criteria of implicit religion and spirituality. Specifically, it is argued that spirituality is evident, relevant and important as an ingredient of the internal morality of medicine when the latter is practiced as a vocation. Spirituality may manifest in the committed professional activities and attitudes of physicians on behalf of the health of patients and of the larger community, and particularly in the process of discerning what is the best interest of patients in the context of a holistic healing approach to their clinical condition. It may also lessen the likelihood of erroneous overvaluation of patients self-determination, as if it were equivalent to dignity, while facilitating the consideration of patients communal connectedness. Therefore spirituality in medicine may enhance the quality of health care, and thereby benefit both the patients and those who affect, and who are affected by, their lives, health, dying and death.
Nurse Lecturers Perception and Teaching of Spirituality (P 22)
School of Health & Social Sciences, Middlesex University
The concept of spirituality and its centrality within nursings philosophy of caring has been widely debated for the past three decades. Attempts have been made not only to define spirituality but also to examine the potential benefits that spiritual care may have for patients, such as the provision of hope in times of illness. Although UK nursing bodies have identified spiritual care as an area of nursing competency, there has been increasing concern recently about the discrepancy between the teaching of spiritual care and the delivery of it in practice. It is currently unclear whether spirituality is being taught in the classroom. Debates have centred on how a complex concept such as spirituality can be effectively incorporated within the curricula and what types of teaching methods should best be used, and how assessments are conducted in this area to demonstrate competency. This paper reports on the findings of a pilot study conducted in a university school of health studies. The aim of the study was to gain insight into nursing lecturers views on the meaning of spirituality and the methods of teaching and assessing it, within the undergraduate and postgraduate nursing programmes in the school. The findings revealed that nurse lecturers views on spirituality were diverse; there was a lack of formal preparation of lecturers to teach spiritual care; lecturers who attempted to incorporate spirituality into their teaching appeared to do so through a process of trial and error; and it was unclear how or whether spirituality was taught to students on a consistent basis either in the classroom or in clinical areas.
Thinking Outside the Box: Religion and Spirituality in Social Work Education and Practice (P 40)
Institute of Social Work, Staffordshire university
Social work education in the UK has been generally mistrustful and suspicious as far as religion and spirituality are concerned, and at times actively hostile. This has partly been the result of social work needing to find its feet and its place as a respectable academic discipline in its own right. In achieving this goal, it took on board some of the scepticism about religion and spirituality found in some aspects of the great disciplines of sociology and psychology. Contemporary social work is now required by law to take such issues into account, and the commitment to celebrating diversity and anti-discriminatory practice makes these become live issues once more. The emphasis upon a strengths perspective and understanding resilience in peoples lives, offers further insights into the link with spirituality and implicit religion, which encourages social work to recognise the positive impact it can have on peoples lives.
Engaging with the Religion of Those Who Do Not Attend Public Worship (P 53)
Team Rector of Preston
This religion can be explored in terms of Experiences, Beliefs, and Practices. Experiences includes passing through crisis; meeting the dead, and extra-sensory perception; and relational consciousness. Beliefs explore the roles of induction and intuition; the continuing quest; and life after death. Practices are articulated as the golden rule; the common round; and prayer. This paper defines religion, expounds the work of some researchers, suggests how a church might adopt the role of chaplain to this religion, and hints at a theology that might under-gird such work. It suggests that pluriformity within the churchs own Trinitarian tradition enables it to operate within whichever model is most appropriate for the people with whom it is dealing.
Implicit Religion in the Psychology of Religion: What the (Psychology) Papers Say (P 64)
School of Psychology, university of Ulster at Magee College, Londonderry
To gauge the use of the term implicit religion within the psychology of religion, the present study examined the prevalence of the term within published articles covered by the main bibliographic database in psychology, PsycINFO. For purposes of comparison, the prevalence of the term implicit religion was also examined within leading social science, religion and sociology bibliographic databases. The number of citations of implicit religion demonstrated that the term is currently almost non-existent in usage within psychology journals abstracted by PsycINFO (n=1), or among social science journals abstracted by ASSIA: Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts (n=7). However, it is more widely used in religion journals abstracted by ATLAReligion (n=22), and sociology journals abstracted by Sociological Abstracts (n=59). These findings provide further empirical evidence to support the conclusion drawn by Gollnick (2002) that the term implicit religion has not gained the widespread attention of psychologists of religion.
Abstracts of Vol VII, no. 2, August 2004
Why Study Implicit Religion? (P 101)
Faculty of Theology, University of Leiden
Denton Hall in Yorkshire, UK, has been the seat of academic weekends devoted to research on implicit religion since the late 1970s, more or less the lifetime of some of us younger participants in the latest conference. Judging from the very full schedule of the weekend that took place from 7-9 May this year, in those years study in the field has anything but exhausted itself. This years conference offered a broad range of topics and disciplines, and the cases presented promise to open up more and more interesting new domains. It would appear that the implicit religion approach lends itself to most facets of our society – from explicit religion to healthcare; from the business world to youth culture. What seems to tie the different uses of the concept together is not so much a unanimous understanding of what implicit religion is or should be. Rather, it is a shared interest in religiosity as something not necessarily institutionalised but nonetheless very much present in the modern world. However, if implicit religion can be described as a ‘common cause, then what are its goals and what is the agenda of those studying it today?
Some Ideas on Wild Religion (p 108)
Dept. of Religious Studies, University of Leiden
It is gradually becoming clear that what is happening to religion today is ‘disembedding rather than ‘secularization. In this article four categories of disembedded religion are developed. These are described in the order of their distance from official religion: alternative religion; subdogmatic religion; optional religion; and implicit religion. I refer to these ‘unofficial forms of religion as ‘wild religion.
Religion, Spirituality and Implicit Religion in Psychotherapy (p 120)
Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, St. Paul's College, University of Waterloo, Ontario
This article examines psychotherapys changing attitude toward religion and spirituality, a change that signals a greater openness not only to explicit religion and spirituality, but also to the key elements of implicit religion. Recent studies indicate that the primary psychological elements of implicit religion are identity, values, worldview, and meaning. To the degree that psychotherapy helps people rewrite their personal story and redraw their cognitive and moral maps of reality, it deals directly with these core aspects of their implicit religion and spirituality. This essay explores how these dimensions of implicit religion are essential factors, dealt with in the course of psychotherapy.
From Faith to Fun (p 142)
Professor Emeritus, Covenant College, Georgia, USA
The problem of paradox, which is important in Scripture and in modern life, may be taken seriously or dismissed with humour. Humour may subvert faith in a secularized society when it is used to interpret paradox. Fun, used as a euphemism, is that form of humour which trivializes paradox with its interpretation. As a world-view, fun functions as a religion when it brings order into a world of disorder, and consistency to that which is inconsistent. The result is a culture of fun which may distort our perception of the created world and our place in it.
Implicit Religion and Faith-based Urban Regeneration (p 152)
Senior Research fellow, University of East London
An examination of the current literature in urban regeneration reveals a growing amount of policy-related research about the potential and actual contribution of faith communities and religious organisations to social welfare, community cohesion and economic and community development. However, there appears to be little or no analysis of the values and theologies that underlie the action in different faith traditions. This article, based on recent research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, tries to address this gap.
Abstracts of Vol VII, no. 1, April 2004
The Implicit Religion of Love (p 7)
formerly Head of Centre for Inter Faith Dialogue at Middlesex University
Love is not merely the highest goal of the world religions but also is an implicit religion in its own right. This is demonstrated through an examination of the theme of love in a range secular literature, poetry, prose and commentary from ancient and modern sources. Often at odds with overt religious mores, love seems an ameliorating and transforming human experience.
Implicit Religion as Commitment Process: insights from Brickman and Bailey (p 20)
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
The concept of implicit religion is closely associated with the idea of commitment, so it would seem useful for students of implicit religion to examine what is known about personal commitment from social psychological studies. This paper does so by focusing on what is arguably the major social psychological theory of commitment, Philip Brickmans Commitment, Conflict, and Caring (1987), which derives fundamental processes and patterns describing the development, maintenance, and dissolution of commitments from cognitive dissonance theory. The paper concludes that the Brickman theory offers important supplemental insight into the formative processes of everyday transcendence or implicit religion. At the same time Edward Baileys empirical findings in implicit religion challenge and illuminate Brickmans theory with respect to Baileys central discovery of a deep commitment to humanity, including a commitment to the self, within contemporary implicit religion. The author also notes several practical and ethical implications of his analysis.
Belonging Without Believing: a study in the social significance of Anglican identity and implicit religion among 13-15 year old males (p 37)
Welsh National Centre for Religious Education, University of Wales, Bangor, UK
Data from a survey of nearly 34,000 13-15 year olds were analysed to examine the social significance of self-identified religious affiliation (belonging) unaccompanied by faith in God (believing). The data support the social significance of ‘believing without belonging. This significance is discussed in light of the concept of implicit religion.
Christian Musical Worship and ‘Hostility to the Body: the medieval influence versus the Pentecostal revolution (p 59)
School of Arts, Middlesex University
Herbert Spencer (1896) discussed how the prominent social role of music embodies a twinlike relationship with dance. This relationship is implicit between the type of dance and music - and obviously the occasion - whether it be a South American samba, an African kantata or a European waltz. The characteristically slow, sober and sombre style of orthodox or mainstream church music and its apparent disunion with dance would appear to derive from the medieval influence of Augustine, who used the inarticulate nature of dance as a justification for this division. Weber, a social observer of Eurocentric background, recognised the problem and propounded the theory of ‘bodiless music, but, contrary to popular belief, this did not stem from a conservative Eurocentric bias. This paper explains that Pentecostalism, in contrast to the medieval phenomenon of ‘bodiless music, broadly features a lively, exuberant and multi-instrumental musicality in worship which reflects global developments, and is also biblical. The Pentecostal exuberant musicality has become an incentive for mostly younger populations, and vibrant music has become a popular marketable product in the competition for customers within the unregulated religious economy.
Infinite Justice (p 76)
Head of Research Unit in South East European Studies, University of Bradford
The article sets out from the idea that it might be interesting and helpful to look at emerging international judicial institutions in terms of implicit religion, which exemplify the human search for transcendent justice. This possibility is explored in relation to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The problems attending such institutions are reviewed, suggesting that they must inevitably fail to meet our expectations for ‘infinite justice. Addressing aspects of justice such as restitution, reconciliation and forgiveness, other mechanisms are being developed which have a more explicitly religious character. The article concludes with a critical examination of general approaches to implicit religion in terms of its functional equivalence to conventionally defined religion.
Abstracts of Vol VI, nos. 2 & 3, November 2003
Implicit Religion Highlights Religion in Childhood (p 70)
University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
The major psychological theorists of the last half-century believe that there is little or no religion in childhood. Most psychologists of religion maintain that children's religious and spiritual life is severely limited by their level of cognitive and emotional development. However, this common view does not take into account the growing body of literature on childhood spiritual experiences. This article uses the concept of implicit religion to call attention to the often-overlooked but significant presence of childhood religion. In particular, the psychological structures of implicit religion (identity, values, worldview and meaning) are used to locate where religion can be found in childhood.
A Framework for the Study of Implicit Religion: the Psychological Theory of Implicit Religiosity (p 86)
Department of Psychology, University of Trier, Germany
A basic, inter-disciplinarily developed theory of implicit religiosity is introduced. Three structures common to all explicit religions are identified: they are myth, ritual, and experience of transcendence. Independent of a content, they can be viewed as patterns of thinking (myth), acting (rituals) and feeling (experiences of transcendence) underlying all kinds of implicitly or explicitly religious conduct. Only when associated with personally meaningful contents do these structures become representatives of implicit religiosity: they turn into personal myth, personal rituals and subjectively accessible transcendent experiences. A qualitative empirical study of contents of implicit religiosity and related ultimate meanings is described. Results are displayed to demonstrate the functional equivalence of implicit and explicit religiosity. An inventory of ultimate meanings as well as a list of contents frequently associated with implicit religion are documented. Finally, the theory of implicit religiosity is used as a framework for the comparison of applications of implicit religion. A synopsis of applications, subdivided into myth, ritual, and transcendent experience, helps to integrate existing research in the field, to determine the scope of the applications, and to display the religious state of contemporary societies.
Cult Figures within Academia: the Case of Max Weber (p 105)
Department of Religious Studies, University of Erfurt, Germany
In this paper we examine the case of Max Weber as a cult figure within academic life, a phenomenon that falls under the broad category of implicit religion. It is about a hidden religiosity that develops around certain mythical figures in the scholarly world, who are venerated in various ways and serve as luminous examples worthy of imitation for subsequent generations of scholars. Attention is also paid to the opposite perspective, namely to the anti-cult trend aimed at demystifying the myth surrounding Weber. The examination of the Weber cult, which may serve as a basis for locating other analogous phenomena, shows that attitudes within the allegedly strictly rationalistic academic community are not altogether devoid of other non-scholarly, implicitly religious orientations.
An Investigation into the Impact of Religion on Health among Iranian Community Residents in the UK (p 133)
School of Health and Social Sciences, Middlesex University
The primary aim of this study is to explore the interrelationships between health, health beliefs and religious beliefs within the Iranian community resident in the UK. The theoretical framework used for this study draws on the work of the existentialists who describe human existence in terms of four dimensions the physical world, the social world, the public world and the spiritual world. A purposive convenience sample was selected, by nominated and network qualitative sampling techniques, representing the main Iranian religious groups. A qualitative, phenomenological approach to data collection was employed, semi-structured focus group interviews being conducted with four groups, each representing one of the main religious groups within the Iranian community. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed, and content analysis was carried out utilising Huberman’s systematic approach as a framework. Five major themes emerged from the analysis of the focus group interviews. First was the process by which a system of values was constructed. Second was the issue of the continuum of cultural integration/isolation. Third was the level at which social cohesion or division was experienced. Fourth was the concept of spirituality as a coping strategy and fifth was the ebb and flow of religious influence over the lifespan. Consideration was given to these themes, and the ways in which they interrelated and overlapped. This led to the conclusion that cultural and religious identity were experienced and perceived differently, but recognised to be interrelated. Spirituality appeared to be more strongly related to health, in its broadest sense, than did religiosity, and well-being and health were viewed as being inextricably linked. The relevance of this study to health care practice is evident. Consideration of the spiritual dimenszon of care must extend beyond attention to religious practices, and the potential exists for the coping strategies related to spirituality to be developed as an aid to therapeutic intervention.
Is Implicit Religion Spirituality in Disguise? (p 146)
University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Two important developments in the world of religion and spirituality have occurred over the last couple of decades. Even as mainline church attendance has been declining, there has been a growing preoccupation with spirituality. During this same period there has been increasing interest in implicit religion, a concept which has been applied to illuminate a variety of social phenomena. Are these two developments merely a coincidence, or is there a link between them? A number of authors presuppose a close connection between implicit religion and spirituality, without specifying how these two concepts are related. This article will explore, from a psychological perspective, the relationship between implicit religion and spirituality to determine if they are in fact identical.
Staying Away: What Keeps Rural Churches Empty? (p 161)
Professor of Practical Theology, University of Wales, Bangor & Research Associate, Centre for Ministy Studies, University of Wales, Bangor
One small rural parish invited all resident parishioners to complete a survey regarding their perceptions of their parish church. Responses were received from sixty-seven individuals who did not see themselves as regular churchgoers but nonetheless believed in the Christian God. The data demonstrated that those most likely to increase their level of attendance were the established residents (not newcomers) who had maintained contact with the church through attendance at the major festivals. To increase their level of attendance they would want to be made to feel more welcome and more at home.
Abstracts of Vol VI, no. 1, August 2003
The Critical Potential of the Concept of Implicit Religion (pp 5-16)
Philosophy, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands
This article is an attempt to assess the meaning of being critical in a cultural, scientific, and religious sense. By focusing on implicit religion, the paper discusses various areas in which its critical potential becomes obvious. These areas reach from situations in which developments in implicit religion account for considerable modifications of explicit religion and the cultural environment, to the many instances in which the concept of implicit religion has a critical impact on the perception of reality. The main concern of the paper is the critical potential of the concept of implicit religion as a searching device which permits us to see, and thus to come to a more accurate evaluation of what is going on, in the study of religion, in religious developments, in different forms of religious interaction, and with regard to various attitudes which at first sight do not appear to be religiously relevant.
Why is Implicit Religion Implicit? (pp 17-41)
Department of Divinity and Religious Studies, Aberdeen University
To say that certain expressions of religion are ‘implicit is to suggest that there are good reasons why they cannot be made ‘explicit. This paper accepts that religions are socially constructed systems of symbols (Geertz), but emphasises that they are also responses to the experience of a relationship with a transcendent presence. Qualitative and quantitative empirical data are presented to demonstrate that such experience is extremely commonplace in Britain. Yet public reference to this biologically built-in awareness is often the cause of embarrassment and fear of ridicule. The origins of this taboo are traced back to the damage done to relational consciousness by the possessive individualism that emerged in Europe during the seventeenth century. The rise of individualism is associated with inter-linked changes in religious, philosophical, political and economic beliefs that continue to dominate Western economic and political life. During the nineteenth century the young Hegelian Max Stirner demonstrated (and applauded) how the assumptions of individualism lead logically to an extreme form of atheism. However, since individualism is a social construct, it can potentially be deconstructed. Hence, in principle, religion need not continue to be as implicit as it currently is in many peoples lives.
The Discourse of Human Rights a Secular Religion? (pp 43-53)
Industrial Chaplain, Worcester Diocese; Tutor, Oxford Brookes University
Human rights are a key part of the contemporary debate on creating an integrated global community. The relationship between religious traditions and the discourse of human rights has yet to be fully explored. This article argues that the structure of this discourse displays elements that suggest it should be viewed as a form of secular religion. It utilizes research carried out by the author on a reconfigured relationship between faith and reason, building upon interpretations of the work of Habermas and Derrida from within the fields of sociology and philosophy respectively. In particular, the text offers the ideas of the ‘messianic, of a continuing tension between the universal and the particular, of an understanding of the human subject that balances the cognitive with the affective, and of the hope for a democracy to come that takes into account indeterminacy, as structures to be found both within a renewed relationship between reason and faith and in the discourse of human rights. On this basis there can be seen to be a direct link between human rights and the Christian tradition and therefore the hope that the latter will be able to make a more substantive contribution to the contemporary debate. Becoming a more integral part of the public sphere may be a way forward for religious traditions as they search for more effective ways of engaging with contemporary culture.
Believing and Belonging: a Psychological Comment on the Paper given by E.I. Bailey at Windsor, 1990 (pp 55-59)
Potchefstroom University, South Africa
Personal Construct Psychology is used to harmonise two apparently conflicting diagnoses of contemporary Church membership in Britain Davies (1994) Believing without Belonging, and Baileys (1990) Belonging without Believing. Varying degrees of explicitness suggest other combinations of belief and church attendance.
Abstracts of Vol V, no. 2, November 2002
A Psychological Dimension to Implicit Religion (pp 69-80)
School of Psychology, Oxford Brookes University
The purpose of this review is to identify those aspects of the psychology of religion that might contribute to the study of implicit religion, and describe some recent research that seems particularly relevant.
Implicit Religion in the Psychology of Religion (pp 81-92)
University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
The concept of implicit rcligion has gained increasing currency in recent years, its
primary application in North American social science being in the sociology of religion.
This paper explores the use of implicit religion in an area where it has received little attention to date, namely the psychology of religion. To gauge the application of implicit religion in the psychology of religion I consult those five major English-language texts in the psychology of religion which have gone to a second edition since 1993. This review of texts guides my discussion of where implicit religion is found in the history and practice of the discipline.
Technology and Myth: Implicit Religion in Technological Narratives (pp 93-103)
University of Regina, Canada
We are continuously immersed in stories about technology. Many of these stories are implicitly religious they are myths. Through two case studies, the visions of Ray Kurzweil and Bill Joy, we analyze some of the myths that underlie our discourse about technology and the contradictions that it creates for technology practice. In that they both reveal and conceal meaning, myths are inherently ambiguous. The bad faith of myth is mystification. It is an illusion that we can ever escape from mythology, but it makes a difference which stories we tell and we have to take ethical responsibility for our narratives.
Establishment or Disestablishment?: a survey among Church of England clergy (pp 105-120)
University of Wales, Bangor, UK
A sample of 256 clergy with licences or permission to officiate within one Church of England diocese completed a detailed questionnaire concerning their views on establishment and disestablishment. The data demonstrate that, although the majority of clergy are not wishing to campaign for disestablishment, they are seeking some urgent revisions in the current relationship between the church and state.
God Images in Prayer Intention Books (pp 121-126)
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz/Germany
The basis of my findings are 2,674 prayers in seven German prayer intention books.
Prayer intention books are books laid out in churches in which people can write their intentions. These books are situated in a context of explicit religion. But there are a few aspects that point towards implicit religion, e.g. the anonymity of addressees.