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1. Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Bishop Stephen E. Blaire Scaling the Walls of Injustice
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There are many obstacles to the right relationships which must exist wherever people gather and interconnect if justice is to prevail. One such barrier pertains to the naming of evil or a lesser good as a good to be achieved. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola speak of “evil presented under the guise of good.” Another such obstacle is the closure of one’s mind in a self-referential way. There is little or no humble openness to search for the truth of what is good for people and for the earth. A third wall is the breakdown of genuine dialogue. A tribal mentality views others as the enemy with nothing significant to offer. As a Church and as individual members we are challenged to overcome and remove any barrier by building right relationships. With God we can break through any barrier; with God we can scale any wall (Ps.18:30).
2. Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS Catholic Social Justice and NETWORK’s Political Ministry
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After more than forty-five years educating, organizing, and lobbying on Capitol Hill, NETWORK has come to know that the fullest understanding of Catholic Social Justice is in the contemplative moment of reflecting on lived experience and the stories of those around us. Catholic Social Justice is grounded in understanding of the scripture, the documents of Catholic Social Teaching, the teachings of popes and bishops on social issues, and the reality of lived experience. In effect, Catholic Social Justice allows a person to live out a “political ministry”—to be attentive to the needs of people who are suffering and have their voices heard by people in power, as well as minister to those in power who are frequently more lonely and burdened by their position than it would appear. With Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, at the helm, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice has grounded their Catholic Social Justice ministry in faith teaching, in contemplation, and in concern for the needs of all, from people at the margins of society to those in power.
3. Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Dr. Kim Lamberty Preferential Option for the Poor Reconsidered
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This article contends that churches in the United States have in large measure inter­preted the principle of preferential option for the poor in a way that bestows more benefits on the wealthy than on the poor. In support of that contention, the author examines the original meaning of the option for the poor principle, which has its roots in the reflections of theologians working in poverty-stricken contexts. She briefly surveys the work of Gustavo Gutierrez and Jon Sobrino—two theologians who have led Church thinking on poverty—and then suggests a revised praxis of preferential option for the poor for Catholics in the United States.
4. Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Giulia McPherson Defending the Rights of Refugees: A Catholic Cause
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Globally, the number of people forced to flee their homes due to conflict or persecution has reached a record high of more than 65 million. Catholic Social Teaching presents a framework through which this critical issue of our time can be addressed. A close examination of the Gospel, Papal teachings, and the example of Pope Francis himself, demonstrate that we are called to welcome the stranger in whatever form that may take. Whether through direct service and advocacy by organizations like Jesuit Refugee Service, or through personal reflection, each of us is called to take action.
5. Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Thomas Mulloy, MSSA, LSW Applying Catholic Social Teaching on Labor to Everyday Life to Advance the Work of Economic Justice
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The erosion of the quantity and quality of decent work in the American economy has had profound impact on low-income families and communities. The causes of the shift are misunderstood, and the consequences are underappreciated, but Catholic Social Teaching on Labor can provide clarity. A renewed commitment its application in some aspects of everyday life can provide Catholics with a new appreciation for the challenges faced by vulnerable people. A number of strategies to do this are considered.
6. Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Sister Helene O’Sullivan, MM The Prophetic Voice of the Church in the Context of Evolutionary Consciousness
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According to the author of this article, Catholic Social Teaching is the prophetic voice of the Church. As such it needs to be reframed for today’s world within the emerging worldview of integral consciousness. Our personal and collective consciousness (often referred to as our culture) evolve in identifiable stages towards more inclusive, cooperative and caring behavior. Integral consciousness enables greater adaptability, agency and the ability to solve more complex global problems. In order to move from a fractured world to wholeness we must come together around a vision of the One Earth Community. The article concludes with six thoughts on how to live into the deeper consciousness necessary for working for social justice.
7. Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
Kathy Saile, MSW The Vocation
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Everyone has a vocation to which God is calling them. This vocation reflects the skills and passion of the individual. A vocation is not a specific job or career and needs to be discerned through prayer and reflection. In addition, one needs to form one’s conscience. The process of discernment and forming one’s conscience needs to occur throughout one’s lifetime. The author explores the process by sharing her own journey of discerning her vocation as a practitioner of Catholic Social Teaching. Through the forming of her conscience and through prayer, she has lived out this vocation working both for the institutional Church and for secular organizations with a focus on social justice, domestic poverty and public policy.
8. Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice: Volume > 1 > Issue: 1
William J. Byron, S.J. Response and Reflections on More to Come
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This article provides a summary overview of the essays that constitute the inaugural issue of Praxis. I also add an extended topical agenda for future work on Catholic Social Thought, pointing out concerns hat have received insufficient attention in the past.
9. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Stephen L. Gardner Modernity as Revelation
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The notion of apocalypse is the unifying architecture of Rene Girard’s theory of history. The terrible paradox that motivates Girard is the inner affinity between Apocalypse and Enlightenment, progress and the disintegration of stable order, revelation and violence. In this essay, I look at three dimensions of Girard’s vision of the “end of history”: The first is the rise of “victimology” and its idioms in Western culture (and now their globalization) since the end of World War II, signaling the collapse of Western ethics through their own truth. The second is Girard’s image of the end of history in terms of the “return of the archaic,” a relapse into the chaos of the evolutionary beginnings of the human at the summit of cultural achievement. As moral distinctions crumble, the polarities of political life become more brittle and violent. And the last is to indicate (however sketchily) Girard’s relation to a modern tradition of apocalyptic thought that includes Pascal andRousseau, Marx and Sartre, and Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. As with his recent appropriation of Carl von Clausewitz, he aims both to finish and to finish off this tradition by bringing it back to its Christian underpinnings.
10. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Wolfgang Palaver Terrorism versus Non-Violent Resistance
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The following article starts with the horror and terror that have been caused be recent terrorist attacks like the mass murder of 9/11 or the Norway massacre from 2011. From a Western perspective suicide terrorism is especially terrifying. In a first part of his article Palaver tries to show that suicide terrorism, despite our first reaction to it, is a rational phenomenon that has to be understood precisely in order to respond to this challenge properly. Drawing on the work of LouiseRichardson and other experts on terrorism he shows that traditional forms of military sacrifices that have forced people to die for their country is much closer to suicide terrorism than we think at first sight. By using René Girard’s mimetic theory, Palaver’s second part focuses on the complex relationship between religion and violence. He especially emphasizes the danger that follows the Abrahamic overcoming of the scapegoat mechanism – the Abrahamic revolution parting from the world of human sacrifice – if the solidarity with the victims is disconnected from forgiveness. In the third part Palaver turns to an alternative model of how we can respond to injustice and oppression by emphasizing a still often overlooked legacy of the Abrahamic tradition that avoids the dangers that characterizecontemporary terrorism. From this perspective, non-violence, forgiveness, and the love of enemies become important criteria for martyrdom and resistance.
11. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Jodok Troy The Power of the Zealots: Religion, Violence, and International Relations
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This article evaluates the issue of religion and conflict in international relations. René Girard’s mimetic theory offers explanations for basic problems of the ‘new world order’: why violence is a persistent pattern in human and political conduct as well as the understanding of religion and conflict. Therefore the article, after an assessment of framing religion and conflict in the context of theoretical approaches to political science, evaluates the possibilities of mimetic theory to provide a new understanding of the nexus of religion and conflict in international relations. It will do so in arguing for the hypothesis that the mimetic theory provides insights to the interplay of the evolving of power as it is described by the Realist tradition of international relations. The power of the ‘zealots,’ is the power of mimetic desire, which always threatens to bring people apart.
12. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Mathias Moosbrugger René Girard and Raymund Schwager on Religion, Violence, and Sacrifice: New Insights from Their Correspondence
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This article shows, that despite their different academic backgrounds and even before having met, cultural anthropologist René Girard and theologian Raymund Schwager had surprisingly similar convictions concerning the decisive dynamics in interpersonal relations and the problematic field of collective violence and its connection to the logic of sacrifice. Nevertheless, they differed in their applications of these convictions when it came to appraising the specific character of theJudeo-Christian revelation and the Christ event. Therefore, for several years, they had an intense discussion about this issue. This discussion, which Girardians regard as the source of Girard’s most important re-evaluation of his thinking, is reconstructed using material from their letter exchange. It is argued that this discussion was quite different from what it is usually believed to have been like.
13. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Wilhelm Guggenberger Taming Violence
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To René Girard, religion is not a source of violence but rather one of the most widespread means to reduce violence. It even preserved archaic societies from self-destruction and worked in the same mode for most of history. The article tries to depict this mechanism and to explain its paradoxical nature, which is the taming of violence by violent means. Further on, functional equivalents are shown, which become necessary because of the enlightenment triggered by the biblical revelation and other axial-age-dynamisms.
14. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Nikolaus Wandinger Religion and Violence: A Girardian Overview
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René Girard’s mimetic theory sees mimesis as the most central determinant of human behavior. According to him it also generated so much violence that it threatened the very existence of humanity. Yet, the same force also found a means to minimize and contain violence—through religion. Girard distinguishes between archaic and Biblical religion and finds criteria for this distinction and the anthropology and theology of a religion. This article tries to give an overview of Girard’s theory with special consideration to the role of religion.
15. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Massimo Introvigne Gatekeeping and Narratives about “Cult” Violence: The McDonald’s Murder of 2014 in China
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The sociological concept of “gatekeeping,” i.e., of filtering news for several purposes, allowing only some to reach the public, is useful to explain how often only negative news about “cults” are published by mainline media. This theory is illustrated through a case study of the murder of a young woman in a McDonald’s diner in Zhaoyuan, Shandong, China in 2014. The Chinese authorities, who were pursuing a campaign of repression against The Church of Almighty God, successfully allowed only information connecting the murder with that Church to reach the international media. When Western scholars studied the documents of the case, however, they concluded that the homicide had been perpetrated by a different Chinese new religious movement. They also realized that gatekeeping had the perverse effect of focusing the attention on the alleged connection with The Church of Almighty God, leaving outside of the gate essential information that would have allowed a serious study of the small group responsible for the murder, and a comparison with other crimes committed by new religious movements.
16. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Chas S. Clifton A Texas Witch On Trial
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Although Wicca, or contemporary Pagan witchcraft, is by all definitions a new religious movement, it lacks many of the characteristics the NRMs often display, such as a charismatic founder(s), millenarian prophecies, or new forms of social order. Nor have Wiccans been identified with commonly studied forms of violence with NRMs, such as mass suicides, violence against former members, or attacks on surrounding populations. In 1980, however, as Wicca was on the verge of both a growth spurt and increased media attention, Loy Stone, a leader of one organization, the Church of Wicca, was tried for murder in Texas. The victim, a fifteen-year-old girl, was one of a large group of teenagers who had been committing acts of harassment and vandalism during October 1977 at the farm inhabited by Stone, his wife, and his elderly mother, actions I would categorize as falling into the folkloric definition of “legend trips.” The Stone case makes clear the persistence of abusive stereotypes of “devil-worshipers” in America. Finally, it challenged members of the Wiccan community to decide whether the Stones should be supported or rhetorically cast out.
17. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Liselotte Frisk “Spiritual Shunning”: Its Significance for the Murder in Knutby Filadelfia
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This paper argues that the practice of “spiritual shunning,” defined as deliberate isolation of one person from a religious group for alleged spiritual reasons, may have been a significant factor in a murder case which happened in Sweden in 2004 in a small religious group with a Pentecostal background. The material consists of interviews with four former members, who describe the process of spiritual shunning as it existed in the group before it started to fall apart in the autumn of 2016. The four interviewees describe the process of spiritual shunning in roughly five stages: how they began to fall out of grace; when the door to Jesus definitely closed; the process of working their way back; being back in grace; and finally having the mission to help others move back to grace again. The informants describe very clearly the desperation they felt when they faced the possibility that they would not belong to the chosen ones when Jesus would soon come back, but would instead be burning in hell. Many sources document that the perpetrator of the crime in 2004 was spiritually shunned by the core group at the time of the murder. The murder was presented to her by the pastor who was later convicted for instigating the crime, as a way to pay off her spiritual debts.
18. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Kelly Denton-Borhaug Sacrificial U.S. War-Culture: Cognitive Dissonance and the Absence of Self-Awareness
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This article explores the potent sacrificial sacred canopy that shrouds rhetoric, practices, and institutions of post-9/11 war-culture in the United States. Analyzing examples from popular culture, presidential rhetoric, and military history, especially Andrew Bacevich’s America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History, I show how the depth and breadth of sacrificial rhetoric and logic result in a highly disciplined practice of framing and decision-making about militarism and war in the United States. Sacrificial linguistic patterns profoundly ignite and transcendentalize militarization and war, even while simultaneously mitigating conscious awareness, concern, and protest.
19. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Iselin Frydenlund Buddhist Militarism Beyond Texts: The Importance of Ritual During the Sri Lankan Civil War
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This article addresses Buddhist militarism by exploring monastic-military ritual interactions during the Sri Lankan civil war, lasting from 1983 to 2009. Much has been written on the importance of Buddhism to Sinhala nationalism, the redefinition of the Buddhist monastic role in response to colonialism and the modernization process, as well as the development of a Buddhist just-war ideology. While these perspectives in various ways emphasize the importance of the Buddhist monastic order in pushing forward a Sinhala Buddhist nationalist agenda, little attention has been paid to the performative aspects of Buddhist militarism. Based on ethnographic data gathered during the Norwegian-facilitated peace talks (2000–2008), this article shows how rituals became crucial in conveying support to the state’s military efforts without compromising religious authority. By looking at Buddhist monastic ritual interaction in military institutions, this paper argues that the acceptance of the use of warfare is less anchored in systematized just-war thinking than the term “Buddhist just-war ideology” seems to suggest. Rather, through an anthropological approach to Buddhism and violence, this article shows that the term “Buddhist implicit militarism” better captures the rationale behind the broad monastic engagement with military institutions beyond minority positions of radical Buddhist militancy during a given “exception” in history. The essay concludes that monastic-military ritual interaction is a social field in which this “implicit militarism” is most clearly articulated.
20. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Ankur Barua Encountering Violence in Hindu Universes: Situating the Other on Vedic Horizons
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A study of Hindu engagements with violence which have been structured by scriptural themes reveals that violence has been regulated, enacted, resisted, negated or denied in complex ways. Disputes based on Vedic orthodoxy were channeled, in classical India, through the mythical frameworks of gods clashing with demons, and later in the medieval centuries this template was extended to the Muslim foreigners who threatened the Brahmanical socio-religious orders. In the modern period, the electoral mechanisms of colonial modernity spurred Hindu anxieties about a weakened nation which would die out in the face of Muslim solidarity, and various Hindu organizations began to increasingly draw on motifs from the Vedas, Bhagavad-gītā, and other texts to speak of a martial Hindu nation. These two moments—the articulation of the boundaries of the robust Hindu nation and the projection of the Muslim as the enemy lurking at the gates—have been integral to the shaping of Hindu cultural nationalism by several key thinkers and political activists. Thus, the forms of violence associated with Hindu universes should be placed within their dynamic socio-historical contexts where Hindus have interpreted, engaged with, and acted on a range of scriptural texts both to generate violent solidarities and to speak of peace. A study of these phenomena alongside some Christian theological attempts to legitimize, valorize or transcend violence from within scriptural horizons points to the complex conceptual terrain encompassed by the conjunction in “religion and violence.”