121-140 of 651 Results

Article

Devotional Art in Viceregal Latin America  

Marcus Burke

The art of devotion in colonial Mexico, Central America, and South America—called the “viceregal” period, from the division of the colonies into viceroyalties from 1521 to 1821—arose in the context of reformed Roman Catholicism, especially after the Council of Trent (1545–1563). Devotional images included stand-alone compositions, images from altar ensembles and serial contexts, and works of sculpture that could be the focus of a believer’s pious contemplation or an accompaniment to liturgy. These images document the establishment of the Christian faith and its iconography in the New World, including syncretic elements, principally in the initial decades of colonization and missionization. They embody doctrines and local devotions relating to the Blessed Virgin Mary; the importance of the religious orders to Latin American devotional art; orthodox and heterodox imagery; regional variations; and special iconographies particular to Latin America. The creation of viceregal images was conditioned by issues such as the relative importance of centers of viceregal power versus peripheries, differing ethnic and religious traditions of specific localities, relatively permissive church attitudes toward heterodoxy, and the use of European models.. In the almost exactly three centuries of the viceregal era, artists of the first rank such as Baltasar de Echave Orio, Luis and José Juárez, Alonso López de Herrera, Cristóbal de Villalpando, Juan Rodríguez Juárez, and Miguel Cabrera from Mexico; Bernardo Bitti, Mateo Pérez de Alesio, Angelino Medoro, Baltasar Gavilán, and Bernardo de Legarda from Peru and Ecuador; and O Aleijadinho from Brazil created religious works responding to European stylistic developments but expressing local artistic values even as they nourished an ongoing Roman Catholic devotional life.

Article

The Distinction between Law and Gospel in Martin Luther’s Theological Development  

Charles P. Arand

Martin Luther’s insistence on the proper distinction between law and gospel in theology marks one of his most important contributions to the Reformation movement and subsequent Protestant theology. In particular, it played the critical role in Luther’s “breakthrough” by which he came to his understanding of God’s righteousness and his justification of the sinner. The distinction between law and gospel served at least two key functions in his thought. First, it kept the story of Christ focused on the benefits to people achieved by his death and resurrection. In this way, it magnified Christ’s work in accomplishing a person’s justification. As a corollary, it provided consolation to Christians struggling with the burden of their sins. Second, the distinction of law and gospel served as a hermeneutical tool for pastors not only to interpret the scriptures in line with their purpose, but also to apply the scriptures in a pastoral way to the lives of their people in order to comfort them and to strengthen their faith. Luther’s distinction of law and gospel raised questions for his followers regarding the law and whether or not it had any positive role to play within the Christian life. Luther’s distinction between law and gospel is closely related to several other distinctions in his theology. First, it bears a number of similarities with Luther’s distinction of the two kinds of righteousness. But whereas the latter focuses on a description of anthropology, law and gospel focuses on the works of God by which he brings about two kinds of righteousness in the life of a person. Second, law and gospel is also related to Luther’s distinction of the two realms. But whereas the latter focuses on how God rules with his left hand for the well-being of creation and with his right hand for the well-being of the church, law and gospel deal with the two works of God by which he brings about his goals for creation and the church. In the centuries since, scholars have debated aspects of Luther’s distinction, particularly as it impinged on the understanding of the third use of the law.

Article

Domestic Dharma in Japan  

Paula Arai

The domestic dimensions of Buddhist practice are a robust and ubiquitous stream, though they have not received much scholarly attention. The category of “domestic Dharma” is a conceptual lens that focuses on everyday lived phenomenon in order for scholars to see Buddhist activity occurring in the privacy of people’s homes. Accessing and understanding the contours of such activities largely depends on ethnographic research. The core dynamics of domestic Dharma engage a field of practices, including ritualization of daily life, mothering as locus of transmission of teachings and practices, rites and objects for protection, healing activities, and interplay with ancestors. Domestic Dharma practices fall under five broad overlapping modes of religious activity: ritualized, scriptural, communicative, materially interactive, and aesthetic. Domestic Dharma practices support people in facing infertility, crippling chronic pain, death through disease, untimely loss of family members, experiencing equanimity, cultivating harmonious relationships, and creating beauty in daily life. Such activities do not fit neatly into abstract categories and institutional frames, for they are complex, concrete, and ever-changing. Women propel domestic Dharma by tending to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of themselves and their families. A family’s homemade ritualized activities are efficacious, because they emerge out of immediate situations, idiosyncratic habits, and preferred aesthetics. Domestic Dharma is a vital sphere of harmonious, resilient responses to the vicissitudes of life in which respect, responsibility, and gratitude are cultivated.

Article

D. T. Suzuki: A Biography  

James C. Dobbins

D. T. Suzuki (1870–1966) was a renowned scholar, proponent, and popularizer of Buddhism in the 20th century. He grew up in modest circumstances in Kanazawa, Japan, and was a strong student in primary and secondary school. Though he was forced to withdraw before graduation, he managed to enter Tokyo Imperial University in 1892 as a special student and received instruction in Western philosophy and literature. At the same time, Suzuki began intensive Zen training as a lay practitioner at Engakuji monastery in nearby Kamakura. His master, Shaku Sōen, who had international connections, later recommended him to Open Court Publishing in the United States to assist in its projects on Asian religions. Suzuki lived in Illinois for eleven years, working mostly in translation, editing, and proofreading while also absorbing Western scholarship on religion and philosophy. During this time he began publishing his own works on Buddhism and Asian religions. He returned to Japan in 1909 and took a position as an English professor in the preparatory division of Gakushūin in Tokyo. He also resumed Zen practice with Shaku Sōen in Kamakura and collaborated with him on Japanese publications on Zen. By this time Suzuki had produced an array of works on Buddhism in English and Japanese. In 1921 Suzuki was appointed professor of English and Buddhist studies at Ōtani University in Kyoto. There he launched the journal The Eastern Buddhism, co-edited with his American wife Beatrice Lane Suzuki (1875–1939), which became an important international venue for scholarship on Mahayana Buddhism. Over the next twenty years Suzuki published some of his most influential books in English, many of which introduced Europeans and Americans to Zen. He also produced important works on Mahayana and Pure Land Buddhism. After his wife died in 1939, he went into semi-retirement in Kamakura and spent the war years publishing in Japanese on Zen, Pure Land, and Japan’s spirituality. After World War II, Suzuki emerged as a public figure in Japan. This was also the time when Western interest in Buddhism increased dramatically. In 1949 Suzuki went overseas again and spent almost a decade in the United States, primarily on the faculty of Columbia University. During this period he gave countless lectures and talks in the United States and Europe, and met frequently with prominent Western thinkers. Suzuki quickly rose to fame as a celebrity intellectual. After retiring to Japan in 1958, he continued to write and make appearances throughout his remaining years. When he died in 1966 at the age of ninety-five, Suzuki was acclaimed worldwide as the foremost proponent of Zen and as an authority on Buddhism.

Article

D. T. Suzuki: Ideas and Influences  

James C. Dobbins

D. T. Suzuki (1870–1966) was a scholar who published extensively in Japanese and English and achieved international recognition as an authority and proponent of Buddhism in the 20th century. He was one of a generation of young progressive Buddhists in Japan seeking to rehabilitate the religion and ensure its survival by interpreting it in a modern idiom. Suzuki grew up in humble circumstances but managed to attend Tokyo Imperial University for several years. At the same time, he received Zen training as a lay practitioner at Engakuji monastery in Kamakura. Through an introduction by his Zen master, who had international connections, Suzuki was able to travel to America in 1897 to assist in English translation projects on Asian religions. There he lived for eleven years working for Open Court Publishing in Illinois, all the while absorbing Western scholarship on religion and philosophy. During this time, Suzuki began to publish his own works on Buddhism and Asian religions. He returned to Japan in 1909 and took a position as an English professor in the preparatory school of Gakushūin in Tokyo. In 1921 Suzuki moved to Ōtani University in Kyoto as a professor of English and Buddhist studies. Over the next twenty years, he published some of his most influential works in English, many of which introduced Europeans and Americans to Zen. After living in semi-retirement in Kamakura during the war years, Suzuki again had the opportunity to travel overseas in 1949. He spent almost a decade in America, affiliated first with the University of Hawai‘i, then with Claremont Graduate School in California, and, finally, most prominently, with Columbia University in New York. During this period Buddhism, particularly Zen, became wildly popular in America and Europe, and Suzuki quickly rose to the status of a celebrity intellectual. After retiring to Japan in 1958, he continued to write and make appearances. When he died in 1966 at the age of ninety-five, Suzuki was renowned worldwide for his advancement of Zen and Buddhism generally. Suzuki’s scholarship on Buddhism focused particularly on Zen, Mahayana, and Pure Land. In Zen, he singled out satori, or Zen enlightenment, as the pivotal element in its religious life and practice. In Mahayana, he emphasized the ideas of nonduality and the interpenetration of all things and sought to spread knowledge of Mahayana in Western circles to counterbalance the better-known Theravada tradition. In Pure Land, he shifted the focus from enlightenment after death in Amida Buddha’s paradise to religious fulfillment in the present world and present life. In all these forms of Buddhism, Suzuki applied the concepts of religious experience and mysticism, which were widely recognized in Western scholarship. His success in presenting Buddhism to Western readers resulted in the widespread adoption of his interpretations by mainstream thinkers and counterculture movements alike in America and Europe. His ideas also commanded great respect in mid-20th-century Japan as part of Buddhism’s modern revitalization.

Article

Dunhuang Art  

Michelle C. Wang

The oasis city of Dunhuang lies at the eastern end of the southern Silk Routes, in Gansu Province in northwestern China. In the 2nd century BCE, Dunhuang was established by the Chinese Han dynasty as a center for military operations and trade. Over time, Dunhuang became an important hub for multicultural trade as well as for the transmission of commodities, ideas, and religions. The status of Dunhuang as an important regional center for Buddhism is demonstrated by a wealth of paintings and manuscripts that provide crucial insights into the unfolding of religious praxis and developments in visual culture over many centuries. A few centuries after the establishment of Dunhuang as a military garrison, the construction of cave shrines in the area began. Four major groups of cave shrines were constructed in the Dunhuang region: the Mogao, Yulin, and Western Thousand Buddhas caves, and the Five Temples site. The most well-studied of these are the Mogao 莫高, or “peerless,” cave shrines, which are located 25 kilometers southeast of Dunhuang at the eastern edge of Mount Mingsha 鳴沙山 (Mountain of the Singing Sands). From the 4th to the 14th centuries, 492 man-made caves were carved from the sandstone cliffs, stretching 1,680 meters from south to north. They were painted with over 45,000 square meters of mural paintings and installed with more than 2,000 painted clay sculptures. To the north, 248 additional caves were carved. Mostly unadorned, the northern caves served as habitation chambers for monks. In addition to the mural paintings and inscriptions in the Mogao caves, more than 50,000 manuscripts and portable paintings were discovered in 1900 by the caretaker and Daoist priest Wang Yuanlu 王圓籙 from one cave, numbered Mogao cave 17, popularly though perhaps problematically known as the “library cave.” These objects were dispersed in the early 20th century to library and museum collections, the most prominent of which are the Stein collection in the British Museum, British Library, the National Museum of India, and the Pelliot collection in the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet and Bibliothèque Nationale de France. For this reason, the study of Dunhuang art and material culture encompasses both objects held in museum and library collections worldwide as well as mural paintings and sculptures located in situ in the cave shrines. Bringing these two bodies of material into conversation with one another enables a nuanced understanding of Dunhuang as a religious and artistic center, focusing in particular on the Mogao caves.

Article

Dunhuang Texts  

Mélodie Doumy

At the turn of the 20th century, a small, walled-up cave was discovered by Daoist monk Wang Yuanlu王圆禄on the Buddhist site of the Thousand Buddha Caves, or Mogao Caves, located near Dunhuang (in the present-day Chinese province of Gansu). The room revealed a huge cache of manuscripts dating from the late 4th century up to the beginning of 11th century; the time around which it was probably sealed off. Although it also contained a smaller number of drawings, paintings, textiles, and other artifacts, the secret repository is popularly referred to as the “Library Cave” or “Cave 17” after the number that the explorer Marc Aurel Stein assigned to it. The oasis town of Dunhuang was once positioned at a strategic point on the Silk Road. The manuscripts found in Cave 17 reflect the multicultural nature of the region through the range of languages represented and the variety of subject matters covered. They were written in Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit, and other ancient Central Asian languages. Although they are primarily Buddhist texts, there are also secular manuscripts, such as letters and contracts, along with a minority of manuscripts showcasing other religions. For these reasons, as well as the relative scarcity of materials surviving from the period, the Dunhuang manuscripts have revolutionized the understanding of medieval China and Central Asia. A whole academic discipline, Dunhuangology, or Dunhuang studies, has developed around them. They open a window into the wider religious and secular worlds of the Silk Road, constituting a major resource for various research fields, including history, Buddhism, linguistics, science, literature, and manuscript studies.

Article

Dzogchen  

Sam van Schaik

Dzogchen, often translated as “the great perfection,” is a tradition of meditation practice and poetic literary expression in Tibetan Buddhism. Though its origins lie in Indic Buddhism, Dzogchen developed a distinct form of practice and literary expression only in Tibet. In general, Dzogchen texts evoke and discuss a state of awareness present in all living beings that transcends dualities and conceptual elaboration. Common terms for this state of awareness are “mind itself” (sems nyid) and “awareness” (rig pa). Dzogchen literature often states that in the presence of this awareness, religious practice oriented toward enlightenment is dualistic and, therefore, not only unnecessary, but also obstructive. Nevertheless, Dzogchen is usually integrated with other forms of Buddhist practice. The Dzogchen tradition encompasses a variety of literature and practice; the most common way of categorizing this is a division into three classes, the mind series, the space series, and the instruction series. The mind series contains most of the early Dzogchen literature, and more recent material in the same style. The space series enjoyed only limited popularity, and little is known of it today. The instruction series, by contrast, increased in popularity from its appearance in the 11th century and in time supplanted the mind series and the space series, ultimately becoming the predominant form of Dzogchen. The practice of Dzogchen requires an authorized teacher and the ritual transmission of key texts, as well as an “introduction” to the nature of the mind given by the teacher to the student. The main scriptural sources of Dzogchen practice are texts held to be translations collected in semicanonical compendia, treatises by Tibetan scholars, and revealed texts known as terma, usually said to have been concealed in the 8th century by the tantric master Padmasambhava. Dzogchen is a living tradition, taught within all of the main Tibetan Buddhist schools, though it remains closely associated with the Nyingma school. Within the latter, Dzogchen is considered to be the most advanced of Buddhist meditation practices, placed at the top of a ninefold categorization of Buddhist practice, the “nine vehicles.” Known in this context as atiyoga, “the utmost yoga,” it is the highest of the three “inner yogas,” the other two being mahāyoga and anuyoga. Dzogchen is also at the pinnacle of the teachings of Tibet’s Bonpo religion, which shares much of its doctrine with the Nyingma school and has in recent years been formally identified as one of the Buddhist schools of Tibet.

Article

Early Christian Worship  

Paul F. Bradshaw

The forms of Christian worship changed and developed considerably during the first four centuries of its existence, not least from a distinctive local or regional diversity to an increasing standardization of practice throughout the ancient world. One of the major factors influencing these changes was the eventual adoption of the New Testament as the Christian scripture, and another was the emergence of the church into public life early in the 4th century. Rites of initiation chiefly involving baptism in water marked the entry of new converts into the community of believers. The central observance was the Eucharist, celebrated every Sunday from at least the end of the 1st century. This was supplemented by services of the word on certain days of the week and by regular times of prayer each day undertaken by individuals or small groups of believers. Annual festal celebrations, the majority of which were associated with the anniversaries of martyrs and others who had died, also increased in number as time passed. Christians understood the worship that they offered through Jesus Christ to be the spiritual fulfillment of the sacrificial cult of the Old Testament. Although at first insisting that they were not a religion like others around them—indeed, they were regarded as atheists by their contemporaries—they ultimately came to adopt the language, images, and terminology of standard religious discourse once their persecution had ceased and the Church had emerged as a cultus publicus in the 4th century. This also coincided with a shift from an understanding of worship as an essentially corporate action presided over by its appointed ministers to one where those ministers were seen as carrying out its liturgy on behalf of the people.

Article

Early History of the Drukpa Kagyü School  

Seiji Kumagai

Among the four main Tibetan Buddhist schools, the Kagyü (Bka’ brgyud) school produced the highest number of subschools in the early period after its foundation. Within this school, the Drukpa Kagyü (‘Brug pa bka’ brgyud) school became religiously and politically influential in Tibet and its surrounding areas along with the Karma Kagyü (Karma bka’ brgyud) school and the Pakdu Kagyü (Phag gru bka’ brgyud) school. The Drukpa Kagyü school was responsible for the unification of Bhutan in the 17th century and currently has the second largest number of adherents within the entire Kagyü school. Thus, the Drukpa Kagyü school has played an important role both politically and religiously in Tibet and the Himalayan regions. Fortunately, modern historians’ studies have enabled us to grasp the historical outline of the school. However, most of them treat only a particular era or rely only on a limited number of biographies and dharma annals. Therefore, they often offer insufficient or incomplete information. The early history of the Drukpa Kagyü school, in particular, has not been exhaustively examined or philologically studied. To understand the Drukpa Kagyü school fully, it is necessary to comprehend the precise order of events in its early history. This article thus has the objective of reexamining the early history of the school, primarily focusing on three generations: the founder of the Drukpa Kagyü school, Tsangpa Gyare (Gtsang pa rgya ras Ye shes rdo rje, 1161–1211), his root master Ling Repa (Gling ras pa Padma rdo rje, 1128–1188), and his disciples such as Darma Senge Sangye Wonre (Darma seng ge Sangs rgyas dbon ras, 1177–1237). The article also examines the relationship between the Lingre Kagyü school and the Drukpa Kagyü school, as well as the classification of subschools inside the Drukpa Kagyü school.

Article

Early Modern European Encounters with Buddhism  

Thomas Calobrisi

Historians Urs App and Martino Dibeltulo Concu have argued that the European “discovery” of Buddhism as a “religion” can be dated to the 16th century rather than the 19th, and that the presentation of the Buddha as a philosopher by the likes of Eugène Burnouf is a secularized holdover from the Jesuit accounts of the 16th century. These claims have a tenuous basis, and Burnouf’s portrayal of the Buddha as a philosopher was a radical break from earlier Jesuit accounts. Unlike the Asian Buddhists who preceded him, Burnouf separated the facts from beliefs and concluded the Buddha was a human philosopher. The essay explores the 16th-century Jesuit encounter with Buddhists in Japan and the accounts that were generated therefrom, with particular attention to the notion that the Buddha taught both an inner materialist doctrine and an outer moral one; it looks to the dissemination and development of these ideas in the 17th and 18th centuries, with a focus on the “African hypothesis” as it is found in various European savants; it turns to the 19th-century “discovery” of Buddhism by the likes of Ozeray, Abel-Rémusat, Hodgson, and Burnouf. it then draws out the implications of the defense of Masuzawa and Droit’s position given in this article for the field of Buddhist studies, particularly with regard to methodological issues.

Article

Ecofeminism, Religion, and the Arts in the West  

Jane Caputi

Since its inception in the 1970s, ecofeminism has maintained a persistent and extensive engagement with the arts. This manifests itself when theorists take up analyses of ecologically relevant worldviews enmeshed in works from the fine arts, literary texts, musical compositions, political activist art, and popular and commercial arts. Many writers, composers, and artists also produce ecofeminist works (implicitly or explicitly). The curator of the 2020 exhibit ecofeminism(s), Monika Fabijanska, lambasted “Western patriarchal philosophy and religions” that legitimate both misogyny and ecocide. In her view, “the foundation of ecofeminism is spiritual feminism, which insists that everything is connected . . . nature does not discriminate between soul and matter.” In the branch of ecofeminism that pays close attention to spirituality and religion, some seek to reclaim and/or generate an ecofeminist theology, often by invoking a non-heteropatriarchal and decolonial understanding of Mother Nature/Mother Earth as the original terrestrial force/source. This force/source contains female, male, and everything else, and holds powers of creation, destruction, transformation, and rebirth. Art historian Mary Garrard observes that Western culture demoted Nature from a “power” to an “environment.” Arguably, this has been to eliminate a rival, as the ruling notion of God is purely male, a father, heavenly, transcendent, the sole and omnipotent creator, and, as prophesied in the New Testament, the ultimate righteous destroyer of the elements and Earth. Ecofeminism has evolved to become more pointedly anti-essentialist, intersectional, and decolonial as it makes connections between men’s violence against women (including both trans and cis women) and other marginalized peoples and the treatment of land, animals, plants, and elements. Ecofeminist theorists and artists demand total social, political, and spiritual transformation. Many also acknowledge that the active and intelligent life force/source (sometimes called Mother Nature/Mother Earth) is changing irrevocably in response to the egregious actions of some humans. What is especially apparent in the fusion of ecofeminist and Afrofuturist perspectives is that the exigencies of the current environmental crisis demand awareness that nature is and always has been the “power,” including the power that is understood as God.

Article

Ecology and Religious Environmentalism in the United States  

Rebecca Kneale Gould and Laurel Kearns

Any discussion of ecology, environment, and religion in America rightly begins with the American landscape itself. It also properly begins with a reflection on the terms and metaphors that have been used to describe it. Although the term ecology was not coined until the mid-19th century, it is a preferred starting term in the sense that it denotes integrated natural systems within which humans are just one species among many. The word environment, however, is a particularly fitting term for any 21st-century discussion of religion and nature in America, for it frequently implies the conceptual separation of humans from the biophysical world, a separation often driven by economic interests and technological hubris whose consequences are strongly reverberating in the environmental injustices and climate change impacts we are facing today. This inquiry into the relationship between religion, nature, ecology, and environment necessarily includes the use of all three of these terms, all of which are contested—as is religion—and require nuance and attention to context when they are deployed. Throughout this article, all three of these terms are used somewhat interchangeably, but with attention to the shades of meaning that differentiate them, as well as to the religious, cultural, and political contexts that shape who uses what kind of language and to what purpose. We understand the history of “religion and ecology/environment” in America as having two dominant strands: (1) a broad, spiritual reverence for nature as inherently sacred, and (2) 20th-century forms of religiously based environmental action and concern. The first, the story of spiritual reverence for nature, has its roots in colonial worldviews, garnered broad enthusiasm in the mid-19th century and continues to flourish today in 21st-century nature writing and in environmental organizations and activism at all levels. The second dominant strand in the history of “religion and the environment” in America is that of environmental concern that is explicitly and unapologetically religiously based. It is this second strand that is the focus of this article. Nevertheless, the broader historical context of the varied, contested meanings of nature in America—including the notion of nature itself as the source of the sacred—is ever present in how religious environmentalism is articulated and negotiated. The many forms of religious environmentalism that have developed since the 1960s are as diverse, complex, varied, and nuanced as religious America itself. In its more liberal Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish forms, religious environmentalism is often grounded in the social justice concerns and activism of earlier periods, particularly in the civil rights movements of the late 1960s and 1970s and in various Social Gospel campaigns from the early 20th century through the 1940s. Much religious environmentalist activism whether at the congregational, denominational, or national level is clearly rooted in earlier, religiously grounded social reform movements, but extends the conceptual reach of these reforms to include both the health of nature itself and the many ways in which environmental degradation directly impacts human health and well-being, often disproportionally along race, class, and gender lines. More conservative Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, however, have also become increasingly engaged with environmental threats, both in terms of their own history of attention to social justice and in terms of seeing the natural world as God’s creation and, as such, requiring the care and respect of humans who are created “in the image of God.” Using the language of stewardship and “creation care” and emphasizing the necessity of humility in relationship to God and God’s creations, many religious conservatives who may resist the term “environmentalist” have become actively involved in environmental advocacy with particular attention to the growing climate crisis. Their work has included collaborating with religiously liberal groups in direct lobbying for policy changes, a development that has surprised those who assume that environmental advocacy is only a concern of political and religious liberals. As more recent immigrants have established themselves in the United States, new voices of religious environmentalism have emerged. These include the perspectives of Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and Sikh citizens who have brought their own perspectives on environmental concerns to the fore, often developing ideas of nature and forms of environmental activism that are both grounded in their landscapes and cultures of origin and reimagined in an American context. Meanwhile, environmental activism and organizing has continued to emerge from indigenous tribes for whom the sacredness of nature has always been central to their spiritual identities. In many cases, this activism has been directed toward protecting endangered species (who are understood to be kin), combating climate change and resisting petroleum industries that are ravaging sacred lands. When viewed in historical perspective, religious environmentalism both reflects and sheds new light on the larger story of religion(s) in America of which it is a part. Religious environmentalism continues to wrestle with the legacies of the assumptions about nature that colonial settlers brought with them, even while trying to overcome those legacies. In addition, while religious environmentalism is most obviously a religious response to threats to the natural world, clearly concern for nature is always deeply intertwined with concern for human flourishing. The task of much religious environmentalism is often to clarify the extent to which human welfare and the welfare of nature are profoundly linked. Religious environmentalism, then, is necessarily shaped by larger questions about what kind of nature is being valued, in what ways, for what reasons, and by whom. Such questions are invariably tied to larger issues of identity and cultural power, especially—but certainly not exclusively—in terms of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and religion. Finally, to the extent that American religion has been challenged, revitalized, and transformed by the long history of immigration and the ever-shifting effects of religious pluralism, so too has American religious environmentalism been shaped by the worldviews of newly arrived Americans. The tensions and negotiations inherent in the ways that religious environmentalism is expressed, therefore, often echo the broader tensions and negotiations of American religious identity that are familiar to historians of American religion. Attention to these tensions and negotiations is central to the narrative developed here.

Article

Ecology and Spirituality  

Leslie E. Sponsel

Interest in the degradation of the “natural” environment, and the scientific, academic, and activist responses including ecology have developed in Western societies largely since the 1950s. Western ecology is a subfield of the biological sciences, and more broadly it is related to the environmental sciences, environmental studies, and environmentalism. These have all generated accumulating evidence about the ongoing ecocrises at the local, regional, and global levels, and this in turn requires remedial actions. Ecocrises are increasingly becoming an existential threat to the human species and the planet, especially the reality of global climate change. Secular approaches are absolutely indispensable and have made progress but have also proven insufficient to turn things around for the better. Spirituality pursued as an integral part of religion and also independently from it may help. Spirituality refers to mystical phenomena that include profoundly moving emotional experiences that can generate vision, meaning, purpose, and direction for an individual’s life in pursuit of the sacred. Spirituality appears to predate any religion, in the sense of formalized social institutions with a system of prescribed sacred texts, specialists, beliefs, values, and practices. Furthermore, while in recent decades affiliation with religion declined, in contrast interest in spirituality increased. Surveys indicate that individuals range from religious and spiritual, religious but not spiritual, spiritual but not religious, to neither religious nor spiritual. Ecology and spirituality are interrelated in various ways and degrees: spiritual ecology has grown exponentially since the 1990s, although it has deep roots. It is a vast, complex, diverse, and dynamic arena of intellectual and practical activities at the interfaces of religions and spiritualities with ecologies, environments, and environmentalisms. Spiritual ecology may help contribute to the reduction or resolution of many ecocrises.

Article

Ecology in Islam  

Rosemary Hancock

Starting in the late 1960s, a small number of Muslim scholars turned their attention to how the Islamic scriptures and intellectual tradition might help Muslims understand and respond to climate change and environmental crisis. In building this Islamic approach to ecology, these scholars undertook close analysis of the Qur’an, the Sunnah (the collected traditions of the Prophet Muhammad), centuries of Islamic law, and the writings of Sufi mystics and scholars in order to construct Islamic environmental theologies and law. This Islamic ecology remained on the margins of mainstream Islamic discourse for decades, but the participation of Muslims in environmental movements is growing and with it, the need for an Islamic ecology. In developing environmental theologies, Muslim scholars focus upon the relationship of God to the natural world, positing that as God’s creation, the natural world is a sign through which humanity can experience God. Although the natural world is “made useful” to humanity, humans do not have absolute dominion over creation. Rather, humanity is Khalifah—God’s representative or steward on earth. The development of Islamic environmental law from within the shari’ah tradition is arguably just as—if not more—important as articulating an Islamic environmental theology. Some Muslim environmentalists argue for the revival of Islamic land management institutions and look to the many regulations regarding agriculture and water management found in shari’ah as avenues for implementing Islamic environmental law.

Article

Egypt in the Old Testament  

Christopher Hays

The relationship between Egypt and ancient Israel and Judah was far more complex than is often recognized. Egypt figures prominently in their national myths of origin as a way station for the patriarchs and as the “house of slaves” and starting point of the Exodus. Although no Exodus event can be confirmed from extrabiblical sources, its significance in the Bible suggests an historical kernel. The diverse existing traditions about Egypt in the texts of the Pentateuch and other early biblical writings, combined and written down at a later date, seem to reflect different experiences on the part of the groups that coalesced into Israel By the time of the monarchy, there is more direct evidence for Egyptian influence on Israelite culture, particularly in administrative affairs. It is also clear that Egyptian religion was practiced in the Levant at this time and would have been known in Israel and Judah. By the time of the divided monarchy, the historical picture comes into better focus. Relations between Egypt, Israel, and Judah were quite variable. Although Egypt’s New Kingdom empire in the Levant had ended, the region continued to be a useful trading outlet, and the pharaohs were not above raiding to assert their power. However, there are numerous examples of fugitives from the Levant finding refuge from their enemies in Egypt. In the interest of maintaining a buffer zone against the northern empires that encroached, Egypt and Kush gave military aid to Israel and Judah at times, through both direct action and supplies. The prophets had not forgotten Egypt’s role as an oppressor and frequently condemned it, as well as the tendency of Israelite and Judahite rulers to seek its help. But at times the prophets also envisioned peace with Egypt. There are a number of specific Egyptian texts that supply mutually illuminating points of comparison with biblical texts, including wisdom instructions, prayers, hymns, creation accounts, and autobiographies. These are indications of the extensive, ongoing, cultural interactions between Egypt and the cultures that produced the Old Testament.

Article

Emotion in American Religions  

John Corrigan

Emotion is an important part of religions in America. There is great diversity among emotional styles. Some groups are highly emotional, others relatively low in emotional expression, and some occupy a middle ground. Religious life is characterized by cultivation and expression of many emotions. Four that are of particular importance for Americans are wonder, empathy, anticipation, and the feeling of emptiness. Some emotions are treated as commodities. The study of emotion in religion enables fresh perspectives on the interwovenness of emotion, religion, and culture. The investigation of the emotional lives of religious persons in America can be advanced through study of persons’ reporting of their experiences alongside research bearing on cultural expectations for emotional life.

Article

Emotions and Experience in Martin Luther  

Pekka Kärkkäinen

Martin Luther’s view of emotions is firmly based on traditional language. He prefers to use affect as a general term for emotional phenomena, which includes general inclinations of love and hate, which involve more incidental emotions such as joy and fear. In general terms, emotions always have a cognitive content, although they are for Luther more than mere cognitions. In some cases, Luther even enjoins a cognitive manipulation of unwanted emotions, using traditional forms of piety, such as meditation on Christ’s sufferings. In the healing of emotions both in the spiritual and in the natural realm, music has a prominent place for Luther. The main cognitive source of spiritual emotions for Luther is the Word of God, dispensed by God himself in the scripture as the supreme rhetorician. Luther also noted the social nature of emotions. In particular, he appreciated the innate emotional bonds between the members of the family as God’s means for securing the well-being of humankind. The emotions are so deeply embedded in human nature that all the saints and even Christ himself were not without them. Luther’s ideal is not Stoic apatheia, but rather a moderation of emotions. Luther seldom attributes genuine emotions to God. He considers biblical language on God’s anger as pointing to his future judgment rather than any present state of mind. Luther intimately connects faith, which grasps the promises of the Gospel and creates the certainty of salvation, with human emotional life. This has a double effect on the emotions, providing comfort against the fear caused by sinfulness and external adversities as well as creating spiritual joy and peace of mind. Fear of God is an ambiguous emotion for Luther. The right kind of fear connected to reverence is essential to Christian life, and a similar fear should be felt for parents and authorities. Faith creates joy, which drives away fear, but the remaining sinfulness means that a certain amount of fear remains in this life. Fear and joy are dynamically complementary in Luther’s view, and he accuses his adversaries of preaching false security, which gets rid of the fear by denying the inherence of sin and mortality in human life. As with emotions, Luther adopts the traditional terminology of experience but develops it in a creative manner. Experience of God’s both negative and positive presence is essential for theology, especially for understanding the true meaning of the scriptures. However, in comparison to scripture, experience is insufficient in spiritual matters.

Article

Engaged Buddhism  

Ann Gleig

Engaged Buddhism emerged in Asia in the 20th century as Buddhists responded to the challenges of colonialism, modernity, and secularization. It is often dated to Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar’s challenge to caste discrimination in India in the 1950s and the antiwar activism of Vietnamese Buddhist monastic Thich Nhat Hanh, although recent scholarship has pointed to the influence of Chinese Buddhist reforms occurring in the 1930s. Hanh coined the term “engaged Buddhism” to describe social and political activism based in Buddhist principles in the 1960s. The terms “engaged Buddhism” and “socially engaged Buddhism” were taken up by loosely connected Buddhists in Asia and the West who adapted Buddhism to a range of nonviolent social activist projects such as peacemaking, human rights, environmental protection, rural development, combatting ethnic violence, and women’s rights. With globalization and technological advances, engaged Buddhist organizations and efforts have spread across the globe. Reflecting the culture shift from the modern to the postmodern, generational and demographic shifts within these communities are marked by increased attention to intersectionality and postcolonial thought. Engaged Buddhists see their social and political activities as extending Buddhism’s classical focus on individual suffering to the suffering generated by unjust structures and systems, and set collective as well as individual liberation as a soteriological goal. While there is a consensus in academic scholarship that engaged Buddhism is an expression of Buddhist modernism, recent debates have arisen around whether conservative, nationalist, and even ethnocentric modern forms of Buddhism can be considered as forms of engaged Buddhism.

Article

Epigraphy and the Study of Buddhism: South Asia’s Northern Corridor  

Richard Salomon

Inscriptions constitute a fundamental source for the study of the history of Buddhism in India. Thousands of inscriptions with Buddhist content have been found in the Indian subcontinent, ranging in date from the 3rd century bce to the 13th century ce. The great majority of inscriptions record donations or benefactions to Buddhist institutions. Such gifts may take the form of a stūpa or elements thereof, utensils given to a monastery, images, or, especially in later periods, a grant by royal authority to a monastery of the agricultural revenue from a village or villages. Examples of the many aspects of Buddhist practice that are illuminated by epigraphic materials are the status of the contemporary canon, the cult of the relics of the buddha, the popular perceptions of karma and merit, the origin and development of buddha images, the geographical distribution of the various nikāya lineages, and the origin and history of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Before the beginning of the Common Era, Buddhist inscriptions were always written in one or another variety of Prakrit. In the early centuries of the Common Era, Buddhists in north India adopted a hybrid dialect combining features of Sanskrit and Prakrit, known as “Epigraphic Hybrid Sanskrit,” and parallel to the “Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit” of Buddhist literature from a similar period. Then, from about the 4th century ce, Buddhists adopted classical Sanskrit as their preferred epigraphic vehicle. Most of the earlier inscriptions are written in Brāhmī script, and later ones in the various regional derivatives thereof. But until about the 3rd century ce, the numerous inscriptions of Gandhāra and adjoining areas in the northwestern reaches of the subcontinent were written in Kharoṣṭhī script and in the Gāndhārī Prakrit language. Inscriptions reveal a great deal both about the overall contours of the history of Indian Buddhism and about the details of its monastic and doctrinal structures. In the earlier centuries, inscriptions typically recorded donations by individuals or small groups in the form of funding for a single component of a large stūpa complex, notably at the great stūpa sites of Sanchi and Bharhut. Succeeding centuries see a gradual shift toward larger-scale donations by royalty or wealthy individuals. During the later phases of Buddhism in India, inscriptions are increasingly concentrated in a limited set of sacred sites such as Bodh Gaya, Kasia (Kuśinagara), Saheth-Maheth (Śrāvastī), and Sarnath, indicating an overall contraction in monastic institutions and communities.