Matthew J. Walton
This article looks thematically at several important aspects of Buddhist politics in Myanmar, from the precolonial period to the present. It considers a number of arguments regarding the use of Buddhism in both supporting and opposing political authority, especially as they are rooted in a dualistic conception of human nature. It presents several examples of Burmese Buddhist political thought that creatively combine traditional Buddhist ideas with other political ideologies and practices, revealing a once-vibrant tradition that will hopefully be revitalized with the country’s current political transition. The role of monks in politics is controversial in Myanmar, and the article looks at some of the unique aspects of monastic activism, using examples from the 2007 “Saffron Revolution” and the current anti-Muslim Buddhist nationalist movements. Finally, it offers several different strands of democratic thought, including a provocative Burmese Buddhist notion of “moral democracy.”
The Anglican Communion has recently experienced a sea change in its understanding of and approach to canon law, hitherto a matter lacking worldwide attention amongst Anglicans. Whilst the worldwide Communion has no global system of canon law applicable to its member churches, each church (or Province) is autonomous, with its own system of law and government. These individual legal systems deal with such subjects as government, ministry, doctrine, liturgy and ritual, and church property. However, in recent years there have been key developments. The chapter describes, explains (particularly in the context of the juridical experiences of other international ecclesial communities which are ecumenical partners of Anglicans), and evaluates the process leading up to, and the terms of, the document the Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion, launched at the Lambeth Conference 2008, and the juridical aspects and issues which relate to the Anglican Communion Covenant.
This chapter identifies capitalism as a system for human relating which came to predominance in several Christian societies during the nineteenth century. Socialism emerged in the same regions—part Romantic desire to restore social relationships weakened by capitalism, part product of secular Enlightenment hopes to reorganize human society by the moral light of reason. The chapter reviews Christian responses to both phenomena. Paternalist theologies were frequently revived in new industrial circumstances. Evangelical Protestants saw the free market as a sphere of God’s providence and human agency to do good. Christian responses to socialism often agonized over anti-Christian tendencies, but many recognized cooperation as more Christian than selfish competition. By 1900, Catholic social teaching mediated between free market capitalism and secular socialism, and Protestant Christian socialisms abounded. To conclude, the chapter explores why the idea of the Kingdom of God was so frequently evoked in nineteenth-century reflections on capitalism and socialism.
For more than half a century, Rousas John Rushdoony and his followers have articulated and disseminated what they understand to be a biblical worldview, based in aspects of traditional reformed theology and both the Old and New Testaments. This worldview seeks to apply biblical law to every aspect of life and to transform every aspect of culture to establish the Kingdom of God. While some components of their vision are so extreme that Christian Reconstructionists are often dismissed as an irrelevant fringe group, other aspects of their vision have taken root in conservative American Protestantism, especially in the Christian homeschool movement, and therefor influenced American conservatism more broadly. This essay outlines that worldview and points to some of those areas of influence.
Karen L. King
This chapter considers the religious justifications for and against torture. It also describes the torturous narratives at Christianity's foundations, the notion of redemptive martyrdom, and the various ways in which Christian ideology has challenged as well as supported the torturous suffering of fellows and foes. Torture functions in the absence of the facts or against the facts. Despite legal censure, torture and claims of torture are omnipresent. The violence of torture depends on sex/gender differentiation for much of its public communication. Opposition to torture on religious grounds will not be efficient without addressing the fact that enculturated ways of thinking and structures of feeling cultivated in Christian stories, images, and theological discourses are entailed in a wide variety of attitudes and behaviors, both for and against torture.
Laura R. Olson
This article observes the central currents in the literature on politics and clergy. The first section centers on charting a short historical map of scholarship on clergy and politics. It then considers the question of whether clergy are paradigmatic of other politically relevant social elites. It considers how one may categorize the politically relevant activities that the clergy engages in, and discusses the ways the existing literature helps in understanding whether and why clergy become politically active.
A. Dirk Moses
A long tradition of scholarship has posited colonialism and ‘racial imperialism’ as an enabler of the genocide against European Jewry, though often in imprecise ways. In response, critics of this view have insisted that antisemitism and World War I were the salient enablers, and Germany's colonial experience was too ephemeral to have had serious causal importance. This article changes the terms of debate by presenting the murderous National Socialist program as a colonial and imperial project executed in Europe to compensate for the loss of Germany's empire abroad and in central Europe in 1919. It argues that the style of occupation and warfare Germany conducted in realizing this project was colonial in nature and inspiration, and the Holocaust of European Jewry can be understood in terms of colonial logics as well. At least in part, the Holocaust was, for the Nazis, the attempt of an indigenous people — the Germans — to cast off the perceived exploitative rule of a foreign people: Jews.
This chapter focuses on the role of the comparative study of ethics in peacebuilding. The argument proceeds as follows. First, comparative ethics is presented primarily as a hermeneutical discipline, in which the goal is to answer the question “what is going on?” in a particular context. Second, the chapter analyzes changes in Muslim discourse about war. These point to a deep political crisis. Third, the chapter turns to an analysis of the virtues necessary for those who undertake to build peace in such a context. The example of Dag Hammerskjold serves to make the point that, among other virtues, peacebulding requires the wisdom to identify “provisional solutions”, which at times will include a judicious use of military force. The chapter concludes with the suggestion that the vocabularies of jihad, just war, and other frameworks may yet play a constructive role in the building of peace.
Ron E. Hassner
This chapter argues that contested sacred sites pose indivisibility challenges which can drive even natural religious allies into violent conflict, and also outlines the multiple roots of conflicts over sacred sites based on the type of objective at stake: legitimacy, security, or profit. It then turns to investigate several aspects that characterize these disputes, regardless of cause. Sacred sites cannot be shared to the satisfaction of all parties involved. The characteristics of disputes over sacred places include cohesion, boundaries, and value. Leaders have pursued three primary strategies in order to avoid bloodshed: partition, scheduling, and exclusion. These approaches develop tensions that threaten to burst as soon as one of the claimants perceives a change in the balance of power. Religious leaders can introduce flexibility into the rules governing holy places and add a measure of harmony to contests over holy sites.
Patrick S. Cheng
This chapter provides an overview of what Christian theologians need to know about queer theory, which is a critical approach to sexuality and gender that challenges the ‘naturalness’ of identities. Based upon developments in queer theory since the early 1990s, the chapter proposes the following four marks of queer theory: (1) identity without essence; (2) transgression; (3) resisting binaries; and (4) social construction. The chapter then discusses four strands of queer theology that correspond with each of the four marks of queer theory. The chapter concludes by suggesting six issues for future queer theological reflection: (1) queer of colour critique; (2) queer post-colonial theory; (3) queer psychoanalytical discourse; (4) queer temporality; (5) queer disability studies; and (6) queer interfaith dialogue.
Kenneth D. Wald and David C. Leege
This article studies the role of religion in American culture and political life. It uses the concept of culture in two different ways—traditionally and in the discipline of political science—before exploring culture and religion through an alternative framework. Culture is also considered as a source of norms and identities for behavior, and tries to determine how some subcultures are mobilized on behalf of political ends. The article concludes with some thoughts on future research directions in the study of religion, culture, and politics. The concept of American civil religion is discussed as well.
Rachel McBride Lindsey
The photographs of twentieth-century photographer Roy DeCarava are a rich case study for mapping the visual theater of race and religion in twentieth-century America. Despite visual similarities in his photographs to contemporary documentary photographers, DeCarava contended that claims to document race in fact worked to invest power in the “madness” of “skin color.” Such a statement echoes the teachings of prophets of black urban religion who incorporated critiques of racial classification into their theological visions. Such visual regimes of race and religion were not limited to persons of African descent. Lewis Hine’s photographs of European immigrants arriving on Ellis Island and Dorothea Lange’s photographs of Japanese American internees were also part of the visual politics of race and religion. By structuring the twentieth century’s ascendant visual regimes around DeCarava, this chapter explores how the technologies, aesthetics, and politics of photography shaped the moral theater of race and religion.
Religions expand via many pathways, including mission activities, transmission of faith, conversion of non-members, and the constitution of new communities of believers. They also expand through military conquest, revival, and migration. Religions may expand geographically or doctrinally and ritually. In both ways, mission and revival activities are important strategies of expansion, which often incorporate migration and mobility of religious believers and preachers. Technologies of transportation and communication as well as a free market of goods and beliefs facilitate religious expansion. The Muslim group Tablīghī Jamā’at, founded in India in 1927, exemplify religious expansion by revival; while the Christian group Redeemed Christian Church of God, founded in Nigeria in 1952, illustrate religious expansion by evangelism. Increased democratization of religious authority means that believers generally, rather than leaders, are taking up the responsibility of spreading religious beliefs and practices around the world.
Gerard P. Loughlin
This chapter considers how gay identities—and so gay affections—were formed in the course of the twentieth century, building on the late nineteenth-century invention of the ‘homosexual’. It also considers earlier construals of same-sex affections and the people who had them, the soft men and hard women of the first century and the sodomites of the eleventh. It thus sketches a history of continuities and discontinuities, of overlapping identities and emotional possibilities. The chapter resists the assumption that gay identity and experience can be reduced to anything less than the multitude of gay people, and that as Christians they have to give an account of themselves in a way that heterosexual Christians do not. The chapter warns against thinking gay identity undone in Christ.
Imperialism and colonialism have been key determinants for the geography of Anglicanism. This is evident in developments within the British Isles, in North America and North American expansion, in India, and in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British expansion worldwide. In much of this, the mission agencies, in particular SPCK, SPG, CMS, and UMCA, have played an important role. Characteristic impacts included settlement, slavery and indentured labour, displacement and segregation. The civility/barbarity dichotomy made for a persisting fault-line, reinforced by racism. Anglican developments, including the Lambeth Conferences, shaped and were shaped by globalization.
B. S. Jackson, B. Lifshitz, Alyssa M. Gray, and Daniel B. Sinclair
The academic study of ‘halacha’, like its traditional study in the yeshiva, is far broader than the study of ‘Jewish law’. The halacha, in both its scope and concerns, goes well beyond the scope and concerns of that section of it which has counterparts in secular, Western legal systems. For the purposes of this article, ‘Jewish law’ is that latter subsection of the halacha, a subsection moreover which has attracted the particular attentions of scholars trained in secular jurisprudence. This article surveys trends in the field, in relation to both halacha and Jewish Law, in terms of the fourfold division — historical, dogmatic, comparative, and philosophical.
In confronting questions of the origin of existence, asserting belief in an ultimate spiritual source of phenomena, and striving for a relationship between it and human beings, Hindu theology identifies sexuality as a valid and necessary explanation. Both on the theogonic plane and the worldly, Hindu thought associates sexuality with gender, but treats the latter as a fluid identity rather than natural and essential, viewing it as a product more of the will than of physiology, an ever-present but negotiable perception, since it can be willed into altered states. This is illustrated both by the myths of Hinduism and by its devotional cultures. Observing the evolution of Hindu theology, its major traditions, and its worship practices chronologically, this chapter demonstrates why and how sexuality and gender may serve as keys to understand Hindu spirituality.
Mary Jo Iozzio
This chapter examines how sex figures in the HIV/AIDS pandemic and how the pandemic may be understood in the light of God’s extravagance and hope for the future. Sex is one of those gifts that human beings have received at the hands of a God of extravagance: a God of infinite possibility, copious generosity, and unparalleled solidarity. The very creation is a manifestation of a fecund imagination and God’s own joy writ large enough to witness sexual diversity—from asexual to heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer—among all living beings. In the human community the gift of sex and one’s identity as a sexual being include the purposes and promises of the extravagance that is sexual creativity in and through diversity. This chapter explores what insights theology can bring to the purposes of sex as creativity/generativity and intimacy-building communion/pleasure, and what intuitions theology can bring to the promises of sex as transcendent experience.
David H. Jones
This article assesses the aftereffects of the Holocaust on human rights law. Addressing the so-called ‘promise of Nuremberg’, which began in 1945 with the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, it argues that the Charter, partly as a response to the evil of the Holocaust, broke dramatically with traditional international law by mandating ‘individual responsibility’ for crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed by the leaders of the Axis Powers. The Nuremberg Principles were codified into international law by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide followed in 1948. However, the promise of Nuremberg remains largely unfulfilled. None of these post-World War II documents included mechanisms for executive or judicial enforcement, the UN Security Council was stymied by the power of the veto held by its permanent members, and the UN became a community of bystander states that has allowed numerous genocides and mass killings to occur. Among the possibilities for making the world safer for human rights are reform of the Security Council, creation of an international Rapid Response Force, the spread of democracy, and a reduction of poverty in the underdeveloped world.
This article focuses on two main subjects: the contemporary Christian imagery of martyrdom among Tamil speakers and the nonreligious imagery of martyrdom within the Tiger Movement (TM), which together with the People’s Movement (PM) is also known as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), under the leadership of Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ (1954–2009). His task was to dismantle Tamil concepts of martyrdom from their Caiva and Christian content and to create new concepts that altogether were nonreligious. The military section of the Tiger Movement was defeated in May 2009, but the political section continues and its nonreligious concepts of martyrdom are cultivated annually at Great Heroes’ Day on November 27. The Tamil Resistance Movement became a purely political movement and is now active in the diaspora, especially in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. In Īlam all reverence of martyrs of the Tiger Movement is strictly forbidden.