Christianity in the Land of Santhals: A Study of Resistance and Acceptance in Historical Perspective(03U)
Christian missionaries have been engaged in efforts to proselytize the people of Santhal Pargana since the nineteenth century. The missionaries established educational and philanthropic centres and gave Santhals the Roman script to communicate with them. However, socioeconomic development accompanying Christianity has not been as spectacular as has been in the neighbouring Chotanagpur. Except for those who converted, Santhals are animists who live in a Hindu setting and remain influenced by their ethos, culture and traditional festivals. The combination between the Hindu influence and ethnic identity has encouraged the Santhals to resist Christianity. Nevertheless, recent developments have produced a closer affinity between Christian converts and the Santhals on moral issues thereby neutralizing the impact of native values.
Practising Islam in a Multi-Religious Nation: Nigeria as a Case Study(02V)
Islam recognizes natural diversity among human beings in terms of colour, language, culture and religion. Since there is no way one can avoid differences resulting from this diversity, Islam teaches that its adherents should learn to live with and manage such differences in such a way that peace will prevail all the time. Some of the teachings of Islam relevant here include showing understanding when other people profess faiths or practise tenets other than those of Muslims. In the end, Muslims are expected to lose sight of the importance of pooling resources with others to encourage righteousness and discourage unrighteousness. This is with a view to making the society free of crisis and better to live in.
Organized panel, English
Oita University, Japan
Ritual Performance of Laughter Festivals in Japan(02P)
In present-day Japan, seven major ritual performance 'warai' are observed in the months of January, February, May, October, and December at different geographical locations throughout Japan. The history and organization of the laughter festivals differ from each other, reflecting where and how the festivals are held. But it is closely related to our folk belief that entertaining gods with a ritual performance of laughter would bring a good harvest, for example. Some of the festivals have a history of over 300 years. And at the same time, the meaning and function of the laughter festivals have been reinvented throughout history. I would like to examine two major laughter festivals, one called Okoze (stone fish) or A Mountain Godess festival at Owase, Mie on Feb.7, and the other one called Warai (laughter) koh at Hofu, Yamaguchi, on the first Sunday of December. I will explore the changing aspects of the festivals with regard to their function and purpose in a historical perspective by utilizing data obtained from field participation in the above two laughter festivals.
Toyo Gakuen University, Japan
Religious Landscape in Japan(03P)
Harvard-Yenching Library, USA
Theology Confronted by Religions: The Correlation between the Ideas of the Divine and Self(03Q)
Over the centuries theology has connoted Christian theology, but now, in the context of religious pluralism, theology must answer the challenges posed by religions. I argue that the correlation between ideas about the divine (God) and ideas about the self exists universally. The idea of self as a metaphor or symbol is always expressed with two poles in tension: individual and field (contextual). To explore the tension between the two types of self, I introduce two types of language games as a heuristic device: subject-prominent language (subject-predicate structure) and topicprominent language (topic-comment structure). These two types of self seem to indicate different ideas of the self-reflexivity and thus different directions of the self-transcendence: the external transcendence and the immanent transcendence. I argue here that theology needs to evaluate carefully these two types of self-transcendence as they are related to notions of the divine.
Organized panel, English
Kyoto University, Japan
Search for Reconciliation in a Transitional Society: The South African Case(15E)
The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has been defined as being one of the prominent cases by which post-conflict societies cope with difficulties. Discussions have tended to criticize its effectiveness and limits. This tendency is more marked when the discussion is on the applicability of that kind of activity to another society. I deal with TRC's religious implication, and this standpoint is effective for the analysis of the transitional society which is identified with its relative lack of legitimacy of due process. Two prominent figures to whom I give my attention are Desmond Tutu and Charles Villa-Vicencio, both who guided TRC theoretically as well as practically. However, although, to some extent, the two Christian's discourses have incompatibilities with each other, both still show a tangency which can be interpreted as a unique function, which let the divided people negotiate, in a sheer estrangement of post-Apartheid transitional society.
Organized panel, English
Doshisha University, Japan
Asceticism and Women's Freedom in Late Antiquity(12N)
The Mediterranean World of late antiquity was an age of great transformation. Many socalled pagan gods were, at least publicly, expelled and the first Christian society in history appeared. What was the role of women in this changing age? In this presentation, I would like to point out the importance of the female ascetic tradition. Some feminists in the 1980's pondered as to whether renunciation from the secular world could make women free from fixed gender roles. There have been many criticisms about their hypothesis, especially concerning the possibility for its verification. However, we can be sure that the women in this age seemed to act independently among many simultaneous sources and seemed to develop freedom to move and the freedom to communicate. From the hagiographies of male disguised holy women, through Thecla Acts and the Pilgrimage Diary of Egeria, to the feats of the Empress Pulcheria or Melania the younger, the concealed paths of women in late antiquity who were involved in forming the new society of this period will be discussed.
Adekunle, Julius O.
Monmouth University, USA
Unifier or Divider? Religion, Politics, and the Search for Peace in Nigeria(13L)
This paper examines the intersection of religion and politics since the pre-colonial period. It focuses on how political rulers, past and present, mix religion with politics. During the colonial period, Christianity flourished in southern Nigeria and Islam dominated the northern region. Nigeria is a secular state, but the current political system suggests that religion constitutes a central part of its politics. How does this approach support or affect good governance? Is religion helping to unify or divide Nigeria? Frequent religious conflicts contribute to the weakening of politics and many Nigerians have paid for it with their lives. Today, there is tension everywhere. Given the adoption of the Sharia (Muslim Law), the growth of churches, and the waves of conflicts between Muslims and Christians, it becomes necessary to re-examine the role of religion in Nigerian politics. The paper concludes that religion should provide peace and unity but not divide Nigerians.
Organized panel, English
Adetona, Mobolaji Lateef
Lagos State University, Nigeria
The Role of Muslim Youth in the Implementation of the Sharia in Nigeria(11O)
The 1999 return to civil rule in Nigeria has enhanced the (re)introduction of the penal aspect of Islamic Law in Nigeria. The Muslim youth, like other Nigerian youth that had been radicalized by the long stay of military in government, played a major role in both the northern and the southwestern parts of Nigeria. While the youth motivated the constitution of volunteers, enforcers of the law known as Hisbah in the North, made sure independent Sharia panels were established in the southwest. The paper describes and analyses the activities of the youth in promoting the implementation of Islamic Law in Nigeria.
Organized panel, English
Erciyes University Divinity Faculty, Turkey
A Model of Ethnico-Religious Cohabitation in the XIXth Century: Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Moslems, Catholics, Orthodoxes and Protestants at Kayseri (Turkey)(14C)
With the vertiginous progress of technology, the world becomes like a small village where people belonging to different ethnic, cultural, and religious communities are called to live together despite the differences that separate them. However, history teaches us that such cohabitation is not something new. For example, until the end of the XIXth century, Kayseri (Turkey) had a population formed by different ethnico-religious groups living in perfect harmony. This century, which ends at the end of the First World War with the collapse of the empires and the foundation of the nation-states, is also a watershed in this process of cohabitation. How was it possible at that time to unify peoples apparently so dissimilar? Which religious, socio-political and cultural factors produced such cohesion? Is it not possible to transmit a model like this into our days where the religious and ethnical differences tend to become factors for conflicts? This paper proposes to find some answers to these questions.
Organized panel, French
Adogame, Afe Unuose
University of Bayreuth, Germany
Why Worry When You Can Pray to Daddy? African Churches on Spiritual Warpath in Germany(01T)
African religious communities have become one of the viable players in the reshaping of German religious landscapes. One of their main ritual preoccupations is prayer and deliverance. One recurring feature in member's narratives is the identification of the host geo-cultural space as a new "spiritual war zone" and "Satan's stronghold". Using the example of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), the paper discusses member's enactment of prayer as spiritual warfare in their pursuit of "the good things of life" and in the battle for the spiritual regeneration (remissionization process) of the public sphere. It examines the prevalence of the "Daddy figure" in their prayer ritualism, an appropriation which both underscores the epistemology and symbolism of spiritual power and charismatic leadership. It contends that ritual strategies and sensibilities are not necessarily evanescent and short-lived among migrants who live in diaspora. Rather, ritual attitudes may be largely enhanced and transformed by realities which confront immigrants in the new context.
For God and the Nation: Religion and Ethno-Political Violence in Modern Nigeria, 1985-2004(12S)
In the last two decades, Nigeria has witnessed an unprecedented rise in the spate of ethnic and religious violence that had resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, the burning of scores of churches and dozens of mosques, while weakening the nation's democratic institutions, providing excuses for military interventions, and threatening Nigeria's continued existence as a united entity. Using oral and written sources, this paper examines the nature and causes of ethno-sectarian violence in Nigeria. Key issues to be explored include: the connections between religious politics and secular ideologies; the varying roles of the state, religious organizations, ethnic associations, local and international fundamentalist groups, the media, and of civil society, in the generation or otherwise of political violence in Nigeria. Finally, the paper offers suggestions on the way out of this quagmire of violence and instability, without which the unity, progress, and survival of Nigeria will be irreparably imperiled.
Organized panel, English
LaGrange College, Japan
Globalization, American Religious Identity, and the 'Theology of Japan'(04A)
Globalization confronts the contemporary world with two profound challenges: first, constructing effective institutions that facilitate meaningful participation from the widest diversity of participants; second, fending off attempts to subject the new world order to hegemonic control. In its attempt to reflect theologically on the problems of pluralism and nationalism, the "Theology of Japan" maps out a useful agenda for Western theology. Contemporary Americans particularly are having problems squaring the realities of the new pluralism with U.S. historical self-identity as a Christian nation. Like other historically-covenantal societies (e.g., Israel, South Africa), Americans have tended to ground their national unity in a common allegiance "under God", and thus views divergent religious identities as outsiders or even threats. American theologians, too, have not yet given sufficient critique to a resurgent religious-based nationalism, which undermines its ability to participate creatively in the new globalized world.
University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
What is Religion Doing in War?: Christianity and Asian Religions in Early 20th Century Korea - The Case of Yun Chi-ho(1865-1945)(16V)
Yun Chi-ho (1865-1945) was one of the first Korean Christians to reform Korean society through ecumenical and educational works. After Yun studied in Japan, China and the USA, he attended the World Parliament of Religions of 1893 in Chicago, for he recognized the importance of inter-religious dialogue and comparative studies of religions. He emphasized differences more than similarities among religions and accepted both Confucian ancestor rituals and the national Shinto shrine as acts of ancestor reverence. As the only Korean representative, Yun criticized Western missionaries at the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference of 1910 in that they had overlooked the native people's perspective in Korea. In the paper I will explore how Yun understood Christianity and Asian religions in his context by analyzing his extensive diaries full of religious reflections on war, mission, and dialogue.
Organized panel, English
Sophia University, Japan
Sufism: A Perspective for Peace and Coexistence(02O)
Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro Foundation, Syria
Basic Doctrines of Nakshbandi School(03H)
In Islam 'sufism' comes from either suf in Arabic which means 'wool', denoting the coarse and rough clothes sufists used to put on as a sign of their rejection of the pleasures of this world; or it comes from safa in Arabic, which means 'purity', denoting the strife of Sufists to reach purification of the heart. In fact both meanings apply to these people who believe the core of human beings is their own heart, which should be cleansed from all dirts and spiritual diseases. In their training, some Sufists seclude themselves from others and remain under the care, observation and instructions of their spiritual masters. These masters devise different ways for their aspirants to be able to remember God at all times. Once the aspirants are given permission to go out to the world, they go to help others in various ways. Some roam the world living almost on nothing , to the extent that some of them have become famous with people flocking to them to be blessed with their company and benefit from their wisdom. Since materialism has not been able to quench man's thirst for true knowledge and happiness, there is a tendency in today's world to look for such saintly masters. They are spiritual protectors and pioneers for a better and more peaceful world.
The Spiritual Dynamic Elements In al-Ghazali's Theory of Soul(03O)
This paper will address matters relating to the dynamic aspects of al-Ghazali's theory of soul, particularly what is meant by spiritual dynamic; that is, what can be inferred from al-Ghazali's teachings regarding the spiritual development of the individual. This paper will discuss how al-Ghazali's teachings can help this inner development, and show that al-Ghazali's teachings can have counseling and motivating function. Al-Ghazali urges the necessity of contemplating one's existence and attributes, the purpose of this life and what is to come after this life ends. The relationship between al-Ghazali's theory of soul and his theory of knowledge also will be discussed. Thus, the discussion will also show the importance of knowledge to one's inner development.
Organized panel, English
Osaka Women's University, Japan
"Kenyu-Ichinyo" – Happiness in This World and the Next According to the Concept of Salvation in the Teachings of Shinnyo-en(01D)
Shinnyo-en is one of the most active religious groups in Japan. It expanded rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s and continues to grow steadily. The teachings of Shinnyo-en are based on the final teachings of the Buddha as expressed in the Nirvana Sutra. Shinnyo-en has a unique form of spiritual training, called "sesshin." Sesshin training requires a spiritual medium, called a "reinosha." The medium works as a spiritual mirror through which sesshin trainees can objectively observe their inner side and their shortcomings. The medium gives the sesshin trainee "reigen" (words and phrases from the spiritual world) through which they recognize the nature of their lives. Sesshin training is considered one of the best opportunities for the Shinnyo-en follower to receive mystical powers. Shinnyo-en teachings are based on a unique concept of salvation called "kenyu-ichinyo." The term refers to the unity of the visible and invisible worlds. Salvation transcends spiritual boundaries and is reflected in both, the physical and spiritual realms.
Rissho University, Japan
The Possibility of Viewing Religion as Culture(08V)
To comprehend culture--that which prerequisites historical relics and cultural artifacts--in a broad and fair manner, a concept which subsumes religion may be productive. When one pursues the historical development of differing cultures from such a concept, a common human denominator becomes apparent. It is possible to examine the process of change in which this common element serves as a factor in assimilating differing cultural aspects or maintaining their unique cultural diversity. It may be assumed that religion, in any cultural context, serves the vital role of an initial prompting device. In re-examining religion from a cultural perspective, notions of "basic human similarities" or "fundamental cultural necessities" may be discovered; thus, furthering our understanding of cultural relativity, as well as advancing the creation of a new global perspective to address the co-existence of varying religions.
Organized panel, Japanese
Kyoto Institute of Technology, Japan
How Does "Nature" Matter to Philosophy of Religion in the Age of Science and Technology?(08Q)
In his work, "The Imperative of Responsibility" H. Jonas' asserts that in the world at present, the unprecedented development of modern technology threatens mankind. He provides a key insight into the relation between technology and nature, namely that nature's demise before technology spreads into human nature itself, thereby exposing the vulnerability of nature at a global scale. In my report I will examine the relation indicated in Jonas' book, and pursue the metaphysical, that is, the religious background that his above-mentioned understanding involves. Further considering how the understanding of nature can possibly relate to a metaphysical or religious view of the world, I will single out the problem of philosophy of religious view of the world, I will single out the problem of philosophy of religion in an age of science and technology, from the aspect of our relation to nature.
American University in Cairo, Egypt
Muslims and Human Rights in Europe(06W)
Organized panel, English
Akrong, A. Abraham
University of Ghana, Ghana
The Discourse of Human Rights in the Context of Ghanaian Traditional Religious Values and Norms(14L)
The purpose of the paper is to interrogate the dominant contemporary view of human rights from the perspective of traditional Ghanaian cultural norms and values that have shaped our appropriation and understanding of the concept of human rights. The main argument of the paper is that although contemporary view of human rights is regarded as international and universal, local cultural norms and religious values of personhood, community, collective and individual rights do affect the meaning of human rights in a local context and its integration into local traditions of human rights discourse. The paper highlights the areas of conflicts between the traditional view of collective right and the contemporary international view of individual rights and how this may affect the building of indigenous tradition of human rights in Ghana. The paper suggests principle and bridge-building structures that may help the integration of fundamental human rights into traditional values of collective rights of society based on principles that will improve the quality of human life. The paper argues that these principals will help us to see both collective rights of society and individual right as complementary poles of dealing with the subject of the improvement of the quality of human existence.
University of Marburg, Germany
The Representation of Religions and the Negotiation of Conflict and Peace(16C)
The discourse on different religious traditions has a considerable influence on the negotiation of conflict and peace at different levels of our global society. Representations of religions play an important role in the mediation and negotiation of conflicts, but also in the intensification of crises. This panel investigates the representation and misrepresentation of religions in different spheres of societal life with a focus on education, the interplay between institutionalized religions and other forms of religion in contemporary societies, and conceptions of different religions in various contexts. Our analyses are set in a comparative framework with an emphasis on Japan and Europe and attempt to explore subtle and evasive ramifications of religion and culture. We would like to reconsider the discipline of Religious Studies in the light of these issues and explore its potential and responsibility in the negotiation of conflict and peace.
Organized panel, * Session Abstract, English
University of Marburg, Germany
The Representation of Religions in European Integrative Religious Education(16C)
Integrative or multireligious religious education in state schools is one important aspect of the representation of religions in the public sphere. The way religions are represented in religious education has had a considerable impact on children's views on different religions. It is therefore also potentially influential in the negotiation of conflict and peace with respect to religions and world-views. The challenge of this subject is to find a way of presenting the different religions from a non-religious point of view and to avoid misrepresentation as far as this is possible. In this paper, I outline the way religions are presented in different current approaches to integrative religious education in Europe. I expose problems of misrepresentation, and suggest an overall framework for a representation of religions in integrative religious education that is in line with basic insights from the academic study of religions.