There are three ritual acts that pre-modern religions traditionally have in common: eating, washing and clothing. Ancient peoples engaged in rites of communion, wherein covenants with God and/or man were made and renewed through the partaking of food. Similarly, among most of the ancients, ceremonial washing was a requisite rite of passage with salvific connotations. The ritual act of clothing, receiving clothes, or being clothed has also held a sacral place in the faith of many of our predecessors. While each of these acts is sacred and symbolic, our attention here will be on the latter of the three—the idea of clothing as a symbol of consecration.
This paper begins by briefly sketching a ‘return to universality’ with what the author calls a ‘radical neo-Enlightenment’ that is driven by a revolutionary rationality. As part of this delineation, the essay discusses how this rationality is itself delimited, and how the apparently ‘unlimited’ figure of divinity is itself also delimited. The work then sketches how Christianity (for example) may be refigured according to this logic, publically expressing its revolutionary ethico-political core and privatising its speculative aspects. In other words, radical neo-Enlightenment would work towards retaining what is truly divine in religions and spiritualities, and excising their destructive excesses.
This article evaluates the moderate pro-choice Buddhist perspective of Michael G. Barnhart in light of the traditional ethical precepts of the Theravada tradition. Barnhart argues that the tradition is sufficiently vague on the issue of when life begins to allow for a modest accommodation of abortion legitimately within the tradition and beyond the cases of rape, incest, and threat to the mother’s life. Barnhart claims that his middle way between pro-choice and pro-life extremes is both acceptable in Buddhism and also more compassionate toward women in crisis pregnancies and therefore is more karmically fruitful as well. Barnhart’s perspective is critiqued in light of the traditional interpretation of the Theravada tradition and is found to be ultimately incompatible with it as well as actually having the opposite effect of Barnhart’s contention by increasing suffering. The article concludes with an argument for adoption as the best way to uphold both extreme reverence for life and compassion for women in crisis pregnancies.
From the early 19th century, Mormon women preformed various healing techniques both in and outside of the home (Newell 1987, Stapely & Wright 1993). Over time, as the modern orthodox biomedical model was emerging in America, and healing by faith, laying of hands, and anointing with oil became part of an institutionalized healing ritual reserved for the Priesthood that excluded women. This pilot study investigates whether Mormon women continue to engage in healing rituals outside of both the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints (LDS) institution and mainstream biomedicine. Emphasis is placed on their perceptions of healing, faith and acceptance. Findings from this research are placed in the broader context of Mormon health philosophy historically and current trends in the health behavior of Americans.
Like many Islamic schools across North America, the Islamic Academy of New England in Sharon, Massachusetts strives to integrate Islamic learning throughout its curriculum. Founded in 1996, the school currently serves students in Greater Boston and Northern Rhode Island. Yet, the school is also a place where learning occurs spontaneously across religious divides.
Raised Catholic, Kathleen Kelley recently obtained her master’s degree in education and now teaches first grade at the Academy. In our conversation below, she shares her insights on teachable moments, on Islamic schools looking to diversify their staff and students’ exposure, and on her own growing familiarity of the cultures and faith of her students and their families.
Studies of problems in the field of bioethics show a variety of interpretations and solutions that are based on different ethical theories. As these theories are not universal, i.e. they are not valid everywhere and all the time under all circumstances, human actions considered ethical by one theory are deemed unethical by the other theories. The purpose of this article is to resolve some of the bioethical issues using the universal karma theory.
In his ambitious book, The Conduct of Life, Lewis Mumford analyzes the crisis of Western civilization and the possibilities of its renewal. Although this book was first published in 1951, the deepening crisis of Western civilization makes it still actual. Let us then try to get a sense of how Mumford identifies the crisis and where he sees its potential solution.
The limitations of principlism have led to a growing interest in the role of the virtues in professionalism and medical decision-making. Although a majority of U.S. physicians report that they try to carry over their religious beliefs into every aspect of life, relatively little attention has been devoted how the virtues embodied in the major religious traditions shape the character, attitudes, and behavior of physicians making bioethical choices. These clearly overlap, but virtues which are especially prominent for Christians include love and grace, for Jews communal responsibility and critical thought, for Muslims reverence and obedience, and for Buddhists equanimity and compassion. Attention to signature virtues could help physicians both in articulating their religious values, and in understanding their implications for practice. Responding to medical dilemmas facing physicians and patients by engaging in dialogue regarding preferred virtues offers a strong complement to principlism.
Bioethics is a field which involves medical sciences on the one hand and disciplines like religion, philosophy, and politics on the other. General Systems Theory (GST) is an attempt to combine these different and somewhat opposite disciplines in a unified way. In this formalism of GST, information and entropy/order alone are the only measurements which are primary in nature. Jainism, which evolved from India, appears to be compatible with GST. Jainism talks about spiritual evolution of soul where, knowledge and orderiliness seems to increase not only at an individual level but also at a global level. An example of shatavadhan is given which demonstrates higher stages of consciousness, which also imply an increase in knowledge and order. Jains’ principle of evolution of soul is compared with Darwin’s principle of evolution. The whole formalism could provide new avenues of thought to look at the whole discipline of Bioethics.
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