Ethics/Social

Spirituality and the Role of Religion in the Contemporary Pandemic



Article abstract/summary:
We live, as Charles Taylor has so famously articulated, in a “secular age.” What role, then, can religion or ‘the divine’ play in response to social and communal crises, such as that brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic? This depends in large part on how we understand ‘religion’, ‘the divine’ and the relation between them. My claim here will be that the pandemic has further highlighted what I might call the ‘secular’ benefits of religion. But this has not been accompanied by any widespread affirmation of the ‘divine’ as a ‘superempirical’ reality. As such, religion may have a societal role to play (for example, in public health), but there is no necessary role to play for ‘the divine.’ This distinction—between ‘religion’ and ‘the divine’—strikes me as a sound and important distinction, but one that requires further exploration if we are to fully appreciate the function of religion in society.

Keywords/search terms:
COVID-19; divine; pandemic; religion; secular; society


Download the PDF: Spirituality and the Role of Religion in the Contemporary Pandemic by Neal DeRoo

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article forthcoming in a volume edited by Pegah Mosleh. Posted on 05 February 2021 by Neal DeRoo


The Option for the Poor and the Phenomenology of Life



Article abstract/summary:
Recently, Catholic teaching and theology have given much attention to “the preferential option for the poor.” Gustavo GutiĆ©rrez, OP, who has popularized the phrase, also defines theology as a “reflection on praxis in the light of the word of God.” The praxis of the option for the poor is therefore indispensable to the theological task, for theology must always be “enfleshed” and concrete in the life of the people. This is particularly the case of Latin American theology and strongly emphasized in the magisterium of Pope Francis. The option for the poor has its foundation in who God is and how God is for the people (cf. Exod 3:8-15). The option for the poor is grounded in life. Michel Henry’s phenomenology of life provides a logical approach to theological reflection on poverty, justice, and solidarity with the poor. The people of God, the Church community, live the option in concrete praxis. The God of life has a special love and concern for the poor. The poor, and those in solidarity with them, mysteriously experience the divine love and grace in their everyday lives and la lucha por la vida (the struggle for life). In the living, religious experience is intimately grounded.

Keywords/search terms:
Theology; Michel Henry; the Poor; Praxis; Ethics; “World”; Life


Download the PDF: The Option for the Poor and the Phenomenology of Life by Vincent J. Pastro

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Open Theology, 4:1 (2018), 407-413 (there are some slight variances in the notation between this and the final; see here). Posted on 28 January 2021 by Vincent J. Pastro


Transforming Representation: Jacques Derrida and the End of Christianity



Article abstract/summary:
The central question of this paper revolves around the problem of representation. Following Jacques Derrida and his critique of representation, this paper will interconnect two, at first sight distinct, topics: Christianity and the world of media. For Derrida, Christianity stands behind our common understanding of representation, whereas the media are the major driving force of any representation today. The central argument of this paper is to unfold this link between Christianity and representation and thus to elaborate on the idea of representation in relation to the end of Christianity announced by Derrida. Firstly, I will review Derrida’s account on the logic of representation. Derrida deems Christianity to be responsible for the logic of representation discernible in today’s media world and offers a devastating critique of the concept. Secondly, I will contextualize Derrida’s approach by pointing out the tension between the modern and postmodern perspectives on representation. Thirdly, I will return to a close reading of Derrida. Fourthly, I will offer a critique of Derrida’s critique and will look further at the possible meanings of ‘the end of Christianity.’

Keywords/search terms:
Jacques Derrida; Christianity; Representation; Modernity; Postmodernity; Media


Download the PDF: Transforming Representation: Jacques Derrida and the End of Christianity by Martin Koci

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Open Theology, 5:1 (2019), 116-124. Posted on 24 January 2021 by Martin Koci


A Comment on Crucifixion Imagery as Seen from "the Kingdom"



Article abstract/summary:
An image carries worlds of meaning, an image provokes and invokes, pushes and pulls, scattering ideas within the viewer even as she sows understandings into it. In this few religious representata can match the depth (on both sides of the process) like those of the crucifixion of Christ. Yet such implantings inevitably yield determined (horizon-ed, boxed in and blocked) experiences, and these we have received now for two millennia. I think we may have missed something. The below is therefore an attempt, a movement, towards a re-examination of some of the key originary “kingdom” teachings in search of what Yeshua himself may have sought to accomplish – quite apart from his death – and then in that light further explore how an alternative ideational description of the embodied cross might pave the way for an interpretative conceptual set that could better align the phenomenology of crucifixion iconography with the content of the “kingdom” message.

Keywords/search terms:
Christianity; crucifixion; iconography; image; interpretation; Jesus/Yeshua; “the kingdom”; phenomenology


Download the PDF: A Comment on Crucifixion Imagery as Seen from "the Kingdom" by Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Bulletin of the University of Kochi, 70 (2021), 39-57. Posted on 08 January 2021 by Andrew Oberg

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