Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 3

Search results for: secularity

3 Comparison of Constitutional Systems in Religious and Secular States (Iran and Turkey as Role Models)

Authors: Eman Muhammad Rashwan

Abstract:

The identity of the state in many Middle East countries today, between secularity and religiousness, is an important and controversial question. Specially after the sweeping repels in number of countries that put Islamic parties in power. In this paper two role model states in this respect, are under examination to answer the question of how their identity that was expressed in their constitutions influenced the allocation of power between different state authorities. In the beginning both the criteria used to define the two concepts of secularity and religiousness, and the reason why these two states are particularly chosen for comparison, are explained. The situation in Turkey is firstly indicated. The constitutional system shows that power is divided between parliament, cabinet and the president. The first two authorities have the most significant powers, and generally, the system in Turkey is similar to many other secular states in the world. But when the research moves to the system in Iran, the importance of comparison starts to appear. In this section, the nature of Islamic Shi’a of Iran Republic is discussed, and also its influence on the main and unique authorities of this religious state, which don`t only include the president and council of ministers, but also The Supreme Leader and The Council of Guardians. This paper doesn`t aim to favor a one system over another, and doesn`t discuss the influences of the two systems on the social or economic situation in the two model states. The aim of this paper is to study the influence of excluding, and applying religion in respect to allocation of power in constitutions.

Keywords: comparative law, constitutional systems, secular states, religious states

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2 Mindfulness in a Secular Age: Framing and Contextualising the Conversation in the Irish Context

Authors: Thomas P. Carroll

Abstract:

The phenomenon of mindfulness has become ever more popular in an increasingly pluralist Western society. Mindfulness practice has penetrated secular contexts that would otherwise be closed to religious influence, including state schools, hospitals, and commerce. The contemporary understanding of mindfulness has its origins in Buddhist meditation. However, since Jon Kabat-Zinn’s pioneering work in Mindfulness-Based Interventions, the concept has developed and sometimes mutated into various forms of practice which are disembedded from their original spiritual philosophy. This project will explore the spiritual climate within which mindfulness is currently flourishing through dialogue with three interlocutors. The first interlocutor is the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor whose seminal work, ‘A Secular Age’, outlines three distinct modes of secularity. Taylor examines how the conditions of belief have changed and how the self seeks meaning in an age where belief in the divine is no longer axiomatic. The next interlocutor is Czech theologian and psychotherapist Tomáš Halík who offers a unique perspective of a Catholic who belongs to a section of society outnumbered by secular counterparts, with a theological hermeneutic best described as 'Den Fremden verstehen- understanding the stranger'. Finally, Irish theologian Michael Paul Gallagher offers a theological perspective on how the Christian faith can be translated into dialogue with Irish secular culture, as well as addressing the crisis of imagination and culture rather than the crisis of faith in Ireland. These interlocutors will illustrate that there are sometimes striking differences in how to interpret the religious signs of the times. However, these approaches also reveal significant similarities in how they address and explore the meaning of religious belief and experience today. In this way, themes will emerge that will help to frame the conversation about mindfulness in the West. These themes will include; the failure of the secularization thesis to pass, the growth of a diverse marketplace of religions and beliefs and the growth of a demographic who identify as spiritual but not religious. Such research is paramount in enabling a richer dialogue between Christian faith and mindfulness in a fragmented, postmodern Western context.

Keywords: culture, mindfulness, secularism, spirituality

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1 Towards a Critical Disentanglement of the ‘Religion’ Nexus in the Global East

Authors: Daan F. Oostveen

Abstract:

‘Religion’ as a term is not native to the Global East. The concept ‘religion’ is both understood in its meaning of ‘religious traditions’, commonly referring to the ‘World Religions’ and in its adjective meaning ‘the religious’ or ‘religiosity’ as a separate domain of human culture, commonly contrasted to the secular. Though neither of these understandings are native to the historical worldviews of East Asia, their development in modern Western scholarship has had an enormous impact on the self-understanding of cultural diversity in the Global East as well. One example is the identification and therefore elevation to the status of World Religion of ‘Buddhism’ which connected formerly dispersed religious practices throughout the Global East and subsumed them under this powerful label. On the other hand, we see how popular religiosity, shamanism and hybrid cultural expressions have become excluded from genuine religion; this had an immense impact on the sense of legitimacy of these practices, which became sometimes labeled as superstition are rejected as magic. Our theoretical frameworks on religion in the Global East do not always consider the complex power dynamics between religious actors, both elites and lay expressions of religion in everyday life, governments and religious studies scholars. In order to get a clear image of how religiosity functions in the context of the Global East, we have to take into account these power dynamics. What is important in particular is the issue of religious identity or absence of religious identity. The self-understanding of religious actors in the Global East is often very different from what scholars of religion observe. Religious practice, from an etic perspective, is often unrelated to religious identification from an emic perspective. But we also witness the rise of Christian churches in the Global East, in which religious identity and belonging does play a pivotal role. Finally, religion in the Global East has since the beginning of the 20th Century been conceptualized as the ‘other’ or republicanism or Marxist-Maoist ideology. It is important not to deny the key role of colonial thinking in the process of religion formation in the Global East. In this paper, it is argued that religious realities constituted emerging as a result from our theory of religion, and that these religious realities in turn inform our theory. Therefore, the relationship between phenomenology of religion and theory of religion can never be disentangled. In fact, we have to acknowledge that our conceptualizations of religious diversity are always already influenced by our valuation of those cultural expressions that we have come to call ‘religious’.

Keywords: global east, religion, religious belonging, secularity

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