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Perception/Sensory System

(6,155 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
1. “On Sundays, my father takes me to Mass, and when the ladies sing Hosanna I think I won't get out of there in a thousand years. Hosanna, Hosanna, they screech, without letup, and nobody can put the brakes on them, not the Chief of Police or anybody […] The beautiful things about Mass are: all the lamps are lit, and all the flowers smell wonderful […] The bad things about Mass are: you have to kneel too long, it lasts too long at Easter […]”1 No one's tastes are the same, and so neither are their sense impressions. The Neapolitan grammar-school girl describes Sunday Mass in her…

Pagan Religions and Paganism: The Pre-Christian Religions of Ancient Europe and the Mediterranean Regions, and Their Reception [Time Chart]

(1,689 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Era 1: Late Antiquity: Paganism as formation of reaction to Christendom 253–268 Under the influence of his mentor Plotinus, Emperor Gallienus fosters Greek philosophy and the Mysteries of Eleusis Egypto-Greek philosopher Plotinus (205–270) develops the Platonic teaching to the religio-philosophical system of “Neoplatonism.” 361–363 (reg.) Emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus (Julian the Apostate) After a personal, philosophically grounded conversion, Julian fosters the Greco-Roman religion at the cost of Christianity (reconstruction of temples), lec…

Light/Enlightenment

(2,203 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Physical Light and Luminous Bodies (Sun, Mon, Stars) 1. Light—the basic condition of organic life on earth: without light, there can be no photosynthesis, no food chain supplying the needs of the human being. The sun is the source of light par excellence, a mighty nuclear fusion reactor, transforming hydrogen to helium and streaming its energy on earth and moon. Light, as today's physics understands it, is electromagnetic radiation. But for denizens of earth, light is mainly an overwhelming experience—w…

Social Myths and Fantasy Images

(1,155 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
The Rumor of Orleans 1. On May 10, 1969, in the lovely French city of Orleans, a shop for women's clothing opened. Its name was provocative: Aux Oubliettes—Fr., “In the Dungeons.” The management had thought up something quite special that was certainly expected to stimulate attention: the changing cubicles were outfitted after the fashion of a medieval dungeon. This idea did not remain without consequence. A scant month later, a number of shops and city-centers began to display the motto: “Don't buy from Jews. They traffi…

Ascona/Monte Verità

(1,443 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
1. Monte Verità (Ital., “Mount of Truth”) was a cultic site frequented by devotees of the European, especially the German-speaking, alternative culture of the first third of the twentieth century. The level elevation overlooking the village of Tessino and today's tourist center of Ascona, on the Swiss northern bank of Lago Maggiore, received its name from the homonymous sanatorium at the same location. From 1900 to 1920, Belgian industrial heir Henri Oedenkoven (1875–1935) and pianist Ida Hofman…

Masses

(2,044 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Human Beings in Crowds and Masses 1. ‘Mass,’ like ‘crowd,’ means first of all a multitude of persons. ‘Mass,’ however, goes beyond ‘crowd,’ and denotes a ‘perceptual’ form of crowd, special from without as from within: a multitude arising and understood politically, religiously, or aesthetically, as an independent social condition of aggregate. This aggregate is not defined in terms of an absolute number: the community of believers itself, in its → architecture, is a (prayer) mass. Human masses make t…

Religion

(6,742 words)

Author(s): Auffarth , Christoph | Mohr, Hubert
The Power of Definition 1. a) The boundary between what religion is and is not, has important effects: it excludes it from undeserved privileges, and lays out its concerns as either illegitimate or unlawful. These issues arise in the debates over ‘fundamentalism,’ Islamic religious education, or over ‘sects and cults,’ as, for example, in the disagreement over whether Scientology is a religion or a (criminal) ‘economic undertaking.’ An example may clarify the point. In December 1992, Hindus destroye…

Vision/Auditory Experience

(4,198 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Heroldsbach 1949–1952 1. On October 9, 1949, four ten and eleven-year-old girls went to the park of the Castle of Heroldsbach, in Franken (Germany), to gather fall foliage.1 They had just participated in an evening meditation on Mary. Upon leaving the wood, first one of the girls, then the others, felt a sudden compulsion to pray. Immediately thereafter, they saw, first, a black figure between the trees, then the abbreviation ‘JHS’ (in the popular German reading, Jesus—Heiland—Seligmacher, ‘Jesus—Savior—Beatifier’), in green script between two birch trees, and finally, …

Mysteries

(1,614 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
The Concept 1. Mysteries are ‘mysterious’—it sounds banal, and suggestive of a detective story: a “mystery thriller.” Nevertheless, the expression indicates an important characteristic. The topic is cults, which comprise the secret actions (rites), narratives (myths), or teachings accessible to or comprehensible by the initiated alone. There are ‘private parties,’ which seek to guarantee the participants special experiences. They are not exhausted by the fact of → secrecy, to be sure, though the ‘secret,’ the mysterion, aroused much curiosity. Mysteries are often condu…

Icon

(627 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Icons (Greek, eíkon, ‘image’) are the sacred images of the Eastern Churches. Since the Byzantine image controversy (which began around 726 under Emperor Leo III and lasted, through various reversals, until 843 under Empress Theodora), the icon has stood at the center of Eastern Christian theological and artistic effort. The laborious defeat of currents of opposition to and even destruction of images (‘iconoclasm’) had the consequence that the creation of icons in the Eastern church was subjected t…

Reception

(5,436 words)

Author(s): Hehn, Georg | Mohr, Hubert
1. The term ‘reception’ derives from the Latin recipere, ‘to receive,’ ‘to take up.’ It is applied with various meanings in scholarship. In the cultural sciences, it found wide application after its adoption from the Constance theory of option in literary reception. In the area of anthropology and religious studies, it denotes any orientation of a cultural or religious current to a tradition. The bearers of the latter are varied. Correspondingly, religious receptions are identified as forms of religion …

Introduction: The Academic Study of Religion—Historical and Contemporary Issues*

(13,230 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph | Mohr, Hubert
* Introductory remark: The following survey is an attempt to present scientific trends and different schools and styles of research that have either been characteristic of the academic study of religion over the past century or that have recently entered upon the scene but have nevertheless already had an effect on religious research. This is, therefore, a study of the typical and the paradigmatic (which is not to imply that another approach would have been qualitatively inferior, this is simply the approach that…

Heathen

(316 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Heathen are always the ‘others’: Muslims, freethinkers and atheists, cannibals—even Catholics or Protestants, as you prefer. ‘Heathen’ is a collective, ‘exclusive’ (excluding) concept: in the Hebrew Bible, the ‘others’ are the goyim (Gen 10:5, Isa 14:26); in the Greek New Testament, they are ta éthne (‘the tribes’), or, as the part for the whole, hoi Héllenes (‘the Greeks’: John 7:35, Mark 7:26), the ‘(other) pe…

Antiquity: Festival Cycles

(1,798 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
a) Festival Cycle of the Greek Religion: Example of Athens

Materiality

(751 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
Along with the statues, apparatus, and special attire of worship, material is an important, if often little noticed, component of worship and ritual. Material used in worship can be made of inorganic matter and products as well as organic ones, which find application within ritual activities. It is applied as sacrificial material, when entrails are burned in honor of the gods, or flowers are placed on graves for ancestors; as means of purification, when the body is cleansed before prayer with water or refined aromatic oils, sand, or even bare stones; as means of painting or marking, when, …

Machine

(1,594 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
1. Machines (from the Doric Gk. machaná, or Attic mechané), are gears with movable parts serving for a power transfer. Normally, they stand in a fixed location, although, as in the modern traffic system, they can be ‘self-moving’ (Gk., auto-; Lat., mobile); cf. ‘locomotive’ (Lat., locus, ‘place’; movére, ‘to move’). ‘Robots’ (from the Czech robota, ‘compulsory labor,’ ‘drudgery’) and ‘automatic’ machines (from Gk., autómatos, ‘self-’) comprise the core of modern technology: without them, the global → industrialization of the economy and the mechanization of…