M.A. - Religion (Asian)

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    Understanding the American Buddhist
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2011], 2011-08) Urich, Joshua
    This thesis catalogues the different ways three Asian Buddhist teachers present Buddhism to American audiences. Taking this approach has two benefits. First, it gives scholars a theoretical foundation of how Americans can incorporate Buddhism into their religious identities. Second, successful teachers often echo the desires of their audiences. Therefore, studying their messages reveals some of the beliefs and practices of American Buddhists. After examining three different Buddhist teachers, we will be better equipped to understand how Buddhism fits into American life. This new understanding shows that our current framework for discussing changing religious identities--namely the word "to convert"--is inappropriate for discussions of American Buddhism.
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    Beyond the Khalsa Panth : recognizing diversity in the Sikh community
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2011], 2011-08) Gellatly, Maria Chanan
    Within mainstream academia, Sikhism is often presented as a monolithic religion, and Sikhs as a monolithic community, concerned with outward markers of faith, political activism, and a history closely linked to the British Army. This thesis aims to shed light on the construction of this narrative within scholarship and bring to the forefront some of the more complex issues with Sikh identity. Through a historical look at the early Sikh Panth and the changes it underwent during colonial rule I will show that the traditional values of the Sikh community were quite different than those that are currently perpetuated in academia. Two case studies will illustrate the diversity of the Sikh Panth today, in an effort to begin a dialogue about non-Khalsa groups and practices within the Sikh community. Recognizing this diversity will bring scholars a deeper understanding of Sikhism and the complex issues of Sikh identity, both historically and in the modern day.
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    A commentary on the 1791 journal of Manuel Quimper Benitez del Pino
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2011], 2011-08) Bark, Caroline O'Neill
    Since 1778 foreign mariners arrived at the Hawaiian archipelago bringing with them goods, firearms, and new behaviors. Their arrival at the archipelago, during a period of political change, afforded Hawaiian chiefs military advantages. The promise of victory did not cause chiefs to rely solely on the generosity of foreigners, however. Through the 1791 journal of Spanish mariner, Manuel Quimper Benitez del Pino, this thesis aims to shed light on the ways in which Hawaiian chiefs skillfully dealt with foreigners, adapting traditional beliefs and practices to not only obtain desired goods, but to protect themselves and valuable information. Manuel Quimper was the first Spanish naval officer to visit the Hawaiian archipelago and his first-hand, written account, supplemented by other visitor accounts and scholarly sources, helps to elucidate the complexities of Hawaiian politics and religion in the early 1790's
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    Painting outside the lines : how Daoism shaped conceptions of artistic excellence in Medieval China, 800--1200
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2012], 2012-08) Reich, Aaron Kenna
    One place religious traditions lend themselves to a better understanding of artistic creativity is where they throw light on the question of what it means to create in the first place. In all its cultural manifestations, a particularly fascinating expression of the intricate and interwoven relationship between religion and creativity appears in the prolific theoretical treatises of traditional Chinese painting. This thesis discusses the role of Daoism in the formulation and eventual exaltation of the "untrammeled category" (yipin 逸品) of painters of the Tang (618--906) and Song (960--1279) dynasties as an example of this phenomenon.2 The theory of painting took a dramatic turn in the Northern Song (960--1127), particularly in the eleventh century. An influential art theorist and Daoist alchemist, Huang Xiufu 黃休復(late tenth to early eleventh century), in collaboration with other contemporary theorists from Sichuan province, reinvented the theoretical standard by making adjustments to the gradational classification of painters inherited from previous works of traditional painting criticism.3 This theoretical move confirmed that a new ideal for artistic excellence in painting had emerged by the eleventh century, one that held spontaneous (ziran 自然) expression as the ultimate desideratum. This thesis problematizes the historical causes for the generation and perpetuation of this new trend in Northern Song painting theory. Through a detailed exegetical analysis of painting texts written from the ninth to eleventh centuries, I argue that the eleventh century elevation of the yipin class of painters developed in response to a growing intellectual interest in the Daoist textual tradition and its application to aesthetic theory. My argument challenges the claims of previous scholarship that painters and art theorists of the Song looked primarily toward philosophical and religious systems other than Daoism for their ideas about art. In one famous work of this kind, James Cahill argues that, by the Song, Daoist concepts had become "so thoroughly assimilated into Confucian thought that the Sung scholars had no need to turn to other sources for them."4 Some scholars in the last couple of decades have also argued for the prominence of Neo-Confucian thought in Northern Song aesthetic theory.5 However, as Peter Bol has demonstrated more recently, the cumulative intellectual tradition known in Western language scholarship as Neo-Confucianism did not become central to literati life until the twelfth century; therefore, referring to the many developing philosophies prior to the time of Zhu Xi (1130--1200) as "Neo-Confucianism" elides the nuances between traditions that "can include diverse, even contradictory practices."6 Though some aspects of nascent philosophies that would later be compiled and codified by Zhu Xi may indeed have influenced painting theory to some degree, each of these studies has overlooked the more pivotal impact of the contemporaneous Daoist tradition on the formation of new theoretical models of painting in the Tang and Northern Song dynasties. Serious study of the links between Daoism and painting has only begun recently. Sarah Fraser has suggested that the reluctance of scholars to address the relationship between Daoist thought and painting theory, and their subsequent reorientation toward Confucian and Neo-Confucian elements, may have been in response to the foregrounding of Daoism in less scholarly books, most notably Mai-mai Sze's The Tao of Painting (1956), that treat Chinese painting in an inchoate and ahistorical way.7 Additionally, there is the question of the greater prestige of Confucianism, another factor which may have drawn scholarly inquiry away from Daoism. In my own research, I have been inspired by Professor Fraser's encouraging words to scholars who might build on her work: "Despite the negative associations of popular conceptions of Daoism, alchemical notions of creativity, [sic.] and conceptions of invention are worth another look."8 Indeed, an examination of the vocabulary, allusions, and conceptual framework of Northern Song painting texts and a comparison of these aspects with texts from the Daoist canon reveals a remarkable connection between the Daoist religion and contemporary ideas of artistic creativity. My research has been carried out largely with the assistance of searchable databases of digital Chinese texts, most notably Academia Sinica's Scripta Sinica, which has streamlined the investigative process, especially with the task of searching for Daoist terms and allusions in painting texts. What follows is an investigation of intellectual history which reconstructs the close relationship between Daoism and the theory of painting from circa 800--1200. By looking closely at the religious terms and concepts present within the painting theory of this period, we find that the religion of Daoism not only led to the invention and elevation of the yipin class of painters, but that several fundamental components of Daoist thought ultimately become central to how the most prominent art theorists articulated the processes behind human creativity.
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    Christian weddings : religion and ritual in contemporary Japan
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2012], 2012-12) Lefebvre, Jesse R.
    This thesis explores the rise of Christian weddings within the context of contemporary Japan. In particular, it challenges the manner in which religion as an object of study is traditionally understood in an effort to reveal both the popularity and significance of Christian (and, more generally, religious) wedding ceremonies in a society where the vast number of members claim to be "non-religious" (mushūkyō). The author draws on numerous interviews with individuals both inside and outside the wedding industry to reveal the manner in which Japanese individuals with no proclaimed religious identity, affiliation or faith still vicariously rely on the religious.
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    Zen in the contemporary marketplace
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2012], 2012-08) Crabtree, Adam Wallace
    I argue in the following thesis that scholars of Zen should take the presence of Zen related commodities in the marketplace seriously, rather than shunning this presence with respect to discursive parameters that orient scholarly engagements with religious "tradition". I hold that much of scholarly neglect stems from the view that commodification in general is a force injurious to religious tradition. Nevertheless, when we examine closely the material objects that propagate in the marketplace, the line between commodification and religion as discrete categories is blurred. More specifically, "Zen" material objects past and present carry a semiotic and conceptual trace encoded in analogues between them, and individuals' rhetoric in relation to Zen's institutional, doctrinal, narrative and popular contexts is telling of this semiotic and conceptual trace.
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    Raiyu and Shingi Shingon sectarian history
    ( 2008) McMullen, Matthew D.
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