This paper follows the development of Gustavo Gutiérrez's theology of liberation. Including the socio-economic conditions of Gutiérrez's native Peru during the mid 1900s, his own biblical interpretations, and the influences of Karl Marx, this paper traces Gutiérrez's path towards the idea that Christian Socialism can indeed exist and thrive in the world.
The relationship between morality and the self has been a subject of both philosophical and theological speculation. In the religious sphere these two concepts—morality and the self—often hold great significance as they tend to correlate at least somewhat directly with either temporal happiness or soteriological beliefs. In many religious and philosophical systems, the belief in a permanent self (that may or may not carry over in an afterlife) is thought of as a necessary substratum of an agent to account for moral agency and moral responsibility. My thesis, however, is that a belief in a permanent self that is subject to personal everlasting soteriological repercussions is not necessary for moral agency (moral agency entailing responsibility, accountability, and motivation). My argument employs a close reading of two examples of comprehensive religious/philosophical systems: the Madhyamaka Buddhism of 14th century Tibetan philosopher Tsongkhapa and the process theism of 20th century philosopher Charles Hartshorne. In light of the philosophical moral systems used, I conclude that not only is the lack of a permanent self coherent with moral agency, but the lack of a permanent self actually increases a sense of moral agency and responsibility in an agent as well as increases happiness in one’s life.
Dr. Harold Koenig, the director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health at Duke University and one of the leading researchers in the field of Religion and Medicine advocates for a change in the current medical system that incorporates religion and spirituality. Koenig argues that because religion is so influential to patients’ ability to cope with illness, it must be addressed in patient care in order for the patient to have a successful recovery. In order to make his theory appear viable he tries to prove through scientific research that religion has a beneficial effect on people’s health. To this date, Koenig has published more than 35 books and over 280 articles on this topic. The aim of this thesis project was to take a close examination of Koenig’s theory of why religion should be introduced into the medical world and the method in which he takes to prove this theory. What I will argue is that although I agree that medical care needs to be changed in order to meet more than just the physical needs of patients, Koenig’s approach to do this by scientifically proving the health benefits of religion through his published books is unconvincing as well as ineffective in benefiting patients.
Phoolan Devi (1963-2001) is recognized affectionately not only throughout her home state of Uttar Pradesh, but also throughout the entire country of India as the Bandit Queen. From a young age, Phoolan rejected her grim destiny as a submissive girl from a low caste and began speaking out for justice within her community. Though her early years were filled with abuse and rape, instead of her misfortune breaking her down, it only fueled her to stop injustice and reap revenge on such monsters. In her teens, as a dacoit, Phoolan’s hunger for retribution was ever increasing. At this time, she made her name on the main stage of India as a mysterious female bandit leader. The press and the people of India were in disagreement about whom and what Phoolan embodied—demon or divine being. After serving an eleven-year jail sentence for her illegal deeds as a dacoit, Phoolan Devi began a successful political career culminating in her election as a Member of Indian Parliament. Her second elected term, however, was cut short by her assassination on July 25, 2001. Throughout her life, Phoolan maintained a calm composure, an overwhelming presence of shakti, and a rare form of feminine masculinity. All of these qualities are particularly reminiscent of the great warrior goddess, Durga. This paper explores how Phoolan was able to escape India’s judgment as a demon and instead become an image of divinity. Additionally, this paper hypothesizes that this divinity is due not only to Phoolan’s modern embodiment of the myths describing Durga as a protective warrior goddess, but also to her enactment of Durga’s masculine power.