The Heart Dwells in Emptiness: On the Relationship between the Deep Heart of Zacharias and Hongzhi’s Empty Field

The concept of the heart has played a central role in the Christian tradition since ancient times. Over the course of history, it has been given a range of interpretations. The concept has received attention particularly within the Orthodox tradition, especially with respect to the practice of the Jesus Prayer, or Prayer of the Heart. Similarly, the concept of the mind has played a fundamental role in the development of Buddhist thought, particularly within the Chan/Zen tradition. This article examines these two concepts, focusing on Orthodox writer Archimandrite Zacharias’ development of the notion of the deep heart and Chinese Chan master Hongzhi’s use of the empty field. It is argued that, when viewed from a phenomenological perspective, a profound relationship exists between these ideas, supporting the presence of a fundamental psychological symmetry between the practices of these two spiritual traditions.

Boko Haram: History, Ideology, and Goal

Boko Haram is an Islamist movement founded in 2002 by Yusuf Muhammad in Borno State of northeast Nigeria. Yusuf Muhammad’s teaching propagated hatred toward Western civilization. It vehemently affirmed the infallibility of the Qur’an as the uncreated and eternal word of Allah. Yusuf also demanded the full implementation of the Sharia in Nigeria to usher in the perfect Islamic State. By 2009 the group had evolved into a jihadist movement with the goal of using military campaigns to create an Islamic State in northern Nigeria. In further developments, it declared a caliphate in the territories of northern Nigeria under its control and pledged support for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It has been argued that Boko Haram originated as a reaction to underdevelopment and poverty in the Muslim-dominated northeast Nigeria. This argument is founded on perceived injustices and corruption in democratic Nigeria. It is important to note that the theory of underdeveloped public welfare functions is constantly invoked in most cases of Islamist insurgency and sectarian conflicts. Another theory of origin of Boko Haram focuses on Islamic jihadist movements. From this perspective Boko Haram falls within the tradition of jihadism in Nigeria, although it is the most radical form. This theory resonates with statements attributed to the leader of the Boko Haram, which claims that Boko Haram is fighting a religious war against unbelievers with the goal of turning Nigeria into an Islamic theocratic state. But Boko Haram fighters have killed Christians and Muslims alike. This article seeks to untangle the social, economic, political, religious, and radical ideological elements manifested in Boko Haram rhetoric and activities.

Catholic, Anglican, and Puritan Representations of the Scholar as a Model of Martyrdom

In this article, a martyr is defined as one who personally witnessed persecution during the Tudor Reformation, especially under Henry VIII, Mary, and Elizabeth, and who ultimately died for his or her beliefs rather than abjure. The main themes discussed were issues of continuity and change: To what extent did Protestant depictions of martyrs draw upon pre-Reformation ideas? Did they signify a break from the past, as proposed by Dickens, or did they represent gradual transition concurrent with Walsham’s theory, where some older beliefs were perpetuated, some were reinterpreted allegorically, and others were abandoned as obsolete? Although firmly grounded in history, the methodology of this article also incorporates elements from other disciplines, especially gender studies, death studies, religion, philosophy, and some aspects of art history. Of particular importance was the language of inversion, where exceptionally courageous female martyrs were portrayed with the masculine virtues of courage, analytical rationality, or self-control. Allegedly negative feminine traits such as cowardice, deceit, treachery, or promiscuity were used to shame and discredit clergymen from rival religious groups. The following article will focus upon a specific model of masculinity used by Catholic, Anglican, and Puritan martyrologists: the representation of martyrs, especially clergymen, as scholars whose rationality, leadership, and willingness to die for their beliefs rendered them superior men to their rivals. Such portrayals of martyred scholars might be age-based, for example, the exaltation of the mature teacher or humble youth, or may feed into the discourse over whether the celibate priest devoted to his books, or the married Protestant patriarch, was more self-disciplined and, thus, better qualified to instruct their congregation.