The Image of God among Children of Overseas Filipino Worker Parents: Opportunities for Theology of Migration

If parents are not living with their children because of migration, especially in the Asian context, will their children’s image of God be affected? This article aims to highlight the image of God with the stories of four children of Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) parents who have not lived with them since childhood. The article employed the see-judge-act method to understand the experiences of the key informants through personal interviews. Their stories show the struggles and difficulties of these children who live away from their parents, and yet they are able to develop their own image of God. Though these children are highly affected by migration, their experiences are rich potential sources for theological reflection on how they make meaning of their situation. Findings of the article present potential opportunities to develop a theology of migration and further discussions on the implications of Christianity in Asia.

Institutional Adjustment to Globalization to Increase Religious Tolerance

This article examines formal and informal institutional arrangements that either encourage or discourage religious intolerance in response to rapid social and economic change. The initial premise, described in the first part of the article, is based on the work of Gordon Allport, which shows that those who identify themselves as most “religious” tend to be among the most and least tolerant; the former being the “devout” while the latter are “institutional.” The second part of the article examines the economic and social factors underlying the historical relationship, documented by Karen Armstrong, between major social change and the rise of intolerant fundamentalist religious movements. The last section of the article describes three specific ways in which institutional adjustments can reduce intolerance: (1) develop economic policy adjustments to increase household and community resilience; (2) develop institutional arrangements that create incentives for individuals to bargain with one another, rather than engage in zero-sum games; and (3) examine comparative community level studies that offer clues to building resilience and overcoming intolerance.

The Banyan Tree Spirits: Using Photography to Commune with the Natural World

Symbolizing immortality and diversity, banyans are the national spiritual trees of India and Indonesia. We photographed apparent human figures embedded in banyans that served as evidence for questions concerning the origins of religion in archaic peoples and the use of art as a means of personal spiritual development. Two primary questions guided this inquiry. First, did the appearance of human forms in the banyans serve archaic peoples as a source of spirituality and religious belief? In this study, the photographs were treated as “sacred objects” for exploring possible phenomena and states of consciousness through which archaic peoples may have developed religious beliefs. Second, how can art be used to commune with nature for personal spiritual development? This study involved our suspension of disbelief in the supernatural, aesthetic criticism of each photograph, and provisional identification of the categories of spirits they might represent, including fertility and procreation, death, wisdom, and mythological animals. We compared our understanding of the identity of these deities with Hindu beliefs about the banyan, notably their depiction of gods as embedded in the trees, just as our photographs portrayed. We developed a relationship with the spirits that gave rise to spontaneous dialogues that were enlightening and stimulated our spiritual self-development. Our research motivated us to support and sustain the life of banyan trees and the protection of nature in general.