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Exploring Islamic spiritual ecology in Indonesia: Perspectives from Nahdlatul Ulama’s progressive intellectuals

ABSTRACT This study aims to explore the ideas related to Islamic spiritual ecology in Indonesia as offered by Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), with a focus on three progressive intellectual subjects from NU: Roy Murtadho, Muhammad Al-Fayyadl, and Muhammad Jadul Maula. The study uses Michel Foucault’s concept of discourse and power and the genealogy method to examine historical statements by the three subjects and to reveal what is both said and unsaid. The research question driving the study is how these intellectuals offer Islamic spiritualism as an alternative basis in responding to contemporary ecological issues. The research findings indicate that: (1) Murtadho contends that economic liberalization enables exploitative practices of natural resources by extractive industries and ruling elites, contributing significantly to contemporary socio-ecological issues; (2) Al-Fayyadl’s concept of Cosmic Islam emphasizes the importance of religiosity and Islam in maintaining the order of the cosmos; (3) Maula mentions that the idea of caring for nature and mitigating ecological disasters has actually become a part of the spiritual practice of religious communities in Indonesia. Overall, the study reveals the potential for Islamic spiritualism to offer unique perspectives on ecological issues in Indonesia.

How marketizing and technologizing education undermines spirituality

ABSTRACT This paper takes education to be concerned with human flourishing, and education that is distinct from instrumental training and which attends to the spirit of students. Such education is holistic and integral and develops the capacity for sustained attention and concentration. Marketization does not, and its impact on education has been long decried. The use of technology in education has always been met with ambivalence. What comprises technology is not obvious, and aspects of it, especially developments in media, undermine sustained attention and concentration. Both marketizing and technologizing an impact on spirituality in education but how they do so in concert with one another and under the aegis of corporations warrants particular scrutiny, which to date has been insufficient, for their combined impact is greater than the sum of the parts. In this paper, markets are distinguished from marketization, and religion from spirituality and mindfulness from what has been labelled McMindfulness and positive psychology. The latter are critiqued for how they have been co-opted by marketization, technology and corporate interests. The conclusion of the paper is that the contemporary pain of educators and students and dysfunctional institutions arises from the loss of spirituality and purpose and that reversing this is essential for humanity’s well-being.

Open Access
Art as spirituality: The paradigmatic case of Marina Abramović

ABSTRACT The aim of this article is to illustrate through an empirical case how art in a secular age can function as a spiritual-but-non-religious (SBNR) environment for both artists and art followers. It examines contemporary performance artist Marina Abramović as an example of a post-modern spiritual figure, rooted in the artworld. Her relevance for a secular age is as a contemporary artist who has developed her own brand of art-based spirituality with no theological nor religious content whatsoever. Although nonreligious, she does not conform to a materialistic worldview. She holds many so-called ‘New Age’ beliefs which place her among the growing SBNR demographic. She has developed her own ‘spiritual’ method to teach people beyond the ‘elitist’ artworld, and has created the immaterial Marina Abramović Institute (MAI) to carry on her legacy. Arguably, therefore, she has effectively transformed herself into a ‘spiritual’ teacher. Drawing on Denita Benyshek’s construct of artist-shaman, scientific explanations about the relieving of pain, and Victor Turner’s concept of spontaneous communitas, the article concludes that Abramović is a nonreligious spiritual charismatic figure who is generating countercultural communitas through her performances, her institute and her teachings, providing an empirical demonstration that art can indeed function as a spiritual but not religious context.