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Lecture 13 - Religion
 

Lecture 13 - Religion

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    Lecture 13 - Religion Lecture 13 - Religion Presentation Transcript

    • Religion and Ritual
    • The BIG Questions
      • What is religion and what are the basic features of religions?
      • How do world religions illustrate globalization and localization?
      • What are some important aspects of religious change in contemporary times?
    • Studying Religion
      • academic versus theological perspective
        • the academic perspective does not make value judgments about the validity of a religion
          • description of characteristics
          • analysis of relationship between characteristics and cultural context
    • Defining Religion
      • Durkheim (1915)
        • a unified set of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden, - beliefs and practices which unite [into] one single moral community, all those who adhere to them
      • Geertz (1985)
        • (1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic
    • Defining Religion
      • Tylor (1871)
        • religion is the belief in spirits
      • a comprehensive definition
        • the beliefs and behaviors related to supernatural beings and/or forces
          • some religions don't believe in deities
          • some religions believe in many
    • Separating Religion
      • how do cultures separate religion from other cultural aspects?
        • small-scale societies are generally less specialized, including the realm of religion
        • more complex, specialized societies tend to have categories that separate religion from other aspects of society (ex: economics, politics)
          • however, we oftentimes see a relationship between religion and these other aspects
          • ex: Proposition 8 involved aspects of politics and religion
    • Magic and Religion
      • Frazer (1890)
        • a system of supernatural beliefs that involves the manipulation of supernatural forces for the purpose of intervening in a wide range of human activities and natural events
        • two general principals:
          • the law of similarity/imitative magic suggests that if a person or thing is similar to the actual person or thing you are seeking to modify, then the actions you do to it will transfer to the actual thing (voodoo doll)
          • the law of contagion/contagious magic suggests that performing magic on things that were once in contact with the actual person you are seeking to affect will have an effect on that person (lock of hair)
    • Magic and Religion
      • in some cultures magic is inseparable from religious beliefs, while in others it is seen as a completely separate practice
        • both are nonrational (faith)
        • magic is often aimed at specific issues/problems, while religion is more concerned with “bigger picture”
          • magic can fit into a religious system, utilize personal agency and power; ex: prayer
        • difference in size of groups
          • religions can include billions of people, while magic is usually personal or small-scale, however, voodoo ceremonies can blur this line
    • Magic and Religion
    • Magic and Religion
      • similarities and differences (continued):
        • religious practices are often done at specific, predetermined times (Ramadan), while magic is usually performed when the need arises (hardship)
          • some magic rituals, however, need to be performed during specific seasons, on specific days, and at specific times (solstice)
        • religions usually have more formalized positions of leadership, while magic can often be performed by the general population
          • again, voodoo blurs these lines with their special priests and priestesses
    • Magic and Religion
      • in Western society we often view magic as inherently evil, however, in those groups that practice magic, it is neither inherently good nor evil
        • if used for positive purposes then it is good and if used for negative ones then it is bad
      • anthropologists and other scholars have used two terms to separate the use of magic in non-Western cultures
        • witchcraft is an inborn, involuntary, and often unconscious capacity to cause harm to other people
        • sorcery is the performance of certain magical rites for the purpose of harming other people
    • Case Studies: West and North Central Africa
      • Maka of Cameroon
        • use the term sorcery in very ambiguous ways
          • it could refer to the magical force of djambe that lives inside of many people
          • or to a person that uses this force for their own aims
          • also simply refers to someone who is knowledgeable about this force and the people that use it
          • djambe is sometimes used unconsciously by someone who is unaware of its existence within them, but is also used by people to heal those harmed by others who have it
    • Case Studies: West and North Central Africa
      • the Azande of Congo, Sudan, and Central African Republic
      • witchcraft refers to the conscious or unconscious use of a "witchcraft substance"
        • inherited by one's parent of the same sex
      • a sorcerer does not necessarily need this substance and can learn this skill and will intentionally use it to harm people
    • Case Studies: West and North Central Africa
      • although there is a wide range of meanings that these terms can have, there is a general theme of under what conditions they most often occur
        • what is often the case with witchcraft and sorcery in Africa is that the emergence of these forces or energies correlate with a rising of tension within the group, mostly in the form of jealousy
        • for example, in the Maka, witchcraft accusations would often occur because of jealousy of one's kin
        • the Bangwa present another example...
    • Case Studies: West and North Central Africa
      • the Bangwa of Western Cameroon
      • accused child witches are often jealous that their male parents are allowed to eat proteins that they are not due to a food taboo
      • when they are found guilty of witchcraft, they are allowed to eat these foods to appease the forces that caused the witchcraft, thus letting the child eat the food it wanted
    • Case Studies: West and North Central Africa
      • witchcraft and sorcery in these African groups can be seen as a way to ease tensions
        • whether through accusations and the taking of responsibility for magical events or through the function of witchcraft as an explanation for unfortunate circumstances
      • we see this theme of magic and ritual during times of anxiety or uncertainty throughout religious belief systems and practices
    • Theories on the Origin and Function of Religion
      • early evolutionists (Tylor 1871) suggested our earliest human ancestors needed to explain the difference between the living and the dead
        • argued that animism was the original and most primary form of religion
          • the belief that people have souls or spirits in addition to physical, visible bodies
        • after animism, people began to personify the soul as human-like deities in the form of polytheism
        • polytheism then “evolved” into the “higher” form of monotheism
    • Theories on the Origin and Function of Religion
      • Robert Marett (1914) disagreed, arguing that our ancestors were not that sophisticated to make this distinction
        • argued that animatism was the original form
          • the belief in a generalized, impersonal power found in all objects on earth over which people have some measure of power
      • another way to categorize the function of religion is in terms of the social and the psychological
    • The Social Functions of Religion
      • social control
        • positive and negative sanctions to encourage socially acceptable behavior
        • religions as ethical systems with rules, rewards, and punishments
          • ex: the Ten Commandments
      • conflict resolution
        • resolve tension during stressful times
          • marginalized people often use religion to negotiate status by forming own power structure
      • intensifying group solidarity
        • bring people together, reinforces bonds
          • religious institutions as meeting places
    • The Psychological Functions of Religion
      • cognitive
        • provides an intellectual framework for explaining parts of our world that we do not understand
          • origin and creation myths
      • emotional
        • helps reduce anxiety by proscribing straightforward ways of coping
          • rituals, praying, meditating
    • Theorists and Theories
      • Marx : religion is the “opiate of the masses”
        • functions as superficial comfort for the poor, obfuscating class inequality
      • Durkheim (1915): religion functions to maintain social cohesion through the use of rituals and symbols
      • Malinowski: rituals reduce anxiety and uncertainty (see Gmelch 2009)
      • Freud: religion expresses people's unconscious thoughts, wishes, and worries
    • Classifying Religions
      • Canadian anthropologist Anthony Wallace identified four principal patterns of religious organization based on what he calls cults
        • cult here is used in an academic sense to refer to forms of religion that have their own set of beliefs, rituals, and goals
      • these four cults are:
        • individualistic
        • shamanistic
        • communal
        • ecclesiastical
    • Individualistic Cults
      • least complex form of religious organization in which each person is his or her own religious specialist (mystic tradition)
        • one such ritual that is often performed by people within these cults is the Vision Quest
          • ritual found among a number of Plains Indian cultures wherein through visions people establish special relationships with spirits who provide them with knowledge, power, and protection.
    • Shamanistic Cults
      • characterized by part-time religious specialists called shamans who intervene with the deities on behalf of their “clients”
        • shamans are thought to have supernatural powers by virtue of birth, training, or inspiration
        • emphasize the meaningfulness of humanity's connection to the earth and the supernatural, as well as the symbolic importance of every day events
        • often utilize medicinal plants that alter consciousness (ex: peyote, ayahuasca)
    • Communal Cults
      • societies in which groups of ordinary people conduct religious ceremonies for the well-being of the total community
        • similar to shamanism in that there are no full-time religious leaders
        • can be seen in the practice of:
          • ancestor worship – belief that the spirits of one's ancestors still affect the living and through the use of rituals and ceremonies they can ask for blessings, to be left alone, or to punish those who have harmed you (ex: the Lugbara of Uganda)
          • totemism –(not to be confused with totem poles) refers to the belief that groups of people are spiritually connected to certain plants, animals, or objects which are used as symbols of group identity (ex: many Native North American groups)
    • Ecclesiastical Cults
      • highly complex religious systems employing full-time priests
        • formally elected or appointed and devote all or most of their time to performing priestly functions
        • unlike shamans who conduct rituals during times of crisis or when their services are needed, these full-time priests conduct rituals that occur at regular intervals
        • priests are usually organized hierarchically, with some having more rights and responsibilities than others
        • ex: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism
    • Religion
      • as our definition suggested, religion is composed of both beliefs and behavior
        • beliefs involve the thoughts, ideas, and ideologies that people in various religions espouse
        • behavior includes practices, rituals, and ceremonies that people from various religions perform
    • Religious Beliefs
      • religious beliefs:
        • inform patterns of religious behavior
        • are shared by practitioners of a given religion
        • are passed on from generation to generation
      • how are religious beliefs expressed?
        • myths and doctrines
    • Religious Beliefs
      • myth – a narrative with a plot about supernatural forces or beings
        • must be understood academically
          • myth doesn't imply falsity, but suggests that the symbolic truths are the most important aspect of the story
          • ex: creation myths, like that found in Genesis
      • doctrine – direct and formalized statements about religious beliefs
        • associated with large, institutionalized religions
        • written, often found in holy texts or official decrees
          • ex: Papal decrees, the Bible, the Qur'an
    • Religious Beliefs
      • religions have beliefs about sacred spaces also
        • sacred versus profane space
          • different interpretations depending on religious tradition
        • natural or man-made, transient or permanent
        • examples:
          • Devil's Tower is sacred to the Lakota peoples, as are many natural landmarks (rivers, mountains, deserts)
          • churches, monoliths (Stonehenge), tombs, locations connected to religious leaders
          • any place where a ritual takes place can become sacred for that moment in time
    • Religious Practices
      • one of the most apparent religious practices is that of the ritual
        • a patterned behavior that is focused on the supernatural realm
        • the enactment of religious beliefs
      • rituals can also be secular, that is, not necessarily connected to religious beliefs
        • sometimes mixed, sometimes modeled after religious rituals
      • can be periodic (performed at predetermined times, ex: Christmas) or nonperiodic (performed in response to an event, ex: funerals)
    • Religious Practices
      • life-cycle rituals
        • also known as rites of passage
        • marks a change in status from one life stage to another
        • Victor Turner (1969) suggested that cross-culturally, rites of passage include three main stages or phases:
          • separation
          • transition
          • reintegration
    • Religious Practices
      • separation
        • the initiate (person undergoing the ritual) is separated physically, socially, and symbolically from society
          • can include special clothes, a period of silence, or actual seclusion from the rest of the population
      • transition
        • termed as liminal phase by Turner
        • initiate is between statuses, they are neither who they were before nor who they are going to be
          • concept of communitas
      • reintegration
        • the initiate “comes out the other side”
        • member of society again, this time with new status
    • Religious Practices
      • rituals of conversion
        • normal social roles and order are temporarily reversed
          • social norms are relaxed, like in the various celebrations of Carnival throughout the world
        • functionalists would suggest this is a way to relieve social tension
      • sacrifice
        • the offering of something to a supernatural force(s)
        • can simply be the offering of food
          • ex: Dia de los Muertos and the offering of sugar skulls, pan de muerto, and beverages (like tequila or mezcal)
        • also includes killing of animals (including humans)
    • Religious Practices
      • pilgrimages
        • travel to a sacred place or places for purposes of religious devotion or ritual
        • often involves hardship
          • the more difficult, the more merit the pilgrim obtains
        • removes a person from everyday life
        • Turner's phases can also be applied here
        • examples include:
          • Varanasi, India for Hindus
          • Bodh Gaya in India for Buddhists
          • Jerusalem, Israel for Abrahamic religions
          • Lourdes, France for Christians
          • Mecca, Saudi Arabia for Muslism
            • Hajj1 Hajj 2
    • World Religions and Local Variations
      • world religion refers to religions that are text-based, have many followers, are regionally widespread, and are concerned with salvation in some form
      • important to remember that religions are not bounded, monolithic entities
        • religions come into contact with each other
          • sometimes coexisting in the form of religious pluralism
          • sometimes religions blend in the form of religious syncretism
          • sometimes religions conflict with each other and are the impetus for violence
        • therefore, when we talk about the 6 major world religions, each has its own local variations
    • Hinduism
        • 828-1,000 million followers, the majority of which live in India
        • core texts are the 4 Vedas, written in Sanskrit between 1200 and 900 BCE
        • concept of god(s) depends on the specific tradition under study
          • nondualist (one's soul, or atman, is essentially not separate from the supreme spirit, or Brahman) vs. dualist (multiple gods are the manifestations of the personality of the supreme spirit)
        • rituals and worship range from personal and everyday to large festivals
          • ex: Diwali, or the festival of lights, is a national 5 day holiday in India and includes lighting of lamps, gathering with friends and family, and sharing food; symbolizes triumph of good over evil
    • Buddhism
        • around 400 million followers
        • in northern India with the birth of Siddhartha Gautama (566-486 BCE)
          • became the Buddha (awakened one) at age 35 after liberating himself through meditation while sitting under the Bhodi tree in Bhod Gaya
          • protest against inequalities in Hindu caste system
          • some forms worship Buddha as a deity (often along with others), others only see him as a teacher of how to obtain nirvana
        • no single text is seen as authoritative
        • focuses on the release from samsara (cycle of rebirths), includes Hindu concepts such as karma
        • strong tradition of monasticism
    • Buddhism
      • the Four Noble Truths
        • 1 st teachings of the Buddha after reaching enlightenment
          • the 4 th truth is to end suffering, one must follow the Noble Eightfold Path
      • the Noble Eightfold Path
    • Judaism
      • religious system first defined in 500 BCE after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem
        • Abrahamic in origin (shares this with Christianity and Islam)
        • the Torah (Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses) forms the basis of belief and practice
          • other texts include the Midrash and the Talmud
        • because of the history of Judaism, a major theme is the concept of exile and return
        • monotheistic
        • emphasizes orthopraxy
          • dietary restrictions
          • keeping the Sabbath
    • Christianity
      • began in eastern Mediterranean in second quarter of the first century
      • ties with Judaism includes teachings about a coming messiah
      • accepts the Bible as holy scripture
      • belief in one God who sent His son to the world in order to sacrifice him for the sake of humanity
      • largest branches include Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox
        • denominations within branches
    • Islam
        • 1.4 billion followers, majority of which live in Asia and Africa, especially Indonesia
        • youngest of the world religions
        • monotheistic; Allah is simply the Arabic term for God
        • based on teachings of prophet Muhammad (May Allah honor and grant him peace/ ṣall Allāhuʿalay-hi wa-sallam ) in the 6 th and 7 th centuries CE
          • set forth in the Qur'an
        • word “Islam” means “submission to God”
    • Islam
        • two main denominations
          • Sunni – majority (80-90%), follows Sunnah as model for life
          • Shi'a – minority group, believe that Muhammad's (saaw) son-in-law and cousin, Ali, was the rightful successor
          • Sufism is a mystical (personal knowledge of the divine) sect within Islam
        • the Five Pillars of Islam are presented in the Qur'an as a framework for worship and as a sign of one's commitment to the faith
    • Islam
    • African Religions
      • while not traditionally considered a world religion, we can see that African religious traditions are spread throughout the globe
        • tied to the African diaspora as caused by slave trade
          • form practiced in African diaspora usually west African in origin
        • contemporary manifestations usually syncretic in nature (ex: voodoo, candomble, santeria)
    • African Religions
      • most indigenous African religions share some of the following features:
        • myths about conflict between creator and humans
        • pantheon of high god or gods with many secondary supernatural figures, sometimes powerful gods, sometimes lesser spirits
        • elaborate initiation rituals
        • rituals involving animal sacrifice and other offerings, meals, and dances
        • altars as places where human and divine meet
        • emphasis on healing
    • Religious Change
      • no religion is static or in a vacuum
      • religions are subject to change through a variety of forces
        • internal invention and innovation
        • contact with other cultures and religions through various processes (often stressful)
          • contact, colonization, globalization
      • sometimes change causes people to incorporate another culture's traditions into their religion
      • other times, people within religions resist these changes by reaffirming traditional aspects of their religion
    • Religious Change
      • revitalization movements
        • socioreligious in nature
        • usually organized by prophetic leader
        • seeks to construct more satisfying situation by reviving all or parts of a religion that has been threatened by outside forces
        • can also include adopting new practices and beliefs
      • subcategories
        • nativistic movements
          • found among American Indians that emphasize their traditional religious beliefs in rituals
          • ex: Native American Ghost Dance movement as response to invasion by Europeans
    • Revitalization Movements
        • Cargo cults
          • often found in Melanesia after WWII
          • product of contact with societies who are more technologically advanced
          • main focus is obtaining this advanced technology through magic and ritual
        • Separatist Christian churches
          • small-scale churches that break away from the dominant church
          • done in order to gain greater political, economic, social, and religious autonomy
          • ex: Zion Christian Church
    • Revitalization Movements
        • Mahdist movements
          • found in Sunni Muslim parts of the world
          • based on the premise that there is a great reformer or redeemer (much like a messiah) that will come and restore justice on earth
        • Millenarian movements
          • found in Christian areas of the world
          • suggests that, based on a 1,000 year cycle, there will be major changes that will completely transform society
          • sometimes in the form of the second coming of Jesus
          • ex: Branch Davidians
    • Key Themes
      • there is staggering variety in the ways that people manifest their beliefs
      • sometimes it is difficult to separate magic and religion
        • often times one fits within the other
      • religions serve many functions for the individual and the society
      • religions are composed of both beliefs and practices
      • world religions and their local variations illustrate the richness and complexity of religion cross-culturally
      • religions are subject to change, just like any other aspect of culture