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RELI 2736 (1)
Lecture

RELI 2736 Lecture Notes.pdf

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Department
Religion
Course Code
RELI 2736
Professor
Holly Thomas

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RELI 2736 Lecture Notes Tuesday 6th July, 2010 - will look more at contemporary issues, with a bit of focus on early studies in the first weeks - religion, media, and culture, as well as politics, will be the main themes - take home exam: given last day of class, due the last day of exams (some sort of written assignment) DUE TO THE DROP-BOX - participation: 5% is attendance, 10% is written reflections - reflections given in class (mostly) ... 6 or 7 will be given, and the best 5 will count (for 2 marks each) Religion and Society: What is Religion? (brainstorm) - set of shared beliefs and rituals - way of explaining questions: where are we going? why are we here? - set of traditions - a God, or other supernatural - utilize symbols - defines individual spirituality - applies rules, and elements of power - used as a way to justify a lot of things - contains leaders, and people who hold more power - religion can be a lifestyle - source of therapy and faith for individuals Where do we find Religion today? (brainstorm) - the internet - the news - in educational institutions - in music - in politics - in monuments, and buildings - in summer camps for kids - in customs, and holidays, as well as in calendars - in organizations (AA, NA, Boy Scouts) 1.Traditional Religious Practice, 2. Ongoing Historical/Religious Conflicts, 3. Religious Conflicts: Global impacts, 4. Religion and Politics: Domestic and Foreign Agendas Other places: rapture “insurance” (apocalyptical); belief-o-matic quizzes (tells you which religion you belong to, based upon beliefs and values); alternative religions; infomercials and consumer products. RELI 2736 Lecture Notes Thursday, July 8th 2010 Religion in the News - Christians in the Holy World - Religion is multicultural: specific areas are not just home to people of one religion - Israel: Jews, Christians, and Muslims all find reasons to be there based on “Holy-ness,” leading to many reasons for conflict Classical and Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion - Since the advent of more scientific research, many thought that religion would eventually die out (secularization theory) - Right in some ways: religion has changed - However there is an increase in fundamentalist religions - a return to orthodoxy - Key questions for the study of religion - How can we understand the role of religion in society? - How can we understand religiosity in Canada? In North America? Globally? - How can we understand the transmission of religion through traditional means? Through digital mean? - Exploring Religion and How we Study It - “Choosing My Religion” (YouTube) - Greatest predictor in Canada and North America of our religion: our parentsʼ religion - Religion at a Glance - US is the most religious western country (92% have a religion) - Roughly 72% of Americans and 67% of Canadians report to be religious - Since the 1970s: continual decrease in traditional religiosity, increase in fundamentalism (particularly true in the US) - religion is now increasingly available through all forms of media - entire broadcast networks are owned and operated by religious organizations - 25% of internet users have gotten religious or spiritual information online - World Religions - Most Populated religion: Christianity, yet Islam is the fastest growing - Non-Religion is also growing - Much discrepancy in reports of statistics - Diaspora: enclave of religious grouping, living outside of their homeland - Now also have electronic diaspora: chat rooms for Jewish dating, etc. The Social Scientific Study of Religion (based upon the readings) - Kurtz, Chapter 1 (2007) - Religious Traditions - Define norms, values, and meaning - Provide the ethical underpinnings for collective life - elites and masses, issues of class - Answer fundamental questions about truth in comprehensive ways - Forge the cultural tools for both cooperations and conflict - global impacts - Religion is affected by modern developments - The emergence of scientific reasoning RELI 2736 Lecture Notes - Developments in communications technologies - Developments in transportation - Globalization of advanced capitalist economies - Changing patterns of social organization/networks - The coexistence and exposure to multiple religious faiths - Religion also has an impact on each of these developments as well - Post-Enlightenment: the emergence of sociology and the scientific study of religion and society. Founding theorists: - Durkheim - Weber - Marx - Comte - Nietzsche - Freud - Definitions of Religion - Common Sociological Metaphors for the Study of Religion: - The Sacred Canopy (Berger 1967): defines religion as a worldview constructed to answer the profound and mundane questions of human life. These answers provide an overarching vision of how a religious, social group: envisions the universe; Each of these organizes individual and social life. Can cover small subgroups or metaphors was entire national cultures. Religion is seen as World Construction. an attempt to Doesnʼt work as well in the North American context, because of replace the the plurality. previous... -The Religious Marketplace: increased social, cultural and Although the last religious diversity in global village. Increased competition between is a bit of a religious faiths. Individual preferences, markets determine choice. compromise Passive ʻtransmissionʼ versus ʻchoice.ʼ Characteristic of pluralistic societies. Based on rational choice and consumption theories. Based on marketing of religions. -Elective Affinities (Weber, 1947): correlation between particular belief systems and the cultural and economic values of particular social groups. Described relationships between religious values, beliefs, ideas and other interests. Based on historical/social circumstances as well as preferences/choices. Bridges more structural and more agency based approaches to the understanding of religion. - Four more less common theoretical frameworks - Subjective, structural, dramaturgical, and institutional - Warms, Garber and McGee (2009) - Religion: is a human universal, is extremely difficult to define in a comprehensive way, is a cultural/social/familial institution, and involves a divide between the natural and the supernatural. RELI 2736 Lecture Notes - 7 Characteristics of Religion (KNOW THESE) + Religion is a social institution ▯ ▯ - Stories: may or may not be verifiable; similar subjects covered by various ▯ ▯ religions; can be seen as sacred narratives that reveal truth and provide ▯ ▯ guidance. Common themes: creation, afterlife, flood narrative (disasters), ▯ ▯ sin and intervention. ▯ ▯ - Existence of non-empirical beings, powers, states, place, and qualities: ▯ ▯ monotheism vs polytheism; empiricism, science and faith. - Use of symbols and symbolism: symbols have 2 critical features - symbols store information; symbols can have multiple meanings; and symbols illustrate the “polarization of meaning.” - Inclusion of ritual: repetitive action or sacred action; secular vs religious; to distinguish religious ritual: interface with the supernatural, occur thinking that they actually happen; complex vs simple; examples: secular - morning rituals, the playoff beard, Black Friday, voting; religious - funerals, animal sacrifice, prayer; hybrid - weddings, yoga. - Specialized Roles: religious expertise, authority, credentials, hierarchies, bureaucracies; priests vs shamans. - Use of Altered State of Consciousness: non-empirical experiences that verify the central truths of a religion; many techniques - meditation, prayer, song, drugs; interpretation and context of these experiences are what matters; examples: peyote. - Changes over Time: religion is dynamic, changes across time and culture; can be brought on by individuals, natural events, social and economic changes, the advent of technology, etc. - Religion is a Social Institution: CLASS PARTICIPATION RELI 2736 Lecture Notes Tuesday July 13th Sociological Approaches to the study of Religion Durkheim (1858-1917) French - A founding father of sociology - Writing in the enlightenment, considered liberal at the time - Basics - Structural functionalism - Society acts as a whole, like an organism, and each part has a function - If all of these parts work in conjunction, we have equilibrium; if not then we have dysfunction - Social facts - The social structures, cultural norms, and social values that are external to the individual, influence individuals, but are created by individual - They are out there for us to discover - Starts to move sociology away from philosophy, and into the realm of being a social science (observation etc.) - The whole is greater than the sum of its parts - Individuals act differently as individuals, than they do as a group - Key Questions - What is religionʼs role in society? - What was Durkheimʼs problem with dominant definitions of religion in his time? - How does Durkheim define religion? What two criterion are necessary to determine if a belief system or practice is “relgious”? - Division between sacred and profane - Not simply a good/evil or holy/secular distinction - Each varies cross culturally and changes over time - Mutually exclusive - interaction between the two is guided through rites/rituals - Society/individuals create religion by categorizing phenomena as either sacred or profance - Evoke collective feelings - Group - the Church (not actually a church, just a religious group) - the collective component of religion: Religion is an eminently social thing - not just the Western Christian idea of ʻchurchʼ, can refer to groups of any religious belief system - Church = group of people sharing the same religious beliefs about what is sacred and profane - A moral community ▯ - Collective Effervescence - Critique - Eurocentrism - The creation and reproduction of dualisms - Applicability to real life situations in ʻthe fieldʼ - Lack of elaboration concerning the concept of ʻcollective effervescenceʼ RELI 2736 Lecture Notes Thursday July 15th Classical and Contemporary Developments in the Anthropology of Religion in a Cultural Context Early Anthropology - Unilineal Evolution (Edward Burnett Tylor) - Based on the notion of progress as applied to societies, nature, religion, etc. - Evolutionary scale where religions range from ʻprimitive/savageʼ to ʻcivilizedʼ - Saw things as being progressive, and they are placed on a continuum (with a hierarchy) - Saw a fixed number of stages from start to finish (animistic - polytheistic - monotheistic) with Christianity and European culture being the most civilized - CRITICIZED FOR ETHNOCENTRISM - as his was at the top - Promotes Cultural norms of most religions as ideals - A lot of travel, where theyʼd report on what they found - which they normally saw as ʻthe otherʼ (a person or culture that is outside and different from ones own) - Largely based on ʻarmchair anthropologyʼ Early Ethnographers - Franz Boas (American 1858-1942) - Religions and cultures are a product of their own histories and cannot be compared to others (also believed by Malinowski) - Bronislaw Malinowski (British 1884-1942) - Tales From the Jungle: Malinowski - Determined to be a part of the English upperclass in Victorian London - All Victorians classified others as savage, based on magic, violence, and sex - they were “throw-backs”; Australian Aborigines being at the very bottom - Colonialism and Armchair Anthropology - Contributions to the origins of anthropology - Based in natural history - studied of primitive people (largely based in Africa and Australia) - Ethnocentrism - Must remember that the slavery and colonialism trade was largely based upon religion - saving the souls of the indigenous people they encountered from promiscuity and savagery - New Ideas: - Cultural Relativism: need to study cultures based on their own culture and norms, not using other cultures as a comparison, and they cannot be ranked - Method: Study them in-depth the learn where the came from, to see and understand where they are -- FIELDWORK AND PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION Crisis of Representation - Inside/outside perspectives RELI 2736 Lecture Notes - Should people of one culture/ethnicity study people of another? Can we ever really know the other? - Put real doubt in the discipline - Ethics in Anthropology - Ethno-tourism: extreme anthropology or irresponsible ethnocentric behaviour? - First Contact (BBC documentary) - Taking tourists into “untouched” tribes to make ʻfirst contactʼ for a huge fee ($8000) - The tourists do partake in the rituals and events of the people they find - Symbolic Interactionism - Evans-Pritchard - Mary Douglas - Victor Turner - Clifford Geertz - Biocultural Approach Religion in the News Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? - FoxNews Non Traditional Approaches to the Study of Modern Religion Secularization - Secularism, secularization and the decline of religion - Modernization, pluralism, specialization, rationalization and decentralization or religious authority - Separation of Church and State: the American context - The secularization thesis (Berger and Wilson) - An argument or prediction that eventually through the increasing modernization, there would be a continued decline in religion resulting in it becoming obsolete - Partially true, but on the other hand religion is flourishing. Modernity has created more of a pluralism. - In Canada, we see a decline in traditional religions - Overall, secularism should be seen as a separation of religion and politics, and secularization is this process Carleton and a Multi Faith Centre - Carleton is recognized as a secular institution, but acknowledges the existence of various religions - Multi Faith centre is something that is being proposed for CU, but is debated RELI 2736 Lecture Notes Tuesday July 20th, 2010 Guest Lecturer - Video Games and Religion “Playing my Avatar, Escaping my Self” - Video Games with Religious Elements - Diablo: Battles between Heaven and Hell - Final Fantasy: Odin, Shiva (Gods) - Fallout 3: Biblical Passages - God-like Games (playing from a God perspective) - The Sims series - Civilization series, Call to Power - Age of Empires, Creatures, Spore etc. - Avatars and Online Role-Playing games - World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Eve Online, and over 150+ more titles - Demographics - Low of 18/high of 40 million gamers worldwide - Average player age is 35 - 25% are under 18 - Gender ratio 60 male, and 40 female - Average player plays for 22 hrs/week - Avatars - All online role-playing games require players to create and develop avatars - All avatars are tracked so that when players leave the game world their progress is not lost - Players can compete or collaborate in real time for various titles and items usable to decorate and enhance their avatars - Most players see their avatars as an ongoing project, lasting days/ weeks/months/years - Not all players immerse in their avatars to the same degree - Playing an avatar can be highly rewarding for the self - Avatars can be used for chauvinism, and have profiles - Escapism as a Problem and a Model - Associated in the media with addiction - “In particular they are young mothers, feeling isolated... turning the the computer for community, companionship and escape.” (NY times) - Documentary on Gaming “Another Perfect World: In Search of Virtual Paradise” - Describes gaming in Korea as a national passion of “pure escapism” - Dr. Phil: “I can be a different person online...” - Social Theories on Escapism: - Play and Games theory: Mimicry (role-playing) fulfills our desires and needs of - escaping the world to make into something else - escaping the self to become someone else - Narcissism theory - Rather than being stigmatized as a “loser” the self escapes through leisure to identify with the “winner imagery” of celebrities (Lasch) RELI 2736 Lecture Notes - Virtual Theory: commonly escape our physical body, to produce and consume the virtual bodies that we desire (Deleuze) - Social Disengagement Theory: we are entering into an age of escapism - Gamer Theory (McKenzie Wark): believes games are isolated, and sees people as escaping from the agony of everyday life - Nicholas Yeeʼs play motivations - shouldnʼt be escapism on the same level as the other categories, because it is higher than them - Problematic usage of escapism - Escapism is a thing of its own kind - It is not a satellite of addiction, social isolation, alienation, or of any other concepts - The positives of escapism are overlooked - Modelling escapism for online role-playing games - Baumeisterʼs Escaping the Self: Alcoholi
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