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Lecture 2

RLGA02H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: General Idea, Monism, Immanence

Course Code
David Perley

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W2- February 16, 2018
What are “religions”?
Can we define “religion”?
- According to Andrew Griel, there is no scholarly consensus on what is “religion” and
how we proceed to define it
- This does not mean it is impossible to define it, it’s just difficult too
What does it mean by looking at “religion” through different lenses? (a good metaphor)
- Different perspectives
- Different disciplines: depending on your discipline you might see what “religion” is
differently anthropologist, sociologist, philosopher
- These different lenses are getting away from this idea that religion may be an object like
a chair or table in the world that we are observing
- Religion may have various attributes, but are they self-evident like a table? Flat on the
top. NO. Attributes of religion come from? It is important to make a distinguish what
things we say are religious and what aren’t. As scholars, we are making a judgement call
- Main point: lenses/perspectives means that we are in the realm of interpretation. So,
when we are looking at what “religion” is, it’s not just an object like a table, our
interpretations are decisions we make are creating/embarking what we see. Something is
there like a table, but we are seeing it in different ways.
Western folk concept of religion Andrew Griel
What are the attributes? There are 6 elements
- F1: “Institutional” sphere or element in our lives, especially in our modern lives. So, if
it’s one institutional sphere in our lives, what others are there? Political, educational. We
live in different worlds depending on what is going on in our lives and religion is
conceived in being one of those.
- F2: Transcendent deity above and beyond, from the perspective of the human
experience, a transcendent deity is some God that is off our radar, invisible. How we
communicate with them isn’t as straightforward as communicating with another person.
They are above space, above time.
- F3: Services rendered in spaces like a church, mosque, temple, or synagogue
o Experts: priests, ministers, pastors, mula’s, rabbi’s
o Lay person: members of the congregation
o **a social structure
- F4: Beliefs you can literally list the set of beliefs. If you want to belong to a certain
community, I am going to say that I am going to adhere to a specific set of beliefs. The
idea of beliefs is often connected to membership (in a group).
o Tenents: creed or doctrine. Not just about believing but adhering to policy
- F5: Voluntary being born into a “religious” group and choosing to leave
- F6: “Global” most important. It’s not the West talking about the term in a specific way,
it’s become global permeating and the world has taken the concept actually talking about
it in this way. Now a global folk concept.
What does Griel mean by folk concept?
find more resources at
find more resources at
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