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Religion comes from the word “religare (latin) – “to tie/bind,to
join/reconnect – based up the idea that there is something beyond us that
impresses upon us in some way that we are connected to
W.C. Smith – challenges the notion of someessence” of religion – instead he
saysreligious people” because religion is a human phenomenon and it would not
exist w/o people. Only people can believe in something – so we need to watch our
generalizations – i.e. don’t say “Islam believes say “Muslims believe
Faith & Traditions – people change and religion changes with them
Can believers recognize themselves in your description? If people cannot see
themselves in your description of their religion, then you need to revise your
description because religion is religious people
Insider/outsider debate: do you have to be a member of a particular religion to
gain knowledge about a religion or is it better to be an outsider? The argument has
been somewhat dismantled ‘cause it’s not black &white
Western vs. Eastern religion – it used to be that Western referred to Judaism,
Islam & Christianity and Eastern referred to all the other religions, but that is
becoming less common because of what they stand for –instead of “Western” use
Abrahamic” and instead of “Eastern” useIndic” – based on the shared roots
Religion:most profound expression of the human spirit vs. “blight on
civilization”
Religion varies as people vary
Religion vs. secular – separation of church & state
No set definition of religion, but people have tried
Ninian Smart’s 7 characteristics of religion:
1) ritual – connecting to/participating in/honouring the sacred
2) mythical – comes from the word “mythos (Greek) meaning story - in religion,
it does not refer to something that is not true, it is true to believers even though it
cannot be proven
3)doctrinal – formal/official teachings
4) ethical
5) social – informal or formal gathering
6) experiential – personal religions/spiritual experience
7) material – stuff we build/create & sacred sights.
Rituals and myths are connected because rituals often reflect/symbolize these
myths
Orthodoxy -“right doctrine/belief vs. orthopraxy – “right practice/action”
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