Module 1 & 2 for Religion and Popular Culture

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University of Waterloo
Religious Studies
RS 170
Fred Desroches

Chapter 1 The Study of Religion Common Era CE term used by scholars instead of AD Anno Domini Circumambulation the act of moving around a sacred object or space Hajj the annual pilgrimage to Mecca Saudi Arabia and the fifth pillar or duty of Islam Pilgrims on hajj are called hajjievery ablebodied Muslim has an obligation to make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime finances permittingthose who cant afford it are supported by their villagesDaytona 500 and hajj share certain formal similarities they both maintain set of rituals that are established and known to those in attendanceBoth have defined spaces and structures where the events take placeStories of heroes saints and villainsWHAT IS RELIGION Catholic from Latin and Greek words meaning universal referring to people and organizations associated with the Catholic Church the largest Christian communication and prior to the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century the Christian church of Western Europe Religious orders communities and organizations of men and women who seek to lead a life of piety and often to perform some types of service Members normally commit themselves to poverty chastity and obedience to lead a dedicated life INVENTING RELIGION Ritual a set of repetitive actions often coordinated and regulated that relates to a religions myths and concept of ultimate meaning Idolatry from a Greek term meaning image worshipper Nineteenthcentury scholars of religion used the term to designate practices that violated Christian religious practices Contemporary scholars avoid using the term as an academic category because it is a normative category that assumes a Christian standard Virtue moral excellence or rightness Piety devoutness usually expressed through spiritual and worldly practices Faith trust in the truth or authenticity of a person idea or concept In the nineteenth century the term became a designation for religionWestern European explorers and Catholic missionaries who travelled eastward to China and India and westward to the Indies and Latin America in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries commonly used religion to describe the indigenous peoples rituals and ceremonial practicesMembers of religious orders referred to as monks and nuns were characterized by their devotion to the church their monastic life their commitment to prayer and their disavowal of world possessionsAs these explorers and Catholic missionaries began to report on the cultures of China India the Indies and Latin America they used religion and religious to describe social arrangements ceremonies and political structures that resembled those in Spain Portugal and much of Western EuropeSeventeenth century religion as virtue and pietyFaith emphasized the human subjects relationship with God and the subjects capacity to comprehend divine truth apart from the mediating authority of the Catholic priest bishop or popeProtestant Reformation changed European ChristianityReformation split Western European Christianity into separate Protestant and Catholic traditionsFour primary species Christianity Mohametanism which later became Islam Judaism and what was typically labeled idolatry or paganism which functioned as a miscellaneous category cataloguing cultural practices and social arrangements that fell outside the first threeThe basis thesis of natural religion was that any human being willing and able to commit to rational questioning and study could discover religious beliefs and practices based on rational understanding1 Paganism a broad category used by nineteenthcentury scholars to identify groups that were polytheistic Natural religion characterized by the belief that divine truth was manifest in natural phenomena and accessible through human reasons Natural religion was popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuriesAnalects of Confucius a text written between the fifth and third centuries BCE traditionally believed to contain the sayings and teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius and his followers BhagavadGita a Hindu scripture focusing on the story of Lord Kristna part of the ancient Hindu epic the MahabharataRigVeda a collection of old Indian Sanskrit Vedic hymns and one of the four sets of Vedas that compromise Hinduisms authoritative textsPali canon the collection of scriptures used in Theravada BuddhismBy the midnineteenth century the study of religion was no longer a theological pursuit or a natural history but a social scienceOne of the most important distinctions in the nineteenthcentury research on religion was between naturalistic and supernatural religionsNaturalistic ns sometimes called primitive religions were often traced to primitive people or in German Naturvolker which literally means nature peoplesNaturalistic religion was broken down into smaller segments fetishism totemism shamanism animism and magicSupernatural religion placed belief in a divine otherworldly power being or beings that would affect worldly affairs form time to time Naturalistic religion a concept developed by anthropologists and scholars of religion in the nineteenth century to categorize the practices of non supernatural religions Supernatural religion a concept developed by anthropologists and other scholars of religion in the nineteenth century to categorize beliefs and practices that assumed the presence of a being beyond nature Fetishism a category used by nineteenth and early twentieth century scholars of naturalistic religion to refer to the practices of using objects believed to have supernatural powers A fetish is the object that is believed to have such powers Totemism a category used in the nineteenth and earlytwentiethcentury scholars of naturalistic religion to refer to the practices of using an animal or another natural figure to represent a community of people A totem is the animal eg an eagle or a wolverine or natural figure Shamanism a category used in nineteenth0and early twentiethcentury scholars of naturalistic religion to refer to groups of people who believe that an intermediary or a messenger a shaman can communicate with the spiritual world Animism a category used especially by nineteenth and earlytwentiethcentury scholars of naturalistic religion to refer to the belief that spirits exist not only in humans but also in other animals plants rocks and other naturally occurring phenomena Magic a category used especially by nineteenth and earlytwentiethcentury scholars of naturalistic religion to refer to the belief that human beings can manipulate the natural world through supernatural power or through esoteric knowledge of natural lawsEdward B Taylor and James G Frazer thought that these primitive religions were in he early stages of evolutionary development and that with each stage they would begin to look more and more like supernatural religionsJudaism was called a reformed natural religion and a freshly religion because it was a spontaneous religion and limited to a single Race as compared to Christianity for instance which grew out of Judaism Rationally and was open to all races The old system of classification which had the three Abrahamic religions Judaism Christianity and Islam set against idolatry and paganism had been replaced by a new model which classified Buddhism Mohammedanism and Christianity as the supernatural religions while assigning all other religions including Judaism to various classes of naturalistic religion2
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