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soc250 feb 16
-kings and pharaohs claimed they were sons of the gods or related to them and they
would return to them after their death
-seems to be a strong connection with feuerbach’s reflective theory and durkheim’s
notion of society as god
-the changing social imaginary-the changing ways in which people view heavens and
hells is going to be formed by the way in which they perceive the existing realm
-there seems to be a fundamental distinction between 2 varied forms of how people
concieve of the after life
1.anthropocentric- related to worldly human desires
2. theocentric- along the lines of the divine. held by intellectuals and religious elites.
paradise is constructed in an abstract sense-it involves being with the divine or reuniting
with the divine. they are concerned with the human language being able to
communicate that divine
-anthropocentric imagines a paradise that conforms with fundamental human desires for
pleasure and fulfillment. This paradise is described with physical language- beautiful
streams, fertile trees, great architecture, wild animals appear calm and docile.
Heaven is what human life would be like if it was free from all the limits of biological
existence. It will be an existence in a beautiful place with continuing fulfillment
according to feuerbach model.
-modern language constructs heaven as a eternal resort. A place where you can
reunite with family without the fear of dying etc.
-anthropocentric models correspond to mass religiosity. Physical earthly pleasure that
they cannot experience but see the kings enjoying
-theocentric models are the product of intellectuals who see certain abstract
constructions of the divine. For example a continued existence just contemplating the
divine. Various corporal limitations are removed (e.g. no sexes). But anthropocentric
model emphasis the body being present in heaven.
-in each religion one can find movements back and forth between these two positions,
as well as continuing co-existence of two-tiered interpretation; one for the religious
professionals and one for the masses
-theocentric would say physical fulfillments are really symbols (scripted accounts to be
taken symbolically) where anthropocentric would say that the scriptural accounts should
be taken literally
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-pope’s sermons which modify aspects to make them more acceptable for modern times
-new testament- earth will become renewed garden of eden; also descriptions of being
caught up into heaven. Sometimes we have more spiritual accounts of what would
happen in heaven (e.g. human beings being like angels and having spiritual bodies, the
book of revelation talks about humans being in an eternal worship of god in heaven)
-as the idea of a judgement day starts losing its power. Leaders of christianity started
modifying some of these views and said sinners would go immediately to hell and the
saved would immediately go to heaven.
-in the medieval period the idea of heaven as a garden of eden starts to come to the
front, with lush terrain, abundant fruit and tame animals (anthropocentric). Scholars
themselves were concerned how worldly heaven was being conceptualized as. The
scholastic theologians claimed paradise would be a vision- seeing god and living in
gods glory through eternity. This notion is less appealing to the everyday masses.
-during the renaissance started to integrate notions of classic art and culture that were
being revived- alot of images from ancient greek and roman art. Renaissance emphasis
on friendship and following artsitic purposes.
-the reformation promoted the theocentric view again. Not that the earthly life gets
perfected but rather your are in the presence of god which is fulfilling.
-modern conceptions tend to carry the individualism of our society into that
representation. there is a greater premium on things like reuniting with freinds and
family something that was not as conspicuous earlier. In modernity this reunion with
friends and family is pretty high on the list of heavenly appeals. There is more room
now for emphasising things like limitless leaisure activities. Some religious leaders have
talked about things like hugging god instead of the earlier conception of the
contemplation of god.
the day of judgement tends to be down played in the mainstream religiosity. Discourse
is things like they have gone to a better place now- decision whether you are going to
heaven or hell appears to happen immediately. In medieval period descriptions of
judgement day took prominence but those scenes are not prominently presented in
Pope’s sermon 1999
Heaven, hell, purgatory
-church is a long standing institution and has acquired a great amount of historical
-what has helped catholic church survive is its ability to change to certain notions
-john paul realized certain modifications had to be made so catholic church would be
accepted among modern believers
-heaven is fullness of communion with god; the form of this world will pass away
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