RE 100 Religions of the Americas

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Religion & Culture
Carol Duncan

Religions of the Americas:  Filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin (importance of telling our stories, paying attention to different kinds of experiences, in understanding how the world we live in came to be, each nation should know and understand their history, if you don’t know or ignore all the things designed to make sure we aren’t under wrongful control”  Americas as contested ground  World religions is a western concept  Religion as processes that bring people into appropriate relationship with whatever they deem ultimate ground of meaning  Religion as a human construct  What religion DOES  Significance of multiculturalism 1942: Chris Columbus lands in the Dominican, beginning the Americas Religion: -symbolic ground, beliefs and practices an individual or community find as ultimate meaning of life -power and meaning in relation to human destiny, bound by belief, way of life tied to morality -“Religion is the human system that reflects our understanding of reality, order and appropriate ways to engage the sacred, whereas supernatural formulations such as God or gods are posited as existing and understood through the lens provided by religion” Emerson, Mirola & Monahan Myth: symbolic story about origins and destiny of humans Ritual action: sense of meaning/ purpose, ties individuals to community Animistic: injection of spirits into everyday life Morals: shown by myth and ritual, integral part of religion, every morality is tied to religion by what is held as important Metaphors: used to describe the indescribable via analogy (“God is my shepherd”) or negation “God is not...”) G’psgolox pole from Sweden belongs to natives of B.C. -1971 Canada becomes the first country with multicultural policy -immigration causes religion to shift, they adapt to each other ex. Sunday as a rest day, Christmas holidays and gift giving -ironically secularism leads to increase in religion -colonization lead to taxonomy of culture 8000 BCE  domestication and agriculture, no need to be nomadic 3000 BCE  cities begin, specialization of labour, cultures encounter others, multiple gods worshipped with specialized tasks much like the individual, people become less tribal with individual identities and begin looking for individual success. Moral code is needed and people begin asking “what happens when I die?” and “what does it all mean?” Law is needed and as leaders of states and holy wars occur individuals question leadership. 3000-1500 BCE  Giglamesh, first story is written 1000 BCE- 1000 CE  All major religions develop, inquire what does it mean to be human 4 types of Religious Story: Nature, Harmony, Liberation, and History Nature: -forces of nature govern destiny -time is a cycle -problem of life: time (age, decay, death) -ideal: return to new, beginning -means: rituals re-enacting creation, renewal of life Harmony of China: -universal Dao is harmony of universe -problem: disharmony -ideal: restore balance -means: restore balance  Dao: not interfering, simplicity  Confuscian: rituals and obligation Liberation in India: -cycles and rhythms of nature -problem is life is suffering and then we are reborn to suffering again -ideal: to escape the cycle of suffering -means: discover true self and be liberated Hindu true self is merged with Brahman, Buddhism  remove selfish attachment History: Middle East -history is the realm of human experience, story is central -Ancient Judaism: life is a story told by God about the harmony of humans and God, struggle and sin, finally a time of perfection -problem: sin and fail to follow God’s Will -ideal: return to harmony with God -means: Judaism  discussion and debate with God, Christianity  accept divinity of God, Islam  Submit to the Will of God Post Modernity: characterized by the collapse of metanarratives (stories through which humans interpret life) All knowledge is relative and there is a choice of beliefs. Pre modern: all encompassing religion, tribal mindset Modern: rejection of superstition, science introduced, separate church and state To understand religion across time, place and culture we must examine what it is cultures DO. Creolization: development of cultural forms emerging from 2+ separate forms to create a third 1492: war of religion in Spain Catholics vs. Muslims is won by Catholics: Ferdinand and Isabella named Catholic Kings by the Pope. They promised the Muslims of Grenada that they were free to practise but soon stated that they must either convert or flee Spain. Following this the same action was taken with Jews. They wanted ONE FAITH. Caste System: to have Christian Spanish elite, with others on the fringe. This system brought to the new world (rank leading to ethnicity- Spanish, Spanish and mestisa, mestisa (1/2 Spanish), Indians and black people). This has an effect on entering religious orders or professions, and universities. It becomes overly complex to keep track as more mixing occurs. Caste system was trying to describe phenotype and genetics, but there are huge variations of human physical features. Black Mexicans: brought by Spanish as slaves, their music is signature. Free Blacks from Africans were even conquistadors and helped colonize, but were placed at the bottom of Caste system in New World. 15 century: Spanish inquisition of Mayans, torture to spread Catholicism and Spanish language. New world brings biggest exchange of food in history: tomatoes, potatoes, peanuts, sugar tobacco Marx: religion supplies comfort and quells dissatisfaction Durkheim: religion strengthens human community Berger: assures believers that there is a larger cosmic order Indigenous Religions: (depth of which religious and social lives are rooted in a particular physical place) -everything is alive and infused with a spirit -time is circular, seasons, birth, death, re-birth -good life: learning to live with spirits in harmony -group is eternal, share a common identity -no indigenous people is completely isolated from law and capitalism today (native non-native relations is a study to look at relationship between indigenous people and the world) questions of notions of land, wealth Nadia Myre “As I Am”: chief as triple entendre, derogatory, native, captain. Indigenous as meaning native or “coming from”. There is an awareness of political meaning of words. Cosmogony: account of earth and human origin Aboriginal fertility rate: has been higher than it has been previously and much higher than average rate, this may be due to acceptance of being aboriginal and better census results Religion in human nature: -humans tend to follow patterns and rituals -ability to create meaning -sacred territory increases survival -strong bond between mothers and offspring (devotion) Prehistoric Origins of religion: -basic human structure and cognitive ability have been the same since 30 000 years ago -small nomadic groups of hunter gatherers are the first human groups -community in these groups is essential to surviving with resource sharing and protection -capacity for language 100 000 BCE, 30 000 BCE humans perform burials, art, records Venus: early sculpture of well endowed woman to help fertility, perhaps showing an early worship of females and dead buried in fetal position perhaps implying the earth as a sacred mother. Prehistoric caves in Eurasia: depict earliest cave paintings and may have been a site of initiation rituals for hunters. Rites needed to inculcate value of group bravery and loyalty. They underlined the need to take care to please unseen powers, including those in the animals. Animism and Death: -preserve body with food, gifts and tools that imply it has not ceased to exist -E.B. Tylor: Religion originated with human belief that there is an intangible spirit inside the body (often discarded for racism, anthropologists study relationship that the people have with this idea. -their way of being religious is to experience a deeper connection with the world -dead may speak through humans through experiences -multitude of spirits, spirit world is ultimate reality -death elevates individual: they become ancestor - first idea of Gods “polytheism” -totems to connect with specific spirit of community represented by animal Bullroarer: has a hole in one end and when spun makes a sound of a deep frequency to convey the presence of totem spirit Shaman: (comes from Evenk hunter-gatherers from Siberia) -mystics, medicine men, witch doctors, folk healers -heal souls and bodies -communicate to spirit world through trance states, to seek help or apologize for human wrongdoings -guide souls to the spirit world after death -trance states are induced by drumming or singing, fasting and in the West psychoactive plants such as mushrooms, herbs -trance states are characterized by sweating, convulsions, loud breathing -to become you must have personal bond with a spirit that teaches or protects -learn knowledge of spiritual places that are closer to spirit world “center of the Earth” Axis Mundi Shamans today: communicate to the outside world on behalf of the group. Continues in Asia where many deities have always been acceptable. In Taiwan they heal through trance, in China and Japan they help with financial, fertility, health, marital worries and lead the soul to the next world. Iroquois Women: clash of viewpoints effect on nature- Caledonia southern Ontario, largest first nations group in Canada, earliest democracy, Holloman Deed protect land around grand river for Iroquois, the territory of reservations is small compared to Six Nations original territory and Feb 28 2008 Six nations blocked a construction attempt, starting land dispute. Women are keepers of the land and mothers of children, connected to mother earth. Dani: deaths must be avenged by another death to appease the dead spirit. Kangaroo clan: has kangaroo totem and once a year sacred kangaroo is eaten to strengthen the group. They are descended from a kangaroo that created them and showed them to their home. !Kung: Africa -souls that miss the living try to bring them closer to afterlife through sickness -shamans activate life force and touch the heads to pass it along -typical member of the tribe -confirm the fate of the dead, usher them to the afterlife Sioux: North America -young men have spirit quest to seek personal protector spirit and go into sweat lodge -contacted strongly on quest may be shamans, many receive new name and identity Ainu: Japan -Kamui spirit comes down in the form of a bear -spirit offers meat and fur in exchange for fragrance sticks and wine -shaman negotiates trade and if done well more spirits will come in the future Inuit: Canada -great goddess of the sea releases creatures for food -if she is displeased by breaking of moral code her hair is dirty with anger and shaman must go down and comb it with soothing compliments and apologies Yanomami: Amazon -shaman must learn chants and struts -can locate disoriented souls of sick or dying -learns to use hallucinogenic blown into his nose during his training -can respond to questions in a trance or give hidden facts or history Nunavut first shaman: first shaman went down to the center of the earth to the Mother of Sea beats and brought back famine, ending famine Inuit: Atanarujiat- the fast runner: An evil shaman causes corruption in a village and a cruel man comes into power. Two men have excellent hunting skills but the jealous son of the leader tries to kill them, Atanarujiat-the fast runner lives. Cannibalism: - sometimes for recycling dead back into life - Gaining power over souls of enemies - Control the threat of soul Canadian Aboriginal Assimilation: assimilated so that government wouldn’t have to be responsible for funding, assimilated by forcing them to renounce Indian status to become a citizen and residential schools. Only ¼ of aboriginals today can use their language to have a conversation. Indigenous religion and colonialism: -religions colonized decimated by old world diseases -culture lost Had option of leaving home, assimilating, or being part of a reservation Wounded Knee: Ghost dance to bring back buffalo, end the stay of the white man and restore killed natives. US ended this by a 300 person massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Cultural Survival: group to promote rights and voices of cultures, write 2 journals and provide curriculum material for secondary schools worldwide Finding Indigenous beliefs in modern culture: -soul beliefs -ancestor veneration -image of human life as below heaven and above netherworld -prophets and sages who heal the sick or have a special connection with a deity -religion has helped humans evolve by strengthening communities, dealing with the unknown, improving hunting methods and diet  3 main groups in Ontario (Ojibwaye, Mowhawk, Cree) Judaism: (oldest of the three Monotheistic religions) -similar to Christianity in believing that harmony with a God is the ideal of life, and practice God’s teaching -In creating the people of Israel God gave them a gift the Dual Torah (sacred teachings both oral and written) -By giving them the Torah He established a covenant (the people must follow His will, and in return he shall protect them) -Torah contains 613 Mitzvot (commandments about loving kindness) -Canadian Jews are diverse, Ashkenazi, Sehpardi, many different types -Premodern Rabbinic Judaism is early Judaism -Israel (meaning God’s chosen people) 1947: Ultra-Orthodox believe that it is blasphemous of Jews to give themselves a chosen land; they are to wait until God awards them with one. State started as safe haven from racism by Zionist Political movement. Slowly colonized by Jews, and supported by England, United States and the United Nations. Orthodox wants to make religious commandments state law. All businesses closed on the Sabbath, all marriages must be performed by Orthodox Rabbis. Law passed in 1950 that all post-holocaust Jews have the right to call Israel their homeland. Many different types of Jews and political parties, and in order to govern parties have been forced to enter a coalition with some religious parties. Neturei Karta (Guardians of the city 1938, anti Zionist group, dress similar to east European Haredim refuse to permit secular education and modern dress, refuse to mix with modern Jews or non-Jewish people. They live in ghetto-like communes led by a rabbi). Gush Emunim (Bloc of Faithful 1974 do not accept the secular state but embrace it as God’s will, they seek to transform the state of Israel by making it conform to the halakhah). Agudat Yisrael (federation of Israel 1912, willing to work with secular state of Israel) Ultra orthodox: -weakness of standards and norms of modern world shows decadence, disrespect of God -became more prominent in 1970s after WWII there was an emptiness of modern culture and many turned to religion -bring order and meaning to all of life -centrality of God as a living force, the Torah as divine revelation and Israel as an eternal people -not similar to Rabbinic Judaism as today there is a choice to immerse in a non-secular world Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) -Rabbi who fought for equality of Blacks -protested Vietnam -he was an Orthodox Rabbi embraced the pluralist modern world, applying Jewish morals to all peoples and was open to people of other religions Meir Kahane (1932-1990) -founded Jewish Defence League -protection using violence, believed in only one way -1971 founded Arab Kach calling for the forcible removal of Arabs -assassinated by Egyptian Muslim radical -Kach and Kahane Chai designated terrorists 1994 after attacking a mosque -1995 Kahane, Yigal Amir assassinates prime minister of Israel Biblical Judaism: -story of exile and return -God leads to a final time of an end to suffering -Adam and Eve, Noah and flood -Tower of Babel God promises Abraham the land of Canaan -Abraham’s family moves into Egypt in a time of famine -Hebrews enslaved and Moses is sent to deliver them, ten plagues and parting of Red Sea -God brings people to Mount Sinai and gives Moses the Torah and forms Covenant, Hebrew (holy) and Israel becomes God`s chosen people -tribe wanders desert for 40 years under Joshua -200 years a loose group with military leaders -God allows a king and appoints Saul, anointed by oil by a prophet (messiah means anointed one) -Saul is weak and David (of David and Goliath) emerges and establishes Israel as a nation: he brings together his followers and those who followed Saul. Captures Jebus a Canaanite city and names it Jerusalem (God`s Peace), brings to it the Ark of the Covenant a gold covered chest containing the tablets from Sinai -Solomon his son causes Israel to be for a time, the greatest nation in the Middle East. Built the first temple -quarrelling over succession to throne Israel has one king, Judah has another -Amos and Hosea are revered prophets -Jews are drifting from tribal values and God’s will -prophets show that they should not be henotheistic (God above all others) but monotheistic (there is only one God) they warn that the people will be punished if they do not return to the covenant. Creed is Shema: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. -721 BCE Assyrians conquered kingdom of Israel and they are enslaved -621 BCE Judah’s King Josiah discovers book of law (Deuteronomy) -586 BCE Babylonians conquered Assyrians, Solomon’s temple destroyed (sign of a call to the people from Gods, observed with Tisha B’A) and Judah people are exiled or enslaved -new prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah tell that God is punishing them but that it is temporary -538 BCE Persians conquer and allow Israelis to return to their land, Persian king Cyrus deemed a Messiah -400 BCE Alexander the Great conquers and 323 BCE Ptolemies replaced by Seleucids who enforces Hellenization, requiring all conquered people to adopt customs and beliefs of Greek and they did not comply -200 BCE Maccabaeus leads revolt and causes semi-independence -63 BCE Jews invite Romans to protect them from Seleucids Year 70- destruction of Jerusalem, second temple and the exile of Jews -many Jewish movements Sadducees (rich upper class, keep peace with Rome, only 5 books of Moses accepted, literal following of Torah), Pharisees (teachers in synagogues, accept all books of Moses and also historical writings and those of prophets), Hellenists( made of Diaspora Jews who are dispersed in roman empire, translated scriptures into Greek, believed there was a place in Judaism for everyone, used greek philosophy to explain scriptures), Samaritans, Zealots (hostile to non-Jewish world, apocalyptic and looking for military leader to overthrow Romans, Zealot Kokhba executed by Romans after claiming title of messiah ), Essenes (hostile to non-Jews) , Nazarenes (positive toward non-Jews) debate how to live to be “true Israel”, All ended when temple is destroyed and Pharisees are new guides. -Tanak (bible of Judaism) comes into existence Layers of Jewish History: J&E (Jahwist and Elohist) written in court of David and Solomon, monarchy of David and Solomon, D (Deuteronomic 621 BCE) Beginnings of Rabbis: -after temple is destroyed Pharisees become the prominent path of Judaism due to political neutralit due to political neutrality -leaders of synagogues and teachers, they allow Judaism to adapt to the times -less of a tribe connected to a place but an ethnicity and culture -making every part of life holy, male head of family like the rabbi of the home and the dinner table like the alter of the temple -each individual who hold the covenant has the opportunity to be protected by God -dual torah (written and oral) along with these revelations comes together as the Talmud -love God and thy neighbour Hillel and Shammai: Rabbis and Tanak -dispute of which writing should be considered holy, the writings left by Pharisees: the torah, Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Duetoronomy. The prophets: ex. Jeremiah, and historical writings such as: First and Second Kings, wisdom literature ex. Proverbs. -academy at Yavneh create Bible of Judaism and include books they consider holy, the Tanak, Torah (teachings), Neviim (prophets), and Ketuvim (writings) -first Tannaim or study of Tanak is held by Hillel and Shammai Talmud: 6-19 century -never finished, always subject to debate -Talmud is a way to see the torah, in debating the meaning or importance of passages to wrestle with the Talmud is to see God, Name of Israel comes from Jacob wrestling a man all night who refused to give his name, he blessed Jacob and renamed him Israel- man who has wrestled with God and man and prevailed. Israel and God have wrestled between punishment and protection -Talmud contains: Mishnah (written during first Tannaim, six seders of life; agriculture, Sabbaths, festivals, women and property, purity, law, ritual laws), Gemara written by Amoriam “those who interpret” to combine oral and written Torah and Mishnah to begin the Talmud, Rashi (commentaries of the great rabbi), Tosafot (commentaries of students of Rashi) Bris or Brit Milah: every male child must be circumcised when he is eight days old, a sign of covenant between God and his people, at the same time the child is named Bar and Bat Mitzvah: at 13 a boy may become “son of the covenant” and become a full member of the community, they recite the blessing at the beginning of reading the Torah after being trained in Hebrew by the Rabbi. Females have Bat Mitzvah. Marriage: under a large prayer shawl a symbol of the heavens, veil over brides face, ketubah is contract, rings exchanged, seven prayers over a cup of wine, step on a glass to symbolize fall of second temple Rabbi: God created Earth and consulted the Torah; rabbis are the living link to the Torah. The existence of the world is dependent on the study of the Torah. Being a jew: Premodern: born into Jewish community, circumcision, bar mitzvah Rabbinic age: -dress in fringed garments (symbolize commandments) -wrapped words of torah on arms and foreheads -every Sabbath all work stops Rosh Hashanah: head of the year -new years. Home and family Yom Kippur: stories of divine judgement. Spent in the synagogue, total fasting and repentance Passover: liberation of Jews from Egypt, retelling of the story with special foods such as matzah, unrisen bread because they could not wait for the bread to rise to leave, salt water for the tears of the tribes in slavery Feast of Weeks: giving of Torah and covenant Feast of Booth: wandering in the dessert Purim: disaster averted Tisha B’Av: fall of temple -380 first Christian emperor in Roman Empire declares Christianity the official religion and all pagan rituals banned and Judaism has restricted legal status -600 Judaism gets no protection from the law -Islam from India to Spain and Muslims are first to make Jews wear special clothing -Charlemagne (founder of Holy Roman Empire) Jews have protection “the king’s Jews” and are allowed high positions in courts -1095 Crusade takes Jerusalem and persec
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