Anthropology Chapter 11

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Louisiana State University
ANTH 1003

Ch 11ReligionReligion a social process that helps to order society a d provide its members with meaning unity peace of mind and the degree of control over events they believe is possibleCharacteristics of religionSacred narratives myths that members believe are important creation and explanationExtensive use of symbols and symbolismPropose the existence of beings powers states places and qualities that cannot be measured scientificallyRituals and specific means of addressing the supernaturalCosmologySystem of beliefs that deals with fundamental questions in the religious and social orderSystem of understanding the universe in which people liveFunctions of religionfunctionalist perspectiveProvides meaning and order in peoples livesGives people a feeling of control over their destiniesReinforces or challenges the social order by transmitting cultural values and knowledgeThe search for order and meaningReligion provides a cosmology for interpreting events and experiences otherwise unexplainableEg the creation of the universe the origin of society the relationship of individuals and groups to one another and the relationship of humankind to natureReducing anxiety and increasing controlReligious practices such as prayer sacrifice magic and other rituals call on the help of supernatural beings particularly where forces appear unpredictable and riskyThese practices can alter the emotional state of those who practice them and reduce or increase their anxietyThe social orderReligion reinforces dominant cultural beliefs about good and evilSacred narratives myths and rituals provide a rationale for social order and give social values religious authorityReligious ritual intensifies social solidarity by creating an atmosphere in which people experience their common identity in emotionally moving waysSacred narrativesmythsStories of historical events heroes gods spirits and the origin of all thingsHave a sacred power that is evoked by telling them or acting them out rituallyValidate or legitimize beliefs values and customsReligious symbolsReligious symbols include many different and sometimes contradictory meanings in a single word idea or objectExample the CrossMeans life death love sacrifice identity history power weakness wealth povertyThe cross carries so many meanings it has enormous emotional and intellectual power for ChristiansSome religious symbols may have supernatural power in and of themselves such as the masks used in African ceremonies Hopi kachinaAnimismThe belief that all living and nonliving things are imbued with spiritGodgodA named spirit believed to have created or to control some aspect of the world
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