CHAPTER 3 â COMPARATIVE CULTURE
â Religion ï defined as âre-ligioâ, linking back of humanity to its origins e.g., in God.
â Bibby ï sociologist that has shown that over 90% of people worldwide say they
believe in some kind of God.
â Impact of religion on culture/way of life
o Historically, enormous: ï ethics/morals, food/music, art/architecture,
literature and pop culture, politics and economics.
ï§ Frye â wrote book that states that every literature written is
basically a footnote on the Bible.
ï§ E.g., Weber on link between Protestantism and capitalism
â¢ First interest on economics and how they came into being.
Questioned why the first societies were capitalists, so he
went through several criteria to figure it out. What all the
countries had in common: that majority of the people were
â¢ Protestantism brought with it things that developed
o Individualism â more common in protestant
(individual relationship with God) than catholic
o Literacy â Catholics kept their mass and Bible in
Latin while the Protestants translated it in their
individual languages. Also, because of the
individualism in the religion, they read their Bible on
their own to develop their relationship with God.
o Savings â rich catholic people were encouraged to
donate it to the church while Protestants
encouraged personal savings, which allowed for
large amounts of money available for investments.
o No shame in having riches because it was God
who was showering you with his blessings. In
Catholicism, richness was something not to be
â Top 10 religions/belief systems
ï§ Non religious/secular people tend to come in 3 sorts:
â¢ Atheists ï people who believe there are no gods
â¢ Agnostics ï people who donât take a firm stand on whether
any gods exist
â¢ Secular humanists ï prefer to substitute for a religious code
their own systematic code of beliefs, a code that refers not
to the divine but only to humanity.
o Chinese folk-religion
o Indigineous CHAPTER 3 â COMPARATIVE CULTURE
o Japanese shintoism
1. Religious vs. secular
o Southern part of the world is more religious
o Europe is more secular than then US
o Australia also reporting greater increase in secularism
o Secularism is increasing
2. Monotheistic vs. polytheistic
o Monotheistic religions believe in one God: Judaism, Christianity and Islam
are the 3 biggest monotheistic religions
o Polytheistic religions believe in many gods
3. Abrahamic vs Dharmic
o Abrahamic (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)
o All 3 religions, which originated in the Middle East are often
categorized as being âAbrahamicâ since they all share the
prophet Abraham as a common figure of both religious and
â¢ Personal God
â¢ Contract between God and believers
o Common ancestor distantly related to each of Moses, Jesus and
â¢ Important factor not only in the lives of these people but
also in their politics ï whenever there are international
peace talks held in a Middle Eastern country, and local
countries are represented there, there are usually
speeches made referencing the âone true Godâ in an
attempt to use cultural similarities as leverage to solve
o Geographical spread in West and MENA
o More book-bound and adhering to the book (Bible, Torah,
o Internal divisions more political/historically important.
o These include a number of polytheistic religions.
o They do not highlight a personal connection between humanity
â¢ They have lesser personal gods with whom it is possible to
ender a personal relationship with.
â¢ There is rather an underlying cosmic force or fate that is
o Geographic spread in the East
o They are less book bound and more about shared ritual
practice/social togetherness CHAPTER 3 â COMPARATIVE CULTURE
o Aim of these religions is to adjust themselves to this underlying,
all pervasive order or structure.
â¢ This is the route to security and serenity, being utterly
aligned with the very cosmos.
â¢ There is more blending of their beliefs with physical
activities (e.g., yoga, martial arts, tai chi etc).
4. Non-folk vs folk
o Non-folk ï open to all; not limited to one group, ethnicity, or nationality;
seeks converts (proselytizing faiths)
o Xianity, Islam, Buddhism
o Folk ï system of beliefs and ritual that are unique to a people.
o Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Chinese folk religion
Key elements of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam
â Orthodox vs. conservative vs. reform. (KNOW THIS?)
o Orthodox ï teaches strict adherence to Jewish law and its traditional
observances including numerous laws governing religious and everyday
life. Those in Israel are rigid in their mindset and are not willing to
negotiate with the Palestinians. They believe that God gave the land to
o Reform ï began as an attempt to adapt to modern changes in social,
political, and cultural life.
o Conservative ï prevalent mostly in N. America and attempts to preserve
Jewish tradition in a more flexible way.
â Core concepts:
o Thereâs a covenant between the people and God. God promised Land of
Canaan to Abraham and his descendants.
o They must all obey Godâs laws â The Ten Commandments.
o Believe that the Messiah will come and lead them to the Promised Land.
They donât believe in dying and going to heaven.
â Catholic vs. Eastern orthodox vs. Protestants
o Catholic ï acknowledges pope as its head. Had religious monopoly for
over 1000 years.
o Eastern Orthodox ï rose in central/eastern Europe e.g., Russia in 476
because they did not accept authority of the papacy. Easter is the biggest
o Protestant ï 1517 AD Martin Luther formed his own protestant church â
ï§ Other protestant churches come into being.
o The West was influenced by the Greco-Roman religions, which were
o Paul was thought to be the first evangelical preacher and person
responsible for spreading the religion ï âPauline Xinnityâ.
o *Know that when the religions split up, they bring about armed conflict
and have deep historical consequences. CHAPTER 3 â COMPARATIVE CULTURE
â Core concepts:
o God became human as Jesus. He was crucified, died and rose from the
dead. Christians ought to obey not just the Old Testament teaching but
the New Testament too.
o Faith open to everyone.
o Soul survives death and there is belief of afterlife.
â Sunni vs. Shias
o Sunni ï majority of Muslims. Accept the first 3 caliphs (leaders) following
the death of Mohammed. Saudi Arabia has the most number of Sunnis. In
almost every given country in the MENA, there are both Sunni and Shiaâs;
they donât get along with each other. Every time they get into conflict, it
occurs at the borderline between the two. Civil war in Syria is a proxy war
between 2 powerful nations: Iran vs. Saudi Arabia. Both are rich in terms
of resources (oil), aggressive in their beliefs and especially in their
religion. Saudi Arabia thinks they are the holy land of Islam as
Mohammed got his vision there. Iran was the Persian Empire. In 1979
there was a government that believed that they were the true religious
government and the Saudis were corrupt.
o Shiaâs ï Iran has the most Shiaâs. They reject the first 3 caliphs.
â Rise of Islam
o 630 AD â Mohammed starts religion
o Until 1000AD, it was the fastest growing religion. It was stopped in
1000AD because of the Mongos from the East, and the pope ordered the
crusades of Christianity. There were 3 waves (1000-1300AD) of crusades
whose main purpose was to drive Islam out and to recapture Israel for
Christianity. They were completely bloody (by the third wave) and used
violence to convert the people.
â Core concepts
o Recognizes most of the prophets but to a lesser extent than Mohammed.
Abraham is believed to be a common ancestor.
o God revealed the Quran to Mohammed who spent his life converting his
region to Islam by means of military conquest.
o 5 pillars of the Quran stress faith, observances, and charity to the poor.
o Soul survives death and they believe in heaven and hell. Heaven is
The Arab-Israeli conflict
â It is an example of a protracted war ï any war that lasts for decades and seems
to have no end in sight e.g., cold war.
â Why should we care about the Arab-Israeli conflict?
o Has a huge impact on the price of oil, which is the worldâs source of
ï§ Main source of easy oil is in the MENA, and especially Persian
Gulf and Arabian Peninsula.
ï§ There is an instability premium built into the price of oil due to this
war. CHAPTER 3 â COMPARATIVE CULTURE
ï§ The violence ranges on a pendulum from violent to uneasy peace,
so whenever there is violence, the price goes up.
o Fuels terrorism because it hasnât been solved.
ï§ Radical Islamic terrorists such as Al Qaeda have radical agendas:
â¢ Establish radica