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Chapter 1

RLG101 Nye Notes Chapter 1.docx

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Department
Religion
Course
RLG101H5
Professor
Kenneth Derry
Semester
Fall

Description
Tuesday, September 10 , 2013 RLG101 Nye Notes; Chapter 1  Religion very often impacts on all levels of life, including the individual and the social level.  The culture in which a person lives is strongly influenced by the predominant religion of their society  The religion that a person practices will always be influenced by their cultural context and location  Major religious traditions in the world do encourage practitioners to reflect on and engage with abstract and supra-mundane aspects of reality  Cross cultural; looking at religions across a range of different cultures  Sigmund Freud controversially proposed that religion is a misguided and unhealthy outcome of the problems inherent in a young boy working through his relationship with his father  His theory relied heavily on a view that assumed all religions are were similar to Judaism and Christianity.  The southern Baptists in contemporary American practice a form of Christianity embedded within the wider context of English speaking American cultural life  The bible belt areas of the US where southern Baptists dominate, are also culturally influenced by the Christian values of the church. The religion strongly influences the culture, and the culture is itself a medium through which the religion is experienced and practiced  The word religion can be used as a noun, adjective, or verb. Noun Noun Adjective Verb General category Specific religions Descriptor Action/Practise Religon “universal Refers to particular Religious Religioning aspect of human groups and Used in general Not a ‘thing’ but an culture traditions sense to describe a action more of a type of thing or process doing behavior or experience  Morton class says that when he talks of religion he is speaking f Christianity  The world religions Paradigm looks at discrete bounded religions as the basis of making sense of the vast range of religious practices in the world  Differences in religions are primarily framed o Major texts (sacred books) o Foundational ideas beliefs and world views o Particular histories and leaders o Very often a sense of having distinct identity  Small-scale traditions are more geographically bound and have less global impact so and so offer quite a challenge the idea of classifying religious differences in this way  The problem with the world religions approach is that t is mainly about classification of cultures and traditions  The religions that are concentrated on and are so classified in terms of world or global categories are those that have figures most prominently in recent western history.  Religion is not something that is innate to humanity but is much more a matter of choice and socialization  Against this there are arguments that religion is universal shared by all humans. That is, many argue that the need for an engagement with an alternative reality, a true meaning of existence, a Tuesday, September 10 , 2013 ground of being, or an ultimate truth is a part of human nature. – this position is usually manifest through particular religions  In many cultures there is no obvious word that can be translated into religion  Jonathan Z smith cites a list (by James H Leuba) of 50 different attempts to define the concept of religion  Smith also says that religion is solely the creation of the scholars study  It is not necessary to say that religion has any particular essence (or basis), nor that it plays any particular role in social, cultural, or psychological life.  The study of religion helps us to make sense of the contemporary world  Religion is what people do and how they talk about what they do Chapter 2; Culture  Understanding religion requires us to take culture seriously  The study of religion cannot be separated from studies of culture  Religion is an aspect of cultural life and the approaches of cultural studies make an important contribution to the study of religion  Culture is something that is done, we have culture and we do culture- it is something found in material products, but most importantly it is what people do  We all feel that we have a culture that we belong to and that makes us who we are (e.g. Italian, Indian etc.)  There are three ways in which another category of culture can be used o 1. Culture as an ideal o 2. Culture in a documentary sense o 3. Culture in a social sense Elite Culture  the word culture is often used to describe an ideal in an elitest way  the term is used to mark out and distinguish particular types of product which are thought to be of high quality and of considerable artistic worth  suggests a work of distinction  from this perspective, one could pursue that study of culture as the study of the attempt by humans to reach perfection and civilization through such (cultural) expressions  the relationship between religion and other high culture extends well beyond texts  texts of the Christian bible have been inscribed in both words and artwork in religious buildings in many Christian contexts  much of the development of European art and culture was structures around religious themes Culture on the popular level  the documentary level of analysis makes it possible to include other forms of culture that are left out in studies of the ideal or perfect  thus ins a critical study of culture one can include as subjects not only the great works of art, literature and music, but also less great works  our analysis of artists is not concerned with which artist is better or worse than the other, but that both have produced serious pieces of cultural work that need to be analysed on a social level Tuesday, September 10 , 2013  a cultural study asks; o how they are doing ewhat they are doing, within the context of their music o also with reference to the particular traditions and societies where they are located  the study of popular forms of culture may look into televisions and commercials and magazines as well as literature and art  this popular approach does have implications o if the study of religion also needs to be related to the study of culture we should not be focused exclusively on the study of elite forms of religious culture o religious ideas, concepts and world views, will also be expressed culturally in many different popular forms like music or art as well
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