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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - About Religion (Introduction Sept 12th).docx

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University of Toronto St. George
David Perley

1 thMonday September 24 2012 RLG100Y1World Religions Chapter 1About ReligionTextbook pg 2Religion plays a central role in the lives of most people around the world and we cannot understand others without understanding their faithsLooking Both Ways From Stonehenge Basic Human ReligionStonehengeOne of several ancient rock structures thought to have been constructed for ritual purposesPeople initially thought of it as a large sundial however its position allows it to have acted as a spot for a possible summer solstice ritual in ancient timesLooking Back from StonehengeSome concepts that seem fundamental to religion are shared by virtually all human cultures including powerful gods sacred places a life of some kind after death spirits that interact with humans in the physical world These concepts are all so old and widespread that it is impossible to determine from where they first emergedThree WorldsHistorically humans have imagined the world to consist of three levels sky earth and underworldSkyThe uppermost level which is the home of the greatest deities possibly due to the power of storms or the movement of the planets and stars across the sky Many even thought that heavenly bodies were animated by their gods Sky Father Creator King of Heaven all invariably male thought to live in the skyEarthThe intermediate level where human lived between the sky and the underworldUnderworldThe realm under the Earth inhabited by serpents nagas in India or other evil reptilian creaturesSacred PlacesThere are many places all around the world where humans feel a certain spiritual energy or power in which case the place in question is said to be sacred and treated with special respect sacred vs profane eg Mountains and hilltops closest to the skydwelling deities known as high places mosques churches etcPeople would gather at high places and offer the god food drink human sacrifices etc to please themAnimal SpiritsCommon tradition of attributing spirits to animal either individually or as members of a family with a guardian spirit calls for great respect of wildlife possibly Totemism in the spiritual bonding with an animal that might allow you to tap into its power possible projection of human feelings onto animalsBody parts from impressive animals like lions bulls and eagles are also often thought to have power to help make contact with the spirits of the animals or sacred power like good fortune of some sortDeath and BurialFrom ancient times humans have always treated the burial of the dead with great care be it out of respect or due to a belief in the afterlife Many thought positioning the body in a certain way was good luck or included key provisions that would be needed in the afterlife Death was thought of as a transition between the stages of lifeeg Ancient Egyptian mummification Traditions like the Japanese Obon Mexican Day of the Dean Christian AllSaints Day and Halloween involve deceased spirits returning to Earth for a ritual meal with the livingWhy Are Humans ReligiousReligion seems to grow out of human experiences from the fear of death to the hope of a good afterlife uncertainty surrounding natural events
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