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Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION TO WORLD RELIgIONS 9 The beliefs about what is divine or holy are often transmitted through sacred stories Sacred stories are the oral and written narratives that convey and define those things that connect religions to their ultimate reality The stories may be about the founding of the religions is


Chapter 1 Introduction to World Religions,Assignment Checklist. What you should do Where When,Read the introduction and objectives. Read the chapter information,Complete the learning activities objects. Complete the quiz,Participate in the discussion,Other assignments. Introduction, The study of world religions is fascinating The term world religion was first used in the.
nineteenth century to refer to a religion whose many followers extend beyond national borders. Today as nations and cultures collide in an ever shrinking world it has become even more. important to understand world religions, Religion can be thought of in terms of worship morality and the common aspects of faith shared. by a group of people Religion is also the beliefs and actions connecting people to supernatural. beings and forces In this course we will define religion as the part of human experience and. practice that has to do with the sacred a god or gods a higher power or the ultimate values of life. The study of world religions offers an opportunity to explore the tapestry of human beliefs. and cultures We will look at religions both familiar and unfamiliar to learn about their exchange. with other religions and cultures in the world and about their development Your understanding. of world religions will begin with developing some basic knowledge that will prepare you for the. academic study of religion,Objectives, After you complete this chapter you will be able to. Define key terms associated with religion, Describe the primary concepts associated with the study of religion. Identify the significance of the sacred within religious experience. Describe the primary aspects of people s involvement with religion. Identify some of the charismatic figures associated with religious traditions and beliefs. Explain the uses of sacred texts and forms of worship that are foundational to religions. Explain the roles of religion and society in the formalization of belief systems ethics and rituals. Describe the observable growth processes of world religions. Compare and contrast indigenous religions and world religions. Chapter 1 Introduction to World Religions, Bible collection of writings for the Christian faith comprised of the Old and New Testaments. Charismatic figures people who inspire belief trust and emotion and who often give leadership. to movements, Community of believers group or congregation of people sharing the common aspects of religion.
and belief, Conservative believers people who are less receptive to adaptation and change in their. religious belief, Convert to adopt a new religion or religious system. Deity being entity or god thought to be divine, Divine having the characteristics of a god such as omnipotence and omniscience. Doctrines formal statements that are accepted as truth and that become the teachings of a religion. or religious group, Eastern religions religions originating in Asia including Hinduism Buddhism Taoism Confucianism. and Shinto, Eschatology study of last things such as the end of the world or the end of a religious epoch.
Ethics set of values defining right from wrong, Exclusive religions religions which are less open or entirely closed to ideas from other philosophies. or religions, Fundamentalism movement within a religion that maintains a strong resistance to change and an. adherence to a primary set of principles or beliefs. Heaven spiritual realm of eternal reward in many religions. Holy quality of reverence divine sacred consecrated or godly. Inclusive religions religions which are receptive to adaptation of beliefs doctrines or deities of. other philosophies or religions,Indigenous born of or native to a land or region. Indigenous religion religion originating in a particular geographical area or region. Liberal believers people who are more receptive to adaptation and change in their religious belief. Liturgical worship worship that follows a prescribed set of rites and rituals according to traditions. Magic use of words or gestures to control supernatural forces for intervention with the sacred the. holy or spirits, Missionary person who is sent to attempt to convert others to a religion doctrine or way of life. Morality goodness or rightness based on cultural social and religious traditions and standards. Mysticism direct experience with the divine holy or god outside the structure and organization. of religion,Omnipotence state of having unlimited power.
Omniscience state of having unlimited knowledge, Pagan often used to mean heathen irreligious or non Christian in connection with ancient religions. Profane non religious part of the human experience. Prophet one who speaks for and or is a messenger of a god. Proselytize to attempt to convert people to a religion sect way of believing or system of belief. Religion part of the human experience that has to do with a god or gods a higher power or the. ultimate values of life, Religious ecstasy extreme joy or elevated senses attained through religious experience. Religious icon work of art or other depiction which represents aspects of the sacred. Religious myth story about the sacred providing foundational patterns of living for the believers. Religious symbol words objects acts or events which evoke awareness and experience of the. sacred or divine, Ritual symbolic acts verbal expressions or ceremonies in religious practice. Sacred believed or declared to be connected to the divine or holy. Sacred places any geographical location that serves as an anchor or reference point for belief. Sage person venerated for wisdom judgment and experience. Salvation deliverance from suffering evil death or eternal punishment redemption from sin. and the consequences of sin, Shaman person in an indigenous religion who normally has gone through initiation and training. to function as a spiritual specialist, Soul spiritual immortal part of humans separable from the body at death.
Superstition belief or act resulting from the fear of the unknown a false sense of causation and ignorance. Syncretism fusing of different philosophies or religions. Chapter 1 Introduction to World Religions, Taboo primarily social prohibition or ban against forbidden behaviors language or even. Theology rational and systematic study of god gods or religion and the influence of the sacred. Traditions rites beliefs and values handed down from one generation to the next. Transcendental spiritual state that goes beyond the physical world of reality and cannot be. attained through reason, Western religions religions originating in the Middle East and other areas outside of Asia. including Judaism Christianity Islam and New Religions. World religion term first used in the nineteenth century to refer to a religion whose many followers. extend beyond national borders, Worship religious homage or reverence to a deity saint or sacred object. In this chapter we will be introduced to the terms and concepts of religion as we begin the study. of world religions We will prepare by looking at what defines religion We will also review what is not. considered a religion We will learn how religion and people have persisted over the course of the ages. We will conclude this chapter by looking at what is a world religion The study of all religion requires. preparation We will build a foundation for study by learning terms and gaining a general knowledge. of the beliefs and writings associated with the academic study of religion This foundation will assist us. in understanding the impact that religion has on culture and in turn the impact of culture on religion. What Is Religion, The word religion is used on a daily basis but what is it In everyday life the common use. of words creates definitions The many meanings of religion are in part based on social customs. that develop during continual use over time This makes religion difficult to define because many. descriptions are related to how it is viewed or studied. Within each definition of religion we find a reflection of how the concept is embraced Think. about this How would someone define the word if that person has rejected religion as a viable. option in her his life Would it be a positive definition. Differences in definition also arise from focus and use Each academic field has its own. perspective For example philosophy theology sociology psychology linguistics and history each. focus on different aspects of the world They create definitions which support the means and. purposes of their academic inquiry, Thus we need to establish a standard definition of religion for use in this course Perhaps.
you recall that the chapter introduction stated that religion is the part of human experience and. practice that has to do with the sacred a god or gods a higher power or the ultimate values of life. There are many more key terms to learn and they will all be presented this way bold and in italics. in this text You will be responsible for learning all of them In this way students of world religions. will be on common ground during discussions and when completing written assignments. This is a first step in becoming a student of world religions Soon your study will lead to more. questions for example Why are there so many religions and What are the differences among. them In order to answer these questions we begin looking at some similarities found in all great. religions Let s start by building a foundation of the concepts and ideas related to religion in general. Religion Is the Sacred, Religions share an idea of the sacred Something sacred is believed or declared to be connected. to the divine or holy Moreover it is thought of as something other than human Mircea Eliade a. scholar of religious history built upon earlier scholarship to say that people divide their experiences. into two separate parts sacred and profane Eliade 25 The profane is the non religious part of the. human experience The term deity is often used in relation to the sacred A deity is a being entity. or god that is thought to be divine, Divine means having the characteristics of a god such as omnipotence or omniscience. Omnipotence is the state of having unlimited power The root omni actually means all so. omnipotence actually means all powerful Omniscience is the state of having unlimited knowledge. Both of these characteristics are used to describe the divine We apply these characteristics to the. divine because of our expectations The sacred is expected to be more than human. Religion allows us to use terms like sacred and divine as reference points These concepts. separate humans from god and help us understand the human place and purpose in the world The. sacred fulfills our need for structure and orientation beyond the concrete real and visible world. The profane does not fulfill this need, In order for the profane to connect with the divine religions share sacred places Sacred. places are any geographical location that serves as an anchor or reference point for belief They. can be springs grottos structures or even trees Acceptance of a place as sacred makes it special. for the believers,For example every year crowds of Muslims. make the pilgrimage to Mecca to visit the Kaaba,The Kaaba is a shrine located in modern Saudi.
Arabia Why is it a shrine The Kaaba is considered,a sacred place because the founder and the. believers believe that it is Often the connection, of sacred places to religion is so normal that the. universal acceptance is overlooked,However a place does not have to be sacred. to be used for a sacred event Any building,such as a house or shared community building. can be used for worship services This does,not make it sacred or holy Holy is a quality of.
reverence it refers to something that is divine, sacred consecrated or godly Most sacred Fig 1 1 Mosque in Central Asia. places maintain a sense of holiness,Chapter 1 Introduction to World Religions. The beliefs about what is divine or holy are often transmitted through sacred stories. Sacred stories are the oral and written narratives that convey and define those things that. connect religions to their ultimate reality The stories may be about the founding of the. religion the founder of the religion or sacred concepts These stories provide a connection. between the subject and the sacred They may begin as a vision or a dream or they may. employ other forms of conveyance Epics or long narrative poems may be used Scholars. use the term myth for some of these stories A religious myth is a story about the sacred. providing foundational patterns of living for the believers It is not a term used to mean. either true or untrue, There are different types of religious myths such as creation myths or salvation myths. Salvation in religion is deliverance from suffering evil death or eternal punishment It can also. mean redemption from sin and the consequences of sin Each type of myth serves as an explanation. of a relationship to the sacred the divine The concept of heaven is related to salvation In many. religions heaven is a spiritual realm of eternal reward In Christianity and Islam the reward in. heaven is eternal bliss Therefore it is the aim of living a righteous life In most religions that have. doctrines regarding salvation and heaven there is also a belief in the soul The soul is the spiritual. and immortal part of humans that separates from the body at death It is the soul which lives in. heaven There are variations to this belief For example in upcoming chapters we will read that in. some Eastern religions the soul is eternal but the aim is not heaven. Besides sacred stories individual religions share sacred writings Sacred writings are the texts which. are understood to be from divine sources or about divine sources They also connect religions to the. core of their beliefs about the sacred Adherents of a religion can interpret many aspects of life through. sacred writings, Each world religion has a set of writings vital to its core beliefs ways of believing and primary belief. systems An example of sacred writings is the Bible For the Christian faith the Bible is a collection of. writings comprised of the Old and New Testaments beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation. There are multiple versions of the Bible which vary primarily upon the translation Scriptures such as. the Torah or Koran also provide a foundation for law morality ritual and even business Morality is. goodness or rightness based on cultural social and religious traditions and standards. It should be noted that religions incorporate the readings of sacred texts within their worship. Worship is religious homage or reverence to a deity saint or sacred object Worship can be. practiced in private or performed publicly by a community Some religions use a more structured. format known as liturgical worship Liturgical worship follows a prescribed set of rites and. rituals according to traditions Christian religions that use liturgical worship include the Eastern. Orthodox Catholic Lutheran and Episcopalian churches Other religions may use less structured. formats Examples of these religions are Buddhism and Shinto All of these religions may recite. passages from scripture or sacred texts as a part of the worship service rite or ritual. Religion and magic have always been closely connected Magic is the use of words or gestures to. control supernatural forces for intervention with the sacred the holy or spirits It is common to think. of magic as part of the ancient or primitive foundations among many religions of the world Magic. is usually used in connection with pagan religious traditions Pagan commonly refers to aspects of. religion that are heathen irreligious or non Christian. However magic can be connected with all religions in some way Any act used to control the. divine the holy or the supreme absolute could be considered magic An example of magic thus. defined would be burying a religious statue or special object near a house so that the house will sell. Another example would be the use of special words or actions meant to induce a desired outcome. However special words are also often used in prayers the difference between using special words. as magic and using special words as prayers is perhaps in the mind of the worshipper A prayer is a. request for intercession by a god gods or spirits while magic is an attempt to induce an outcome by. acts or words Although the uses of magic and prayer seem similar the difference is in the intent. whether to request or induce an outcome,Religion Is the People.
Belief Systems, Doctrines are formal statements that are accepted as truths and that become the teachings. of a religion or religious group Doctrines define each individual religion Doctrines are often. symbolic representing ideas and concepts other than what the doctrines state Included in. a religion s doctrines may be concepts explaining what is moral the human place in the. universe or ideas of eschatology Eschatology is the study of last events such as the end of the. world or the end of a religious epoch Therefore doctrines establish the necessary beliefs and. attitudes that a religion has formed in its self identity and self definition This is how religions. set the perimeters of acceptable belief Doctrines are often derived from or connected to a. religion s myths, Myths often contain elements of truths and or teachings that relate to doctrine Santa Claus is. an example of the relationship between doctrine and myth The modern Santa Claus myth teaches. the Christian doctrine of joyful giving Myth and doctrine are both means to instill and maintain. cultural and religious values, We arrange our lives around pivotal values The concept of pivotal value is taken from. Robert C Monk s text Exploring Religious Meaning In it he speaks of a person s reliance on a. pivotal value to organize one s life Monk 364 368 Have you ever pondered the meaning of. life Do you desire fulfillment Religion can be a means to focus devotion and commitment. around pivotal values which you may find meaningful and rewarding. Ethics are a set of values defining right from wrong Religious ethics often share the same goal. as cultural or social ethics The common goal of ethics is to support a moral standard defining. right action conduct and attitudes Ethics set an ideal such as an ethical code of practice In. everyday life the word morals is more commonly expressed Morals are the established rules of. behavior Ethics would thus be the justification for morals For religions there is an additional. purpose for ethics, Religious ethics need rules of conduct that connect personal behaviors with the ultimate. doctrines of the religion Max Weber said this, T he systematization of religious obligations in the direction of an ethic based on inner religious.
faith produces a situation that is fundamentally different in essence Such systematization breaks. through the stereotypization of individual norms in order to bring about a meaningful total. relationship of the pattern of life to the goal of religious salvation 209. Furthermore religious ethics can be understood as a duty which comes from god for the good. of humans For example if god forbids murder then it must not be done because god has this. ultimate authority This contrasts to the understanding that something is forbidden because the. consequences are bad,Chapter 1 Introduction to World Religions. Also ethics and morals play a part in religious social interaction A community of believers. is a group or congregation of people sharing the common aspects of religion and belief Are you a. member of a church Take a moment to think about what being a member means to you Do you. think of the church members as your extended family Do they help you make value decisions in. your life Gathering as a community believers demonstrate what they consider sacred holy and. the truth They come together to worship the divine As a unified body each member provides. a source of priority and integration into the culture Communities of believers share more than. beliefs and doctrines they share rituals and systems of worship. In comparison to strictly religious ethics a taboo is a primarily social prohibition or ban against. forbidden behaviors language or even thoughts Furthermore it can be seen as a prejudice as in. the case of not associating with a group or clan Taboos may or may not be codified or written. However they are an important form of ethical code As such taboos provide a source of common. practice as well as an understanding of a group s rules and way of acting Taboos may have a. religious connection however they are more social in origin and application. Rituals are acts verbal expressions or ceremonies in religious practice A woman makes the. sign of the cross in church A man bows his head and says a blessing over a meal in his house. Rituals such as these connect a person to the sacred They can be simple or complex a word or a. gesture seen or unseen Through participation rituals link believers to their religion Each active. engagement reminds the believer of being a part of a larger community Rituals give symbolic. meaning and create spiritual relationships between the religion and its adherents Rituals also. include significant elements of worship such as communion in the Christian religion. Religious traditions are the rituals beliefs and values handed down from one generation to. the next More often than not they are unwritten oral transmissions of ideas which support belief. systems In this way traditions are part of the identity for a religion and the surrounding culture. Traditions can be formalized or not formalized Sending Christmas cards depicting the baby Jesus to. family and friends is an example of a religious tradition Religious traditions often are so connected. with culture that it is difficult to see them as distinctly religious in nature Religious traditions are a. means of interpreting and expressing religious experience. Religious traditions are often adapted from older longer standing traditions A very good. example of a long standing religious tradition is the festival called Carnival which is celebrated. in many places throughout the world The word Carnival is the combination of two Latin words. carne meat and vale farewell therefore the word means farewell to meat Carnival occurs before. the Christian season of Lent during which believers fast and abstain from meat The festival. traces its origins to the Roman Empire and the day the Romans set aside for the god Saturn The. Romans encouraged festivals and the connections between festival dates and the Roman gods were. transmitted to the Christian church, The ancients understood the seasons and had astronomically determined how to predict key. moments in the year Two such moments were the fall equinox and the spring equinox These. days represent the major seasonal divides It was said the ancient German goddess Ostara mated. with the solar god on the spring equinox She would have a child on December 21 the winter. solstice This would mark the midwinter festival Yule The Christians adopted December 25 for. one of their major celebrations Christmas The original idea still is present in terms like the Yule. log We will discuss the alignment of the spring equinox and Easter in chapter 9. The seasons of the year were associated with the seasons of life Spring was birth and winter. death In between was life It is easy to see this relationship Spring brings new life which grows in the. summer and is harvested in the fall but in winter life lays buried and cold like death Another ancient. idea adapted in modern use is the concept of Mother Earth It is easy to relate this terminology with. goddess worship Weber 13, Perhaps no other night in the United States means more merriment for children than. Halloween This day of trick or treat coincides with the Christian day called All Hallows Eve It. originated in the ancient Celtic celebration of the night when the Celts who were Druids believed. the separation between the living and dead was minimal Moreover they believed that the spirits or. ghosts of the dead wandered about the Earth on this day October 31 The Celts built bonfires and. dressed in masks of animal heads and costumes of skins The Celts believed that the spirits could. foreshadow events in the lives of the living Think about the modern American traditions and it. is easy to see how the current traditions have emerged from older ones The underlying ideas have. been transferred to the new traditions and to new cultures. Religious Experience, Religious experience is the commonality of ritual myth and symbol Religious experience. includes the events actions or engagement felt by people in religious activities It can be. experienced through the mystical magic and moral The experience can be of an artistic nature. rapturous or without outward emotion Religious experience can be achieved in a group or as. an individual It may be described as an awakening In chapter 4 you will learn how Siddhartha. Gautama experienced enlightenment Through this experience he encountered a transcendental. reality A transcendental state is a spiritual state that goes beyond the physical world of reality and. cannot be attained through reason, Individual religious experience can be the result of worship or contemplation It can be.
gradual or immediate However it is felt and can bring on a conversion new understanding. or deeper commitment of beliefs Moreover religious experience is not limited by education. intelligence gender or age Religious experience is known to all religions and often is the source of. transformation of the individual, Religious ecstasy is extreme joy or elevated senses attained through religious experience Often. it is expressed as almost unbearable joy and can be accompanied by a trance stigmatism or some. other physical or psychological condition Religious ecstasy is more often than not the experience. of just an individual Experiencing ecstasy may be expressed as achieving a form of unity or oneness. with the divine It may also be accompanied by visions or having a truth revealed to the person. An example of religious ecstasy would be the experience of modern Pentecostal Christians who. experience an overpowering by god which they call being slain in the spirit Those who have. experienced it report a feeling of unity with god or an overwhelming joy. Another widely known example of religious ecstasy is that of the whirling dervishes Many. travelers to places like Istanbul Turkey witness the spinning dance of these men wearing wide. bottom skirts and brimless tall caps Their dance is a form of active meditation during which the. dancer spins with arms held high, Whirling dervishes are followers of a mystical derivation of Islam known for its austerity and. poverty Listening to the music and spinning is a means for abandonment of personal desires by. focused action on the love of god The physical experience conveys an understanding of engagement. in pursuit of the unseen world attained through religious ecstasy. Chapter 1 Introduction to World Religions, Mysticism is direct experience with the divine holy or god outside the structure and organization. of religion There is an immediacy and direct or intuitive knowing of the divine This knowledge of the. divine is not irrational In other words reason and mysticism are not mutually exclusive However the. mystical experience is not meant to be a cognitive reasoned approach It is a special state of consciousness. outside the structure and rites of religions, Mysticism can be expressed through visions Mystical experiences can be attempts to reach. oneness with god or the divine They can be associated with a state of ecstasy although they are. not usually highly emotional Mystical experiences are more often described in terms of awareness. a sense or feeling of unity with the divine or ultimate reality Mystics and mysticism are found in. all of the world religions Mystical experiences serve as examples of obtaining a spiritual reality. Notable mystics include Buddha 560 480 BCE in Buddhism Meister Eckhart 1260 13270 in. medieval Christianity and Rabi a al Adaurya b 801 in Islam Rabi a al Adaurya was a woman. considered a saint who sought to love god completely. Material Expressions, All religions use symbols to impart religious truths Religious symbols are words objects.
acts or events which evokes awareness and experience of the sacred or divine Symbols remind. the believer of a deeper truth Feelings are directed toward the sacred through a conscious. understanding of the deeper meaning connected with the symbol A Hindu woman washes in. the Ganges River An Eastern Orthodox Christian kisses an icon A cross is hung in a church. or private residence Each of these objects or acts is a religious symbol To that Hindu woman. the Ganges River can purify To the Orthodox Christian the icons represent holiness A cross. reminds Christians of salvation, Symbols are therefore a means of connecting a person to her his beliefs Moreover they. are a means of remembrance The act of remembering can be on the part of an individual or. a group such as a religion or culture In addition the memory can be of an actual event in a. person s life For example when seeing a cross a Christian may remember her his religious. conversion or another experience emotionally connected to the faith. The religious meaning of symbols is usually taught Symbols then take on meaning that. is part of the religious experience of the group This is not an actual remembrance but can be. considered an imposed remembrance A Christian who makes the sign of the cross on herself. himself in remembrance of her his baptism was taught the connection between the two acts. Both actual and imposed remembrances connect a person to the past through symbolic images. acts and words, In religion colors also carry meaning white represents purity and red represents blood Once. a symbol is learned then it is transportable and compoundable If a white cross is put in a field of. red on a stained glass window or on a tapestry it has a different symbolic meaning than if that same. white cross is in a field of purple Why Remember red represents blood but purple represents. royalty Therefore we see that in art shapes and colors can be symbols understood on conscious. and subconscious levels, Another example of a symbol is a lamb The lamb depicted in religious works of art is most. often white The lamb also has a symbolic connection to sacrifice Lambs were sacrificed on the. altar for sins in ancient Judaic worship rites Do you see the connection To many Christians. Jesus is understood to be the Lamb of God Symbols are learned but once learned they can be. used out of context and still understood, Material expression can be seen in religious images. Images of the sacred are as old as the images that humans. painted on stones or cave walls Images are used in religions. to draw the mind to the holy through the person or object. portrayed In the Christian world icons are important to. the Eastern Orthodox Church A religious icon is a work of. art or other depiction which represents aspects of a religion. It might be a two dimensional painting or a statue used in. religious devotion On the bottom of each page in this text. are icons representing each of the world religions in this. course Other types of icons are often personages related. to the sacred stories of a religion The believers do not pray. to the icon but rather use it to focus on the truth that is. represented It creates a connection to the holy, Architecture can be used as a material expression in.
religion Religious buildings are often more than a physical. structure Picture a Christian church It is a building but. the addition of a spire to that building will draw your eyes. Fig 1 2 Christian church,toward heaven, Many of the features used in the design of religious buildings are used to remind people of. the teachings doctrines and beliefs of the religion Religious images and symbols are artistically. displayed within the building An overall theme is supported through architecture and design to. inspire and create a religious mood,Religious Figureheads. In this section about people in religion we have studied beliefs rituals and material expressions. but what about the people Every religion has a founder or leader However there is no uniformity. in how believers in the various world religions view these important persons In following chapters. we will discuss the founders of each religion in detail For now we will look at the broad categories. of divine people charismatic leaders prophets and sages. Prophets and Sages, In many religions you will hear or read the words of a prophet A prophet is the messenger. of god Prophets speak for god They may call for justice denounce evil or describe future. events The prophet male or female historically has held an important position not only in. religion but also in the culture and society in which the religion functions Sometimes the. prophet is a leader such as Mohammed The religion that he founded Islam refers to him as. The Prophet Islam reveres him in his role as a messenger from Allah rather than as a leader. of the people There were many religious prophets in history For Judaism and Christianity. an important prophet was Moses, A sage is a person venerated for wisdom judgment and experience The sage normally does. not hold an official position in the religious structure The sage is accepted as significant because. of his her experience and or connection to the sacred A sage is a wise person who gives guidance. Wisdom is valued respected or even revered in all cultures It is an important stabilizing element. of daily cultural and religious life,Chapter 1 Introduction to World Religions.
Charismatic Figures, The history of the world is filled with charismatic figures that inspire belief trust and. emotion These charismatic people often give leadership to movements A charismatic person. may not necessarily be a good organizer or competent leader yet people will flock to him her. Why The charismatic personality is someone whom people want to follow S he radiates appeal. The charismatic personality can propel a movement giving it cohesion through mere. presence Pope John Paul II was a charismatic figure As the spiritual head of the Roman Catholic. Church John Paul II was seen as a man of the people He radiated appeal and was admired and. loved by people everywhere, Perhaps Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church is not as well known as John Paul II. but he is quite a charismatic leader The Unification Church that he founded in 1954 has grown. in part because of his charisma, When the titles Christ and Buddha are used two charismatic figures come to mind Jesus of. Nazareth and Siddhartha Gautama Both Christ and Buddha demonstrated those qualities which. are exemplary for the religious charismatic leader Followers of the religions each founded also. believe Christ and Buddha are divine people,Divine People. Religion is about people and their connection to the sacred To keep the connection to the sacred. or even to maintain and provide continuation of the religion a certain type of person is needed. We will classify this type as divine people Divine people serve functionally and symbolically. Examples of the roles they fill are those of shaman priest minister prophet or sage Each holds. a position of respect is valued by the believers and is held exemplarily in status Divine people. connect to the holy and guide and defend the faith. An example of a divine person is the Dali Lama The Dali Lama is the spiritual head of. Tibetan Buddhism Millions of people worldwide think of him as divine Sometimes the. person may not be a religious leader to be considered divine Such is the case of Mahatmas. Gandhi Many people in India consider Gandhi divine because of his devout following of. Hindu beliefs and practices while he struggled for independence for India You will read about. Gandhi in the chapter on Hinduism,W hat Is Not Religion.
The material presented so far has been a lot to digest We have defined religion and considered. the concepts of the sacred and the profane including sacred places stories and texts We have also. looked at the role people fulfill in religion through belief ritual and worship Keeping all these. characteristics in mind let s summarize by looking at what is not religion. Many sports fans seem to worship their sport Does that mean we can classify American football. as a religion After all thousands of people come together at a designated place a stadium to. watch a ritual the game and often leave with stories of fantastic plays Even the playbook is held. in high regard as if it were a sacred writing, Does this make the sport a religion No not really All activities approached with religious zeal. are not religious in nature, Football isn t intended to connect the sports fan with the holy or an ultimate value The rituals. rules and codes are not understood to be a spiritual guide The playbook does not provide insights. on the way to live out our daily lives The stories will soon be forgotten and the game provides. entertainment but not a spiritual experience Finally it is not accepted by society as a religion. or even a religious activity Therefore we see that though people may act in ways that resemble. religion and though activities may have things in common with religions such as rituals there are. religious like activities that are not religions,What Is World Religion. A world religion is just what the phrase suggests It is a religion known throughout most of. the world with membership that crosses national borders The major world religions are divided. into Eastern and Western religions based on the location where each religion began Eastern. and Western religions have also been called Oriental and Occidental. Eastern religions are those originating in Asia including Hinduism Buddhism Taoism. Confucianism and Shinto They can be further divided into Indian and East Asian religions. The Indian religions are Hinduism and Buddhism The East Asian religions are Taoism. Confucianism and Shinto Again these sub groups are based upon region of origin. Western religions including Judaism Christianity and Islam are those originating in the. Middle East and other areas outside of Asia The New Religions discussed in chapter 12 are. also grouped with the Western religions The three major Western religions are also referred. to as Abrahamic religions The story of Abraham is told in the book of Genesis This Hebrew. scripture is accepted as sacred writing by the monotheistic faiths of Judaism Christianity and. Islam Abraham has a key progenitor role in these religions. One characteristic of world religions is that each has a large membership An identifying name. for followers is also a characteristic For example Christians are followers of Jesus Christ and. Buddhists are followers of Buddha Another characteristic of world religions is that each has sacred. texts accepted collections of writing used to develop tenets of belief a moral code and spiritual. guidance Transportability is another important characteristic of the major world religions For a. religion to grow it must be able to expand Last each of the major world religions has a documented. history for at least part of its existence, Although these are some of the universal characteristics of a world religion each major religion. has an identity that is unique This is no accident Religions develop theology based on their beliefs. Theology is the rational and systematic study of god gods or religion and the influence of the sacred. It is also the study of the nature of religious truth A religion s theology is part of its identity. Each of the major world religions takes its unique identity seriously The identity begins with. the birth of the religion It grows and redefines itself in contrast to the religions around it This. stage can be thought of as reaction redefinition,Growth Processes of World Religions.
Reaction and Redefinition, New religions have emerged throughout human history The growth of a new religion demonstrates. that people can find pivotal or ultimate value through means other than the religions that are already. established This demonstration sets the new religion at odds with the major or dominant religions of. the time There is a reaction to the differences which helps redefine the new religion.

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