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Religion is...

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by

Jeanine Viau

on 1 December 2016

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Transcript of Religion is...

Religion is...
opening exercise
Source? Genre of the article?
Author? Standpoint? Credentials?
Angle?
How did you know that this article is about religion? Religion(s) that this article is about?
What did you learn about the significance of religion in the contemporary world from reading this article?
definitions
Religion
- derived from the Latin
religare
meaning "to tie back," "to tie again," "to bind" and later
religio
meaning "obligation, bond, reverence"
context
location = historical + geographical + cultural + socioeconomic
today
relating

how to study religion?
working definitions
"moments in the lives of people around the world are threads of the tapestry we call religion"
"All of religion shares the goal of tying people back to something behind the surface of life - a greater reality, which lies beyond, or invisibly infuses, the world that we can perceive with our five senses" (Fisher, 2).

What are the benefits and limitations of
universalism?
sacred - realm of the extraordinary, apparently purposeful, but generally imperceptible forces

profane - everyday world of seemingly random, ordinary, and unimportant occurrences

immanent - experience of sacred reality as present in the world

transcendent - belief that sacred reality exists outside of the material universe
dualistic vs. monistic
theistic vs. nontheistic
transtheistic
monotheism vs. polytheism
pantheistism
henotheism
Atheism
Agnosticism
it's complicated...
Ninian Smart's Dimensional Scheme:
mythic
doctrinal
ethical
ritual
experiential/emotional
social
material
religion
spirituality - inner dimensions of religion
**Premodern period - mythic worldview; emphasis on
metaphysics
to explain reality
**Modernity - beginning with the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1450; worldview that turns to science as a way to explain reality; emergence of science is linked to the rise of industry; modern imagination values progress, expansion, individualism, objectivity, and human enlightenment
**Postmodernity - post WWII; a worldview characterized by the 'hermeneutic of suspicion' and fragmentation; defines reality as discursive and intersubjective, rather than objectively measurable
absolutist, fundamentalist vs. liberal approaches
Protestant Christianity late 19th century
E. J. Pace, Christian Cartoons, 1922

why religion?
Faith
- Religion tells us truths about the ultimate nature of reality
Materialist
- All religious truths are human truths and only the material world exists
Functionalist
- What function(s) does religion serve? What do religions
do?

Diana Eck on the relationship between religions
Exclusivism
Inclusivism
Pluralism
How would you describe your religious identity?
Does your perspective fit a materialist, functionalist or faith perspective? More than one? How so?
Would you say that you are an exclusivist, an inclusivist or a pluralist? Why?
First published in Christian Century in June 1963
Southern Christian Leadership Conference arrive in"Bombmingham", AL in March 1963
Jailed after Good Friday march April 12th
Response to
moderate
religious leaders (two Episcopal bishops, two Methodist bishops, the pastor of the leading white Baptist church in Birmingham, a leader of the Alabama Presbyterian churches, a Catholic bishop of the diocese that included Birmingham, and a prominent Reform rabbi) calling their nonviolent resistance activities "unwise and untimely"
September 15, 1963 - the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama
What did you learn from reading MLK's "Letter from Birmingham Jail"? Be specific - What was new, surprising, and/or compelling?
How does Nyle Fort appropriate MLK's arguments?
What
is
the relationship between religion and politics? What
should be
the relationship between religion and politics?
Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt.
Paul Tillich

Man makes religion, religion does not make man…The religious world is but the reflex of the real world…Religion is the opium of the people.
Karl Marx

Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich. Napoleon Bonaparte
Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
Albert Einstein
how to study religion?
Phenomenologist - There is a dimension of reality –Sacred or Numinous—which religions point to and grows from; ‘insider’s’ rather than the ‘outsider’s’ point of view
Social Scientific
Hermeneutics – Study of the theory and practice of interpretation

globalization
secularization
Emptying ‘public spaces’ of God (Charles Taylor) – various spheres operating under different guiding principles

Individual dimensions – the falling off of religious beliefs and practices (Taylor)

Social alternatives – “belief in God is no longer axiomatic” (Taylor) – in fact, faith is no longer a possibility for some

pluralism
resurgence of religion
hardening of religious boundaries
political entanglements
interfaith dialogues
debate
science &/vs. religion
terms
Creationism
Intelligent Design
Evolution
What counts as
science
?
videos
discussion
Is it & or vs.? Why or why not?

Who won the debate? How so?
how (refers to methods used)
Theology
as fundamental discipline of the university in the Christian West
methods:
apologetics
hermeneutics - exegesis, allegorical...
ethics
what (refers to sources engaged)
sources:
Bible/sacred texts
prior theological reflection
philosophy
experience
who (refers to those who have the authority to study and interpret)
social elite
religious leaders
scribes
how
empirical
methods:
anthropological + social scientific methods
historical critical method
Academic study of religion linked to the emergence of the
social sciences
in the 19th century
Initial comparative studies grew out of the desire to prove Christianity was most evolved of all religions during
colonialism
and was often related to missionary endeavors
However, the Romantics used comparisons to critique Christianity and Western
ethnocentrism
who
believers and non-believers

missionaries
"explorers"
scholars
what
text
experience
objects
spaces
postcolonialism?
how
In the 1960s, religious studies emerges as an academic discipline.
methods:
textual analysis
sociology of religion
philosophy of religion
theology
big data
ethnography
....all of the above
who
practitioner scholar (or not)
insider and/or outsider
reflexivity?
what do i have in my cup?
ethnography
= writing culture
"thick description" (Geertz)
seeking the micro for itself and/or seeking the macro/mezzo through the micro
objective
fieldwork in the form of
participant-observation
+ systematic recording and analysis
how?
immersion
(seeing/experiencing from the inside)
precludes detachment and passivity
and requires
resocialization
(entering the "matrix of meanings" and becoming, "feeling subject to their code of moral regulation")
reactive effects?
sensitivity + reflexivity
***however limited
inscription
(or transcription?)
description = interpretation
involving transformation and selection
what (data, findings) intimately tied to how (observational process)
translation
Write down associations and stereotypes of:
(1) Buddhism (2) Hinduism (3) Islam
(4) Catholicism (5) Protestantism (6) Judaism
(7) Atheism (8) Agnosticism (9) Fundamentalism
review
French sociologist Emile Durkheim proposed that humans need organized social structures, and religion is the glue that holds society together. This is best described as a materialist approach to religion. T/F
Intelligent design is a theory cited to support evolutionary biology as an explanation of the origins of human life. T/F
The terms fundamentalism and fundamentalist emerged first in the twentieth century to refer to Muslims who adhere strictly to historical cultural practices such as strong modesty regulations. T/F
Select all the apply: Which of the following are forms of secularism according to Charles Taylor?
a. Emptying 'public spaces' of God
b. Loss of individual religious beliefs and practices
c. Modern constitutional separation of church and state
d. Hardening of religious boundaries
__________ refers to the belief that if a divine being or beings exist, it is impossible for humans to know it.
______________ traditions emphasize an Unseen or Ultimate reality, rather than a personal creator God
_____________ traditions claim that beneath the multiplicity of apparent forms there is one underlying substance
_____________ acknowledges a plurality of gods but elevates one to special status
why study religion...?
MLK's "Letter from Birmingham Jail"
context = racism
race.
a pseudoscientific social construct developed in the colonial period and given more and more sophisticated discursive dimensions in the modern period
pseudoscience = a fiction masquerading as an objective scientifically defensible truth

racism.
using race as justification for the superiority of those with lighter skin tones, and thereby their cultures, over those with darker skin tones

"spiritual but not religious" or SBNR
Can you define and explain the differences between these identifiers?
what roles do these components play in religious systems?
Which approaches do each of these statements correspond to?
can you match the position on religious diversity to its corresponding image?
HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion
: “…beliefs and practices… relative to superhuman beings”

Bruce Lincoln's Four Domains of Religion:
A
discourse
whose concerns transcend the human, temporal, and contingent, and that claims for itself a similarly transcendent status
A set of
practices
whose purpose is to produce a proper world and/or proper human subjects (as defined by a religious discourse)
A
community
whose members construct their identity with reference to a religious discourse and its attendant practices
An
institution
that regulates the other three, reproducing them over time and modifying them when necessary, while asserting their eternal validity and transcendent value
[Religion is]...the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.
William James, psychologist
[T]he religious aspect points to that which is ultimate, infinite, unconditional in man's spiritual life. Religion, in the largest and most basic sense of the word, is ultimate concern.
Paul Tillich, theologian
A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden - beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.
Emile Durkheim, sociologist
modernization
urbanization
multiculturalism
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