Religion Religion • Particularly difficult to define cross culturally

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Religion Religion • Particularly difficult to define cross culturally Powered By Docstoc
					                 Religion
• Particularly difficult to define cross-
  culturally
• Religion as lived is fully part of everyday
  life
        Elements of Religion
• Belief in “supernatural” beings and/or
  forces
• Myth
• Ritual
         Supernatural beings

• Gods, goddesses, spirits, ancestors
• Generally anthropopsychic: human-like in
  personality, have will and consciousness
• High God usually viewed as benevolent,
  powerful, just
• Lesser gods show a variety of personality
  traits
Use interpersonal techniques to interact with
  personal beings;
 request, praise, give thanks, promise gifts
 act politely, clean self beforehand, dress well

 possibility of more coercive techniques
                   Mana
• Force pervasive in universe (like spiritual
  electricity)
• Without will or consciousness
• Can be used for good or evil
• Concentrated in certain objects, people,
  places especially boundaries
• Ways to gain mana:
  – Be born with it       Hawaii
     mana is dangerous so there are taboos
  – Seek it from a spirit
     Native American Vision Quest
  – Eat organ of person who had it
                   Myth
• Everyday English: story that people falsely
  believe to be true
• Religious studies/Anthropology: a
  meaningful story that explains reality
• Imaginative narrative that allows people to
  understand the world and relate to it
  emotionally
              Religious ritual
•   Formal: stylized, repetitive
•   Performed in special places at set times
•   Include special speeches and objects
•   Social acts done in earnest
•   Has effects on participants (human and
    spiritual)
           Rites of passage
• Mark change in status as move through life
  cycle
• Common structure:
  – Separation
  – Transition Liminal phase
  – Reincoporation
                 Liminal
• Betwixt and between
  no longer in old status, not yet in new
• Ambiguous and dangerous and powerful
• Often violation of usual rules
  e.g. transvestism, insult superiors
             Religious acts
• Prayer
  fulfillment of request rests upon decision of
  spirits
• Sacrifice offer gift or change of behavior
  hope to increase likelihood of fulfillment
  animal life can substitute for human life
                  Magic
• Acts and words bring about effect
• Imitative magic
   things that resemble each other influence
   each other
• Contagious magic
   things once in contact continue to affect
   each other
• Sorcery     Bad magic
  Use of words or objects to bring about harm
  Can be observed
• Witchcraft
  –   Psychic substance, acts invisibley
  –   Person may not be conscious that has witchcraft
  –   May inherit or gain later
  –   Associated with night and nocturnal animals
      Functions of Witchcraft
• Explains unfortunate events
• Blame misfortune on specific cause,
  simplify what is complex and abstract
• Reinforce social norms
  – Dangerous to be accused of being a witch
  – Dangerous to offend a witch
     Religion as Revitalization
• All new religions are revolutionary, point to
  new way of life
• Revitalization movements are especially
  likely in period of rapid change or foreign
  domination as stress becomes great
• Prophet arises with new message

				
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