WHAT IS RELIGION? - Definitions of words used: 1. Gods: spirits with a lot more power and authority 2. Demons: spirit that wants to hurt you and do bad things to you, inherently evil or malevolent 3. Spirits: all three (god, demons) are spirits (a nonphysicalDon't forget about the age old question of aggregate demand curve definition
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being), possibly a little power - Given definitions of religion: 0. A set of beliefs related to a deity or deities through which a system of morals is taught a. Deity or deities: narrows the definition too much (only conceives the transcendent as a being), too much emphasis is placed on beliefs i. Deity: god, gods, a supernatural being, spiritual being (being is important as it has the characteristics of personhood), a power or force that is impersonal (you don’t pray to the power or force, the power or force will not respond) ii. How you conceptualize the transcendent will determine how you interact with it . Others say the essential part of a religion definition is a supernatural force, a not physical dimension, this spiritual dimension is defined differently but is a necessity -> for the purpose for the class a. All religions have a system of morals but do all religions have morals as their ultimate goal? b. Points out some important points of religions, but too narrow and places importance on points that are of different importance in different religions 1. A proper relationship to gods, demons, and spirits, worldly prosperity, and well-being . Does not define a proper relationship, but that each religion defines what the proper relationship i. Indicates that there needs to be a relationship with some transcendent being a. Worldly prosperity: defined by each religion (some say you should get as much as you can get, while others say be cautious) b. Gods, demons, and spirits: possibly still too narrow, doesn’t include ancestors, still conceptualizing the transcendent as a being while some religions pray upon an impersonal power or force, doesn’t have room for this (cuts up Buddhism, native American religion) c. Religion is primarily relationships/ the relational aspect you have with these things d. Focus on relationship, worldly prosperity (as defined by religion) and well being; instead of beliefs and morals 2. That which is the ultimate concern of an individual a. Too broad, ultimate concern may include more than "religion" b. Individual leaves out the relationship aspect, makes religion an individualistic practice . Leaves out the community aspectc. Individual concern does play a role, but the community or family is not mentioned 3. The belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves to it a. Starts with belief, lends importance to belief b. "unseen order" is broader to the nonphysical transcendent, could be gods and power c. Says religion is ultimately about finding our supreme good and how we can change and adjusting ourselves to the order . Religions are concerned about this but it might not be the ultimate goal for all religions 4. The search for meaning, wholeness, and some connections to the larger continuity of human life a. What is the meaning of life? b. Wholeness-> finding completeness in religion c. Where do you fit into the parade of humanity? If you think about all the people who have ever been on the earth some are completely erased, who will ever know you existed? What's the significant of that? d. How tiny we are on the massive ball on earth and how tiny earth is in the universe, it makes us like a speck of dust on a speck of dust e. Religions are trying to answer these questions and they do this, they answer these questions! f. Missing: a lot of people who are religious who do not think about these "big life question" but more interested in the day to day life questions - Shows that its REALLY HARD TO COME UP WITH A GOOD DEFINITION OF RELIGION - Talking about religion and trying to define religion is really hard for Native Americans 1. What may be in western cultures “religion” is everything for Native Americans ▪ It isn’t just going to church every Sunday but mundane ideas are part of Native American spirituality - Definitions from Traditional Native American Spirituality 1. Developing and maintaining a constant relationship with the spiritual forces that govern the lives of humans a. constant relationships is very important b. for native peoples everything is spiritual, no such thing as an inanimate object i. why everything is a religious act 2. A way of life based on the recognition of the spirituality of all life and all creation a. a way of life, not just a part of life b. EVERYTHING is spiritual NINIAN SMART AND CORDOVA What does Ninian Smart say about the way we should understand religion - When studying other religions, you must suspend your own beliefs -> epoche 1. You have to set aside your own opinions, beliefs, and experiences so you can understand the religion with an insider point of view (ultimately impossible) 2. Must be aware of our own opinions when learning about others▪ Cannot study a relationship in terms another religion, or in light of your own religion -> be aware of distortion - We need to understand religions as being multi-dimensional 1. Not just one element to religion 2. People think to understand a religion you have to know the beliefs ▪ But religions go beyond just beliefs 3. All religious consist of at least 6 dimensions 1. Ritual dimension ▪ Talking about formal actions that religions do such as communion, baptism ▪ Really important as it will show what a religion values 2. Ethical dimension ▪ The dos and don’ts ▪ The 10 commandments ▪ Reciprocity ▪ Bundles 3. Social dimension (institutional) ▪ The way a religion relates to outsiders ∙ Viewing themselves as part of a circle with other tribes (interconnection) ▪ How religions organize themselves ▪ All religions build institutions (marriage, or brick and mortar) ▪ Native Americans: tipi circle, societies within a tribe, clans (Mi’kmaq) ▪ Christianity: office of bishop, dioceses, parishes 4. Mythic/ Narrative ▪ The stories (oral and written) within an particular religion ∙ Not just sacred texts but also statements of faith that are based on a sacred text ▪ Myths and stories that they tell 5. Doctrinal (formal document specifying beliefs) ▪ Doctrine: a formal statement about the nature of reality ▪ A very Christian term: the trinity ▪ Native American: everything has being, everything is equal, everything is interconnected and interrelated ▪ Beliefs (doesn’t have to be written down) ▪ Refers to the sets of beliefs about the nature of reality or the nature of the world 6. Experiential ▪ How the define the spirituality will change how they encounter the spiritual world ▪ The definition of the transcendent will change the experience/ encounters ▪ The types of experiences you have with the transcendent ∙ Blackfoot: vision quest is practiced by many tribes, if you feel a need for some help from the spirits then you go out by yourself and for each tribe there will be specific places that are more powerful places to contact the spirits and you sit there for four days (no food, or water) and you pray for what you are in need of and you hope that some spirit will take pity on you and reveal its power to you -> you are encountering the spirit in some way ∙ If you are stressed physically and mentally it can cause hallucinations but to Native Americans, they would not categorize it this way and instead describe them as encounters with the spirits ∙ Rituals act as a portal into the spirit world ∙ Christianity: God said to me… that encounter of God saying something to you is an encounter, often produces a feeling of awe and reverence - Understand them in their totality -> not just one or two ideals - Understand religions as worldviews 1. Worldviews: a view of the world and then live in light of that understanding 2. Ultimately religions are worldviews ▪ Difference between religious worldview and other worldview: religious have an appeal to some transcendence (a spiritual dimension); non religious: completely physical terms Phenomenology/phenomenological approach: pg. 13-14 - Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object. An experience is directed toward an object by virtue of its content or meaning (which represents the object) together with appropriate enabling conditions. - Denoting or relating to an approach that concentrates on the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience Materialism - a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values - the doctrine that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications - The view that you explain everything in the world only in physical terms 1. No spiritual dimension - Native American: material explanations are wonderful for the material aspect of something but there is also a spiritual dimension Informed/ structural empathy: pg. 13-14 - better term, refers to the same thing The comparative study of religion - looking at similarities and differences Cordova’s Understanding of Religion: - Comes from an Apache side of it, wants to understand the white man’s world (western ideas) - Uses the term matrix or matrixes instead of worldviewo A matrix (or worldview) is a web of related concepts that forms a foundation from which all else is explained - Characteristics of a matrix/ worldview: (what’s the differences between all three?) 1. Offer an explanation/ description of the world 2. Description of what it is to be human in that world (she talks about how worldviews are specific to specific groups): what is the nature of humans ▪ Equal, interconnect living beings ▪ Doctrinal, what you believe 3. A description of the role of humans in that world (what are humans supposed to do, what's their purpose in that world: what is their function in this world, where do they fit in ▪ Ethical, how you carry out those beliefs - All matrixes are culture specific o A worldview is the product of observation and experiences of a specific group of people in a specific location 1. There isn't a "Christian worldview" as it needs to be more specific, during different time frames people would have different worldviews - There are issues involved when you have two worldviews interact with each other o The non-dominant worldview is almost always under attack 1. They will feel pressure to follow the dominant idea 2. Especially so if you are living in a society where the dominant group has the concept of "absolute truth" ▪ Only one truth and anything that varies from that is wrong o While there may be similarities in worldviews it is complex to share concepts, but one will change the concept as its not in "their worldview," think languages and translations -> no direct translations Side Notes: - Animism (has a lot of negative baggage): the belief that everything is a spirit, everything has a spirit, very complex and sophisticated 1. Yes, they would fall under this but they also have the idea of creator which moves you away from animism ▪ Categories are just generalizations - Non-rational dimension (beyond your understanding, beyond reason and logic): transcendent MYTHS AND TRADITIONAL NARRATIVES Myths: - A myth is a story involving supernatural or supra-human beings that explains the world and how we should live in it; it is not necessarily historical or scientific, and does not necessarily impart "factual" information. 1. Don’t hang up on the physical but the transcendent dimension behind the physical 2. Not trying to tell something about reason or logic but about the transcendent Myths are… - Metaphors of what is absolutely transcendent 1. METAPHORS (from the logical, physical world) of the transcendent (the spiritual, the non-physical)- Clues to the spiritual potential of life 1. It’s a bread crumb that the religion is throwing out a bone to us to follow the spiritual dimension of life - A mask of the Transcendent 1. Mask puts it into human form and in terms we can understand, the transcendent is invisible so the myth takes the invisible and makes it visible 2. The mask, the myth is not the transcendent but instead just the medium to sense or be aware of the transcendent Characteristics of Myths (Basil Johnston) 1. Myths raise questions about important issues concerning human nature and conduct o Practical, not philosophical treaties o Cannibal women, stealing of the shells (this is what happens when you don’t respect people) 2. Myths use images, metaphors, and figures of speech to express abstract [transcendent] ideas and concepts in concrete terms [physical, concrete terms] o Buffalo is a metaphor for the transcendent? The buffalo talks to you so you can communicate with the buffalo as you and them are both spiritual o Brothers flying up to become stars (reflecting the stars as living beings) 3. Myths are not to be interpreted literally, but instead freely, yet rationally according to the particular religion's worldview o Not simply one single meaning to a myth, there is a freedom of interpretation but you cannot make a myth to mean anything you want it to mean, the boundaries are the worldview of the religion that created that myth o The rational part of it is the parameters of the people who created the myth o There is a reason why the buffalo is the hero, the cornerstone of their survival is on the buffalo, a way of communicating their dependence on the buffalo, they were nomads and followed the paths of the buffalo ∙ Each area had a dependence on a being, have to read these myths in the light of that worldview (of each tribe) 4. Readers are expected to draw their own inferences, conclusions and meanings o Freedom of interpretation o Not a single meaning in a myth, lots of hands in the meanings of a myth (the author, the reader, the listener, the storyteller, the community), considered to be ok! 5. Each story may embody several themes and meanings o Every myth is layered with meanings and themes, if you have only gotten one then you have only reached the surface level 6. Each story requires time and deliberation; there is no instantaneous understanding o Underneath the surface there is a whole ocean o Takes a lifetime to go after a story, cannot just in one seating, one listening that you have mastered the myth (because of the many layers and the many people) 7. The story-teller can impart any level of meaning to the audience according to its scope and ability o Voice inflection, guides the audience to see certain things o Tells the story to each audience differently due to who the audience is made up of Functions of Myths (what do they do, how do they function?)* not all myths will do all four of these functions1. Opens us up to the dimension of Mystery (the Transcendent) 2. Cosmological function - see the Transcendent in all things 3. Sociological function- validate and maintain aspects of society 4. Pedagogical function- teach how to live life under a variety of circumstances RITUALS Rituals are formal actions performed in relation to the Transcendent and/or community in which values, feelings, and relationships are expressed and transformed ∙ In all rituals there is an element of doing things the same way every time the ritual is preformed o This by itself does not make it a religious ritual -> there has to be more ∙ See beyond the formal actions (the formal actions are the outer shell of the heart of the ritual) ∙ Rarely see a religious ritual that is an individual action ∙ When one sees a ritual look to see what it tells you about what the people value NATIVE AMERICAN SPIRITUALITY ∙ No such thing as a single Native American world view that all Native Americans would hold and express in the same way o There are general characteristics that cut across all Native American communities and tribes o Specific tribes take the general ideas and express them differently o Have been in development in hundreds of thousands of years, todays differ from the far past ∙ The interaction with Europeans and Americans has had a dramatic impact on how they practice their spirituality ▪ Native American religious practices was outlawed until recently so because of this the tradition that has survived is not the tradition that the ancestors practiced (some traditions survived while others died) Traditional Native American Spiritualities: Major Characteristics (1st 3 doctrine (beliefs), then ethical (how you act) 1. Everything has being; everything is living and spiritual o No such thing as an nonliving object o Being is important (if you refer to us as human beings, then there are rock beings, tree beings, bear beings, etc. Humans are not the only beings 2. Everything is equal: "all my relatives" o Every being is equal o Do not infuse modern notions of equality -> its bigger than this ∙ They are hierarchical, not flat societies ∙ Embrace and recognize differences (humans are not the same as a rock) ∙ But in terms of worth and value everything is equal ∙ Humans are on the same level of equality as all other living beings in the universe, they do not have more authority ∙ Differences of gender, some things that males do by virtue of being males (and vice versa) ▪ Gender differences are not understood as one is more important than the other but that they are both equally necessary and both are necessary to survive o As we all have that creative power or force, it just manifests in different ways 3. Everything is interconnected and interrelated: holistic thinking o A circle (medicine wheel, drum, hoop) is one of the most powerful teaching metaphors/ tools ∙ If you look at all of existence and everything appears on the circle then if I do something its effects will be felt by everyone in the circle (at some level) ∙ Everything within the circle is connected o Often divided into four quadrants, used to represent the totality of everything ∙ Divided into four because you cannot just heal something physically but have to also heal it mentally o Represents balance 4. Everything deserves respect o Every interaction between people, nature, etc. deserves respect ∙ Because everything is equal, everything is interconnected, everything is being o Multitude of ways this can be expressed ∙ I can go chop down a tree and use it but I can't just chop it down with no acknowledgement, as otherwise you just killed something for no reason 5. Humans must live in balance and harmony with everything o Reciprocity is one example of how humans live in balance and harmony 6. Humans must live in reciprocity with everything: if you take or receive, you must give back. 7. Community over individualism o Idea is that individuals exist within the context of a group o Individuals are interconnected, interrelated beings, you are dependent on the group o What is the group? All of the spirits as everyone is treated equal (cannot just think of human to human, its human to trees, plants, etc) o Community takes precedence over the individual o Think in layers, at the ultimate outermost circle it includes other tribes o Every individual is necessary for the tribes survival ∙ You have responsibilities and obligations beyond yourself ∙ You will reach your fullest potential in the context of the community o There will be people who are more wealthy but they give it away to those who do not have as much 8. Place/ Land is more significant than time/progress: circular, not linear thinking o Western: value progress (moving towards something better)o Circular: in that you have to live in relationship with all beings in the area in which you live, the land that you live on is much more important in shaping your views and lifestyle than the idea of progress ∙ Land is sacred, relate to the earth like a child would take care if its mother ∙ Do not have the concept of "owning" the land, you don’t think of the land as "private property" that you buy and sell ▪ Community ▪ Everything has value ▪ Everything is a being (the earth) - cannot enslave mother earth ∙ Specific places are essential to specific tribes spirituality and way of life, the land is the traditional teacher of those people 9. Traditional spiritualties are contemporary and living o Still occurring today o How a traditional worldview differs from a western worldview ∙ A worksheet in doc sharing will help with this MI’KMAQ: After Glooscap and his grandmother killed the marten, Glooscap prayed "…" explain specifically how this action represents the ideas of reciprocity and everything is equal. Reciprocity: having to give back Glooscap's prayer is his reciprocity, with the prayer he is expressing respect for the marten and realizes the gravity of his actions of killing the marten Everything is equal: he didn’t just kill the animal he asked for forgiveness, thanked each part that created the animal as they all created him equally, talked to the animal first to ask for permission How do the marten, fish, and the Mi'kmaqs ending up in the Maritimes after the dispersion of the original seven families reflect the NA understanding of place/land? ∙ Know the creation story so well that you know where the marten, fish and land ∙ For native peoples, the land is scared but the specific places where they live are incorporated into their spirituality so that these myths are telling them how to relate to the specific beings where they live o Place where they live is called the Maritimes ∙ Explains how and why they live where they live ∙ Marten and the fish are indigenous to the Maritimes ∙ Myth tells them how to relate to the marten and the fish ∙ That they are dependent on the marten and the fist ∙ The third level of creation is mother earth (remember the general notion is that the earth is sacred) ∙ Land is specific to the tribe Which general NA characteristic does the Thunder Sprits' striking of the earth three times in order to create Glooscap represent? Why? Both C and D: Everything has being, interconnection. Everything has being: shows that the lightening has the ability to create life, as a being who thinks and acts, not just weather patterns, not explicitly mentioned but just assumed into the story Interconnection: Shows the connection between earth, nature, and actual humans, cannot possibly be above them if it takes earth and nature to bring us (humans) to life; Glooscap does not exist without the thunder spirits bring Glooscap to life, Glooscap is also made up of different parts of the earth (rocks, leaves, earth..) How does the Mi'kmaq understanding of shadows reflect the general NA characteristic of interconnection? Shadows are their ancestors and the ancestors are the connection between the physical and spiritual world, the sun (spirit) creates the shadow, so they connect you have with mother earth, the spirits of the ancestors are contained within mother earth, in your veins is flowing the blood of your ancestors, Glooscap therefore mother earth is within us, everything has a shadow (not just humans) such as the marten having a shadow that was taken away BLACKFOOT Ceremonies and rituals passed down from the time of creation -> Transferred Rite (*rite is referring to ceremonies or rituals), notion that at the beginning of time the creator gave specific rituals and ceremonies and when preformed they are given access to things that they needed to survive, passed on generation to generation all the way back to the creator Ceremonies and rituals given by the spirits -> Gifted Rites comes from a particular spirit and can come during any time after creation, knowledge comes with a dance that makes it available, WHO GIVES IT AND WHEN IT COMES Societies -> systems of governance given by the Creator to mold you and see yourself as a whole person, organization within a tribe, individuals will be members of these groups and they carry out that type of work and ideas (education, policing, administration, war), Joining: a society member will approach you about joining the society, sometimes grouped by age, Blackfoot: these societies came from the creator and that the ultimate purpose is for the individual to be a whole complete being (TRANSFERRED RITE), thinking about Ninian smart: institution or social Medicine Bundle -> Items that come from the creator as spiritual gifts…, very common among the plains tribes, actual bundles, an animal hide that is what the bundle is made up of, inside are specific items, each item has its own power, people use and pray to the bundle, so that they can access the power to that particular item, ex. A bird carcass (bird gave itself to be in the bundle), a pipe (considered among the most sacred, holy, beings (NOT OBJECTS), very powerful in creating a connection with the creator as you put tobacco into the pipe which is a very sacred substance, the smoke takes your prayers into the spirit world and creators, still used today Discernment -> Feeling something as a gift from the Creator and with the full attention of your whole being, with all senses, causes you to see something in its full perspective, not merely an intellectual actTipi circle model -> a way of conducting business with respect and integrity Everything spirit and everything is equal: humans are equal to the animals, plants, air, water, stars…. Sevens stars and cannibal woman, animals are talking, the brothers become stars Everything is interconnected and interdependent Buffalo, pg. 2 we are all a part of an oral circle or system that exist apart of that greater circle, my hands and my body everything were all connected (in this visionary encounter he understood it with the entirety of his being because all parts of his being are interconnected, interrelated Everything deserves respect: Buffalo, children showed the buffalo respect so he carried across them, and the cannibal women did not Everything must live in balance: male and female sides in the tipi circle Community over individual: Bundle keeper and the bundles CHRISITIAN WORLDVIEW Beginning: The Creation Stories - Originally Jewish scriptures (old testament) 1. Which were originally ancient Israelites - New Testament is Christians - Apocrypha: 13-15 books that roman Catholics and eastern orthodox Christians accept as part of the bible 1. If you are a Christian and not Roman Catholic or Eastern orthodox than you are Protestant - Two separate creation accounts that were spoken orally that now have become one in the Bible 1. First Account- 1:1-2:3 2. Second Account- 2:4-3:24 ▪ Different start in first there is water everywhere and things rise out of the water ▪ Second: everything is desert (desolate difficult environment) and water springs out due to Gods power ∙ God creates the Oasis (garden) of Eden ∙ Writers reflect their context in the writing of this story ∙ Man, Animals (Nature), then Women (different order) ∙ You can do anything you want to nature but you cannot mess with the fruit from one tree (the knowledge) o Don’t have to work, struggle, plenty of water ∙ Mess with that one tree and they are kicked out of the garden and put into the desert ∙ They have to struggle and bad stuff happens ▪ Explains sin vs. salvation ∙ Sin: God creates everything, issues a single rule, human violates it∙ From a Christian perspective is that humans do not listen to and follow God, he is the king of the world, he creates life and knows how life should be lived, he gives instructions for living it, when humans do not follow them -> sin ∙ Gives a picture of sin ∙ Trying to get humans back to this Eden like state and overcome the basic suffering ∙ Christianity: added into the paradigm of heaven and hell o The ultimate punishment is hell o Jesus died to take the punishment for all people 3. Orderly creation 4. Arranged around a week 5. Each day something is created 6. On the seventh day: God rests as he finishes his work ▪ This is the establishment of the seventh day of the week, the day of worship and rest, Sabbath (jews: Saturday, Christianity: Sunday-> as Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week) ▪ You work six days like God did and then you rest on the seventh day ∙ A day of worship and rest - Monotheism: one God who is all powerful and this God created everything that exists 1. God is portrayed as a King, the ruler of the universe 2. He created the universe so he rules over it 3. Distance from the creation but he speaks and it happens ▪ He says “Let there be…” and it happens ∙ Comes out of the ancient Israelites where Kings ruled and everyone followed his rules ∙ Suck up to the king, bow down o AS DEFAULT: Christians worship, praise to God o NATIVE AMERICAN: show respect, give thanks, show reciprocity, you don’t worship, love, adore, praise the creator - Christian understanding of Humans: 1. DOMINION and SUBDUE over the fish….. nature etc. (would never see this in Native American spirituality as you have to live in balance and harmony with nature) ▪ Used as justification to use all the elements on earth in what every way they want to, human sandbox ▪ Earth is here for us and our use ▪ Christian state is established in 4C: obligation and right to subdue and have dominion over nature and over non-Christian people ▪ About establishing the kingdom of God on earth 2. Pinnacle of creation, cherry on top 3. Humans are created in the image and likeness of God 4. Another way of setting humans apart from the rest of creation, a larger connection to God, higher than nature - Jesus:1. The messiah (Jewish concept) 2. Idea that eventually God was going to send a special individual to usher in the kingdom of God on earth- ALWAYS A HUMAN BEING (JEWISH) ▪ Period of prosperity ▪ People will follow God (not having sin and suffering) ▪ Justice (no corruption) 3. CHRISTIANS: added that Jesus was the son of God, Jesus’ death brings about the forgiveness of everyone’s sins (what happens after this life -> heaven/ hell) 4. Sin -> Satan a malevolent being that tries to get people to preform evil 5. Salvation ▪ Son of God: Trinitarian monotheism (GOD is three separate beings but is one being) 6. Nicene Creed (4th Centry C.E) ▪ Jesus God or just a man 7. When Jesus died his closest followers took over leadership of the Christian movement ▪ Apostles/ 12 Disciples ▪ When they died the office of Bishop (authority over a diocese [a geographical region that consists of many individual parishes] 8. Who ultimately is the head of Christianity on Earth? ▪ Roman Catholics: The Bishop of Rome (POPE) ∙ The first was the apostle Peter ▪ Others: disagree - 1054: official division between Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox (rejected the authority of the Pope) - 1517: Protestants broke-off from Roman Catholics - Now have three major branches, many differences (center is who is the head of Christianity on Earth?) 1. Natives people were confused on the divisions and who to believe 2. Evangelistic: spreading the Kingdom of God on earth -> converting people to get them into the Kingdom 3. 4th Cent. : establishment of the first religion of the empire (state) 4. Now are intertwined with the power of the state