REL 100-920: Week 1 Notes
REL 100-920: Week 1 Notes REL 100
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Emily Ellis on Saturday August 20, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to REL 100 at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa taught by Mary Rebecca Read-Wahidi in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views.
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Date Created: 08/20/16
REL 100-920 Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi Class Notes Highlight= Important Concept Highlight= Important Dates & People Highlight= Key Term Chapter 1: What's in a Name? The Work of Definition • naming comes with a problem: a role that classification plays in enabling us to know & act in the world around us • names are NOT neutral • they more often than not tell about the namer rather than the object being named • IF names ARE neutral, they bear a direct relationship with some aspect of the object being named • if this is the case, we should learn to challenge this! • McCutcheon gives the example of Green Mean Time/ Green Prime Meridian • so what's in a name? - an awful lot! • Politics, colonial power, personal invested interests • soil or dirt? • This concept gives an object a classification system based on it's relevance to a group of people • what may be dirt to someone may be considered soil to somebody else – all is in the eyes of the beholder • so, if the concept of soil/dirt refers to the evidence of an imposed system of order that can be transgressed – something that arranges our world around us to accomplish specific sets of goals and social cues – what other common pairings are out there? • Sacred → secular • belief → behavior • experience → expression • faith → institution • private → public • religion → politics • there can be many implications when differentiating between pairings • (e.g. politician making a faith statement: is this a political or a religious moment? Where do we draw this line?) • where do we draw the line when we discern between things that are associated with “religion” or something that might be associated with a culture, ritual, or perhaps even a custom? • McCutcheon uses a broken “light switch” metaphor that sheds light on two life lessons Broken Light Switch • when reaching for a light switch we automatically assume that when we flick it upward, it will turn on. However, what happens when you walk into a room of darkness due to a broken light switch? • It would be silly to assume that the reason the switch did not work is due to a powerful, invisible agent at work behind the light switch, but can we 100% write it off? • This metaphor gives us 2 life lessons: ◦ 1. reaching for the light switch is probably not a conscious, intentional activity ◦ 2. reality doesn't necessarily match our expectations • familiar patterns of human behavior do not always match the way the world seems to operate • also consider a “religious” car mechanic: he or she does not pray for the car in order to fix it – no matter how religious they may or may not be. ◦ They simply go through a classification order set up by the world around them that helps them to figure out what is wrong with the car – they do not “pray for it” Mary Douglas (1921-2007) • British anthropologist • wrote “Purity and Danger”, 1966: ◦ she claimed that “Dirt” is “matter out of place” ◦ used dirt & soil to describe the everyday distinction to discuss the power of names ◦ classification is a social act ◦ Douglas said the book was meant to attack and overturn excessively intellectualist approaches to religion & turn it into a behavioral/anthropological approach
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