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Religion 156 Class Notes

by: Riley Didier

Religion 156 Class Notes REL 156 - M001

Riley Didier

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About this Document

These are notes I have taken during class. I will update as class continues.
M. Robinson
Class Notes
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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by Riley Didier on Tuesday September 13, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to REL 156 - M001 at Syracuse University taught by M. Robinson in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 5 views. For similar materials see Christianity in Religion-Christianity at Syracuse University.


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Date Created: 09/13/16
Religion 9/1 What are some of the struggles human beings confront?  Disaffection and Disillusionment  Sense of Loss  Alienation  Emptiness or Meaninglessness  Accompanied by a Deeper Idea of Recognition that Human Being is Fundamentally Broken or Fragmented  Due to Types of Suffering in the World o Disease o Poverty o Brutality, Exploitation, and Oppression  Terror about Themselves – and their Capacity for Evil and Destruction What do human beings need?  Care and Concern  Nurture and Health  Love and Delight  Love and Companionship  Joy and Beauty  Wonder and Awe  Peace and Well-Being  Hope and Meaningfulness What is Christianity?  Christianity is “Legion” (Mark 5:9) o That is, Christianity cannot be defined in any one way, because it is many things at once  Continues to reinvent itself o This has much to do with its many traditions  Christianity originates in a culturally diverse environment: The Roman World Five Major Groups within the “Complex” or “Constellation” Christianity  Roman Catholic o Catholic  Universal  Orthodox  Protestant  Heterodox Groups or Movements related to the first three o Heterodox  people who have the wrong teachings (heresy)  Intellectual and Social Movements related to, but not entirely defined by or restricted to the three institutional traditions above Five Major Ways to Study Christianity  History of Religions o Religions is sui generis, something distinctive, something with its own integrity and merits. That is, the experience and meaning of the sacred or the divine as something distinctive o The sacred, as the experience of the divine, raises its own issues such as:  The identification of some things, people, or places as holy (or separated from the profane, the secular, or the ordinary)  The valuing of certain people, places, and things because they are thought to body forth the divine  The expressions of the experience of the divine in ritual, art, architecture, music, and teachings o Founder: Friedrich Max Muller  Social Science/Political Philosophy o Religion can be understood in, even at times reduced to, sociological, psychological, and anthropological terms o Broad social science perspectives: Max Weber’s interpretation of Protestantism, Claude Levi-Strauss’ structuralism anthropology, and Carl Jung’s depth psychology o To be more specific, sociologists look at religion in terms of human behavior o Psychologists look at religion in terms of deep human needs to cope with the world. For example, religious symbols often express fear and/or need for meaning and power. Psychologists might also view religion as a pathology or disease, and therefore, as a hindrance to healthy human life and development o Anthropologists typically look at religion as providing patterns of meaning for a culture or a group of people o Political scientists and political philosophers often ask what role religion plays in the polis, particularly as it might influence government or civil society  Philosophy of Religion o Tries to get at the nature or fundamental meaning of religion, particularly for Modern people o Religion is understood in philosophical terms as morality, a stage on the way to Absolute Knowledge, feeling, passion or desire, or an “opiate” that allows people to escape from their suffering, grief, and pain  Religion has to do with an awareness  Karl Marx  Communism (calls religion an opiate to put people to sleep)  Theology o A theological approach to religion concerns itself with who God or the divine is, and how individuals conceive of and communities develop around conceptions of God o Freidrich Schleiermacher outlines this study for modern theologians in the Western world as:  Philosophical Theology  Historical Theology  Practical Theology o This curriculum, still used in theology schools today, now roughly divides into:  Biblical Studies  Dogmatics  Historical Studies or Church History  Practice of Ministry  Culture Criticism/Deconstruction o Two common issues emerging in the previous approaches to religion are meaning and power o With culture criticism and deconstructionist approaches to religion, meaning and power are central issues o Both of these approaches tend to see religion as a construct, and so something that claims to have absolute meaning, but in truth does not o The focus here is often liberatory, when practical  Race Theories and Gender and Class Critiques  Feminism, Womanism, and Marxism  Deconstruction encompasses many fields of study  Plays a role in Constructive and Philosophical Theologies History of Christian Thought  History of Ideas about God and Human Being in their social, political, and cultural contexts  This means studying Philosophical and Historical Theology with Social, Political, and Cultural History, including Art History  It also means using History of Religions and Culture Criticism Christianity in its Many Forms  As the Traditions of Communities of Faith in different times and places  As a Means of Attending to the Sacred  As the expression of social concerns, ideals, and conventions, including as a source of power for the powerful or the powerless  As morality, knowledge, or passion  As a way to deal with the world Christianity is a Kind of Humanism  Christianity asks and attends to the meaning of human being  This human-god or god-human is called Jesus Christ – or the One Anointed of God Who Saves o Christianity is about suffering o Christianity is about life and hope  Christianity is about life and hope in and through suffering and despair Aesthetic Learning – to perceive, to apprehend through the senses (physical and intellectual senses)  Absorption – entails opening oneself to something new  Assessment – entails impressions, analysis, judgement/critique, appreciation/respect  Articulation – response might be poetic, artistic, etc. Religion 9/6 Incarnation, Eucharist, & Art: Catholicism, Protestantism, & More in “Babette’s Feast” Incarnation (in flesh, embodied):  The embodiment of a spirit, person, or quality in human form. The perfect instantiation of such a spirit, person, or quality  Theologically or Christianly speaking, the idea that the divine or God has become a particular human being, namely, the man Jesus Christ  Or the idea that God pervades and inhabits human being in a way that allows it to realize its full potential Sacraments: Catholic Position  Sacrament (mystery) means by which Christians partake in the “mystery of Christ,” which refers fundamentally to the Incarnation of the divine in the human, and which is dependent upon the Church, as the body of Christ. This communication between the divine and the human, which humans are thought to receive grace, occurs through certain symbolic acts. o Note especially here the washing of Baptism and the meal of the Eucharist Sacraments: Reformed Tradition  Latin sacramentum, NOT used to translate the Greek musterion, mystery  for Swiss Reformer Huldreich Zwingli: o “is nothing else than an initiatory ceremony or pledging…not merely for ‘beginning’ or ‘commencement’…but also for the solemn and serious perfecting for some order or society or office” Three Conceptions of the Eucharist as Sacrament in Catholic & Protestant Traditions  Transubstantiation: Bread and wine are transformed spiritually into the body and blood of Christ. As such, they are thought to heal those who partake of them – spiritually and physically (Thomas Aquinas)  Consubstantiation: Christ is present in the Eucharist in, with, and under the natural elements of bread and wine. The Word and Promises of God become something concrete as the person of faith ingests them by grace in the ritual of the Lord’s Supper (Martin Luther)  Memorial: The Eucharist is a memorial of what Christ has done for us, and our participation in it is a sign of our joy and thanksgiving to Christ for what he has done Religion 9/8 Babette’s Feast  The film takes place in Norway, Babette is from France, the producer is Danish  Sisters Martine and Philippa have a father who was a pastor o Represent Protestantism  the people are Lutheran and Babette is Catholic  Babette spends all her money from the lottery on the feast because of how expensive it is o Babette is not concerned about the money  she is an artist  The meal brings people together Religion 9/13 The Incarnation & The Eucharist Summary of Isak Dinesen’s Babette’s Feast The Incarnation and the Eucharist  The Incarnation is the divine or God in ordinary human existence as a spirit, a person, a presence, or a quality  For Catholics and Lutherans, the two Christian groups represented in Babette’s Feast, the Eucharist is a sacrament or sacred ritual that represents the Incarnation of the divine in a person, Jesus Christ  I.e., the divine or God as a person is thought to “change the substance of” the bread and the wine into actual human flesh and blood (Catholic), or to be present in terms of his spirt  The Eucharist is also a ritual mean in which believers ingest the divine  Believers themselves participate in the Incarnation of the divine in the human Babette’s Feast  Ordinary meals are also life-giving because they nourish our bodies  The French dinner that Babette happily and freely prepares, using all of her creativity and money, demonstrates this well – and some  Sensuous health and joy become the medium for moral and spiritual health and joy  This makes Babette’s meal a “good,” indeed a wonderful “gift”  For Catholics and Lutheran, the Eucharist (literally, “good gift”) is the most wonderful gift of all because by grace, that is, happily and freely out of love, God gives Godself – eternal life – in it  By relating Babette’s French dinner to the Eucharist in this way, then, Dinesen suggests that it too is grace  Yet neither the food, the human activity, nor the people are synonymous with the divine  Babette makes it clear that she is NOT a Christ figure in a sacrificial sense  Babette indicates that she makes her wonderful meal because she is an artist, graced with a sublime power that compels her to create life-giving food o Hence, she is not sacrificing herself because she is being herself  She is giving the best expression that she can to the divine or creative powers The Incarnation as Eucharist, a Meal, is Grace because:  It is the joyous Presence and active, healing, and empowering Spirit of the divine  In food (Babette’s French Dinner)  In human activity  In people She is only like the man Jesus, then, in being a “radical” conduit for life


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