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Chapter 14 Religion Chapter Outline What Religion Does in Society Characteristics of Religion Religion A social process that helps to order society and provide its members with meaning, unity, peace of mind, and the degree of control over events they believe is possible. A Human Universal

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Chapter 14

Religion


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Chapter Outline

  • What Religion Does in Society

  • Characteristics of Religion


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Religion

  • A social process that helps to order society and provide its members with meaning, unity, peace of mind, and the degree of control over events they believe is possible.


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A Human Universal

  • Religion dates back to the beginnings of the human species.

  • No religion is more evolved than another.

  • E. B. Tylor,one of the founders of anthropology, saw religion as beginning with animism, animism, the notion that all objects, living and non-living are imbued with spirits.


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Question

  • Trying to develop a definition of "religion" is complicated by all except which one of the following factors?

    • a distinction between "natural" and "supernatural" varies across societies

    • ideas on the nature of life itself vary, for example, whether we live once or repeatedly

    • noting that all peoples have beliefs and/or engage in processes that provide meaning to their lives and the world

    • significant variation in the ways in which humans are engaged in what might be considered religion


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Answer: c

  • Trying to develop a definition of "religion" is not complicated by the following factor:

    • noting that all peoples have beliefs and/or engage in processes that provide meaning to their lives and the world.


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Functions of Religion in Society

  • Explains aspects of the physical and social environment.

  • Helps people understand the world.

  • Preserves the social order.

  • Includes practices aimed at ensuring success.


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Cosmology

  • A system of beliefs that deals with fundamental questions in the religious and social order.



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Religion Preserves Social Order

  • Sacred stories and rituals provide a rationale for the present social order.

  • Ritual creates an atmosphere in which people experience their common identity in emotionally moving ways.

  • Religion is an important educational institution.


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Sacred Narratives

  • Stories of historical events, heroes, gods, spirits, and the origin of all things.

  • Have a sacred power that is evoked by telling them or acting them out ritually.

  • Validate or legitimize beliefs, values, and customs.


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Ritual

  • Act involving the manipulation of religious symbols.

  • Certain patterns of religious behavior are extremely widespread, if not universal.


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Religious Symbols

  • Religious symbols are multivalent, they include many different and sometimes contradictory meanings into a single word, idea, or object.

    • The Christian cross.

      • The cross means life, death, love, sacrifice, identity, history, power, weakness, wealth, poverty, and much more besides.

      • Because it carries so many meanings, it has enormous emotional and intellectual power for Christians.


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Religious Spirits

  • Most religions populate the world with nonempirical beings or spirits.

  • Types of spirits:

    • Anthropomorphic - Having human shape.

    • Zoomorphic - Having an animal shape.

    • Naturalistic - Associated with the natural world.

    • Anthropopsychic - Having thought processes and emotions similar to humans.


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God

  • A named spirit who is believed to have created or to control some aspect of the world.

  • Gods understood as the creator of the world and as the ultimate power in it are present in only about half of all societies.

  • In about 1/3 of these societies, such gods are distant and withdrawn, having little interest in people, and prayer to them is unnecessary.


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God

  • Religions may be polytheistic (many gods) or monotheistic (one god).

  • Polytheistic religions - many gods may be different aspects of one god.

    • In India, there are millions of gods; yet all Indians understand that in some way they are all aspects of one divine essence.

  • Monotheistic religions - one god may have several aspects.

    • In Roman Catholicism: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all part of a single, unitary god.


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The Trickster Spirit

  • Trickster spirits come in many guises, but their key characteristic is that they are interested in their own benefit, not that of human beings.

  • Some tricksters, such as the Christian Devil, are personifications of evil.

  • They often combine attributessuch as greed, lust, and envy with humor and wisdom.


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Mana

  • Mana is religious power or energy that is concentrated in individuals or objects.

  • Mana gives one spiritual power, but it can also be dangerous.

  • Belief in mana is often associated with an elaborate system of taboos, or prohibitions.


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Addressing the Supernatural

  • Prayer

  • Sacrifice

  • Magic

  • Divination


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Rite of Passage

Three phases:

  • Separation - individuals are removed from their community or status.

  • Liminal - stage when one has passed out of an old status but not yet entered a new one.

  • Reincorporation - participants are returned to their community with a new status.


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Prayer

  • Communication between people and spirits or gods.

  • People believe results depend on the spirit world rather than on actions humans perform.

  • Prayer may involve a request, a pleading, or merely praise for the deity.


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Rites of Intensification

  • Rituals directed toward the welfare of the group or community rather than the individual.

  • Structured to reinforce the values and norms of the community and to strengthen group identity.

  • In some groups, they are connected with totems.


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Totems

  • An object, an animal species, or a feature of the natural world that is associated with a particular descent group.

  • Totemism is a prominent feature of the religions of the Australian aborigines.


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Sacrifice

  • When people make offerings to gods or spirits to increase their spiritual purity or the efficacy of their prayers.

  • People may sacrifice the first fruits of a harvest, animal lives or, on occasion, human lives.

  • Many Americans are familiar with the practice of giving up something for the Christian holiday of Lent, a form of sacrifice intended to help the worshipper identify with Jesus, show devotion, and increase purity.


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Magic

  • An attempt to mechanistically control supernatural forces.

  • When people do magic, they believe that their words and actions compel the spirit world to behave in certain ways.



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Magic

  • Two of the most common magical practices are imitation and contagion.

    • In imitative magic, the procedure performed resembles the result desired. (voudou doll)

    • Contagious magic is the belief that things once in contact with a person or object retain an invisible connection with that person or object.


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Question

  • In terms of the importance placed upon carrying out the ceremony properly, Vodou and Christian baptism may both be considered forms of

    • contagious magic.

    • sacrifice.

    • worship.

    • divination.

    • imitative magic.


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Answer: e

  • In terms of the importance placed upon carrying out the ceremony properly, Voudou and Christian baptism may both be considered forms of imitative magic.


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Question

  • Examples of contagious magic are illustrated by all except which one of the following?

    • the practice of the Asaro of New Guinea in burying the newborn's umbilical cord

    • the reading of a chicken's entrails in seeking a cause of illness

    • high value placed upon a document inscribed with the signature of a famous person

    • attaching a strand of hair to a Voudou doll

    • a sorcerer's obtaining a fingernail clipping of someone he or she wishes to harm


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Answer: b

  • Examples of contagious magic are not illustrated by the reading of a chicken's entrails in seeking a cause of illness.


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Divination

  • A religious ritual performed to find hidden objects or information.

  • Scalpulomancy - Divination using the shoulder blade of an animal.


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Shaman

  • Individual who is recognized as having the ability to mediate between the world of humanity and the world of gods or spirits but who is not a recognized official of any religious organization.


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Vision Quest

  • Individual, emotionally intense search for a spirit that will provide protection, knowledge, and power.

  • Although the vision quest was an intensely individual experience, it was shaped by culture.


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Pharmacopeia

  • A collection of preparations used as medications.


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Priest

  • One who is formally elected or appointed to a full-time religious office.


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Witchcraft

  • The ability to harm others by harboring malevolent thoughts about them; the practice of sorcery.

  • Wiccan - A member of a new religion that claims descent from pre-Christian nature worship; a modern day witch.


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Religions and Change

  • To begin a new religion or create a substantial modification in an existing religion, prophets must have a code that consists of at least three elements:

    • They must identify what is wrong with the world.

    • Present a vision of what a better world to come might look like.

    • Describe a method of transition from the existing world to the better world.


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Religious Movements

  • Nativistic movements aim to restore what its followers believe is a golden age of the past.

    • Example: The Ghost Dance

  • Vitalism is a religious movement that looks toward the creation of a utopian future that does not resemble a past golden age.


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Religious Views

  • Messianic

    • Focusing on the coming of a messiah who will usher in a utopian world.

  • Millenarian

    • The belief that a coming catastrophe will signal the beginning of a new age and the eventual establishment of paradise.


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Syncretism

  • Merging two or more religious traditions and hiding the beliefs, symbols, and practices of one behind similar attributes of the other.

  • Example:

    • Slaves resisted attempts to suppress African religions by combining African religion, Catholicism, and French spiritualism to create a new religion, Santeria.

    • They identified African deities, called orichas, with Catholic saints and used them for curing, casting spells, and influencing other aspects of the worshiper’s life.


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Native American Church

  • A religious revitalization movement among Native Americans, also known as the Peyote religion.

  • Peyote

    • A small hallucinogenic cactus found in southern Texas and northern Mexico.

  • Ghost Dance

    • A Native American religious movement of the late nineteenth century.



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1. The authors of the text provide a definition of religion as a ________ that helps to order society and provide its members with meaning, unity, peace of mind, and the degree of control over events they believe are possible.

cultural process

Universal

rite of passage

social process

social ritual


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Answer: d as a ________ that helps to order society and provide its members with meaning, unity, peace of mind, and the degree of control over events they believe are possible.

  • The authors of the text provide a definition of religion as a social process that helps to order society and provide its members with meaning, unity, peace of mind, and the degree of control over events they believe are possible.


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2. Religions provide a(n) ________, which is defined as a "set of principles or beliefs about the nature of life and death, the creation of the universe, the origin of society, the relationship of individuals and groups to one another, and the relation of humankind to nature.

ritual practice

set of rules

Cosmology

written sacred text

document


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Answer : c "set of principles or beliefs about the nature of life and death, the creation of the universe, the origin of society, the relationship of individuals and groups to one another, and the relation of humankind to nature.

  • Religions provide a cosmology which is defined as a "set of principles or beliefs about the nature of life and death, the creation of the universe, the origin of society, the relationship of individuals and groups to one another, and the relation of humankind to nature.


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3. The liminal stage of ritual is generally a temporary state that may be characterized by all except which one of the following?

role reversals

ritual transvestitism

temporary state of equality amongst those of other castes, classes or kinship groups

women and men acting in non-conventional manner

behaviors that reflect and reinforce the status quo


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Answer: e state that may be characterized by all

  • The liminal stage of ritual is generally a temporary state that is not characterized by behaviors that reflect and reinforce the status quo.


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