Culture Regions. Religious Regions Religious Diffusion Religious Ecology Cultural Integration in Religion Religious Landscapes. Religious ecology. A main function of many religions is the maintenance of a harmonious relationship between people and their physical environment
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Culture Regions • Religious Regions • Religious Diffusion • Religious Ecology • Cultural Integration in Religion • Religious Landscapes
Religious ecology • A main function of many religions is the maintenance of a harmonious relationship between people and their physical environment • Religion is at least perceived by its adherents to be part of the adaptive strategy • Environmental factors, especially natural hazards and disasters, exert powerful influence on the development of religions
African religion in the New World • Traditional African religious practices diffused to the New World with slavery where they became syncretized with Roman Catholicism. • In North America and the Caribbean these new religions are known as Santeria and Verdoun.
African religion in the New World • In South America they are known as Candomble or Umbanda. • Animals and plant materials, important for rituals, are sold in public markets and in special stores called botanicas.
Appeasing the forces of nature • Most evident in animistic faiths • In many religions ceremonies and rites often intended to bring rain, quiet earthquakes, end plagues, etc. • Sometimes a link between religion and natural hazard is visual • Pre-Columbian temple pyramid at Cholula in central Mexico, mimics the shape of Popocatepetl—a nearby volcano with a height of nearly 18,000 feet • Catholic missionaries erected a church on top of the temple
Religious ecology • Sacred mount Lengai is in Kenya’s crater highlands, a region populated by Maasai pastoralists. Their main god Lengai is benevolent as the black god of rain and evil as the red god of the sun.
Religious ecology • Ol Doinyo Lengai, meaning “Mountain of God,” last erupted with a plume of ash in 1982. Maasi pilgrimage here to pray for rain, cattle, and children.
Appeasing the forces of nature • Animistic nature-spirits lie behind certain religious practices such as geomancy or feng-shui • Chinese and Korean Buddhism • Auspicious sites chosen for houses, villages, temples, and graves • Homes of living and resting places of the dead must be aligned with the cosmic forces of the world • Chinese Buddhists invented the magnetic compass to serve such needs • Burial sites should be neither featureless and flat, nor steep and rugged
Appeasing the forces of nature • Animistic nature-spirits lie behind certain religious practices such as geomancy or feng-shui • Chinese and Korean Buddhism • Active and passive forces of Chinese cosmology, yin and yang must correctly surround burial site • Yang energy expressed as a lofty mountain range called the ‘Azure Dragon’ • Yin energy is a lower ridge called the ‘White Tiger’ • Most auspicious model of feng-shui topography is a secluded spot where these two energies converge
Appeasing the forces of nature • Even in great religions, rivers, mountains, trees, forests, and rocks often achieve status of sacred space • The river Ganges and certain lesser streams such as the Bagmati in Nepal are holy to the Hindus • Jordan River has special meaning for Christians • Most holy rivers are believed to possess soul-cleansing abilities
Appeasing the forces of nature • Many Mountains and other high places achieve sacred status among animists and adherents of the great religions • Mount Fuji is sacred in Japanese Shintoism • Many high places are venerated in Christianity including the Mount of Olives • Mount Shasta in northern California, serves as the focus of no less than 30 “new age” cults
Appeasing the forces of nature • Mythical topography is produced when Navajo Indians of the Southwest link tribal legends to certain topographical features • Plants often serve a religious role or acquire veneration • Evergreens symbolize eternal life for some Christian groups • The ceiba (or silk-cotton) tree was to pre-Columbian Maya Indians of Guatemala the sacred tree at the center of the world • Today the ceiba, Guatemala’s national tree, often stands beside churches
Appeasing the forces of nature • Even today environmental stress can evoke religious response similar to animistic cults • Some Judeo-Christian traditions feel God uses natural disasters to punish sinners and nature is benevolent to the devout • Ministers and priests often attempt to alter unfavorable weather with special services • Plagues of crop-eating locusts over the centuries gave rise to “locust cults” in China • Almost 900 temples were built for worshiping the locust and locustgods • Suitable sacrifices and rituals were developed to avert locust plagues
The environment and monotheism • Some geographers sought to explain monotheism’s origins using environmental factors • The three major monotheistic faiths have their roots among desert dwellers • Lamaism — most nearly monotheistic form of Buddhism flourishes in the deserts of Tibet and Mongolia • In all the above cases, the people were once nomadic herders
The environment and monotheism • Ellen Semple, an environmental determinist, suggested desert-dwelling peoples feel unity from the monotony of their environment • She believed the unobstructed view of stars and planets allowed herders to see heavenly bodies move across sky the in an orderly repeated progression • She concluded desert dwellers gravitate inevitably into monotheism
The environment and monotheism • Other possibilistic rather than deterministic explanations have been proposed • We should look at social structure of nomadic herding people • Desert nomads are organized into tribes and clans ruled by male chieftains • Chieftains have dictatorial powers over members of the group • Female deities usually associated with farming societies • Women represent fertility • Original domesticators of plants • Male deities are linked with herding or hunting peoples
The environment and monotheism • Others have noted monotheistic nomads lived on the edges of larger, more established culture regions • New ideas, they feel, tend to develop at the borders of regions • Core of regions is where older structures and ideas are firmly entrenched • We do know some desert dwellers were polytheistic
Religion and environmental modification • Religious belief and practice can be influenced by the physical environment • Peoples’ religious outlook can also determine the extent to which they modify their environment
Religion and environmental modification • Example of the Maori people of New Zealand • Believe humans represent one of six aspects of creation, the others being: • Forest/animals • Crops • Wild food • Sea/fish • Wind/storms • People rule over all of these except wind/storms
Religion and environmental modification • Judeo-Christian view goes further to promote a teleological view • Teleology — the doctrine that Earth was created especially for human beings, who are separate from, and superior to, the natural world • This view is implicit in God’s message to Noah after the Flood • The same theme is repeated in the Psalms
Religion and environmental modification • Early Christian thinkers believed humans were God’s helpers in finishing creation • Europe’s medieval period witnesses a huge expansion of agricultural acreage • Large-scale destruction of woodlands and drainage of marshes took place • Christian monastic orders supervised many forest-clearing projects
Religion and environmental modification • In the view of Lynn White, Christianity destroyed classical antiquity’s feeling for the holiness of natural things • He argues scientific advances permitted the Judeo-Christian West to modify the environment at an unprecedented rate on a massive scale • The marriage of technology and teleology is the root of our modern ecological crisis
Religion and environmental modification • The great religions of Asia and many animistic faiths believe in protecting nature • In Hinduism, the doctrine of ahimsa resulted in the establishment of numerous animal homes, refuges, and hospitals • Particularly located in northwest India • Closely linked to the Jains • View of the world where people are part of, and at harmony with, nature
Religion and environmental modification • Geographer Yi-Fu Than points to a discrepancy between stated ideals and reality • China has an old tradition of forest care, but woodlands have been systematically destroyed through the millennia • Buddhism, like Hinduism, protects temple trees but demand huge quantities of wood for cremations Animistic shifting cultivators destroy huge acreages of forest • Religion cannot overcome civilizations exercise of power over nature
Godliness and greenness • Other ecologists point out the Judeo-Christian tradition is not lacking in concern for environmental protection — Book of Leviticus • Robin Doughty suggest “Western Christian thought is too rich and complex to be characterized as hostile toward nature” • He feels Protestantism may be more conducive to “ecological intemperance” • Worldly success symbolized individual predestination
Godliness and greenness • View of some fundamentalist Protestant sects • View ecological crisis and environmental deterioration as a gauge to predict Christ’s return and end of the present age • They welcome ecological collapse • View of other fundamentalist Protestants — Old Testament story of Noah is viewed as a call to protect endangered species
Godliness and greenness • Multidenominational National Religious Partnership for the Environment • Includes evangelical Protestant members • Hope to mobilize Christian Right against environmental destruction
Godliness and greenness • Link of godliness and greenness has now gone worldwide • Came after a conference in the middle 1980s • Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism came together • Some 130,000 projects have arisen • “Green” teachings of long-dead saints now receive heightened attention • White’s pronouncements now seem simplistic
Religion and environmental perception • Religion has a profound affect on the way people perceive environmental hazards such as floods, storms, and droughts • In Hinduism and Buddhism followers accept hazards as natural and unavoidable • Christians more likely view such hazards as unusual and preventable • Will generally take steps to overcome the hazard • Some view natural disasters as divine punishment for their sins
Religion and environmental perception • Results of various studies conducted in the United States to discern different religious group’s feelings about God and nature • Southwestern Spanish-American Catholics (72 percent) felt humans are subject to nature • Most Mormons (55 percent) saw humans in harmony with nature • Protestant Anglo-Texans (48 percent) held humans control nature and can overcome environmental hazards
Religion and environmental perception • Results of various studies conducted in the United States to discern different religious group’s feelings about God and nature • Intense conservative Protestants in Alabama react to tornados fatalistically, relying on God to see them through • lllinoisans, adherents of a liberal, low-intensity Protestantism, felt in control and took more measures to protect themselves
Culture Regions • Religious Regions • Religious Diffusion • Religious Ecology • Cultural Integration in Religion • Religious Landscapes
Religion and economy • In the economic sphere, religion can: • Guide commerce • Determine which crops and livestock are raised by farmers • Decide what food and beverages people consume • Decide the type of employment a person has • Influence in what neighborhood people reside • Plants and animals tend to spread with a faith when they are in great demand because of their roles in religious ceremonies and traditions
Religion and economy • Wine grape diffusion associated with religion • Some Christian denominations drink wine during communion to symbolize the blood of Christ • Diffused to newly Christianized districts beyond the Alps in late Roman and early medieval times • Vineyards of the German Rhine were the creation of monks • Catholic missionaries introduced cultivated grapes to California • Vineyard keeping and wine making spread westward across the Mediterranean in prehistoric times with worship of the god Dionysus
Religion and economy • Religion can also often explain the absence of crops or domestic animals in an area • Spain and Morocco show the impact of food taboos • On the Spanish, Roman Catholic side pigs are common • In Muslim Morocco only about 12,000 swine can be found in the entire country • Islamic avoidance of pork underlies this contrast • Judaism imposes restrictions against pork and other meats as stated in the Book of Leviticus
Religion and economy • Other explanations for Islamic and Judaic pork taboos • Concern with the danger of intestinal parasites (trichinosis) • Considered pigs unclean • Unlikely relationship between poorly cooked pork and intestinal parasites would have been detected before modern medical technology • As some groups lost access to irrigation waters they became nomadic herders
Religion and economy • Other explanations for Islamic and Judaic pork taboos • Pigs require shade, plus little food they need is found in the desert • Nomads relied on sheep, goats, horses, camels, and in some areas cattle • May have declared pork undesirable in a “sour grapes” reaction • Ages later, Muslim nomads imposed their religion and pork taboo on farming people in river valleys
Religion and food preferences • Five Islamic Centers, 82 mosques, and countless halal markets have emerged to serve an estimated 250,000 Muslims in southern California. • Halal refers to food not prohibited by the Koran and includes meat from ritually slaughtered animals.
Religion and food preferences • As a prayer is spoken, the animal’s throat is slashed with a single cut. • Pork and alcohol are both prohibited.