Study of Religion
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1.Ask three people for their definition of religion. Analyze the definitions: A.State the definitions that the three people have given you. “Religion is the study of what you believe.”
“What type of church you go to… whether it is Catholic or Christian. “Belief in God”
B.State the type of definition they have given you (essential, family, and/or working) All three definitions were essential definitions, because in all three cases the people interviewed reduced the definition to essentially one word or idea. C.State the limitations of the definitions.
In all three instances of the 3 people surveyed, they gave essential definitions, which are exclusive. For example, the last gentleman that was surveyed stated that religion is “Belief in God.” As we have learned, this limitation excludes any religion that has a belief in other gods, besides God.
2.Explain why, at least from the religious point of view, the ideas of real self and the ultimate are inseparable, so that to talk about one you must talk about the other. Give an example from a religion you know something about.
Religious actions and attitudes reflect who one is in one’s real self, and thus who they are in relation to his/her ultimate reality. In addition, religious symbols and rites give us the chance to participate in it, affording us the opportunity to be related to ultimate reality. Furthermore, humans view symbols, concepts, objects or acts, which create bridges in our minds, where we are transcended. Naturally, this transcendence evokes feelings related to the supernatural. For example, in our Christian Church we receive communion, where we are given a cup of grape juice and a wafer of unleavened bread. Specifically, the grape juice, which is a substitute for wine, represents the blood that Jesus Christ shed on the Cross, and the bread is a representative of his broken body.
These symbols, which are handed to us from the usher, take us in our mind’s eye to the Upper Room, where the Lord had his Last Supper, and to Golgotha, where Jesus Christ was crucified. At the moment, as we are holding these morsels and putting them into our mouths, we are transcended, and the experience can be joyous, and at the same time powerful and very emotional. 3.Explain how the approach of modern religious studies, especially when allied with social science and psychology, differs from that of most people in the past in understanding religion. One of the most noteworthy events in religious history has been the change in the way people view themselves, especially with the emergence of such disciplines as social science and psychology. Specifically, in the nineteenth century accurate information about all religions circulated around the globe, and people learned that we live in a pluralistic world. Thus, it became clearer to people that there is more than one religion.