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Elements Of Religious Traditions

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Elements of Religious Traditions

Josie Garmon

REL/133

January 23, 2012

Robert Gala

Elements of Religious Traditions

Dictionary.com website defines religion as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. Within the many religions, there exist traditions that play significant roles in people's lives all around the world. Each religion has its own unique traditions, whether people believe in a God or no God at all.

Basic Components of Religious Traditions

According to Molloy (2010), there exist patterns of similarities and differences among religions. The first pattern is: focus of beliefs and practices. In this pattern there are three basic orientations:

* Sacramental orientation-The emphasis of this orientation is placed on carrying out rituals and ceremonies regularly and correctly as a path salvation. All religions possess some degree of ritual.

* Prophetic orientation-In this orientation, the stress is on the contact with the sacred and is ensured by proper belief and moral rules.

* Mystical orientation-This orientation seeks the union with a reality that is greater than oneself, such as God, the process of nature, the universe, or reality as a whole.

The second pattern focuses on the views of the world and life:

* Nature of sacred reality-In some religions the sacred are seen as transcendent, existing primarily in a realm beyond the everyday world. In others, sacred reality is spoken of as being immanent.

* Nature of the universe-In some religions the universe is seen as having been begun by an intelligent, personal Creator, while others view it as being eternal.

* Human attitude toward nature-while some religions see nature as the realm of evil forces, others view it as being sacred and needing no alteration.

* Time-Religions that emphasize a creation see time as being linear, from beginning to end. Others believe that the universe simply moves through endless changes.

* Human purpose-In some religions believe that human beings are part of a great divine plan. There is a struggle between good and evil forces that place the believers at center stage. Other religions see humans as being only a part of much larger realities, such as having that individual maintain harmony with the whole.

* Words and scripture-In some religions, such as Christianity, the sacred is found in written and spoken words. It is important to use writing and create scriptures, reading, copying, and using sacred words in music or art. Other religions, such as Daoism, have a mistrust of words and value silence and wordless meditation instead.

* Exclusiveness and inclusiveness-In some religions the emphasis is placed on the fact that the sacred is distinct from the world and that order must be imposed by separating good from bad and true from false. Other religions stress inclusiveness.

The third pattern focuses on how males and females are viewed. This pattern addresses the roles of men and women, both on earth and the divine spheres. Many influential religions, such as Christianity, male imagery and control seem to dominate. The sacred is considered male, and the full-time religious specialists are frequently male. Based on evidence, female divinities once played an important role in many cultures and religions.

Critical Issues

Although the field of religious studies is now more than two hundred years old, there are questions that are still asked. Among them are: What needs to be studied to properly understand religions? What should be the attitudes when studying the religions of others? How can researchers be objective (Molloy, 2010)?

In early days, scholars had little ability to travel, therefore making it hard for them to access what they could read. They would read the scriptures of specific religions, read accounts by others who had experienced some of the sacred sites and rituals. They would then make comparisons that were based on what they had read, and publish their conclusions. This approach was sometimes called "armchair scholarship" (Molloy, 2010).

The problems with this approach were that the texts of the scriptures were not always complete or the translations

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