Option #1: Studying Religion
Based on your reading of “Religion and Culture” by Eliza Rosenburg and “Religion” by Sashur Henninger-Rener do the following:
Discuss why it can be difficult to define religion and determine what we refer to when we use the term “religion.”
Use the list of four possible approaches to studying religion below from religious theorists and decide which one you think best relates to what you learned in the Gateway into Religions resource.
Explore why you think this approach best applies to the Gateway into Religions resource by providing specific examples from the Gateway reading.
Finally, make a brief statement about which of the approaches below makes the most sense to you and why?
- Remember to use at least two quotes from this week’s Required Learning Resources in your answer. Make sure to provide in-text citations for both quotes in MLA format.
Provide references for all sources in MLA format.
Approach #1: Clifford Geertz (anthropology)
- Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures, New y=York: Basic Books, inc. , 1973.
Geertz offers the following definition of religion:
Religion is a system of symbols… Which establishes powerful and long lasting moods and motivations… Formulating conceptions of a general order of existence… Clothing those conceptions with such an aura of factuality… That (religion is seen as pure reality) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic
Approach #2: Peter Berger (social constructivism)
- Berger, Peter. The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. New york: anchor, reprint edition, 1990.
Berger argues that human beings find themselves in a disordered universe, and that since we cannot live in a world that is not ordered or meaningful, humans create civilization etc. However, this order, often found in culture, that gives us meaning is a construction that can fall apart at any time, so we have to do things to keep that order in place. Thus, humans use religions to anchor that order Berger think that religions are the most effective way to anchor the meaning of lives and culture because religion is about what is factually real beyond all question to those who believe it. In other words, religion is a notion of divine order created by humans and projected onto the world in order to anchor life.
- Approach #3: Catherine Bell (ritualization)
Bell, Catherine. Ritual theory: Ritual Practice. Oxford up, 2009.
Bell focuses on how cultural rituals are not universal in all places and all times. Because they are not universal, we must instead examine the logic and strategies of observable cultural practices in the present context. When look at cultural practices, then, it is important to ask, “What do rituals do within a specific culture?” and try to answer that question. It’s also important to ask, “How do people embody ritual schemes?” and “How do religious practitioners and believers become the stories they tell through ritual?” order to examine how rituals can create realities.
- Approach #4: David D. Hall & Robert Orsi (lived religion)
Hall, David D. Lived Practice of Religion in America. Princeton up, 2020. and Orsi, Robert. Between Heaven and Earth, Princeton up, 2013.
Hall and Orsi examine what real people do and how they view their religious practices given their circumstances within the everyday and everyday life. They acknowledge change and transformations in practices, attitudes and beliefs over time to show how practices are not universal across time and can change within different historical, local and personal contexts. Religion, then, is not a universal unchanging norm, but rather a process grounded in the lived experiences of what real people do and how they act.
- Option #2: Understanding Terminology
Based on your reading of “Religion and Culture” by Eliza Rosenburg and “Religion” by Sashur Henninger-Rener, identify three terms associated with the study of religion (found in bold in the readings). For each of the three terms, do the following:
Define the term in your own words.
Provide a specific example of how this term can be applied to something you already know about a religious traditions or something you have observed in the your experiences about religious practices, rituals, scriptures, artifacts or objects, sites, or beliefs.
Choose one of these terms to discuss something from the Gateway into Religions resource and provide a specific quote from the Gateway resource in your discussion.
Make sure to provide in-text citations for any quote or summaries s in MLA format
Provide references for all sources in MLA format.
Option #3: Discovering Religions
Based on your reading of “Religion and Culture” by Eliza Rosenburg, “Religion” by Sashur Henninger-Rener, and the Gateway into Religions resource, please do the following:
Identify and explain in your own words two religious practices, rituals, scriptures, artifacts or objects, sites, or beliefs that you thought were interesting that you did not know about before.
Then, choose one of the things you identified above and do some additional research in the UMGC library on this topic.