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Religions. An introduction, animism and paganism. How to study belief systems. How do we define religion? How do we classify religions? What are their characteristics? How do they evolve? Cultural character? Shrines, stupas , cathedrals, Grottos, monasteries?

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  1. Religions An introduction, animism and paganism

  2. How to study belief systems • How do we define religion? • How do we classify religions? • What are their characteristics? • How do they evolve? • Cultural character? • Shrines, stupas, cathedrals, Grottos, monasteries? • What is their political/social appeal? • How do they interact? • How do they travel? • Conflict • Syncretism

  3. Classification • UNIVERSALIZING RELIGION • one that attempts to appeal to all people, not only those at one location • ETHNIC RELIGION • religion with a spatially (socially or ethnically) concentrated distribution; • principles of such a religion are likely to be based on physical characteristics of a particular location • TRIBAL OR TRADITIONAL RELIGION • small size, localized culture groups

  4. Universalizing Ethnic • everywhere • Individual founder (prophet) • Message diffused widely (missionaries) • Followers distributed widely. • Holidays based on events in founder’s life. • Has meaning in particular place only. • Unknown source. • Content focused on place and landscape of origin. • Followers highly clustered. • Holidays based on local climate and agricultural practice.

  5. Tenets or teachings • Are collected in: • Books of learning • Books of Law • Are taught in/by • Monasteries • Monks • Actual foundation of the religion

  6. How it spreads Pilgrims Trade routes Geographic conduits/crossroads/ obstacles Stages Conversion or forced acceptance Diaspora

  7. Nature of Religion • Who are the leaders? • What kind of background do they have? • Degree of aggression • How are they organized? • Hierarchy • Religious Institutions and bureaucracies • Connection with political authority

  8. Sacred sites and ceremonies Meetings/ gatherings Types of structures Geographic connections to sites

  9. Tolerance for other religions • Methods used to keep the true nature of their religion • Wars • Ethnic cleansing • Marriage • Conversion • Persecution

  10. Role of Religion a symbol of group identity a cultural rallying point (like language) influences the spread of languages to new peoples and areas (Arabic, Latin) may involve prescribed patterns of behavior; prayer, special rites, obedience to doctrine

  11. Animism – the roots of religion • the belief that all objects, animals, and beings are “animated” or possess a spirit and a conscious life. • Spirits live in rocks, rivers, mountain peaks, and heavenly bodies • Each tribe has its own characteristic form of animism • Also called shamanism because of the prominence of a Shaman. • Common among hunter-gatherers • 10% of Africans follow such traditional ethnic religions. • These beliefs are losing ground to Christianity and Islam throughout Africa. Nigerian Shaman

  12. Paganism • from the Latinpaganus, meaning "country dweller", "rustic" • Refers to polytheistic religions • Europe before Christianization • Usually Greco-Roman • Also Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic • Most pagan religions build their rituals around the cycles and seasons of the earth. • No single sacred text

  13. Paganism • Gender: • Greek and Roman society were patriarchal • Greek and Roman mythology honor gods as much as goddesses • Social Class • Participation in religious rituals moral necessary for all regardless of social class • At first, priesthood only open to upper classes

  14. Paganism today • Modern scholars have begun to apply the term pagan to three separate groups of faiths:  • Historical Polytheism • Folk/ethnic/Indigenous religions • Neo-Paganism

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