When I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor. . . He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had work for me to do; and that my name would be had for good and evil among all nations. --Mormonism: from “The Origin of the Book of Mormon” (Joseph Smith)
I am the Creator, the true and real God. I have the preordination for this Residence. At this time I have appeared in this world in person to save all mankind. I ask you to let Me have your Miki as My living Temple.. --Shinto (Spoke to Zenbei Nakayama concerning his wife Miki, as she was possessed by a god [kami] to become the foundress of the Tenrikyo sect of Shinto
Wanblee [the Eagle Spirit] kept the beautiful girl with him and made her his wife. The eagle’s wife became pregnant and bore him twins, a boy and a girl. When the waters [of the flood] finally subsided, Wanblee helped the children and their mother down from his rock and put them on the earth, telling them: “Be a great nation, become a great Nation, the Lakota Oyate.”. --Religion of the Brule Sioux Indians: “How the Sioux Came to Be” (Erdoes and Ortiz 95).
The speech is measured out in four quarters, the sages with insight know it. The three kept in close secret cause no movement, the fourth is the division that is talked about. God is one, but the sages call Him by various names. --Hinduism: Rig Veda I.164.
Read in the name of your Lord Who created. He created man from a clot. Read and your Lord is Most Honorable, Who taught (to write) with the pen Taught man what he knew not. --Islam: Holy Koran 96:1-5.
The picture of Jesus and the picture of the Buddha counting on his fingers represent both as teachers. How are they the same? How are they different?
Miki Nakayama becomes a vehicle for the revelation of “the true and real God.” Does this seem to be much different from the call of Muhammad or the revelation to Joseph Smith? In what way?
Note there are two pictures of the Buddha. Traditionally, his hand positions tell us that in the first he is teaching but in the second he is not. How do both pictures tell something about the Buddhist religion?
The wife of the Eagle, along with her twin children, becomes the source of the nation and the religion of the Lakota Oyate. Would you consider them “prophets,” like Muhammad? Why, or why not?
Lao Tzu appears very jolly on his ox. Would you be surprised to see a picture of Jesus so jolly? Why?
What different roles do the many human figures play in these pictures and quotations? See if you can generally describe how people become the sources for their religious truths. Are there nonhuman sources of religious truths?
Phenomenological Approach • Attempts to avoid “reductionism” • Tries to describe the phenomena of religion as they are found, not as they are explained by outside disciplines • Takes seriously what believers say about the origins of their religion
Founders Jesus Confucius Sidhartha Gotama “Founders are humans through whom new religious insight came.”
Prophets “One who brings the message of God.” Muhammad Jeremiah
Sages “Extraordinary people who have seen a sacred truth.” Lao Tzu Confucius Buddha
Other Founding Figures . . . Paul Jesus Ramakrishna Martin Luther Hindu Avatars
Other Origins Ancestors Natural Order Nature
Gobalization: Two Trends • The “re-enchantment” of nature as a reaction against materialistic and mechanical visions of the universe. • The spread of the modern ideal of doing scientific, objective history. • Wicca: A Case Study. • Approx. 200,000 U.S. adherents • Claims to be rediscovery of ancient “pagan” traditions • But . . . history and religious studies claim otherwise.