Religious Traditions

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* Describes these basic components of religious traditions and their relationship to the sacred:

* What a religious tradition says—its teachings, texts, doctrine, stories, myths, and others * What a religious tradition does—worship, prayer, pilgrimage, ritual, and so forth * How a religious tradition organizes—leadership, relationships among members, and so forth

* Identifies key critical issues in the study of religion * Includes specific examples from the various religious traditions described in the Week One readings that honor the sacred—such as rituals of the Igbo to mark life events, the vision quest as a common ritual in many Native American societies, or the influence of the shaman as a leader. You may also include examples from your own religious tradition or another religious tradition with which you are familiar.

Religion [is] a way of life founded upon the apprehension of sacredness in existence.

Religious rituals are often symbolic reenactments of a religion’s key stories.

Sacredness A distinction is made between the sacred and the ordinary; Ceremonies often emphasize this distinction through the deliberate use Of different language, clothing, and architecture. Certain objects, Actions, people, and places may share in the sacredness or express it.

Exclusiveness and inclusiveness Some religions emphasize that the sacred is distinct from the world and that order must be imposed by separating good from bad, true from false. In that view, to share in sacredness means separation—for example, withdrawal from certain foods, places, people, practices, or beliefs. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are among the religions that have been generally exclusive, making it impossible to belong to more than one religion at the same time.

For example, scriptural texts can be investigated for their cultural values and biases. Likewise, ceremonies, paintings, ritual objects, and religious buildings may also be viewed as “texts” that...
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