By: James Hannah
What is religion and why do so many in the world follow a form of it. The masses are so easily moved to follow something. Religion is a way to control the masses, but also we can look at that further that internet controls the masses, as does cell phones. That is my feeling on the subject. I did learn a lot by the religions that we looked at. I happened to go to the Sikh Temple, The Synagogue and to the Cathedral of the Madeline. I will say all three where awesome to go on and I did learn a lot. Moving from East to West try to see how they all seem to work together.
Sikhism was very interesting religion to look at because of their belief in one god in a Hindu dominate area of the world. They are a warrior class within India, protectors of all that are oppressed. Their first guru was Nanak and he emphasized that God is within the heart. So one does not need the Vedas or the Qur’an to find God, and regardless of one’s caste or gender, God is within, Truth immanent. This is symbolized by its openness to both Hindus and Muslims. Nanak wore Hindu-style clothing on his lower body and Muslim-style on his torso and head. 6 centuries later the guru then wore two swords, one representing spiritual power and the other temporal power, to signify the defense of the Sikh religion against Muslim and Hindu armies. 1699 the initiation ceremony for the Khalsa “the Pure” that required showing willingness to die for their faith and to take the life of anyone who attempted to persecute its members. I learned that is still done but that the last part is to include those that are persecuted from lower caste and or that are different. They don’t kill anyone for that but they are to stand up for the less fortunate or oppressed people. God to them is based on direct experience of a personal God in the human heart. To them God is as close to a person as his or her heart but unity unlimited in time and space. So that belief is why they say that Hindu deities and the Muslim deity are human experiences of God, but are more limited than God. To Sikh’s the world and humans are not essentially opposed to God, he is immanent in the world, and also transcends it. To them God is available in the human heart, but is also beyond complete human comprehension. To them the human soul can experience the world as good or evil. A person that is making progress towards unity with God see’s the world as a beautiful place that is able to witness God’s glory, or the person that is self-loving or absorbed in themselves will see the world as an enemy. To them the human soul has a opportunity to live in peace and harmony with God, but to them most humans unfortunately love physical possessions rather than God. To them karma affects all people’s lives and that God can forgive even the worst sinners, but one must turn towards God to be forgiven. So an unaided person cannot succeed in this, one seeing or hearing the guru is not enough, one must become committed completely to God in one’s heart and salvation is only available through baptism. Sikhs have a very affirmative attitude towards creation, so to them the world is good and to be enjoyed. They are allowed to eat meat and also eat vegetables, but they do not use tobacco, which other people also feel is harmful to the body. To them the human body is also good and to be strengthened. Being aggressive in behavior is prohibited by any of the ahimsa doctrine, but force can be used where needed in warfare and in civil life. To them the belief in God and the teaching of the gurus and the Adi Granth can give them strength for victory of their enemies. Women in the religion have experienced high and low status, depending on customs in India, but because women are not considered unclean or impediments to salvation, marriage or association with them does not make a man a lower or higher status. The Golden Temple at Amritsar houses the object of veneration of all Sikhs, the Adi Granth that are the scriptures. Worshipers approach the temple by walking over a bridge over a pool of water. Open on all sides the temple welcomes everyone that wishes to come. Before entering the temple you are to remove your shoes, wash your feet and cover your head. This is also done in all places of worship around the world that Sikhs have temples. We did not have to wash are feet at the temple here, but had to do everything else. Inside they assemble to listen to the reading of the scriptures, the Adi Granth is a collection of insight from the ten guru’s starting with Nanak. Although Nanak believed in the belief of reincarnation, he also believed that a person can, in their life time find a way for release. To them the body is not needed for personal identity after death, so the common Hindu practice of cremation is practiced.
The creed of Judaism is brief: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone” and “ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). The first part is what every religious Jew believes and the second part is what they do. Judaism has usually expressed the nature of the Lord, Adonai, in the analogy of a person. Now Greek philosophers preferred to conceive of God as unchanging and remote from the created world, but the record of God’s involvement in changing seasons, how nations rose and fell, and the activities of his families of his chosen people can be found in the Bible. Reported in detail are the dialogues of the Lord and successive generations of humans. The account of the creation is found in Genesis establishes the theme of the relationship of God and the world. As for the universe it is subordinate to God and also dependent on him, but is always less and other than God. For earth to yield food we have the sun and rain, the moon brings the changing of the seasons so we can celebrate thanksgiving and the harvests. The increasing herds and crops are blessings from god. The universe is made for humans, it is to be enjoyed with great gratitude during a long life, and suffering for humans is not part of the created part of the universe. They reject the world view that nature is evil and needs to be escaped from, it is God’s world and that he is present in the heavens, the earth, the place of shadow (Sheol). As humans we are God’s highest creation. We are all created in God’s image, and each soul and body are united, and created for fellowship with God. Judaism believes that humans should rule over all of the earth, which has been given to us for pleasure and food. Unlike animals we as humans are not governed by just instinct, but by how we evaluate situations and make choices after that. Now the relationship between God and humans has been not so good and the Torah says that was done when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. By getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden us humans now have to endure miseries and frustrations. The Bible shows the history of the struggle of the Hebrews and their descendants the Jews and the ongoing endeavors by God to restore, if for only short periods of time, a covenant relationship of loving-kindness and faithfulness. Jews see themselves as a member of a family and of a larger community in covenant with God. The Passover is a way they show thank you to God for delivering them from bondage in Egypt to a promised land and the community that they are part of. As they have been severely persecuted over the thousands of years there has always a remnant that God has saved for his purpose. Judaism thinks in terms of a community chosen to be responsible to God, membership in a community of chosen people, however, requires commitment to universal values. It promotes care of humans, animals, and the environment among all people. Ethical behavior is directed not only to Jews, but all peoples. It also attends to both its particular origin and its universal vision. Not only the belief in one God there are thirteen points of Maimonides, Judaism emphasizes deeds rather than beliefs. To be considered a practicing Jew one must participate in a lifetime of rituals using unique symbols. This is done not only with ones hand and heart, but with ones ears and mind. They are to keep what’s called mitzvoth, or religious duties. There happens to be 248 positive and 365 negative ones for a total of 613. Boys are responsible for keeping them at the age of 13 plus one day while girls are to at age 12 plus one day. They are performed as commanded by God. Now they don’t so much believe in life after death, but more in an emphasized way of living a good life on earth.
Christianity the religion that was born out of Judaism, that now has grown to the largest religion in the world. They believe in one God, he has no partners or rivals and idolatry is strictly prohibited. Jesus of Nazareth, through him the revelations of God is most complete. He is part man and God, being coeternal with God the father and being born human form through Mary. God in respect to revealing God’s plan and man in bearing all afflictions except sin. The other part of the Godhead is the Holy Spirit that is able to bestow human beings power, comfort, peace and love. Although God appears in three persons, they insist that there is only one God and on the doctrine of the Trinity they have an understanding of God that is rejected by Jews and Muslims. We are created in the image of God, but differing on details of the concept, we agree that humans differ from other animals in that we have a responsibility to God, we are held accountable for the way we live our lives. Two traditions have influenced our views on humans. The first one teaches that since Adam and Eve, we have been influenced by sin as humans so pervasive only God can over come, this is teaching that sin is present from the moment we are born, and it can only be over come by baptism. The other tradition is that we as humans have a capacity for both good and evil and through family nurture and an individual devotion to God we can live with God’s approval. Now as a Christian the belief of the Old covenant has been replaced with the new one based of faith alone, it is because of Adam’s sin in the garden, efforts by humans alone cannot fulfill the old covenant. Only by God’s effective action in human lives can the results of Adam’s sins be overcome. Now you are not for say born into Christianity, but are baptized, it is hard to say your not because you are until you make the decision if you are not going to be Christian anymore. Baptism can happen at birth if you are Catholic, 8 years old if you are Mormon, or any age that you are ready for a lot of Christian churches in the world. Now to remember the baptism covenant and how Christ suffered for their sins, the taking of the sacrament is different in the Christian community in ways that it is done but still represents the same thing. The bread is to remember the body of Christ, by him dying for us, the wine (water) for the blood that he shed. Christ explained this ritual at the Last Supper so we could remember him. Another thing that is big is last rites given before the death of a person. This is done so that someone may tell their sins before death and have forgiveness so they may enter death with a clear conscience, they way that it is done is different for the many sects of Christianity. Christians also believe that if you believe in Christ you will be resurrected after death when the Second Coming happens just before judgment day.
All three religions that I happened to go on a field trip with had a lot of similarities in like rituals that they did, but also happened to have different things as well. I guess when you go to three religions that all believe in One God you are bound to find that. I will say though that it was amazing going to places that I have never been. I knew a lot about the religions because I love history but I will say seeing how and what they do in person would change your mind on things very quick.
Matthews, W. (2010). World Religions. Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
I will say this was one amazing class. I was reluctant to take the class because I am one that loves history but don’t really care for religion because of the people. So I decided that I would take the class and that I would look at it as a history class. I was right Suzanne Jacobs really made the class a more of a History class than a Religion class by her way of teaching with a non-bias way.