Category Archives: Ways to Learn the World Religions

Superstition is a Bad Word

Before moving house, I throw away all the old brooms. But this is just an antiquated superstition.

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Inscription in the Asclepion at Epidayuros in Greece, imploring the god of Health for healing

There is, at the outset of any serious pursuit of understanding religion and the history of religion, the need to isolate and redeploy the use of the term ‘superstition’ as routinely applied in contemporary English.

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Filed under Religious Literacy, Ways to Learn the World Religions

Two Kinds of Religious Texts

When studying religion, either on your own or in university, it is helpful to recognize that there are, almost always, two types of literature associated with a religion, that is, if the religion has a written tradition.

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detail of unnamed sacred Hindu texts from collection of prof Klaus Klostermaier

The two types of religious texts are 1) sacred scripture, and 2) non-sacred, but cherished, traditional writings and commentaries.

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Modern Religion

To help you remember the many and diverse religions of the world, my seven categories of all religions past and present offer you assistance and support.

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The Mahikari-no-Waza Temple at Takayama, Japan.

 

Modern Religion – the last of my categories – allows you to easily isolate the more recent religions from their ancient inspiration. A modern religion is any and all religion that has a founder or foundation after the beginning of the nineteenth century. Modern religion contains at least one, but most often several, of the following: Continue reading

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The Term ‘Abrahamic’

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image above: detail of Abraham and Isaac on the way to the Place of Sacrifice Marc Chagall, 1931

It is endlessly troublesome to create helpful categories for the myriad religions of the world.

The centuries of hostility between the so-called Abrahamic religions originate from their competitive claims to the Hebrew prophetic tradition and from their mutually exclusive claims to the revelations attributed to Abraham and the canon of Israelite prophets. I’m not sure why this category title ever felt right to anyone, religious or otherwise. Continue reading

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Filed under Origins, Religious Controversy, Religious Literacy, Ways to Learn the World Religions

Too Many Religions! part II

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The objective of my categories is to orient the student once and for all into religion as a topic of study.

The seven categories are:

  • Prehistoric Religion
  • Indigenous Religion
  • Ancient Religion
  • The Hindi Religions
  • Religions of China
  • The Abrahamic (or Revealed Religions, if you like)
  • Modern Religion

It is very important to note that, in my system of categories, I ignore the claims made by any one religion. Many of the modern religions, for example, consider themselves to be a continuation of – or, often, a singularly orthodox expression of – Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or one of the ancient religions. Continue reading

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Too Many Religions! part I

I had often wished for an improved system of categories when I began my study of the world religions. The categories offered were frequently unhelpful due to oversimplification, or they were difficult to remember, or simply excluded some religions all together.

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