Category Archives: Revelation

Evidence is for Silly Nannies

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The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio, 1602

I would like to post an expanded version of a short article that I originally shared in November 2013. It fits well with the Easter season. The original title is My Very Own Historical Jesus and can also be found in the archives in its original form. Please feel free to comment. Continue reading

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Filed under Christianity, Origins, Religious Controversy, Revelation

Introducing Hinduism

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Indian Sadhus

It was especially difficult to introduce Hinduism to the students of the World Religion class. The many religious traditions of India are intertwined throughout a long and complex history; and maybe we are wrong in our attempt to discern a single religion that we can call Hinduism.

Until the diverse traditions of Indian religion are properly separated by their history, practice, origin or language, we are left with the modern habit of introducing Hinduism as a single, multifaceted religion with dozens of important texts, and practices, spanning over three thousand years.

The following post presents an easy-to-follow orientation to studying Hinduism. Please feel free to comment.

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Filed under Easy Categories, Origins, Religious Literacy, Revelation

Mundus, caro, et diabolus

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Hieronymus Bosch, late 15th century, “Garden of Earthly Delights” detail

Anyone studying the religions of the world will encounter from time to time the notion that all religion is somehow fundamentally anti-human; all religion seems to denounce and find fault with life-on-planet-Earth.

Are there any religions that do not reject our earthly existence?

The translation of the title (above) is: “The World, the Flesh and the Devil”

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Ancient Concepts of Life After Death

When Socrates refers to ‘Hades’ in Plato’s dialogue Phaedo, he describes it as the afterlife reserved for the good; and he describes the good man as the ‘philosopher.’

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Bust of Socrates, Vatican Collection

Throughout Antiquity, there were many variations on the theme of life after death, all of which predate Christianity and Islam. The insistance on a “final judgement” in both Christianity and Islam comes directly from the early civilizations of Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean, and the Levant.

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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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Filed under Religious Literacy, Revelation, Ways to Learn the World Religions

Recipe for Happiness

Most all religions have at one time or another described themselves as a path to truth and a recipe for happiness. As these recipes are believed to come from a spokesperson for the divine, it’s fair to say that some part of religion consists of a ‘how to’ set of instructions, like a recipe, revealed, as it were, from the Divine Chef.

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Revelation in Buddhism

During my years of teaching, the thoughtful student often asked whether Buddhism could be excluded from the category of religion altogether as there are often no gods or concept of divinity to be found in many expressions of this rather elastic religion. buddha01In many books on religion the authors feel compelled to qualify Buddhism as more of a philosophy than a religion, or to single out Zen Buddhism and similar sects as expressions of Buddhism that are somehow separate from Buddhist religious practice. Continue reading

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