Tag Archives: religious studies

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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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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Exegesis and other big words

The rediscovery in the late nineteenth century of the Assyrian Empire in the north of present-day Iraq and, soon after, the rediscovery of the Sumerian civilization in the south, all began with an archaeology intending to find the civilizations mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures.

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Ethiopian Ge’ez Bible

Although archaeology has gone its own way, the science of archaeology began with biblical archaeology. The exegesis – the critical explanation or analysis – of ancient sacred texts began with the religious exegesis of scripture. Religious exegesis is the intense religious study of sacred scripture.

 

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Miracles in the 80’s

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The original five children of Medjugorje in their vision state – communicating with Mary, mother of Jesus in 1983.

The study of miracles and supernatural manifestations will always be a subject of great interest for the student of religion, as many religious adherents will claim that their belief has been confirmed and often reinforced by these unexplainable events and miracles.

It’s hard to believe – it’s been thirty years. In 1984 I was invited to travel from Rome to Bosnia (then Yugoslavia) with a Franciscan priest who organized trips to visit the miraculous apparitions of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the town of Medjugorje.
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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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Your Angel, My Devil

One of the more popular topics of discussion in the World Religions class is the subject of angels and demons.

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Most ideas about angels, devils and demons do not come from sacred writings but more often come from stories, traditions and the arts adjacent to an adherent’s religion. Continue reading

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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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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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All Scripture is Sibylline

The obscure nature of sacred writing, or any ancient text for that matter, can be surprisingly discouraging for the student of religion. So much of religious scripture is ambiguous and often unintelligible.

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Too Timid for the Job

Both the public inquiry into religion and the university classes devoted to an introduction to World Religions, are by now battered and obstructed by our traditionally apologetic and timid approach.

lateRomanOne source of this traditionally shy approach is religion’s own natural immunity to inquiry, and the over-protective public relations department found in all of our living religious traditions. Continue reading

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Roaming around the Egyptian Desert

In the Christian traditions, the founders of Christian monasticism are often referred to as the Desert Fathers.

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