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wr_ch03notes

wr_ch03notes

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Published by Matt Hasquin

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Matt Hasquin on Aug 10, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/25/2012

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CHAPTER THREE: AFRICAN RELIGIONSChapter Outline and Unit SummariesI.
 
Introduction: The Importance of Avoiding Stereotypes
A.
 
The Vast Complexity of Africa1.
 
700 Million People2.
 
3,000 Ethnic and Linguistic Groups3.
 
Social Organization Ranging form Small Tribe to VastEmpires4.
 
Centuries of European Colonialism Altered the Content andStructure of Many Traditional African ReligionsB.
 
Western Stereotypes Threaten to Distort Reality of African Religions1.
 
Africa as Dark Land of Savagery and Superstition2.
 
African Religion as a Coherent Unified Wholea.
 
There is No Single Religion, Theology, Worldview,or Ritual System Uniting all African Religions b.
 
Lack of Written Records from Pre-Modern NativeAfricans Limits Range and Depth of Our Studiesc.
 
Modern Western Interpreters of African Religion
II.
 
Native Religions
A.
 
The High God1.
 
Belief in a Creator High God in Most African Religions2.
 
The High Creator God is Distant, Retired, Uninvolveda.
 
The Yoruba Story of Olorun the Creator and theSub-deities (
orisha
) Who Govern Nature b.
 
The Mozambique Legend of Nyambic.
 
An Exception to the Rule: Sudanese Creator GodKwoth Nhail Remains Involved in His Creation
 
B.
 
The Lesser Spirits1.
 
Most African Religions are Animistic, Believing the World isDensely Populated with Numerous Types of Lesser Spirits2.
 
Lesser Spirits Rule Creation and Can be Helpful or Harmfulto Humans, and are Subject to Prayer, Flattery, and Sacrificea.
 
Plants, Animals, Weather Patterns, Water, theEarth—All Things are Spirits or Life Forces b.
 
Lesser Spirits Often Personified in Gods /Goddessesc.
 
Forms of Worship of Lesser Spirits Vary Widely, but Most Common is Offering of Food and Drink d.
 
Example: Yoruba Worship of the MatriarchalFertility goddess (
orisha
) OsunC.
 
Ancestors1.
 
Ancestors are Most Commonly Recognized Spiritual Forcesa.
 
The Dead Enter into a Spirit World, Remain Activein the Lives of the Living b.
 
The Dead as “Cloud of Witnesses”2.
 
The Living Consult, Pray to the Dead to Receive Benefitsand Avoid Harma.
 
Fear of gods / goddesses Unimportant inComparison with Fear of and Respect for Ancestors b.
 
Ancestors Enforce Social and Moral Codes; WorstPunishment is Inflicting Infertility on Couplesc.
 
Ancestor Spirits Know and Can Control Futured.
 
Efforts at Placation and Appeasement IncludeOffering Gifts, Sacrifices, Rituals, Consultatione.
 
Ancestors Contact Living Often in Dreamsf.
 
Diviners Have Ability to Contact AncestorsD.
 
Sacrifice1.
 
Most Common Form of Sacrifice to the gods / goddesses andAncestors is Daily Offering of Food and Drink 2.
 
Animal Sacrifice Practiced on Serious Occasions
 
3.
 
Human Sacrifice Rarely Present in African ReligionE.
 
Rites of Passage1.
 
Birth of Child: The Blessing Bestowed by the Spirit World2.
 
Puberty: Initiation into Norms of Social Behavior a.
 
Initiation Rituals for Boys and Girls Differ, andOften are Long and Severe b.
 
Ritual Circumcision for Boys: Test of Courage andBodily Sign of Religious / Cultural Identityc.
 
Ritual Circumcision for Girls: No Clear Rationale;Less and Less Common in Modern Africa3.
 
Marriage: Social – Familial Takes Precedence Over theExplicitly Religiousa.
 
Chastity in Marriage Highly Valued b.
 
Polygamy Practiced by Elites of Many Societies4.
 
Death Rituals: Making the Dead Comfortable in their NewExistence to Prevent Hauntingsa.
 
Rapid Burial the Most Common Practice b.
 
Death Seen as Having Been Caused by Someone;Dead Point Out those Who Caused their Demisec.
 
African Religions Generally Lack System of Belief in Post-Death Judgment and Retributiond.
 
Exception to Norm: LoDagaa People of GhannaF.
 
Religious Leaders1.
 
Generally Minimal Need for Priests Because RitualsPerformed by Individuals2.
 
Some Western African Religions Have Priests / PriestessesResponsible for Maintaining Temples and Altars3.
 
Spiritual Curer is Common Form of Religious Leadershipa.
 
Illnesses Have Religious and Natural Causes b.
 
Curers Use Divination to Discern Cause of Diseasec.
 
Curers Combine Herbs, Offerings, Spiritual Power d.
 
Curers Cleanse Houses of Spells, Witches, Cursese.
 
Diviners, Healers, Exorcists Closely Related

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