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Christopher Cunningham Dr.

Vladimir Thomas PHIL- 1304 ( Introduction to World Religion)

Lesson 2 Report Native American and African Religions Ch 2 and 3

One of the oldest and most enduring forms of religion in society is that which Is that which is practiced by various Native America people today. Because Of the role played by Native Americans in history for the past 400 years, their Religious practices not only have fascinated scholars but also the public which Has caused a deeper need to study their culture and way of life. Native Americans have also experienced a religious revival which has caused great Concern to wanting to preserve their culture and religious heritage. The Religions of the Native Americans tend diverse that are in the forms of Monotheism which is the believe in one God, polytheism the belief of Multiple Gods, and finally monistic which is the belief in one God that Can take manifest in multiple forms which are found in other religions. Animism is also another common idea in the faith based religions of the Native Americans which holds that animals and all of nature is connected in a spiritual Way that must not be harmed. When it comes to the idea of sacrifice, it is rarely Practiced amongst the Native American tribes, when it does occur it is seen as a Gift to the spirits in exchange for blessings and protection. Self torment is also A form of sacrifice found in the Sun Dance though this practice is also rare. As with

All other religions, the Native Americans have their taboos which include fear of the Dead, Native Americans believe the spirits of the deceased haunt their living relatives, Touching a dead body is also considered unclean thus special care must be given to the Body in regards to cleaning it and finding a place of burial. Finally another taboo is that Menstruating women are considered to have special powers which can be considered Damaging during times of hunting which is a key to survival, thus women were Considered unclean, in some communities she was sent away from society till her Time passed. Native American cultural and religion is full of ceremonies and rituals Which include performances of music and dances in which all communities are Participants, music and dance it is useful in preparation for hunts, war and preservation Of the Earth in which they seek the creator for blessings and protection during these Events. The Vision Quest is considered a right of passage in Native American life, it is A turning point in life taken before puberty to find oneself and the intended spiritual and life direction. When an older child is ready, he or she will go on a spiritual journey alone In the wilderness which may last a number of days with a period of fasting and seeking Visions which may take the form of a guardian animal in which symbolizes the direction In which the child’s life will go. The child will then return to the tribe and when grown Will pursue that direction in life. When it comes to religious leadership in Native American Religions they do not have a set priesthood, leadership comes under the Head of healers known as medicine, the medicine man specializes in removing Foreign objects which may be the cause of illness and infirmities. Native American Religions are very diverse when it comes to the idea of an afterlife especially since their Exposure to Christianity for more then 400 years. Traditionally Native Americans

believe in two souls, neither which are immortal. The first is the life force or breath That accompanies the body, when the body dies or decays, this soul also dies. The second soul is what might be called a free soul, this soul wanders during dreams Or sickness, when death occurs this soul goes to the land of the dead. Not much is said About the land of the dead, it is sometimes considered a happy place and sometimes A place of sorrow, it is also believed it is a continuation of this life, there is no reward for The righteous or punishment for the wicked in Native American religions, reincarnation Is also another common belief. Finally since the arrival of the Europeans Native America Religion has had to undergo significant change, especially with the arrival of Christianity In which Many Native Americans left their traditional religions to adopt the Religion of The Europeans, however along with Christianity many still practice traditional beliefs. For example during the week of Good Friday and Easter they commemorate the birth of Christ with traditional dance and music which share many common themes and stories From the Bible and traditional Native beliefs. In the last few decades traditional religion And culture has changed as well as thrived, there is also a growing interest by non Native people for Native art and religion which have sent mixed reactions amongst The Native community.

When it comes to discussing African religions one can not speak of a single set Of theology, religion or culture. Africa is a huge continent with many varied cultures. Western perception of African religions is not without it’s stereotypes. The first is that

Africa is a land of savagery and superstition which has been used to promote racism and Mistreatment of the African people. The second is more positive, it values African Culture but treats the continent as an undignified whole. When it comes to the past History of African religions not much can be known, though it has existed in post Modern times and left few written records. Most of what is known about traditional African religions have been collected by anthropologists, missionaries or African people Of the past. When it comes to the belief in God’s traditional African religions tend to be Polytheistic with the belief in a supreme High God. In Many African religions the High God is the creator of the human race and all living things. In African religions Not much attention is paid to the High God as he is too honorable and distant to want To here prayers and petitions of creation. Like other religions, traditional African Religions hold to a belief that animals, humans, earth, sky and the waters contain spiritual Or life sustaining forces similar to that of human kind they can be beneficial or harmful, They are also subjected to prayer and sacrifice from which the African people seek Blessings. African religions also include rituals and sacrifice which are for the sake of Appeasing the God’s, Goddesses and ancestors for a safe passage through life and Ensure safety through that transition. The most common are daily offerings to the spirits Which can take the form of animal sacrifice. The blood of animals such as sheep, birds, Goats and cattle is poured onto the ground suffice the deities when they are angry or Ensure support from them during difficult times. Blood sacrifices may occur during During times of war or during political elections or times of illness drought or protection Before a hunt. On some occasions the worshiper shares the flesh of the animal with the Deity or whom the sacrifice is offered. A portion is given to the deity by placing it on the

Altar, and another portion is eaten by the person who sacrificed it and his or family. Rites of passage are also found in traditional African religions such as birth of a child Which is seen as a great blessing from the spirits although there are some taboos Concerning children. For example twins are regarded as a sign the wife is been Unfaithful to her spouse in extreme cases one of the twins maybe killed or the mother And twins must leave the community. Children are not usually given a first name the First week of birth do to the high infancy death rate, circumcision is a sign that a male Child has entered into adulthood which is also practiced in Judaism and Islam . Marriage Is not really considered a religious ceremony but more secular with a contract between Families. Virginity and chastity is also valued amongst African tribes and culture. In regards to taboos, illness is considered a misfortune and maybe the work of witchcraft By evil spirits or foul play. Death is also considered with great respect, any disrespect Toward the dead may result in the spirits returning to cause havoc on the community. There is no set beliefs in the concept of an afterlife in traditional African religion, the Dead simply go to the spirit world to be effective amongst the living. There is not A set priesthood in traditional African religion, although in west Africa some Communities they build temples and altars to their God’s which require a priesthood Though this is rare. Healers, diviners and prophets are common in Traditional African Religions just as in all other religions. In some places in Africa the chief king Is considered a Godlike figure they have a connection to ancestors and the tribe Itself in a spiritually connected way. They are considered so sacred that one May not look on their faces for this is considered a taboo and disrespectful. In the past one hundred years have had to endure hardship in trying to preserve their

Culture manly during the time of the Europeans coming to Africa to try and break up Tribes and forcing other forms of authority and ways of life. Following World War 2 Africa became divided into over forty nations due to the pressure of urbanzation and Modernization increasing. An increase of conversion and Christianity will increase if This continues. In addition Many Africans continue to practice traditional religions while Combining other faiths such as Christianity and Islam into their way of life, such as the Christian belief in saints and the belief of Jinns in Islam. Struggles for national Independence, equality and human rights have been a main concern for African American Leaders they include Dr. Martin Luther King JR, Malcolm X and archbishop Desmond Tutu of south Africa.