CHAPTER 1 Studying Religion in Global Society Studying Religion - Using a Phenomenological Approach – A descriptive method by which scholars try

to accurately describe and interpret religious phenomena without making judgments about the truth of religious conceptions - Investigate phenomena that until recently have not been part of traditional religious studies (indigenous North Americans, African Americans_ - We take a cross-cultural and a multicultural approach. o Cross-cultural analysis – Examination taking into account various cultures o Multicultural analysis – Examination across diverse ethnic and racial groups Why Study Religion? Martin Marty, a foremost historian of Christianity in US offers 10 reasons to study: 1. Religion Kills – Lots of violence has an underlying religious dimension – Religion may kill through oppression and repression 2. Religion Heals o Seen in medicine of modern And undeveloped world o Provides motivation for those who help o Peacemaking, and reconciliation 3. Religion is Globally persuasive (many people associate with religion) 4. Religion is the soul of Culture (Art, architecture, music, dance, etc.) 5. Religion is a mysterious subject which many try to decipher 6. There is a religious element in many aspects of human life 7. Religion is Protean o Greek mythological figure Proteus, who could change shapes at will o Motivates some of the most positive and most negative human behavior 8. Religion is one of the most revealing dimensions of pluralism o Pluralism – a condition characterized by a multitude of different groups 9. The study of religion is practical (political, advertising, personal relations 10. Religion attracts a scholarly cohort of experts Preparing for a Global Society - Important reason to study religion: We are evolving into a global society, to foster communication with different people we need to understand their religion Globalization – Massive proves of social change resulting from the growing interconnectedness of human social, cultural, economic, and religious life that is altering human activities on a planetary wide scale - Religion promotes yet (certain people) resists the globalization process - A different context of “doing religion” or being religious

Social Change and Time Two ancient Greek concepts of time that are important for the understanding of the transition to a global society - Chronos (Chronological) – step-by-step ordering of time (past, present, future) - Kairos – A moment in history “pregnant with expectancy.” A large-scale change is occurring or will occur at any time o Lots of historical figures came at the fullness of time  Brought the effect on large portions of humanity and significantly altered the future of the world. o Ex. Jesus came at a moment in history when God prepared just the right conditions for his arrival History is more of a “flowing stream” than a clearly separated ordering of chronological events. We talk about Globalization in a Kairos form of time (since it is an ongoing process that began some time ago and is likely to continue for some time in the future) The Modern Period The Real-life shift from very traditional to ultramodern societies is a continuum, not an utterly abrupt event. BUT the break between pre-modern and modern societies is significant (Great Dichotomy – vast difference between traditional and modern societies) Traditional Societies - Rural societies where there is a strong sense of community and moral obligation (which is often based on religion) - The group (family, village, religion), not the individual, was important. - Expected to make sacrifices for the group. - Wisdom of elders was the proper authority (choosing mates for young people) - Little diversity in traditional societies… a single ethnic group, single way of life, a single religion - Societies were spiritual. - If someone was ill they would perform rituals, the medicine man or woman who prepared concoctions was called a shaman (traditional man or woman) CHANGES began with the Protestant Reformation (16th century) and by the 19th century a new type of social system was emerging. Modern Societies - People no longer lived in small groups but in larger cities - Hard to know people around you and who to trust - Sense of community began to dissolve, no obligations to kinship - Relationships therefore assumed a new basis, becoming founded only on legal, limited contracts, instead of personal relationships. (Legal vs. Moral duties) - Pluralistic o People of diverse ethnic, religious, class, and vocational backgrounds. o Organizations were no longer based on natural, ethnic identity,

Modern Societies tend to have an individualistic worldview that focuses on individual versus collective interest (Individual happiness and rights are most important) Modern Societies stress rationality which underlies business actions, political judgments and intimate relations Science emerged during the Modern Period - Became the way to know truth while revelation, intuition and tradition were though to be purveyors of half-truth The Loss of the spiritualized world of traditional societies led to a mechanistic, materialistic vision of the cosmos - The universe became disenchanted, aka flatland universe o A universe limited to the material realm and therefore devoid of meaning or purpose. o No hierarchies, every living being is equal to every other living being. Religion in modern societies A conflict between the modern world and religion, it is seen in battles between scientific tenets, inquiry, and discoveries, and religious resistance to scientific approaches and discoveries - Ex. Conflict between Evolution and Creation science Religion insists that at root the universe is grounded in the Sacred, the Holy, or the spiritual, and that recognizing this is essential to truly understanding the material world. With the rise of rationality and science, the mechanistic, materialistic worldview of modernism came to dominate many people’s thinking Modernism brought with it a doctrine of secularism that often is pursues with “religious zeal.” Secularism – philosophy that seeks to remove society under the dominance of religion and to place it under the guidance of rational humanism Humanism – philosophy where humans, along with their well-being, needs, and happiness, determine the nature of good and evil Ex. Movement from governance by “the divine right of kings” to “the consent of the governed.” Relativism – truth, morals, ethics based on persons or groups holding them. Modernistic pluralism and flatland relativism have tended to bring together people of diverse backgrounds and at the same time deny that there is any way to establish the truth or even relative merit of religious concepts, practices, or morality. Religion  Private Experience Although this lessons conflict it undermines the role of religion in society - Cooperate on concerns like environmental problems - Power of faith to produce positive social change.

Modernism - Produced a number of contributions to social development o technology, medicine, increased production, and civil rights, human rights, and social justice - Negative contributions o Environmental destruction, exploitation of less fortunate, discrepancy between poor and rich, and undermining of community, growing consumerism, lack of moral communities. Globalization and the Creation of Global Society - Globalization represents an unfolding of trends origination in modernism o Ex. The idea of human rights, traceable to ancient Greek culture, but recently a notion of universal, global human rights came forefront (UN’s Universal declaration of Human Rights) o UDHR – recognizes certain rights attached to all humans because they are human. These rights cannot be denied to anyone.  This transcends local customs and beliefs (beating wife’s no longer allowed which was acceptable in some cultures) GLOBALIZATION Connected with the spread of Western Civilization A new worldwide culture is being formed - By culture we mean a shared way of life which binds people or peoples together into a society - Globalization is creating a common way of life for all the peoples of the world and is binding them into what is called a “planetary-wide society” Globalization is not welcomed by all, many people (violently at times) resist. Traditional societies do not want the destruction of their societies. Globalization does not mean that there is no room for considerable local variations - Medical care, western scientific medicine vs. local medicine. Globalization occurs on two levels. - Objective globalization – The increasing planetary interconnectedness of human social activity and the worldwide effects of repercussions of that activity. o Ex. Worldwide commerce, globe-spanning institutions, companies advertising to global audiences (McDonalds) - Subjective Globalization – the social redefinition of identities and worldviews that emerges from the human confrontation and dialogue caused by objective globalization (Remaking who we are on the inside) The most troubling element in the redefinition involves identity. Identity is the way individuals and peoples understand themselves along with the way they see themselves relating to other peoples, the natural world, and the spiritual world. The boundaries that

are used to separate people are breaking down  defining oneself, one’s people, one’s nation, and one’s religion in more universal terms. - Many people feel that their personal and group identity is threatened and that their cherished way of life is being undermined A key element in subjective globalization involves shifts in personal and collective value systems. A value system involves the desired patterns of life, states of being, or outcomes of social life by which individuals and collectives measure the quality of their existences and the direction of their activities. Particularism  Universalism - Moving away from local standards of value system to wider frames of reference. - Ex. Arranged marriages to Choosing wife Modernism tended to see the universe in a mechanistic, materialistic fashion. This led to rational instrumentality as the dominant mode of engaging the universe. This means that human reason can be used to manipulate the universe and its component parts to suit human needs and desires. This approach is based that the universe is a dead machine and that humans are superior to the material world. Humans have come to be viewed as creatures among other creatures of the world. New model of the universe is emerging; process is called re-enchanting the universe. - Means that there is a strong tendency to see the material universe as alive with spirit. - THIS IS A RETURN TO ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE UNIVERSE THAT WERWE DOMINANT PRIOR TO MODERNISM!! o Also known as return to animism Two Axial Periods An axial period is an era of time around which subsequent history rotates - The First Axial Period was an era around 800-200 BCE in which huge changes in human though occurred (development of Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, also works of Socrates, Aristotle, Plato) o Stressed the individual knowing oneself, reflection on nature and society and personal development  made the way for individual spirituality seem subjective  split between the material and the spiritual - Second Axial Period which is happening now, is reshaping human consciousness, moving from divergence to convergence o Religion seeks both to celebrate their diversity and to find common ground. Religion, Universalism, and Particularism - Before the first Axial Period tribal societies were concerned with their own gods with the hope of providing prosperity, power, fertility, or other desirables for themselves. Very little relation of one tribe’s gods’to other tribes’.


BUT with the First Axial Period there was a movement towards universalism which involved religions converting others.

Historically and in the contemporary period, religion has been deeply involved with the growing quest for universals. At the same time, religion frequently is embroiled with the assertion of particularism. Particularism - Positive: maintain culture identity and protect way of life - Negative: prejudice, discrimination, violence against persons of different religions. Religion in a Re-enchanted Universe Religion, it seems, advocated a subjectively experienced, intuitive, spiritual universe, while science advanced on objectively observed, rational universe operative according to discoverable laws. HOWEVER there is a growing lack of faith in science to deliver on all its promises, while many have found the rational world of science emotionally unrewarding. Science and religion together, in a combined effort to describe a meaningful, rather than mechanistic universe, may now be in a position to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of our world and of ourselves, helping to define a new global society.

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