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Religion – Final Reflection Paper

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Religion – Final Reflection Paper

Introduction

Religion has many classifications, such as tribal, classical, transcendental and cosmological, usually based on one’s belief and understandings. Religion also has many definitions, usually based on one’s experience. A particular definition that I found was Religion originates in an attempt to represent and order beliefs, feelings, imaginings and actions that arise in response to direct experience of the sacred and the spiritual (Connelly, 1986). Religion also has many characteristics such as rituals, symbols and myths which play in an important part in how religion is viewed. We will take a look on how the definition, classification and characteristics of religion and how it ties into our understanding of the universe and our relationship with it.

Definition of Religion

Religion again has many definitions. Experts hint around that it’s a topic that is complex, and that any definition would leave out parts that make religion what it is. Connelly states “Religion originates in an attempt to represent and order beliefs, feelings, imaginings and actions that arise in response to direct experience of the sacred and the spiritual” (Connelly, 1986). Webster’s Dictionary defines religion as a system of attitudes, beliefs, and practices related to the supernatural. (Webster, 2001). Wikipedia suggests religion “as system of social coherence commonly understood as a group of beliefs or attitudes concerning an object, person, unseen or imaginary being, or system of thought considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine or highest truth, and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions, and rituals associated with such belief or system of thought. (Wikipedia, 2006).Each definition although different contains key words within it, ideas of spiritual, sacred, beliefs and feelings.

In the beginning, when man established the concept of purpose, the reason we are here on this earth, they needed to explain the unexplainable. When fire was introduced, they had to have an explanation for it. The fire became sacred, a mysterious manifestation of power and presence that is experienced as both primordial and transformative, inspiring awe and rapt attention (Connelly, 1986). How did this fire become to be? How can they control it? How could they ask for it? They became to believe that fire was provided by a God, the living giving source, as a way to survive. They started to worship fire, offering sacrifices for guidance and protection. The fire then became a God, possibly the individuals or tribes protector. As monotheism took over the world, what became sacred changed. Now tangible things like people and relics unlike nature became more sacred, stars and planets weren’t Gods, but part of a universe created by One God.

The spiritual is a perception of the commonality of mindfulness in the world that shifts the boundaries between self and other, producing a sense of the union of purposes of self and other in confronting the existential questions of life (Connelly, 1986). With the sacred (such as fire), people started to believe in Gods, creators of fire, lightning, and other unexplainable events. But what was left? Where did their people go after death? Who else is there to help them when God isn’t around? A cat acts strange, a dog starts barking at its owner, and then they wonder. What if animals were their ancestors trying to communicate with them, to guide through difficult times, to give advice when needed? The tribes began to look at nature as something different, a place where the spirits of their ancestors came to be, to continue to be a part of the tribal way of life. With monotheism, came other in the spiritual part of the world. Ancestors were no longer a part of this world; but of a heavenly body, part of a different world. No longer was there a need to consult with stars, animals and nature; but with God himself. We begin to understand our relationship with God, and our purpose in the universe.

Our beliefs and feelings play an important role in religion. If we believe in the supernatural or sacred of a rock, an animal, or place and it becomes a social aspect of the communities’ lives, then it has become a religion. These beliefs are based on experiences and as these experiences grow, they become traditions with significant events marking the history of the religion. With these tradition though, comes rituals, symbols and myths.

Religion characteristics

When tribes developed their religions, they created rituals, repeated pattern of a ceremony that has spiritual

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