The word "religion" can have as many meanings as there are people on this planet. Each person has heir own interpretation of what religion means to themselves and the people around them. Religion is an organized community of many different types of groups that believe in their own divine being or beings, stories about why something is the way that it is, and some type of celebration involving each member of their faith.
The first part of the definition is the basis of the word "religion." "It is an organized community of many different types of groups " To be part of this definition, each religious affiliation must be organized. Certain types of rules or bylaws need to be present. For example, Christianity's first set of these was the Ten Commandments. From there, each Christian faith set their own bylaws about what their beliefs are. This could be anything from a decision on abortion, to whether or not you should have sex before marriage. But in the end, each religion has written what their particular faith and its members should believe in.
This leads into the second part of the definition, " believe in their own divine being or beings," and " stories about why something is the way that it is " All religious groups from Christianity and Buddhism, to some African tribe in Kenya, all have some form of a divine being. The Christians believe in their one God, the Muslims believe in Allah, the Buddhists believe in Buddha, and so on. The different tribes around the world believe in either one or many gods. Those who believe in one divine being, think of him as the one who made the world what it is today. Those who believe in many gods believe the same thing, but each god has their own stories, like the early Greek gods Apollo, god of the sun, and Poseidon, god of the sea. The belief in a divine being, whether one or many, begins the second half about stories and myths. Each religion has a number of stories meaning a number of different things. They all have a creation story. These stories are what people told one another about how the earth was first started. Other stories told could include anything from why a certain historical event happened the way it did, to why a tree grows the way it does. Myths were used to explain what could not be proven. With the scientific advances today, scientists have proven a great deal of things, but one that they are still unsure of is the beginning of the earth, and those are the myths that people are still hearing today.
The last portion of the definition is just as important as the others, yet not many think of it that way. That is, " some type of celebration involving each member of their faith." If someone asks another person, "What religion are you?" and that person responds, "Catholic," is he or isn't he? To really be a part of a religion, a person not only must believe in everything in that faith, but they also need to participate in some way. Christians have their Sunday church, and Muslims have their Five Pillars to follow. If this "Catholic" says this because he believes in the faith, but he doesn't participate, then he is not really a true Catholic. It is almost like being asked if you play soccer for the school. You reply yes because you do. So the first impression that the other person gets is that you play varsity and that you have decent skill. But you sit the bench for the junior varsity team, which means your skills aren't there, but since you play the game, you belong in that group of soccer players. That's why participation is important: to tell others physically, vocally and mentally, that you are part of that faith. Also, the more you participate, the more you learn about your faith. So by participating, you become part of that community.
For those who are non-religious, this definition is simple. Every religion has all these four points: organization, divine being, stories or myths, and some way for each individual to participate. Since there are so many religions out there, pick one with stories, myths, and laws that you can relate to. By reading these and believing in these, you will start understanding their divine being. After all of that, go to events and make yourself known. Then you will fully understand this definition of religion.
Finally, one word that hadn't been talked about in the definition is "community." A community is a group of different persons that all have something in common. There are hundreds of religious groups in this world. Community is used in the definition because the word "religion" doesn't talk about just one group, but all the groups that can fit into this definition. A Christian here in America and another in Europe. A Jew in Asia and another here in America. Are all part of this community that believe in their own divine being or beings, stories about why something is the way that it is, and some type of celebration involving each member of their faith.
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When searching for the meaning of the term religion one most go a long way in making an extensive search to actually form a definition that can fit such a broad word. There is no one definition that can satisfy all religions and remain true to all religions throughout its answer. There are many different views and definitions of the word and it is very hard to come up with a reasonable definition that sums such a massive expression up. Religion when used as a single word is almost impossible to define. Different people especially in different religions will all have a difference in opinion when trying to use very few words to define religion. I feel that the definitions in the book are all correct to some extent and may be missing a few important factors or have overextended the meaning to apply to only some religions and or faiths.
In the functional definitions that were defined in the book and by Clifford Geertz, I found little error and would like to expand on my opinion on their definitions. The book defined religion, if I remember correctly as, any person's reliance upon a pivotal value was that person finds essential wholeness as an individual and as a person-in-community." Well, I broke the definition down into similar terms to appreciate its meaning. I interpreted this definition as someone's dependence on an essential value where that person finds it necessary for personal completeness. In other words ones religion is what it takes for that individual to feel complete, I do not feel that this is true for all religions. Now when I broke it down for my personal clarity, I found error in this definition. Not all people practicing a religion would agree that they depend on their religion to complete them as a whole. Yes this would be true of most religions but not of all religions. That is why I find it erroneous when it is being used to define a word that has many more options for words of choice than referring to it as being necessary for wholeness, when some people see their religious practices as daily stress reducers and not as completing them as individuals. I believe the feeling of completion in your life is a personal view and to whom that person shares an identity with. This would include close family and religious family.
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Defining Religion Long Way Important Factors Wholeness Clifford Error Broad Definitions Clarity Religions
Geertz definition of religion that is defined in our text, states that religion has two major functions. The first function was defined as a comprehensive system of symbolic meanings for understanding the nature of reality. The other function is said to be a system of values that enforce complete devotion. The two functions together are in Geertz opinion inseparable. I described my interpretation of the definition so that you can understand how comprehended the definitions. I agree with Geertz on all aspects except that the symbolic meanings are for understanding the nature of reality. I feel that some symbolic gestures have personal meaning and are not symbolic to an individual or group to understand the nature of reality.
My views on religion as a whole involve worship and devotion. In neither one of the definitions is worship mentioned. Religion itself is all about worship to any higher being or belief. Religion to me is based on the supernatural in most religions. And I say that because most systems worship a good or have an organized belief system to which the worship something of the supernatural. Religion is a devotion to any religious faith. I understand that a religious faith can be that in which someone performs rituals and strongly believes in the rituals in which they are performing to enlighten or connect them to a higher status. As long as you believe yourself in something and it seems to empower you as a human being, I would consider that to be a religion. It is personal perception of what you believe in and how it can affect your life or you fell that it affects the lives around you. It does not take an institutionalized system for a religion to be formed. I think that religion is inner not of the outer being. Religion is also based on a group or individual's attitude and interpretation of what they believe in. I think that all religions are being greatly altered for different reasons. With the things that go on around us, one may except some but not all the laws of a certain religion, and began to alter their religious beliefs in that system to one that they can better relate to. If a person is seeing constant violence within their environment and they are in a religion where they are being taught to "turn the other cheek," their view of that system will probably alter given the influences that they have everyday. That person would still consider themselves a follower of that religion, but with exceptions to certain beliefs and practices of that religion. This would be one example of how a religion may be altered. Religions are being altered and blended into other religions in so many ways, it is hard to distinguish of which religion some groups are following because they have incorporated other religions into their practices so that it adjust to their lifestyles.
The definitions used in the book are good definitions, but too broad. I think that both definitions are vague, but they are vague so that they stay in the guidelines of applying to all religions. It would be harder to personalize these definitions because once you add precision you lose different religion groups. I understand why these definitions not as precise as that of a certain religion like defining the Christianity Religion, or defining the Hindu Religion. When defining a certain religion it would be much easier to define that particular religion. The definition of religion is going to be viewed differently by different religious preferences. Coming up with a brief definition to define religion is not likely if you want to satisfy all religions at once. I feel that the definition of religion is each persons own inner opinion and that to each is own.