from Cultinvator - Monday, February 23, 2004
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I had to take a multicultural prerequisite class to transfer, so Anthropology of religion: magic and folklore religion seemed like an interesting way to cover this requirement and get some material insight into a very ambiguous field, that of religion from a scientific perspective.
Coincidently, I later found out that George Lucas had taken this same class before creating the Star Wars episodes, which explains the strong metaphoric value and captivating power of his ritualistic style. Having come from a sect like that of the COG/TF I found it quite enlightening to take a closer look at the unity and diversity of religions as a whole throught the world, both primitive and the highly organised more stratified religions. Really it's pretty trippy for anyone who is not into being a complete reprogrammed squarehead. And you don't have to be holding hands singing cumbaya to appreciate the more longlasting features of human civilazation both in ritual and belief.
For me personally, I've found it to be useless to ignore my past and just look away at all the influences that have played in my upbringing. I obvously don't have to agree with what has taken place, and I really to hate all the shit we had to go through, but there is a lot of things that are really not that different from religions all over the world, patterns if you will, that are really not all that magical to figure out, positive and negative. Our past reality is no less important than that of mr cool guy next door. And there is litte reason to label each other with cult stereotypes projecting our past negativity.
For one, I've found that one of the first steps in figuring out the basis, origin, and history of what our dogma entailed is to dig into the evasive manipulation of language used by Berg, twisted into his obvious trickster method of control. One of the first steps is to find a more standardized, scientific approach at the language defining concepts relating to what our every day was. I'm talking about terms which I for one were used so loosely that they've lost all meaning whatsoever in the culture I grew up in. Really, like mr. smartass 'lack of existerce below', this topic is not to everyone's interest. I don't really care. I'm not really here to get attention, although I'm not entirely running from it. Sure, I like attention just like I guess most people when they look at themselves honestly. I actually really am seriously interested in just simply using these terms as springboards to further analysis of the psychology of religion, as well as the social implications of what experiences like the one's we've gone through have on us, and those who are still in the group. It's just list of terms, I don't think anyone should feel like I'm trying to impress anyone, or show off. Sometimes those who are not into something, or are just not informed about an area of study, scoff at those who are, as if we're trying to get some kind of 'underserved attention' for whatever reasons. That's just their prerogative. I think that comes closer to someone with identity issues, not wit.
I don't have to be a stand up comedian to talk about something that affected most of us, but if you wanna get into it like that, I don't have a problem with that... It's not that serious actually. I thought the whole class was pretty fucking funny. The terms below however, are kind of nerdy and just pasted out of the textbook. Words like Mazeway re-synthesis, and how stress is just another defense mechanism to adapt to change and threats kind of brings up a lot of questions in my mind as to how we've been dealing with our lives. Are we just merging with a consensus of conformers, taking the easy road of cheat stereotypes instead of experiencing life directly for what it is stripped of cliches and oversimplifications just to run from our problems?
Well, I don't want to read into this too much, here is a list of some of the terms we covered. So if anyone wants to get into some of the topics relevant to any of these terms I'd totally dig a debate on how the related to our previous life and today's views on religious experience.
Cultural relativism – The approach to interpreting meaning that holds that the meanings of any custom are most accurately understood in the light of the cultural context from which they derive.
Supernatural – Pertaining to beings and powers that are believed to lie beyond the real of natural things.
Animism – the belief in spiritual beings
Mana – Supernatural force or power
Totem – A symbolic representation of the kind of spirit believed to be shared by members of the same totemic clan.
Taboo – Rules against doing things that are believed to offend supernatural beings or trigger negative supernatural effects of mana.
Soul – A spirit that is believed to animate the human body.
Ghost – Disembodied human souls that linger and do harm to living humans.
Sacred – The quality of things that differ from the profane, or ordinary, everyday, work-a-day world, and are set apart and forbidden because of the special feeling the inspire.
Profane – The realm of ordinary, everyday, work-a-day world experience.
Magic – Religious rituals that are believed to actually compel the supernatural to behave in a particular way as long as they are done without error.
Ritual – Stereotyped sequence of behaviors that are associated with particular emotions and that are rationalized – that is, made meaningful – by the supernatural beliefs of the performers.
Supernaturalistic – Pertaining to beings and powers that are believed to lie beyond the realm of natural things.
Naturalistic – Thinking that distinguishes carefully between the human experience of internal objects and events and the experience of external phenomena and that explains internal phenomena in terms of biological processes and external phenomena in terms of other external phenomena.
Anthropomorphism – Thinking that perceives human qualities in the nonhuman world.
Myth – A religion’s sacred story about supernatural beings and powers and their roles in creating the universe and living things.
Legend – Stories about the early times in human existence that follow the times of mythology and whose characters, though heroic, are more like modern humans.
Fable- a short story with a moral, especially one in which the characters are animals.
Cosmogony – The part of a religion ideology that consists of stories describing the origin of the gods, nature and the universe, and human beings.
Cosmology – Beliefs about the nature of and principles by which the universe is believed to operate.
Pantheon - The supernatural powers and beings of any cosmogony.
Supernatural being- Beings that are believed to lie beyond the realm of natural things.
Supreme Being- A supernatural entity who is believed to have greater power
than all other supernatural beings combined.
Values – Combinations of rules and corresponding feelings about what ought to be and not be, what is good or evil, desirable or undesirable.
Rites of passage- Rituals held to celebrate important changes in social status and roles in various times in the life cycle.
Calendrical ritual – Routine ritual performed at designated scheduled dates throughout the year.
Ceremony – A complex sequence of rituals.
Mazeway resynthesis – A psychological process in which a person reorganizes his system of values and the way he understands his own identity, the nature of human society, and the nature of the natural environment.
Mystical experience – An ecstatic psychological state of feeling oneself merged with the divine.
Catharsis – The sudden, spontaneous discharge of emotional tension when a distressful emotion occurs at aesthetic distance.
Stress – The psychological changes by which the body begins to mobilize its energies to ward off disease or bodily tension from other causes.
Altered states of consciousness (trance)
Prayer – The use of language to influence the supernatural beings and powers.
Symbols – Objects or events that stand for something else only because humans have established a consensus about what they mean.
Signs – Objects or actions that have a natural meaning, based on the similarity between them and what they stand for, their consistent co-occurrence in nature with the things the stand for, or a connection between the two that is determined by biology.
Icons – An object that stands for something symbolically, usually holding a widely recognized Significance. A sacred object such as a crucifix, a crescent star, etc...
Structural meaning – Meanings that are encoded into the way a story is organized; the relationship among the mythic symbols of myths and legends that form the underlying structure of the story and that convey a message concerning the tensions or conflicts in a society’s ideology.
Functional meaning- Meanings that function as a stabilizing force affecting a society.
Monotheism – The belief in a high deity who maintains order within the universe as a whole and who is supreme over all other supernatural beings.
Polytheism – A belief in many gods, none of who is supreme over the others.
Reincarnation – The idea that spirits may be reborn, usually into one’s own group, after a period of existence in the spirit world.
Witchcraft – The use of an innate, spiritual power to harm others.
Sorcerer- One who uses magical rituals to harm other human beings.
Trickster – One who acts on impulse rather than thoughtfully, who enjoys playing jokes on others, and who often represents unconstrained or adolescent sexuality.
Language – A distinctively human system of communication that governs the use of spoken symbols to communicate information.
Ideology – The shared beliefs that define a social group and that are passed down from one generation to the next.
Liturgy – a ritual or ceremony practiced as a from of public worship or devotion.
Literalism – The approach to understanding texts that assumes that they are best understood without taking the words as similes, analogies, and metaphors.
Nonliteralism – An interpretation that assumes the words of the text may mean more than the seem to when taken at face value.
Religious order- A structured religion or sub-religious group/community who hold a common set of beliefs.
Code – a law, set of rules/ or a system of letters or numbers that gives information about something.
Sect- Denomination that works within an established religious tradition but regards its distinctive doctrines and practices as uniquely true and valid in contrast with those of other denominations who the judge to have departed from correct belief and practice.
Church – Large religious denomination whose religious ideologies tend to support the customs and values of the societies in which they are found; they rely on highly trained, professional religious leaders to carry out their rituals.
Glossolalia- The production of sound sequences that have no conventional meanings in speech like acts.
Paradox – Statements that are true if and only if they are false but false if and only if they are true.
Canon – The works that are considered religiously authoritative in a religion that has written sacred texts.
Shaman- A part-time, charismatic religious specialist who conducts rituals for individual clients.
Priest – Religious specialists who mediate between the supernatural realm and humans performing traditional rituals for congregations at scheduled times.
Prophets – The charismatic founders of new religions who base their teachings on the claim of personal revelation from the supernatural rather than from the study and interpretation of a preexisting theology.
Cult institution – A set of rituals all having the same general goal, all explicitly rationalized by a set of similar or related beliefs, and all supported by the same social group.
Soul loss – The belief that one’s spirit has left one’s body, causing the body to languish, sicken, and perhaps die.
Spirit possession – The belief that a spirit has entered a person’s body and taken control of his or her behavior, sometimes–particularly if the experience was not achieved intentionally through ritual – causing distress and/ or illness.
Object intrusion – The belief that an illness has been caused by the presence of a foreign body, a “disease object,” in the patient’s body.
Taboo violation – In the diagnosis of illness the belief that illness may result from the breaking of a spiritual rule.
Adaptation – Change toward becoming more adjusted to the environmental circumstance which a people must cope with.
Revitalization movements – New religious movements who’s formulated beliefs of a new world view, values , and rituals result as from a mazeway resynthesis. They usually arise in response to major cultural stress periods.
Nativistic – associated with a quality by which native people attempt to reassert parts of their traditional culture as a reaction against domination by foreign powers.
Millenarianism- The religious belief in a future “Golden Age” in which the evils of today’s world no longer exist; it is often thought that this age will be ushered to the action of powerful supernatural forces.
Apocalyptic – A cataclysmic end of the world, often viewed as being in the near future, that will be brought about by divine intervention and that is often expected to be accompanied by major economic and political disasters and warfare between the righteous and the evil.
Secularization- The process by which sectors of society and culture are removed from the domination of religious institutions and symbols; the diminution of the social significance of religion.
Fundamentalism – An orientation toward religion that is characterized by and emphasis on text-based beliefs as absolute truth, a worldview that portrays its followers as being opposed by powerful or dangerous enemies, both supernatural and human, and political activism aimed at recruiting others to one’s beliefs, fighting back against the enemies one perceives as being opposed to one’s beliefs and values, and creating a society that is guided by one’s religious beliefs and values.
Relative deprivation – (Status Discrepancy) The perception of a discrepancy between one’s expectations of success and one’s actual achievements.