Three Religions Christianity Islam Hindu Christianity



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Three Religions

  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Hindu

Christianity

  • One God who has one son, Jesus Christ
  • Those who practice it are Christians
  • Christ is born in Palestine, but we call the state Israel
    • Teacher
    • Healer
  • Began practicing these works when he was about 30 years old (about 33-34 C.E.)

Christianity

  • Initially was a counter-culture movement
    • Women and slaves found equal spiritual value under its doctrines
    • Formed of people from three societies
      • Greeks, Romans, and Jews
        • Each of these was patriarchal
        • As the Church becomes institutionalized, various sects fight for dominance
          • The Pauline sect (St. Paul, the Epistles) wins
          • Encourages a return to traditional values

Christ and Women

  • Gospels and Epistles will show that the messages they communicate in regard to gender roles are very different.
    • The Gospels have no negative statements about women attributed to Jesus or his followers.  They reject the restrictive traditional roles of the time period. 
  • The resurrection story of Jesus is especially significant to gender studies because he appears to two women: Mary, his mother, and Mary Magdalene.
    • Contradicts the Hebrew tradition which hold that women cannot bear legal witness; they could not enter the synagogue; they were not credible as witnesses. 
    • It is not surprising that when the women went to the apostles and disciples to tell them about the resurrection that they were not believed.

Christ and Women

  • Jesus taught women the scriptures, which went against Rabbinic law, and accepted them as followers.
  • Jesus did not treat women as sex objects, and that during a time when women who transgressed sexually could be put to death, he preached forgiveness for these women.
  • Jesus rejected the blood taboo. Hebrew law held that menstruating women were social outcasts, were unclean, and were to be totally separated from society. Jesus accepts and includes these women in his teachings.

Early Demographics

  • Jo Ann McNamara notes in her essay “Matres Patriae/Matres Ecclesiae: Women of the Roman Empire” that women were in fact the largest demographic follower of Christ’s teachings. 
    • Whereas his male followers all tended to be humble and slaves, McNamara shows, his female followers spanned the entire social range, and it is because many of his followers were wealthy females that his ideas were able to be promoted and proliferated both before and after his death. Without the influence, missionary work, political work, and sometimes martyrdom of women, Christ’s ideas might have died out or been eradicated.

Historical Context

  • The Roman Empire was falling, there had been many men lost in the wars and the remaining ruling population consisted of mostly women
  • The Greeks and Jews, as the conquered, also lost many men in this war period
  • Rome ruled with their polytheistic culture, and they began to be infiltrated by Egyptian religions, as well
    • Temples of Isis
    • For 200 years Christians were persecuted until a measure of tolerance was reached, and then finally, about 100 years later, it became official religion.
  • Temple of Isis, Pompeii

Pauline Strategy

  • To set themselves apart from the other religions
  • To recruit members they needed to convince them that they were different than the other cults. 
    • They decided to advocate a greater respect for life;
    • They decided not to adorn themselves, as many of the materialistic Roman culture did;
    • They would be more associated with home and family and being peaceful, unlike the Romans who liked to socialize at parties and sporting events.
    • They decided that their men and women would be sexually restricted.  Christians would not participate in orgies or homosexuality, etc. They would be different. 
  • As part of this strategy, they would return to traditional gender roles; they would not liberate their women.  Again, as a strategy of survival, this would allow them to differentiate themselves from the other religions, which were seen as too liberal.

Christianity

  • Pauline Advice for Women’s Behavior
    • Women are to be sober and obedient, based on Titus 2:4-5;
    • to submit to their husbands, as advised in Colossians 3:18;
    • to accept men as their authority figures, in 1 Corinthians 11:3;
    • and to be silent in church, as described in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Cult = a new religion, sociologically

  • Cult = a new religion, sociologically
    • Christianity in the beginning was new, a small group
    • Established by Jews
      • Christ = Jewish
    • Accepted many people pf many faiths as it grew
  • Sect = offshoot of an established religion

Doctrine

  • All people are alike in spirit
    • Ethnic group does not matter
    • Race does not matter
    • Religion does not matter
  • Christianity is monotheistic, like Judaism
    • Christianity challenges Roman polytheism

Text

  • Christians use the Bible
    • Old Testament
      • From Hebrew heritage and Judaism
      • Contains histories, songs, poetry and laws
    • New Testament
      • Represents the life and death of Christ
        • Gospels = story of Christ’s life
        • Epistles = establish Christianity and its policies
  • Christianity becomes institutionalized eventually (losing its cult status)

11th Century

  • Christianity divides East and West, when East refuses to recognize the Roman Pope as head of Church
    • East = Greek Orthodox
      • Constantinople was center
      • Istanbul, Turkey now
      • Fell to Islam in 1453, losing power
      • Moved north to Russia and south to Greece
    • West = Roman Catholic
      • 1517, Religious wars
        • Crusades and Inquisition
        • The Reformations
          • Catholics and Lutherans split
          • Later Lutherans will split into other Protestant denominations

Colonialism

  • Converting natives of “third-world” countries to Christianity by force, combining religion with economics
  • Beginning in 15th century and extending through the 18th and 19th centuries and still today

Demographics Today

  • Christianity is the world's most widely practiced religion, with 2 billion adherents
    • Christianity has many branches, including 1.1 billion Roman Catholics, 367 million Protestants in a number of traditions, 216 million Orthodox, 84 million Anglicans, 414 million Independents (unaffiliated with the major streams of Christianity), and 31.7 million "marginals" (Jehovah's Witnesses, Latter Day Saints (Mormons), etc.), these last being denominations which describe themselves as Christian but are not recognized as such by other denominations.
  • Although Christianity is the largest religion in the world and there are massive missionary efforts under way, its overall rate of growth is slower than that of some other faiths and of the world population as a whole.
    • The population of the world grows at roughly 1.25% per year, but Christianity is growing at about 1.12% per year.
    • By contrast, Islam is growing at 1.4% per year. The slow growth can be attributed to most of the Christian population residing in affluent nations where the birth rate is quite low.

Islam

  • Arabic word for “peace” and “surrender”
    • The peace that comes from the surrender to God
    • Practioners are Muslims
    • Younger religion
    • Dominates the Middle East and North Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh
    • 1/5 people in the world are Muslims

Mohammed

  • Born in Mecca in 570 C.E., now Saudi Arabia
  • Islam is based on his teachings
  • He is not the son of God but God’s last prophet; he is the last messenger of God
    • They recognize the Judaic prophets and Christ as God’s prophets
  • Their text is the Koran; God is Allah
    • Allah revealed His will to Mohammed
    • Since Mohammed is last, his word is final, the seal
  • Therefore, Islam is the one true religion (according to its followers)

Islam’s Split

  • After Mohammed’s death in 632 C.E., two religions are formed:
    • Sunni
      • Dominant in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East
      • Any good man can become a prophet and a religious leader
    • Shiites
      • Dominant in Iran
      • Only male descendents of Mohammed can be religious leaders
      • Hussein killed 4,000 people in battle and was martyred: self-sacrifice is hero-ified; the highest you can go is to kill yourself for your religion

Muslims

  • Are forbidden to drink or take drugs
  • Pray five times a day
  • Follow other requirements
    • Basic unit of social life = family
      • Husbands and fathers in total control
      • No public role for women
      • Polygamous
      • No separation between church and state, theocracy
    • The state is the law; Allah provides all legislation and laws in the Koran

Demographics Today

  • Based on the percentages published in the 2003 CIA Factbook, Islam is the second largest religion in the world. Islam is growing faster numerically than any other religion; this growth is attributed mainly to a higher birth rate than other religions, and partly to a high conversion rate.
  • The Muslim population today comprises a total of 1.48 billion, 22.82% of the world's population.
  • The world population is growing at about 1.10% per year, but the percentage of Muslim population is increasing by 1.4% per year, mostly due to higher birth rate of African and Asian countries. Birth rates in many Muslim countries have begun to decline, although more slowly than in other nations, which also may be a factor.

Hinduism

  • Hinduism is one of the oldest major world religions faiths.
  • Hinduism is characterized by a diverse array of belief systems, practices and scriptures.
  • It has its origin in the ancient Indo-European Vedic culture at least as far back as 2000 BCE.
  • It is the third largest religion with approximately 940 million followers worldwide, 96% of whom live in the Indian subcontinent.
    • In the US alone, 3 million people follow some form of Hinduism.
    • After including Yoga followers, Hinduism has around 1.05 billion followers worldwide.

Hinduism

  • Common to all Hindus is belief in Dharma, reincarnation, karma, and moksha (liberation) of every soul through a variety of moral, action-based, and meditative yogas.
  • More fundamental principles include ahimsa (non-violence), the primacy of the Guru, the Divine Word of OM and the power of mantras, love of Truth in many manifestations as Gods and Goddesses, and an understanding that the essential spark of the Divine (Atman/Brahman) is in every human and living being, thus allowing for many spiritual paths leading to the One Unitary Truth.
  • Bindis are worn by Hindu women on their forehead to symbolize the opening of their spiritual third eye. Hindus across the board stress meditative insight, an intuition beyond the mind and body, a trait that is often associated with the ascetic god Shiva. Men, too, will bear on their foreheads the equivalent tilak mark, usually on religious occasions, its shape often representing particular devotion to a certain main deity.

Hinduism

  • Although Hinduism is very diverse, one of the possible things that unites all Hindus is the quest for enlightenment and to free oneself from the cycle of rebirth.
  • Another major concept is the concept of Ahimsa, which means "non-harm". Through this concept, strict movements of vegetarianism and tolerance grew. Hindus believe that everything in the world is part of the universal spirit, and therefore everything needs to be respected, preserved and protected.
  • Om, or Aum, is the most sacred syllable and quintessential symbol of Hinduism, representing the first manifestation of the unmanifest Brahman

Caste System

  • According to ancient Hindus, the four varnas (literally, 'colors') or castes had equal standing in the society and were based upon the duties to society and worked together towards the welfare of the society. According to this understanding, discrimination by caste is a perversion of dharma's true meaning.
    • Over a period of time the caste system has become rigid and discriminatory. In spite of centuries of numerous reform movements, notably within Vedanta, Bhatia Yoga and Hindu streams of Tantra, and reformers, with recent stalwarts like Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi, caste based discrimination is so deeply ensconced in the Indian consciousness that even Christian converts have been known to separate church meetings for different castes. A number of Muslim communities have retained caste practices as well.
  • Caste still plays a significant role in Hindu society; however, post Independence, caste is losing favor in India and caste-based discrimination has been legitimized.

Hinduism

  • Castes
    • Brahmin, priests
    • Kshatriya, warriors
    • Vaisy, artisans and merchants
    • Sudra, peasants
  • Upward mobility through reincarnation is done by being the best possible, making sacrifices, observing religious rituals, having faith . . . leads to moksha.

Woman’s Role within Hinduism

  • The best a woman can hope for is to come back as a man.
    • Purpose: To be a good wife to help her husband attain moksha, and to be a good mother to her sons
    • Good wife treats husband as a god
    • Virtues: self-sacrifice, submission, patience

Hindu Women

  • Are to behave as good women/wives, have little value as daughters until marriage
  • When widowed were to follow help ensure their husbands’ ascension by showing their devotion and to provide their own families with generations of good luck by killing themselves on the funeral pyre: Sati
  • If not Sati, were to give up all their worldly belongings and pray for their husbands’ success in moksha while begging on the streets
  • Sati means virtuous woman
  • Sati was banned in 1829


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