Aboriginal Religion, Christianity, and Islam Essay

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¶ … Aboriginal Religion, Christianity, and Islam... 500 words per question (total of 1500 words)

Examine the ways in which Aboriginal religion has influenced the beliefs and practices of indigenous people beyond traditional movements.

Aboriginal religion and culture conceives of time and space in a fundamentally different manner than traditional Western culture (Stanner 1968: 33). The past is not separate from the present, and ancestors have a real, material presence in the immediate world. There is no clear divide between dead and living and both continue to influence one another (Stanner 1968: 20). Time itself is an elastic concept as is space. Aborigines, rather than viewing themselves as possessing and controlling the land see themselves as 'of' the land. Aboriginal religion focuses on the need for natural self-acceptance and the acceptance of the material world, rather than dominance over it or rejection of it (Stanner 1968: 20). While Western philosophy "endeavoured in a scientific, free and unprejudiced spirit to answer the problem in a rational way" the aborigines emphasized a more spiritual understanding of existence (Stanner 1968: 34). The very cosmos itself is seen as alive (Rose 1987: 260).

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Elements such as sun and rain are viewed as autonomous beings, not as objects that must be understood in a scientific sense or as something that must be mastered (Rose 1987: 261). "To harm or neglect the mother" is to be "rootless and witless" in one's treatment of the earth (Rose 1987: 265). Regarding food, in contrast to the Western emphasis on total abstention for meat and horror of killing, the aboriginal understanding of the relationship of human to nature is to embrace meat-eating but to do so mindfully, and to see sustenance as a gift from the earth (Rose 1987: 265).

Essay on Aboriginal Religion, Christianity, and Islam... 500 Words Assignment

Although aboriginal concepts of the human-earth relationship are clearly very different from those embraced in modern society, many indigenous ideas have gained traction in the modern environmentalist movement, which stresses the need for human stewardship of the earth and the responsibility of people to take care of the planet. Rather than viewing human beings as 'owning' the planet and having a right to dispose of it as they wish, based upon property rights, individuals, corporations, and governments owe a sense of responsibility to the planet. Also tied to this sense of obligation is the right of future generations -- as yet unborn -- to have a planet that is clean and livable. This expands the linear sense of time and present and commodity-focused perspective of capitalism that has dominated Western society until recently. Merely because something is profitable in the short-term does not necessarily make it 'correct.'

Calls to reform the modern food system have also been influenced by aboriginal philosophy. Although there are many vegetarian environmentalists who stress the environmental drain of meat production, there is a new movement to create sustainably-raised meats and other forms of agriculture which are less wasteful and are more attuned to the natural processes of human-animal relationships. After disdaining the aboriginal belief structures and way of life for so long, people living in industrialized, modern societies are better able to recognize the earth's value, and also the costs of unfettered consumption and land exploitation.

Question 2: Discuss some key similarities and differences between two significant Christian groups.

Protestantism and Catholicism are the two major forms of Western Christianity. After the Church split into Western and Eastern hierarchies, the notion of the Church as an institutionalized authority, passed down through the apostolic tradition persisted -- until Martin Luther famously articulated a radical critique of the Papist tradition in his 95 Theses. "In contrast to Catholicism, which stressed the authority of the church, Luther gave primacy to individual experience, the radical notion that the individual could communicate directly with God and seek his or her own salvation, without the intermediating authority of the church or priests" (the Protestant Reformation, 2010, God in America.). Luther believed that salvation is possible through faith alone, not through 'good works' as famously espoused in the Church. His 95 Theses was motivated by the selling of 'indulgences' in the Church, or the idea that donations to the Church could 'buy back' years spent in purgatory for sin. Luther did not believe in the 'halfway house' between heaven and hell of purgatory -- there is no mention of it in the Bible.

As Lutheranism began to take form, it exhibited significant differences from the Roman Catholic Church. Lutheranism was called a religion 'of the book,' because rather than Church teachings upon Christ's words, Luther believed that scripture was the sole source of authority. To reduce the sense of 'mystery' or division between members of the clergy and laity, the Bible came to be translated into the vernacular, or common tongue, so people could read it themselves and have an individualistic experience of God. Luther did away with much of the Church hierarchy. Although priests still exist in the Lutheran Church, they do not play the 'mediating' role between the individual and God as played in Catholicism. "Luther believed that each individual has the right to reach God through Scripture with responsibility to God alone. It is not necessary for a priest to mediate" (Fairchild 2013). In Lutheranism, there are no saints, and rather than the mediating role played by Mary in Catholicism, although Mary is honored, she is not given nearly as prominent a role as in Roman Catholicism. Because of Lutheranism's focus upon faith rather than physical acts in the material world, there is no requirement of celibacy for priests as in Catholicism, and no celibate orders of nuns and monks.

Luther did away with much of the ostentation of Church decorations, vestments, and other trappings of wealth. Today, the Catholic mass is no longer in Latin, but Lutheranism is far more independent in its orientation than Catholicism: "there is today no uniform liturgy belonging to all branches of the Lutheran body" (Fairchild 2013). Lutheranism also invalidated many of Catholicism's most dearly-held theological concepts. For example, in Lutheranism, there is no notion of Original Sin, and there is both adult and infant baptism. There is also no notion of transubstantiation in Lutheranism, or the idea that Christ is literally present in the wine and bread of the Mass (Fairchild 2013).

Question 3: Write a summary in a few paragraphs of some key aspects of Islam making use of the following terms in a context which makes it clear that you understand their meaning.

The concept of 'umma' is that of an Islamic state, or a common, united sense of Islam that transcends national divisions. This notion was extremely influential during the Pan-Islamic movement, which attempted to create bonds of unity between all predominantly Muslim, Arab countries, transcending national interests and divides. Islam has always been a religion with a strong sense of 'place' which is also reflected in the concept of 'hirja' or the journey of Mohammed and his followers from Mecca to Medina. Both places are sacred in Islam, and one of Islam's pillars is that all able-bodied and healthy Muslims must make a pilgrimage to Mecca before they die called the hajj. The fact that Mohammed was persecuted during the early stages of Islam defined and shaped the faith's concept of outsiders vs. insiders. Despite the many divides which have torn the Muslim world apart the notion of the hajj does suggest that there must be some commonality of behavior and lifestyle between all Muslims. (the African-American black Muslim nationalist Malcolm X famously became de-radicalized after making the hajj and seeing the brotherhood of all human beings, all Muslims, side-by-side).

This concept of pillars of the faith is consistent with the overall concept of 'sunna' or a way of righteousness that must be followed by all Muslims that is not written in the Quran (holy book of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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