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Religions Around the Globe and their Impact on Society in General. (Part 3 of 3)

Updated on May 10, 2014

Coming out of the darkness and into the light


Out of the Darkness and into the Light

This is a broad summary of world religions and how they are viewed by those who do not participate in them.

And how such 'sacred' rites, rituals, ceremonies and symbolisms are viewed as superfluous to the benefit of mankind in general.

Rites, Rituals, and Ceremonies:

That serve NO practical purposes.

Or do they?

Please bear in mind that this is just a broad overview of religions around the globe and certainly not intended to be all inclusive.

Religious Personalities:

Social learning and role influences help to account for variations in religious needs and activities, but more individualistic factors also enter in.

In "the Varieties of Religious Experience" , the U.S. Philosopher William James distinguishes between the religions of "healthy mindedness" and the religions of "the sick soul".

The healthy minded views life optimistically and he does not linger over the darker side of the human experience.

But the sick soul maximizes evil...."based on the persuasion that the evil aspects of our life are of its very essence, and that the world's meaning most comes home to us when we lay them most to heart".

This distinction was illustrated, more that tested in James's work, and is considered to be subject to value laden distortion.

However, it has stimulated extensive study of the varieties of religious experiences of: conversion, ecstasy, possession, revelation, joy, wonder, terror, mystical encounters, power, contentment, enlightenment and the expansion of self.

According to social scientists, religious experiences are not the direct expansion of inner forces, but rather a product of a transaction between an individual, with certain tendencies, and the surrounding social and physical environment.

In a ''Study of Trance '' (published the Journal for the scientific study of religion), in 1962, by U.S. Anthropologist, Alexander Alland, the interactive influences of heat, high levels of carbon dioxide, loud, rhythmic music that leads to sensor deprivation, the presence of 'significant others' to serve as models, lack of information and isolation, are examined.

When the various dimensions of religion have been isolated, each can be put on a scale.

Church members can range from

>nuclear (dedicated and active participation),

> to modal (usual),

> to marginal (occasional participation),

> dormant (in name only).

Thus the importance of religion is attributable to variations of individual concerns regarding suffering, injustice, meaninglessness and how these things actually effect their lives.

The Essence of Religion:

Attempts have been made to find an essential ingredient in all religions so that the essence of religion can be described. But because of the rich variety of man's religions it is impossible to find an appropriate name to describe that essence 'eo ipso' (by that fact alone).

Basically this means that not everything that appears in any one religion is a part of all other religions. And too, in some ideologies such as Soviet Marxism, Maoism, and Fascism, there are analogies that represent religious aspects as well.

The major differences being who (or what) represents the messiah figure:

  • adopting Christ as God in Christianity,
  • denying Christ as God by the Jewish religion,
  • Polytheism (worshiping multiple gods in other religions),
  • Also historically - Sun Worshipers, Moon Worship, and Nature worship as definite and complex systems of belief,
  • Pantheism (a belief system in which god is equated with the forces of the universe),
  • Deism (a belief system based on a non-intervening creator of the universe) - to name a few.

Sacred Rites, Ceremonies, Rituals, and Symbols:

"Worship" is man's response to the "sacred".

The 'sacred' is the power, being, realm, or the god at the center of the core beliefs of all religions.

Worship takes many forms (and often bizarre): rites, ceremonies, rituals and artifacts, all of which are mandated as an integral part of that worship by the individual religions for their participants (members) to follow.

Some of the most common artifacts, or symbols used in religions to symbolize or aid in some type of communication with their gods are: (note this is only a partial list to show the diversity of objects (symbols).

the ankh (Egyptian symbol of life), thrones, scepters, crowns (and other head dress), the halo (conceptual), wings (angels), chants, ceremonial drums, rhythmic songs, devotional songs, chalices, bells, the Jewish ark of the law, incense burners, torii, menorah, the shaman's drum, magic charms, the Buddhist parasol shaft, altars, stone walls (Jewish wailing wall), the cross (symbolizing the crucifixion), various sounds, various smells, snakes, holy books (scriptures), Chimu ceremonial knife, and people (shamans, medicine men, priests, pastors, rabbis, popes, bishops, prophets, prophetesses, Brahmin's and Hindu mystics), places of worship (churches, synagogues, temples, shrines, mosques), and pyramids.

The following is also a partial list to show the variety of rituals, ceremonies, and rites associated with religions:

  • mythical stories (repeated from generation to generation),
  • repetition of actions: {(Muslims kneeling and bowing, Jews and their wailing wall, stations of the cross (catholic re-depictions of Christs bearing the cross), sacred dances},
  • masses/church services and sermons, communion rituals, marriage ceremonies, funeral ceremonies, exorcisms, baptisms, circumcisions, conception ceremonies, sacrifices (human and animal),
  • speaking in tongues, magic spells, voodoo, witchcraft,
  • satanic worship,
  • prayers (both repetitive and free style),
  • confession,
  • rites of passage,
  • worship of (fire, sun, moon, water, sky, stars,etc.),
  • honoring (church holidays, holy days, sabbath days),
  • public and private prayer,
  • appointed seasons (hunting, planting, harvesting, summer & winter solaces, full moons),
  • isolations (Quakers withdrawal from society, Tibetan monks, nuns),
  • and the preaching of sermons filled with gloom and doom.

The variety of religions - Just to name a few of the major ones:

  • Judaism,
  • Christianity,
  • Religion of the Vedas,
  • Hinduism,
  • Buddhism,
  • Taoism,
  • Islam,
  • Mazdaism,
  • plus all the off shoots and variations of all of them with their own individually unique variations of the same themes.

The most beautiful (and sad) video every made: Our beautiful planet Earth in Danger of destruction.

Conclusions and After Thoughts

It is little wonder that there is such confusion in this world today.

With the modern day forms of communication that bring all parts of the world into our individual living rooms on a daily basis, via satellite television and the internet's world wide web, we can visualize all the worlds' diversity at a glance and instantaneously.

It is NOT necessary to believe in a personal God, or a heavenly power, in order to 'worship'.

It IS essential, however, to an act of worship to believe that there are powers outside of one's present experience (life) that can be brought to bear upon that experience through prayer, meditation or some other act of worship.

It would behoove mankind to view the world with open eyes, open minds and open hearts and accept these diversities as wondrous - not threatening - and as something that is necessary, proper, and advantageous to the world.

For to realize that, as we tend to judge others who are different - we are, in return, being judged by the rest of the world with that same intense scrutiny, as well.

Acting intelligently and wisely would help set a world "tone" (with acceptance and respect) as a guide to world peace and harmony, tolerance and acceptance, non judgmentally, and to NOT keep trying to remake the world in our own images (referencing ALL societies/religions and not just that of the western world).

So, these questions still remain:

  • Is religion truly necessary on this planet?
  • Does it serve any practical purposes at all any more?
  • Should any religion have any influence on politics at all?
  • Does any religion have a right to impose their individual beliefs on others?

If any one of us could step off this planet and view our "global society" as a separate entity - how would you judge it? Functional? Dysfunctional? Rational? Irrational? As a potential threat to the universe (cosmos)? or As a planet of people that would be 'beneficial' to the universal (cosmic) peace, harmony and tranquility?

We all know the answers to these questions and should amend our personal views to be in compliance of what is right and just for every earthly inhabitant.

by: d.william 09/14/2011

The best version of Hallelujah ever.

© 2011 d.william


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    • d.william profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Thanks for reading and commenting. And especially for your answers to the questions. Congratulations you got them right 100%. An astounding AAA+ rating (wow, even higher than S&P gave to the US of A. (L.O.L.).

    • Credence2 profile image


      8 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      •Is religion truly necessary on this planet?

      No, it is not necessary in universal sense.

      •Does it serve any practical purposes at all any more?

      The tragedy of all of this is that it could serve a practical purpose, if we wee driven away from our malevolent natures for only a moment under it influence.

      •Should any religion have any influence on politics at all?

      No, it should not because everybody believes differently if at all, but the influence is hard to extract because of the prevelance of religion in the general society as a whole

      •Does any religion have a right to impose their individual beliefs on others?

      Never, of course not, that is where much of the conflict and complaint about religion originate.

      Noce work, D, Credence2

    • d.william profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Thank you for reading and commenting. If you stand up and speak for love, tolerance and equality you definitely have a warriors heart. Those who blindly stand up for intolerant religious beliefs do not.

    • thewhispers profile image


      8 years ago from Southen California

      I love this photo, it speaks volumes... If only I knew that I had a warriors' heart.


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