World Religion - Essay Example

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We can not use this to properly study and compare them. If religions and their vast history and ideologies could simply be broken down into one page small paragraphs…
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World Religions This page from the World Almanac is only good for giving the most basic information and overview of religions. We can not use this to properly study and compare them. If religions and their vast history and ideologies could simply be broken down into one page small paragraphs then why would there be a need to actively study, understand, and grasp the full concepts of religions? This page only provides a very basic summary of religions and can’t be efficiently used to properly study them.
In order to study religions, one has to study it along with its history, social and religious context, philosophy and cultural influences. For example, when reading the almanac page about Buddhism, we read that its sacred texts provide “rules of monastic life” and that it practices meditation (“Major Non-Christian World Religions”). Just by reading this, we will form our own ideas of what mediation and monasticism is from our limited knowledge and understanding of Buddhism. We have to read and learn about the history of Buddha, the meanings and context of his teachings and how they have been influenced through out its history. Also, just by reading a small paragraph that their belief consists of cycle of rebirth and death, we can’t grasp the full understanding of this belief and what it is trying to say (“Major Non-Christian World Religions”). With such basic and little knowledge we would be unable to even try to compare it to other religions.
When we just read these simple summaries, it makes us believe that religions are boiled down to the few listed practices and beliefs. We make the wrong conclusions and tend to misunderstand the true meaning and their teachings. For example, when reading the summary on Islam, it seems like a list of rigid tasks of fasting, giving charity, and strict rules of conduct (“Major Non-Christian World Religions”). These few words fail to do justice to the vast and rich history of the religion, its founder, practices, and cultural context. We don’t get an idea of how and why it came to be, what influences it had on the people and how it changed and developed history.
Also, when we read the basic concepts and practices of any religion we start making assumptions that its followers worldwide do these same few practices that we have read on a page. For example, when one reads that in Judaism, people observe certain dietary restrictions, celebrate specific holidays like Rosh Hashana and adhere to a “period of fasting and penitence”, we automatically assume that every single Jewish person does the same thing no matter where (“Major Non-Christian World Religions”). We can’t fully grasp the influences that history and culture has had on a particular religion. Judaism is a rich and deeply rooted religion with people and their ideologies being as diverse and intertwined as the history and context that continues to shape it.
Reading a page from an almanac about world religions only offers a small glimpse into their various practices and beliefs. Religions can’t be simply divided into regions and sects and broken down into simple categories to perfectly organize on a page. This creates wrong assumptions and misunderstandings and don’t help us at all to gather the full extent of a religion and be able to compare it to another. It has taken centuries of scholars and researchers to study these and many other religions and still we continue to learn new things everyday. So how can a one page summary possibly be enough to give us an adequate understanding of these diverse religions? They have all been shaped and constantly developed over the span of human history. We can’t merely treat them as another page to be flipped in an old almanac.
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“Major Non-Christian World Religions.” World Almanac. Read More
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