Rehberg Elements of Religious Traditions Living in an age of knowledge, we have discovered a vast majority of information throughout the years. This information has allowed us to thrive in this world and furthermore, make decisions on what we believe in. Throughout the world, there are many different religions. Some may share the same elements, and some may be vastly different. Certain cultures may believe in one God, monotheism. Others in more than one God or Goddess, polytheism.
Some may choose not to believe in anything at all, atheism. “Shinto, for example, does not have a set of commandments, nor does it preach a moral code; Zen Buddhism does not worship a divine being; and many tribal religions have no written sacred scripture” (Molloy, 2010). No matter how you look at it, religious traditions have a profound influence on cultures around the world. Relationship with the Divine The ultimate goal for many religions is to love and be loved by their God. Having a relationship with the Divine is an important component of almost all religions.
However, the methods of how each religion achieves this is varied by their traditions. In Christianity, it is all about praying, worshiping, and reading the Bible. For Buddhists, they focus on meditation and mantras. Hindus have pilgrimages to holy cities, yoga, and meditation. As we can see, praying and meditation seem to be a common trend. That is the time you can put all other things out of your mind and focus on your relationship with your God. The list goes on and on, but just like traditions have affected other aspects of our lives, religion is no different.
Different cultures reach a relationship with the divine in different ways. Although some beliefs may be similar, there are no two religions who believe in exactly the same things (“The Big Religion Chart”, 2014). Relationship with Sacred Time Just like any relationship, time must be devoted to the Devine. Different religions accomplish this in different ways. For example, there is praying, meditation, and studying the Bible or Koran. Going to church on Sundays is another way that people devote sacred time to whomever they may believe in.
“Sacred time is unlike the time associated with daily activities but is rather a time affiliated with a reverence for heaven and earth, honored, and held in the highest esteem, and definitely not to be sullied by actions counter to the messages conveyed by actions or events considered to be a part of that sacred time when the universe was born; the creation time” (The Sacred time of 2012, 2008, P. 2). “Sacred time, according to Patricia Wilson-Kastner, does three things. It connects Christians as members of the Body of Christ, and draws the worshiping community into its broader union with Christ and with the World.
Sacred Time serves to focus Christians on the great feasts of the life, death and resurrection of Christ” (Road Maps for Worship, 2010, Para 7). Relationship with Sacred Space or Natural World There are many religions that embrace the idea that particular spaces or nature are sacred and holy. The idea is that you can go to these places for peace and the opportunity to be closer to your God. For Catholics, this would be a church or for Muslims a mosque. However, this sacred place does not have to be a physical building. For some religions, this sacred place could be a shrine to their God.
Buddhists often set up these shrines in their homes or offices. Furthermore, places that are sacred to certain religions can originate from the natural world. For example, Mount Sinai in Egypt. Some of the basic tenets of Judeo-Christian beliefs can be traced back to this mountain on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, for it was at the top of this peak that Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments from God. Although the exact location is not exact, early Christian monks believed this was the sacred site and established several monasteries in the area.
Today, there is a small Holy Trinity chapel at the site where visitors may go (“10 Most Sacred Spots on Earth”, 2014). Relationship with Each Other Just as people form relationships through school or work, it is also possible to form a relationship through religion. There are eight characteristics that make up a religion, they are belief systems, community, central myths, ritual, ethics, characteristic emotional experiences, material expression, and sacredness (Molloy, 2010). When any or all of these characteristics are found to be in common with another person, bonds can be formed.
However, both parties may not have the same religion. It is possible for two people to have some of or similar beliefs and still for some type of relationship. These characteristics can be used for any religion and furthermore; defined to fit with each religion specifically. Critical Issues in the Study of Religion The study of religion is two hundred years old and presents many issues for those attempting to study religion. Studying religion provides a person with insights into the religion and traditions as well as insight into people including themselves (Molloy, 2010).
Some of the issues that have come up include: text, travel, and bias. The problem with text, is that it can be incomplete, or in a different language that needs translation or even in a language that is no longer spoken. Incomplete scriptures or text that needs to be translated can lead the intended message to be misinterpreted. With oral, the problem is that some religions solely relied on their traditions to be passed on through generations by spoken word. After some time, the message may lose its intended meaning.
Those who dedicate their time to studying religion often want to travel to sacred destinations. Typically the only problem associated with that is cost, work, and family. However, there are religion scholarships available to compensate for the cost associated with travel in attempts to encourage people to visit the locations and study the region. When a person is studying religion they enter the subject with a bias and opinions of what they know, believe, or have been told. Bias is a critical issue because people may let it influence their study or opinion (Molloy, 2010).
Conclusion For many people in the world, their religion serves as a guide to how they live their lives. Religion helps to build relationships with the divine, sacred time, sacred space and natural world, and with each other. Although the study of religions is two hundred years old, there is still a lot of information to be discovered and issues that need to be overcome. With various religious traditions, no two are exactly the same. Through study and obtaining insight from various cultures, we may begin to understand how our lives are affected by these traditions.