Chapter 18 – Religion
Religion and Society
-Some form of religious belief exists all over the world.
-Sociologists do not debate religious doctrine.
-Sociologists do study the social functions and pitfalls of religion.
Religion Defined
Religion- a unified system of beliefs and practices regarding sacred things that unites its adherents into a single moral community.
-This is a functionalist definition provided by Durkheim.
Beliefs- regarding sacred things.
Practices- rituals and behaviors designed to demonstrate beliefs.
Sacred things- unwordly things inspiring awe, reverence, deep respect, or fear.
Single moral community- any group of people sharing religious beliefs and practices; any ?church.?
3 Categories of Religion
-Each category is defined by how the ?sacred things? are identified.
1.Theism – one or more supernatural beings.
-Monotheism (one God)
?Christianity, Islam, Judaism
-Polytheism (more than one God)
2. Ethicalism – moral principles
-Not supernatural.
-The principles guide righteous living.
-Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism
3. Animism – spirits capable of helping or harming people.
-Not necessarily Gods.
-Spirits can be placated and manipulated.
Ethicalism: Buddhism
-The Four Noble Truths:
1. Life is suffering; Suffering exists.
2. Suffering is caused by attachments to titles and objects.
3. Suffering ceases when desire ceases.
4. Follow the Eightfold path.
The Eightfold Path:
1. Right belief.
5. Right occupation or living
2. Right resolve
6. Right effort
3. Right speech
7. Right-mindedness
4. Right conduct
8. Right ecstasy
How does one know ?right? from ?wrong??
-Accurate and honest perceptions.
-Our perceptions are clouded by suffering, desire, and karma.
To clear up our perceptions, we must work toward:
–citti vritti nrodha
-?Stopping mental disturbances?
Animism: Shamanism
-Shamans serve dual functions:
1. Religious leaders
2. Physicians
-The power of symbols
-Symbols have far more power in animistic religions.
-They do not simply represent, they embody.
-Shamans form relationships and practices that allow them to symbolically leave the everyday world.
-They enter spirit realms in order to procure services, guidance, and healing from spirits.
-The initiation rites:
-3 parts to become initiated:
1. Inherited shamanistic powers.
2. Receiving ?the calling.?
3. Conscious decision.
-The goal is to remove the initiate from everyday senses.
-Drive their spirit toward the spirit worlds.
-Sleep deprivation, fasting, hallucinogens, meditations, chanting/rhythm, beating, symbolic taboos, etc.
-The initiate?s spirit is driven to the Lower Realm,

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Power Of Symbols And Sacred Things. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from