Glossary of 03Traditional Belief Systems
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- WHAT THREE BASIC QUESTIONS DO MOST BELIEF SYSTEMS ATTEMPT TO ANSWER?
- How was the Earth or Universe created?
What happens after death?
How do we live life on earth?
- What does religion deal with that philosophy does not?
- Religion addresses question of god/ gods, the supernatural, magic, that which is unexplainable by natural means.
Philosophy focuses on life on Earth --the meaning to life, truth, beauty, reality, good behavior/conduct, etc.
- What terms may be used for the earliest religious beliefs?
- Traditional, indigenous, native, animist, aboriginal, etc.
- What is animism?
- The belief that there are spirits or living forces in objects in nature.
- In Africa, why are there so many different traditional beliefs and practices?
- Africa is the world's second largest continent and is regionally separated or isolated by its size, climate and terrain. In addition, there are hundreds of ethnic groups, languages, cultures, etc.
- According to many African traditional animist beliefs, how close and involved is the Creator God?
- He is remote (far away) and only prayed to in times of crisis for the whole ethnic group/tribe.
- Who do African animists pray to on a regular basis?
- Lesser gods who reside in rocks, caves, rivers. The ancestors (one's deceased relatives) who need to be appeased and consulted.
- How does agriculture play a role in African practices?
- Ethnic groups who herd have different gods and practices from those who are hunter-gatherers or those who are settled farmers.
- What is the role of the diviner or medicine man?
- To find the cause of misfortune or illness.
- What style of Western art was influenced by African art in the early 1900s?
- Abstract art, like Picasso and others. Before that, Westerners didn't understand it.
- What is the purpose of masks, dance and music in animist societies?
- They often are religious in nature and reflect people's beliefs and practices.
- In northern Africa, what religion spread across the Sahara and along the East Coast from Saudi Arabia?
- Islam (the religion of Muslims)
- What religion did Western missionaries bring to sub-Saharan Africa?
- Christianity. However, Ethiopia since ancient times always had a substantial Coptic Christian population.
- What is the native religion of the archipelago of Japan?
- Shinto (Shintoism)
- In early Japanese history, families lived in groups descended from a common ancestor. What were these groups called?
- Each Japanese clan had its own what?
- Kami (nature spirit or god).
- What is a kami?
- A spirit in nature. Mt. Fuji is a kami. The wind was a kami that protected Japan from attack (kami kaze)
- Why are the Japanese so in awe of nature?
- Their island nature is very beautiful and they feel the forces of nature (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruption) regularly.
- Who is believed to be the ancestor of the Japanese Emperor's family?
- The Sun Goddess Ameratsu (hence Japan is called the "Land of the Rising Sun" -it is so far east in Asia the sun shines on it first.
- How do Japanese arts reflect their values and culture?
- Origami requires precision, exactness, perfection. Flower arranging requires exactness and a sense of nature. Haiku often have to do with nature, as does Japanese painting. Japanese arts reflect their reverence and passion for nature, as well as the Japanese charac-teristics of hard work, exactness, simplicity, etc.
- Before and during World War II, who influenced Shinto?
- The military created State Shinto which emphasized fanatical loyalty to the Emperor and obedience to the state.
- How does Japan's tendency to borrow and adapt from other nations influence its beliefs.
- Japan borrowed early on from Chinese beliefs (Confucianism in government and family; Buddhism among the samurai; etc). The Japanese changed Buddhism to its own form - Zen Buddhism.
- What similarities are there in Shinto and Buddhism?
- Both emphasize love of nature. Both are philosophic in view. Often one marries in a Shinto ceremony but has a Zen Buddhist preside over one's funeral.
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