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03Traditional Belief Systems


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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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