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REL 100 “INTRODUCTION TO RELIGIOUS STUDIES”. Dr. Steven Leonard Jacobs Aaron Aronov Endowed...

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  • Slide 1
  • REL 100 INTRODUCTION TO RELIGIOUS STUDIES
  • Slide 2
  • Dr. Steven Leonard Jacobs Aaron Aronov Endowed Chair of Judaic Studies & Associate Professor of Religious Studies 2007
  • Slide 3
  • What is the Academic Study of Religion?
  • Slide 4
  • The Academic Study of Religion is Cross-Disciplinary & Cross-Cultural
  • Slide 5
  • The Academic Study of Religion is Anthropological: Descriptive (Is) vs. Normative (Ought)
  • Slide 6
  • The Academic Study of Religion Requires the Practical Skills of Interpretation, Translation, Understanding, & Analysis
  • Slide 7
  • The Academic Study of Religion Organizes, Systematizes, Compares, Redescribes, & Analyzes the Data
  • Slide 8
  • The Academic Study of Religion Requires Knowledge of: Anthropology, Economics, History, Language, Linguistics, Literature, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Theology
  • Slide 9
  • Professor Martin S. Jaffee, University of Washington (Seattle, WA) on the mission of religious studies: the core or foundational mission of religious studies is one of skepticism; one should not rest content, therefore, with received truths or surface meaning, but should treat all texts as constructions generated by multiple interests and capable of multiple meanings. Personal Self-Disclosure, Religious Studies Pedagogy, and the Skeptical Mission of the Public University, Public Lecture, The University of Alabama, 4 November 2002.
  • Slide 10
  • Ring, et. al. on Studying Religion The modern critical study of religion looks not only to the positive contributions that religion has made, but also to the suffering it has caused and the destruction it has wrought. Nancy C. Ring, Kathleen S. Nash, Mary N. MacDonald, Fred Glennon, Jennifer A. Glancy (1998), Introduction to the Study of Religion (Maryknoll: Orbis Books), 59.
  • Slide 11
  • Wilfred Cantwell Smith on Comparative Religion it is the business of comparative religion to construct statements about religion that are intelligible within at least two traditions simultaneously. Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1959), Comparative Religion: Whither and Why?
  • Slide 12
  • Dr. Jacobs Mantra THIS IS NOT SUNDAY SCHOOL!
  • Slide 13
  • The Academic Study of Religion Problem! The Question of Authority
  • Slide 14
  • Russell T. McCutcheon (1999), Theoretical Background: Insiders, Outsiders, and The Scholar of Religion Which Perspective is Authoritative (1)Which viewpoint is to be authorized? (2)Is etic scholarship to be judged by the informant? (3)Is the informant to be judged by the comparative conclusions reached by the observer? (4)Does scholarship operate apart from the concerns of insiders, or is it intimately connected to their lives? (5)Is the goal of scholarship on human behavior, belief, and institutions to have the people whom we are studying agree with our conclusions and generalizations, or, is it, instead, the goal of developing logical, scientific theories on why it is that humans do this or that in the first place, regardless of what they think? (6)To whom do scholars of human behavior answer?
  • Slide 15
  • The Academic Study of Religion Problem! The Question of Definition
  • Slide 16
  • According to Professor W. Richard Comstock (University of California, Santa Barbara, 1986), a definition is nothing more than a brief text initiating an open set of interconnected texts providing the linguistic context through which the sense of the word to be defined receives specification and clarification.
  • Slide 17
  • mile Durkheim on Religion A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things that are set apart and forbidden beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church [sic] all those who adhere to them. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912)
  • Slide 18
  • According to Professor Clifford Geertz (Princeton University, Princeton, NJ), a religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long- lasting moods and motivations in men [sic] by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing those conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic. (1966)
  • Slide 19
  • Ring, et. al. on Religion As an abstract noun, religion signifies a human propensity to seek order and meaning within the mystery of life. By a religion or religions we mean particular traditionswhich in their constellations of ideas and practices provide order and meaning for their followers, connecting them to what are considered the ultimate powers of life. Introduction to the Study of Religion, 1998, 2-3.
  • Slide 20
  • Ring, et. al. on Religions (cont.) Religions, we could say, are systems of symbols in which the ideals, the aspirations, and the experiences of a community is representedReligions express the human desire to understand and to engage the power of lifeReligions suggest that this world of the senses, with all its unsatisfactory aspects, is not all that there is. Introduction to the Study of Religion, 1998, 13, 32; 34.
  • Slide 21
  • Ring, et. al. on Religion (cont.) Religion is a term that ordinary people use when they talk about gaining access to whatever it is they consider ultimately life-givingreligion is a term that scholars use when they study peoples ideas and practices concerning whatever they consider life- giving. Introduction to the Study of Religion, 1998, 58.
  • Slide 22
  • Ring, et. al. on Defining Religion (1)Religion is awareness expressed through symbols of relationship to, or participation in, the fundamental power of life. (2)Religions are symbol systems which facilitate relationship to, or participation in, what the members understand to be the fundamental power of life. Introduction to the Study of Religion, 1998, 62.
  • Slide 23
  • According to Professor Jonathan Z. Smith (University of Chicago, IL) religion is solely the creation of the scholars study. It is created for the scholars analytic purposes by his [sic] imaginative acts of comparison and generalization. Religion has no independent existence apart from the academy. (1982)
  • Slide 24
  • According to Professor Mark C. Taylor (Williams College, Boston, MA), religion is a complex adaptive network of myths, symbols, rituals, and concepts that simultaneously figure patterns of feeling, thinking, and acting, and disrupt stable structures of meaning and purpose. (2004)
  • Slide 25
  • ???QUESTION??? What are NRMs* and How are They to be Defined? e.g. Ahmadis, Brahma Kumaris, Cao Dai, Ralians, Soka Gakkai, Umbanda *(New Religious Movements)
  • Slide 26
  • According to Walter H. Martin, et. al. (2003), The Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis: Bethany House): (1)Jehovahs Witnesses (2)Mormons (3)Christian Scientists (4)Theosophical Society (5)Buddhism (6)Bahai (7)New Age (8)Unification Church (9)Scientology (10)Eastern Religions (11)World Wide Church of God (12)Seventh-Day Adventists (13)Islam (14)Unitarian Universalists
  • Slide 27
  • The Academic Study of Religion Problem! Insider vs. Outsider Emic vs. Etic
  • Slide 28
  • The Academic Study of Religion Problem! Insiders & Outsiders in Conversation
  • Slide 29
  • The Academic Study of Religion Problem! The Study of Religion in the Secular, State University Context, Setting
  • Slide 30
  • The Academic Study of Religion -- Problem! The Study of Religion versus Theology
  • Slide 31
  • The Academic Study of Religion Problem! The Question Of TRUTH
  • Slide 32
  • According to Professor Stanley Fish, Dean Emeritus, University of Illinois Chicago it is one thing to take religion as an object of study, and another to take religion seriously. To take religion seriously would be to regard it not as a phenomenon to be analyzed at arms length, but as a candidate for truth. (2005)
  • Slide 33
  • Jacob Neusner on Faith and Scholarship (1)How does the practitioner of a faith negotiate the conflicts between the affirmations of the tradition and the results of critical analysis? (2)How does one understand his/her position vis--vis ones readers and students?
  • Slide 34
  • Jacob Neusner on Faith and Scholarship (cont.) (3)How does one avoid that which is unseemly apologetics through suppressing what contradicts contemporary sensibility? (4)Is there no place in departments of religious studies for the representation of conviction, or should faith be left off campus?
  • Slide 35
  • Jacob Neusner on Faith and Scholarship (5) Where are the acute, not merely chronic, tensions between faith and scholarship?
  • Slide 36
  • Jacob Neusner on Faith and Scholarship Answer: Two unremitting sources of controversy: (a)The political problem is not to be ignored. (b)The cultural problem derives from the premise that the academic study of religion that Judaism is a religion to be studied like any other religion, compared and contrasted as well. Jacob Neusner (2005), Opinion: Faith and Scholarship, The National Jewish Post and Opinion, February 23: 12.
  • Slide 37
  • Dr. Tim Murphy, Assistant Professor. Department of Religious Studies, The University of Alabama, on THEORY (1)What is THEORY? Characterized by jargon, clarity, technical, formal, abstract, set of concepts to explain and understand, observable, testable, evaluative, explicit, critical phenomena
  • Slide 38
  • (2) What does THEORY study? Objects of belief; Relationship(s) between subject and object (i.e. believer and God); Behaviors that define that relationship Professor T. Murphy (cont.)
  • Slide 39
  • (3) Types of THEORY: >Explanatory: Why? Questions of causality? (N.B. Functionalism is a set of assumptions that reinforce social norms.) >Interpretive: Theories of meaning culturally specific; universal (N.B. Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation.) Professor T. Murphy (cont.)
  • Slide 40
  • (4) Conceptual Dimension of THEORY: THEORY as Critical Thinking ------------------------------------------------ Thus, the work of the academic study of religion is that of the focused intellect. Professor T. Murphy (cont.)
  • Slide 41
  • Daniel L. Pals, Seven (Eight) Theories of Religion Introduction the business of defining religion is closely linked to the enterprise of explaining it. the matter of definitions is considerably more difficult than common sense, at first look, would have lead us to believe. (pg. 12)
  • Slide 42
  • Introduction (cont.) Theories of religion, no less than definitions, may also be either functional or substantive in character. with theories of religion no less than with definitions, the seemingly simple often masks the deceptively complex. (pg. 13) Pals (cont.)
  • Slide 43
  • Animism and Magic: E. B. T. Tylor & J. G. Frazer the description (ethnography) and scientific analysis (ethnology) of an individual society, cultural or racial group in all of its many component parts. (pg. 18) the scientific study of [hu]mankind (anthropology) (pg. 19)
  • Slide 44
  • Tylor & Frazer (cont.) two great laws of culture come clearly into view: #1: the principle of psychic unity, or uniformity, within the human race; #2: the pattern of intellectual evolution, or improvement, over time. (pg. 20)
  • Slide 45
  • Tylor & Frazer (cont.) any organized community or culture must be understood as a whole; the complex systems must be explored scientifically. ----------------------------------------------------- the ethnologist gathers facts, classifies, and compares them and searches for underlying principles what [s]he has found. (pg. 20)
  • Slide 46
  • Tylor & Frazer (cont.) religion is belief in spiritual beings. the essence of religion, like mythology, seems to be animism the belief in living, personal powers behind all things. He (Tylor) insists that any account of how a human being, or the whole human race, came to belief in spiritual beings must appeal only to natural causes, only to considerations or the kind that scientists and historians would use in explaining an occurrence of any sort, nonreligious as well as religious. (pg. 24)
  • Slide 47
  • Tylor & Frazer (cont.) Like their myths, their religious teachings arise from a rational effort to explain how nature worked as it did. (pg. 25) If one asks why, across almost all cultures, the gods have human personalities, the answer is that they are spirits modeled on the souls of human persons. (pg. 26) In the end, then, :Tylors theory provides a mixed portrait of religion and its development. (pg. 28)
  • Slide 48
  • Tylor & Frazer (cont.) (Frazer) primitive thinking is in fact governed not by one but by two quite difference systems of ideas: the one is magic, the other religion. Understanding both of these, and the connection between them, is the key that offers entry into the primitive mind. (pg. 34) Magic is built on the assumption that once a proper ritual or action is completed, its natural effects must occur as prescribed. (pg. 35)
  • Slide 49
  • Tylor & Frazer (cont.) Magic cannot work because the primitive magician is simply wrong. religious people claim that the real powers behind the natural world are not principles at all; they are personalitiesultimately it is the personalities of the gods that control nature. (pg. 36) this turn to religion should be read as a sing of progressReligion actually improves on magic and marks an advance for the human racereligious explanations are found to be better than magical ones in describing the world as we actually experience it. (pg. 37)
  • Slide 50
  • Tylor & Frazer (cont.) This great fund of information which Frazer had at his disposal gave him great confidence in the scientific merits of this theory, and with it, his account of the origin of religion. (pp. 43-44)
  • Slide 51
  • Religion and Personality: Sigmund Freud Human beings are often driven by contradictory feelings of both love and aggression directed toward the same object or person. (pg. 55) one of his concerns is to find the place of religious belief in the sequence of normal growth. (pg. 63) Freud found no reason to believe in God and therefore saw no value or purpose in the rituals of religious life. (pg. 65)
  • Slide 52
  • Freud (cont.) Like Tylor and Frazer, Freud is certain that religious beliefs are erroneous; they are superstitions. (pg. 65) religious behavior always resembles mental illness. (pg. 66) Religious teachings, therefore,are ideas whose main feature is that we dearly want them to be truereligious beliefs are in the end delusionsthey cannot pass the test of the scientific methodthe only way we have of reliably telling us what is true and what is not. (pg. 72)
  • Slide 53
  • Freud (cont.) Religion that persists into the present age of human history can only be a sign of illness; to begin to leave it behind is the first signal of health. (pg. 72) the real power of religions is to be found beyond their doctrines, in the deep psychological needs they fill and the unconscious emotions they express. (pg. 77)
  • Slide 54
  • Society as Sacred: mile Durkheim the central importance of society of social structures, relationships, and institutions in understanding human through and behavior. (pg. 88) For Durkheim, religion and society are inseparable and to each other virtually indispensable. (pg. 89) morality, the obligation of each to others and all to the standards of the group, is inseparable from religion. (pg. 95) religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden. (pg. 99)
  • Slide 55
  • Durkheim (cont.) these practices unite into one moral community, called a church [sic], all who adhere to them. (pg. 99) For Durkheim, the critical distinction is between the sacred and the profane. (SLJ) The totemis simultaneously the symbol of both the god and the clan, because the god and the clan are really the same thing! (pg. 104) worship of the totem is nothing less than worship of society itself. (pg. 105) Religious beliefs and rituals are in the last analysis symbolic expressions of social realities. (pgs. 108-109)
  • Slide 56
  • Durkheim (cont.) Worship of the totem is really a statement of loyalty to the clan. (pg. 109) The function of rituals, which are more fundamental than beliefs, is to provide occasions where individuals renew their commitment to the community, reminding themselves in the most solemn fashion that they depend on the clan, just as it depends on them. (pg. 109) Originally, there were no gods to command a ritual; there was only the ritual, which over time itself created the gods. (pg. 110) Whatever the mood of society, the rites of religion will invariably reflect and reinforce it. (pg. 110)
  • Slide 57
  • Durkheim (cont.) Religions true purpose is not intellectual but social. It serves as the carrier of social sentiments, providing symbols and rituals that enable people to express the deep emotions which anchor them to their community. (pg. 111)
  • Slide 58
  • Religion as Alienation: Karl Marx as the shaper of communism, he presents us less with a theory of religion than a total system of thought that itself resembles a religion. (pg. 125) because Marxs philosophy is so far-reaching, what he offers as a theory of traditional religion makes up a rather small and not necessarily central part of this thinking. (pg. 125) Economic realities determine human behavior. Human history is the story of class struggle (pg. 127) The institutions we associate with cultural lifemust be understood as structures whose main role is to contain or provide a controlled release for the deep, bitter tensions that arise from the clash between the powerful and the powerless. (pg. 136)
  • Slide 59
  • Marx (cont.) In each age of the past, ethical leadershave helped to control the poor simply by preaching to them, by telling them what is right and what is wrong. (pg. 137) It is capitalism that leads the rising middle class to adopt a new form of religion, Protestantism, which is much better suited to its interests in trade, investment, and individual enterprise. (pg. 138) Religion, he says, is pure illusion. Worse, it is an illusion with most definitely evil consequences. (pg. 138)
  • Slide 60
  • Marx (cont.) religion is so fully determined by economics that it is pointless to consider any of its doctrines or beliefs on their own merits. (pg. 138) no thinker considered in this bookdiscusses religion in quite the same mood of sarcastic contempt as that of Marx. (pg. 139) The alienation evident in religion is therefore to be seen as a reflection, a mirror image of the real and underlying alienation of humanity, which is economic and material rather than spiritual. (pg. 141) it [religion] is pure escapismit is also fundamentally destructive. (pg. 142)
  • Slide 61
  • Marx (cont.) Religions role in history has been to offer a divine justification for the status quo, for life just as we find it. (pg. 142) For him, belief in God and in some heavenly salvation is not just an illusion, it is an illusion that paralyzes and imprisons. (pg. 143) religion, for all its evil doings, really does not matter very much. (pg. 143)
  • Slide 62
  • The Reality of the Sacred: Mircea Eliade life can be changed by what he called sacramental experience. (pg. 159) symbols are the key to any truly spiritual life. (pg. 16)
  • Slide 63
  • Eliade (cont.) The profane is the realm of everyday business of things ordinary, random, and largely unimportant. The sacred is just the opposite. It is the sphere of the supernatural, of things extraordinary, memorable and momentous. While the profane is vanishing and fragile, full of shadows, the sacred is eternal, full of substance and reality. The profane is the arena of human affairs, which are changeable and often chaotic; the sacred is the sphere of order and perfection, the home of the ancestors, heroes, and gods. (pg. 163-164)
  • Slide 64
  • Eliade (cont.) The language of the sacred is to be found in symbols and in mythsA myth is not just one image or sign; it is a sequence of images put into the shape of a story. It tells of the gods, of the ancestors or heroes, and their world of the supernatural. (pg. 169)
  • Slide 65
  • Eliade (cont.) symbols and myths rarely exist in isolation. It is their nature always to be a part of larger symbol systems; they connect up with other images, or other myths, to form a patternSymbols always lead naturally to other symbols and to myths in such a way as to create a framework, a world that is a complete, connected system, rather than a chaotic jumbleThe bigger the symbol, the more complete and universal it is, the better it conveys the true nature of the sacred. (pgs. 176-177)
  • Slide 66
  • Eliade (cont.) the mission of the history of religions is first to discover symbols, myths, rituals, and their systems, then to trace them through the human past as they have been changed and interchanged from one age or place to the nextThe historians seek to compare and contrast these materials to determine their different levels and types of significance as carriers of the sacred. (pg. 178)
  • Slide 67
  • Eliade (cont.) the natural logic of symbols and myths pushes them always to become more universal, to shed the particulars of a single time and place and approximate ever more closely to a universal archetypein the actual circumstances of human experience, symbols decay and degenerate as well. (pg. 178)
  • Slide 68
  • Eliade (cont.) The natural tendency of symbols and myths is to grow, to spread out their significance in new associations; but in different times and places there are also variations that flow simply from differences in the mythological creativity of the various societies, or even from a change of history. (pg. 178)
  • Slide 69
  • Eliade (cont.) the nostalgia for Paradise is a concept central to his theory. (pg. 179) in the end, his own strong sympathies lie nearest to a sort of cosmic folk religion and the satisfaction offered by the archaic frame of mind. (pg. 186)
  • Slide 70
  • Societys Construct of the Heart: E. E. Evans-Pritchard a theorist of religion who actually entered two primitive [sic] societies, learned their languages, lived for a time by their customs, and carefully studied them in action. (pg. 199) in any culture, certain fundamental beliefs must be at all costs preserved. (pg. 209) From its (Nuer Religion) narrative two things clearly emerge: (1) a picture full of correctives for nearly every one of those theorists who formed a personal image of primitive religion without ever having come into contact with the real thing, and (2) the portrait of a complex, well-ordered religious system, one that seems almost surprisingly Western and even modern [sic] in character. (pg. 219)
  • Slide 71
  • E. E. Evans-Pritchard (cont.) their (i.e. the primitives) whole world may be a very different one from ours, and this world cannot be properly explained until we have worked very hard and very long to understand how it functions from the insider. (pg. 222)
  • Slide 72
  • Religion as Cultural System: Clifford Geertz a serious rethinking of the fundamentals in the practice of anthropology and other social sciences (pg. 233) an appreciation of religions distinctively human dimension: the ideas, attitudes, and purposes that inspire it. (pg. 234) We must describe not only what actually happens but what people intend by what happens. (pg. 241) Cultural analysis isalways a matter of guessing at meanings, assessing the guesses, and drawing explanatory conclusions. (pg. 242)
  • Slide 73
  • Geertz (cont.) any attempt to make broad, general statements about all of humanity must be viewed with the strongest suspicion. (pg. 242) analysis of culture is not an experimental source in search of a law but an interpretive one in search of meaning. (pg. 242) a theory can and should try to anticipate what will happen. (pg. 242) CULTURE: A PATTERN OF MEANINGS, OR IDEAS, CARRIED IN SYMBOLS, BY WHICH PEOPLE PASS ALONG THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF LIFE AND EXPRESS THEIR ATTITUDES TOWARD IT. (pg. 244)
  • Slide 74
  • Geertz (cont.) RELIGION: (1) A SYSTEM OF SYMBOLS WHICH ACT TO (2) ESTABLISH POWERFUL, PERVASIVE AND LONG-LASTING MOODS AND MOTIVATIONS IN MEN [sic] BY (3) FORMULATING CONCEPTIONS OF A GENERAL ORDER OF EXISTENCE AND (4) CLOTHING THESE CONCEPTIONS WITH SUCH AN AURA OF FACTUALITY THAT (5) THE MOODS AND MOTIVATIONS SEEM UNIQUELY REALISTIC (pg. 244)
  • Slide 75
  • Geertz (cont.) religion consists of a worldview and an ethos that combine to reinforce each other. A set of beliefs people have about what is real, what gods exist, and so forth (that is, their worldview) support a set of moral values and emotions (that is their ethos), which guides them as they live and thereby confirms the beliefs. (pg. 255)
  • Slide 76
  • Pals Conclusions (1) How does theory define the subject? (2) What type of theory is it? (3) What is the range of the theory? (4) What evidence does the theory appeal to? (5) What is the relationship between a theorists personal religious belief (or disbelief) and the explanation he [sic] chooses to advance? (pg. 269)
  • Slide 77
  • Pals Conclusions (cont.) religion consists of belief and behavior associated in some way with a supernatural realm, a sphere of divine or spiritual beings. (pg. 270) THERE IS A SENSE IN WHICH ALL OF THE THEORIES WE HAVE CONSIDERED OFFER AT LEAST A POSSIBLE CHALLENGE TO RELIGIOUS BELIEF BECAUSE, FROM THE START, THEY RULE OUT ALL SUPER-NATURAL ENDEAVORSTHE THEORIST OF RELIGION APPEALS ONLY TO WHAT ARE DESCRIBED AS NATURAL CAUSES. (pg. 279)
  • Slide 78
  • Pals Conclusions (cont.) the future of theoretical study in religion belongs most likely to the humanities rather than the sciences, even though the ideals of the latter remain part of its inspiration. (pg. 282) religion in the end seems to be a matter not of impersonal processes that can be known with certainty because they have been scripted by the laws of nature, but of personal beliefs and behaviors that can only be plausibly explained because they have arisen from complex, partly free and partly conditioned choices of human agents. (pg. 282-283)
  • Slide 79
  • Anthropology of Religions: Definitions ANTHROPOLOGY the science that deals with the origins, physical and cultural development, biological characteristics, and social customs and beliefs of humankind; the study of human beings similarities to and divergence from other animals; the science of humans and their works; the study of the nature and essence of humankind ETHNOGRAPHY the science description of individual cultures
  • Slide 80
  • Anthropology of Religions: Definitions (cont.) CULTURE 1.the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, scholarly pursuits, etc.; 2.that which is excellent in the arts, manners, etc.; 3.a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period; 4.development or improvement of the mind by education or training; 5.the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group; 6.the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another; 7.the cultivation of microorganisms for scientific study, medical use, etc; 8.the act or practice of cultivating the soil; 9.the raising of plants or animals; 10.the product or growth resulting from such cultivation. Random House Websters Unabridged Dictionary (1998)
  • Slide 81
  • Professor Michael Dean Murphy, Chair, Department of Anthropology, The University of Alabama What is Religion? culturally constructed beliefs and practices concerned with supernatural forces and personalities.
  • Slide 82
  • Professor M. Murphy (cont.) the application of the weight of anthropological theory and method to the analytical and social quandary of religion or religions: What is it? What are they? What do we speak of when we speak of religion, and how does that relate to particular religions? What makes religion? What does it do for us? [N.B.: The focus of the analysis is generally ethnographic. Doug Padgett]
  • Slide 83
  • Professor M. Murphy (cont.) The Four (4) Classical Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion: (1) Evolutionary: focusing on change (2) Functionalist: focusing on social glue (3) Psychodynamic: focusing on human experience (4) Symbolic: focusing on cultural context and code
  • Slide 84
  • Professor M. Murphy (cont.) General Characteristics of Contemporary Anthropology of Religion: (1) Sympathizes with the practicalities of religious experience: religion on the ground, in the populace, and the tensions felt there between official, institutional notions and the polytheistic, even inclusive atmosphere of majority religious life.
  • Slide 85
  • Professor M. Murphy (cont.) Characteristics (cont.): (2) Is methodologically and theoretically diverse. (3) Attempts to overcome the prejudicial, Western-biased understanding of religion found in flawed but still valuable works. (4) Emphasizes place. (Doug Padgett)
  • Slide 86
  • Professor M. Murphy (cont.) SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881), the Father of Anthropology: Religion deals so largely with such uncertain elements of knowledge that all primitive [sic] religions are grotesque and to some extent unintelligible. Source: Ancient Society (1877)
  • Slide 87
  • Professor M. Murphy (cont.) Towards of Methodology: (1) What is considered to be respected, disgusting, or taboo? What is held in awe? (2) What are the centers of the cityscape? (3) What are the sources legitimating the authority of the religious and secular leaders? (4) Which persons or public positions are regarded as charismatically empowered? (5) what is the worldview of that society? Its symbolic universe? How does these support everyday life?
  • Slide 88
  • Professor M.Murphy (cont.) Towards a Methodology: (cont.) (6) How do media news programs serve as regulatory agencies of this worldview? (7) what is the principal value-system? (8) Is the dominant reference group prescribed or selected? (9) How do the functional options of religious or ritual life change within their structural contexts? (10) To what extent are the members of that society allowed to define for themselves a holistic view of their ultimate concerns? John K. Nelson (1990), A Field Statement on the Anthropology of Religion, [Based on the work of Ole Riis]
  • Slide 89
  • Professor M. Murphy (cont.) Anthropology of Religion Websites www.ameranthassn.org/ars.htm www.as.ua.edu/ant/murphy/419 www.htmwww.as.ua.edu/ant/murphy/419 www.htm
  • Slide 90
  • What is History? (1) the branch of knowledge dealing with past events; (2) a continuous, systematic narrative of past events as relating to a particular people, country, period, person, etc., usually written as a chronological account; (3) the aggregate of past events; (4) the record of past events and times, esp. in connection with the human race;
  • Slide 91
  • What is History? (cont.) (5) a past notable for its important, unusual, or interesting events; (6) acts, ideas, or events that will or can shape the course of the future, immediate but significant happenings; (7) a systematic account of any set of natural phenomena without particular reference to time; (8) a drama representing historical events. SOURCE: Random House Websters Unabridged Dictionary (1998)
  • Slide 92
  • History and Phenomenology of Religion in the Study of Religion The history of religions and the phenomenology of religion are generally understood by scholars to be nonnormative that is, they attempt to delineate facts, whether historical or structural, without judging them from a Christian or other standpoint. At any rate, their tasks are considered to be different from that of articulating and systematizing a faith. The same, in principle, is true for the comparative study of religion, through this sometimes is thought to cover the theology of other religions, such as the Christian appraisal of Hindu history. Needless to say, the fact that a discipline aims to be nonnormative does not mean that it will succeed in being so. Also, the history and phenomenology of religion tend to raise essentially philosophical questions of explanation, where the issues are often debatable. SOURCE: Encyclopedia Britannica (1994-2000)
  • Slide 93
  • What is Phenomenology in the Study of Religion? Phenomenology is an approach to the study of religions that emphasizes impartial observation of all forms of religious experience without personal or social prejudice. A phenomenologist studies religious experience, never the validity of truth claims.
  • Slide 94
  • Phenomenology (cont.) Bracketing is the discipline of intentionally setting aside your own personal or social bias towards something you see others doing that is unfamiliar to you. Participant-observation is a method of observing religious experience in which an observer enters into the observed experience as far as possible, while still remaining somewhat objective. SOURCE: www.stormwind.comwww.stormwind.com
  • Slide 95
  • Phenomenology of Religion (1) An effort at devising a taxonomic (classificatory) scheme that will permit the comprehensive cataloging and classifying of religious phenomena across the lines of religious communities. (2) A method that aims at revealing the self- interpretation of religious persons of their own religious responses. SOURCE: Encyclopedia Britannica (1994-2000)
  • Slide 96
  • What is Philosophy (1) The rational investigation of the truths and principles of being (natural philosophy), knowledge (metaphysical philosophy), or conduct (moral philosophy). (2) The critical study of the basic principles and concepts of a particular branch of knowledge (e.g. the philosophy of religion). SOURCE: Random House Websters Unabridged Dictionary (1998)
  • Slide 97
  • What is Philosophy of Religion? (1) the attempt to analyze and describe the nature of religion in the framework of a general view of the world; (2) the effort to defend or attack various religious positions in terms of philosophy; (3) the attempt to analyze religious language. SOURCE: Encyclopedia Britannica (1994- 2000)
  • Slide 98
  • What is Psychology? (1) the science of the mind or of mental states and processes; (2) the science of human behavior and animal behavior; (3) the sum or characteristics of the mental states and processes of a person or class of persons, or of the mental states and processes in a field of activity. SOURCE: Random House Websters Unabridged Dictionary (1998)
  • Slide 99
  • Substantive Approaches vs. Functional Approaches in the Study of Religion Substantive approaches define religion by its content or specific practices. Functional approaches define religion by specific practices that explain how religion operates in individual lives. SOURCE: Ralph W. Hood, Jr. (1998), Psychology of Religion, in William H. Swatos, Jr. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Religion and Society (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press), 388.
  • Slide 100
  • Schools of Psychology and Their Relationship to Religion (1) Psychoanalytic School: Sigmund Freud unconscious basis of religious beliefs, emotions, and practices; clinical cases studies & biographical analyses. (2) Analytical School: Carl Jung hermeneutical and interpretive, rather than causal or explanatory; individual case studies; dream interpretation; analyses of literature.
  • Slide 101
  • Schools (cont.) (3) Object Relations Schools: reconstuction of early infant (pre- Oedipal) states; clinical case studies of adult subjects. (4) Transpersonal Schools: address spiritual realities in a non-reductive manner.
  • Slide 102
  • Schools (cont.) (5) Phenomenological Schools: favor descriptive approaches to religious experience. (6) Measurement Schools: regard psychology as a science within the naturalistic tradition; provide the essential database for the empirical psychology of religion. SOURCE: Ralph W. Hood, Jr., Ibid., 388-389.
  • Slide 103
  • Areas of Investigation in the Psychology of Religion (1) Scale construction; (2) Intrinsic-Extrinsic-Quest Religiosity; (3) Coping and Psychopathology; (4) Religious Development (5) Conversion, Glossolalia, and Religious Experience; (6) Religion and Death; (7) Religion and Psychotherapy. SOURCE: Ralph W. Hood, Jr., Ibid., 389-391.
  • Slide 104
  • What is Sociology? (1) the science or study of the origin, development, organization, and functioning of human society; (2) the science of the fundamental laws of social relations, institutions, etc. SOURCE: Random House Websters Unabridged Dictionary (1998).
  • Slide 105
  • Current Dilemmas in the Sociology of Religion (1) Imbalances (e.g. exotic edges of religious life vs. beliefs of ordinary people; preoccupation with secularization; refocusing attention on the middle of the Western picture; the incorrect assumption that the West is leading the way); (2) Isolation and insulation from mainstream sociology (i.e. assumption of mainstream sociologists that religion is or marginal interest in contemporary society);
  • Slide 106
  • Current Dilemmas (cont.) (3) Theoretical possibilities (integration rather than marginalization of the role of religion in the modern world; religion as cultural resource rather than social institution; rational choice theory; how to account for changes in religious life); (4) Substantive suggestions (sociology of health and its relation to religion; sociology of law and its relation to religion; patterns of religio-political allegiances). SOURCE: Grace Davie (1998), Ibid., 478-488.
  • Slide 107
  • The Work of Professor Rodney Stark, Baylor University, Waco TX The Rational Choice Theory of Religion: In an environment of religious freedom, people choose to develop and maintain their religious beliefs in accordance with the laws of religious economy i.e. people act rationally in choosing their religion.
  • Slide 108
  • The Evolution of Thought, according to Auguste Comte (1798-1857), the Founder of Modern Sociology (1) Theological stage: events are explained by reference to supernatural beings; (2) Metaphysical stage: more abstract unseen forces are invoked; (3) Positivistic stage: humanity seeks causes in a scientific and practical manner.
  • Slide 109
  • The Tasks of the Sociology of Religion (1) To further the understanding of the role of religion in society; (2) To analyze its significance in and impact upon human history; (3) To understand the social forces and influences that in turn shape religion. The sociologist of religion is concerned with religion only insofar as its relates to the context in which it inevitably exits. SOURCE: Grace Davie (1998), Sociology of Religion, in William H. Swatos, Jr. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Religion and Society (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press), 483.
  • Slide 110
  • Themes and Perspectives in the Sociology of Religion (1) Definitions; (2) Secularization (a debate by Western scholars about Western society); (3) Dimensions of religiosity; (4) Civil religion; (5) New Religious Movements and New Age (6) Fundamentalisms; (7) Religion and the Everyday SOURCE: Grace Davie (1998), Ibid., 485-487.
  • Slide 111
  • THE MANTRA OF THE DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES @ THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA! STUDYING RELIGION IN CULTURE!
  • Slide 112
  • Mallory Nye on Religion and Culture what we call religion is something that humans do, and so the study of religion is primarily concerned with people and culturesthe study of religion is comparativethis study of religion is cross- cultural, looking at religions across a range of different cultures. SOURCE: Mallory Nye (2003), Religion: The Basics, 2.
  • Slide 113
  • Nye (cont.) this study of religion and culture is about looking at cultural and religious diversity, in different parts of the world, as well as close to home in our own cultural location. It is about exploring how current events are shaped by practices and influences that could be labeled religious, and how much of what we see and do is affected by such religiosity. SOURCE: Mallory Nye, Ibid., 2-3.
  • Slide 114
  • Nye (cont.) The study of religion and culture: 1.Religion is studied as a human activity. 2.The study of such religion is concerned with what humans do, the texts and other cultural products they produce, and the statements and assumptions they make. 3.Religion is not a sui generis category that exists in itself that is, there is no essence of religion. 4.The study of religion and culture is based on methodological pluralism and interdisciplinarity. 5.There is a strong emphasis on studies with an empirical basis.
  • Slide 115
  • Nye (cont.) The study of religion and culture: 6. The study of religion and culture requires a measure of theoretical and methodological relativism. 7. As religion is a human activity, the analysis of religion and culture is an analysis of gender, ethnicity, and other social relations and categories. 8. The study of religion and culture is cross-cultural, multicultural, and post-colonial. 9. The use of the concept (or category) of religion is culture- bound it is itself a product of these histories and political processes. 10. The study of religion and culture is highly relevant to our understanding of the contemporary world. SOURCE: Mallory Nye, Ibid., 207-209.
  • Slide 116
  • Ring, et. al. on Cultures and Religion Cultures propose different understandings of what it means to be human, and they educate the potential human being so that it may approach the cultural ideal of personhoodReligion provides guiding narratives and paradigmatic rituals to encourage the development of the person and community. SOURCE: Sharon Ring, et. al. (1998), Intro- duction to the Study of Religion, 55.
  • Slide 117
  • Bryan Rennies Six Dimensions of Religion (1) Experience (Revelation) (2) Response (Faith) (3) Knowledge (4) Ethics (5) Community (6) Expression (Witness) (1992)
  • Slide 118
  • Ninian Smarts Six Dimensions of Religion (1) Ritual (2) Mythical (3) Doctrinal (4) Ethical (5) Social (6) Experiential SOURCES: The Religious Experience of Mankind (1969); The Religious Experience (1996); Dimensions of the Sacred (1996).
  • Slide 119
  • Frank Whalings Eight Dimensions of Religion (1) Religious Community (2) Ritual and Worship (3) Ethics (4) Social and Political Involvement (5) Scripture/Myth (6) Concept (7) Aesthetics (8) Spirituality SOURCE: Christian Theology and World Religions, 1986.
  • Slide 120
  • COMMUNITY How Christianity and Judaism come to define themselves in mutually exclusive terms in an important study in religious change. (pg. 235) The shame of this situation is that Christians over the centuries have forgotten the enormous debt they owe to Judaism, the religious movement that gave them birth. (pg. 238) Study of the contact between two or more cultures dramatically reveals what is true for all religions: human institutions are not static, but dynamic. (pg. 238)
  • Slide 121
  • COMMUNITY (cont.) Contemporary fundamentalism is a complex phenomenon, and there is not a single profile that adequately describes all Protestant fundamentalisms, nor is there even complete agreement on the question of who qualifies as a fundamentalist. (pg. 253) Fundamentalism develops as resistance to aspects of the modern world that are often confusing and even alienating. (pg. 254) New religious movements are particularly likely to be seen by outsiders as evidence of alienation from the larger society, which may in fact be truemany of those who join what are often called cults believe they have found peace in a community setting. (pg. 255)
  • Slide 122
  • COMMUNITY (cont.) When we say that religion is reconciling we mean that practicing a religion helps us to grow and develop into responsible and free persons and to contribute to the society in which we live. (pg. 261) When we say that religion is alienating, it means that we perceive that religious traditions require us to abdicate responsible decision making, that they impeded our freedom to think freely, and that they may contribute very little to the society in which we live. (pg. 262)
  • Slide 123
  • COMMUNITY (cont.) Relying on the cultural and religious myths within which we live, we find our place in relation to one another, to nature, and to God or the source of life that we consider to be ultimate. (pg. 264) Religions recognize that all personal transgressions affect the community by weakening the bonds that unite its members. (pg. 268) The sharing of food is among the most deeply symbolic and reconciling rituals known to humankind. (pg. 269)
  • Slide 124
  • COMMUNITY (cont.) Western modernity seems to lack an adequate understanding of the many and intricate ways that groups of human beings are connected with one another. (pg. 273) People who follow the mystical path of prayer seek experiential union with the source of life and power in their religions. (pg. 279) [N.B: Prayer, Meditation, Retreats, Fasting, and Charity are, also, possible ways to achieve this goal.] SOURCE: Sharon Ring, et. al. (1998), Introduction to the Study of Religion.
  • Slide 125
  • DOCTRINES & TEXTS A great deal rests on who a text is seen as coming from: authority comes from authorshipthe authority of the author, and authorship itself, is not so much claimed by the author, but given by the reader. (Nye, pg. 165) a questioning of the intentions of the author, as rooted within a particular patriarchal culture and milieu, can allow and encourage alternative readings of these texts. (Nye, pg. 168) The study of texts requires we pay close attention to both author and reader, and how they exist together in a relationship through the text. (Nye, pg. 169)
  • Slide 126
  • DOCTRINES & TEXTS (cont.) how one reads a text and gives it meaning comes from ones particular cultural locationhow a person reads a text may well be determined by their gender, as well as other cultural factors of difference, such as their ethnicity, age, class, and culture. (Nye, pgs. 170-171) Not only to texts express important ideas within particular religious traditions, they also act as places in which ideas are examined, re-evaluated, and in many cases put into practice. Texts are read, as well as being lived and performed, and the examination of any particular text cannot do any more than produce another text that seeks to elaborate on its many fluid meanings. (Nye, pg. 173)
  • Slide 127
  • DOCTRINES & TEXTS (cont.) Hermeneutics is about recovering an understanding of the meaning of texts. (Nye, pg. 151) how texts are used within particular religious locationswhat they are sayingwhat their authors intended them to sayhow they are being read and understood by particular religious practitioners. (Nye, pg. 155) the study of texts becomes the study of texts and contexts. (Nye, pg. 155) there can be no single and definitive reading of any text. All texts can be read in a multitude of different ways, as each text is a play of words and meanings both within and between texts. (Nye, pge. 157)
  • Slide 128
  • DOCTRINES & TEXTS (cont.) scriptures, in and of themselves, are not naturally or essentially holythey become sacred within the lives of communities that respond to them as sacred and holy realities; the communitys response bestows holiness on them. (Ring, et. al., pg. 181) The community invests these writings with authorityeach community uses its scripture to evaluate what ultimately mattersa religion considers its scriptures canonical, that is, normative for belief and practice. (Ring, et. al., pg. 182) Doctrines (literally, teachings) are formal and authoritative statements which articulate a religions beliefs. (Ring, et. al., pg. 199)
  • Slide 129
  • DOCTRINES & TEXTS (cont.) A creed is a statement in verbal form of the faith of an individual or a community. By means of its creed, a religion both defines and teaches the beliefs its members must accept. (Ring, et. al., pg. 200)
  • Slide 130
  • ETHICS an ethnos, a way of being in and relating to the world. (Ring, et. al., pg. 99) religions legitimating role, an explanation and justification of societys moral order. (Ring, et. al., pg. 101) From the perspective of religious ethics, an informed conscience is always one that is shaped and open to the wisdom that comes through the religious tradition, wisdom that has its source in some divine or transcendent order. (Ring, et. al., pg. 217)
  • Slide 131
  • ETHICS (cont.) Religious ethics are also social ethics in that they related to the way institutions and societies organize and structure themselvesThe fundamental norm for social ethics is justiceDistributive justice refers to the proper distribution of social benefits and burdensThe common good refers to the communal nature of human experience. Humans were created for community, not isolation, and this means that the good of each person is bound up with the good of the community. (Ring, et. al., pgs. 124-125) Rituals support a particular moral way of life, embody values and relationships, and remind us of our moral responsibilities and commitments. (Ring, et. al., pg. 127)
  • Slide 132
  • MYTH First, in assuming religion is concerned with belief, we are taking a primarily Christian concept and making it the basis for a universal concept of what religion is mean to be about. And second, the practice of religion in non- Christian contexts may emphasize other aspects of behavior than belief such as ritual. (Nye, pg. 103)
  • Slide 133
  • RELEVANCE TO INDIVIDUAL the ideology of a male god works to legitimate the economic and political subordination of women. (Nye, pg. 70) studies of religion have to look in different places for the broad range of activities that could be designated as religious within any particular context. (Nye, pg. 95) gender is a very important category of analysis for the study of religion and culturethere are other categories of difference as well as gender such as race, class, ethnicity, age, and sexuality. (Nye, pg. 96)
  • Slide 134
  • RELEVANCE TO INDIVIDUAL (cont.) Androcentrism is the assumption that male-ness, the male perspective, and mens experiences are the central nad most important points of reference. (Nye, pg. 74) There is no essential basis for gender instead gender is dependent on what each particular culture holds gender to be. (Nye, pgs. 76-77) if we take the assumption that gender is culturally constructed, then one could also argue that sexuality is too. (Nye, pg. 78) power is an element of gender division. (Nye, pg. 79)
  • Slide 135
  • RELEVANCE TO INDIVIDUAL (cont.) Studies of religion and culture require a broad- based approach which assumes the premise of diversity that religions are products of the politics of such differences, and are experienced through the particular lenses of people who are shaped (in their different ways) by their own particular combinations of identities. (Nye, pg. 97) Religious authorities exercise control by mandating how people are to organize and manage various aspects of their lives. (Ring, et. al., pgs. 308-309)
  • Slide 136
  • RELEVANCE TO INDIVIDUAL (cont.) Profound loss is a mystery which calls into question our most basic convictions and apparent certitudes about good and evil, reward and punishment, as well as about the image of the deity that informs our living. (Ring, et. al., pg. 310)
  • Slide 137
  • RITUAL rituals are just one particular type of bodily place in which religiosity is practiced. (Nye, pg. 125) Eight particular ways of looking at rituals: (Nye, pgs 128 ff.) (1) meaning (2) symbolism (3) communication (4) performance (5) society (6) repetition (7) transformation (8) power
  • Slide 138
  • RITUAL (cont.) Rituals are symbolic, routine, and repetitive activities and actions through which we make connections with what we consider to be the most valuable dimensions of life. (Ring, et. al., pg. 73) Ritual actions enable us to maintain continuity with significant persons and events from the pastRituals, further, commemorate significant events in the life of our communities and provide a means for renewing the meaning of those events among usRituals help us individually and communally to make sense of lifes transitions, providing some structure to ease movement from the familiar to the unknown. (Ring, et. al., pgs. 73- 74)
  • Slide 139
  • RITUAL (cont.) Religious rituals connect our individual and communal efforts to order life and create relationships with what we perceive as ultimate or sacred orderings. (Ring, et. al., pg. 75) Religious ritual expresses the connection with our perception of ultimacy or the sacred in the universe. Religious ritual expresses our deepest understandings of the worldReligious rituals are often expressive of our imaginative capacitiesReligious rituals also express our embodiness in the worldReligious rituals enable us to make connections with our heritage and history. (Ring, et. al., pgs. 76-80)
  • Slide 140
  • RITUAL (cont.) Types of Religious Ritual: (1) Life-cycle Rituals (2) Life-Crisis Rituals (3) Periodic (Cyclical) Rituals (Ring, et. al., pgs. 81-94)
  • Slide 141
  • SACRED Religious languageconcerns itself with those dimensions of human existence in which the ultimate and the holy manifest themselves. Religious language is rooted in human experience of what ultimately matters[Religious language] speaks about the world and human experience in such a way that the sacred becomes apparentReligious language is a way in which the mystery within human experience reveals itself. (Ring, et. al., pg. 144)
  • Slide 142
  • SACRED (cont.) While parables deal with the unpredictability of the sacred and often challenge or subvert a particular worldview or moral understanding, myth offers perspectives on such ultimate questions as the origins of the universe, the meaning of being human, the beginnings of evil, the destiny of the world and its inhabitants Myth describes the interrelationships between men, women, nature, and the sacred that constitute social order or disorder; parables remind us that such order is far from permanentWithin a religious tradition, myth is a narrative that builds a worldview. (Ring, et. al., pg. 154)
  • Slide 143
  • SACRED (cont.) (1) myths place a spiritual or mystical function; (2) myths present an ordered universe and clearly locate us within that universe; they diminish the threat of chaos and reduce anxiety; (3) myths integrate individuals into the group, teaching us how to negotiate relationships and achieve our goals as constructive group members; they also provide patterns of behaviors to imitate in times of crisis when we cannot think or plan logically; (4) myths contribute to psychological development and enrichment, guiding us through life stages from childhood through death. (Ring, et. al., pg. 156)
  • Slide 144
  • SACRED (cont.) Types of Myth: (1) Myths of Origin (generally about the relationships which must be in place for the present community to function) (2) Myths of Alienation (presence of aspects of human life which we cannot change) (3) Myths of Destiny (motivate religious people to remain faithful to their traditions in the hope of late experiencing harmony and fulfillment) (4) Prophetic Myths (judge the accuracy of a communitys myths in terms of a competing story whose order it supplants) The language we use to talk about the sacred, which may be a dimension of human experience but not one we can access directly, is the language of metaphor. (Ring, et. al., pg. 173)
  • Slide 145
  • SYMBOL Cultures propose different understandings of what it means to be human, and they educate the potential human being so that it may approach the cultural ideal of personhoodReligion provides guiding narratives and paradigmatic rituals to encourage the development of the person and community. Via word and ritual, religion transmits its vision of true humanity from generation to generation. (Ring et. al., pgs. 55-56)
  • Slide 146
  • SYMBOL (cont.) (1) Religion is awareness expressed through symbols of relationships to, or participation in, the fundamental power of life. (2) Religions are symbol systems which facilitate relationship to, or participation in, what the members understand to be the fundamental power of life. (Ring, et. al., pg. 61)
  • Slide 147
  • SYMBOL (cont.) Representational symbols or signs point to or stand for something else but do not necessarily participate in the realities for which they stand (e.g. green light). Presentational symbols are things which suggest something else by virtue of analogous qualities (e.g. church as ship; God as shepherd). The meaning of symbols is determined by the contexts in which they are located. Symbols may awaken our consciousness to new ways of thinking about ourselves and our world. (Ring, et. al., pgs. 66-67)
  • Slide 148
  • RELIGIOUS STUDIES 100 THE BEGINNING OF THE END OR THE END OF THE BEGINNING???
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