Talking about religion

Talking about religion

Talk of religion is everywhere. Turn on the television or open the newspaper and there will be stories of conflict between religions, disputes within religions and debates over the role of religion. There will be news of power, poverty and prejudice, of revival, revolution and revulsion, all with reference to religion.

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1 Talking about religion
Talk of religion is everywhere. Turn on the television
or open the newspaper and there will be stories of
conflict between religions, disputes within religions
and debates over the role of religion. There will be news
of power, poverty and prejudice, of revival, revolution
and revulsion,…

Page 2

Preview of page 2
lead to an over-emphasis on the pronouncements of
powerful figures, ignoring the diversity within religions
as well as the similarities between them. When the
US invaded Iraq in 2003, global demonstrations
saw Christian peace campaigners marching alongside
Muslims in solidarity and protest. They may well
have felt that their Christianity…

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Talking about religion

A visit to a synagogue in Los Angeles is likely to be
a different experience from a visit to a synagogue in
Rabat, although of course there will be similarities.
In a comparable way, religion is influenced by its
political context. In medieval Europe, Christians often
explained…

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interest in Hindu, Muslim and Sikh identity, as people
emphasized their differences with their Christian
rulers. In the West today, several religious groups
promote their opposition to commercialism, defining
themselves against what they see as the dominant
cultural and economic norms around them.
Indeed, a glance at the origins of…

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Talking about religion

ultimate reality, a combination of these or a concept
different from them all. The terms `transcendence'
or `the sacred' are sometimes used as umbrella
descriptions for these concepts. Those academics who
insist on studying religion solely as a human activity
are missing a crucial part of the…

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This can include mythical truth, in which a story
points to a higher meaning than can be found in
a literal reading. It can also involve the truth of
experience, which is a starting point for many religions.
Muhammad began reciting the Qur'an because he
experienced a revelation in which…

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Talking about religion

community may be local, perhaps consisting of the
people who attend the same temple. It may be global,
as with the Muslim concept of the Umma, the
worldwide community of Muslims. It may include
all members of society, such as in much of medieval
Europe, where everyone…

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in the matter at all.
Such perceptions underestimate the complexity of
religion, as something that relates to so many spheres
of human activity but goes beyond them. In the light
of such complexity, to ask simply whether religion is
`good' or `bad' is to miss the point. Religion serves
as…

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