“A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs is a religion” (“religion,” 2011). Molloy (2010) stated, “Religion answers the questions who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. Religions must also provide answers to the great questions that people ask. How did the universe come into existence, does it have a purpose, and will it end? What is time, and how should we make use of it?
What should be our relationship to the world of nature? Why do human beings exist? How do we reach fulfillment, transformation, or salvation? Why is there suffering in the world, and how should we deal with it? What happens when we die? What should we hold as sacred? All the questions are the same in different religions, but with different religions the answers vary” (Chapter 1, p. 14). Religions also manifest into eight elements which are a belief system, community, central myths, ritual, ethics, characteristic emotional experiences, material expression, and sacredness. Religions exist to serve our needs.
It serves our need to find some kind of purpose in the world. Religious Traditions gives people hope and understanding when it comes to death. In Christianity, worshippers believe that Jesus is the Son of God and only through him may you have eternal life. Muslims simply believe that Jesus was only a prophet of God. Both religions have many similarities and differences as well. Most religions believe the origin of everything is sacred and mysterious. Indigenous Religions are religions that usually go back to ancient times and are usually spread through word of mouth rather than traditional literature.
They can be found in almost any type of environment. The Igbo are a type of Indigenous Religion. They worship the Goddess of the earth and various spirits of the river, yam, and hearth. Many worship a High God, Chinike. The Igbo people also venerate the souls of their ancestors who are believed to have power over the lives of their descendants. In the Igbo religion they have special rituals to mark significant life events. They have daily rituals in their homes where they wooden images of their ancestors and they offer food, drinks, and blood sacrifices of animals (Molloy, 2010).
Native Americans also have a form of an Indigenous Religion. They all have a common ritual for early maturity which is the vision quest or also known as the dream quest. This ritual involves prolonged fasting and some kind of preliminary cleansing which can include undergoing a sweat bath or washing. For years a young person receives training to prepare for this ritual. A tribal religious specialist makes a sacred space marked in four directions set aside from the village. There the seeker must remain until a dream or vision comes. A person who acts as intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds, using magic to cure illness, foretell the future, control spiritual forces, etc is a shaman” (“shaman,” 2011). A shaman is able to contact the spirit world. They are able to receive visions of it and are able to transmit messages in order to heal and help others in need. Shamans also understand the primodial unity of experiences and things shared with animals and nature. Shamans blend the roles of priest, oracles, psychologist, and a doctor all into one.
To become a shaman you have to be involved in one or more encounters with the spiritual realm. In conclusion religions play a significant in human nature. We all wonder about where we came from, what is our purpose in life, and where are going after death. Without religion the world would be even crazier than it already is. It plays a major role in our everyday lives. It defines who we are, and brings about character in an individual. Religion is the stepping stone of a journey called life where a person must find his or her own way and make their own decision on what they believe.
religion. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved April 19, 2011, from Dictionary.com
Molloy, M. (2010). Experiencing the World’s Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change. [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-Text]. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, REL / 133 website.