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Defining Religion

Essay by   •  November 10, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,034 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,614 Views

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When searching for the meaning of the term religion one most go a long way in making an extensive search to actually form a definition that can fit such a broad word. There is no one definition that can satisfy all religions and remain true to all religions throughout its answer. There are many different views and definitions of the word and it is very hard to come up with a reasonable definition that sums such a massive expression up. Religion when used as a single word is almost impossible to define. Different people especially in different religions will all have a difference in opinion when trying to use very few words to define religion. I feel that the definitions in the book are all correct to some extent and may be missing a few important factors or have overextended the meaning to apply to only some religions and or faiths.

In the functional definitions that were defined in the book and by Clifford Geertz, I found little error and would like to expand on my opinion on their definitions. The book defined religion, if I remember correctly as, any person's reliance upon a pivotal value was that person finds essential wholeness as an individual and as a person-in-community." Well, I broke the definition down into similar terms to appreciate its meaning. I interpreted this definition as someone's dependence on an essential value where that person finds it necessary for personal completeness. In other words ones religion is what it takes for that individual to feel complete, I do not feel that this is true for all religions. Now when I broke it down for my personal clarity, I found error in this definition. Not all people practicing a religion would agree that they depend on their religion to complete them as a whole. Yes this would be true of most religions but not of all religions. That is why I find it erroneous when it is being used to define a word that has many more options for words of choice than referring to it as being necessary for wholeness, when some people see their religious practices as daily stress reducers and not as completing them as individuals. I believe the feeling of completion in your life is a personal view and to whom that person shares an identity with. This would include close family and religious family.

Geertz definition of religion that is defined in our text, states that religion has two major functions. The first function was defined as a comprehensive system of symbolic meanings for understanding the nature of reality. The other function is said to be a system of values that enforce complete devotion. The two functions together are in Geertz opinion inseparable. I described my interpretation of the definition so that you can understand how comprehended the definitions. I agree with Geertz on all aspects except that the symbolic meanings are for understanding the nature of reality. I feel that some symbolic gestures have personal meaning and are not symbolic to an individual or group to understand the nature of reality.

My views on religion as a whole involve worship and devotion. In neither one of the definitions is worship mentioned. Religion itself is all about worship to any higher being or belief. Religion to me is based on the supernatural in most religions. And I say that because most systems worship a good or have an organized belief system to which the worship something of the supernatural. Religion is a devotion to any religious faith. I understand that a religious faith can be that in which someone performs rituals and strongly believes in the rituals in which they are performing

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