The Sacred and the Profane has pointed out a lot of things that I’ve never noticed involving churches and why they were built and set up they way they are. One of the most obvious structural designs of a church is the steeple, which until this last week I had never known why all churches had them. In class I learned that churches were designed with steeples because they’re going up towards heaven connecting heaven to earth. Another thing we went over in class was the way that most churches are designed on the inside. In the churches The Sacred and the Profane talk about the alter being to the east in the church being sacred and holy, while the west side of the church is darkness. Class on Tuesday made me also realize that every church I’ve been to has been set up the same starting with the back of the church, pews, then steps up to the alter, then the tabernacle.
This Tuesday we talked about the Rountree Goddess article and the different parts of if that relate to the different definitions, theorists, and if it’s actually a pilgrimage. The part of the article that I found most interesting was about pilgrimage being tourism or tourism being pilgrimage. Until this article I haven’t realized how alike pilgrimage to tourism because pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place and tourism is often thought of as people traveling to a specific place to see that areas popular sites. Another definition of pilgrimage that the article gives is traveling to sites, which embody cultural and individual ideals. This definition is even closer to what I view as a definition of tourism because it’s talking about people traveling to sites with culture and ideas, which are areas people tend to travel to.
Because we didn’t have class this Tuesday there isn’t anything new to really blog about, but in the past week I was wondering why there were so many different practices between the religions that we’re accustomed to and the foreign religions we’ve been learning about throughout the year. The thing I don’t understand the most is why most foreign religions have some type of Pilgrimage, while here I don’t know of any religions that do a pilgrimage at all or as large scale and as serious as most of the foreign religions.
After learning about the Banaras and Varanasi Pilgrimage on Tuesday this week I thought it was strange that they had 5 different routes of pilgrimage they could take ranging from 168 miles, 55 miles, 15 miles, visiting 72 shrines around the city, visiting 72 shrines right inside of the Vishveshvara temple. I was kind of surprised by such a big range between the different pilgrimage’s people can do because I don’t know why someone would want to do the 168 mile one over any of the shorter ones.
In class on Tuesday we started talking about non-western religions and were shown pictures of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. All of these statues were unique and had specific differences about them that represented something in these religions. For example, Brahma has multiple faces and arms and his also holding a spoon that signifies the creation. Vishnu is holding a shell and a discus, while standing on top of a snake, which represents chaos showing that he maintains order. The last statue is Shiva that is shown dancing on a dwarf in a flaming circle, which signifies him being the destroyer of the world and is known as the God of death and God of sex.
The guest speaker that was in our class on Tuesday had a lot of good points that showed me a greater connection between pilgrimage and the models we’ve gone over in class throughout the past couple weeks. He talks about the long walk to the pilgrimage, how you need to go to a different place from where you live, meeting people and creating a friendship there, and you return changed as a new person. This relates to the turner model in every step because the turner model begins with leaving your world of convention, creation of anti-structure, communitas, and finally return. Return is what makes a pilgrimage and without it, it can’t be considered one.
Going through all of the steps of the Hajj today helped me to understand all of the steps at the Mecca and why people do them better, it also helped me remember them better too. Starting the Hajj is purification where you wash your hands and feet usually then begin to circumambulate counter clockwise around the Ka’aba 7 times. After finishing this people will run up and down a hill 7 times to represent Hagar searching for water for herself and Ishmael when they were lost and stranded in the desert. After this is a complete day of rest where people stand on Mount Arafat for a day in complete silence and stillness where they meditate. The next step in the Hajj is when people throw 7 stones at 3 different pillars, which represents Abraham casting out the devil. After this we returned to the Ka’aba where people sometimes circumambulate around it again, but the final step is having an animal sacrifice to complete the Hajj. After completing the Hajj you are now referred to as a Hajji.
In one of our class periods this week we talked about many different aspects of Judaism, but one of them that I was still unsure about was the lifestyle of being Kosher. I understand what the Koshers daily rules that apply to appropriate food, dress, and contact are and that it’s their religion to follow through with all these rules. When we talked in class about the husband living out the rules as they’re stated, while his wife just lived her regular life, I realized how hard it would be for a couple that doesn’t both follow the Kosher rules to live together. But, the main questions I have about it is when was this started, how did it ever get started, and who decided all of the rules that apply for people who live out this lifestyle?
In the book “The Unlikely Disciple” that we read for this class we talked about how he didn’t tell anyone at Liberty University why he was really going to school there and what his true intentions were. In class we were asked if it was right of him to go to this university to see what it’s really like there. In my opinion there was nothing wrong with what he did because if he would have had to tell Liberty University or the students who go there the real reason why he was there it would have changed everything that he found there. If the students had been informed about what Kevin Roose was really doing the students wouldn’t have acted, as their normal selves around him and the study would have been inaccurate.
After seeing all of the different views the theorists had on religion I was still unsure of how one of the theorists ideas and views towards religion could possibly be considered or viewed as an option. That theorist is Sigmund Freud, because everything that I learned about him and especially his theories have made me think that he should have never been considered a theorist of religion in any way. The first problem I have with him is he is an atheist. I don’t see how someone could be an atheist and have an idea or view on what religion is, should be, or ever could be. I also disagree with him saying that religion resembles mental illness and that there is no God. I had never heard of Sigmund Freud, but after learning everything about his I don’t know how anyone could ever believe or agree with anything in his theory.