Friday, April 23, 2004

Tribal religion notes

One interesting thing to consider when reading the Book of Mormon is the way in which religion was or was not integrated into their culture. From some reading I have been doing, it seems like religion that is fully integrated into the culture is basically invisible. It is hard to say what things are cultural and what are religious. Distinctions don’t make sense. I think our society is anything but this. The other end of the spectrum is termed by some to be governmental religion. In this case religion is viewed as distinct from the culture. It may intermingle in many ways, but it is highly visible. Our society would view religion in this way. One of the things it can be seen as doing is teaching an ideal set of morals or behaviour. Now what was the Nephite religion like? It is hard not to interpret their religion in terms of our cultural and govermental religous views. Of course, I think many people would say that trying to interpret tribal religion is fundamentally impossible unless you have grown up in that culture.

Here are some notes I made on the topic

Encyclopedia of American Indians
- rituals done by whole group
- can’t separate religion from culture
- no external moral educational institutions
- community based
- little frequent contact with external groups
- group survival
- reciprocity
- items have no meaning outside the community. This is because the goal of religious activity is to have an event that benefits the community. It is not trying to meet an external standard.
Based on commonly shared and commonly understood experiences

Tribal religions are best understood on what they are not. No
- universal salvation
- do not need to dialogue with outside groups
- no unique insight into gods
- not universal
- conversion is discouraged
- unless you are born into it, you can’t ever be expected to fully grasp it
No distinction between natural and supernatural

Georgia South University

- Christian religions are based on an ideal of government, tribal religions are based more on an ideal of person
- Tribal religions tend to be more gender equal, not necessarily in our modern view of role equality, but rather in the voice each gender has in the religion