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I have to take an intro class in religious studies because it's part of the major. So far it looks like it's going to be me trapped in a room with thirty people who, in addition to desperately needing an intro to religious studies, also need to spend five minutes with someone who isn't a Christian. Our homework for the first week was to post a definition of the word "religion" on the class message board. Here's my favorite so far:

"Religion is the belief and practice in a higher being or God. It is the belief and thought that there is some higher being more powerful than anything on Earth. Those who practice the religion, “practice” so by attending churches that are dedicated to their God, praying, singing, showing kindness to others, and other forms of worship set out depending on the religion that is practiced. Religion is having faith or trust that there is an all-powerful being that helps guide us to live good, honest lives. This higher being is a symbol for people who believe try to morally achieve. The belief in a higher being or God also provides comfort to people. It can bring comfort for many reasons. It allows people to have an answer to what happens after they die. It allows them to know that no matter what there is someone watching over them. The higher being can be understood to be all loving and understanding, but also having set rules for how one should live their life. Following those set rules, religion is also the belief that a person’s soul has a final resting place; heaven or hell. For those who live a “good” life based on rules set out by their religion will end up in heaven with their God. Those that do not follow will end up in hell away from an eternal life with their God."

I think the worst part is that every time someone makes a post, it gets sent to me via e-mail.

I gave a hostile somewhat dismissive non-definition:

"When we attempt to define “religion” and what it means to be “religious”, we almost unfailingly reveal our biases, and our definitions are overwhelmingly unsatisfactory. Often, the definitions that we do manage to craft rely on unfair generalizations about beliefs and practices, and exceptions are usually glaringly apparent. The very idea that we feel compelled to distinguish something called “religion” from daily life is in and of itself a bias particularly characteristic of Western thought. For many Americans (and others), religion is something that is “other” – something that we have to make additional time to observe, something that momentarily separates us from the rest of our lives, something that divides the sacred from the mundane – but this is not the case in other parts of the world, and particularly in non-Abrahamic traditions. Religion does not necessarily provide comfort, answer questions, give life meaning, make statements related to the afterlife, define social interactions, provide one with a moral code, or even include a belief in a supernatural power. Even the act of not subscribing to a religion (as we might understand it) can itself be a religious undertaking (just observe the fervor of some popular atheist writers). The term ultimately is arbitrary and useful only within strictly defined parameters, and attempts to define it reveal more about the person providing the definition than they do about the subject itself."

The good news is that all of my other classes should be good. My advisor (Prof. A) is on sabbatical, but another professor (Prof. B) has offered to step in while he's away. I'll also be doing honors work for Professor B this term, which I'm excited about. He's easily my favorite, so I'm pleased. My new biggest fear is looking stupid in front of my professors (this one in particular), so this honors work thing has been freaking me out.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 18th, 2010 02:21 am (UTC)
congrats on the classes & the good professor!

first paragraph/definition:
wow. just wow. (I can see why it's your favorite! LOL)

your definition:
I LOVE your hostile nondefinition!!!!!!!!! effin awesome!!!!!!!!!!! (and the part that had me literally laughing out loud is that your definition is going to show up in their inboxes! Outstanding!!

{{oops! had to edit to fix an HTML error - sorry about that!}}

Edited at 2010-01-18 02:22 am (UTC)
Jan. 18th, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
Yay! Lisa! Thank you for the congrats. I've been kind of a mess for the last, uh, six months or so, and I need to catch up with you like whoa. I'm hoping things turn around this term.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )