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People, gods, and goddesses Anthropological approaches to religion. The Duo Donggo and Bimanese • Duo Donggo are egalitarian subsistence farmers who worship nature and ancestor spirits. They propitiate a mountain spring to bring rains. • The Bimanese are lowland agriculturalists governed until recently by a Sultan. They view Allah as a supreme being that pervades all reality. Propitiate Allah in order to encourage rains. • Religion and society are both models for each other and there is a complex relationship between the type of society and religious values. Early Approaches: Durkheim and religion • • • He tried to find the most basic elements of sacred phenomena. It could not be the existence of gods, because some religions did not have gods or goddesses. He found that all societies divided all social phenomena into two basic realms: • i. sacred. • Ii. Profane. • It was the sense of the sacred that was the common element of all religions. • Studied totemism among Australian aboriginal societies: • Each clan had a series of animal, plant or natural totems. • The churinga was especially sacred. • Clan totems were surrounded by taboos. • Marriage and hunting were determined by the classification of clan totems, all clans had to be exogamous and could only marry into clans with unlike totems. • Durkheim believed that totemism provided a conceptual and moral model for aboriginal societies; in short that religion was the power of society writ large. Religious Ritual: Rites of Passage • Arnold van Gennep • Society could be viewed as a house, with the rooms representing different life stages. Rituals and religious beliefs helped people move from one stage to another. The rituals occurred at the threshold stage. • Victor Turner: all rites of passage have three major stages: • Separation: symbolic death of the old state • Liminality: equality of participants, betwixt and between period. • Incorporation: rebirth into a new state. Religion, science and witchcraft • Malinowski: religion provides a charter of meaning that explains that which is unexplainable and difficult, e.g. the fact that we all die. Magic is more akin to science, in that it starts where empirical knowledge ends and relieves psychological anxiety. • Evans-Pritchard: Witchcraft and magic for the Azande explains what we would call misfortune, e.g. witchcraft does not explain why a granary collapsed, but why it collapsed on a particular individual. Religious movements • Anthropolgists have studied those religious movements that arose as a result of catastrophic changes that a given worldview cannot accommodate, e.g. colonialism. • Long house movement ( seneca of north america) • Cargo cults (melanesia) • These later became routinized and became political movements. Charisma and routinization • Religious prophets often arise during periods of societal crises. • Whether or not a charismatic movement becomes a stable religion depends on the degree to which it becomes ‘routinized’, i.e. bureaucratically organized. Example, the Mormon Church: Joseph Smith (charismatic prophet) and Brigham Young (routinizer).