We are going to launch our course with the first chapter of Paul Myhre’s textbook, written by Myhre himself. It will not establish a single definition of religion. Instead, it will introduce why defining religion is difficult and why religion should be a subject of academic investigation.
As you read the chapter, please define and make sense of the following terms/concepts:
- Huston Smith’s definition of religion-
- Friedrich Schleiermacher’s definition of religion-
- John (Fire) Lame Deer’s definition of religion-
- Jonathan Z. Smith’s definition of religion-
- Core Value-
After reading, I want you to give some thought to the chart entitled “Religions of the World.” The chart divides the five religions according to their respective sacred texts, founder(s), and original historical setting (11). Myhre goes on to explain that the chart “provides an overview of several major religions—“major” because of the number of their adherents (12). Given what you’ve read, reflect on the following questions:
(1) Why does Myhre qualify the term “major” with scare quotes? What does this signify? (100 words)
(2) Myhre links “major” to number of adherents. Does his chart actually include the five most populous religions? Take a moment to verify this online. What did you find? Please make sure to cite the source. (100 words)
I also want you to get in the habit of writing down questions in your notebook. Bring these to class so that we can discuss them. Questions bring us to the good stuff.