This chapter has a lot of thought-provoking information about myths, origin stories, and religion. The sequence of the ideas is somewhat difficult for students less familiar with the specific myths that David C. Ratke cites. We will work through this chapter during our class time. To prepare for class, I would like you to read only pp.27-34. If you so choose, you can skim some of the myths that are elsewhere in the chapter. But for certain, reflect on the myths that you’ve grown up with or encountered.

Define the following terms, honing in not only on their meaning, but also how they relate to each other.

  • Sacred/Profane//Religious/Secular
  • Rudolf Otto’s numinous and “wholly other”
  • Rudolf Otto’s mysterium tremendum (we’ll add ‘et fascinas’ in class)
  • Mystical
  • Scientific Account of the Formation of Religion:
  • [Camp 1] Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins, et al
  • [Camp 2] Barbara J. King
  • Symbols
  • Myths
Sengalese Wolof Griot (1890)

I’d like you to briefly journal your own thoughts about how Ratke presents the ideas of religion and mythsThroughout our discussion this semester, be sure to note that we are using “myth” in a technical sense. As you read his discussion of scholarly approaches, reflect on the following:

(1) Do you think Ratke did a fair job characterizing the different camps or attitudes invested in the study of religion and myth? What would you add, qualify, or critique? (125 words)

(2) Given your social location, what origin stories have you learned to think about yourself and think through your worldview? These may come from a community you hold as sacred or secular. (125 words)