There are over 4200 religions that exist in the world; however, the exact number is not known. The definition of what a religion is varies and it is impossible to define religion as all religions do not have the same characteristics. One definition that attempts to sum up the meaning of religion is from Dictionary. com. It defines religion as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
There are 8 elements found in religion. These characteristics include a belief system, community, central myths, rituals, ethics, emotional experiences, material expression, and sacredness. This paper will explain the basic components that make up a religious tradition, as well as the critical issues that are important when studying religion. Symbols and traditions are a huge part of religion. I am a Christian and growing up we used was a witness bracelet to tell the story of Christ and to show others that we were saved. A witness bracelet is a leather strap with 7 different color beads on it placed in a specific order.
Every piece of this bracelet has a meaning relating to Christ. The leather strap symbolizes the beatings Jesus took in his life. There are two knots in the bracelet and each of these knots has a meaning. The first knot reminds people that God created us and the last knot is to remind us that God choose us. The first bead is black and it represents the sin of the world as well as the sin each person commits in their lives. The second bead is red and represents the blood the Jesus shed on the cross and the third bead is clear and represents forgiveness.
Blue is the next bead and it represents the gift of the Holy Spirit that was given to us when Jesus was put on that cross and resurrected into Heaven. Next is the green bead and it is for the eternal life that God has given each one of us and the gold is for the streets of gold that are promised to us in Heaven. The last bead is purple and it is for the gift of grace that has been given to each person. Religion is taught through teachings, texts, stories, and even through performance. Every Christmas at church I can recall the story of Jesus birth and it being acted out so that others could have a visual of how his birth took place.
There are many movies that explain how certain events happened such as The Passion of the Christ or the Ten Commandments. Christians read Bibles, sing hymns, and tell stories that enable us to learn about Christ. Religious traditions allow us to pray, worship, go on religious trips, and minister to others. In my religion we had missionaries who would travel to other countries and help other people with many things such as building them a home or school, teaching them about God, or helping them with food and clothing. The youth would go to places such as camps or Evangelists seminars and learn about spreading the word of God onto others.
We learned we should pray and worship God all the time, not just when at church. Religion is not something that is only done at a church. It is done every day and everywhere and it is a lifestyle that must be followed. Religious traditions teach us many lessons about life such as relationships, leadership, and getting along with one another. Important traits that come out of religion include loving one another, forgiveness, being able to share, being compassionate, and being able to help one another. Religion teaches us not to be selfish and to do what we can to help.
Some religions may focus more on helping other people while others focus more on animals or the earth. Religion helps us express ourselves and be vocal on our beliefs and values. We learn about our morals and values through our religious beliefs. Religion helps mold us into the people we have become. There are some basic patterns that are found when studying religion. They include focusing on beliefs and practices, views of the world and life, and views of the different sexes. There are many approaches when it comes to studying religion including psychology, mythology, philosophy, theology, the arts, anthropology, archeology, and language.
When studying religion a person must ask questions and take advantage of all the resources that are available such as travel, texts, and artifacts. Religion is all around us. There are many different religions with many different beliefs, rituals, and common practices. Religion is full of mystery and unexplained events and it is something that is never completely mastered or learned. There are always new aspects and facts that a person finds new and interesting. I am going to close with a quote by Edwin Lewis. He stated, “A religion without the element of mystery would not be a religion at all”.?