6.2: Illustrating Religion and Myth
GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR DISCUSSIONS: Your contributions should be thoughtful and developed. Answer all parts of the question and use concepts from the course materials. Use a professional style of communication, with attention to grammar, spelling, and typos; cite your sources.
Unless your instructor specifies otherwise, choose ONE of the following questions, and give a substantive response to at least two other students.
1. THE MATERIAL DIMENSION OF MYTH
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica online a myth is: a symbolic narrative, usually of unknown origin and at least partly traditional, that ostensibly relates actual events and that is especially associated with religious belief. It is distinguished from symbolic behaviour (cult, ritual) and symbolic places or objects (temples, icons). Myths are specific accounts of gods or superhuman beings involved in extraordinary events or circumstances in a time that is unspecified but which is understood as existing apart from ordinary human experience. The term mythology denotes both the study of myth and the body of myths belonging to a particular religious tradition. (https://www.britannica.com/topic/myth).
Pick one of the five major world religions. You might want to consider a religion other than your own to offer the class something new. Find a myth from that religion that you can directly connect to something in the religion’s material dimension.
Provide a link to a version of the myth and give us a very short (3-5 sentences) description of the myth.
Provide a link to the element of the material dimension that links to the myth and give us a paragraph that analyzes how the two are connected. For example: Is this an object that is part of a ritual? Is it used by believers to accomplish something? Does it teach believers something? Does it help a community express their beliefs? Is it something (like a work of visual art) that critiques the values/beliefs/practices etc. expressed by the myth, or offers a new perspective on the religion?
2. THE ACADEMIC STUDY OF RELIGION
To address the following questions, consider the four approaches to religion described in the introduction to this module: exclusivism, inclusivism, pluralism and empathetic interest in other people.
Which of these four approaches do you take in your everyday life, and why?
Describe a friend, acquaintance, or relative whose approach to religion is different than yours. What approach do they take? Given your different approaches, how would you communicate with them about religion?
If you were to take a college class on religious traditions, do you think the academic study of religion might require you to adjust your approach? Explain your answer.