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4.8: Study Questions
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- Drawing upon your own experience and knowledge of different sorts of religious practice, identify what way or combination of ways of being religious they exemplify. Don't just label them, but think about them carefully and justify why you are inclined to classify them the way that you do.
- On the basis of a well-rounded acquaintance with a specific religious subtradition (e.g., a Christian denomination), identify what way or ways of being religious the subtradition especially emphasizes. What other ways (or aspects of ways) seem to be present and what relationship do they have to those that are especially emphasized? Does the subtradition relate exclusively, indifferently, or inclusively toward other ways than those it especially emphasizes? Again, don't just label, but think about the tradition carefully and justify your conclusions.
- Read a good survey text in religious studies on a specific religious tradition that offers concrete descriptions of the variety of practices found in that tradition (such as one of the survey texts listed below). As you read, identify which way or ways of being religious each of the described practices exemplifies, and justify your answer. What ways are especially emphasized in each subtradition that is discussed? And how does each subtradition relate to ways other than those it emphasizes? So far as the text does not provide enough information to answer one of these questions, do further focused research to find the answer.
- For each of the ways, group together two or more instances of traditional religious practice that exemplify them. Starting with the groups representing two of the ways and making use of some good survey texts (and other sources of knowledge, if available), compare and contrast the groups for the sake of identifying for yourself what characteristics tend to distinguish each group from the others. Look especially for distinctive religious practices and distinctive patterns of social organization.
- Select an instance of a major or significant change in a religious tradition or subtradition-for example, a renewal, a reformation, a schism, the birth of a new subtradition or daughter religion, and so forth. Explore to what extent tensions and conflicts between different ways of being religious can account for what happened (including not just different religious practices but also the different existential needs, different orientations to interpreting the authoritative sources of the tradition, and different patterns of social organization that correspond to the different ways).
- Read a good survey of elements of civil and/or cultural religion in America. For example, Chapters 13 and 14 of Catherine Albanese's text cited below discuss multiple concrete examples of nontraditional religious phenomena. Identify what way or ways of being religious are exemplified in each case and justify your answers. Can you think of still other examples that are not mentioned in the text? Describe them and justify how you are inclined to classify them.