4: The Ways of Being Religious Exemplified
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The present chapter is devoted to conveying a more concrete sense of ways of being religious. Examples of each way of being religious will be cited in a variety of traditions as well as in some nontraditional forms. ·Then various possible relationships between the ways will be discussed. Typically, religious traditions prioritize or super-ordinate certain ways in relation to others and in some cases may suppress the emergence of one or more ways. These prioritizations occasionally change. When religions are not confined to a relatively small-scale tribal group, they typically evolve over time and through geographic and demographic dispersion. When such change happens, it usually is from a more compact, less differentiated state to a less compact, more differentiated state, from one way or a few ways of being religious to many ways. When a religion moves into a new cultural context, circumstances may stimulate the emergence of new ways of being religious that may appear as a kind of syncretism. Whereas some expressions of a religion exemplify a single way and little else, other expressions integrate several ways at once. And whereas some subtraditions take an exclusive attitude toward the practice of a single way, other subtraditions take an inclusive attitude that generously tolerates the practice of several different ways of being religious, and perhaps all six. Examples of each of these kinds of relationships between the ways will be cited.
A precaution: the examples cited and the interpretive descriptions of them should not be regarded as final. Depending on their acquaintance with the traditions and religious phenomena cited, some readers may be inclined to classify and describe them somewhat differently. That is to be expected. In other words, the reader must exercise her or his own judgment in making use of the framework, trying to see further, perhaps, and with keener sensitivity.