First midterm essay question 2

First midterm essay question 2 - No religion can be termed...

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No religion can be termed solely locative or utopian; aspects of a religion are locative or utopian. In the locative worldview, the world is seen as bounded, as an environment, an ambiance; “order is produced by walling, channeling, and confining” the vastness of waters or deserts. The second pole is “utopian,” literally, of course, “no-place-ian.” Jonathan Z Smith who conjured the terms warns against reading the dichotomy in evolutionary or sequential terms, with the locative always preceding the utopian, or with the locative always “archaic” and the utopian always “modern.” These are not a proposed way to characterize all religions. They are merely an attempt to delineate two contrastive tendencies that may be seen at work in some religions and cultures at some times. Simply put they are a binary typology of worldviews or styles of religion. Shang dynasty the earliest ruling regime in China clearly exemplifies the locative nature of religion. Shang people were scared of chaos and they made ways to avoid it. Two main facets where the locative concept seeps in to the Shang court are legitimation (oracle bones) and sacrifices. Oracle bones are records of what happened in the Kings court and crack making on these was a public process which had inner subjectivity. Legitimation is the way in which someone justified something to an audience and these oracle bones were often used for this process. The oracle bones that we viewed in class had two vectors of legitimation, one legitimated the efficacy of the divination process and rituals and the other the sacral role of the King. This process of divination and legitimation to divulge unseen beings to give divine knowledge which is reliable was very mechanical and rule governed with four steps preface, charge, prognostication, verification, in that they were locative concepts for they have categories in terms of execution. Besides this the very fact that rituals were divined about showed that the Shang people were constantly trying to standardize the means of relations to the Gods (to lock their relation in place). The assumption that the divine power needed to eat and it was the obligation of humans to provide the sustenance was another locative idea widely held by Shang people which lead to sacrifice. Thus, this sacrifice was a way of characterizing the place of divine-human relationship in its own scheme of things. Another locative idea from the Shang dynasty worth
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mentioning is the sacral role of the king i.e. the king unites the Gods in heaven and the people on earth, in process establishing the source of authority of the ruler and his place in the world. Another locative concept in the Chinese culture was the Confucian tradition and its various elements. Confucius thought himself as the preserver and restorer of the Chinese culture. He placed great emphasis on ceremony, ‘li’. According to him ceremony was the cultural and social context in which ‘ren’, humanness is established and developed and only a person with ‘ren’ is noble in the sense of being
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This note was uploaded on 04/06/2008 for the course REL 131g taught by Professor Campany during the Spring '08 term at USC.

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First midterm essay question 2 - No religion can be termed...

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