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Chapter 14 EE
ANTH 212 Chapter 14 EE
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Good Sunday morning,
at least it is Sunday morning right now as I record this.
Chapter 14, ending with religion and magic.
And some might wonder why magic is juxtaposed with religion.
Because in anthropology the answer is
that magic just has to do with
the methods we use to deal with the supernatural.
And religion is all about the supernatural.
So let's talk about the universality of religion
and why we think it appears,
or some of the ideas that we have
about why it appears everywhere we look in all cultures.
Variation in religious beliefs.
Variation of religious practices,
that is a special focus on religious leadership
and the assortment of individuals
from shamans to cardinals to diviners
who engage in religious practices.
Religion and adaptation, that is is religion adaptive.
And here, we'll talk about some recent research
about how religion may lead to greater social solidarity.
And then finally on religious change.
So religion is defined
as any set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices
pertaining to supernatural power,
whether that power be
forces, gods, spirits, ghosts, or demons.
And so the supernatural is out there and there are agents.
And people believe in these agents,
and especially what they've done in the past
and what they may do in the future.
Some ideas about the universality of religion.
I would kind of focus on the need to understand,
one way to look at a religion as it's kind of like science,
to tell us how the world was created,
why things are the way the are.
The psychological close reversion to childhood feelings
I think is probably not really a good kind of theory.
And also as a means to reduce anxiety and uncertainty,
that does occur.
Religion can give people a sense of well being,
but also it can cause plenty of anxiety.
For example in Christian religion,
not going to heaven or hell.
That's going to create some anxiety.
So it doesn't reduce anxiety in many cases.
The need for community and the need for cooperation
I think are also important elements
of why religion is found everywhere.
A group of believers is more cohesive
than a group of people who have seperate different beliefs
and this leads to greater cooperation
in activities that require other cooperation of groups.
So I would say the last two are really important,
and also the first one to some extent too,
probably explains why religion is found everywhere,
even though it's in radically different forms sometimes.
So we'll look at variation in religious beliefs.
Types of supernatural forces and beings,
the character of supernatural beings.
One thing that's really interesting
in more complex societies,
the supernatural beings, as we're beginning to find out
are really concerned about the moral behavior
And then we'll look at the structure, or hierarchy,
of supernatural beings.
Again, we're looking at the ideas
of polytheism and monotheism.
The intervention of gods in human affairs.
And also life after death.
So we're looking at variation in religious beliefs.
We'll look at different kinds of forces.
There are some supernatural forces,
for example, mana, described in the textbook.
And actually not really clearly mentioned in the textbook,
this is what we refer to as animatism.
Which means that the forces
really don't have a bodily form, they can do things.
And think about something like, in Christianity,
the Holy Ghost.
We really don't have an idea
of what the Holy Ghost looks like.
Or, think about another kind of animatistic belief,
in Star Wars, the force.
What is it?
Well it exists, but doesn't have any kind of bodily form.
More commonly, supernatural beings
have human or animalistic forms
and this is called an animistic belief.
In that we can kind of picture what they look like.
And then we have a whole host
of different kinds of supernatural beings,
gods, spirits, ghosts, ancestor spirits.
These are all supernatural in nature,
but their form varies from culture to culture.
One thing that's really interesting about ghosts
is that they just about occur in every society.
And they essentially are the deceased
who formally lived with us,
and now who are wandering around.
In many cases they have to propitiated
by doing a variety of different ceremonies.
If you look at the structure of supernatural beings,
or the structural hierarchy of supernatural beings,
we have monotheistic religions and polytheistic religions.
Now monotheistic doesn't mean one god,
it really means one chief or superior god,
and there may be whole series of other beings
that are in the supernatural pantheons.
So we have the father, the son, and the Holy Ghost,
and then we got angels.
So we have this kind of hierarchy.
And so a hierarchal system is characteristic
of monotheistic religions.
Polytheistic religions are a bit different.
The hierarchy is very weak or nonexistent.
Each god or spirit has its own kind of sphere
of power and control.
And people may pray to a variety of these different gods
in a polytheistic religion.
And so this is the kind of distinction we make
Monotheistic, hierarchal system with an all powerful god,
whereas the polytheistic system,
where's the multiple gods with kind of overlapping powers.
And no one really is in charge.
Even the creator god in polytheistic religions
can have existed a long time ago
and now takes a kind of backseat,
and other gods work on day to day life
and interactions with humans.
Ways to interact with the supernatural.
And various methods have been used
to attempt to communicate with the supernatural,
such as prayer, drug taking, simulation, feasts, sacrifices.
And many of these things lead to
altered states of consciousness,
that is you have to put your head in a special place
in order to interact with the gods.
And technically, as we'll learn in the next couple slides,
magic is any attempt to influence the supernatural.
So take away that kind of like evil demonic sense
of what we talked about, magic something,
is this illegal, improper.
But from anthropologic perspective
magic is the variety of means
that the ceremonies, rituals, prayers, et cetera,
that people use to communicate and interact
with the supernatural, that's what magic is about.
So magic, again, is interacting with supernaturals.
Sorcery may include the use of
materials, objects, and medicines
to invoke supernatural malevolence.
So sorcery typically is what we call,
loosely termed, black magic.
And where people try to harm other people
through manipulation of the supernatural
through a variety of different means.
Witchcraft is said to accomplish the same ills
by means or thoughts, and emotional level.
That is the witch often times doesn't know
that he or she have something that is harmful
within himself or herself that causes harm to others.
They're typically not conscious of it,
and so sorcery is kind of like conscious harm,
whereas witchcraft is unconscious harm.
Type of practitioners.
Again, we have,
and this varies with the levels
of social cultural complexity,
in banned and tribal societies
that we learned about in the previous chapter, the shaman.
You know, he's an all purpose religious practitioner.
His goal, and sometimes her goal,
but more often than not shamans are males and not females,
is to diagnose the causes of illnesses.
Those causes typically are believed to be supernatural
and so the shaman is an individual
who engages in a kind of pro-social curing or diagnoses
in curing activities.
And there are sorcerers or witches,
people who interact with supernatural to cause harm,
either consciously or unconsciously, as mentioned before.
Mediums are individuals that others can use
to communicate with the spiritual world.
And then of course priests in organized religions.
And of course we have all kinds of complexity
when we get into organized religion,
again using normally common hierarchy.
And then we've got cardinals, archbishops, popes,
priests, brothers, sisters, et cetera, et cetera.
And they all have their kind of special duties.
And what we find in these larger kind of religions
is a bureaucracy.
And a divisional labor among individuals
in that bureaucracy.
Again, noting something from your text,
shamans are usually male,
but here we have some female shamans,
that, again, engaged in healing ritual,
and this the kind of time honored activity that shamans do.
They diagnose the cause of an illness
and then figure out what the proper supernatural cure is.
Because the cause typically is believed to be supernatural.
As I mentioned, the number of types of practitioners
seems to vary with degree of social complexity.
And the more complex the society,
then the more types of practitioners.
So we have this kind of growing division of labor
that matches what goes on economically in complex societies.
And so the development of these religious bureaucracies.
We also have a more and more complex form
of offices, in particular, practitioners.
There's some recognition of the work of Malinowski,
and many anthropologists take that view that
religions are adaptive because they reduce
the anxieties and uncertainties that afflict people.
That could be true to some extent,
but I don't think it's really important.
And as I noted earlier, they can enhance anxiety.
You know, am I going to heaven or hell,
according to whether I'm following the rules
prescribed my religion.
So it can amplify anxieties.
However, more recent approaches suggest
that religion in large political organization
is for social control and coordination.
And there's some really good research that has come out
since the textbook has published
on moralistic and high gods.
And here, what I'm gonna talk about,
and this is mentioned in one of the highlights,
is that in many societies,
gods, especially simple societies,
gods often are not concerned about the moral behavior
That is whether they're generous, brave, helpful,
et cetera, et cetera.
But in more complex societies, gods begin to focus on
whether or not you are following the rules
prescribed in your society or by your religions.
So we call this kind of moralistic gods.
In simple societies you have powerful gods,
but not moralistic.
All they really care about is whether you pay them
correct homage and don't break taboos that insult them.
But if you kind of are subservient to them
they're really not concerned
with the interaction you have with other people.
And then also, when we get more complex societies,
we have these high gods.
That is the gods that are essentially the creators,
the most powerful.
We have the development of monotheistic religions.
And sometimes, for example in Islam or Christianity,
we have a god who is both concerned with human morality
and is the highest god in the hierarchy.
And again, this kind of mirrors developments
in complex civilizations where we have a single ruler,
who could be a despot, he could be a prime minister,
but nevertheless he represents
the greatest governmental power in a social group
just as these high gods represent the greatest power
in a religious setting, supernatural.
The history of religion includes periods
of strong resistance to change
and periods of radical change.
So we're looking at religious change.
And one of the things in anthropology we study
are revitalization movements.
And revitalization movements happen all over the world.
Anthropologists have documented these sorts of movements.
And a good example is the ghost dance,
which was a Pan-Native American,
Native North American, kind of religious movement.
And the idea here was that
the reason they were in such terrible plight
being wiped out and pushed out by euro-Americans,
was because they failed to adhere
to the fundamental beliefs of their original religions.
And so the idea was that if they could get back
to following these fundamental beliefs,
then they believe your plight would be better.
And you know same thing that we see
in some call it Christian fundamentalist churches.
Or Islamic fundamentalist.
The idea that you're in a bad state now,
salvation is in jeopardy,
your economic situation isn't good,
and the reason for this is that you strayed from
the fundamental teachings.
And so these revitalization movements
kind of go back to the common core
and use that as the basis for imagining a better world.
Conversion to one of the world's religions
has often been associated
with colonization and the expansion of the state.
There are specific examples of Christianity on Tikopia,
which is a South Pacific island.
And also anthropologic allures to that
tries to explain the conversion.
One thing that really makes
certain kinds of religions,
and again, the textbook doesn't emphasize this enough
called universalistic religion.
cross cut cultural, ethnic, racial boundaries
and they try to convert people.
And so this is, for example again, Islam, Christianity.
Often times conversion is forceful.
But this contrast, with what we call,
so we have universalistic religions on one hand
then we have what we call ethnic religions
on the other hand.
Ethnic religions are powerfully associated
with one's culture.
And there's really no attempt to convert others,
to bring others into the pool.
For example, you don't have Jewish missionaries.
Judaism is an ethnic religion.
You don't have Navajo missionaries.
Because the Navajo beliefs pertain to the Navajo people.
And so there's this kind of big disjunction
between the kinds of religions
that we see in simpler societies
as opposed to the religions that we see
in more complex societies where there's a great emphasis
More again, on this probably slide should have been
a little bit earlier by two slides,
the Seneca and the Religion of the Handsome Lake,
cargo cults and fundamentalism.
These are all different kinds of revivalistic movements
that are reviewed in the text.
So take a look at that.
And one of the key sorts of things is that
people are facing tough times,
they're strayed from the fundamental tendencies
of their religion.
And getting back to those fundamental tendencies
will help them improve their life chances.
Here are some important concepts and terms
that you should be ready to answer
because it'll be on the exam probably,
at least a number of them.
The difference between monotheism and polytheism,
the difference between magic and sorcery,
and again, and witchcraft.
But again magic is a means of communication,
either manipulation of the supernatural,
supernatural agents, a whole post of them,
ghost, gods, demons, ancestor spirits.
again, moving from very simple societies
who just have shamans,
who are all kind of all purpose religious practitioners.
And then as society becomes more complex
we get greater complexity
in the number of practitioners with a division of labor.
Mediums, diviners, et cetera, cetera.
that we just kind of went through
whether it has to do with ghosts at Seneca Lake,
and then the recent research again on
moralistic and high gods,
which should emphasize and highlight religion cooperation.
And here the idea is that
religion is a means to maintain the solidarity
and integrity of the population.
Because one of the things that occurs
under these kind of gods that are moralistic
is to make sure people do the proper thing
like pay their taxes
and volunteer for the armed forces.
Cooperate with one another during periods of disaster.
And so this is achieved through religious means.
And then finally, the distinction I just made
between ethnic versus universalistic religions.
And that's an important one
because the universalistic religions
are essentially taking over.
Okay, so that's all for our chapter.
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