COMPARATIVE RELIGION ESSAY
The course compares the relative similarities common among many faiths in their theology, concepts and practices. Various theologically significant storied foundational to disparate religions are presented and discussed. Esotericism and exotericism are contrasted followed by an intriguing exploration of esoteric mysticism. The esoteric beliefs of many faiths are explored including several of the well known esoteric organizations of the Christian religion. The practices, philosophies and beliefs of the various groups are presented.
The symbolism of a wide range of faiths is presented, including their meanings, influences and psychological significance. The origin and multiple potential meanings of various symbols adopted over time are explored. Symbolism is a powerful influence in the lives of a great many followers of all faiths and speaks of the human condition.
The various methods of man’s attempt to communicate with the divine are presented. A desire to communicate with the divine exists in all cultures and faiths. These attempts materialize in different techniques ranging from song and prayer to meditation and contemplation. The differences of these methods and their various permutations are covered as are the variances among the differing faiths.
Perceptions and theories regarding suffering and death from the various major religions throughout the world beginning with ancient Egypt and including Mesopotamia, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam are explored. Questions regarding suffering and death have been central to humanity and faith since the beginning of time. Each faith has attempted to address the moral, spiritual and mechanical matters of suffering and death in their own way. This included a notion of atonement before death due to the common belief of judgment at the time of death prevalent in most religions.
An exploration of religious ceremony is made. The various differing types of ceremonies are explained. Sacraments are explained in the various religions going as far back as known history. Sacraments involve the taking into the body of something divinely charged which unifies the individual with the divine. Ritual is a formalized, predetermined set of symbolic actions performed at recurring interval. They express a part of the religious or social doctrine of the individuals involved. Rituals of various faiths from Egypt and Greece to Buddhism and Christianity are presented. An interesting discussion of religious objects is presented with their often common meaning across various religious faiths such as bells, relics and candles plus the notion of the consecration and liturgical use of these.
A surprisingly exhaustive presentation of sacred architecture and spaces is presented discussing everything from the significance of various physical structures to the spiritual meaning inherent in how the structures are constructed and their typical meanings. Various architectural styles, methods and meanings are explained including common objects and structural techniques used. Mandala, pillars, pagodas, catacombs, spires, natural formations and many others are discussed.
An extremely important and fascinating exploration of sacred documents from various religions is presented along with oral teachings discussing dogma and doctrine. The various forms of scriptural writing and common themes are covered.
The total amount of information imparted by the Comparative Religion course is incredible and every bit of it intriguing and highly useful in any study of religion.