Air's Corner

Saturday, January 28, 2006


According to Paden, extensive knowledge about other religions, which comes from the study of comparative religion (which is an easy area of study when living within an environment of such extreme religious diversity), is "deprovincializing". This term to me means to take identity away from the small communities that many world religions in their home countries, and in their new countries, have.

I like how he points out - comparing religion should not be a means of finding a better religion FOR YOURSELF. "Full comparative perspective involves more than simply describing side by side or serially the religions of the world, as though one were just sampling or judging various claims to truth". I also like how he says we can (and I think should) "study not just the different religions, but of the structures of religion".

In essence, the study of religion should be strictly from an objective point of view. This is what Yearley was getting at with the notion of "spiritual regret". This is why such a virtue would be so important, because ultimately there are two sub-studies of comparative religion, 1)comparing different religions, and 2) studying the structure of religion.

In order to properly complete both these tasks, one must not be seeking out new truths, or ultimately a new religion, one must be learning --- and without any form of emotional endearment. Once a longing for belonging to a particular religion occurs, one can no longer compare religion successfully, and unbiasly. The question we ask should be: what do we learn from the many different forms of religion, and about the idea itself. It should not be what disciplines do I most agree with? This should be a human study, not an individual study. It should benefit all, not just the self. We should not blend various ideas, but should contain them and know them, clasifying them unobtrusively, objectively, and most importantly scholarly.

A good point of Paden's- we should try to study a common theme that is heard through out all religions. He, smartly, states that comparison can be dangerous, as it can be used to denounce religions, giving superiorty to one religion, while deeming the others inferior. We must look past terms of good and bad, "comparison is almost always a function of self interest". THIS IS THE TAKE HOME MESSAGE - Do not fall victim to this status quo!

I especially must take this to heart. I already have preconceived thoughts and feelings towards religion in general. I feel religion is merely a political tool. I do not mean to offend anyone who is reading this, but its the truth. For whatever reason I feel this way, does not matter. I must myself let go of these critical preconcieved notions, and look through observant new eyes, a clean slate, and a scholarly perspective when I venture into the world of religion.


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