Religion and Culture essay

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In any given society, there exists the cultural element of religion. While different religions may appear unique, there are various characteristics that cut across nearly all religions. These characteristics include; sacred narratives and myths, symbols, the belief in non-empirical or supernatural beings or states, rituals as well as the specific practitioners who carry out the rituals (Nanda, & Warms, 2009, p. 260).

As Nanda and Warms argue, the sacred narratives aim at communicating the ideas behind the faith of a given group of people (2009, p. 261). They include explanations of reality as it is perceived by the people holding such beliefs. For instance, the creation story held by the Christians is an example of such narratives. The evolution theory is used by many atheists as an explanation that there is no God (Geertz, 1993, p.110).

Symbolism and symbols play a very significant role in religion. These symbols can be expressed verbally or nonverbally. This is in materials such as clothing, masks, body decorations, ornaments, and objects in the physical space or even performances. For instance, in the Umbanda religion, there are numerous symbols that range from clothing to physical performances. In the Catholic Church, there are also numerous symbols that help convey the catholic faith. These include the statues and pictures of religious icons as well as relics (Asad, 1983, p.242).

It is through rituals that people enact their religions. According to Rappaport (1999, p. 6), rituals are ceremonial acts formed of stylized gestures and movements that are repetitive and in which religious symbols are utilized. The circular dance performed the members of the Umbanda religion is an example of such rituals. The mass is an example of a ritual in the Catholic Church. Rituals are conducted by specific practitioners who have been commissioned to do so under the dictates of the given religion.

Religion plays a significant role in the society. The benefits of religion to the American society range from personal to national. Nationalism and national unity are enhanced through active participation in religious activities as most of the religions hold peace, love and unity as important values (Aranda, 2008, p. 20)

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