Human beings have different beliefs that areassociated with the religious groups they belong. The people’sattitudes are considered to be based on mythological, supernatural,or spiritual aspects. The beliefs help to shape the behavior ofindividuals within the society and are passed down to newgenerations. Since people are embracing diversity and learning newcultural practices, they are also familiarizing themselves with newreligious beliefs. The primary religions in the world are known to beChristianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and The New Age (Barber,2011). However, with time new religious groupsare arising such as Scientology, Falun Gong, and Cao Dai amongothers. Scholars discovered that the practices are manifested alongeight elements. They include belief system, community, myths,rituals, ethics, emotional experiences, physical expressions, andsacredness. The paper thus seeks to examine my religion and one ofthe new ones to determine whether some of the factors have moreweight than the rest and whether some are absent.
A person does not choose which religious groupto be in when they are born. I was born and raised in a Christianfamily that practiced the Catholic doctrines. Over the years, I havelearned different religious beliefs that have become part of my dailylife. An analysis of the elements of the religions reveals that it isevident some of my ideologies fall within the eight identifiedelements. For instance, the aspect of a ceremony such as worship iscommon among the Catholics. Every Sunday Christians across the worldgather at their churches for masses that are conducted by priests andbishops (Kolnai, 2016). The church alsohas other special ceremonies such as Christmas and Easter that areobserved by Christians across the world. Another aspect that fallswithin the pattern involves the central beliefs. As a Christian, Ibelieve in God who gave his only son Jesus Christ to save us fromsin. This doctrine strengthens my faith in God and also enables me totrust Him with my life. My religious beliefs also fall within theeight elements because by focusing on the material expressions ofreligion, it is evident that I have some physical objects thatsignify my faith. For instance, I wear a chain that has a cross init. Besides, at the church, there is an altar that we bow to as asign of respect to the Holy place.
I believe that some elements have more weightthan others because of the meaning attached to these factors. Forexample, the aspect of worship and central beliefs of the Church canbe said to be meaningful than other elements such as materialexpressions of religion. The Catholic Church is famously known forthe use of physical objects such as crosses, sculptures of the HolyFamily, and the Rosary. All these materials are consideredsignificant in the Catholic faith, but the mass and what one believesis deemed essential than the physical elements (Swidler,2015). Hence, the reason not many faithful maynot possess these materials, yet they ensure they attend the mass andpractice the Catholic doctrines. Besides, the servants of God stressthe need first to become a believer as it allows them to observe andunderstand all the other religious elements. The emphasis on thebelief system shows how it has more weight than other aspects such asmaterial expressions.
One of the new religions that have come up isRastafarianism. The movement was founded in 1930 in Jamaica by MarcusGarvey (Wallace & Wallace, 2012).The Rastafarians also have religious beliefs that fall within theeight elements of religion. The Rasta’s have religious ceremoniessuch as the reasoning and the grounation just as we Christians do.The reasoning feast involves the members gathering to discussethical, social and religious issues affecting them as they smokemarijuana. During the ceremony, the herb is passed clockwise amongthe people gathered. Another ceremony is the binghi or grounation, aholiday that is marked by singing, dancing, feasting and smoking ofmarijuana. The grounation feast may occur during the Coronation andthe birthday of Emperor Haile Selassie, and during the anniversary ofthe first visit to Jamaica by Emperor Haile Selassie (Thompson,2012). The Rasta’s also have central beliefssuch as Jah are their Judeo-Christian God who was manifested on earthas Jesus (Keene, 2014). They also do notacknowledge the existence of an afterlife as they consider Africa(Zion) as their heaven on earth. The Rastafari also have physicalexpressions of their religion such as the lion that they believerepresents the Tribe of Judah. They also have the Ethiopian flag andthe green, red, yellow colors as symbols of their religious group.
An analysis of the Rastafarianism religionimplies that some elements also have more weight than others justlike in Christianity. For instance, the physical expressions ofreligion appear to have more weight among the Rasta’s as comparedto the ceremonies. The Rastafaris tend to grow dreadlocks and embracethe three symbolic colors particularly in their mode of dressing(Keene, 2014). In today’s society, thegrowth of dreadlocks is spreading to non-believers of the religion,but the members also keep the hair. The religious beliefs are alsoactively observed than the ceremonies because always talk of Jah, theoppression in Babylon, and their freedom in Zion. Although thereasoning and grounation ceremonies are significant among theRastafarians, it is argued that many take advantage of thecelebrations to get high with marijuana (Thompson, 2012).The herb is illegal in many countries hence, despite the religioussignificance attached to the Grounation Day, I believe many peopleget to use the cannabis on this feast for entertainment purposes.
In conclusion, the analysis of my Christianityand Rastafarianism using the elements of religion shows thatceremonies, belief system, and physical expressions are common amongthe two groups. However, the belief system has more weight among theChristians than the other elements while the Rastas are keener on thephysical expressions than the celebrations.
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Keene, M. (2014). New Steps in Religious Education for theCaribbean: Book 1. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.
Kolnai, A. (2016). The Humanitarian versus the Religious Attitude.Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought & Culture, 19(4),150-177.
Swidler, L. (2015). Vatican II–The Catholic Revolution fromDamnation to Dialogue! Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 50(4),511-524.
Thompson, J. (2012). From Judah to Jamaica: The Psalms in RastafariReggae. Religion & the Arts, 16(4), 328-356. Doi:10.1163/156852912X651054
Wallace, R. J., & Wallace, J. V. (2012). The Very LazyIntellectual. Avon, Mass: Adams Media.