Final Essay on Comparative Religion
Sadly it been months since I last read, and then reread, the material for the course but I didn't really know what I was going to write. I'm not sure I do now except that I have a pressing desire to write something. So here goes.
I'd like to start by saying how easy this course was to read and therefore become interested in. Previous readings I have had on the topic or comparative religion went in depth on the similarities and differences of the various faiths but never really followed any set format. They also tried to compare religions in general as a whole, never breaking them into further groups that would allow them to be fairly explained and compared. Its fair, for example, to compare Judeo-Christian religions to each other and possibly to even include Islam into the mix. These religions are largely if not completely based on the same mythology and therefore lend themselves to comparison. Comparing Catholicism to say Asatru or Druidry becomes extremely difficult based on the drastically different goals of the faith let alone the vast differences in the cultures that spawned them. This course begins by breaking the different world faiths into the groups of exoteric and esoteric allowing for a better comparison. Thats not to say that faiths don't contain both, they certainly do, and I would be hard pressed to call one purely one or the other, but if still gives us a starting point.
It may have been beneficial to go a little more in depth on that line as well since in todays world people are more individualistic and therefore tend to be leaning towards a certain direction, mainly the esoteric one. People want to understand the inner workings of their faith and are no longer willing to be outside the circle of initiates. People want to be in control of their own spiritual life just as they want to control their mundane life and the religions that control their spiritual existence through the requirements of a clergy and initiations into the faith are falling by the way side.
In the process of explaining the different faiths the writer also took it upon herself to try to explain why people seek faith and why different society sought certain faiths. It makes sense, to some extent, as you go though the processes described as to why humans need faith. Put simply they need a way to explain the unexplainable and they need to find the peace that faith in something can bring to the inner self.
In the end this course, while not providing me with what I expected, which was a greater understanding of the world religions, did provide me with a tool kit with which to analyze the faiths of the world on my own time in my own way. This course allows me to better understand what people are seeking from their faith and possibly makes me better able to "tend my flock." I would like to thank Rev. Kythera Ann for her excellent work on this topic and I hope that she continues to write Comparative Religion 2 and so on until the topic has been fully developed in text.
Rev. Justin Oles
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