Unit 4 Discussion Board Question world religion

Discuss why you would or would not like to be selected as the Hogan within the Dogon culture.
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PHL 2350, Philosophies of World Religions 1
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit IV

Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

4. Examine how religious beliefs are expressed through engagement in the faith.
4.1 Compare and contrast ceremonies performed by African religions to those of Hinduism,
Buddhism, and Chinese and Japanese religions.
4.2 Determine if you feel it is wise for the Dogon to incorporate new and modern practices into their
historic religious practices.
4.3 Summarize the role of clothing within African culture.

Course/Unit
Learning Outcomes
Learning Activity
4.1
Unit Lesson
Chapter 5, pp. 201–234
Video: Hogan
Unit IV Scholarly Activity
4.2
Video: Hogan
Video: Christianity and Dogon Culture
Video: Preservation of Dogon Culture
Unit IV Scholarly Activity
4.3
Video: Ancient Egypt: Religion, Science, and Culture
Unit IV Scholarly Activity

Reading Assignment

Chapter 5: African Religions, pp. 201–234

In order to access the following resources, click the links below:

The transcripts for each video can be found by clicking the “Transcript” tab beside each video in the Films on
Demand database.

Albatross World Sales (Producer). (2012). Christianity and Dogon culture (Segment 23 of 26) [Video]. In Land
of the Dogon: World Heritage in Peril. Films on Demand.
https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPla
ylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=52778&loid=202982

Albatross World Sales (Producer). (2012). Hogan (Segment 24 of 26) [Video]. In Land of the Dogon: World
Heritage in Peril. Films on Demand.
https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPla
ylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=52778&loid=202983

Albatross World Sales (Producer). (2012). Preservation of Dogon culture (Segment 25 of 26) [Video]. In Land
of the Dogon: World Heritage in Peril. Films on Demand.
https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPla
ylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=52778&loid=202984

Films for Humanities & Sciences (Producer). (2010). Ancient Egypt: Religion, science, and culture (Segment
6 of 37) [Video]. In Great Empires of the Past: Core Concepts Video Clip Library. Films on Demand.
https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPla
ylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=41675&loid=217865

UNIT IV STUDY GUIDE
Africa
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PHL 2350, Philosophies of World Religions 2
UNIT x STUDY GUIDE
Title

Unit Lesson

Unit IV Overview

Your Unit IV study guide will cover the African religions mentioned in Chapter 5 of your textbook. As we
explore African religions, we will learn about various African ethnic groups in the sub-Saharan region of
Africa. In addition, you may notice similar beliefs among these sub-Saharan African ethnic groups to those
of the Chinese and Japanese religions from Unit III. For example, Chinese, Japanese, and African religions
believe in a fully integrated universe that strives for balance and harmony. Likewise, Chinese, Japanese, and
African religions discuss human dependency toward one another and the life-giving force of the universe.
The goal of a course such as this is to enable you to see the connections among the world’s religions—how
they differ and what beliefs or concepts they share. That is why it is crucial to keep the previous units in mind
when you encounter new religions as you move through the course. After you complete this chapter on
African religions, you should be able to discuss common worldview features among the religions of sub-
Saharan Africa. Furthermore, you should be able to describe how African religions conceived of the universe.
Who rules the universe and how is it ruled? Keep these learning objectives in mind as you read Chapter 5,
African Religions.

Introduction to African Religions

As your textbook points out, the diversity of African religions in the sub-Saharan African ethnic groups says
something about the size of not only sub-Saharan Africa but also about its cultures. African religions date as
far back as 100,000 BCE to the first ritual graves discovered in east Africa (Deming, 2015).

When African society evolved from a hunter-gatherer society to an agricultural society, local religious
traditions developed soon thereafter to adapt to these changes. For example, between 500 BCE and 200 CE,
inhabitants around, what is today, Nigeria produced terra cotta Nok sculptures (Deming, 2015). You will
notice that these statues—of humans and animals—were conduits for the Africans to interact with the
supernatural, namely spirits, nature, and ancestors, similar to the roles that statues played in Hinduism,
Buddhism, Chinese religion, and Japanese religion. During the 5th and 6th centuries CE, various African
groups began working with iron, thereby creating new religious cults that venerated those who worked with
metal (i.e., blacksmiths), heroes, and ancestor spirits (Deming, 2015). Between the 11th and 15th centuries,
religion began to inform politics regarding monarchy and royal cults (Deming, 2015). In other words, African
religions evolved with the culture and the times. You will see that as African religions became more complex,
their cosmology became equally complex to help people better understand the relationship between
themselves, the universe, and divinity.

Finally, a study of African religions would not be complete without mention of the ancient Egyptians and the
role that their religion played in shaping their society and culture. The religion of ancient Egypt was
polytheistic. Egyptians represented their gods in the forms of animals, human beings, or a combination of the
two. Their temples served as a focal point where Egyptians paid reverence to their gods. You will notice from
the supplementary material on Ancient Egypt, that both life and the afterlife were central components to their
religious beliefs. Egyptians believed that the dead would be judged in an afterlife. As with Hinduism, the
religion of ancient Egypt also includes a panoply of gods, many of whom you might have already heard about,
such as Isis and Osiris, for example.

To dive deeper into ancient Egyptian religion, view the following video. The transcript for the video can be
found by clicking the “Transcript” tab beside each video in the Films on Demand database.

Films for Humanities & Sciences (Producer). (2010). Ancient Egypt: Religion, science, and culture (Segment
6 of 37) [Video]. In Great Empires of the Past: Core Concepts Video Clip Library. Films on Demand.
https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPla
ylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=41675&loid=217865

Basics of African Religions: Cosmology and Theology

African religions are similar cosmologically to the other religions you have studied up to this point in that there
is a Supreme Being at the top of the pyramid followed by lesser supernatural beings as you move down. What
is interesting is that African religions tend to divide these beings into two categories, namely visible and
invisible. Humans, animals, plants, and objects are examples of visible beings, whereas the Supreme Being,
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PHL 2350, Philosophies of World Religions 3
UNIT x STUDY GUIDE
Title

a variety of non-human spirits, ancestors, and ghosts are invisible beings. The Supreme Being maintains the
order of the universe and sustains the pulse of life throughout. Recall here in Chinese religion the immortals
and Daoism that identifies the Dao as the powerful, creative force in the universe (Deming, 2015). As your
textbook explains, this Supreme Being, often referred to as God, can be personal, impersonal, and completely
androgynous. Here, you might want to pause and think back to the Hindu gods and how they often were
represented as androgynous as well (see pages 41–50 in your textbook). Why do you suppose in patriarchal
societies, such as India and Africa, for example, androgyny played such an important role in their respective
religions? Contrast these religions with Christianity where you will find gender roles are clearly illustrated and
even regulated through scripture, doctrine, and art. In short, African religions have their share of gods and
goddesses also. African religions also take into account the rift between God and humanity because of
human transgressions from the creation of the world. See an example of an African creation story in your
textbook on pages 212–213. Compare this creation story with that of Genesis 1. What conclusions can you
draw from the similarities and differences of these two stories?

African Religions: Communal and Social Aspects

Along with the other religions we have studied so far, African religions have elaborate and rich ceremonies
and rituals. The notion of community is central to African ceremonies and rituals. Africans think in terms of the
community rather than the individual because it is community that brings strength, life, and a vitality to every
person (Deming, 2015). African religion, therefore, developed complex rituals for properly honoring spirits and
ancestors. For example, as your textbook points out, Africans reserve worship for the Supreme Being and
veneration for ancestors (Deming, 2015). Nevertheless, both worship and veneration require the participation
of the community.

African religions use prayer to communicate with the unseen world. Families participate in this kind of worship
at home in which the oldest member of the family offers prayers daily during his or her devotions (Deming,
2015). Even though there are many differences between the types of religions covered up to this point, one
item, the motivations for prayers, remains a commonality between them all. As Deming (2015) point out,
these commonalities include the concepts below:

1. general blessings,
2. good health, and
3. welfare of the community.

Just like other religions mentioned so far (and in future units), prayers can vary in depth and breadth, pending
on the nature of the prayers. Let us look at an example of an African Dogon prayer on page 219 of your
textbook. Notice the format of the prayer. It begins with an invocation to God, the creator, and is then followed
by the petition. In Unit VI, Christianity will be discussed, which includes The Lord’s Prayer. In what ways is
this prayer like the Lord’s Prayer in Christianity?

Considering how important community is to African religions, let us take a first-hand view at the Dogon way of
life. Below are three videos depicting different ways of life by the Dogon. The transcript for the videos can be
found by clicking the “Transcript” tab beside each video in the Films on Demand database.

Albatross World Sales (Producer). (2012). Christianity and Dogon culture (Segment 23 of 26) [Video]. In Land
of the Dogon: World Heritage in Peril. Films on Demand.
https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPla
ylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=52778&loid=202982

Albatross World Sales (Producer). (2012). Hogan (Segment 24 of 26) [Video]. In Land of the Dogon: World
Heritage in Peril. Films on Demand.
https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPla
ylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=52778&loid=202983

Albatross World Sales (Producer). (2012). Preservation of Dogon culture (Segment 25 of 26) [Video]. In Land
of the Dogon: World Heritage in Peril. Films on Demand.
https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPla
ylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=52778&loid=202984

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PHL 2350, Philosophies of World Religions 4
UNIT x STUDY GUIDE
Title

After viewing each video, reflect on how the Dogon and their practices compare to previous religions
mentioned in Units I-III.

In continuing our discussion of African culture, they, like previously discussed religions, participate in many
special ceremonies, celebrations, and festivals.

Transfer of Learning

After reading Chapter 5, “African Religions,” you should be able to discuss why community is so important in
African religions and what roles it plays in ritualistic practices and ceremonies. How do African religions in
general understand God and God’s relationship to the universe? How does God shape the moral code of
African religions? What commonalities do African religions share with the other religious traditions you have
studied so far? What role does gender play in African religions? What outside factors (e.g., colonialism) have
impacted African religions, and how did African religions adapt? Do African religions have influence outside
Africa? Why, or why not? You should keep these learning outcome questions in mind as you advance to Unit
V, Religions of Oceania.

Conclusion

African religions are about community. African religions are about gratitude to the natural and supernatural
forces that govern life. As with other religions, African religions have their own cosmology of how the world
began, their own way of interacting with divinity, and a wonderful history of ceremonies and festivals that bring
everyone together, whether it be in public spaces or family homes. African religions mark important passages
of life such as pregnancy and birth, naming, adulthood, marriage, and death (Deming, 2015). Though
confined primarily to sub-Saharan Africa, African religions echo in tandem with other religions of the world that
same age-old question that undergirds all religions: Why are we here?

References

Deming, W. (Ed.). (2015). Understanding the religions of the world: An introduction. Wiley-Blackwell.

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