For this Performance Task Assessment, you will analyze the influence ?of a religious tradition on a contemporary social issue through the lens ?of one of the themes from this Competencys r

 

Overview

For this Performance Task Assessment, you will analyze the influence  of a religious tradition on a contemporary social issue through the lens  of one of the themes from this Competency’s resources (i.e., ethics,  sexuality, and politics).  

Instructions

To prepare for this Assessment:

  1. Reread Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 in the Kurtz (2016) text.
  2. Think about one religious tradition that you have encountered either  within the context of your General Education studies or personal  experience of interest to you.
  3. Review the key themes from this Competency’s readings: ethics,  sexuality, and politics. Consider how one of these themes are understood  today within your selected tradition.
  4. Identify a contemporary social issue that your chosen religious  tradition speaks to through one of the key themes from this module’s  reading. 
    1. Some social issues you might choose include: wealth distribution,  racial or gender discrimination, immigration, the human relationship to  the environment, access to health care or education, etc. You are  welcome to choose a social issue outside of this list. If you are not  sure if your social issue is acceptable, consult your Instructor.
  5. Examine more about your selected social issue and religious  tradition and identify 2–3 resources from the Walden Library or from a  reputable website to support your analysis. 
    1. Note: Reputable websites are those  that are maintained by established organizations (e.g., American  Sociological Association). Articles from websites should include an  author and not be based on opinion. Wikipedia is not an acceptable resource.

Then, compose a 3- to 4-pages that explains the following:

  • The contemporary social issue and its relationship to one of the  themes from this Competency (i.e., ethics, sexuality, or politics).
  • Why your selected social issue might be of importance to adherents of your selected religious tradition.
  • The ways in which the selected tradition has influenced the social  issue. Be sure to include specific reference to one of the key themes  and how it is understood by the chosen tradition to contribute to its  influence.
  • How the tradition’s influence has affected people both within and outside its sacred canopy.
  • How specific elements of your chosen tradition can bring about a positive resolution to your chosen social issue.

Religion and Contemporary Social Issues

In the modern, digital world, the way individuals understand and talk  about religious issues has changed. Though religion is still defined by  belief systems and social expectations, the role these beliefs play in  the contemporary world looks different than it did in decades past.  Communication between individuals from vastly different cultures now  happens instantaneously. We can share ideas and solve issues related to  science, politics, and religion with an immediacy that can present  interesting challenges to our individual worldview. For this Performance  Task Assessment, you will consider what you have explored in this  Competency related to religious traditions, modernism, and  multiculturalism to analyze the influence of a religious tradition on a  contemporary social issue.

Academic Writing Expectations Checklist

The faculty Assessor will use this checklist to evaluate whether your written responses adhere to the conventions of scholarly writing. Review this checklist prior to submitting your Assessment to ensure your writing follows academic writing expectations. Click the links to access Writing Center resources:

Sentence-Level Skills

|_| Constructing complete and correct sentences Note: See an explanation of sentence components and how to avoid sentence fragments and run-ons.

|_| Using and spelling words correctly Note: See a list of commonly misused words and information on MS Word’s spell check.

|_| Using punctuation appropriately Note: See the different types of punctuation and their uses.

|_| Using grammar appropriately Note: See a Grammarly tutorial to catch further errors.

Paragraph-Level Skills

|_| Using paragraph breaks Note: See a description of paragraph basics.

|_| Focusing each paragraph on one central idea (rather than multiple ideas) Note: See an explanation of how topic sentences work.

Use of Evidence

|_| Using resources appropriately Note: See examples of integrating evidence in a paper.

|_| Citing and referencing resources accurately Note: See examples of citing and referencing resources in a paper.

|_| Paraphrasing (explaining in one’s own words) to avoid plagiarizing the source Note: See paraphrasing strategies.

Formatting Written Assignments

|_| Using appropriate APA formatting, including title page, margins, and font Note: See APA overview and APA template from the Writing Center.

Comments:

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CHAPTER 6 Modernism and Multiculturalism

At the turn of the 20th century, Pope Pius X (1907) declared modernism to be the synthesis of all heresies. It “lays the axe to the root, not the branch,” he said as he excommunicated a number of scholars and set up vigilance committees to report heretics to Rome. The Vatican severely suppressed biblical scholarship in the Catholic tradition until the Second Vatican Council half a century later.

Of course, in one sense the pope was right. Modernism is a synthesis of all heresies that goes to the root of faith traditions, challenging the very notion of dogma. As reprehensible as we might find his suppression of scholarship, he was correct about the profound shaking of the roots that modernism brought to Catholicism and to religion in general as it entered the human stage as part of the cultural and intellectual package accompanying the birth of modern Europe. From the pope’s position at the top of the church hierarchy, his efforts to smash modernism, beginning with those priests under his control, was a rational decision, even if we might see it differently. The church would never be the same.

The deep and radical changes associated with the globalization of social life are occurring with even more rapidity as we begin a new millennium. When social organization changes, so does religious organization; new ideas, rituals, and societies emerge through mutual, dialectical interaction. Societies have always changed, especially when they encountered others, but never have the scale and scope of cross-culture encounter been so widespread or intense. When culture groups interact, the encounter changes each of them, even if they are of unequal power. The impact of the agricultural revolution on human life unfolded over many centuries, but the industrial revolution immediately transformed humanity in profound ways. Although considerable continuity exists between the cultures created by the modern world’s industrial, scientific, and democratic revolutions on the one hand and those of the early 21st century on the other, many now argue that we are living in a postmodern era that is undergoing another transformation as profound as any in human history.

In this chapter, I examine the two great cultural upheavals of the past two centuries: (1) the twin crises for religion of modernism and multiculturalism and (2) the diverse responses they have provoked among the world’s cultures and religions. They constitute nothing less than what I like to call “cultural tectonics”—like the shifting of tectonic plates deep under the earth’s surface that cause earthquakes, the deep cultural shifts of our time are shaking the very cultural ground on which we stand.

From Local to Cosmopolitan

Each of the world’s major religions had its roots in a local primal religion, usually connected with a particular tribe or clan and a specific geographical location. Each tradition became more cosmopolitan as it diffused, encountering and incorporating other cultural forms along the way. Even today, most of the world’s population never move more than 50 miles away from their birthplace; the cultural changes at the founding of the world’s religions usually involved courageous men and women stepping outside the boundaries of their comfortable lives and moving into new territory, geographically and spiritually.

These roots did not disappear as the tradition changed over time but established the form that influenced each religion’s later shape. In a similar transformation process, each of the world religions has increased in its internal diversity and its structural differentiation. Finally, each religion has had to struggle with the two-horned dilemma of modernism: (1) the challenges of cultural pluralism and (2) scientific criticism. All these aspects of the local–cosmopolitan shift have had profound cultural and organizational consequences for each tradition. I will now look more closely at some of the specific transformations in religion that the phenomenon called “modernism” has brought about.

Internal Diversity and Structural Differentiation

The further a tradition travels from its roots, the more diverse it becomes. Each major religious tradition incorporates a wide range of beliefs under a broad, abstract sacred canopy and thus becomes diverse in terms of beliefs, rituals, and institutions. The reason for this development is no mystery. The primal faith of each religion’s origins was constructed along relatively homogeneous lines by a group of fairly like-minded people who lived close to nature in specific ecological conditions. As culture groups migrate, carrying their religious traditions with them, or as invading tribes conquer them or they defeat their neighbors, people reevaluate and reconstruct their worldview and corresponding ethos to incorporate different perspectives and adapt to new data. These groups borrow features of other traditions and then reformulate and strengthen their tradition in direct opposition to new challenges. Sometimes the culture changes dramatically as the result of a new technology or environmental condition. Among the Siksika in North America, for example, the introduction of the horse disrupted collective, egalitarian buffalo-hunting practices by allowing individuals to obtain their own buffalo independent of the group. A hierarchy developed favoring those who had horses, and buffalo-centered egalitarian religious rituals deteriorated.

The major religious traditions often adapted to new settings through syncretism or co-optation: Chinese folk Gods became Buddhas, and local African deities became Christian saints. Even Judaism, which remained an ethnic religion with strictly guarded boundaries, adapted to local conditions so that a Palestinian and a Babylonian Talmud were produced early in the Common Era, and contemporary Ashkenazi Jews differ from their Hasidic brothers and sisters. After centuries of adaptation, each religious tradition has become remarkably diverse; patterns of rituals and beliefs vary widely around the globe and sometimes even between congregations in the same neighborhood.

The process of structural differentiation is a relatively recent phenomenon that involves the creation of specific institutions to fulfill different functions; it can occur both within the religion and between religious and other spheres of life. As societies become larger and more complex, the division of labor increases (see Durkheim, 1893/1933) so that specialized institutions carry out specific functions. Functions once performed by religious organizations are now carried out elsewhere (e.g., in public school systems), and religious institutions have taken on a specialized role, concentrating more on private than on public life.

The structural differentiation of the social order itself is a striking characteristic of modern societies and has been the subject of much scholarly and political debate. Early sociologists made much of the difference between premodern and modern society, the “Great Transformation” from preindustrial to industrial society in Western Europe during the 19th century, when countless peasants were uprooted from their family and village

,

CHAPTER 5 The Religious Ethos

The future of the global human community depends in large measure on the ability of humanity to forge a common ethos out of current competing traditions. The major religious traditions continue to provide guidelines for the way most people believe they should live their lives—the ethical bases for both the individual and the collective life of a society. Every social order must produce a set of ethical standards that facilitates peaceful coexistence, and the emerging global village is no exception. To understand the complex issues surrounding this ethos construction, I will explore the way in which it is carried out in contemporary societies as well as the ethical inheritance provided by the major religious traditions.

Constructing a Religious Ethos

A people’s ethos, or lifestyle that grows out of their worldview, serves at least three social functions. An ethos (1) facilitates the process of identity construction, (2) shapes and legitimates or challenges the stratification system of the social order, and (3) identifies taboo lines and lays out the ethical guidelines implied in a given worldview.

This chapter will examine how this process of ethos production occurs in contemporary religious practice and its implications for the question of peaceful coexistence among diverse populations and religious communities now sharing the same space. I begin by looking at the process of individual identity construction in each tradition, noting ways in which a people’s understandings of the personal and the social are guided by their definitions of the sacred. The ethical implications of a worldview are built into the individual’s sense of identity, the lifestyles of particular status groups and subcultures, and ultimately a culture’s understanding of how people are ideally to act in the context of its various institutions.

When religious identities are linked to class, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and other social cleavages, the intensity of conflicts may increase, especially if conflicts of interest fall along the same lines. Each of the world’s major religious traditions contains the potential for promoting chaos or community in the world order even though their worldviews and styles of life may differ. The fundamental ethical teachings of all the major traditions are actually very similar. They tend to begin with a basic compassion or respect for others, such as the Golden Rule from Jesus (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) or the Silver Rule from the Buddha (“Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you”). The ethical standards of each religion and the way in which its major leader deals with violations of these precepts are listed in Table 5.1.

table 7

table 8

Most traditions allow for a mitigation of the consequences of an ethical violation through a confession of guilt by the violator. In every tradition, acknowledging the infraction is the key to changing the negative consequences of one’s actions. In the East, the law of karma simply explains the natural outcome of one’s actions rather than declaring a God’s specific judgment. Even here, however, confession seems to make a difference, as illustrated by the story of King Ajatasatru, who approached the Buddha with remorse over killing his father in order to usurp the throne. The Buddha, known for his compassion, assured the king that he could reverse the negative consequences of the horrible deed by admitting his mistake and changing his life. Confucius also had a similar teaching, a Silver Rule that he described in response to a question, as recorded in his Analects (Confucius, 1998, p. XV.24):

Zi Gong asked, saying, “Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” The Master said, “Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

Similarly, Moses and Muhammad both insist on repentance as a condition for escaping dire consequences; they are ready to forgive the remorseful sinner but prophetically warn of harsh consequences for those who do not repent. Moses intercedes with God on behalf of those who have sinned, however, and argues with God about sparing their lives. God agrees but kills those who refuse to admit their mistakes and reaffirm their faithfulness. In both Jewish and Islamic traditions, the punishment comes from God (although as in Christianity, sometimes individuals who punish others claim to be acting on God’s behalf).

In the Christian ethos, Jesus also calls on people to repent but shows a compassion similar to the Buddha’s in dealing with sinners and insists that people not pass moral judgment on each other (Matthew 7:1–6). Moreover, Jesus makes it quite clear that punishment for sin should be left to God, as demonstrated by the story of an adulterer caught in the act. By law, she is to


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