Do people read me?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Okay so i was trying to come up with something to talk about for this blog post and everything i seemed to think of felt like a repetition of what i've posted already. BUT something i've always been fascinated with popped into my head so here it goes and hope this gives some people light to something they've maybe not thought about too much on there own... 
I've always been really curious and fascinated with the theory and concepts behind  transgender individuals. Not because i have a weird fascination with how pop-culture portrays these people but the psychology behind having a conflict of two parts of nature that we are designed to only understand or experience one of those (gender or your "sex" - not sure what the correct term is for this but your biological make up and emotions that go on with that make up). So an individual is faced with being born a certain biological make-up but emotionally feels they should have been born (or in other words, who they really are) the other. What are their reasons for believing they should have been the other gender? Sometimes, but very rarely, its actually because something biological happened and they were born with more hormones for one gender versus the one they physically are so that creates the struggle. But a lot of times (again from what i have observed or learned from others) these feelings about your identity are shaped by the social make-up around you. Its crazy to think though (in a exciting brain-stretching kind of way) that something so decided by nature actually is trying to be altered by how individuals are influenced socially. 
Okay so this relates to religion because some main reasons religions are formed is to forma common identity with communities of people together with similar values. So religion is an identity. Identity is both environment and social constructions we create or have been created for us. How much of religion though is created because we have a biological element which makes us believe in world or live beyond the present, and how much of it is an influence by our social environments? Religion i feel leans towards a social influence so therefore identity is socially influenced. But then that means identity is mostly social constructions we've created ourselves so how can religion be anything but a search for a common identity between people? i hope that all made some sense.... :P

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our biography of Baha'ullah details the life of a man who would become the founder for of the Bahai. By the end of chapter 4 we see that there is a group known as the Bahais. Write about what you see as the elements that go into founding a new religion.. Is it a sudden change or a long process? What is the relationship with past religions? What is the importance of a founder? 

     The Bahai did not come into existence over night. In fact, for Bahai to become a recognized religion the founder and recognized leader; Baha'ullah went through several exiles such as Baghdad to Istanbul, from Istanbul to Edirne and then from Edirne to Egypt. (89) Thats just one example in the very beginning that occurred standing up for his beliefs and finding a place in which others accepted this new beliefs as well. Even his followers who never did anything wrong against the ottoman empire chose to follow their leader through to all the different places he was ordered to go. Imagine leaving everything you've ever known to follow a single man because of his beliefs. Some of this reminded me of "Happy Feet" and how the dancing penguin was sent away because he danced instead of sang. At first the way a new stream of thought or religion starts is the rebellion from another but then, usually slowly what was once rebellion starts to have followers giving these beliefs a higher platform in our societies. As in Happy Feet and our last discussion in class thats how new religions are formed and Bahai is no exception. Every sort of social movement has a leader or an instigator. Having a founder or leader for religion is crucial and is always the case (with the knowledge i have of religions). 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Another musicians approach to reaching people

okay so after our multiple discussions about Bob Marley it started me thinking about other artist that have similar respect from our public who could be considered "religiously wise". The main artist i thought of was bob dylan. For many many years he has been a respected artist and musician for his way through to all types of people with is music. The interesting thing i learned from a dylan fan one year was that he reaches so many different types of people with all his songs that are about different people and their environments, yet he really has only had personal experiences with a small handful of the material he writes about. Even though he hasn't had direct experiences that correlate with his music that reaches the people who its actually about, does that make him more or less wise? Now i know that just because someone is considered wise and can reach many people with there knowledge doesn't mean that they are religious affiliated. BUT some people value his "wise wisdom" from his music soo much that they would consider following him like a religion. Is that actually considered a religion within out class discussions on the understanding? My first thought is yes, because within the many MANY songs and lyrics there is a system of symbols that people understand an relate to. Each one thinking and finding those songs to be a "unique" world within themselves. yay for bob dylan i guess?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rastafari video

Watch the video on Rastafari in Jamaica (see second link under week 8) and write about the system of symbols that you see reflected in this video. Is this version of Rastafari life different than you might have expected after seeing the faith through Marley and his music?

Some of the main systems of symbols i noticed after watching this video was the difference
in the isolation of the religious people in the community versus marley's usage of his religion to 
move a masses of people. The usage of color as a symbol is also very evident such as the difference in our
understanding and definitions of the colors black and white. I feel as though this is lifestyle could be figured
out when reading out text but its probably not efficient for marley to life this lifestyle with what hes set out
to accomplish. If he was isolated like the religious people in this video being isolated wouldn't accomplish those goals.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Could Dance be the most powerful communication tool for religion?

I'm in a modern dance class at lawrence and today we did a really interesting exercise  that made me think about this question. The main point of them is to move or the absence of a certain kind of movement in environments that aren't used to that. So a group would stand really still with their eyes closed in a busy area of the campus. another one was to move in slow motion near the road with speeding cars coming by. The reactions we received from people walking by or cars driving by as well as when I observed some of the students myself made me realize how powerful movement can be for any message. Religion is continued by a strong community of people who have found ways to communicate it to others. So if body language is 90 or so percent of the communication between people then wouldn't dance be the highest form of intentional communication, especially for religion? I'm curious peoples thoughts on that.... 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Read the section from the Ethiopian book known as the Kebra Negast. This is a retelling of the story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Then write about how this story might change one's perspective on Ethiopia as a nation. Or to say it another way, how does this story give a special significance to the nation?

The story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba is a well known story in the Religious community. The significance of the story intertwined with ethiopia makes people view ethiopia as more then just a impoverished country in africa, but a sacred community. After reading the story I have been introduced to a very close part of their traditions. Religion is such as primary part of an individual or community of people that i feel if one learns more about a particular community's religion then it humanizes this community to people who would of never been in contact with them. Also, if the reader has a common interest in the importance of the story then they share a close bond of community ties without even formally "knowing" the person. Ethiopia could have started out as a country hard for lots of westerners to relate to because of the greatly impoverished citizens, but with the knowledge of a common religious story or symbol it is humanized creating a closely connected international religious community. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Conceptual Blending and Analogy

In the article "Conceptual Blending and Analogy" by Gilles Fauconnier he explains the meaning and concepts behind "Blending" and "analogies" in the sense of cognitive science. All of these are just different forms for us to interpret and understand our experiences in the world. What i find interesting, which is pretty accurate is the fact that we use completely unrelated experience in the physical sense to help us understand another experience. The example that stuck out to me most in the section was the explanation of the ski instructor trying to teach a novice, telling him to "imagine that he was a waiter in paris carrying a tray with champagne and croissants" (261). This would be considered an action blend. I think this style of conceptualizing is definitely linked to how we use religions. For instance, isn't the bible and other forms of sacred scriptures 'blending' so you understand your experiences in your own life? You're learning how to act according to an example which is (in a very literal and physical sense) probably very different. The waiter carrying a tray is an example explaining how to act for a skier when he is skiing, and the religious documents and scriptures are "examples" of how to act within your own personal life.