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Reflecting on Religion in Literature Essay

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I am a Religious Studies major; therefore, learning about religion is a genuine interest of mine. In addition, from my first anthropology class, Introduction to Anthropology 103, learning about different cultures and people who may or may not be different from myself became an interest. Anthropology of Religion provides me with the best of both worlds. Not only do I get the opportunity to learn about different religious practices such as Tiwah among the Ngaju but how to anthropologically examine snake handlers in the Appalachians. One issue remains concerning the definition of religion. The semester began with us using theorists and their theories to construct a definition of religion. However, due to how convoluted religion is we changed our mind. In an attempt to synthesize the work done this semester, I wish to form some sort of definition of religion base on the ethnographies we have studied.
In order to create such a definition, I wish to go through the three major books that we read and make a conclusion as to the authors’ understanding of religion. In other words, in my own words, a conclusion on each authors’ take on religion. Afterwards, I wish to use all three to form an overall definition of religion based on the work we have done throughout the semester. The three books that I am referring to are Ann Schiller’s Small Sacrifices, Rane Willerslev’s Soul Hunters, and Dennis Covington’s Salvation on Sand Mountain.
Ann Schiller’s Small Sacrifices explores religious change among the Ngaju in Borneo, Indonesia. She elaborates on the Indonesian government’s demand on the Ngaju to conform to one of the religions they deem acceptable. In conforming to Hinduism, however, the Ngaju lose their culture, eventually their identity,...


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...the semester was how to define religion because it was so complex, but now I have come to understand that religion is better understood when we look at it from a few good books that shows the verities of religion. Therefore, at the end of this class I understand religion to be something that is difficult to define when expanded to include controversial systems of belief, but easy to understand when examined closely.




Works Cited

Covington, Dennis. Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia. 15th ed. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2009. Print. Schiller, Anne. Small Sacrifices: Religious Change and Cultural Identity among the Ngaju of Indonesia. New York: Oxford UP, 1997. Print. Willerslev, Rane. Soul Hunters: Hunting, Animism, and Personhood among the Siberian Yukaghirs. Berkeley [u.a.: University of California, 2007. Print.


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