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Comparative Religion

Religious Worlds: The Comparative Study of Religion by William E. Paden

By William E. Paden

From Gods, to ritual observance to the language of delusion and the excellence among the sacred and the profane, non secular Worlds explores the constructions universal to all religious traditions.

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Sample text

Issues of pluralism indeed seem to have become part of the tasks and riddles of civilization itself. The profound differences between human worldviews have not been erased by information technology or international business networks, with their appearance of having so easily unified the surface of the globe. Beneath the surface, the earth is still a patchwork of bounded loyalties and hallowed mythologies, a checkerboard of collective, sacred identities. The theater of ethnic and religious diversity has not gone away.

Every field of knowledge has its equivalent framework. Comparative literature, for example, studies not just writings other than English but themes, genres, and topics common to the whole history of literature as a human enterprise. 2. Comparative perspective is derived inductively from historical knowledge, not deductively from one's own philosophy. Comparative study presupposes history. It is not an alternative to historical perspective but an enrichment of it. Every religious expression has its own unique context of meaning, its own distinctive configuration that is different in some way from others.

As we thematize our world so we thematize religion. Everyone has summarizing ideas, usually positive or negative in connotation, about religion, and religious phenomena become occasions for all manner of Page 3 precritical impressionistic generalizations. Thus, religion is "about" love, money, God, social repression, escapism. " These approaches reduce religious phenomena to imagined stereotypes and ignore all evidence inconsistent with the type. It is as if the mind innately needs to reduce and typify experience in order to avoid the confusion and contradiction that might come with confronting religious diversity.

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