As an institution, religion acts as comprehensive technique for human kind to value their experience on earth. Organized religions, in particular, act as intensive and comprehensive ways of valuing the experiences that one goes through here. Religions found all around the world are often placed in a segment of human phenomenon with distinct characteristics. A common feature among all these religions is the presence of elements that appear to be common among them all (Molloy, 2013). A strong sense of community, belief system, rituals, central myths, emotional experiences, ethical systems, sacredness and a materialistic expression of the religion are some of the main elements central to all religions and are vital in keeping them afloat an ensuring that they stand the test of time. For the purpose of this expository essay, I will examine how religions fall into this pattern (strong sense of community, belief system and central myths) using my Christian religion while at the same time comparing these elements with those found in the Rastafarian religion.
Religious elements in Christianity
To begin with, all elements in a religion are equal in their significance and none takes precedence over the other. They share a symbiotic relationship where they are all dependent upon each to create a strong foundation for the purpose of posterity. As a notable monotheistic religion, Christianity has a belief system that follows laid out standards, rules, and codes that have to be followed to lead a pious life. In Christianity, the belief is in one God referred to as the Father with his son being Jesus (Molloy, 2013). In a Christian context, Jesus is recognized as the only begotten Son of God was sent to the world to save mankind and redeem them from eternal damnation. As God’s son, Jesus taught that the most important commandment was to love God and one’s neighbor, a law that Christians worldwide strive to adhere to. Additionally, faith plays a huge role in the Christian religion.
A Christian’s belief in the death and resurrection of God’s son Jesus automatically means that they have a right in as far as sharing a relationship with the father is concerned. It was the death and resurrection, a Christian context that absolved human kin of all sins that they were encumbered with. A firm belief in the Trinity (God the Son, Father and Holy Spirit) is simply meant to affirm that God is always present through actions of believers. Christianity is characterized by a sense of community or all those who subscribe to it. As a fundamental facet of church life, a Christian community creates a sense of belonging that is second to none. These strong linkages shared by its adherents creates a sense of identity and support that in turn leads to meaningful interactions that go a long way in assisting those who would be in dire need of support (Casserley, 2009, p. 34). Churches ensure that they check up on their congregants to establish their current status and how they are carrying on with life. It is a Christian duty to ensure the well-being of other members of the church as they all represent one community that is connected through their belief in the Bible and Christ as Lord and Savior.
Mythology also plays a central role in the Christian doctrine. It serves to educate the adherents of the religion on the origin of life in the world while teaching them important lessons mean to ensure they follow the right path in life. The creation story serves to explain the origin o life on earth. From this perspective, we understand God’s role in creating all that exists in the power that He wields (Olson, 2016). As a lesson, Christians now understand that God is the force behind their being and should be revered and respected. Furthermore, the Fall of Man in the Garden Of Eden and the story the birth of Jesus are just but a few instances where the use o mythology is intended to put across vital pieces of information. These stories are often retold and reenacted to ensure that a belief in the power of an all-seeing omnipotent God is inculcated in the Christian psyche.
Elements in the Rastafarian Religion
The Rastafarian religion is a relatively new religion which began in the early 1920s. It is a monotheistic with teachings based on a specific type of Biblical interpretation referred to as “Rastology. It has a clear belief system like any other that believes God is in the form of a spirit and is manifested to man though His Imperial Majesty the late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. In this religion, Jesus is also a central figure with the only difference being that he is a black man and a descendant of Kind David. Moreover, Rastafarians believe that they will be repatriated back to Zion by God (Barnett & Nettleford, 2012, p. 156). In their context, Zion is located in Africa and more specifically in Ethiopia. They hold that they were taken away from the Promised Land (Ethiopia/Babylon) was taken away from them by the White Man and taken into servitude in a Babylonian system. Babylon alludes to the West Indies where they were enslaved.
Rastafarians have a strong sense of community that is driven by their urge to help their fellow brothers (brejin) and sisters (sistren) (Middleton, 2015, p. 162). Most of sects in the Rastafarian religion partake in the use of marijuana that is often used for religious purposes and moments of self-reflection. It is for this reason that they create close-knit relationships with the members of the same community as marijuana is a banned substance in most countries and even classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the United States. As a fringe community, they stick together to uplift each other economically while educating their children on the ideals of the true “Rasta way”. They derive pleasure from seeing their own prosper in a world that has been very unkind to them by continually labeling them as drug-abusing hipsters involve in illegal activities.
Myths also make up the Rastafarian doctrine and have for the longest time heavily influenced it. They believe that though His Imperial Majesty the late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was the 225th emperor descended from a union between Queen Sheba of Abyssinia and King Solomon. It is this myth that is used to propagate the argument that His Imperial Majesty the late Emperor Haile Selassie was a direct descendant of King David from the tribe of Judah. Additionally, while it is largely known that His Imperial Majesty the late Emperor Haile Sessie passed away in the year 1975 after a communist takeover of his throne, Rastafarian mythology has it that the Savior (His Imperial Majesty the late Emperor Haile Sessie) would go into hiding and later come back to deliver all his people back to Zion.
All religions share a sense of community, belief system, rituals, myths, emotional experiences, ethical systems, sacredness and a materialistic expression of the religion as core elements in their doctrine. All elements are just as important and none is more important than the other. Christianity and Rastafarian religion differ in dogma but are similar in the core elements that make creed what it is.
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