Study Religion Off Campus And How This May Challenge Traditional Understandings Of Religion

Study Religion Off Campus And How This May Challenge Traditional Understandings Of Religion

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There are many knowledgeable books that introduce religions as well as specific religious traditions. However, students are naturally introduced to abstract methodological issues such as observer bias, rather than the religions themselves. If religions of the world are not approached with purpose and method, then students are likely to gain “stereotypes… of misinformation supplied by certain sectors of the media” (Chryssides & Geaves, 2014). Thus, in order to see how religion is lived in day to day life, one must “walk a mile in [the] moccasins [of religious people]” as Smart (1998) says. Therefore this essay will attempt to answer why it is important to study religion off campus and how this may challenge traditional understandings of religion.
Religion cannot be lived in textbooks, it is about the personal consciousness of those that believe and “their own account of their religion and its relevance in contemporary life” (Fisher, 1996). It is performed, experienced by the individuals living within society and communities. For some it is a sense of hope, to connect with a supreme power, to end the cycle of birth and death, find inner peace and/or a way of life. Traditional understanding of religion through textbooks, television, and internet does provide one with understanding about the religion doctrine and what they believe in. The majority of people will know what religion is when seeing it, for example, a Buddhist Monk sitting cross-legged in meditation. However, it is important to study religion off campus in order to grasp an explanation and a clear understanding of how beliefs change personal lives, how individuals tackle certain situations due to belief for example, Buddhist Monk sitting cross-legged in meditation, but w...

... middle of paper ...

...pbringing, culture, faith, values, character traits and current circumstances (Hackman, 2008).
In conclusion, it is important to study religion off campus as Smart (1994) has said one must “walk a mile in [the] moccasins [of religious people]” in order to gain a real understanding of how belief has an impact on people and how it motivates people to live their lives, this cannot be obtained through textbooks or media reports. It is how Harvey (2013) suggests that belief has to be learnt and is enacted by others through witnessing, speaking, reading, ritualising, congregation and acceptance. Studying off campus does not mean challenging the traditional understanding of religion. Historical and textual books should still be used to provide foundation knowledge but one must go beyond this and engage with living religions in order to obtain a rich first-hand experience.

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