Religion manifests certain basic elements that include a belief system, community, central myths, emotional experiences, rituals, an ethical system, sacredness, and material expressions of religion. Certain elements are stronger and more valued than others. This paper will examine the extent to which my religious beliefs manifest the aforementioned elements. In addition, it will analyze Rastafarianism and determine the extent to which it manifests the eight elements.
My Belief System
My religious beliefs fall into the pattern of manifesting the eight elements because it is based on the teachings of Christianity. Certain elements have more weight than others. For instance, I highly value the Christian belief system, rituals, sacredness, and the element of community. Core elements of my belief system include community, an ethical system, sacredness, material expressions of religion, and rituals (Gerrish, 2015). The elements of emotional experiences and central myths are not important elements of my belief system.
Christianity is based on a belief system that comprises several principle tenets that include the Immaculate Conception, the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), the resurrection, original sin, creation, and the divinity Jesus Christ (Gerrish, 2015). My religious beliefs stem from the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus was the Son of God who was sent to save humans from the captivity of sin. Jesus died on the cross as a sign of God’s love and mercy (Gerrish, 2015). The promise of salvation through the resurrection of Christ is a core tenet of my religious beliefs because it strengthens my faith and gives my life a purpose. My actions and decisions are primarily influenced by the Christian teachings of good and bad. Therefore, adherence to the Christian belief system is a critical aspect of my life.
The church is the agent of Christianity that is comprised of people who follow similar beliefs and religious practices (McGrath, 2015). My belief system includes the element of community as a very important element. In that regard, I attend church every Sunday and participate in group activities such as worship and communal prayer. I believe that communal worship brings people closer and promotes unity and peace, which are important Christian teachings. Certain aspects of Christianity reflect the strength of this element. For instance, I am a member of a small Christian group in my community whose activities include prayer, worship, and conducting acts of charity like feeding the homeless and visiting the sick.
Christians conduct several rituals to celebrate important events, worship, and communicate with God. The most common rituals include baptism, sacraments, penance, ordination of clergy, marriage, anointing the sick, and celebration of important events such as advent, Christmas, lent, Palm Sunday, and Easter. As a Christian, I participate in several rituals including baptism and Eucharist. I believe that marriage is a sacred union between a man and woman that is ordained by God. I also believe that it is important to fast and pray during Lent and share with other people during the Christmas holiday.
Rastafarianism is a religion that even though not as old as Christianity, it has many followers around the world. Like other religions, Rastafarianism manifests the eight elements in varied measures. Some elements such as a belief system, community, rituals, and an ethical system are more valued than the others. The elements of central myths, emotional experiences, and material expression of religion are not as strong as they are in other religions.
Unlike Christianity, Rastafarianism lacks a formal creed that outlines its beliefs. However, followers believe that Haile Selassie is their God, Ethiopia is heave, Black people will ultimately rule the world, Jamaica is hell, and black people are the superior race in the world (Keene, 2014). In addition, they believe that black people will be repatriated to their homeland (Africa) and that they represent the ancient Israelites who were God’s chosen people. Modern beliefs include salvation on earth, the supremacy of life, respect for nature, the humanity of God, the presence of God in every human being, the divinity of human beings, and the priesthood of Rastafarians (Keene, 2014).
Sacredness is an important element in Rastafarianism. Rastafari believe that the Earth, marijuana, and the Bible are sacred (Keene, 2014). During meditation sessions, they smoke marijuana to heighten their spiritual states and read verses from the Bible for inspiration. Marijuana is sacred because it produces feelings of communion and provides religious visions (Keene, 2014). In addition, it is sacred because Rastafari argue that its use is referenced in the Old Testament.
The two main Rastafari rituals include reasoning and nyabingi (Keene, 2014). Reasoning sessions involve the informal gathering of followers who participate in religious discussions and smoke marijuana. Nyabingi is a festive ceremony that involves drumming and dancing, usually held during important holidays and occasions (Keene, 2014). Ital is a form of dietary practice that involves consuming natural foods only. In that regard, Rastafarians are either vegan or vegetarian.
All religions manifest the aforementioned eight elements in varied degrees. Christianity manifests all of them but in varying degrees. For instance, the elements of a belief system, rituals, community, sacredness, and an ethical system are ore valued that the others. Christianity’s belief system is outlined in the Apostle’s Creed, which is the core of the religion. Unlike Christianity, Rastafarianism has a different belief system that does not include a formal creed. A belief system, rituals, community, and sacredness are its most important elements.
Gerrish, B. A. (2015). Christian faith: dogmatics in outline. Louisville, Kentucky: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation.
Keene, M. (2014). New steps in religious education for the Caribbean. Cheltenham, England: Nelson Thrones.
McGrath, A. E. (2015). Christianity: An introduction. New York, NY: Jon Wiley & Sons.