What is Portier’s starting point in his discussion of religion in Chapter 1
The world is mainly comprised of human beings who depend on supernatural beings called gods. The roles of these gods differ depending on the various beliefs and cultural orientation of the people. As a result, human life is considered as religious as no one individual can exist without support provided by his or her supernatural power (The Great Questions 9). This has facilitated the need to define religion as peoples’ inclination or dependence on gods. The main condition needed for one to be regarded as being religious is one’s faith and ability to abide by the rules regarding a specific religious practice (The Great Questions 9.
What are the two categories that Portier uses to describe “experience?
Portier uses two different categories to describe experience. These include ordinary human experience and extra ordinary human experience (The Great Questions 10). The former type of experience is realized whenever an individual utilizes common sense while handling day to day issues. That is, activities can be carried out without necessarily taking a second thought on what is to be done as they are considered common to human life. Due to continual practice of these activities they become part and parcel of one’s life thus considered cultural experience (The Great Questions 10). Extra ordinary experience is encountered any moment normal life routine is disrupted. These modes of experience cannot be explained in totality (as they tend to expose ambiguity in meanings for different people) but by use of metaphorical tools.
What are the four examples he uses in relationship to experience? Why does he choose those four examples?
Four examples of extra ordinary experience given include birth, love, death and evil (The Great Questions 11-16). The reasons why the writer used these examples are two-fold (11). The use of birth and death were used because they establish boundaries between particular ordinary experiences. The use of love and evil was motivated by the fact that they help in shaping highs and lows of a given life routine.
What is Portier’s conclusion concerning human living?
Concerning human living, the writer concludes that no matter the depth of height of an extraordinary experience, it is not possible to fully comprehend human life as it is full of mysterious issues (The Great Questions 16). Therefore, the only mechanism that can be used to explain these experiences is mysterious illustrations through stories and narratives. These is supported by the fact that while handling human challenges, obvious ones can be solved easily because of low level of complexity involved. However, in cases of extraordinary challenges or mysteries, their solution cannot be easily provided since they are complex in nature such that only mysterious stories or metaphorical methods can be used to explain their nature and purpose.
What is Portier’s definition of tradition? How does his discussion of tradition relate to the previous part of the chapter?
Tradition has been used to have the same meaning as context (The Great Questions 20). Therefore, tradition means a collection of human experiences in terms of linguistics, relationships, culture and personalities. Due to the fact that human beings comes across different life experiences, tradition help to create a network of these experiences thereby providing an ample moment to understanding humanity and its social factors. These happen in a continuous manner in order to address issues of power and politics in human social organization (The Great Questions 20). In relation to previous part of the chapter, the idea of tradition is treated as ordinary human experience as many issues considered traditional must have aspect of normalcy. That is, activities that are always carried out would tend to form part of human tradition.
What is the most important question that Portier raises? Why do you think that question is the most important?
The most important question aims to seek the relevance of religion in solving human experience. This question is important as it leads to the obvious affirmation that human life comprises of both common and mysterious encounters. Therefore, uses of religious explanations are vital in understanding extraordinary experiences (The Great Questions 9, 17)
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