Before reading this post, it will be difficult to comprehend how the world’s religions are organized. I’ve discovered that the world’s religions are divided into small communities. Smith claims that the religious system is made up of small communities for better communication (365). People of similar ethnic backgrounds were also able to achieve their religious goals thanks to the groups. Ethnic minorities in Africa, Australia, Siberia, North and South America, for example, continue to believe in the same things. The religious-tribal congregations were kept alive by the communities, according to what I’ve heard. It was also simple for the groups to coordinate their development capabilities. Smith affirms that religion also depended on right products “of their efforts” (365). In other words, the religious-tribal congregation was one way of achieving communication in relations to production and salvation.
I have further learned the evolution of “orality” in previous religious practices. According to Smith, orality depicts the duration when people used spoken words as the only way of communication (367-369). In other words, there were no written documents related to religious ideas during that period. In fact, people believed that spoken word was part of the speaker’s life. The religious personalities practiced the virtue anywhere; thus, reflected the speaker’s thinking. It emerged that leaders thought that through spoken words “they shelter their tribe’s sacred” from encroachment (Smith 368). That is, they did not want myths to get into religious teaching since it would imprison them. In some instances, traditional religious men used poetry to express themselves. For example, in the Africa’s Uraon tribal system poetry was used when cultivating as well as other special events like marriages.
As religions evolved, oral system began to change. During the middle ages, the religious personalities introduced writing. As such, a few archaeologists could now read and relate some of the historical religion memories and feature with places. In this regard, the Onondaga tribe of the “hau de no sau nee” was among the people who used written prayers. Smith asserts that during the outdoor ceremony, the author opened with a prayer “that lasted for fifty minutes” (371). In fact, people did not close their eyes since the author offered the prayer through a native tongue and in a written form. The introduction of writing made it easy to learn about rocks in Australia and their significance. Indeed, whenever one takes a walk in Australia, the rocks flash back the memories of the olden religious events. As such, the tradition religion is part of the present.
The question that comes up in the article is how primal religion evolved across the world. The article gives reference to the past time without providing historical accounts of what happened prior to the emergence of religion. In other words, the spiritual transformation is non-linear. The religious man-Mircea Eliade says, “The world is renewed annually” (Smith 372). In other words, he believes that the world renews its sanctity every year. The religious men who trust in the past cultures are confident that their god exists. Another question that came to my mind was what the role of civilization was in the traditional religion. The civilization process caught up with the primal and historical religions since industrialization concept was overshadowing primal cultures.
I agree with the tribal and primal aspect of religion. The tribal religion personalities used oral communications during prayers, and they were able to dream spiritual visions, which they shared with their fellow believers orally. I believe that verbal communication was effective for those who could understand a specific ethnic language. The ethnic gathering also believed in some gods whom they named depending on the powers it possessed and ethnic identity. Smith provides a good example of Japanese and Taoism of remaining “closest to their primal roots” (373). They held to their roots since they respected their primal religion and its oral teaching. However, I disagree with the ideology of annual creation. I perceive the nature to be constant only that there are environmental dynamics caused by human activities. For example, the rocks and other physical features seemed to be the same yearly.
Nonetheless, the more I read some of the issues emphasized on the article, the more I get confused. For example, some spiritual men in the reading believe in gods who can tell them about the future. They attach them to some symbolic events such as rains, droughts, and healing. For example, the Shaman was able to heal them using the powers they foresaw. The same forces gave them the ability to foretell the future. However, in today’s world, Christians believe in God and His powers thus it is hard to believe that such gods exists in real world.
However, when I was young, our land experienced an extended drought. The elderly came together to discuss on the way forward. They decided to seek the intervention of the ancestors from the community shrine. The shrine had a carved wood in the form of elderly. They converged and incanted for two hours facing the model. After two hours, there was rain the entire community, which revealed that they had a connection with gods. The article refers to them as the “sons and daughters of the sky” (Smith382). I am left perplexed that probably gods still exist today.
The awakening ideas in the article include religious beliefs. Religion grew from oral to written where archeologist could attach nature with religion. The tribes were able to keep their virtues as well as maintain their distinct primal features. They believed in orality, place, and time of the happenings. The article depicts the genesis of the tribal unity and religion. People learned the value of the nature and concluded that it was the work of gods. They protected it since their life solemnly depended on it.
Smith, Huston. The World’s Religions. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991.