what is religion to you?

Read and think deeply about the following two famous definitions of religion:

Clifford Geertz (an American anthropologist): “Religion is defined as (1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic” (From “Religion as a Cultural System,” 1966).

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Émile Durkheim (a French sociologist): “A Religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden – beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them” (from The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, 1912).

Your first essay is to describe what you think religion is. You can use the definitions of Geertz and Durkheim as a starting point, but you don’t need to; their definitions are difficult, and we will be reading more from them later in the class. For now, I am interested in YOUR description of religion.

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