When as a group we were assigned the title “Religion and Ideology” the four of us knew that this was going to be a difficult topic to narrow down to a presentation. Religion and Ideology is such a vast subject that can be taken from many different viewpoints. We knew that in researching this project we were going to have to chose certain ideas and leave out others in order to fit out presentation into the allocated presentation time.
Barbara Nic Dhonnacha –
When I was informed that our presentation title was “Religion and Ideology” I wished to take on more the religion side of things. After our first discussion as a group, this I did.
On first thought I wanted to find a definition for religion, especially as I had never come across one to date. But on reading books from the library and searching the web I found this to be more difficult than first assumed. Many people who had studied this subject for year and written numerous books were having difficulty agreeing on a definition. So like Anthony Giddens I began with what religion was not. This helped a great deal in coming to a definition of religion that could be accepted generally. I also informed my listeners of the thoughts of Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim on religion.
After discussing the key aspects of religion I went on to talk about women in religion. This included my theories of world religions being patriarchal. I briefly discussed Muhammad and Muslim women and the veil. I also went on slightly touching on the subject of catholic women and the veil, in particular nuns. This was a new piece of information to me and I was glad to have been able to share it with the class.
I finished up my part of the presentation discussing the Catholic Church and the abuse of power. This consisted mostly of the abuse of power of the popes of the 15th and 16th century. I mentioned the Papal States and armies and war. I believe to have received a positive reaction to the presentation.
Aideen O’ Donovan-
For my part of the presentation I focused mainly on the many changes which happened to Christianity over the years, since the old testament. I spoke about how it evolved from the Jewish faith and how it developed and spread from Israel through-out the Roman empire and over to western Europe. How it became the most dominating power in Europe. From there I discussed briefly the reformation and how with the need to reform Christianity broke of again into many different sects. Examples of this today would be Protestantism and Presbyterianism.
For years Ireland was the under full control of the Catholic Church. This played a huge part in Ireland socially because anything we did seemed to be influenced by the beliefs of the Catholic Church. I think a good example of this would have been the treatment of women who were expecting outside of wedlock. These women would have been sent to the Magdalene laundries as the society in which they lived didn’t accept their situations. This was mainly because of the views the church had on them.
There has been a huge decline in followers of the Christian faith over the past 20 years or so. And although it wasn’t to do with women expecting outside of wedlock I’m sure it was this along with the abuses people saw within the church.
As I am studying media I thought it would be relevant to connect the change of religion with the media in some way. I feel that the media created awareness amongst Irish society. They were seeing things on the news aswell as getting information from the internet. The great thing about these forms of media is that people are able to think for themselves based on the facts. Their opinions are no longer biased by the strong beliefs of the church. They are now in positions to make and are confident enough to make, informed decisions, instead of having their decisions made for them by the church or by previous generations.
One question which was raised during the presentation was “why have only spoken negatively about the church?”. In many cases we told the facts as the historians have discovered. Many people now a days would perceive the church in a very negative way because of this.
Myself, I believe in the concept of religion. Religion is for so many people something to live for. Knowing that they have a heaven to go to when they die is a very comforting thought. For other people it makes them feel accepted. They’re apart of a community, Something, which they may not have the fortune of being within society. It can bring families together which is evident at times of the year like Christmas and
So despite it’s negative points there are still many positive ones.
Religions & Why They Clash
– Patrick Costelloe
What makes religions common to each other? All regions share the same characteristics. These characteristics are what define that specific religion. For example religions share a use of symbols, e.g. Christianity has the Crucifix, Hinduism has the statue of Ganesh. Also religions share the characteristic of rituals or ceremonies. These are usually held as a way to praise and worship god(s).
Totemism & Animism
Totemism – Many religions believe that certain material man made things possess religious powers, e.g. the Red Indians of old believed that their “Totem Poles” contain powers of the gods. They built these poles as a mark of respect to these gods. A more accepted form of totemism, especially in this country, would be a Crucifix.
Animism – Animism is a believe some religions have in the existence of ghosts and spirits that populate the human world. These believes strongly influence human behaviour and often these spirits are blamed for misfortunes such as illness, madness etc.
Simple societies are more common with these “crude” characteristics. This is probably due to lack of interaction with a social media, e.g. television, newspapers etc.
Most religions are polytheistic, but three of the most popular religions believe in just one god (monotheistic) – Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
Islam, like Christianity, is a religion that has continually stimulated activism. The Holy Scriptures instructs believers to “struggle in the Way of God”. This struggle dates back to the Middle Ages. A constant struggle arose between Christian Europe and the Muslim States. Many Christian countries were taken over by the Muslim States but when the West grew Europe reclaimed many lands which in turn was catastrophic for Islam. In the late 19th Century, the inability of the Muslim world to resist the spread of Western Culture led to reform movements seeking to resote Islam to its original purity and strength.
During the ‘Islamic Revolution’, in Iran 1978-79, a strict Islamic ruling occurred, e.g men and women segregated, women covering heads and bodies, adulters stoned, homosexuals shot, etc.. These ideas were set up to unite Islam against the West. Islamic Fundamentalism is popular in most of these states as it gives Muslims a sense of belonging in a united community.
Islamic Fundamentalism should be seen only as a renewal of traditionally held ideas. Traditiona; practises and modes of life have been revived, but have been combined with concerns that relate specifically to modern times.
Why do Religions Battle?
As people define their identity in religious and ethnic terms, they’re likely to see an “us” versus “them” relationship existing between them and other religions.
Difference in culture and religion create differences over policy issues, ranging from human rights to immigration to trade and commerce to the environment. The United States has been very influential these last few decades and as a result other cultures and religions are feeling the brunt of their power. These religions and cultures are now retaliating with devastating consequences. One must realise first why this retaliation is happening. There’s no doubting the U.S.’s efforts to promote democracy and liberalism as universal values. They also are very interested in maintaining its military predominance. These actions are encouraging countering responses from other cultures and religions.
Religion or Political Ideology?
The philosopher Immanuel Kent claimed that Judaism was not a religion, but a mere body of laws. Secular Jews would agree with him. Some secularised Muslims say the same about Islam, for example Ali Sini of www.faithfreedom.org. Sini writes: “Islam is not a religion. Considering Islam a religion is a foolish mistake that could cost millions of lives. Islam is a political movement set to conquer the world. It is the Borg of the non-fictional world. Islam has one goal and one goal alone: to assimilate or to destroy”.
Many, of course, argue that Kant and Sina are terribly wrong, but perhaps wrong in a way that helps clarify the problem. Some could argue the point that Islam is both a religion and a political ideology, and that, perhaps, religion is what makes Islamic political ideology so dangerous.
Why is Religion?
Why is religion as powerful and influential as it is? It’s treated extremely respectfully, but if one was to step out of this divine bubble the world lives in, and asks oneself ignorantly what is religion, I can’t help think the answer is up there with the belief in such things like magic. There is, however no doubting the power religion holds. So why do people practise it? For a sense of belonging to a community, perhaps. A belief in a saviour and to know that when the end comes, something will follow. Whatever the answer is, there is no doubt that religion will always be here, in one form or another, and that is will be one of the major cause, answer and reason to most of this planets problems.
Ideology – Ciaran O Connell
For the ideology side of the assignment I attempted to research a brief understanding of what ideology means, and give an assessment on the idea of consumerism becoming the new ideological standard.
I first defined ideology for myself; I saw ideology to be the collective name of a society’s inherent norms and values. It defines morals and ethical boundaries. It is the way a social group thinks and behaves. Sometimes we are only subconsciously aware of this and yet sometimes religious and social pressures unmistakeably impose it upon us.
Ideology is the glue, which holds society together, it defines society and helps us to define the world around us and define ourselves.
The religious ideologies of the Catholic Church in Ireland have dictated to us for hundreds of years how to think and act. This is a characteristic of Christianity throughout western civilisation, but now with the growth of the consumerist ideology this is changing.
For a better understanding of ideology I read “The Concept of Ideology” by Dr. Jorge Larrain. Here I was provided a well-documented account of the historical development of ideology in terms of four basic questions:
1) Whether ideology is conceived negatively (as false consciousness) or positively (as a world view expressing the values of a particular social group)
2) Whether it is regarded as a subjective psychological phenomenon or an objective social one
3) Whether it is seen as a specific element in the superstructure of society or as identical with the whole sphere of culture
4) And finally how ideology is related to and differential from science.
Larrain explores the ideological theories of Marx, Engels, Durkheim, Manheim and Freud.
In another book I perused; “Ideology and the Image” Bill Nichols describes ideology as how the existing ensemble of social relations represents itself to individuals. It is the image a society gives of itself in order to perpetuate itself. These representations are there to establish fixed places for us to occupy that work to guarantee coherent social actions over time.
The effect of consumerism on western civilisation has been the fragmentation of society into millions of individuals – no longer prepared to accept what they are given but want their own way – NOW!
In developed countries the “we” people have become the “me” people. Reluctant to conform to social pressures or stereotypes, they no longer defer to their “betters” or submit themselves to authority of government, church or the traditional family structure.
Life is a super market with an infinite array of choices:
Don’t like your marriage? Get a divorce!
Don’t like your face? Get plastic surgery!
Don’t like your mood? Get some (legal) mood altering drugs!
Advertisements entice us by making us believe that buying the product will improve lives and make us better people.
We are empowered, but empowerment has come at a price. Greater individualism means people are more likely to put their own interests above the common good; leading to a loss of civic mindedness and community spirit, and personal gratification from life’s supermarket has led to a decline in civility and moral standards.
I believe the best social comment of our time, which highlights this trend, is the slogan of American fast food franchise Burger King, “Have it your way”
Consumerism began in the post Second World War years. Before the war consumer choice was an undeveloped concept, there wasn’t enough manufacturing capacity to meet consumer demands.
You got what the manufacturers decided was what the people need in the only colour they decided it should be. People tried to gain favour with traders such as butchers and grocers for the choicest products. Walking into one shop with a bag from a rival shop was far too awkward for most people to even comprehend.
Then something happened, as economic growth accelerated incomes rose, but productivity rose faster. Finally in the fifties manufacturing capacity outstripped consumption turning the manufacturer consumer dynamic on it’s head.
Now people had choice, and choice means power. Manufactures started competing for customers, they had to flatter and coax using advertisement, tempting products and better service.
We are the generation born into this consumer power era. We were born in an era where consumers are placed on a pedestal and companies set out to satisfy our every whim. Companies have gained because of the growing wants and needs created by our own individualism. The only casualty is the “establishment” the out-dated ideologies. The more important people are made to feel, the more they question why they should conform to societies norms or be told what to do.
People are becoming gods and expect to be treated as such. We define ourselves now by making personal selections from the ever-increasing proliferation of goods and services available, proclaiming our individuality through what Freud called “the narcissism of small differences”
Bill Nichols tells us that ideology proposes obviousness, a sense of “the way things are” within which our sense of place and self emerges as an equally self-evident proposition. Therefore ideology is not coercive nor is it reducible to specific systems of belief, consumerist, and populist, religious or racial ideologies for example.
Religions ideologies, like all others may constitute specific ideologies but they rest upon a more general process of representation whereby individuals are sorted into a social order. The places or positions represented and the sense of self-represented by the dominant social order must appear desirable. We must want to be recognised in that place, in that image we take to be ourselves. Consumerism allows us to apparently define ourselves and define that image.
After the four of us had finished up we invited the class to question or add their opinions to anything we had just said. This led to a discussion, which we were thoroughly happy with. Judging from the response people gave to our presentation they had an understanding of the points we had been trying to get across. This gave us each a great sense of achievement and made the research time seem all the more worth while.