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University of Johannesburg Department of Religion Studies


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Welcome to RELIGION 1A! We hope that you will enjoy this course and find it interesting. Please feel free to give us your comments on the course. Your first year in RELIGION introduces the subject and its main fields. Module 1 will focus on INTRODUCTION TO RELIGION AS A PHENOMENON. People with a background in RELIGION apply this knowledge in their jobs as TEACHERS, SOCIAL WORKERS, MINISTERS (SPIRITUAL WORKERS), ETC. RELIGION informs us about the richness of our multi-cultural and multi-religious South African society and skills us to consciously contribute to the peaceful and civilized coexistence of all our countrys diverse inhabitants. Good luck with your studies and may your knowledge not only increase, but may your humanness become richer as you discover how religion goes about in presenting and unlocking the ultimate dimensions of life experiences!


We would like you to develop the following skills and attitudes during this year: English language skills, both verbal and written 2

Learn how to find sources on the web and in the library and how to reference these sources correctly using the Harvard style Be able to summarise complex ideas in simple language and to logically present arguments The ability to write using your own words, integrating your own ideas with that of others Read and write critically in other words, to not accept anything without thinking about it and comparing the new information with what you already know Debate issues and respect disagreement and a diversity of perspectives Connect what you learn and read in RELIGION with everyday life Value your own life experience as relevant to the subject of RELIGION. Begin to see life as nuanced and people and societies as complex and interconnected

To ensure that you have all the support you need to successfully reach the outcomes (complete this module) we have made a number of resources available to you. We are confident that if you follow our suggestions for studying this module and use all these resources to their full potential, you will reach the outcomes. It remains your responsibility to make use of all the available support to learn and enjoy the course you are responsible for your own learning!

The teaching model that UJ is following is based on the principle that the role of the lecturer is that of a facilitator in your process of continuous learning and personal growth. We will provide this assistance to you by supplying you with a study guide, preparing for class meetings and group classes, providing feedback on work submitted and tests written, and being available during office hours for consultation. Lecturer Office E-mail Office hours Brief Curriculum Vitae of Lecturer Prof H Viviers A Ring 608 Wed. 11h00-13h00; Thu. 11h00-13h00; rest of the week available by appointment See the website of UJ (Academic Departments: Religion Studies)

Name Office Tel Office hours Ms Charlene Louw A Ring 601 011-559-3259 Mo. Fr. 8h00-13h00

There is a student assistants office, A Ring 608A, at the Department of Religion Studies. Consult their weekly working schedule on the door so that they can be approached to help answer your general questions and help you to make an appointment with a lecturer or a tutor.


Please discuss minor problems with your tutor/assistant or make an appointment to see the lecturer when you want to bring more serious issues to her attention.

Tutors are there for
[i] assistance with work not understood,

[ii] advice about preparation for tests, [iii] guidance when doing text-analyses, [iv] aid when writing essays, [v] discussions about planning your studies, [vi] help in preparing for tests and the exam, and [vii] support with any other academic problems with this course. If the tutors cannot help you solve your problem, make an appointment with the lecturer or come during consultation times. The tutors are available in Their consultation times will be made available to you on Edulink or . Treat tutors with respect because that is how they will treat you!

Lecture times Day Wednesday (J1, J2) Venue Time D les 203 13h50 15h25

Friday (J3) D Les 203 13h50-14h35

Extract from UJ Student Regulations, Section 5 - Conduct with regard to the Academic Process b. A student commits a transgression if he/she disrupts or prevents the process of education. c. Students must attend all lectures, group classes, seminars, tutorials, practical classes and excursions as determined in the relevant programme regulations. d. Students must complete all their prescribed work and write all tests. In case of illness students must submit an acceptable medical certificate. e. Students must comply with the regulations pertaining to the control of examinations and class tests.

Each class will consist of: a summary presentation of the contents with the aid of PowerPoint by the lecturer; group discussion between lecturer and students on topical matters that arise from the different lecture themes. In addition to weekly lectures, you also have to see (on your own) the film Brideshead Revisited to be able to fully answer the question in your study guide and present it as an essay assignment (see lecture unit 7).

You have to activate your course in the student website to access the Edulink course. Please refer to the logon procedure on the Edulink mini-CD and pamphlet issued to you during registration.


Students with special needs must discuss their needs with the lecturer immediately. The department is committed to provide such students with the necessary support. We also collaborate with the Office of Students with Disabilities. You can contact Ms Anlia Pretorius Tel: 011-559 2168 or Ms Corne Engelbrecht Tel: 011-559 3745 ( at the Office of Students with Disabilities in C Ring 1.

The Academic Development Division offers a support system to improve learning/reasoning and writing skills of the learners. Various other courses are offered, for example the development of study skills, reading skills, time management and language improvement. They also offer courses to facilitate computer literacy. They are in D Ring 3. Tel: 011 559 2568.

The subject librarian facilitates your learning of where and how to find different resources, how to use the databases of the UJ-library, etc. Feel free to contact her for information on different resources available in the UJ-library. Her contact details are: Name: Ms Ronl Smit Tel: 011 559 2651 Email:

This is the procedure to follow if you are unhappy with anything related to your classes: Step 1: Contact your lecturer and discuss the problem in person or by e-mail or letter. Try to do it yourself and do not ask your parents to do it. Step 2: If this does not help to solve your problem, make an appointment to discuss the problem with the head of the department. You could also write her an e-mail or letter. Step 3: If you are still unhappy about the outcome, then you could go to the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.

Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Date 8.02.2012 15.02.2012 22.02.2012 29.02.2012 7.03.2012 14.03.2012 16.03.2012 Topics Lecture unit 1: Welcome to the world of religions! Lecture unit 2: Overview of the religious history of humankind Lecture unit 3: The earliest forms of religion on South African soil: The San Lecture unit 4: Religion: critique and predictions Lecture unit 5: The secularisation thesis TEST! (lecture units 1-3) Lecture unit 6: Reactions to modernisation and secularisation (Lecture unit 7: Practicum: Evaluation of religious belief in the film Brideshead Revisited students do this assignment on their own) EXAM lecture units 4-7 PLUS Prof Nortj-Meyers work

Tuesday 19.06.2012 8:30-11:30


How should you use this specific study guide on RELIGION 1A? You will notice that the study guide consists out of seven lecture units. Each unit overlaps with the indicated chapters in your textbook. You will spend approximately one week on each lecture unit (see LECTURE PROGRAMME above). Each lecture unit starts with study

aims/outcomes, which explain the specific aims/outcomes of the current lecture unit. Following this, you are given a short summary of contents of the lecture unit, of which you will find the elaborated version in the corresponding chapter in your textbook. First read this before you study your textbook. The sources, which are mentioned, are first of all your textbook as well as a few key sources for extra reading to broaden your horizons. The self-assessment questions are, in principle, already the paper for your tests and exam. Thus, make sure that you know them very well. Your lecturer will give you information concerning the format of the tests and exams during the course. Make sure that you attend all lectures so as to be properly prepared.

AIMS OF THE COURSE The general aim of this course is to (partly) introduce you to the nature, purpose and function of religion by way of definitions, characteristics, theories, and so forth. Furthermore, the interface between theory and concrete manifestations of specific religions will be constantly highlighted as we proceed along this human search for ultimate meaning.

SPECIFIC ACADEMIC OUTCOMES OF THE COURSE This course on religion introduces you by way of a broad, functional definition of what religion is, what qualifies as religion and what not. Hereafter a short religious history of humankind is presented as well as an overview of the South African religious landscape. The aim is to stage the mainstream religions globally and localize them on own soil. Focusing more clearly on the early dawn of human history, lecture unit 3 provides a brief excursion into one of the earliest religions on South African soil, namely that of the San. Its outcome is to discover how meaningful this almost extinct search for meaning of the San people still is for us today. Not all agree that religion is so meaningful and therefore we find secularist views in opposition to mainstream religion and in turn fundamentalist and alternative spiritualities in response to secularism. This tug of war between belief and non-belief is explicated in the lecture units 4-6 and aims to establish a critically informed judgement on the meaning of religion. of religion.

The course concludes with an interesting

practicum, the evaluation of a recent film Brideshead Revisited and its views on the worth

To pass this course, you must be able to do the following:

1. distinguish what qualifies as religion and what not;


describe in a nutshell the religious history of humankind as well as the landscape of religions on South African soil; analyse the debate between modern secularism and religious worldviews; critically evaluate the kinds of meaning religion can provide.

3. 4.

(See the Study Guide Proper for a further refinement of these outcomes under each lecture unit)
Courses in Humanities use action verbs in its learning outcomes. Action verbs tell you what you must DO. Analyse Separate/explore/analyse/dissect into different components Apply Assess Critically evaluate Compare Debate Define Demonstrate Describe Put to practical use or make use of relevant information. Apply theoretical information to solve a given problem Consider and then evaluate Determine the significance, worth or condition of a concept Express the similarity or dissimilarity of. Assess the relation between Discuss a question by considering opposed arguments Give a short and clear description of a term or concept Show clearly/prove/make clear by reasoning or evidence/illustrate and explain, especially with many examples State the characteristics, appearance, etc. of something. Tell in detail how a process works or how a subject appears. You need not comment on the process or the subject or give your own point of view To find or establish Find differences between objects or statements Examine by argument, especially written; debate. Explain terms or concepts in your own words. Give comments or give your own point of view See or point out the difference. Write down the differences between subjects or concepts Do/create a drawing, diagram or representation of a subject Determine the significance, worth or condition of a concept Make a clear and intelligible statement. Write about the subject in your own words. Give comments or give your own point of view Express in a concise, systematic way Establish or select by consideration or analysis of the circumstances Establish the identity or recognise a process Explain by means of pictures/drawings/rich descriptions Explain the meaning or bring out the meaning. Briefly write down the facts or main points Give reason(s) for your answer 8

Derive Differentiate Discuss Distinguish Draw Evaluate Explain Formulate Identify Illustrate Interpret List/Name Motivate

Provide Summarise State Use

Supply information written or graphically Briefly state/list/write down only the most important detail/facts Express fully or clearly in speech or writing Practice of employing something

The prescribed book for this course is:

Krger, JS, Lubbe GJA, Steyn, HC 2009. The Human Search for Meaning: A Multireligion Introduction to the Religions of Humankind. 2nd Edition. Pretoria: Van Schaik.
Other prescribed material: NB!!! Take note of UJ's interpretation of the copyright law

The following material is recommended for this course:

Under the heading Extra reading, the studyguide will refer you to applicable other sources to widen your horizons.
NB!!! Take note of UJ's interpretation of the copyright law

The following are prestigious and trustworthy online dictionaries in this subject:

Please refer to Edulink - Religion: Resources on the Web

Other subject dictionaries:

The Semester mark is calculated as follows:

The average of test 1 and 2 will form the semester mark. The semester mark and the exam mark count 50% each of the final mark. NB! A minimum semester mark of 40% is required to sit for the exam. A minimum exam mark of 40% is required to pass. A final mark of 50% is needed to pass RELIGION 1A. Test 1 and the assignment (see below) will count half of the semester mark (90% for the the test and 10% for the assignment). Test 2 plus assignment(s) for the second term (responsible lecturer is Prof SJ Nortj-Meyer) will make up the other half of the semester mark.

TEST 1 - Date Nature of test, content covered in test, manner in which test will be assessed

Test 1 will be written on Wed. 14/03. It will be a one hour test counting 50 marks. The test will consist of paragraph and short essay-like questions (see your study guide for test yourself questions). The lecturer will further explain in class what is expected to succeed at test and exam writing. The test will count 90% of the first half of the semester mark.
TEST 2 Date Nature of test, content covered in test, manner in which test will be assessed Criteria for marking tests


The topics

The only assignment in this course is an evaluation of the religious views of the film Brideshead Revisited and to present this by way of a well-informed essay. Students will do this on their own, with guidance beforehand from the lecturer. This practicum is expected more towards the end of the course when a theoretical framework on what religion comprises has been established. The assignment mark will count 10% of the first half of the semester mark.
Criteria for marking essays / assignments


1. All assignments must be handed in on time. * Each student assumes personal responsibility for the handing in of his / her assignment. * Assignments which are received late will not be marked unless the student has made a satisfactory arrangement with the lecturer either before or on the due date. * Hand in your assignments in the specified format. * The due date is the last date on which an assignment may be handed in. In cases where an assignment is late due to special circumstances, a written request to be permitted to hand in late must be addressed to the Head of the department. (Hint: Always keep a copy of the completed assignment.) 2. All tests must be written on the announced dates. 1. If a student misses a test because of illness, the lecturer must be notified within seven days after the test1, as well as be supplied with a medical certificate which contains the following: (i) the nature of the illness, (ii) the doctor's judgment that the student is unable to write the test due to the illness, as well as the number of days rest recommended by the doctor;

This is according to Rule 10.5 in the General Regulations. Note though that time constraints (such as the fact that end of term is usually two-three weeks after our semester tests) may cause departments to shorten this period to three to four days. 10

(iii) the precise date on which the doctor examined the student. 3. All lectures must be attended. * In line with UJ and Faculty policy all students must attend all classes. See the UJ Student Regulations and the UJ Academic Regulations. No student will receive permission to stay away from classes. If students choose not to attend classes, they simultaneously choose to bear the consequences of not getting the benefit of the lecture, of not hearing announcements made in class, and of not being present for unannounced class tests or assignments. * No lectures will be repeated or will take place outside scheduled times. 4. Students must collect their marked tests and assignments in person. * Tests and assignments will be made available behind D-Les 101 * Students must check their marks for an assignment or test on the class list which will be available behind DLes 101. If there is a mistake, the necessary corrections will be made after the student has provided proof. This must be done within one week after the marks have been made available. 5. Silence! * Only one person talks at a time during a lecture. No person will be allowed to interrupt somebody else, or to talk (or whisper) to a friend or colleague during a lecture while somebody else is talking. Besides being good manners, this is a precondition for meaningful academic dialogue and debate. 6. All cell phones must be switched off during lectures, tests, and exams. 7. If you get into any kind of trouble affecting your performance in this course, inform your lecturer immediately. No late excuses will be considered or accepted. Any request or excuse presented two weeks after an event will not be considered. 8. Treat the tutors with respect. The tutors provide a valuable service to students. Tutors are there for [i] assistance with work not understood, [ii] advice about preparation for tests, [iii] guidance when doing textanalyses, [iv] aid when writing essays, [v] discussions about planning your studies, and [vi] support with any other academic problems with this course. If the tutors cannot help you solve your problem, you can make an appointment with the lecturer. 9. All students will be treated equally. All students will get exactly the same time to hand in assignments, the same time to prepare for tests and exams, will be measured against the same standards when exams, tests and assignments are marked, and will be held to the same course rules. Justification: Every student has the same right to equal treatment as every other student, which is in line with the Bill of Rights in our countrys constitution. Students with disabilities may apply for special considerations. 10. Any form of plagiarism or cribbing will result in the cancellation of a student's credits. * Plagiarism is to present someone elses ideas as your own. You plagiarise if you do not give credit to your sources, if you lift sentences or paragraphs from a book, article or internet source. Even if you only change the wording slightly, you still plagiarise when using someone elses words in this way. You must write your own sentences, paragraphs, assignments, and essays! * Students guilty of plagiarism will not receive any mark for their plagiarized work. In addition, those who commit plagiarism will be reported to UJs disciplinary committee. * Note the policy on plagiarism elsewhere in the study guide. 11. If you have any problem with some aspect this course, resolve it within seven days in the following manner: [i] Speak to a tutor. [ii] If the tutor cannot help you, speak to the lecturer. [iii] If the discussion with the lecturer does not work, submit a written complaint to the lecturer in which you explain the matter in detail and provide good reasons why you are still not satisfied. [iv] If you fail to resolve the matter through steps [i] to [iii], submit your complaint in writing to the head of the department.


UJs Academic Regulations (Section 10) state the following about appeals concerning exam marks: 10.4.1 After the final mark for a module is made known, a student: a) who failed the module with a final mark of at least 45%, or 11

b) whose last summative assessment (examination) mark is at least 15% lower than her/his module mark, or c) who passed a module without distinction, but whose module mark or last summative assessment (examination) mark was a distinction mark, may apply to the relevant lecturer who awarded marks in the final or last summative assessment opportunity for an explanation of the final mark obtained. 10.4.2 Requests for an explanation of the award of final marks in the final summative assessment opportunity must be made within 10 days after commencement of the following semester. No assessment material (for example, answer scripts or portfolios) or copies of it may be provided to the student after such explanatory discussion if such material would not otherwise have been returned to the student. If, after the explanation has been provided as described in AR 10.4.2, a student is still dissatisfied with the award of marks, he/she may appeal to the executive dean. The executive dean may, at own discretion, decide to appoint an external arbitrator to reassess the final and/or last summative assessment. A fee as determined by the UJ is payable for the assessment by arbitration. The decision of the executive dean is final. The fee is refunded if the arbitrator alters a students results from a fail to a pass, or from a pass without distinction to a pass with distinction. In all other cases the fee is forfeited to the UJ.



In this module the principles underlying this policy will be applied for appeals about any other kind of marking as well.

Policy on Plagiarism 1. Preamble Plagiarism has become an increasingly serious problem at the University of Johannesburg over the last few years. Students have ready access to the internet, are entirely comfortable with this medium, and can do cutand-paste jobs very easily. Although the phenomenon of plagiarism existed before the advent of the internet, there is no question that the ubiquity and ease of use of this medium has greatly exacerbated the problem. The practice is also becoming increasingly difficult to detect, unfortunately, as students are becoming very sophisticated at doing a pastiche of various websites and covering their tracks by doing word-substitutions electronically. The phenomenon of plagiarism occurs across a wide spectrum, ranging from the blatant (whole chunks of text, or even whole essays, copied verbatim) to the subtle (certain ideas or phrasings reformulated, but still faintly echoing the original source), and everything in between. However, our primary target is the lazy student practice of lifting passages in a wholesale, unprocessed fashion merely to comply with the requirement of submitting an assignment. 1. We as lecturers have the responsibility to teach students [i] about the nature and gravity of plagiarism as violation of UJs code of academic ethics, and [ii] the importance of developing their own voice, style, skills, and knowledge. 2. The gravity of plagiarism depends on a persons position in the academic hierarchy. 3. We as lecturers reserve the right [i] to let all students sign an anti-plagiarism declaration as part of an assignments cover page, and [ii] to refuse to mark any assignment without an anti-plagiarism declaration. 4. In the light of 1 & 2 & 3 above, undergraduate students will be penalized with a mark of 0% for a plagiarized assignment, while postgraduate students will be reported to the UJ disciplinary committee. 2. Definitions 2.1 General definition: Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of the words or ideas of others. To plagiarize means to use the words or ideas of another to create the false impression that these words and ideas are ones own. (In order to avoid committing plagiarism, one must at all times acknowledge the source from which one has borrowed certain words or ideas.) 12

2.2 Direct plagiarism: This occurs when the phrases / sentences / paragraphs of someone else are copied verbatim and passed off as ones own without acknowledgement. 2.3 Plagiarism by paraphrase: This occurs when one passes off as ones own a paraphrase of an original source without acknowledgement. (A paraphrase is a rendering usually in abbreviated form that follows the contours of the source document but uses different words.) 2.4 Plagiarism of ideas: This occurs when the ideas of someone else are passed off as ones own. University of Johannesburg Faculty of Humanities Department of REGISTRATION FORM: Course: _______________ SURNAME: STUDENT NUMBER: ALTERNATIVE CONTACT NUMBER: DATE: SIGNATURE: FULL NAME/S: CONTACT NUMBER: EMAIL ADDRESS:

PLAGIARISM DECLARATION: I, ..... (full name and surname), hereby declare that I understand both what plagiarism is and also that it is a serious offence to commit plagiarism. This includes copying from other peoples work and also copying from any published work (including that in the university libraries or in any other library), or downloading and copying material from the internet. Failure to acknowledge a critical source correctly is also counted as plagiarism. I pledge that the work I shall submit in my assignments shall be solely my own, except where indicated, and that such indications shall be properly referenced according to departmental requirements. Signature (Signature of Witness)


University of Johannesburg Faculty of Humanities Department of RELIGION STUDIES WARNING ABOUT PLAGIARISM The University of Johannesburg places great emphasis on integrity and ethical conduct in the preparation of assignments. It is very important to us that all of our students know how secondary material should be used, as well as the scholarly method of presenting and acknowledging references. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of the words or ideas of others. It is tantamount to academic theft, and is therefore a very serious offence. To plagiarize means to use the words or ideas of another to create the false impression that these words and ideas are your own. In order to avoid committing plagiarism, you must at all times acknowledge the source from which you have borrowed certain words or ideas. If after reading this warning about plagiarism you are still uncertain about how to avoid committing plagiarism, you should speak to your lecturer about it before your assignment is submitted. Students who submit assignments in which plagiarism can be demonstrated will be referred to the Dean of the Faculty for disciplinary action.


University of Johannesburg Faculty of Humanities Department of Course: Cover page for assignments




____/____/2009 (DUE DATE) PLAGIARISM DECLARATION: I declare that this assignment is my own original work. Where secondary material has been used (either from a printed source or from the internet), this has been carefully acknowledged and referenced in accordance with departmental requirements. I understand what plagiarism is and am aware of the departments policy in this regard. Signature: ______________________________________________________________




Contents Lecture unit 1: Welcome to the world of religions! Lecture unit 2: Overview of the religious history of humankind Lecture unit 3: The earliest forms of religion on South African soil: The San Lecture unit 4: Religion: critique and predictions Lecture unit 5: The secularisation thesis Lecture unit 6: Reactions to modernisation and secularisation Lecture unit 7: Practicum: Evaluation of religious belief in the film Brideshead Revisited

16 17 20 23 25 28 31 33




1.1 Aims/Outcomes

After the study of this lecture unit you should be able to: a) appreciate SAs multi-religiosity as an asset and not a danger; b) define religion both substantially and functionally; c) deliberate on phenomena that are non-religion. 1.2 Summary of contents

It is especially since 1994 (the dawn of the new S.A.) that the inhabitants of SA have become very aware of our countrys multi-cultural and multi-religious character. However, even though social Apartheid has been given the death blow, religious Apartheid to a large extent still continues. People of different religious convictions are reluctant to mix with the other, probably fearful of losing their own (cultural/religious) identity. This need not happen, in fact, knowing the other can remarkably enrich ones own commitments and our humanness in general. The multi-religiosity which surrounds us every day, is a sign of richness, of complementing diversity. The alternative is a desert-like landscape with little, if any, meaningful social life at all. We need others to expand our own horizons, embrace life more fully and appreciate in turn our own enhanced traditions. Whether youre an African traditionalist, Christian, Muslim, Jew , Hindu, Buddhist or (a-theist) Humanist, we all contribute in a diversity of ways to the search for meaning (see title of textbook) in our daily lives. To define a complex phenomenon like religion is not that easy. Apart from the few

canvass strokes that you will find in this first section of your course of what religion comprises, your insights will deepen throughout as you meet the different religions also more concretely. A definition helps us to get a workable grasp/handle on something but it is almost inevitably reductionist as ten other definitions say the things not always contained in the chosen one or two. Nevertheless, we have to start somewhere and a

good idea is to refer to narrow or substantive definitions of what religion is. One can say religion is something like Islam or Buddhism or any of the other mainstream world religions traditionally referred to. But is this enough? What about Marxism, Psychoanalysis or Satanism? (see below). And art, science, family life, sex dont these experiences incline to ultimate experiences which are a clear characteristic of all religious endeavours? A second example of a substantive definition is that religion is about god. But who or what is god? Only one as in the Abrahamitic faiths Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or many gods as in Hinduism, or no god(s) as in Buddhism. It is quite interesting that Buddhism (see also Taoism) is one of the greatest religions on earth but atheistic! Substantive definitions are useful but not encompassing enough and it is therefore necessary to define religion broader, that is functionally. A functional definition of religion is what religions do to people, their roles in peoples lives. It first of all has a comprehensive integrating function, in that it provides its adherents with security, order and a home (roots, see Krger et al 2009:6-7; Spong 2005:220). Nobody likes chaos, disintegration and alienation in your personal life, society or nature. If it seems that nature for instance goes out of control (chaos) prayers are directed to god(s) to restore its order (cosmos) and to maintain life in a predictable way. It simultaneously reinforces personal identity, where and how one neatly fits into the bigger scheme of things. Religion furthermore supplies its adherents with wings or a radical transcending function (see Krger et al 2009:7-8), that is to reach beyond our earthly limits. Karen Armstrong views god and religion as an inspiring human idea that has given meaning to men and women for thousands of years (1993:5, 269). Krger et al (2009:7) say it succinctly: Viewed thus religion is the extension of the normal experience of every person. It is also an extension of science and art through which we search for true knowledge and beautyreligion is the longing for absolute truth, absolute beauty and absolute goodnessreligion is not confined to temples, initiation rites, holy books and the like. It is the experience of the boundary, and it may be experienced in the midst of everyday life What about Satanism, does this broad view of religion not perhaps include it? Satanism deliberately frustrates the search for meaning, thrives on chaos and destruction and blocks an all-inclusive fellowship of being (Krger et al 2009:8). It declines into ultimate negation of life and not the affirmation thereof, exactly the opposite of meaning giving.


Sources Krger, JS, Lubbe GJA, Steyn, HC 2009. The Human Search for Meaning:


A Multireligion Introduction to the Religions of Humankind. 2nd Edition. Pretoria: Van Schaik. (Unit 1, p 3-9) Extra reading Armstrong K 1993. A History of God: From Abraham to the Present the 4000-year Quest for God. London: Heinemann. Spong, JS 2005. The Sins of Scripture. San Francisco: Harper.


Self-assessment questions

a) Write a paragraph in which you motivate your appreciation of SAs multi-religiosity.


What possible consequences might religious Apartheid lead to? view of religion

c) Write a paragraph in which you critically highlight and exemplify a narrow, substantialist d) Write a short essay in which you critically highlight a broad, functionalist view of religion and refer also to art and science as allies in the quest for meaning. e) Explain in a paragraph whether each the following actions can be regarded as religion or not: i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. viii. Attendance of church, mosque, synagogue, meditation center, rural healing ceremony Partaking in annual rag here on campus Nature retreat Visit to the grave of a grandparent Rugby Visit an art gallery Family meal A-theism

f) Why can Satanism not be regarded as religion. Elaborate in a paragraph.






After the study of this section you should be able to: a) sketch the statistical spread of the SA religious landscape b) provide a brief history of mainstream religions on SA soil c) render world religious history in a nutshell. d) appreciate families of religions

2.2 Summary of contents It is important not to ponder only on the theory of religious phenomena but also to take a concrete look at religions and in this lecture unit, to have birds eye view of the rich South African religious landscape. This kind of view serves only as an introduction to this diversity and helps one to markedly appreciate different religions interrelated history (see rest of Rel 1A course for more historical detail). The maps on p 11 of your textbook is very helpful in this regard. Religions are unique as diverse cultures embody their convictions ethnocentrically but also share some common traits (counter-intuitive beings, myths, rituals, scriptures/oral traditions, holy places, etc), as humans globally share the same biological and mental make-up to make meaning of life (Krger et al 2009:12). The statistical spread of religions in SA is as follows: Christianity 67%, Hinduism 1.3%, Islam 1.1 %, Judaism 0.2%, other (including non-aligned people, agnostics, atheists, etc) 30%. In Christianity we see diversity as well (30% African Initiated Churches; 18 % Reformed; 11 % Catholics; 9% Methodists; 6% Anglicans; 4% Lutherans). We dont have something as a pure religion, but all are syncretistic to some degree. Historically they have mutually influenced each other (and still does) and therefore one can speak of families of religions. A brief history of the mainstream religions on SA soil is as follows: Christianity arrived with the Dutch in 1652, French Huguenots in 1688 and British settlers in 1820. From approximately 1800 - 1900 missionaries spread Christianity so that it was well established

by 1900 also among Africans, with the resultant waning of the latters religions. Something new emerged, however, a blend of African traditional religion and Christianity (African Initiated Churches) to form the majority core of Christians in SA today. Islam was settled in the Cape at 1658 within the context of the Dutch settlement, but suppressed. In 1804 the first mosque appeared in Cape Town, with Tuan Guru (1712 - 1807) an early pioneer. Indian labourers arriving in Natal from 1860 onwards gave Islam a new surge. Judaism roundabout 1804 Jews (from England, Germany and Holland) settled in the Cape, establishing their first synagogue in 1841. During the middle nineteenth century, with the discovery of diamonds and gold, many East European Jews arrived, partaking in the scramble for wealth and strengthened Judaism. In 1933 the orthodox and reformed Jews parted ways. Hinduism was introduced in 1860 onwards with the arrival of Indian labourers, both from the south of India (Tamil- and Telegu-speakers) and north (Hindispeakers). They erected their first temple in 1864 at Umzinto. By 1870 Hindus also spread to the then Transvaal. The famous pacifist Mahatma Gandhi, lived in SA from 1883 1903. Buddhism although there were a few earlier Buddhist travellers, this religion also entered with the Indian settlement in 1860. They grew until 1920, then declined and today are alive especially among white intellectuals (eg Theosophical Society). Secularisation Since the Industrial Revolution onwards secularisation also took a strong foothold in SA, rejecting the dominance of religion in society. The religious reactions to this was fundamentalism and Alternative Spirituality (see lecture units 4-6). World religious history follows the following contours (although time breaks are approximate and the linear development does not deem predecessors primitive): Religion I: Earliest forms - started with hominisation 2 million 200 000 years ago. Burial of child 100 000 years ago at Border Cave, northern Natal, implies integrating even death into a meaningful pattern (Krger et al 2009:18) and one of the earliest records of religion on earth, that is on SA soil! Religion II: hunter gatherer religions eg San-religion (see next lecture unit), where religion is interwoven with life. The Khoikhoi (herders) were culturally closely related to the San (hunter-gatherers) and are collectively referred to as Khoisan (Krger et al 2009:43). Religion III: religions of early food producers about 10000 years ago, egalitarian societies, presence of religious specialists (eg healers) offering gifts to divinities. Religion becomes a semi-separate institution and state religion starts to emerge. Religion IV: religions of early state societies and writing about 4000 BCE cities /states/empires arouse (Egypt, India, China, Central America), non-egalitarian, utilizing the just discovered art of writing (previous communities were oral). Well-being of

the state was very important and elites had their official religion (pace the superstitions of the commoners). Roots of Hinduism, Confucianism and Shinto lie here. Religion V: religions of written, systematized thought and voluntary membership about 1500 BCE (to about 700 CE), introduction of iron technology, extensive navigation, extensive writing and systematic thought; was called the axial age because of its historical importance. Religious and other important figures that arouse in this age were Zoroaster, Greek thinkers (Socrates and Plato), Moses and prophets like Isaiah (Judaism), Jesus, Paul (Christianity), Upanishadic thinkers in India (Hinduism), Gautama the Buddha (Buddhism), the prophet Mohammed (Islam), Lau Tzu (Taoism) and Confucius (Confucianism). Christianity, Islam and Buddhism arose and became world religions. Religion VI: modern religion in the technological age since the 15th century technology spread making the world global. Religion became a separate institution and pushed from its dominant position, secularisation became established. Religions are like families, some have similar origins, similar traits and intermarry. The following families can be identified: African religion (San, Nguni, Sotho, Shona and Yoruba). All believe in the power of life-forces inherent in nature. Indian religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism); reincarnation is an important belief. Religions of the Near East (Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Bahai); monotheism is a key shared concept. Religions of East Asia (Taoism and Confucianism in China, Shinto in Japan); display a remarkable aesthetic appreciation of beauty and harmony in nature. 2.3 Sources Textbook: Krger, JS, Lubbe GJA, Steyn, HC 2009. The Human Search for Meaning:

A Multireligion Introduction to the Religions of Humankind. 2nd Edition. Pretoria: Van Schaik. (Unit 2, p 10-22) Extra reading See text book for extra sources (p 29). 2.4 Self-assessment questions a) Give a statistical spread of the main religious traditions on SA soil b) Seeing that Christianity is the majority voice, its voice should carry far more weight than the other religious voices. Discuss this statement critically!


In a short essay, outline the brief history of the mainstream religions on SA soil. SA?

d) Do you regard this diversity as an asset or as a stumbling block towards the unity of

In a short essay, outline the religious history of humankind.

f) Write a paragraph on the different families of religions across the world.



3.1 a)
b) c) d)

Aims/Outcomes appreciate our own soil (SA) as the cradle of humankind and religion; briefly describe the San lifestyle, cosmology, values and religion; highlight the San healing dance as a true boundary experience; appreciate the universals (homoversals) between the ancient San and other mainstream religions

After the study of this section you should be able to:


Summary of contents

The first hints of religion on earth can be expected during the process of hominisation, between 2 million and 200 000 years ago. One of the earliest known signals of religion is about 100 000 years ago of the burial of a young child found at Border Cave in Northern KZN. Hear Krger et al (2009:18) on this discovery: The fact that the first sign of religion on earth thus far has been discovered in South Africa, certainly places South African religious history in a very long time perspective.

Moving on in time to about 10 000 25 000 years ago we find the San or Bushmen inhabiting most of Southern Africa (see especially evidence of their rock art and engravings). Today they number about 50 000 people living in the Kalahari desert, Botswana, Namibia and Angola and consisting of a number of tribes (subdivided into smaller bands) and many still practice their age hold lifestyle of hunting and gathering. Their concept of a supreme deity is fluid and not easily defined. The !Kung believe in a greater god, living in the eastern sky (where all the spirits of the dead go) who created all elements for human sustenance and can send both good and bad fortune. The lesser god

lives in the western sky and is linked to misfortune and evil, but can also be beneficial. There is also a trickster divinity called !Kaggen. Because of their harsh living conditions survival has forced them to practice infanticide (in the case of twins) and leaving old people to die in the wild. Death is accepted as a natural part of life. Their attitude to the environment is, as can be expected, that of respect and awe.

Their most important ritual is the medicine or healing dance, to restore meaning, balance, wholeness and connectedness, not only in regard to the sick person but to benefit the whole band, their environment and mediation with the divine other world (Krger 1995:316). The dance is a telling example of the function of religion, namely that of integrating and transcending, a boundary or liminal experience. The symbol of the circle (women in the centre clapping hands, dancers dancing in a circular furrow, the circular extension of the fire light, etc), emphasizes centring integration and peripheral expansion (Krger 1995:318). The dance takes place at night, usually during full moon, and continues throughout the night. After prolonged rhythmic clapping, stamping feet and rattles and singing of medicine songs, n/um (power or energy, similar to electricity) is activated. The dancers, men and women, and usually also including shamans, experience a boiling sensation in the pit of the stomach, spreading along the spinal column. Their bodies start to shake violently, they stagger and fall and enter an altered state of consciousness (ASC - trance), called !Kia by the !Kung. During this state they see fascinating entopic images (generated by the brain and culturally informed), go on soul flights into the divine realm where they negotiate for rain, hunting success, health, etc. During these trances the sick are touched and the bad spirit(s) or energy extracted to be hurled outside the fire light for !Kaggen or other spirits to ged rid of these evil forces. There is no strict dichotomy between the ordinary and the extraordinary, the mundane and the divine the boundary is permeable and easily crossed. After the exhausting dance and trance experience and back into normal consciousness again, dancers feel rejuvenated, have new insights and sometimes even adopt a new change of lifestyle. And the remarkable is that these mystic experiences are homoversal: Like forms of Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Islamic or Bahai mysticism, it (Bushman religion my insertion) culminates in an experience of all-inclusive community of being (Krger 1995:323).





Krger, JS, Lubbe GJA, Steyn, HC 2009. The Human Search for Meaning:

A Multireligion Introduction to the Religions of Humankind. 2nd Edition. Pretoria: Van Schaik. (Unit 1, p 17-18; Unit 5, p 43-45) Krger, JS 1995. Along Edges: Religion in South Africa - Bushmen, Christian, Buddhist. Pretoria: Unisa. (ch 19 will be made available by lecturer)

Extra reading See text book for extra sources (p 59). 3.4 Self-assessment questions

a) Write a paragraph on the earliest clear signal of religion on earth.


Describe in a paragraph the Sans pantheon of divinities and spirits.

c) Write a short essay in which you highlight the choreography of the healing dance d) Write a short essay on the meaning of the healing dance as a typical (religious) boundary experience e) Highlight in a paragraph the homoversal element (s) between Bushmen religion and other mainstream religions



4.1 Aims/Outcomes After the study of this section you should be able to: a) define in a preliminary way the opposite phenomenon of religion, namely secularism (see next unit); b) appreciate the early roots of secularism through the contributions of prominent thinkers of the past (Marx, Freud, Weber and Durkheim), in the exposing of the weaknesses of traditional religion.



Summary of contents

Although the secularisation theory will receive more attention in the following unit, its terminology needs some highlighting here already: Secular - opposed to regular (under the monastic/ecclesiastical orders) and concerned with worldly affairs. Secularisation the conversion of an ecclesiastical/religious institution or property for secular use. Secularism the discarding of religious beliefs in the private sphere.

The early roots of secular thought can be traced to Karl Marx (1818-1883) who was strongly influenced by Ludwig Feuerbach who taught that God did not create humans but humans created God in their own image to live up to. Marx followed suit and said religion is an illusion because man makes religion, religion does not make man and it becomes the opium of the people to compensate for severe living conditions. The proletariat (work classes) is instrumental in overthrowing the bourgeoisie (middle class) who uses religion to oppress the former by teaching them to have self-contempt and be self-abased. Only through communism can the workers grow to their full potential and relieve their dire lives.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was against the religion of his time, the patriarchal monotheistic type. He regarded religion as wish-fulfilment, born in the depths of our psyches. He rejected the oceanic feeling (religion often so described) as infancy and relying on totemism developed his so-called Oedipus-complex (see textbook for short summary) as explanation for religion. Sons hated (and admired) their fathers (= god) and desired their mothers. In order to attain the latter they had to kill the father but this led to guilt. In order to compensate for the latter they replaced the father figure with god, living before him in guilt, and socially organised themselves so that the women of their own clan (family) could not become their wives. This understandably led to neuroses, the mark of being religious, namely mentally ill. Instead of religion Freud offered psychoanalysis, where these primal wishes are confronted, addressed and put to rest Where id is let ego be (Krger et al 2009:275). Psychoanalysis became an alternative religion.


Max Weber (1864-1920), one of the founders of Sociology (and also of the social-scientific study of religion), became famous for his essay The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. A strong work ethic as in Protestantism led to capitalism and to prosper means to be blessed. However, Weber believed that Protestantism carried with it the seeds of secularisation because it promoted the rational pursuit of prosperity by giving it a moral meaning (Krger et al 2009:277). Instead of mystical and sacral otherworldly explanations of reality, reason becomes the sole explanatory medium and religion will diminish. The latter was a sad but inevitable prospect for a believer like Weber.

Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) saw religion as binding society together as a kind of cement, because it gave people a feeling of community and belonging. Even if religion were not true, which was Durkheims conviction as an atheist, he was convinced that religion would always be present as long as people live in societies, the latter needs religion even if it changes form in the course of history.

4.3 Sources Textbook: Krger, JS, Lubbe GJA, Steyn, HC 2009. The Human Search for Meaning: A Multireligion Introduction to the Religions of Humankind. 2nd Edition. Pretoria: Van Schaik. (Unit 22, p 269-278)

Extra reading See text book for extra sources (pp 304-6).

4.4 a)

Self-assessment questions Briefly highlight the terms secular, secularisation and secularism Describe Marxs view on the role of the state in using religion to oppress the workers. How in Marxs view, can humans attain real happiness? What do you make of the massive revival of religion in former communist countries? Write a short essay in which you highlight Freuds ideas on the origin of religion Can psychotherapy replace religion? What according to Max Weber, is the main source of secularisation?

c) d) e) f) g)


Explain Durkheims thought on the function of religion.

5.1 Aims/Outcomes


After the study of this section you should be able to:


appreciate the different views on secularisation of Brian Wilson, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, Rodney Stark and William S Bainbridge;

b) highlight the confusion-solving views of Jose Casanova in the secularisation debate.


Summary of contents

Brian Wilson became known for the classic secularisation thesis through his 1966 book Religion in secular society. He points out the loss of the social significance of religious thinking, practice and institutions especially in Western countries like the UK and USA, and acknowledges Webers views on the Protestant ethic. Religion is not only disappearing from public life but also on individual level, in spite of the upsurge of popular religious movements who mainly seek wellbeing here and now. He (rightly) doubts the USA statistics who exaggerates the religiosity of this country in comparison to Europe. More denominations weaken religious authority and ecumenicalism is according to him a sign of weakness. Peter Berger in the early 1970s similarly pointed out the decline of the domination of religious institutions, especially in the West but that would spread worldwide. He saw the decline objectively or socio-structurally (its disappearance in the arts, philosophy, literature and science) and subjectively/conceptually where people no longer coloured their views by religious interpretations. Secular ideas like that of Marx and Freud are correct but ideas alone cannot survive and needs socio-structural backing like the modern economy, technology and industrialisation. When this happens religion gets a foothold mainly in the political and private spheres of life. Thomas Luckmann followed Berger: Religion surfacing in the most divergent places: in the home, the family, and communes, and in

attitudes towards things like sex, family and careers (Krger et al 2009:281, 282), becoming avenues for experiencing ultimate meaning (i.e. religion; see again lecture unit 1) and which he refers to as invisible religion. This emphasises modern individuals autonomy and private identity towards self-expression and self-realisation Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge objected to the secularisation theory and used social exchange theory to refute it. They argue for religious economies similar as When commercial ones where people will attempt to gain rewards and avoid costs.

rewards cannot be proved empirically (eg afterlife) people use compensators instead (eg experience the good of here and now as the beginning of afterlife). Religion is a system of general compensators based on supernatural assumptions and are here to stay (Stark & Bainbridge quoted in Krger et al 2009:283). In the 1990s Peter Berger made a change of heart admitting that in spite of opposite predictions the world is furiously religious. He pointed out that where conservative and orthodox religions resisted modernisation they flourished (eg Islam), while those that adapted (eg mainline Protestantism) are declining. In times of change people look for certainty which they find in the old unchanging religions. analyses on secularisation were not that sound and confuse. At this point of confusion Jose Casanova (1994 Public religion in the modern world) provides some helpful answers, without rejecting secularisation as differentiation and emancipation altogether. To explain the growth of both public (eg Iranian Revolution) and alternative movements of religion (eg New Age) in spite of opposite predictions, he deliberates on three theories of secularisation, namely secularisation as differentiation, as decline of religion and as privatisation. Only the first seems to be sound. In pre-modern Europe Western Christendom held a dualist view on this world and the other world (heaven), which the church mediated, as well as a dualist view of this world itself (secular and religious). The whole sociostructural system was religious, everybody belonged to the church which does not guarantee morality ipso facto. Four events destroyed this and contributed to differentiation and secularisation: the Protestant Reformation, the formation of the modern state, the growth of capitalism and early modern scientific revolution. The presence of different degrees of Catholicism, Protestantism and different kinds of state formation therefore explain the differences of secularisation in different parts of the world. Moving on to the second theory of secularisation, namely the decline of religion Casanova

It seems that sociologists

points out why this has happened in Europe and not in the USA. Europe always had absolute or state churches which kept the official religion intact while the USA had no such a state formation. Here people had free choices in terms of religion, and if the state secularised it did not directly affect denominations and sects. The latest tendency, however, is that religion in the USA is also declining as in Europe. On the theory of secularisation as privatisation of religion, Casanova points out that religion still has a very public face, as if a process of de-privatisation is happening. 5.3 Sources Krger, JS, Lubbe GJA, Steyn, HC 2009. The Human Search for Meaning:


A Multireligion Introduction to the Religions of Humankind. 2nd Edition. Pretoria: Van Schaik. (Unit 23, p 279-289) Extra reading See text book for extra sources (pp 304-6). 5.4 a) b) c) d) e) f) g) Self-assessment questions Briefly describe the classic thesis of secularisation (Wilson) Describe Bergers views on the objective and subjective dimensions of secularisation Write a paragraph on invisible religion (Luckmann) Do you agree that sex, family life and a career can provide alternative avenues to ultimate experiences or self-transcendence (i.e religion)? Write a short essay on Stark and Bainbridges view of religious economies. Why did Berger make a change of heart? Elaborate in a paragraph Explain in a paragraph each Casanovas views on the following three theories of secularisation: 1) secularisation as differentiation 2) secularisation as decline of religion 3) secularisation as privatisation






After the study of this section you should be able to: a) describe atheism as a consequence of secularism; b) describe fundamentalism as a religious reaction to modern secularism; c) highlight Alternative Spirituality as an answer to modern spiritual bankruptcy.


Summary of contents

Atheism and agnosticism can be seen as consequences of the secularisation process, and Christian fundamentalism and Alternative Spirituality as reactions against secularisation (Krger et al 2009:290). In 2007 it was statistically estimated that 11.7% of the world population were non-religious and 2.3% atheists. Different countries obviously have different profiles if one compares the more secular Sweden with the more religious USA (SA more or less the same). In 2001 15% of SA indicated that they are non-religious which does not necessarily imply atheism. Atheism is very old (see Carvaka School of Hinduism in India 600 BCE and ancient Greek thinkers like Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Democritus) where people opt for a naturalistic explanation of life. In the 17/18th century prominent atheists like Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche came to the fore. Atheists can be categorised as either weak (eg agnosticism) or strong, dogmatic atheism (eg Richard Dawkins see his 2007 book The God Delusion). Some regard atheists as negative per se with a very pessimistic outlook in life which is obviously not necessarily true. Positive atheists find delight in naturalism, realism and rationality. Atheism certainly does not automatically imply immorality as many find moral meaning in humanism. An interesting movement accommodating atheist thought (and skeptic, agnostic, etc) is the Bright movement ( who are committed to a naturalistic world-view. Fundamentalists are well-known in especially Christian and Muslim circles where adherents often incline to fanaticism. The focus here is on Christian fundamentalism

which has its historical roots in the USA in 1910 when a pamphlet The Fundamentals saw the light as a reaction to modernism and liberal trends in mainstream churches. Fundamentals comprise that Jesus is God, acceptance of his virgin birth, his atonement for sins, physical resurrection and his coming again in the flesh. Furthermore the Trinity is emphasized, the existence of Satan, eternal life, etc. Evangelism, divine healing, speaking in tongues, etc, are part and parcel hereof. A definition of fundamentalism is: the view that the Bible is the only and infallible Word of God, thereby meaning that it is without error and should be interpreted literally (Krger et al 2009:298). There are semifundamentalists who do regard some parts of the Bible as only metaphorical but do adhere to the core of the faith articles (eg Billy Graham). Well-known in these circles in the USA are Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robinson and many other televangelists. On own soil the Rhema Church and the Hatfield Christian Church can be so typified. Many people today have an appreciation for spirituality but not necessarily within and as part of traditional religions. Whereas New Age was the umbrella term for diverse movements since the 1960s and 1970s in their reaction to modern spiritual bankruptcy and disillusionment with traditional religion, this term has fallen in disuse and Alternative Spirituality has replaced it. Examples of these movements are Hara Krishna, Moonies, TM, Scientology, etc. Although diverse shared characteristics are: life-spiritualities (see Paul Heelas realising a persons inner, true life which is spiritual), holism (everything and everybody is one), cosmology (cosmos is a manifestation of God and evolving towards perfection), God concept (pantheism [God is all and all is God], panentheism [God is in all and all is in God]), anthropology (monism, humans are created in Gods image and part of God like a drop in the ocean), epistemology (subjective inner experience, opposed to formal and fixed doctrines), methods of personal transformation (meditation, astrology, crystals, channelling [messages from another world], tarot cards, etc). Krger et al (2009:304) concludes: The strong emphasis on the love of God and ones neighbour suggests a return to traditional values (albeit in the guise of new organisations) and that the process of secularisation is not as thorough as some scholars believe. 6.3 Sources Krger, JS, Lubbe GJA, Steyn, HC 2009. The Human Search for Meaning:


A Multireligion Introduction to the Religions of Humankind. 2nd Edition. Pretoria: Van Schaik. (Unit 24, p 291-304)

Extra reading See text book for extra sources (pp 304-6). 6.4 a) b) c) d) e) f)

Self assessment questions Write a short essay on atheism Describe in a paragraph the roots of fundamentalism. Write a short essay on the fundamentals themselves as well as accompanying principles Is fundamentalism something to be embraced or rejected? Discuss critically. Write a paragraph on fundamentalistic groups on own soil Write a short essay on the historical background of Alternative Spirituality and identify some of the most prominent groups Write a full essay on the shared characteristics of the Alternative Spirituality movement. Do you think Alternative Spirituality is good or bad? Substantiate your answer with critical argumentation.








7.1 Aims/Outcomes

After the study of this section you should be able to: a) b) 7.2 make an informed decision on the film Brideshead Revisited as to its worth as cinematographic art; judge the films view(s) on the meaning of religion. Summary of contents

The film Brideshead Revisited is based on the 1945 novel of Evelyn Waugh. A TV series was made hereof in the UK in the early 1980s. It was reinvented as a film in 2008 through the efforts of screenplay writer Jeremy Brock and director Julian Jarrold. The beautiful Castle Howard, an estate in Yorkshire, served as the location for Brideshead, the home of the aristocratic Flyte family.

A few excerpts from Filmfinesse (Vol 46, Spring 2008:5) will suffice to bring us into the storyline of the film: Commenting on the earlier TV series Jarrold says: What most people remember is a nostalgia trip about the passing of English life in a bygone era, a glorification of aristocracy, with pretty people wearing odd clothes and poncing around Oxford. Wishaw). In the film The story has shifted focus from the ambiguous but passionate The film focuses on Ryders complex adulterous passion for Julia (Anna relationship between Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode) and the wilful Sebastiaan Flyte (Ben Madeley) as the central relationship. It also expands the roles of Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson), the powerful Brideshead matriarch whose religious fervour redefines the lives of all her children. As much as it is a story about a lost period of English history a final shining moment before everything changed forever Brideshead Revisited is also about the inexorable pull of Roman Catholicism. In that tug between individual freedom and fundamentalist religion, this is a story thats apposite for our time, Jeremy Brock explains. In the modern age thats something were all dealing with.

We all know the saying the proof of the pudding lies in the eating.

One can only

comment on a book after you have read it and likewise a film after you have seen it. Students will be expected to see the film to make informed judgements on its thrust, especially about religion.



Jarrold, J (Director) 2008. Brideshead Revisited (Motion Picture). USA Film Feature - Brideshead Revisited (Spring) 2008. Filmfinesse 46, 5.

7.4 a)

Self-assessment questions Write an essay on what you deem to be the judgement on the worth of religion in the film Brideshead Revisited.