Myths, Rituals, and Cosmos

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In this class, we will first think about myths and rituals from the perspective of the comparative study of religion. We will explore the symbolism of sacred time and space, rubrics by which how various religious communities have conceptualized the cosmos. From there, our focus will shift to notions and practices regarding purity and pollution.

*In the first and second lectures, we will think about possible definitions and important functions of myths and rituals, identifying their major types. Students will be able to see that the meanings of religious symbols are most effectively conveyed through myth and ritual. In the third and fourth lectures, we will discuss how religious human beings symbolically understand time and space – namely, the cosmos. We will think over why and how people distinguish certain times and spaces, establish order within them, and imbue them with meaning. In the fifth lecture, we will examine the issue of purity and pollution. We will see that purity is the requisite condition or necessary quality of each realm produced by people’s interpretations of the world and their own place in it. * This course is the second in a series that begins with the course “Understanding Religious Symbolism.” The final course, “Religious Symbols of the World,” follows. The first two courses, “Understanding Religious Symbolism” and “Myths, Rituals, and Cosmos,” pay more attention to the theoretical understanding of religion and symbolism. In the third course, “Religious Symbols of the World,” students will have a chance to see many vivid examples of religious symbols from various cultures.