reading log 14

                Chapter 15 of Anatomy of the Sacred talks about aspects of contemporary culture that have effects on religious life. Two of the most crucial aspects are the changing status of women in modern societies and the increasing role of civil authority on social institutions.

                In most religions, the status of women has been considered inferior and many activities have been prohibited. In Hinduism, it was said that women must never be independent, but in some upper-class castes women were honored for strictly following their dharma.

                In Buddhism, there is more of a distinction between monastics and layperson that between men and women. Siddhartha Gautama initially resisted the establishment of women’s samghas, but he eventually instituted one when he recognized that women were as capable as men of reaching high levels of spiritual insight.

                Recently, Christian biblical sources have revealed that women are neither derivative of man nor subordinate to him. Traditional readings of Adam and Eve depict women as derivative and inferior to man. It also says that women were to be punished for succumbing to temptation with the pain of child birth and being subordinate to man.

                In Muhammad’s time, women were allowed to own businesses, attend mosque, take part in services on feast days, and speak out and give opinions about his comments. Muhammad did, however, adopt practices such as seclusion of women and polygamy.

                Throughout history, religion and politics have coexisted in uneasy relationships. Religions are often suspicious of the state because of the allegiance that they demand that conflicts with religious values. There are several types of relationships between religion and state. Some of the different types of relationships are theocracy, the state church, two kingdoms, and separatism.


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