Religions of the World
Religions of the world must be studied subjectively, or with the attitude of pluralism, the view that they are all equal. A number of methods are used to study religions. The most common is the historical comparative method in which a certain faith's history and traditions are deliberated. This method focuses on orthodoxy, meaning "correct thought." Another method is the phenomenological method. This method, unlike the historical comparative method, is centered on orthopraxy, or "correct practice."
Other less common methods involve subjective modes of study such as the confessional method of study, which interprets a religion based on a particular point of view, and the empathetic approach, which is based on putting oneself in the place of the participant of a particular religion.
All of the worlds religions can be labeled as being either exclusive or non-exclusive based on how false a certain religion regards other religions. Most often exclusive religions are monotheistic and occidental, while non-exclusive religions are polytheistic and oriental. Religions are also either ethnic or universalizing. Ethnic religions can either be simple (based on place or kinship groups), compound (tied to nationality, ethnicity or state), or complex (ethnicity and religion are inseparable). Universalizing religions are classified by how open the religion is to accepting outsiders.
The study between geography and religion is to determine the effects that the two have on one another. The physical environment has a history of religious events dating back to biblical times. For instance, mountains have been associated with the talking to God. Mount Sanai was the place where God spoke to Moses and the Jews. Another example is the Mount of Olives was the place where Jesus ascended into heaven and where he is supposed to return. Rocks also possess religious references. Easter Island and Stonehenge, for example, hold religious significance of ethnic religions of the past. The Kotel, or the Wailing Wall, in Jerusalem is a more modern example, being the last standing part of the second temple. Other examples of physical geography in religion are trees, which were used to create totems, and rivers, such as the Nile, which was sacred in the ancient Egyptian religion and the Ganges, which is still sacred today to the Hindus. Water is used as a means of purification in Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The desert is also and example. It is often considered to be a means of spiritual refinement.
The ecology of religion is of great importance. The processes of nature become ritualized in attempt to change the processes or powers behind them. Simple ethnic religions, especially, are built around cycles of nature as fertility rituals. The more complex the religion becomes, the more complex the type of ritual practiced becomes.
When Christianity began, it practiced many of the values from the Mediterranean...