Archives For Religion


Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

“Asgard”Old Norse Asgardr, In Norse MYTHOLOGY, the dwelling place of the gods. Legend divided Asgard into 12 or ore realms, including VALHALLA, the home of ODIN and the abode of heroes slain in earthly battle; Thrudheim, the realm of THOR; and Breidablik, the home of BALDER. Each important god had his own palace in Asgard, and many Germanic peoples believed that these mansions were similar in design to those of their own nobility. Asgard could be reached from earth only by the bridge Bifrost (the rainbow). See also GERMANIC RELIGION.

Asgard

(Comeback on 2/01/15 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn more about “Abu Al-Hasan Al-Ash’ Ari”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

“Aseret Yeme Teshuva”English Ten Days of Penitence, the first 10 days of the Jewish religious year, i.e., the 1st through the 10th of the month of Tishrè.

Other representations show him holding in one hand a phial, and in the other a staff. Sometimes a boy is depicted standing by his side – He is the genius of recovery, and is called Telesphorus, Euamerion or Acesius.

(Comeback on 1/31/15 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn more about “Asgard”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

“Asclepius”Greek Asklepios, Latin Aesculapius Greco-Roman god of medicine, son of APOLLO and the NYMPH Coronis. CHIRON the CENTAUR taught him the art of healing. At length ZEUS, afraid that Asclepius might render all men immortal, slew him with a thunderbolt. Homer, in the Iliad, mentions him only as a skillful physician; in later times, however, he was honored as a hero and eventually worshiped as a god. Because it was supposed that Asclepius effected cures of the sick in dreams, the practice of sleeping in his temples became common.

Asclepius’ usual attribute was a staff with a serpent coiled around it. A similar but unrelated emblem, the CADUCEUS, with its winged staff and intertwined serpents, is frequently used as a medical emblem but represents the staff of HERMES.

Other representations show him holding in one hand a phial, and in the other a staff. Sometimes a boy is depicted standing by his side – He is the genius of recovery, and is called Telesphorus, Euamerion or Acesius.

(Comeback on 1/30/15 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn more about “Aseret Yeme Teshuva”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

“Asceticism”, the practice of the dental of physical or psychological desires in order to attain a spiritual ideal or goal.

Originally a concept referring to physical proficiency, Greek askess (literally, “exercise,” “training,” from the verb askeo, “I prepare, fashion, practise, exercise”) and its derivatives came to be applied to mental, moral, and spiritual abilities. Among the Greeks the notion of intellectual training was applied to the realm of ethics in the ideal of the sage who is able to act freely to choose or refuse a desired object or an act of physical pleasure. This kind of askesis, involving training the will against a life of sensual pleasure, was exemplified by the Stoics (ancient Greek philosophers who advocated the control of the emotions by reason). The view that one ought to deny one’s lower desires—understood to be the sensuous, or bodily desires—in contrast with one’s spiritual desires that were considered to be virtuous aspirations, became a central principle in ethical thought, particularly evident in the work of Plato and the Neoplatonic philosophers.

The value of asceticism in strengthening an individual’s mental and physical discipline has been a part of many religions and philosophies throughout history. Many factors were operative in the rise and cultivation of religious asceticism: the fear of hostile influences from DEMONS; the view that one must be in a state of ritual purity in order to enter into communion with the divine; the desire to invite the attention of sacred beings to the self-denial being practiced by their suppliants; the idea of earning pity, compassion, and salvation by merit using self-inflicted acts of ascetical practices; the sense of guilt and SIN that prompts the need for ATONEMENT the view that asceticism is a means to gain access to supernatural powers; and the power dualistic concepts that have been at the source of efforts to free the spiritual part of humanity from the defilement of the body. Among HINDUISM, BUDDHISM, and CHRISTIANITY, there is a further conceptualization of earthly life as transitory, which prompts a desire to anchor one’s hope in liberation from the suffering of such life.

Abstinence and fasting are by far the most common of all ascetic practices, though CELIBACY has been regarded as the first commandment in all strictly ascetic movements. Other common practices include abdication of worldly goods, neglect of personal hygiene, the reduction of movement, and the deliberate inducement of pain. Pain Producing asceticism has appeared in many forms, including exhausting or painful exercises, self-laceration, particularly castration, and FLAGELLATION, which developed into a mass movement in Italy and Germany during the Middle Ages and is still practiced by some local Christian and Islamic sects.

Asceticism in the form of seclusion, physical  discipline, and the quality and quantity of food prescribed has played an important role in connection with the puberty rites and rituals of admission to the tribal community. Isolation was and is practiced by the young men about to achieve the status of manhood in the Blackfoot and other Native American tribes of the north-western United States. On important occasions, such as funerals and war, TABOOS involving abstinence from certain food and cohabitation were imposed. For the priests and chiefs these taboos were much stricter.

In India, in the late Vedic period (c. 1500 BCE-c. 200 BCE), the ascetic use of TAPAS (“heat,” or austerity) became associated with meditation and YOGA, inspired by the idea that tapas brings enlightenment. This view of tapas gained in importance among the Yogas and the Jainas. According to JAINISM, liberation becomes possible only when all passions have been exterminated. In Jainism and Buddhism a monastic system evolved, with monks and nuns devoted to rigorous asceticism in the quest of perfection and in the pursuit of chastity and truthfulness. Complete detachment from all possession and connections in Jainism made paramount the MENDICANT life of mediation and spiritual exercises dependent upon the fulfillment of vows of poverty.

In Christianity all of the types of asceticism have found realization. Abstinence, fasts, and vigils were common in the lives of the early Christians, but some ramifications of developing Christianity became radically ascetic. During the first centuries ascetics stayed in their communities, assumed their role in the life of the church, and centered their asceticism on martyrdom and celibacy. Though asceticism was rejected by the leaders of the Protestant REFORMATION, certain forms of asceticism and emerge in CALVINISM, PURITANISM, PIETISM, early METHODISM, and the OXFORD MOVEMENT. Related to asceticism is the Protestant work ethic, which consists of a radical requirement of accomplishment symbolized in achievement in one’s profession and, at the same time, demanding strict renunciation of the enjoyment of material gains acquired legitimately.

The adherents of early ISLAM knew only fasting, which was obligatory in the month of RAMADAN. MONASTICISM is rejected in the QUR’AN. Nonetheless, ascetic forces among Christians in Syria and Mesopotamia were assimilated by Islam in the ascetic movement known as ZUHD (self-denial) and later in that of SUFISM, which incorporated ascetic ideals and methods.

Asceticism

(Comeback on 1/29/15 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn more about “Asclepius”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

“Ascension”, in Christian belief, the scent of JESUS CHRIST into heaven on the 40th day after his RESURRECTION. In the first chapter of THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, after appearing to the Apostles on various occasions during a period of 40 days, Jesus was taken up in their presence and was then hidden form them by a cloud, a frequent biblical image signifying the presence of God. Although the Ascension is alluded to in other books of the NEW TESTAMENT, the emphasis and the imagery differ. In The Gospel According to John, the glorification described by the Ascension story seems to have taken place immediately after the Resurrection.

The meaning of the Ascension for Christians is derived from their belief in the glorification and exaltation of Jesus following his death and Resurrection. The Ascension indicates a new relationship between Jesus and his Father and between him and his followers, rather than a simple physical relocation from earth to heaven. The Ascension of Jesus is mentioned both in the Apostles’ Creed, a Western profession of faith used for BAPTISM in the early church, and in the NICENE CREED. The feast of the Ascension ranks with CHRISTMAS, EASTER, and PENTECOST in the universality of the observance among Christians. The feast has been celebrated 40 days after Easter in both Eastern and Western CHRISTIANITY since the 4th century.

A distinctive feature of the feast’s liturgy in the Western churches is the extinguishing of the Paschal candle after the Gospel has been read, as a symbol of Christ’s leaving the earth. Despite the suggestion of separation indicated in this act, the whole liturgy of Ascensiontide, through the 10 days to Pentecost, is marked by joy in the final triumph of the risen Lord. One of the central themes of the feast is the kingship of Christ, and the implication that the Ascension was the final redemptive act conferring participation in the divine life on all who are members of Christ.

In the Middle Ages various ritual practices that came to be associated with the feast included a PROCESSION, in imitation of Christ’s journey with his Apostles to the Mount of Olives, as well as the raising of a crucifix or a statue of the risen Christ through an opening in the church roof.

The view of the Ascension presented by Christian art has varied. In a 5th-century painting, Christ is seen climbing a hill and grasping the hand of God, that is, God is pulling Christ into heaven. A version of the Ascension developed in Syria in the 6th century emphasizes Christ’s divinity, showing him frontally, standing immobile in a mandorla, or almond-shaped aureole, elevated above the earth and supported by ANGELS. He holds a scroll and makes a gesture of BENEDICTION. This type of Ascension, which follows the Roman tradition of representing the APOTHEOSIS of an emperor, often figured prominently in the monumental decoration of Byzantine churches. By the 11th century, the West had also adopted a frontal representation. In the Western version, however, the humanity of Christ is emphasized: he extends his hands on either side, showing his wounds. He is usually in a mandorla but is not always supported or even surrounded by angels; thus, he ascends to heaven by his own power. The Ascension remained important as a devotional subject in the art of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, both of which retained the ICONOGRAPHY of Christ displaying his wounds.

Ascension of Jesus

(Comeback on 1/28/15 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn more about “Asceticism”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

“Ascanius”, in Roman legend, son of the hero AENEAS and founder of Alba Longa, near Rome. In different versions, Ascanius is placed variously in time. Those set earlier cite the Trojan Creusa as his mother. After the fall of Troy, Ascanius and Aeneas escaped to Italy, where Aeneas founded Lavinium, the parent city of Alba Longa and Rome. Ascanius became king of Lavinium after his father’s death. Thirty years after Lavinium was built, Ascanius founded Alba Longa and ruled it until he died. In the Roman historian Livy’s account, however, Ascanius was born to Aeneas and Lavinia after the founding of Lavinium. Ascanius was also called Iulus, and the gens Julia (including the family of Julius Caesar) traced its descent from him.

 

Aeneas carrying Anchises, with Ascanius and his wife, red-figure amphora from a Greek workshop in Etruria, ca. 470 BC, Staatliche Antikensammlungen

(Comeback on 1/27/15 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn more about “Ascension”.

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Taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions

Here is a dose of daily religion from A to Z.

Today’s religious topic is as follows:

“Asanga”, (fl. 4th-5th century CE, b. Purusapura, India), an influential Buddhist philosopher who is often recognized as the founder of the YOGACARA school of idealism.

Asanga was the eldest of three brothers, the sons of a BRAHMIN court priest at Purusapura, all of whom became monks in the SARVASTIVADA order. Dissatisfied with the Sarvastivada doctrinal concepts of sunyata (“EMPTINESS”.)

and pudgala (“person”), he turned to the MAHAYANA tradition for which he developed a new interpretation. Asanga and the Yogacara school that he initiated held that the external world exists only as mental images that have no real permanence. A “storehouse” of consciousness (the alayavijnana) contains the trace impressions of the past and the potentialities of future actions. Asanga’s great contribution was his analysis of the alaya-vijnana and setting forth of the stages (bhumi) leading to Buddhahood. Among his important works is the Mahayana-samgraha (“Compendium of the Mahayana”).

Asanga

(Comeback on 1/26/15 and continue to learn about religion. Tomorrow you’ll read and learn more about “Ascanius”.

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