• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"Comparative Religion: Whither and Why?" Wilfred Cantwell Smith.

Extracts from this document...


Mandie Samuels January 29, 2004 In "Comparative Religion: Whither and Why?" Wilfred Cantwell Smith defines religion by stating "All religions are new religions, every morning. For religions do not exist up in the sky somewhere, elaborate, finished and static: they exist in men's hearts." By defining religion in this way he argues that in order to study religion one must become a member of the religion, which, taken to the extreme, means a scholar must personalize the religion, thus becoming only concerned with the internals of the religion. With these extreme ideas it seems Smith is moving away from achieving his ultimate goal of an inter-religious dialogue that draws the religious community together. Yet upon further analysis of Smith's ideas and theories one realizes that they are not radical, but realistic and provide a good outline for how one should study religion. These new philosophies also make an inter-religious dialogue where the different religions converse and learn from each other very practical. Throughout his essay Smith makes some very strong points that suggest how religion should be studied. ...read more.


In addition, taken literally, Smith minimizes the importance of studying the external parts such as documents and practices of the believers. By doing this Smith indirectly suggests that past studies of religion are of no use now since the scholars never tried to reach a personalization with the religion. He is also indirectly suggesting that one cannot study extinct religions since one cannot reach the heart of the religion. More importantly if Smith's philosophies are taken to the extreme he is actually moving away from his goal of all religions coming together to have an inter-religious dialogue where each member of each religion discuss and share in the glory of God (Smith, 48). This is mainly because if personalization is stressed too heavily members of each group will be too closed minded to open up to other religions. Furthermore they might not be able to be sensitive to the other people's religions since they are so immersed in their own ideas. Yet more importantly if personalization is taken to the extreme a member or scholar of a certain religion may become only intelligible to a person in that religion and unintelligible to people outside that religion. ...read more.


Since the idea that understanding the heart of religion needs to be accompanied by external facts to purely understand a religion, it would seem more likely for a person to be more open minded about understanding new religions. If the person knew the history of his or her religion he or she may know how the other religion affected his or her religion thus equipping them to better understand the other religion. Moreover since they wouldn't be so deeply involved in their personal religion they could make intelligent statements that outsiders could understand as well as people of their religious faith, which is what Smith says needs to occur in order for an inter-religious dialogue to be bring a community together. At first glance Smith seems radical and unrealistic making such claims that discredit the study of religion all together. At first glance it seems his philosophies are trying to separate the religious community from each other. However like most ideas and philosophies it is necessary to step back and reevaluate again. Once this is done Smith's philosophies become a plausible and realistic methodology for drawing the religious community together. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Anthropology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Anthropology essays

  1. Durkheim on religion. In his text Elementary Forms of Religious Life Durkheim begins his ...

    [DP2]Again, this is trite. [DP3]This is very vague. What are the basics of religion? Do you mean that he attempted to theorize about the origins of religion? How does Durkheim's work explicitly relate to "modern society"? [DP4]Be precise in your thinking and your writing.

  2. The American Religion: consumerism

    As Americans we have grown up in an ideal of freedom of religion and have been made to believe that all religious beliefs are equally as valuable to the believer of that religion. This simply is not true though. The fact of the matter is that in US culture there

  1. Is there such a thing as 'black' religion in Brazil

    He classifies Neo-African Cults: Dahomean, Candombl�, Xang� and Par�; African-Derived Cults: Spirit Cult, Yoruban-derived and Macoumba; the Spiritualist Cult: Umbanda; and the Independent Cult: Batuque. All are found in Brazil, whether widespread or specific to one area. For example, Umbanda is practised all over Brazil but more in urban areas, but the Candombl� is found mostly in Bahia.

  2. Manipulating the Personal Journeys of Identity: Westernization and the Ottoman and Republican understandings of ...

    This example also refers to the fact that the household has served as a place for the continuation of a certain form of individual identities and human relations. The cultural 13 perspectives on certain issues can be traced through the private domain within each culture whose authority in relation with

  1. Giving examples of established and new religions, discuss what you deem to be core ...

    The problem with examining the religious beliefs of Japan is that the reader must redefine their predominantly Western monotheistic ideology of what it means to be 'religious' or to have 'faith.' It is only once the Westernisation of the concept has been removed that it is possible to view a country where religion has such great influence over daily life.

  2. Celebrity(ce-leb-ri-ty): 1.A famous person. 2.Renown;fame.

    Now in the earlier times, Royals, Generals, and anybody else that had to do with changing the course of history of the country were crowded around on the streets and gossiped around the pubs and markets in early Britain. It came later that members of society that didn't fall into royalty of war became celebrities.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work