Religion 101

When encountering Hinduism for the first time, Westerners (including many of the students in my community college Eastern religions classes) find themselves faced with a major world faith which in many ways differs drastically from the major Western faiths with which most of them are familiar. For one thing, unlike Judaism or Christianity or Islam…

The community college classes I teach on Eastern religions begin each semester with a unit on Hinduism. Right away, most of my students find themselves in a very strange and unfamiliar new religious world altogether. Indeed, many Western newcomers to the study of the religions of the East often experience a somewhat disorienting bit of…

At sunset yesterday (February 23, 2013), Jews worldwide began observing one of Judaism’s most joyous and celebratory annual holidays (or “holy days”): Purim, or the Feast of Lots. Purim runs throughout the following day (today), before concluding at nightfall this evening (February 24). I’ve written a special article all about Purim, featured elsewhere on Beliefnet (click here to read…

Finally, what about something like religious sacrificial offerings? The practice is common enough among indigenous religions; but what role, if any, might such a practice play within major religions of the modern Western world, like Judaism or Christianity? Well, the practice of making sacrificial offerings to God is clearly evident in Judeo-Christian scriptures. The Jewish…

So, what about such matters as religious taboos, or religious sacrificial offerings? What role, if any, might such things play within major contemporary religions of the modern Western world — like, say, Judaism or Christianity? In our own contemporary culture, we tend of think of a “taboo” as being a social faux pas, an act…

In my previous blog entry, we looked at some of the similarities and parallels that seem to exist between the shamans of many indigenous religions, and the prophets, priests, and faith-healers of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition. But what about some of the other highly prominent features of indigenous religions? Do such exotic things as rites…

Many of the students in my community college world religions courses (who may be completely new to the academic study of religion) often find some of the seeming similarities and peculiar parallels that exist between indigenous religions on the one hand, and many of the world’s major religions on the other hand, to be rather…

Once again, a new semester has begun at the community college system where I teach courses about the religions of the world. (And please note that I specifically said “about.” I don’t “teach religion”; rather, I teach about religion. There’s a huge difference between the two activities. One involves personal faith commitments; the other is…

On or about February 2, 2013 (there is some variation by region and by tradition), a significant holiday on the religious calendars of Wiccans and other Neopagans will begin. However, which particular Wiccan holiday it happens to be will vary, depending upon which particular hemisphere of the world — the northern, or the southern —…

In this blog, I try to make a point of mentioning important holy days (“holidays”), and other significant dates on the religious calendars of many of the world’s major faith traditions, as they come up. Such dates are, of course, quite literally sacred to significant percentages of the world’s population, and to large numbers of…

Reed Hall
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Reed Hall

Reed Hall teaches community college credit courses on world religions. (Check out his supernatural thriller novel "MAGIC" at http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Occult-Thriller-Reed-Hall/dp/1453874836.)

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