World Religions: Religion and Culture

REL101(WI): World Religions

Reflection Paper #4

Religion and Culture

Over time, religions spread beyond the lands where they originally began and take root in foreign countries. Perhaps you have wondered, as you’ve worked through this course, how a religion’s particular beliefs and practices either align with or conflict with the cultural views and values of new places. Obviously, a religion must have elements in common with a new society if it is to be accepted and flourish. For example, Max Weber has argued that the work ethic inherent to Protestant Christianity deeply influenced the development of Western capitalism. Conversely, its not so easy for a Muslim to practice their faith in a place like America, where charging interest undergirds the economic system and the workday is not altogether conducive to a regular schedule of mandatory prayers. For this fourth Reflection Paper, give some consideration to the relationship between religion and culture, using Buddhism as the specific example. Before you start to write, read carefully the article “Religion and Culture” posted under “Course Materials” on Blackboard and research at least two other articles of your choice that address this topic. First, begin by considering the fact that one of the things that all religions try to do is bring peace and contentment to those who live out their teachings. Each religion has cherished views and values, ideas concerning what constitutes a happy life, and recommendations on the proper route to achieving it. Second, call to mind American culture and society. Think about America’s values and its social ideas about what constitutes a contented, happy life and what it takes to have one. Third, consider what Buddhism teaches about these things. Buddhism has some definite ideas about what constitutes a tranquil, satisfying life and what to do to obtain it. With all that in mind, answer this basic question: Can there be such a thing as an “American Buddhist”? Your paper should include an informed discussion of both sides of the question and insightfully defend whatever position you decide to take.

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