What is Religion?
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 9 to 12
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||scribes, atheism, jewish, lightning-and, pantheism, reincarnate, religare, taoists, wonderings, zoroastrians, heavenly, mystical, deity, mahatma, scripture, writing
||Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Columbus, Middle East, Ahura Mazda, Holy Communion, Crispy Christmas, Mahatma Gandhi
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What is Religion?
By Colleen Messina
1 People love to wonder. Can you remember how many questions you asked your parents when you were small? We wonder about the dark crevasses in the ocean floor, the nature of black holes, and what happens to us when we die. The billions of people on earth lead very different lives, but they are united in their ability to wonder.
2 Everyone has something special that they wonder about because people are naturally curious. Some people concentrate on the mysteries of the physical world. Benjamin Franklin boldly tied a key to a kite to understand lightning-and nearly fried himself in the process. Christopher Columbus bravely sailed to what many believed to be the edge of the flat earth to discover a new world. Other "explorers of the spirit" left kingdoms behind in order to discover more about the heavenly world. Their revelations and experiences became the cornerstones of the major world religions. All religions began with one person wondering about the meaning of life.
3 The word, "religion" comes from the Latin word religare, which means "to tie." People of all faiths believe that their religion ties them to a higher purpose. Some feel that religion ties them to a sense of community through shared values. Religion has also tied art, culture, and societies together for thousands of years. Magnificent buildings, beautiful works of art, and stirring books have been inspired by religious faith.
4 Religion helps people figure out the meaning of life and the mystery of death. Some faiths believe we only live once, while others, like Hinduism and Buddhism, believe that we reincarnate many times to fulfill our purpose. Long before any scribes scribbled on papyrus, religion has been important to men, whether they called it "religion" or not.
5 The oldest world religions are Zoroastrianism and Judaism, which began between three and four thousand years ago. Christianity grew out of Judaism, and Islam grew out of both Judaism and Christianity. Jewish teachings were being written down by scholars in the Middle East around the same time as priests in India were writing down the basic ideas of Hinduism. Buddhism and Taoism developed in China about 2,500 years ago. Within these major religions, there are smaller divisions. For example, within Christianity, there are about 22,000 different sects! There are also other religions that have fewer followers, such as Sikhism, Shintoism, and Jainism.
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