Monotheism

The belief in one God, by far the most popular belief of religious men, women, and children, today. The Abrahamic Religions, compose the great majority. Those are JudaismChristianity, and Islam.

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Judaism…

the first monotheistic religion, is sometimes also described as an ethnicity. This is partly because historically, Jews inhabited Israel. The Jewish belief system tends to lean towards liberalism and critical thinking. Reform Jews are the most liberal, conservative Jews are in the middle, and Orthodox Jews can be described as the most fundamentalist (living more strictly according to scripture). All Jewish faiths stray away from depicting the divine. They learn about being persecuted for much of history, how holidays came to be and why they’re celebrated in certain ways, how to read Hebrew, and generally speaking, what it means to have spiritual, Jewish identity.

I grew up going to a conservative Jewish temple for Hebrew school and to complete my Bar-Mitzvah, so I cannot speak any more of the other two ways that Judaism is practiced. In my experience, Judaism is a pretty liberal tradition. That is to say, we learn about what has happened in our history, but we are still allowed to question and think critically about what happened. Very rarely are opinions relayed as truth.

Of course, such an atmosphere makes adults feel comfortable enough to have a truly intellectual conversation, but it gives room for children to act more wildly than otherwise. The woman under whom I worked as a teacher’s aid tended to blame this on me. She was very self-righteous and frankly cruel. I don’t think my experience working for Temple Beth-El was typical.

Christianity…

is what most of us whom grew up with religion in our lives are familiar with. There is a conviction in Christianity that people are born as sinful beings. Jesus Christ, the son of God, died so that we may have the opportunity to repent for our sins. Life is spent going to church, confessing our sinful actions to a pastor, and spreading the word of Jesus Christ.

There is a bit of ambiguity in Christianity of what God is. There are three parts that make up God. One is The Father, the Jewish God who decided to impregnate the Virgin Mary with Jesus. Jesus is The Son, the second component of God. The last part is The Holy Spirit, also called The Ghost; this is the spirit of Christianity.

Two major factions of Christianity exist: Protestantism and Catholicism.

Protestants are not as showy. They have plain churches and clothing. There is no ultimate Protestant official. At its conception, Protestants held the belief that those who are able to achieve the most during their life on Earth, are the ones who will live in Heaven after death. Those who are not able to acquire large stores of material wealth in this world, will burn in eternal hell-fire. This is not necessarily the main view of Protestants today, but they still tend to work very hard at attaining power and wealth.

Catholics put a lot of time and energy into making appearances communicate how much they believe in their faith. They consider the Pope of the Vatican City to be their sole authority on Earth. The current Pope expresses sentiments similar to those of how Jesus was reported to act. This includes helping the poor and disenfranchised, accepting homosexuality, and speaking against unjust wars.

One other form of Christianity, which is really a form of Protestantism, deserves some reference here. That’s a recent one: born-again Christians. They’re also termed “evangelicals”, which is taken from a Greek word meaning “the good news”.

Evangelicals believe that we need to be born-again and then follow Jesus for life; that we need to be missionaries and advocates of social reform according to the examples in the gospel; that we obey the Bible in all we do; and that we constantly recognize the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made when he was crucified, the only sacrifice that could ever put us in a position of being redeemed of our sin. We must trust Jesus alone, not anything human, in order to have a chance at salvation. Evangelicals believe in following The Bible before anything cultural, political, or social. It is, to them, entirely perfect, and without fault.

Islam…

is not a faith I’m very familiar with. Particularly since 9/11, it’s come under a lot of criticism. Some say that it’s a fascist faith. My goal here is not to paint any religion in a particular manner, but to detail what it entails. I will say that, though, I know some Muslims who are very peaceful, kind souls. Similarly, I know some Christians and Jews who are not kind human beings.

Their holy book is called the Koran. They abide by five “pillars” to guide their faith. Those are…

  1. The Testimony of Faith (the most important one, reciting that Allah is the true God and Muhammad is his messenger)
  2. Prayer (five times a day for a few minutes at a time)
  3. Supporting the needy (giving a certain percentage of one’s wealth to the disenfranchised)
  4. Fasting during Ramadan (from dawn until sundown, for spiritual growth and to greater empathize with the needy)
  5. Pilgrimage to Mecca (once in a lifetime, retracing the steps of Muhammad)
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Sources: https://apessay.com/order/?rid=cc49f4f3231bb03f&noapp=1, http://college.holycross.edu/projects/himalayan_cultures/2011_plans/jpei/lesson.html