It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

Making the familiar, bizarre and the bizarre, familiar.

page: 1
2

log in

join
share:

posted on Feb, 3 2016 @ 12:15 AM
link   
I'm finally a full-time student again this semester, and I decided to go ahead and take a comparative studies in religion course. This week's assignment was to take a snapshot of your life and in 300+ words, describe it from the perspective of an outside observer who has no idea what is going on in your culture with a focus on making the familiar, bizarre.

In the study of religion, it is important to be able to view matters from an external perspective so as to eliminate one's own bias.
We must endeavor to see others from within and ourselves from an external point of view.

That brings me to the point of this thread: I wanted to share my assignment with you (in teal). I hope that perhaps you will look at your own lives in the same fashion, and realize how this pertains to the study of any religion/spark a discussion about this topic.

In my opinion, Instead of making-fun-of or trying to disprove others' perspectives, I believe that it would be more constructive for one to endeavor to understand and empathize with the "opposing" party. I know from my limited time on ATS that this forum tends to be rife with argument and cattiness on the best of days, so I hope that perhaps this submission of mine might help to assuage that, somewhat. Or, at least, initiate discourse on the matter of making the familiar bizarre and the bizarre, familiar.


My Sample Ethnography


At precisely the midway point between sunrise and high noon, a sudden blaring cacophony pierces the morning tranquility. The splitting sounds apparently issue from a thin, glowing, magical plate approximately the size of a small hand. This spirit-possessed scrying plate lays on the crème-furred floor, tethered to the wall by a smooth black rope of unknown origin—quite possibly another arcane tool.

The girl begins to stir after a moment (how did she not immediately awaken to such unbearable tones?!), and she languidly reaches down and picks up the energy-infused plate. She swipes its glowing face resolutely with one finger and immediately following, the awful sound (“music,” she later tells me, “’Surrender the Night’, by My Chemical Romance”) finally ceases.

She relaxes once more, leaning back on her finely-carved bed of cherry wood (I wonder, how many peons did it take to construct such a complex work?). She patiently explains that it, along with the array of other wooden marvels within her domicile, was purchased at a permanent market that is named after a heroic Revolutionary War General from her peoples' past.

Although she repeatedly assures me of the commonplace nature of such markets for fine goods, I cannot help but imagine that most of her possessions are either divine or demonic in origin. As she reclines, her eyes are glued to the illuminated plate powered by invisible magic that her people call, “Wifi”. This magic has been harnessed by witch-doctors who provide their service for a monthly fee, even though energy makes up everything and is inherently free. She strokes the magic plate, and bright colors issue from it. She is able to use the magic to open doorways to other lands. She calls this spell, “the Internet”—and by her depiction, it is an immaterial magic highway that sounds like the Akashic Records.

I did not believe that anything could shock me more than her “Wifi” magic, but I was destined to eat crow. Without preamble, as a shocking conclusion to her morning ritual, she reaches over the side of her bed again and retrieves a black box with a magical face and golden sides. One side is emblazoned with the frosty image of a wolf’s head, and the other has silver nodules. The magic-box is topped with a flute-like mouth apparatus. She brings this tool to her lips and inhales—and then the truly impossible occurs: The girl becomes a flameless dragon. Voluminous billows of thick, white, sweet-smelling smoke (“vapor,” she corrects me) subsequently issue from her nostrils and mouth.



I am describing my daily use of a smartphone and a sub-ohm electronic cigarette mod, which is my current daily morning ritual. I think that the lesson here, pertaining to the comparative study of religion, is that the bizarre is familiar. It is all based on one’s socialization.

“Looking from far and above, from our high places of safety in the developed civilization, it is easy to see all the crudity and irrelevance of magic. But without its power and guidance early man could not have mastered his practical difficulties as he has done, nor could man have advanced to the higher stages of civilization” (Malinowski).


Just as one culture can view charm-boxes or magic herbs and potions as rational, another can view the use of magical plates that allow us to access highways of information to be rational, as well. Therefore, it is important to view religion in a nonpartisan fashion, so as not to allow one’s cultural or religious biases to influence one’s observations and beliefs about a culture apart from one’s own.

questions? comments? concerns?

edit on 3-2-2016 by rukia because: (no reason given)




posted on Feb, 3 2016 @ 02:00 AM
link   

originally posted by: rukia
I'm finally a full-time student again this semester, and I decided to go ahead and take a comparative studies in religion course. This week's assignment was to take a snapshot of your life and in 300 words (I used 415) describe it from the perspective of an outside observer who has no idea what is going on in your culture with a focus on making the familiar, bizarre.

In the study of religion, it is important to be able to view matters from an external perspective so as to eliminate one's own bias.
We must endeavor to see others from within and ourselves from an external point of view.

That brings me to the point of this thread: I wanted to share my assignment with you (in teal). I hope that perhaps you will look at your own lives in the same fashion, and realize how this pertains to the study of any religion/spark a discussion about this topic.

In my opinion, Instead of making-fun-of or trying to disprove others' perspectives, I believe that it would be more constructive for one to endeavor to understand and empathize with the "opposing" party. I know from my limited time on ATS that this forum tends to be rife with argument and cattiness on the best of days, so I hope that perhaps this submission of mine might help to assuage that, somewhat. Or, at least, initiate discourse on the matter of making the familiar bizarre and the bizarre, familiar.


My Sample Ethnography


At precisely the midway point between sunrise and high noon, a sudden blaring cacophony pierces the morning tranquility. The splitting sounds apparently issue from a thin, glowing, magical plate approximately the size of a small hand. This spirit-possessed scrying plate lays on the crème-furred floor, tethered to the wall by a smooth black rope of unknown origin—quite possibly another arcane tool.

The girl begins to stir after a moment (how did she not immediately awaken to such unbearable tones?!), and she languidly reaches down and picks up the energy-infused plate. She swipes its glowing face resolutely with one finger and immediately following, the awful sound (“music,” she later tells me, “’Surrender the Night’, by My Chemical Romance”) finally ceases.

She relaxes once more, leaning back on her finely-carved bed of cherry wood (I wonder, how many peons did it take to construct such a complex work?). She patiently explains that it, along with the array of other wooden marvels within her domicile, was purchased at a permanent market that is named after a heroic Revolutionary War General from her peoples' past.

Although she repeatedly assures me of the commonplace nature of such markets for fine goods, I cannot help but imagine that most of her possessions are either divine or demonic in origin. As she reclines, her eyes are glued to the illuminated plate powered by invisible magic that her people call, “Wifi”. This magic has been harnessed by witch-doctors who provide their service for a monthly fee, even though energy makes up everything and is inherently free. She strokes the magic plate, and bright colors issue from it. She is able to use the magic to open doorways to other lands. She calls this spell, “the Internet”—and by her depiction, it is an immaterial magic highway that sounds like the Akashic Records.

I did not believe that anything could shock me more than her “Wifi” magic, but I was destined to eat crow. Without preamble, as a shocking conclusion to her morning ritual, she reaches over the side of her bed again and retrieves a black box with a magical face and golden sides. One side is emblazoned with the frosty image of a wolf’s head, and the other has silver nodules. The magic-box is topped with a flute-like mouth apparatus. She brings this tool to her lips and inhales—and then the truly impossible occurs: The girl becomes a flameless dragon. Voluminous billows of thick, white, sweet-smelling smoke (“vapor,” she corrects me) subsequently issue from her nostrils and mouth.



I am describing my daily use of a smartphone and a sub-ohm electronic cigarette mod, which is my current daily morning ritual. I think that the lesson here, pertaining to the comparative study of religion, is that the bizarre is familiar. It is all based on one’s socialization.

“Looking from far and above, from our high places of safety in the developed civilization, it is easy to see all the crudity and irrelevance of magic. But without its power and guidance early man could not have mastered his practical difficulties as he has done, nor could man have advanced to the higher stages of civilization” (Malinowski).


Just as one culture can view charm-boxes or magic herbs and potions as rational, another can view the use of magical plates that allow us to access highways of information to be rational, as well. Therefore, it is important to view religion in a nonpartisan fashion, so as not to allow one’s cultural or religious biases to influence one’s observations and beliefs about a culture apart from one’s own.



Interesting assignment. reminds me of "third rock from the sun" a TV show about how aliens would view our civilization.

I always felt religion was more interesting from an insider perspective. The holy books are interesting when you place yourself in their situation one example being JOB
how could anyone have such unwavering faith.
and if you can have such unwavering faith how do you not become a zealot who judges others?
from an outside perspective the books are just fairly tails because you have stripped the culture and belief out of the situation.

Your concept is interesting you must view your self from an external point of view. Viewing externally from what angle? Is it that god is watching so I must do A,B,C? If that's the reason then isn't your thinking already bias from the start?



posted on Feb, 3 2016 @ 02:12 AM
link   
a reply to: rukia

You certainly achieved making the familiar bizarre.



posted on Feb, 3 2016 @ 03:08 AM
link   
a reply to: jobless1

Yes, the assignment was to view ourselves from an external perspective. Basically backing up the quote: “Looking from far and above, from our high places of safety in the developed civilization, it is easy to see all the crudity and irrelevance of magic. But without its power and guidance early man could not have mastered his practical difficulties as he has done, nor could man have advanced to the higher stages of civilization” (Malinowski).

And showing how the familiar is indeed strange. We only think it familiar because we live it. It's also kinda saying how even though something might sound strange, it doesn't mean that it is ridiculous. Strange can still be perfectly rational, given the correct context. We are reading God Is Not One by Prothero and had been looking at this Ethnography about the strange body rituals of the Nacirema tribe. That ethnography was supposed to be an inspiration.

The lecture was also about how "cult" doesn't have a universal or definitive definition. And how our perspective of things as strange and bizarre is merely our ignorance of those practices. At least to the best of my understanding


I totally agree with your analogy about JOB, at least when it comes to reading the Bible. But when I read the Bhagavad Gita (for example), I have no reference point unless I put myself in the shoes of someone from that culture instead of me in my own shoes reading the book, if that makes sense



edit on 3-2-2016 by rukia because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 3 2016 @ 04:20 AM
link   
a reply to: rukia

aww Hindu

I cant escape the similarities between Hinduism and Roman/Greek mythology.
I once installed a camera system inside of a hindu temple which pointed at each statue of their gods then we installed a display "TV' on the out side of the temple. The reasoning was during a religious holiday there was a line that went around the block to pray to gods or one god I'm not sure anyway this allowed people to pray to the god on the outside of the temple relieving the congestion in the temple. I asked the temple priest about it and he said it wasn't his idea and he didn't like it.
I never found their religion strange however the god manikin's dressed up and painted in a dollhouse type setting was very different then the religion i grow up with. I actually liked that they could pray to different gods for different things it seems more organic and human then an omnipotent god. Even trying to understand the nature of an omnipotent god allowing evil in the world is a hard concept to grasp. Where the power struggle between hindu gods makes the good and evil exist makes more sense logically.



posted on Feb, 3 2016 @ 12:46 PM
link   
a reply to: jobless1

Natural religion is actually defined by the belief in a single creator God.

I think religions are both similar in some aspects, but collectively very much not the same.




top topics
 
2

log in

join