This week’s readings and discussions centered around the idea of official and non-official religions. As discussed in class and McGuire, an official religion is focused on four main characteristics: specific leaders, specific location, specific doctrine, in a specific way. While unofficial religion consists of: whoever, wherever, whatever, however. This topic sparked some discussion within the class. Jim posed the question “what have we encountered on a daily basis that can be considered official religious practices in an unofficial way?” The answers varied from home alters to shrines. This made me think about my own encounters with religion.
This passed summer I spent ten weeks in Romania. Romania’s country religion is Eastern Orthodoxy. There was more religious “things” around the streets and homes than I have witnessed before. The people themselves were aware of the influence of the Orthodox Church on their own lives and were not afraid to display this. At many crossroads there was a large wooden cross with an icon of Jesus. They were usually over seven feet tall and could not be missed, but it was odd to me because many of them were in the middle of the country side with no homes or villages around.
I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around these classifications such as “official” and “non official.” In chapter 4 and 5 the term “cult” came up. There are some practices and forms of expression that are considered “cultish,” but like official and nonofficial, it is just another classification we give.