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Charismatic movement

A Christian movement, emphasizing emotional, demonstrative religious practices that began in the 1960s. It is similar to PENTECOSTALISM but is found in other Christian communities. "Charisma" is originally a Greek word; it refers to a gift of grace. People in the charismatic movement see behavior such as speaking in tongues, faith healing, vigorous weeping, or laughing as gifts of the Holy Spirit. They differ from Pentecostals by...

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Celtic religion

The religion of the people who lived in France and Britain at the time of the Roman conquest. The Romans called the Celts Galli, in English, Gauls. The Celts spoke a language related to German, Latin, Greek, Persian, and even Sanskrit, the classical language of India. Many people have noticed intriguing similarities between Celtic and ancient Indian culture. These include similarities in religion and mythology. At fi...

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Celibacy

The state of remaining unmarried and abstaining from sex for religious reasons. In some religions living in a state of celibacy is considered the way of perfection and the state appropriate to its leaders or its most dedicated practitioners. Examples of religious celibates are priests and MONKS AND NUNS of ROMAN CATHOLICISM; bishops, monks, and nuns in EASTERN ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY; Buddhist monks and nuns; Taoist...

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Cats and religion

The symbolism and role of the cat in religion. The cat, an animal at once mysterious, independent, and familiar, has long been felt to have special spiritual power. In ancient Egypt, the GODDESS of pleasure, Bast, was symbolized by a cat, and her temple was full of sacred cats, which were mummifi ed after death (see EGYPTIAN RELIGION). On the other hand, in medieval Europe,...

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Cathedral

A type of church building in Christianity. It gets its name because it contains the cathedra or "chair" of the bishop. Bishops are religious leaders in Catholic, Orthodox, and some forms of Protestant CHRISTIANITY. They have charge of all the churches in a certain area. In the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches the area is known as a diocese. Other branches of Christianity use other...

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Caste in Hinduism

Traditional social grouping in India into which persons are born. Each group ranks higher or lower than other groups in terms of its RITUAL purity. Thus, a caste is distinguished by limiting participation in rituals, including marriage and eating together, to members of the caste, as well as by specifi c occupations. The term "caste" usually refers to two distinct but related ways of organizing...

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Carnival

In Latin countries, a festival held just before the beginning of the fasting season of LENT. During Carnival, joviality and rich foods, including meat, are enjoyed for the last time until EASTER. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a good example. By extension, though, Carnival can be taken to refer to a type of festival found throughout the religious world, such as holi in...

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Cargo cults

Groups believing that the gods will send wonderful cargoes to their followers, often native peoples in colonialized lands. Throughout parts of the world under colonial rulers, especially in the area of Indonesia and the South Pacifi c, religious movements have arisen based on the promise of a prophet that rich cargoes were on their way to the impoverished natives. Although comparable movements can be found...

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Cannibalism and religion

The eating of human fl esh by other humans. It has been practiced in a variety of places throughout human history for many reasons, only some of which can be considered religious. In extreme circumstances it has been done just to survive. In some cultures parts of the bodies of defeated enemies have been eaten simply to degrade them and demonstrate the completeness of the...

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Religion in Canada

The complex religious heritage of the nation of Canada. For thousands of years before European contact, Native Americans dwelling in what is now Canada practiced various forms of Native American Religions. In the far north, in areas bordering the Arctic Ocean, this heritage has been Inuit (Eskimo). Inuit spiritual practice has particularly involved hunting religion (see PRIMAL RELIGION) and SHAMANISM. The Native American religious heritage, evidenced...

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Canaanite religion

The religion of Palestine and Syria during the third and second millennia (3000–1001) B.C.E. In the fi rst millennium B.C.E. Canaanite religion came into confl ict with the worship of YHWH ("the Lord"), especially in the northern kingdom of Israel. Technically, the name "Canaanite" applies only to the ancient inhabitants of Palestine. But people also use it for all peoples and settlements that spoke languages known...

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John Calvin

Calvin, John (1509–1564) one of the most important leaders of the Protestant REFORMATION Calvin was born and educated in France. His father, a lawyer, had the young Calvin prepare fi rst for a career in the church, then for one in law. When his father died in 1531, Calvin turned from law to humanism, that is, to the study of the classics of ancient...

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Cakras

A Sanskrit word meaning "wheels" or "discuses." In Hindu Tantrism, cakras (chakras) are energy centers of what is known as the subtle or psychic body. Tantrism usually identifi es six cakras. They are arranged along the spinal column as follows: the base of the spine, the region of the navel, the heart, the throat, the area between or above the eyebrows, and the fontanelle on...

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Buddhist festivals

Festivals play a very important role in the life of Buddhists. It is diffi cult, however, to generalize about them. The different schools—Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana— celebrate different festivals (see MAHAYANA BUDDHISM, THERAVADA BUDDHISM, and VAJRAYANA BUDDHISM). So do different regions, such as Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand, all countries where Theravada predominates. In most places Buddhists celebrate festivals according to a lunar calendar in which the...

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Buddhism

Buddhism in America Interest in and practice of BUDDHISM in the Western Hemisphere. This entry concentrates on Buddhism in the United States. Buddhism was already in the United States in the 19th century (1800s). On the East Coast some educated Americans of European descent showed an interest in it. They included the "New England transcendentalists," a group of writers who gathered around Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82)...

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Buddhism

A religion that traces its history back to the BUDDHA, Siddhartha Gautama (c. 560–c. 480 B.C.E.). Buddhism is widely practiced throughout southeast and east Asia. It also has strong traditional ties to Tibet (see TIBETAN RELIGION). In the 20th century small but vigorous Buddhist communities were established in North America and Europe. HISTORY Siddhartha Gautama is said to have discerned the path that leads to release...

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Buddha

Buddha, the A title meaning "awakened" or "enlightened." It is most commonly applied to Siddharta Gautama (c. 560–c. 480 B.C.E.), the person who founded the religion of BUDDHISM. Buddhist mythology actually identifi es many different Buddhas. Siddhartha Gautama is the historical Buddha, that is, the Buddha who has appeared in our world's history. In some traditions he is known as Sakyamuni, "sage of the Sakyas," because...

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New religious movements in Brazil

Brazil has traditionally been a Catholic country because it was colonized by Portugal. In fact, Brazil has been ranked as the largest Catholic country in the world, but that is somewhat deceptive. Brazil is also home to thriving new religious movements. For a century or more people in Brazil have developed new religions built on African roots called Afro-Brazilian religions. More recently, in the last 50 years,...

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Brain, mind, and religion

From the 1980s on, scientists have been thinking seriously about what their studies of the brain and the mind might have to say about religion. We often think of the brain and the mind as identical, but they are not. The brain is a physical object inside the head. It consists of cells and undergoes chemical reactions and electrical pulses. The mind is the...

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Brahmin

Also spelled brahman; in HINDUISM, a member of the highest of the four varnas or RITUAL classes. According to tradition, the ideal occupation for brahmins is that of the priest (see CASTE IN HINDUISM). Brahmins descend from the priests who performed the sacrifi ces described in the sacred books known as the VEDA. Some scholars have identifi ed their ancestors as priests among the Indo-Europeans. The...

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Brahman

A crucial idea in HINDUISM, especially in the UPANISHADS and VEDANTA philosophy. Brahman refers to the reality that underlies and supports the world as it appears to the senses. Originally, brahman referred to the ritual formulas spoken during the SACRIFICES described in the sacred books known as the VEDA. In this sense, brahman is related to two other words: BRAHMIN or "priest," the name of...

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Brahma

The creator god in texts of Hindu mythology known as the PURANAS. The Puranas identify three families of deities according to function. The heads of these families are Brahma the creator, VISHNU the preserver, and SIVA the destroyer. The name Brahma is related to BRAHMAN, the word for the ultimate reality that, according to the UPANISHADS and VEDANTA philosophy, underlies all appearances. Indeed, in some...

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Bodhisattva

A Sanskrit word that literally means "a being whose nature (sattva) is perfect wisdom (bodhi)"; an important fi gure in BUDDHISM. The term is used differently in the various Buddhist schools. It is especially important in the schools known as Mahayana. In THERAVADA BUDDHISM, the Buddhism common in southeast Asia, a bodhisattva is a being who is on the way to becoming a BUDDHA. (A...

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Bodhidharma

(sixth century C.E.) known in Japan as Daruma; the fi rst patriarch of the Ch'an or Zen school of BUDDHISM It is diffi cult to separate fact from legend in accounts of Bodhidharma's life. In any case, the details of his biography illustrate signifi cant aspects of ZEN BUDDHISM. As the following shows, they sometimes resort to extreme events to do so. Bodhidharma is said...

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Birth rituals

Religious rites performed in connection with a birth of a child. The mystery of birth is recognized by RITUALS and observances in virtually all religions. It is a joyous occasion for parents and the community, yet at the same time is recognized to be dangerous and perhaps also polluting, especially for the mother. During pregnancy, often special spiritual as well as physical precautions are taken...

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