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Toutes les dissertations

Cults and sects, religious

An act of religious WORSHIP, or a small intense religious group, often one considered controversial. In religion, the word "cult" can mean any kind of worship, especially that of a particular god or shrine, as in speaking of ancient Greece one might refer to the "cult of APOLLO." Likewise, "sect" can denote any faction or group, especially a small one strongly devoted to a certain...

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Crusades

A number of movements in Catholic Western Europe, especially during the 12th and 13th centuries, that aimed to free the "holy land" from Muslim rulers. The name derives from crux, the Latin word for CROSS. The Crusaders wore large red crosses sewn onto their shirts. In the course of the 11th century, the territory of Palestine came under the control of the Seljuq Turks. The...

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Cross

A Roman instrument of torture that became one of the main symbols of CHRISTIANITY. Pre-Christian religions used the form of the cross— two lines that intersect—in many ways. Two examples are the ankh, an ancient Egyptian symbol of life, and the swastika, a symbol of well-being in ancient India. But the cross takes on special meaning in Christianity because it was the instrument on and...

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Creation and world cycles

Religious views on the origin and course of the universe. Many religions tell about the origins of the world, but not all do. For example, the BUDDHA refused to talk about the origin of the universe. Buddhists therefore usually envision the universe as a series of cycles, stretching infi nitely into the past and the future. Other religions have cyclical views of the universe, too. Religions...

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Covenant

A legally binding agreement; especially the way in which the relationship between GOD and human beings has been conceived in JUDAISM. In origin, a covenant was a formal agreement, often between two unequal parties and political in nature. The people of Israel adopted the covenant form to express the nature of their relationship with God. Jewish tradition recognizes several covenants, such as the covenant with NOAH...

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Councils, Christian

Meetings of leaders of the Christian church to discuss matters of belief and practice. Ideally, but not always in practice, a council includes Christian leaders from around the world. Most Christian churches recognize seven early councils as ecumenical or universal. Since the eighth century, councils have been particularly important in ROMAN CATHOLICISM. Meetings of Protestant leaders usually have other names. The fi rst Christian council may...

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Councils, Buddhist

Meetings of Buddhist monks to determine proper Buddhist teachings and ways of life. Buddhists call these councils sangitis or recitations. That is because they often involved the recitation of Buddhist scriptures (see SCRIPTURES, BUDDHIST). Some Buddhist councils were supposedly ecumenical; that is, they included representatives from all Buddhist communities. Actually, participation has often been more limited. Buddhists held councils especially within the 500 years or so after...

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Cosmogony

A story of how the world came to be. Not all religions talk about the origin of the world and of human life. For example, the BUDDHA adamantly refused to address questions about origins. He said these questions were unimportant. Instead, one should analyze the world as it stands and seek to gain release from SAMSARA, or rebirth. Few religions, however, have been able...

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Coptic Church

The predominant form of CHRISTIANITY in Egypt. Egypt was an important center of Christianity in the ancient world. Tradition says that Mark, who wrote one of the GOSPELS, fi rst brought Christianity there. Leading early Christian thinkers such as Origen (c. 185–c. 254) lived and taught in Alexandria, the cultural center of Egypt. Bishops of Alexandria such as Athanasius (c. 295– 373) guided the development of...

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Constantine, Emperor

Constantine, Emperor (c. 285–337 C.E.) Roman emperor who supported Christianity Constantine's father Constantius was emperor of the western half of the Roman empire. When he died in 306, his troops declared Constantine emperor in his place. Constantine was then about 20 years old. Through battles and political maneuvers, Constantine managed to keep his position. In 324 he became sole emperor of the Roman empire. He ruled...

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Congregationalism

A way of organizing Christian churches. It is especially associated with a group of churches that has played a major role in the history of religion in the United States. At its most general, Congregationalism insists that local Christian congregations should be independent and govern themselves. This does not mean that these congregations should not join together for joint activity. Indeed, most Congregationalist churches have been eager...

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Confucius

Confucius (551–479 B.C.E.) Latin for the Chinese name K'ung-fu-tzu, "Master K'ung"; a profoundly infl uential Chinese moral teacher whose thought gave rise to CONFUCIANISM Confucius was born in China at a time of unrest in the middle of the Chou period. Little is known for certain about his life, and many details that follow are legendary. It is said that Confucius's family had some status but...

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Computers and religion

The development of electronic computers in the second half of the 20th century changed many aspects of life, including religion. In particular, changes in religion have been brought about by the development of the personal computer in the 1980s and of the Internet in the 1990s. These effects are still taking place, and people are still trying to determine exactly what they have been. Computers and...

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Clowns, religious

Persons who dress and act humorously in religious activities. In some Native American cultures a solemn RITUAL by the priests will be followed by a burlesque (or comic) repetition of the same by ritual clowns making fun of it. Their performance may be related to the folklore role of the TRICKSTER, such as Coyote, who is clever enough to break rules and fool the...

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Clothing, religious

The symbolism and signifi cance of clothing worn for religious purposes. Clothes have always served not only the practical function of keeping people warm, and the universal function of making people attractive according to the canons of their society while preserving some degree of modesty, but have also shown through well-known indicators such things as comparative wealth, ethnic background, and social status. They have also had...

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Circumcision

The cutting away of the male foreskin. The term is sometimes also applied to clitoridectomy, the cutting away of corresponding female organs. Circumcision is widely practiced among indigenous peoples, especially in Australia and East Africa. It is obligatory among Jews, Muslims, and Coptic Christians. Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians do not require circumcision. Starting in the last half of the 19th century, however, circumcision also became common among...

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Church of God

Name of several denominations in the HOLINESS and PENTECOSTAL tradition. Now worldwide, they originated in the United States. The two main Churches of God, designated by the location of their headquarters, are the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) and the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee). The former is a leading expression of the 19th-century Holiness movement, which taught that Christians can, after conversion and believer's baptism,...

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Church and state

The relationship of religion and government in predominantly Christian areas. Throughout most of history and in all parts of the globe, governments have been interested in religion. Indeed, for many peoples government was actually supposed to perform statewide religious observances. Where distinct religious and political institutions existed, questions generally concerned their relative power. Medieval Europe provides a good example. The church and the political rulers argued vehemently...

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Chuang-tzu

Chuang-tzu (Zhuangzi) (c. 369–c. 286 B.C.E.) a Chinese thinker important in the development of philosophical TAOISM Chuang-tzu is known for a collection of essays that goes by the same name, Chuang-tzu. Only selected essays in the collection actually seem to come from Chuang-tzu. Chuang-tzu's language is highly imagistic. As a result, it is often diffi cult to determine the precise meaning of the texts. The essays...

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Christmas

The Christian celebration of the birth of JESUS on December 25. The English name derives from the phrase "Christ's Mass." Christmas is probably the most popular Christian celebration. The earliest celebration of Christmas that we know about took place in Rome in the middle of the fourth century. This is the period during which CHRISTIANITY was in the process of becoming the offi cial religion of...

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Christian Science

A Christian movement that emphasizes healing. Christian Science began in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1866 Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910) experienced a sudden healing that she attributed to GOD. In 1875 she published Science and Health to expound her teachings about divine healing. When the various churches showed little interest, she and several followers formed the fi rst Church of Christ, Scientist, in 1879. Since that time the...

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Christ

From the Greek word christos, meaning "anointed"; a title applied to JESUS, the founder of CHRISTIANITY. The earliest followers of Jesus most likely spoke Aramaic, which was the languages of Palestine in Jesus' day. As a result, they would not have applied the Greek word christos, "Christ," to Jesus. They would have used its Aramaic equivalent, which is usually rendered into English as MESSIAH. Within 15...

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Religion of children

How children experience religion and spiritual realities. Religions seem to have two very different views of what children are like from a religious point of view. On one hand, there is the idea represented by the poet William Wordsworth's famous lines in "Intimations of Immortality": … Trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy! And...

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Le droit de propriété

Alors que les Anciens estimaient légitime qu'un homme puisse être la propriété d'un autre, pour les Modernes, la servitude est contraire au droit naturel qu'a tout homme de s'appartenir à lui-même. De ce droit fondamental dérive celui de posséder des biens personnels. Mais qu'est-ce qui justifie qu'un individu s'approprie une part des choses que la nature a créées...

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Le droit à la vie

Tant que la conception organiciste dominait, chaque individu estimait qu'il avait une place à occuper, des buts à poursuivre dans sa vie, conformément à son statut au sein de la hiérarchie sociale. À partir de la Renaissance et de la Réforme, ces certitudes sont peu à peu remises en question. On n'est plus très sûr du bien qu'il...

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