Religion And Belief Systems In Australia Post-1945

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Studies of Religion
Religion and belief systems in Australia post – 1945
* The end of the Second World War in 1945 brought huge changes throughout the world-including how people see their world. * Changes that reflected various relationships between Christian denominations; relationship between the Christian tradition and those traditions other than Christianity, and the relationship between the non-Indigenous community and indigenous peoples (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples). * Aboriginal spiritualties are not just a series of complex ‘religious’ practices – they are a way of life. * The kinship systems of Aboriginal peoples, the obligations to both the land and the people that follow from their kinship and their expressions in ceremonial life are not separate from or additional to their spiritualties-they are the expression of Dreaming in a physical sense. * Aboriginal ceremonies have two major purposes 1. Mark the relationship of Aboriginal peoples to the spirit world and the Ancestral Beings (including humans 2. Mark the stages in every Aboriginal person’s life
* The system of relationships traditionally accepted by a particular culture and the rights and obligations they involve * Dreaming, as the basis of all aspects of life, is expressed tangibly in the complex and sophisticated network of relationships, rights and obligations within Aboriginal societies. * Each Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander has a complex system of family relations, where each person knows their kin and their land. * Aboriginal people grow up with a mental map of the relationships of their whole society, and acquiring this mental map is an important part of a child’s education
Ceremonial Life * Traditional Aboriginal peoples have a rich ceremonial life. There are rites of passage such as initiation and death and burial, and periodic ceremonies unconnected with the life cycle and performed at various intervals for a variety of reasons. * The public corroboree or ceremonial dance is the ritual that was most familiar to early Europeans. * These dances were mostly the concluding ceremony of secret/sacred rituals such as initiations and balance rites, and were the opportunity for all members of the group to come together.
Death and Burial Rituals * For Aboriginals, death is not the end of life, but the last ceremony in the present life * The belief is that the spirits of the dead return to the Dreaming places they had come from, which is part of the eternal transition of the life force of Dreaming * The dead must be buried in their own country and their spirits properly sung to rest * Funeral ceremonies lay the spirits of the dead to rest in their proper places and reaffirm the place of the living in the unity of nature.
Obligations to the land and people * For Aboriginal peoples, ownership of the land means that they have a responsibility to care for it and nurture it * The land and all forms of life are regarded as sacred trust, and are to be preserved and passed on in a timeless cycle of mutual dependence * Land not only provides food and water, but is also the repository of the secret/sacred- the activities of Dreaming Beings * The area of land for which they do have responsibility for is their ritual estate * Ownership of the land is based upon the division and distribution of ritual responsibility for land, rather than upon the rights to use and occupy the land * It is the responsibility of the appropriate Elders to properly perform the relevant rites each year * This all related to the kinship systems within Aboriginal societies
Issues for Aboriginal Spiritualties * Assimilation – People should be absorbed into the majority culture
E.g.) the Aboriginal peoples were to be ‘improved’ and the majority culture was the ‘civilised’ Christian culture * Evangelise – literally means to ‘teach the