With Religion as Defined by Catherine Albanese
Often people confuse the concept of faith in God with religion. While religion remains a fundamental underpinning of the belief in God according to Judeo, Christian, and Islam nonetheless within the precepts of these three, there exists the idea of faith as the glue that binds belief. Comparing Terrence Tilley's definition of faith with Catherine Albanese's definition of religion provides the fodder fueling the debate of how these two concepts derive from belief in God and allows subjective consideration of how either of these author's views fit personal experience.
Tilley provides a broad perspective in his book with chapters about misunderstanding faith, defining faith, expressing faith, living faith, and justifying faith. The framework of his view offers how every person has faith in something in his or her life. This may form as faith in self, humanity, nature, family, or in one's God. Tilley makes it clear faith is not identification with morality, belief, feeling, or religion. To the contrary, faith according to Tilley remains embedded in the relationship each person has with the source of the meaning of his or her faith. Within this, there exists a central value where someone or something defines what makes life worth living (Tilley 2010).
Typically, from a subjective observation of the world and the subject of religion and faith Tilley's view of fits a personal view of how most people form his or her ideals within a social context within the development of cognitive abilities. As these abilities develop and maturity takes place, the perception of values within self may come from the social context or perhaps as a personal view other values come forth that lead the direction of why life is worth living. At this point, remembering it was the ancient Greeks who brought about the idea of living the life worth living shows this idea of values – of faith in something is not a new idea. Faith, according to Tilley and the process for identifying one's faith comes down to the question of whom or what is worth dying. Possibly, it may have to do with the golden rule of doing unto others (Tilley 1970).
An example of how symbolism may inject into an individual ideal of faith is the national flag. Some Americans (or those of other nations) view the patriotic symbolism of the national flag as representative of what he or she would die in protecting the freedoms the flag represents. Generally, rituals and symbols remain unidentified or attached to a certain faith or religion but continue as societal elements with varieties of meanings according to the ideals of different individuals. Whether caring for the national flag or projecting the gestures and words of the Catholic Mass, these continue as representative expressions and practice of a sort of faith (Tilley 2010).
Tilley's three criteria offered in justifying a person's faith include, showing the world the faith in a revealing manner, this revelation must have a consistency with other existing facts, and finally, a person's faith must effectively allow remaining true to self. The subjective and personal view of the best of the many examples Tilley offers in clarifying what faith is and what faith is not follows:
Most Americans claim to believe in God. Yet many of us spend at most one hour with God most weeks and the other 167 hours with other objects of our devotion – money, power, knowledge, prestige, and so forth. The point is not to decry such ''idolatry.'' The point is to recognize both what gods we actually have faith in and how that faith shapes our lives'' (2).
Tilley provides a guiding rationale for adults in thinking about his or her faith. His view that all human projection of what humans know comes from the mind, and therefore, humans cannot know of the things of the world as they exist in themselves but the knowing humans have remains what each individual mind perceives (125).
Catherine Albanese approach explaining religion presented in her ''America: Religions and Religion takes on a less interesting method explaining the subject than Tilley's approach in his book ''Faith: What It Is and What It Isn't''. The approach in examining the American religion examines the commonality of the cultural rootedness of Anglo-Protestantism. Her scholarly approach to the subject takes on a life of its own with the historical and comparative aspects of the structure of American religions beginning with Native Americans and into the current popularity of the New Age Movements. What emerge, are examinations of the underpinnings of evangelicalism as well as millennialism constituting America's religious communality characteristics. Comparing her work to Tilley's looks at the more problematic aspects of Tilley's work and Albanese provides a dryer, more academic approach to her subject than Tilley. The reason for mentioning this derives from the fact religion is a course one can take in higher education and even attain a degree, whereas the subject of faith remains a more philosophical branch aligned to religion.
The best way to get to the heart of Albanese's offering on defining religion looks at the list of common aspects of religion in general she provides. Catherine Albanese, in America: Religions and Religion provides a list of common characteristics of religions. These are creeds, codes, cultuses, and communities. Creeds explain as meaning(s) about humanity that includes oral traditions, systematic theologies, as well as narratives. Rules governing everyday human behavior that include unwritten cultural or customs, complex legal systems, or generally accepted ideas about ethics. Rituals aligned with both insights and understandings about creeds and codes form cultuses.
Finally, communities formed by groups of humans bound in one cause by codes, cultus, and creed formally or informally. Religion in this manner forms around cultural or ethnic groups and of course, churches, denominations, and other such institutions. With these four Cs Albanese defines religion as ''symbols (creed, code, cultus) by means of which people (a community) orient themselves in the world with reference to both ordinary and extraordinary powers, meanings, and values'' (11). It is Albanese's contention the fact remains numerous people globally live without gods or God there is no one who lives without religion (11).
In conclusion, comparing Terrence Tilley's definition of faith with Catherine Albanese's definition of religion provides the fodder fueling the debate of how these two concepts derive from belief in God and allows subjective consideration of how either of these author's views fit personal experience. Personally, both of these author's ideas fit a subjective understanding of how faith is personal whereas religion seems to evoke a more communal sense of giving definition to the questions about life.
Albanese, Catherine. America: Religions and Religion, 5th. ed. (Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 2012). Textbook.
Tilley, Terence. Faith: What It Is and What It Isn't. Orbis Books. Maryknoll, NY. 2010. Book