Clifford Geertz 's Definition Of Religion

807 WordsDec 10, 20154 Pages
3) Clifford Geertz’s definition of religion is an accurate reflection of the basic tenet of religion. Geertz argues that religion is based solely on the concepts of symbols and the impacts that symbols have on the practitioners of the religion. Geertz demonstrates that symbols give a meaning to life. The symbols give practitioners something to hold onto at all times. Geertz’s definition of symbols and their impacts fits the use of symbols in many religious practices including the religions of the Huichol Indians and the Amish sect of the Protestant Christian church. In the first part of the Geertz’s definition, he states that religion is “a system of symbols which acts…”. All religions are made up of symbols. In the Amish church, the symbols include the baptism and living in a traditional way. For the Amish, baptism “symbolize[s] a commitment to both God and fellow believers” (Robinson, 2015). By being baptized, the adult member of the community is making a lifelong commitment to live a simple life for God in the way of the Amish. For the Huichol, Ramon states, “Now I will tell you of the maize and the peyote and the deer… They are our life. They are ourselves.” (189). For the Huichol, the symbols represent a unity complex that are the centerfold of their religion. Religion is made up of symbols, and the Amish Christian and Huichol religious complexes demonstrate that concept. In the second part of the definition, Geertz states that symbols “establish powerful,
Open Document