Strand: God, Religion and Society (GRSL5-6E2)
Levels 5 and 6
Religions are communal forms of life enacted in particular beliefs, cultic practices, codes of conduct, sacred writings, structured roles and functions, dedicated places, times and objects. Religions and cultures interact and influence each other in modern societies.
Explore the communal forms of life particular to Catholicism and either Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spiritualities or another religious tradition, then comment on ways in which they interact with culture.
Religion is a social and communal way of life, which emerges from the human search for meaning and responds to a sense of the divine, or ultimate purpose in life. Religions are founded on a set of core beliefs, lived out in community. These particular beliefs may be recognised or enacted in the following ways:
Sacred Text: may include religious writings, art or dance. e.g. Bible for Christians; sacred ceremonial dance steps for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders; and Quran for Muslims.
Rituals: also known as ‘cultic practices’ e.g. sign of the cross for Catholic Christians; smoking ceremony for Indigenous Australians; Bar mitzvah for Jews.
Spiritual Experience: this is an experience where a sense of the divine, or ultimate reality, may be mediated to an individual or group e.g. through sacrament or liturgy for Catholic Christians; through prayer for Jews, Muslims or Christians; through meditation for Buddhists; through connection to country for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Beliefs: e.g. God as Trinity for Christians; belief in the sacred connection to the land and commitment to family and community for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spiritualities; the god Brahman for Hindus, believed to be the foundation of all existence and represented in various forms through the other gods of the Hindu faith.
Ethics: these are guidelines for living e.g. the 10 commandments for Christians, the sacredness of the land and all life forms for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Sacred Spaces & Places: these are gathering places or places of religious practice deemed important to the members of the religious tradition e.g. churches for Christians; mosques for Muslims; synagogues for Jews; temples for Buddhists.
Sacred Stories: these are important stories that may or may not be recorded in sacred texts. e.g. stories of the lives of the saints or the founder of a religious order for Catholic Christians; Dreamtime stories for Indigenous Australians.
Sacred Times: these times may occur each year as part of the religious calendar, (e.g. Easter for Christians, Passover for Jews, Ramadan for Muslims), or in response to an event (e.g. Sorry Business, as a period of mourning for Indigenous Australians following the death of a community member).
Symbols: these can be used to unite members of a common faith, as well as communicating a deeper reality. e.g. the cross for Christians; the Dharma Wheel for Buddhists; Crescent and Star for Muslims; Star of David for Jews.
As a country with its own indigenous peoples who live in age-old spiritual closeness to the land and its dreaming, Australian society is also increasingly diverse and pluralised. Various worldviews offer a multitude of approaches for purposeful and ethical living, therefore it can be a challenge for the modern believer to live out one’s faith or commit to a religious way of life. The rapid pace of change in modern society has also challenged the practices of many religions, where beliefs are often regarded as no longer relevant in today’s technologically sophisticated and scientifically advanced world. Nonetheless, the vast majority of the world’s population continue to adhere to some form of religious worldview as they seek a life of meaning and purpose.