question archive Smith, "Primal Religions" Chapter

Smith, "Primal Religions" Chapter

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Smith, "Primal Religions" Chapter.

1) What are the principal ways that primal religions differ from historical ones?

2. Smith claims that "primal time focuses on causal rather than chronological sequence." Specify and clarify what this means in two areas of human experience:


  • Renewal rites, and
  • Relation to the Source.

3. What is Dreaming and how have Australian aborigines related to it?

4. Smith claims that exclusive dependence on speech bestows three "endowments." Specify and clarify these benefits. How would you describe the primal sense of sacredness in concrete and specific places?

5. Smith affirms that primal peoples "see distinctions as bridges instead of barriers." Specify and clarify the basic ways this worldview expresses itself in three apparent dichotomies:

  • Humans/animals,
  • Animate/inanimate,
  • The world/other world.

6. In what ways does Smith suggest the "common stereotype" of primal religion as polytheistic to be qualified?

7. Smith discusses the "symbolist mentality" as "probably the most important single feature of living primal spirituality." Select one sentence from this section that best expresses for you this sense of "the things of the world as transparent to their divine source." Finally, describe the shaman in one carefully-worded sentence.

8. Read "Conclusion." Reflecting on this section and the chapter as a whole, what do you think of the place and significance of primal peoples in the world today?

Required Text: The World's Religions by Huston Smith

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