The Attitudes of African Worshippers Since the Devout have by and large not written in such detail about the attitudes of the African to his gods as they have about the character istics of these gods they have exposed less of themselves in this respect to the probing critic Nonetheless they have made their salutations to Otto and to his idea of uniquely religious attitude and we must ask ourselves how useful or otherwise these salutations are In recent years the debate about attitudes to spiritual agencies in the indigenous religions has centred on attitudes to the ancestors and we may as well make start by considering these.
It is only when someone confesses to unusual beliefs which the community refuses to consider veridical that more elaborate apparatus of physiological psychological and sociological theory is brought in to provide an expla nation In this sense everyday life does appear to provide the basis for paradigm case argument for the view that there is one pattern of explanation appropriate for valid beliefs and another appropriate for erroneous ones Like many other paradigm case arguments however this one has little substance to it In the first place even where physiological psychological sociological or combined theories are invoked to explain the genesis of erroneous beliefs or perceptual judgements these are seldom purely and simply theories of error They tend rather to be theories which the mecha nisms that produce veridical belief and perception are delineated in some detail and in which erroneous belief and perception are explained in terms of factors interfering with these mechanisms.
I - Preliminaries. Translational Resources As pointed out at the beginning of this essay translation of the language and thought of particular African religion into terms of language and thought currently enjoying world status is the key to the first level of understanding in this field As also pointed out it follows that the character of the translation recipe adopted does much to determine the overall character of given approach Now ideally the character of the language and thought to be trans lated should be the sole constraint on choice of translation recipe But this ideal could only be realized given one of two conditions Either all the scholars concerned would have to have infinite capacities for fashion-.
The Way Forward. Soon however we find that this is far from his intention What he wants to say is that for all the value they set on this-worldly things African religions value such things not in themselves.
The second relates to African religions in particular African spirituality above and beyond the specific focus of particular ritual actions is always piety directed toward the sanctity of the universe as whole Every action on its deepest level seeks to sustain the divine order and its continual self-regeneration in this sense every ritual enactment however superncially oriented to utilitarian goals is utterly selfless. Like the other two authors WINCH admits that African religions appear to be directed to this-worldly goals The appearance however is deceptive and the reality quite other As to what the reality is the following passage ibid.
Despite broad Devout agreement on this matter it should nonetheless be noted that there is at least one prominent dissenting voice Here refer to Mbiti For all his uncompromising insistence on the centrality of the supreme being in African religious thought MBITI 67 breaks ranks quite definitely on the matter of the overriding goal of African religious life as comes out very clearly in the following passage And this faith in God is utilitarian not purely spiritual it is practical and not mystical The people respond to God in and because of particular circumstances especially in times of need Then they seek to obtain what he gives be that material or spiritual they do not search for him as the final reward or satisfaction of the human soul or spirit description of soul being restless until it finds its rest in God is something unknown in African traditional religious life.
Most African peoples know the names abodes and characteristics of their deities They know them by the diseases they cause The task of the diviner is precisely to determine which deity is responsible for particular misfortune and how to deal with it In northern Uganda certain chief dom deities were carried from place to place The knowledge of Africans about their deities are not limited inadequate or ridic ulous in any way.
Saharan Africa is probably that which we get from Meyer FORTES work on the Tallensi IQ 40 There seems to be no in-depth modern study of reincarnation beliefs available It is clear that such beliefs are by no means universal in the indigenous tra ditions of sub-Saharan Africa Nonetheless they seem fairly widespread in the forest areas of West Africa And my own ideas about them have been largely formed by conversations with students colleagues and friends of Igbo and Yoruba origin.
And since that question can no longer be answered in the negative how do we answer the supporting question of What or which God their own God or the real God? He has published extensively on religions in Africa and the West, including the recent Sufism in Europe and North America , which he has edited.
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