Definition is one of the fundamental obstacles to understanding and discussing religion. Even how to define the very term "religion" is hotly debated among scholars (see Timothy Fitzgerald's discussion of the fundamental problems of widespread applicability of this term). Yet, language is necessary for any type of dialog to take place. While there may be problems or disagreements of how to define a particular group, practice, ritual, belief system, phenomenon or concept within the sphere of what we call religion, without the attempt to use some common terminology discussion of any sort would be impossible. The Charting Pluralism project endeavors to facilitate discussion about religion using visual representation. However, the charts are all based upon a sum of research that relies often on definitional assertions. Oftentimes, these definitions are colored by the educated opinions of the people who formulate them. Different understandings of the terms within our dialog here on Charting Pluralism can result in different interpretations and different chart configurations. The devil's advocate chart is just one example of how differing opinions can lead to a different understanding of religion, and thus a different chart constructed from out of the Core. Thus the visual and the textual must go hand in hand.
To complement the chart-making and discussion here on this site, we include the following glossary in an effort to lead all participants toward a better understand of the terminology we use, both where it is helpful and where it is problematic. Instead of settling on one definition or interpretation, we hope to provide a number of sources for each term in effort to show the range of how various sources understand it. This glossary is by no means exhaustive. If you're familiar with an alternate interpretation or definition for any of these terms, please contact us, and we'll be happy to add it to the list.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
CHINESE TRADITIONAL RELIGIONS
GREEK CATHOLICS (aka BYZANTINE or EASTERN CATHOLICS)
LAMAISM see TIBETAN BUDDHISM
MALTHEISM (or Misotheism)
NATION OF ISLAM
NATIVE AMERICAN RELIGIONS
ORIENTAL ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS (see also MONOPHYSITES)