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Lakota Religion vs. Secular Religion of Consumerism Essay

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Updated: Sep 1st, 2021

Religion is actually a set of common beliefs and practices that is held by a community of people, often known as prayer, ritual, and religious law. Religion also includes ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history as well as personal convictions, and mysterious experiences. Denis (1993) mentioned that “The term “religion” can be referred to as personal practices connected to communal faith and to group rituals and communication coming from shared conviction.

In the border of European religious reflection, religions present a general quality, the “brand of patriarchal religious thought”: the splitting up of the world in two broad domains, one consecrated, the other blasphemous Religion is often described as a communal system for the coherence of belief focusing on a system of thought, invisible being, person, or object, that is known to be supernatural, revered, divine, or of the utmost truth. ethical codes, practices, ideas, institutions, traditions, rituals, and scriptures are often traditionally associated with the core belief, and these may have some overlap with concepts in secular philosophy. Religion is also often described as a “way of life”.

The progress of religion has taken many forms in various cultures. “Organized religion” generally refers to a union of people supporting the exercise of some religion with a prescribed set of beliefs, often taking the form of a legal entity (see religion-supporting organization)” Other religions believe in personal disclosure. “Religion” is sometimes used interchangeably with “faith” or “belief system but is more publicly defined than that of personal convictions.

With these definitions, it is also important that we look at religious beliefs since it is responsible for motivating religion.

Richard(1998) said “Religious belief usually relates to the existence, nature, and worship of divinity or deities and divine participation in the world and human life. Alternately, it may also relate to values and practices transmitted by religious leaders. Unlike other belief systems, which may be passed on orally, religious belief tends to be known in literate societies (religion in non-literate societies is still largely passed on vocally.

Now we are going to compare and contrast the Lakota religion to the secular religion

Consumerism per William A. Young.

Williams (200) mentioned that “Lakota religion is much more separately oriented and much less rigid than Christianity. More stress is placed on individual visions and spiritual consciousness, than on adhering to a socially established set of religious beliefs. Therefore, any representation, such as a tree, will contain a multitude of meanings and dealings, some personal, and some common to the people as a whole, but all valid within the context of Lakota religion.

In the early 1930s, the poet John G. Neidhardt met with the Lakota holy man Black Elk to record his life story and much of the sacred knowledge that he carried within him. In the book Black Elk Speaks, the old sage describes the consecrated tree of his great visualization, which he experienced when just a young boy”

“I looked ahead and saw the mountains there with rocks and forests in them, and from the mountains flashed all colors upwards to the heavens. Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and encompassing about me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all things as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.”

The sacred tree is described again in Niedhardt’s When the Tree Flowered. In this version, the holy man Blue Spotted Horse is giving orders to Eagle Voice, a young Lakota who is about to undertake a vision quest.

Here we have two images of the Sacred Tree, the Tree of Life, which is an image that is common to all men, and cultures. It is an image whose meaning has outlasted the centuries and is still of vital significance to many native peoples today. The book The Sacred Tree, produced by the Four Worlds improvement Project, tells the story of the Sacred Tree from a native American viewpoint and then uses the curative images to outline a path of completeness and mysticism.

The definition of religion as believed by William.A. Young the definition of religion is not easy to find. There are many interpretations of what defines a religion but not one that can be said to be the most accurate.

Some of them are:

A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny.

An institution to express belief in divine power.

A belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the practices and institutions associated with such belief.

Before we go further let’s consider Consumerism even as it is been looked at as the fastest-growing religion Topical years have seen the swift expansion of a new religion that may well have more devotees in America and somewhere else than any of the great world religions. This pervasive worldview and lifestyle are perhaps best described as the religion of consumerism…

The missionaries of consumerism have been unbelievably successful in spreading their worldview and lifestyle via advertising. It has been predictable that the average American sees more than 32,000 television commercials per year — that’s more than 320,000 by the time one graduate from high school! American corporations spend more than $110 billion per year on television and print advertising, more than is spent on all of our educational institutions combined.

And what is the message that is being preached? Consumerism’s easy message is that the way to human happiness is through the immeasurable acquirement of material wealth and corporal pleasure.

The problem lies when the definition includes a deity or superhuman power. For example, atheism is called a religion but the belief denies any power other than a man.

Other “religious definitions” are so broad as to include cosmology and ecology which most people regard as scientific studies and non-religious in nature.

The terms “spiritual” and “sacred” add to the intricacy of defining religion. Unless there are supreme beings or deities, most beliefs would not fall into this religious category.

Native Americans believe their religious beliefs are a necessary part of their life and cannot be separated from their life experience.

The beliefs of atheists and agnostics are that there is or is not a God and ethics do not essentially matter. So are they a religion?

Richard (1998) considered that “New Age is sometimes called a religion, but in reality, they embrace whatever appeals to them the most and add them to an existing religious order. And talking about consumerism Young hard a distinct view about it Young said:

Christians do not identify Christianity as a religion but as a close relationship with Jesus Christ. It is the only religion that you do not have to work to be saved; it is by the freely given grace of God. If the “people’s war,” through state intervention and recognition of trendy desires, suggested a more consumerist prospect, it also toughened some of the left’s traditional dichotomies. The efficacy scheme, bringing key commodities within a state design and price administration and exempting them from purchase tax, differentiated utility and luxury goods both economically and morally. Extended post-war it seemed more paternalist than about “fair shares.”

The Conservatives targeted women consumers by critiquing Attlee’s bureaucratic fondness for rationing. Initiatives like the Council of Industrial Design did more than gesture towards consumer oratory, but the opaque consumer Boards and Councils of the nationalized industries were less promising. As Hilton would have it, the idea of a state Consumer Advice Centre, which Young inserted into Labour’s 1950 manifesto, had the potential to bridge the politics of necessity and affluence and prefigured later developments”. surely Harold Wilson’s investigations at the Board of Trade were more unbiased between producers and consumers than previously (or subsequently), but as had been (and would be) the case the idea fell foul of a small parliamentary majority, budgetary constraints, and the left’s enduring prejudices. In short, it was judged a luxury. Were Conservatives more skilled in perceiving the consumer?

Not naturally, but it is suggested the left missed an opportunity to set an agenda of advice to match the Conservatives’ rhetoric of choice. terminally, Hilton judges that by the later 1950s the Co-Op “lacked the mind’s eye to step beyond an older politics of necessity”

According to Denis(1993)”Consumerism is the equating of personal gladness with the purchasing of substance belongings and consumption The term is often linked with criticisms of consumption

In finances, consumerism can also refer to economic policies that place an emphasis on consumption, and, in an abstract sense, the belief that the liberated choice of consumers should utter the economic arrangement of a society.

In many critical contexts, consumerism is used to explain the tendency of people to identify strongly with products or services they consume, especially those with marketable brand names and obvious status-enhancing appeal, e.g. an expensive automobile, expensive jewelry. Denis (1993) said that “A tradition that is permeated by consumerism can be referred to as a consumer culture. Yen buyers are quite dissimilar from shopaholics, who cannot resist spending money”.

Lakotas’ View on this issue is quite different from Williams’s. Lakotas View is more on a religious and cultural Stand. Lakota’s View is Rigid and sacred. But Williams’s view is a little bit flexible.”

Religion might be kind of complicated and difficult to understand but it is real. And there are different religions in the world just like you have different countries, people and cultures. And these religions have different beliefs.

These people with different religious beliefs are human beings but there tend to believe in spiritual beings or in other words invincible creatures and that is the most fascinating thing about religious beliefs. And that is why it looks complicated and undefinable. This is the reason why it is difficult to comprehend the philosophy of religion. And above we looked at Lakotas and Williams’s view of religion with regards to consumerism. There all have their distinct views and considerations. But certainly, that is not surprising as one understands that the philosophy guiding this religion is supernatural and so it is normal to have different views beliefs, and perspectives of religion amongst mere human beings. But certainly religion quite mystical and so it can be a little difficult for human beings to comprehend with their senses.

And that is the reason why you have pagans. People who don’t believe in any God or supernatural being. There tend to be independent probably because there can comprehend the philosophy guiding this supernatural belief. But in conclusion, people would continue to have different views about their religious beliefs and there will never agree. And these are some human problems associated with consumerism as a threat to the freedom of the human person to live according to the higher burden of love slightly than to the lower pull of hedonistic desires. It is imperative to comprehend why the pope sees such a danger in consumerism and how this is related to questions of economic liberty; it is a subject in need of greater awareness than it has been given to date, so it might be useful to begin by asking some prelude questions. According to Williams (2000) Here is Lakota’s position

“Lakota religion is much more individually oriented and much less dogmatic than Christianity. More prominence is placed on individual visions and religious awareness, than on adhering to a socially accepted set of religious beliefs” Therefore, any symbol, such as a tree, will contain a massive amount of meanings and associations, some personal, and some widespread to the people as a whole, but all valid within the background of Lakota religion.


Denis, Peter, Religious Beliefs: The History of the Future. New York: Pocket, 1993.

Richard A.: World Religion: The province and the philosophy Maimi. Marmite Publishing House. 1998.

Williams.S.A: Religion and Consumerism. Orlando; Bristo Publishing. 2000.

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