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Quiz about Hoodoo  You Do
Quiz about Hoodoo  You Do

Hoodoo - You Do Trivia Quiz


Religious syncretism occurs when two or more cultures come into close contact and exchange religious ideas. This quiz will explore some of the world's syncretic religions, both ancient and modern.

A photo quiz by LadyNym. Estimated time: 4 mins.
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Author
LadyNym
Time
4 mins
Type
Photo Quiz
Quiz #
401,460
Updated
May 30 23
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
241
Last 3 plays: Guest 107 (4/10), lfranich90 (2/10), Guest 109 (7/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. Religious syncretism is anything but a modern phenomenon. What major Eastern belief system was influenced for centuries by Ancient Greek culture? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. Roman religion was syncretic almost by definition. The cult of which god of Indo-Iranian origin became widespread in the first centuries of the Christian era? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Gnosticism merged Christian elements with a dualistic cosmology. What Gnostic revival movement flourished in southern France between the 12th and the 14th century, and was eradicated by a crusade promoted by the Catholic Church? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. In the late 16th century, Indian emperor Akbar promoted a religion called Din-i Ilahi that merged features of all of the empire's major religions. What ruling dynasty did he belong to? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. Though similar in spelling and pronunciation, Hoodoo and Voodoo are not quite the same thing, as the former is a form of folk magic, and the latter a syncretic religion in its own right. Both of them, however, have their roots in which part of the world? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. Candomblé is probably the most important of the syncretic religions that developed in Brazil as a consequence of the Atlantic slave trade. Which city in northeastern Brazil, also known as Bahia, is considered Candomblé's holy city?
Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. Thanks to the popularity of reggae music, Rastafarianism has gained recognition outside its native Jamaica. Who is the Ras Tafari venerated as the religion's messiah? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. The NAC, or Native American Church, blends elements of Christianity with traditional Native American beliefs. It is distinguished by the sacramental use of which well-known psychoactive substance? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. The photo shows the elaborate Holy See Temple, the centre of the Cao Dai religion, a blend of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism with Roman Catholic influences. This religion is practiced mainly in which Southeast Asian country, a former French colony? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. Which liberal religion, which welcomes members from every religious (or even non-religious) background, is symbolized by the logo of the flaming chalice shown in the photo? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Religious syncretism is anything but a modern phenomenon. What major Eastern belief system was influenced for centuries by Ancient Greek culture?

Answer: Buddhism

While the religion of the classical Greek period tended to be exclusive, the Hellenistic religion that developed in the centuries following the death of Alexander the Great was strongly syncretic. The Greek cultural influence expanded beyond the Mediterranean region to West and Central Asia, as well as parts of the Indian subcontinent, resulting in the spread of new cults and religious practices that included the worship of heroes and rulers like Alexander himself. Greco-Buddhism developed between the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD in the Central Asian region of Bactria (comprising much of modern Afghanistan) and the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent.

This form of cultural and religious syncretism flourished in the Gandhara region (now in northwest Pakistan), which gave its name to a distinctive style of Buddhist art, highly influenced by Greek art, especially as regards the representation of the Buddha and other deities in human form - as shown in the photo. Indeed, Greek-influenced sculptural representations of the Buddha can be seen as examples of the creation of a syncretic deity. Greek deities were also incorporated in Buddhist art: Herakles (portrayed wearing a lion skin and wielding a club) was identified with Vajrapani, the protector of the Buddha, and the Chinese and Japanese wind gods were inspired by depictions of Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind.

There are also written records of the religious interaction between Buddhism and Greek thought, many of them dating from the reign of the Indo-Greek king Menander I (160-135 BC). The exchange between Buddhist India and the West continued during the Roman Empire, facilitated by the brisk trade occurring along the Silk Road; some historians have argued that Buddhist ideals might have had an influence on early Christianity.
2. Roman religion was syncretic almost by definition. The cult of which god of Indo-Iranian origin became widespread in the first centuries of the Christian era?

Answer: Mithra

In the ancient Zoroastrian religion of Persia, Mithra (Mithras in the Greek spelling) was a divinity of light, also associated with contracts and covenants, as implied in the meaning of his name ("that which causes binding"); the Indian deity Mitra, mentioned in Vedic texts, shared similar characteristics. The Romans had practiced syncretism since the beginning of their civilization, adopting the deities of the peoples they came in contact with (and often conquered), and integrating them into their pantheon. This was also the case with the Mithraic mysteries, which became popular in Rome and other parts of the Empire more or less at the same time as Christianity did. It is estimated that hundreds of "mithraea", the underground temples where the god was worshipped, existed in Rome alone; many of them survive to this day. Many images of Mithra, like the fresco shown in the photo, depict the god slaying a bull; this scene (tauroctony) was the centrepiece of every mithraeum. Due to his connection to light, Mithra was also identified with the sun, and conflated with the Greek sun god Helios, or even with Apollo.

Adherents to Mithraism were required to undergo various degrees of initiation, and swear an oath of secrecy. As Mithraism left no written texts, much of what we know about this cult (including its much-debated origins) comes from its visual representations, as well as mentions by various Latin authors. Many of the followers of Mithraism were members of the Roman military; in fact, Mithraism was not an alternative to the official religion, but one of the many forms of worship practiced in the Empire. However, Christianization put an end to the cult of Mithra, which became the object of active persecution, and was eventually outlawed (like all pagan cults) by emperor Theodosius at the end of the 4th century AD.

Brahma, Shiva and Indra are all major Hindu gods; none of them seems to have been worshipped in Rome - at least not as widely as Mithra was.
3. Gnosticism merged Christian elements with a dualistic cosmology. What Gnostic revival movement flourished in southern France between the 12th and the 14th century, and was eradicated by a crusade promoted by the Catholic Church?

Answer: Cathars

In the eyes of the Catholic Church, syncretism is heretical by definition, so it should not come as a surprise that some of the movements branded as heresies were actually syncretic religions that integrated aspects of Christianity with concepts from often vastly different sources. Gnosticism, which originated in the 1st century AD, rejected orthodox doctrine in favour of personal spiritual knowledge ("gnosis" in Greek). Featuring elements of Christianity, Judaism and Neo-Platonic philosophy, Gnosticism was strongly influenced by the Zoroastrian religion of ancient Persia, and possibly even by Buddhism. In fact, Gnosticism derived its dualistic cosmology (according to which God was good and the material world was evil) from Zoroastrianism; this dualism became the defining feature of Manichaeism, an offshoot of Gnosticism that became a major religion in the Middle East and beyond.

In 12th century Europe, the Cathars (from a Greek word meaning "pure") took this dualism and the Gnostic tendency towards asceticism to the extreme. Also known as Albigensians (from the city of Albi in southern France), the Cathars identified two conflicting deities, the good God of the New Testament (creator of the spirit) and the evil God of the Old Testament (creator of the material world). With their belief in reincarnation and emphasis on the rejection of physicality (including reproduction), the Cathars sharply diverged from Catholic orthodoxy. They were, however, so deeply rooted in their territory - even at the highest levels of society - that the Church had no choice but to launch a bloody crusade that lasted 20 years (1208-1228), and was followed by decades of persecution that led to the annihilation of the movement. The image in the photo depicts the expulsion of Cathars from the walled city of Carcassonne (1209).

All the remaining options are movements considered heretical (and accordingly persecuted) by the Church.
4. In the late 16th century, Indian emperor Akbar promoted a religion called Din-i Ilahi that merged features of all of the empire's major religions. What ruling dynasty did he belong to?

Answer: Mughal

Akbar I (1542-1605), also known as Akbar the Great, was the third Mughal emperor, who ruled over most of the Indian subcontinent. At a time when religious intolerance was rife, leading to wars and widespread bloodshed, Akbar (who was technically a Muslim, like all Mughal emperors) strove for what nowadays would be called interfaith dialogue, actively promoting debate on religious and philosophical issues. To this purpose, he founded a meeting house named Ibadat Khana (House of Worship) in his capital of Fatehpur Sikri, where leaders of different religions could meet and discuss their respective teachings. Akbar came to the conclusion that all belief systems led to the same goal, so he decided to create a new religion - called Din-i Ilahi ("Divine Faith"), which integrated elements taken not only from the Empire's two primary religions - Islam and Hinduism - but also from Christianity, Jainism and Zoroastrianism. Unlike all these religions, Din-i Ilahi had neither priests nor sacred texts; it valued the virtues of prudence, abstinence and kindness, promoting celibacy (a trait taken from Catholicism) and forbidding the killing of animals (as in Jainism). The emphasis on fire worship came from Zoroastrianism, and the idea of purification through the yearning for God from Sufi Islam.

Din-i Ilahi was never meant to be embraced by the masses, but was rather an elite movement whose central figure was the emperor himself. One of the adherents of this new faith was Akbar's advisor Birbal, who later became a character in folk tales because of his legendary wit; Birbal was the only Hindu to embrace the new religion. In any case, Din-i Ilahi did not survive Akbar, and after his death there was a strong backlash against what orthodox Islam considered a heretical doctrine.

The three incorrect choices are dynasties that ruled in India (Maurya), China (Ming) and Egypt (Mamluk).
5. Though similar in spelling and pronunciation, Hoodoo and Voodoo are not quite the same thing, as the former is a form of folk magic, and the latter a syncretic religion in its own right. Both of them, however, have their roots in which part of the world?

Answer: West Africa

Latin America, the Caribbean and the Southern US are home to a number of closely related African diasporic religions, derived from the traditional religions of various West African populations, but incorporating elements of Christianity (especially Roman Catholicism) and other religious and spiritual traditions. The best-known of these syncretic religions, practiced by hundreds of thousands of people, are Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo, both rooted in the West African Vodun ("spirit" in the Fon language of Benin) brought to the Americas by slaves. While both are technically monotheistic religions that believe in a creator called Bondye ("Bon Dieu", meaning "good God") detached from human affairs, their followers pray to a number of spirits named "loa", acting as intermediaries between the creator and humankind. Each of these entities is associated with one or more Christian saints - a practice that is frowned upon by the Catholic Church, but nonetheless widespread: Papa Legba, the guardian of the crossroads, is identified with St Anthony the Hermit, the serpent spirit Damballa with St. Patrick, and Erzulie Freda with the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows.

One of the main differences between Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo is the latter's emphasis on amulets and charms ("gris-gris"), generally meant for protection, but occasionally used to cause harm (hence the stereotype of the "Voodoo doll" stabbed with pins). Voodoo queens, powerful and charismatic practitioners of the religion, are also a peculiarity of Louisiana Voodoo; the most famous of these women was Marie Laveau (1801-1881), whose memory is still revered in New Orleans. The ceremonies of both Voodoo and Vodou are characterized by music, singing, and spirit possession; animals are occasionally sacrificed to transfer their life force to the "loa". Both religions use French-based creoles as liturgical languages.

Other forms of Vodou (spelled Vodú or Vudú in Spanish-speaking countries) are practiced in Caribbean countries such as the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Hoodoo, on the other hand, though also rooted in West African belief, is not a religion, but rather a form of folk magic that developed among African slaves in the South Carolina Lowcountry, and is still practiced in the rural areas of the Southern US. Also known as Obeah, it is characterized by occult practices such as the conjuring of spirits, and the use of talismans and "spiritual supplies" (mostly herbal) for healing purposes.

The photo shows a mural in a New Orleans neighbourhood, depicting various Voodoo saints.
6. Candomblé is probably the most important of the syncretic religions that developed in Brazil as a consequence of the Atlantic slave trade. Which city in northeastern Brazil, also known as Bahia, is considered Candomblé's holy city?

Answer: Salvador

With its huge territory and multicultural population, Brazil is a hotbed of syncretic religions drawing on many different belief systems. Developed in the early 19th century in the city of Salvador, the capital of the northeastern state of Bahia and former national capital, Candomblé counts at least two million followers in Brazil and other parts of South America. Like Vodoun and Louisiana Voodoo, this syncretic religion (whose name means "dance in the honour of the gods") is rooted in the traditional religions practiced in West Africa; however, it is more overtly polytheistic than either of them, focusing on the worship of the "orishas" ("orixás" in the Portuguese spelling), the gods of the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin. Born among African slaves who tried to cling to their heritage, Candomblé was persecuted and suppressed until the 1970s, when freedom of religion became the law in Brazil. In recent times, some practitioners have sought to strengthen the connection of Candomblé with its West African roots, to the detriment of its Christian component.

Candomblé is practiced in houses called "terreiros", where altars such as the one in the photo feature prominently; priestesses - who wear distinctive white dresses with wide skirts - have a very important role in Candomblé ceremonies, which also involve a lot of music, singing and dancing. Adherents of the religion go through a complex system of initiations, during which they receive a string of beads associated with their chosen deity.

As the slaves came from different parts of West and Central Africa, Candomblé counts several branches, or nations, of which the Ketu or Nagô (characterized by the use of Yoruba as a ritual language) is the largest. The supreme being of Candomblé is known as Olorun or Olodumare; among the "orishas" worshipped by practitioners of the religion, the water goddess Yemanjá (often portrayed as a mermaid) is particularly revered in Salvador, where she is syncretized with the Virgin Mary. The altar in the photo is dedicated to Xangô (the "orisha" of fire, thunder and lightning) and his wife Oba, displaying ritual objects and foods associated with these deities.

Syncretic religions similar to Candomblé are Umbanda (which has a strong component of Spiritism and other forms of mysticism), Quimbanda and Macumba (both of which emphasize magic rituals). It is estimated that over 10% of Brazilians follow more than one religion. The Cuban syncretic religion known as Santería is closely related to Candomblé, both in origins and practices.
7. Thanks to the popularity of reggae music, Rastafarianism has gained recognition outside its native Jamaica. Who is the Ras Tafari venerated as the religion's messiah?

Answer: Haile Selassie

Though it counts as one of the many African diasporic religions that evolved in Latin America and the Caribbean as a result of the slave trade, the Rastafari religion of Jamaica is somewhat of an outlier. It is an Abrahamic religion that developed in the 1930s in underprivileged Afro-Jamaican communities, with an underlying political aspect that focuses on the oppression of Africa ("Zion") by the West ("Babylon"). Unlike most Afro-American religions, Rastafarianism evolved from Protestant Christianity, when in 1930 a group of ministers hailed the crowning of the new Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie (formerly Ras Tafari Makonnen), as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. The new religion was also a reaction against British colonialism, and was influenced by the black nationalist ideals of Marcus Garvey's Back-to-Africa movement.

As a belief system, Rastafarianism blends elements of Christianity and Judaism with an African focus; it is based on a specific interpretation of the Bible, which is considered an authentic account of the early history of Africa, originally written in the Amharic language of Ethiopia. Rastas are monotheistic, worshipping a single god called Jah (a shortened version of the Jewish name Jehovah), who is also seen as dwelling in every human; many regard Haile Selassie as the incarnation of Jah (and thus the Second Coming of Christ), though others see him simply as a prophet. They also believe that the present age will end in an apocalypse (possibly through nuclear war) in which Babylon will be overthrown.

A decentralized religion fractured into several denominations ("mansions"), Rastafarianism is strongly individualistic, and has neither leader nor clergy. Rastas refer to their cultural and spiritual practices by the term "livity". Some of these practices have been popularized outside of Jamaica by reggae musicians such as Bob Marley - namely, the use of cannabis (ganja) as a sacrament, and the wearing of dreadlocks, seen as a symbol of strength. Alcohol, tobacco and hard drugs are generally avoided; most adherents follow "kashrut" dietary laws, eating natural, locally grown food. There are about one million followers of Rastafarianism worldwide, most of whom are men. The photo depicts the Ethiopian flag with the emblem of the Lion of Judah, a symbol of Haile Selassie as a descendant of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Rastas often wear the colours of the Ethiopian flag, or paint them on buildings or vehicles.

All three incorrect choices are winners of the Nobel Prize for Peace.
8. The NAC, or Native American Church, blends elements of Christianity with traditional Native American beliefs. It is distinguished by the sacramental use of which well-known psychoactive substance?

Answer: peyote

The Native American Church (also known as Peyotism or Peyote Religion, or NAC for short) was founded in the Oklahoma Territory by Comanche war leader Quanah Parker in the late 19th century. As its alternative name implies, much of the church's activity is based on the ritual consumption of peyote (shown in the photo), a cactus native to Mexico and parts of Texas. This plant contains the hallucinogen mescaline, and has been used for centuries by native North American populations as an entheogen - that is, to engender supernatural visions in religious ceremonies. The followers of the NAC believe in a supreme being called the Great Spirit; peyote allows the faithful to communicate with the deity and its attendant spirits, so its consumption is considered a sacrament. The peyote ceremonies are held in conical tents known as tipis, which contain the holy fireplace; these ceremonies, led by a priest or elder, generally last all night. After ingesting the peyote, the faithful partake of sacramental foods, and then have a communion breakfast early in the morning, at the conclusion of the service. A metal drum filled with water and a gourd rattle are used during the prayer services to accompany the singing of the peyote songs. A lot of care and attention is put into the crafting of the objects used in the rituals.

The Christian component of the NAC is more prominent in the group called Cross-Fire, who read extracts from the Bible and preach sermons during their services; on the other hand, the Half-Moon group (so named after the shape of the altars) emphasize the traditional aspects of the religion, though they still uphold the Christian tenets of brotherly love, tolerance and forgiveness.

Peyotism was persecuted in the past, but now the use of peyote in NAC ceremonies is protected by the Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978. The NAC has two main chapters, the Native American Church of the United States (the original chapter), and the Native American Church of North America. It is estimated that, at the end of the 20th century, the NAC had about 250,000 adherents among the Native American people of the contiguous US, Canada and Mexico.
9. The photo shows the elaborate Holy See Temple, the centre of the Cao Dai religion, a blend of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism with Roman Catholic influences. This religion is practiced mainly in which Southeast Asian country, a former French colony?

Answer: Vietnam

Cao Dai ("High Palace") was founded in 1926 in the city of Tay Ninh, in southern Vietnam, when the country was still a French colony; the religion's founders were active in the struggle against the colonial regime. Though described as a monotheistic religion, Caodaism is actually based on the traditional Chinese duality of yin and yang. Yang is represented by Cao Dai himself, the Highest Power, while yin is represented by the Holy Mother; both these deities are creators, and all other divine beings must follow their orders. Though Caodaism has a rather complex cosmology (influenced not only by mainstream religions, but also by European Spiritism), its basic tenet is that "all religions are one". In fact, its doctrines attempt to reconcile principles that are shared by most of the world's belief systems. Religious founders such as Buddha, Jesus Christ and Confucius are revered as prophets informed by the will of the Highest Power; many important cultural figures of both East and West are regarded as "saints".

Caodaists practice nonviolence, vegetarianism and the veneration of ancestors - traits shared by other major Asian religions. The symbol of Cao Dai is the Left Eye of God; the three colours on its banner (yellow, blue and red) stand for Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Like the Catholic Church, Caodaism's clergy is organized according to a strict hierarchy, headed by a Pope. Women are admitted to the priesthood and can reach all but the highest level.

The Great Divine Temple (Holy See) in Tay Ninh is a major tourist destination due to its eclectic architecture and colourful ceremonies, which, like the religion itself, blend influences from various creeds and locales. Though Caodaism was banned by the Communist government for over 20 years, in 1997 it was granted legal recognition once again; now it counts between 2.5 to 6 million followers worldwide, and is Vietnam's third religion by number of followers.
10. Which liberal religion, which welcomes members from every religious (or even non-religious) background, is symbolized by the logo of the flaming chalice shown in the photo?

Answer: Unitarian Universalism

The Unitarian Universalist Association was formed in 1961 by the merger of two denominations, the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America. Though originally rooted in liberal Christianity, the new movement drew its inspiration from multiple religious and philosophical traditions, appealing to people from diverse backgrounds - including some who do not believe in a higher power. Unitarian Universalism rejects any kind of fundamentalist belief: the name of the movement itself emphasizes the notion of a non-trinitarian God, as well as that of universal salvation. As Unitarian Universalism is a non-creedal religion, its adherents hold a wide range of individual beliefs, though they all subscribe to the church's core Seven Principles; as part of the church's Six Sources, humanist teachings are held in the same regard as the spiritual teachings of the world's religions.

Unitarian Universalist congregations have a wide range of practices, which may include services reminiscent of those held in Christian churches, meditation groups, ritual dinners, and summer/winter solstice celebrations. The largest numbers of Unitarian Universalist congregations are found in the US and Canada; the movement also comprises a number of organizations that reflect the wide variety of beliefs and attitudes of its members.

Two of the three incorrect choices also refer to modern syncretic religions: Universal Sufism is rooted in the esoteric Sufi tradition of Islam, while the Unification Church of South Korea is the controversial movement founded by Sun Myung Moon. The United Church of Christ is a mainline Protestant denomination based in the US.
Source: Author LadyNym

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