JCCC Honors Journal


In recent years there has been an increased interest in questions concerning religion and faith. There have been bestselling books by authors of the so called new-atheist movement, Dawikns, Dennite, Haris and Hitchens, as well as numerous responses given attempting to refute the attacks made on traditional views of religion and faith. Moreover, since September 11th 2001 there has been a heightened awareness of the gulf separating believers and non-believers. Yet, the problem at the heart of this debate often seems to become an inquiry into whether or not religion is good for society rather than a question of the existence of God. This indicates that there may be a new way to look at the question, what is religion? Perhaps we should begin to think of religion as a social thus natural phenomenon; in doing so religion can be understood in aesthetic terms. If it is the case that religion is essentially born from shared relations within a social framework, much in the same mode as aesthetics, then the gulf between believers and non-believers is illusory. Better understanding the dualistic quality of human relationships will likely serve to find common ground within religious dialogues; this involves seeing how both religion and art are modes of myth-making. Historically the aesthetic symbol of the halo has been used by many religions and aesthetic traditions as an expression of enlightenment or reason. Therefore, the halo servers as a fossil of human experience. The intent of this paper is to examine this position through the symbol of the halo and how it has evolved in the Mithraic, Christian and Buddhist traditions.