Chinese rituals, however, usually occur without an altar, while Hindu rituals require one.
In addition to describing these similarities and differences, you should also discuss what your comparison reveals about food and altars relative to a particular theory of ritual.
You might, therefore, investigate how Nietzsche questioned the existence of God or a particular Buddhist’s conception of reincarnation.
In other words, your reader will likely be more interested in what a particular historical figure, community, or text reveals about these beliefs than in what you actually believe.
At the same time that religious studies uses many of the same theories and methods as other fields, it is still its own discipline with unique conventions for writing.
Writing for religious studies takes place within a secular, academic environment, rather than a faith-oriented community.If you base your argument on personal beliefs rather than reasoned evidence, then it will not convince readers who do not share your assumptions.Thus, neither faith nor received tradition (such as the lessons you may have been taught in a religious institution) constitutes a valid basis for an argument in academic writing.In other words, your comparative essay must be more than a list of similarities and differences.Your comparisons should support a theoretical point or issue that is broader than the items under examination.The theoretical issues of food, altars, and rituals can form the analytical core of your paper.A thesis sentence for the example above might read: “Even though Chinese rituals for honoring ancestors and Hindu rituals for honoring deities both involve food offerings, the differences between these rituals regarding their need for an altar demonstrate that Rupert Hemingway’s theory of ritual sacrifice cannot account for cross-cultural variations in ritual practices.” Writing for religious studies may also involve critical analyses of sacred and/or traditionally authoritative texts.You can employ methods of literary analysis by evaluating the genre of a particular text to explain how it has been interpreted.Issues related to authorship, source material, and historical context can also be important.An alternative approach involves treating the texts as literary sources.Literary texts are best understood by assessing the situation surrounding their origin.