Catholicgauze for Geographic Travels: Freshwater and Religion

“Catholicgauze” is a geographer who holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in geography and enjoys doing geographic work whether it is in the office or as far as Iraq.

Water truly is the building block of life.  Our bodies are made from it and we need water to think, act, and live.  It is somewhat natural therefore that fresh water plays a role in many world religions.  Whether because of some divine tradition or some holy act, water has become holy for many faiths.  (Note:  This is by no means an extensive report on all relations between faiths and fresh water, merely a survey).

Christianity

Globally

The Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee are the closest things Christianity has to holy bodies of water.  The Jordan River was the sight of several Old Testament miracles including Elisha ordering Naaman to bath in the Jordan so that Naaman would be cured of leprosy (2 Kings 5:14).  The Jordan River plays a large role in the New Testament as the place where John the Baptist preaches and Jesus is baptized (Matthew 3).  The Sea of Galilee, the lowest freshwater lake in the world with its surface 686 feet (209 meters) below sea level, is the sight of several miracles including Jesus’ walking on water (John 6:19) and Jesus feeding the masses (Mathew 14: 16-20).

These bodies of water, while held highly in regard, are not considered to have holy properties (unlike the Spring at Lourdes, for example).  However, both the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee are popular pilgrimage sites and there is a trend among Evangelicals to be rebaptized in the Jordan River to imitate Christ.

Locally

The Catechism of the Catholic Church ties water well into the Rite of Baptism.  Water in this ritual represents the word of God, Christ’s death and rebirth, a purifier of sins, and the source of life.  Catholic, Orthodox, and most Protestants require water baptisms, of “living water” i.e. fresh, because of the importance assigned to water.

Continue reading Catholicgauze’s full post on his blog!
http://www.geographictravels.com/2010/11/geography-awareness-week-fresh-water.html

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