RELG 110

Introduction to the Study of Religion

 SRING SEMESTER 2018

 

Professor: Daniel Meckel

Office: MB 104. Tel: 4464

Email: djmeckel@smcm.edu

Office hours: Fridays 10:30-11:30 AM

 

Course Summary

It has never been more important for us to develop a basic and comparative understanding of religious traditions.  In this course, you are invited to acquaint yourself with the histories, beliefs and practices of four major world religions:  Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.  We will approach each of the four religions by first examining its foundations -- its early history and central symbols, tenets, and practices.  Second, we will consider the spectrum of religious perspectives within the tradition.  As the class progresses, students will learn to compare traditions along the lines of their notions of (a) divinity and ultimate reality, (b) notions of the human condition, (c) ultimate aims (d) the means to attaining those aims, and (e) mystical experience. 

 

Course Materials:

         Fisher,  Living Religions

         EastmanThe Ways of Religion

         Readings on Blackboard

 

 

COURSE SCHEDULE

 

TOPICS & VIDEOS


Videos are in green

READING ASSIGNMENTS


Readings are due for class
on the day
on which they are listed

 

QUIZZES & WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS
All written assignments are from Eastman
Choose Ten of the listed Response Papers

 

Defining Religion and the Sacred

Week I

Jan 16: Introduction to the Course

 

 

 

Jan 18: What is Religion?

 

 

      Livingston, ch. 1.  What is Religion?  [BB]

 

 

Week II

Jan 23: Sacred Power, Sacred Space, and Sacred Time

 

 

      Livingston ch. 3.  The Sacred and the Holy [BB]

 

Jan 25: Video: American Mystic

 

 

 

 

HINDU TRADITIONS

Week III

Jan 30: The One and the Many

 

Film: 330 Million Gods

 

      Eck, Seeing the Sacred [BB]

      Eastman, pp. 13-15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUIZ 1

How to Write a Good Quiz

Response Paper Assignments

      Response Paper Option 1: The Hindu View of Life

      In-Class Video Worksheet 1

 

Week IV

Feb 06: Ways of Ritual Action:

Early Vedic Religion

 

 

 

      Fisher, pp. 71-77

      Eastman, Hymns From the Rig Veda, pp. 22-27

      Response Paper Option 2: 
I am but a Seeker after Truth (by Mahatma Gandhi)

Feb 08: Ways of Mystical Knowledge: Vedanta

 

 

 

 

 

       Fisher, pp. 77-83

      Eastman:

o   Selections from The Upanishads, pp. 27-39

o   Yoga: The Discipline of Freedom, pp. 53-58

      Response Paper Option 3: Chudala

 

Week V

Feb 13: Ways of Devotion / Syntheses of the Three Ways

 

Puja

 

 

      Fisher, pp. 83-103

 

Response Paper Option 4:
Selections, Bhagavad-Gita

 

 

 

 

 

The Symbolic Language of Religion

 

Feb 15: Sacred Narrative: Parable and Myth

 

      LIvingston, ch. 4 [BB]



QUIZ 2

      Response Paper Option 5: Mythos and Logos, by Karen Armstrong [on Blackboard]

 

 

 

 

 

CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS

Week VI

Feb 20:  Introduction to Christianity/Life and Teachings of Jesus

 

      Fisher, ch. 9, up to The Early Church

      Eastman, pp. 343-350

 

 

      Response Paper Option 6:
Ways of Being Religious in the New Testament

 

Feb 22: Paul

 

      Fisher, The Early Church up to Roman Catholic Reformation

      Eastman, pp. 350-353

 

      Response Paper Option 7:
On the Road to Damascus

 

Week VII

Feb 27: Catholics and Protestants

 

      Fisher, The Protestant Reformation

      Response Paper 8:
The Anguish of Being a Christian, by Soren Kierkegaard

 

 

 

Ideas of the Divine and Ultimate Reality

 

Mar 01: Divinity

 

      Livingston, ch. 8

QUIZ 3

 

 

Week VIII

Mar 06: MIDTERM EXAM

 

 

 

 BUDDHIST TRADITIONS

 

Notions of the Human Condition

 

Mar 08: The Human Condition / Introduction to Buddhism

 

Film: In the Footsteps of the Buddha

 

      Livingston , ch. 10

 

      In-Class Video Worksheet 3

 

Week IX

Mar 12-16:  Spring Recess

 

 

 


Week X

Mar 20: The Four Noble Truths (1):

The Nature and Source of Suffering

      Fisher, pp. 134-147

      Eastman, Buddhahood

 

      Response Paper 9:
The Roar of Awakening

Mar 22: The Four Noble Truths (2):

The Cessation of Suffering

Film: Land of the
Disappearing Buddha

      Eastman, Selections, Buddhist Scripture

      Response Paper Option 10:
Buddhism as a Way of Life

      In-Class Video Worksheet 4

 

 

 

Week XI

Mar 27:  No Class – All Day Advising

 

Mar 29: Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism



      Fisher, pp. 147-154

      Eastman, pp. 110-115, The Mahayana and the Ideal of Bodhisattva

      Response Paper 11:
Holder of the White Lotus, by HH The Dalai Lama

 

Week XII

April 03:  Video: Becoming Buddha in L.A.



 

 

      Response Paper 12: 
Be Like a Frog

      In-Class Video Worksheet 5

 



Salvation and Liberation:

 

April 05: Ultimate Aims and Means

      Livingston, Ch. 13

 

QUIZ 4



 

ISLAMIC TRADITIONS

 

Week XIII

April 10: Muhammad and the Emergence of Islam

      Fisher, pp. 376-401

      Eastman, pp. 400-405,
Muhammad, Prophet of God

      Response Paper Option 13:
Muhammad, Prophet of God

April 12:  The Quran and the Hadiths / The Five Pillars of Islam

 

      Fisher, pp. 384-398

      Eastman, pp. 416-421, 428-435

 

      Response Paper 14:
Selections
, The Koran

 

 

Week XIV

April 17:  The Sufis

 

 

 

 

      Response Paper Option 15: Deliverance from Error by Al-Ghazali

 

 

 

April 19: The Sufi Way

 

Film: Sufi Soul

 

QUIZ 5

 

Week XV

April 24: FINAL EXAM

 

 

April 26: No Class (instructor at conference)