Day #5 - Introduction to Religion

We'll use today's lesson and our two sessions next week to wrap up our introductory look at religion. After that, we'll tackle Hinduism as our first specific faith.

REMINDERS: You have Blog Entry #1 due before the start of class on Tuesday, September 9th. Your first Independent Assignment is due before the start of class on Thursday, September 11th.

Here are the readings for today:

  • "Our Fight is Righteous"
  • "Religion in World Affairs: Its Role in Conflict and Peace"
  • "Religion Journal: Shrines Serve the Need for Healing in Public Spaces"
  • "Adam and Eve in the Land of the Dinosaurs"
  • "Beliefs; In four pages, Al Franken ranks world religions and explains the thousand faces of God"
  • "Summer Movies; God: Still Ready for His Close-Up"

Discussion question: On balance, is religion more a force of unity or division in today's world? Why?

Religion Scholars:  I gave you the little slips of paper pertaining to one of seven scholars of religion as you left last time. Let's hear just a bit about each of these folks and how they have influenced the study of religion.

  • Emile  Durkheim
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Rudolf Otto
  • Mircea Eliade
  • Wilfred Cantwell Smith
  • Karen Armstrong
  • Diana Eck

Sacred Literature:
We'll do several brief exercises related to sacred literature over the next few days. After a few introductory comments, we'll look today at one example of a work of sacred scripture, the Tao Te Ching (of Dao De Ching). Next week, we'll consider the role of creation stories around the world.

Sacred Time and Place:
We've touched on these issues in both our discussion of ritual and of the religion in general. Sacred Sites features the work of photographer Martin Gray, who has spent more than 25 years photographing sacred sites around the world. DO THIS: Browse through the collection, focusing on sites important to Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as anything else that interests you. Be sure to read the descriptions found beneath some of the photos. Bookmark two of the photos you find particularly meaningful or interesting. We'll share them next session.

Small-group Discussion
- If time permits, I'll ask you to work in groups of three or four for this short discussion. Get together and discuss these questions to bring back to the large group. We'll take a good ten minutes, maybe fifteen for this. At least one person should serve as a "recorder" for the group. We may not get back to the "big group" until next week.

  • Is religion a less powerful force today than it has been in the past? If so, why do you think it has declined in importance? If not, why has it remained strong? Be specific.

  • Do you think religion will ever become obsolete? Could human society and culture exist in a world without religion? Why or why not?

HOMEWORK for Day #6 - Introduction to Religion

We'll turn our attention to issues related to the roles stereotyping and prejudice can play in looking at religion. Please read the articles assigned for Day #6 in the reading packet.

You've got two assignments due next week. You can find the reminder at the top of this entry, and more specific information is available on the "pages" listed to the right on the blog itself.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mike Vergin published on September 5, 2008 8:00 AM.

Day #4 - Introduction to Religion was the previous entry in this blog.

Day #6 - Introduction to Religion is the next entry in this blog.

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