Project #8047 - Comparative Religions

Required Materials & Texts :  William A. Young,The World’s Religions              

                                                 Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2013 (4th edition)

                     My Religion Lab, Online Resourcefrom Pearson/Prentice Hall  

 (Available at the Columbus State Bookstore)          http://bookstore.cscc.edu
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SCHEDULE  OF  TOPICS  & ASSIGNMENTS :

 

Week 1   May 20th  –  May 25th    

           

                                                                                                             Introduction to the Study of Religion

       Assignmentsfor week 1:  Read  Section 1 (Chapter 1) in The World’s Religions  and  in My Religion Lab (Go to Student Resources the click on My Religion Library then click on Religion then click the segment on Religious Responses and read the following articles: The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion by Mircea Eliade

 Answer all 3 of the following Week 1 essays:

Prompts for week 1 questions:

You may use any resources at your disposal. List your sources at the end of each essay.  Not all the answers to these questions are directly addressed in your text. Appropriately cite any sources if you are quoting or closely borrowing from an author’s text (physical or electronic).Suggested length is 2 or more pages per question (450 to 800 words).

 

1. Why do you think people believe in God ?(This may pertain to people today or in the past). You might start by making a list of reasons for belief. The parameters of a definition for God in this first question can include the notion of a higher power, ultimate reality, universal source (force), supreme entity, or spirit(s). Why do people belong to organized religions?  How about the whole issue of disbelief?  What are the reasons for people not believing in “the divine” or some type of ultimate reality? Could some of the reasons (and reasoning) for belief be similar to those who opt for disbelief (atheists) or for skepticism (agnostics)? Under what circumstances would the reasons for faith or disbelief be different?

 

2. Discuss some of the sociological, anthropological and psychological theories for the development of religion or belief systems proposed by 19th and 20th century thinkers such as:

Mircea Eliade            Herbert Spencer          Emile Durkheim        E.B. Tylor               Rudolph Otto          James Frazier          Arnold Van Gennep       R.R. Marett                  John Lubbock       Sigmund Freud       Rudolf Bultmann        Friedrich Nietzsche

 

 Did the gods create people or did people “create” their impressions of God(s)?

(Some of these theorists are not in your textbooks. You might choose to research 4 or 5 of the scholars listed above and present some of their ideas.)

 

3. How might you define the terms religion, myth, and scripture? What are the definitions used by scholars? When you think of terms like sacred or holy, what type of things come to mind? Again, it might help to make a list. Do you think people are becoming more or less “religious” in today’s modern world. Why?

 

Essays for weeks 1 through 3  are due by June 10th    

 

Week 2   May 26th   –  June 1st            

Primal Quest for the Sacred

                         African & Native American Religions

 Meso-American Religions

for week 2 read:   Section II Chapter 2 in The World’s Religions

 

You might consider looking at the following web articles and accompanying links for help with your essays: Follow links to articles and bibliographies

Native American Religion    http://www.tahtonka.com/spirituality.html

http://web.archive.org/web/20050330085408/http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/naind/html/na_032600_religion.htm

African Traditional Religionhttp://afrikaworld.net/afrel

Meso-American Religionshttp://angelfire.com/ca/humanorigins/religion.html

See other links at the end of the syllabus (pp. 19-23)

 

Answer any 3 of the following Week 2 essays:

 

Prompts:

 

You may use any resources at your disposal. List your sources at the end of each essay.  Not all the answers to these questions are directly addressed in your text. Appropriately cite any sources if you are quoting or closely borrowing from an author’s text (physical or electronic).Suggested length is 2 or more pages per question (450 –800 words).

 

1. Compare and contrast various aspects of Native American and African belief systems. How are their mythologies similar? What are some of the problems

inherent in the study of indigenous religion?

 

2. Describe some of the ritual practices and ideas of either the Oglala Lakota or the Yoruba.

 

3. Outline some of the aspects of Meso-American polytheistic belief. How might you explain the propensity for human sacrifice among the native religions of Mexico?

 

4. Describe one particular religious practice or element among African, Native American or Meso-American cultures. Examples might be drawn from the following list: vision quest, peyote, ancestor cults, village gods, ancestor or power figures, use of masks, Meso-American temples, burial practices, rites of passage, witches, twins in African lore, role of African kings, shamans, Meso-American gods, medicine, creation myths.

 

5. Answer Discussion Questions # 1 & 5 on p. 54 of Young.

 

Essays for weeks 1, 2 and 3 are due by June 10th       

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Week 3    June 2nd   –  June 8th  

                                          Hinduism

for week 3 read: Section II,  Chapter 3 in The World’s Religions

  andin My Religion Lab (Go to Student Resources the click on My Religion Library then click on Religion then click the segment on Hinduism read the following scriptures:  In Praise of Durga, in the Siva Purana;  read  Rama, Sita, and Lakshman in the Ramayana; and read I am the Beginning and the End from the Bhagavad-Gita

                                Answer any 3 of the following week 3 essays:

Prompts:

 

You may use any resources at your disposal. List your sources at the end of each essay. Most of the answers to these questions are directly addressed in your text. Suggested length is 2 or more pages per question (450 to 800 words).

 

1. Address some of the major themes and ideas that appear in the early Hindu Scriptures (Vedas, Upanishads, Brahmanas). How are the Vedas different from the  Upanishads? What are some of the concepts addressed in the Laws of Manu, Mahabharata, Ramayanna, Bhagavad-Gita and Puranas? Why are each of these works considered to be important? (You don’t have to write about all of them.)

 

2.  Generally outline several of the following basic notions in the Hindu world-view such as: karma, dharma, samsara, caste, moksha, atman, ahimsa, Brahman and maya. Provide an explanation of your own understanding of these concepts (some or all) and how they ideologically fit into the lives of Hindus.

 

3. Discuss some of the aspects of Hindu worship and devotion such as puja and the yogas. How was Hindu practice reformed during the 19th and 20th centuries? What are some of the practical differences between “folk Hinduism” (a literal belief in the many gods and goddesses) and those who espouse a more “monistic” or “henotheistic” approach to the “Brahman” or ultimate reality. Your book also addresses the notion of “personal” and “impersonal” understandings of the sacred. How does this apply?

 

4. A few of you may have some interest in the gods and goddesses of Hinduism. You could write an essay on the role of particular divinities represented in Hindu tradition and some of their ascribed attributes.

 

 

5. Answer Discussion Questions 2 & 3 on p. 86 of Young.

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