A comparative study of some of the basic patterns of religion. The course will focus upon such themes as religious experience, myths of creation, stories of religious founders and heroes, the origin and resolution of human suffering, and the structure and meaning of religious community and ritual. Source material for these themes will be taken from the literary and artistic resources of the following religious traditions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV or INT.
An examination of primitive Christianity as witnessed by the writings of the New Testament. Emphasis will be given to the literary and historical analysis of the Gospels and Epistles and to an understanding of the pre-Christian and non-Christian religions of the Hellenistic world. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: W.
An introduction to China’s three major religions—Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism—through the reading of classic texts. Also, a look at important elements in Chinese folk religion: ancestor worship, temples, heavens and hells, and forms of divination. Special attention will be paid to the importance of government in Chinese religious thought and to continuity and change in the history of Chinese religion.Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW.
An examination of the process of moral reasoning and its relationship to religious belief. Emphasis will be given to the analysis of issues that have drawn the special attention of religious ethicists; among these are abortion, stem cell research, the treatment of congenitally impaired newborns, same-sex marriage, and physician-assisted suicide. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV.
This course will explore the interdisciplinary intersections of literary works and theology, including poetry, novels, and short stories from the Western traditions. We read and interpret each work in tandem with the theology that illuminates it. We also examine art works it has elicited or inspired. For example, a selection from the The Brothers Karamazov is twinned with an excerpt on Russian Orthodox theology discussing the phenomenon of the "starets", or holy fool, and a look at Russian icons. Readings may include T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, Flannery O'Connor, John Updike, Nikos Kazantzakis, Ron Hansen, Trevor Herriott, Annie Dillard, and others. Open to all students. Dist: TMV.
Can significant distinctions be drawn between religious and magical ritual? Do magic and religion thrive in opposition to the science of their time or in congruence with it? The course addresses such theoretical questions in the study of religion from perspectives of history, philosophy of science, anthropology, and cognitive science. The course will suggest a general theory of conditions under which religion tends to be or tends not to be magical. Students will be invited to challenge that theory. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
This course examines attitudes toward non-human animals (and their attitudes toward us), with an emphasis on spirituality and ethics. Interdisciplinary interpretations are highlighted: documentaries, art, poetry, children's literature, and classics of theological literature (the sermons of Meister Eckhard and the Life of St. Francis). Issues to be considered include: dominion theology, cloning, euthanasia, companion animals, and hunting. What is a theology of creatureliness? Can and should the lion ever lie down with the lamb? And where might we be in that picture? DIST: TMV; WCult: W.
A study of the advent of Buddhism in China, its accommodating yet transforming response to Chinese traditions and values, the emergence of the authentically Chinese schools of T’ien-T’ai, Hua-yen, Ch’an, and Pure Land Buddhism, and the enduring Bud-dhist heritage of China. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW.
A survey of the history and theology of Mormonism, the largest and most successful religious tradition indigenous to America. We'll examine the origins of the movement, read extensive selections from the Book of Mormon, and look at some of the cultural expressions of Mormonism. We'll chart, finally, Mormonism's remarkable transition from a persecuted minority religion in the nineteenth century to the embodiment of American ideals. Dist: TMV; WCult: W.
As a culminating activity for senior majors, this colloquium serves as a forum for researching and writing the Senior Essay. Two faculty members convene the colloquium and guide the selection of essay topics. Other faculty and guest speakers may visit during the first five weeks of the term for discussion of common readings. The 25-page Senior Essay is expected (1) to display expertise in at least one cultural area, historical period, methodological approach, or body of literature, (2) to build upon previous course preparation, and (3) to engage with one of several approaches or readings discussed in the colloquium. Students who choose to enroll in Religion 84 or Religion 86 and 87 as their Culminating Experience are normally expected to participate in the Senior Colloquium but are excused from the writing component. Prerequisite: Religion 1. Open only to senior majors. Dist: TMV.
Last Updated: 10/28/13