Close Encounters of the Religious Kind

Week 1 Discussion Latest 2017 March

Close Encounters of the Religious
Kind (graded)

Have you ever had an experience that you could
properly describe as religious? I
have in mind not only dramatic experiences like visions and conversions, but
also more commonplace, socially-embedded experiences such as receiving
communion, becoming bar mitzvah,
serving as a godparent for a young relative, or even simply attending religious
services. Think about that experience and ask yourself: Did it put you in touch
with the infinite? How would you describe the experience? Was it transcendent?
Monotheistic? Elaborate.

Week 2 Discussion Latest 2017 March

Dialogue with Hinduism

This week we begin our study of the great
religions of the world with Hinduism. We will examine its history, conceptions
of world and deity, religious practice, and way of salvation. I encourage you
to engage in a creative dialogue with Hinduism, broaden your understanding,
examine similarities and differences with your religious tradition, participate
in a respectful discussion with your classmates, and make practical
applications to your faith, life and career.

Week 3 Discussion Latest 2017 March

Dialogue with Buddhism (graded)

This week we will be exploring Buddhism. Let
us begin our study by examining the life of Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha. What
key events shaped his life? What are the Four Noble Truths and the Noble
Eightfold Path? Why is Buddhism appealing to the Western Mind?

Week 4 Discussion Latest 2017 March

Confucius Says… (graded)

Confucius was once asked if there was one rule
that could serve as the guide to one’s whole life. He replied: “What you
do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” How does this rule
compare with Jesus’ teaching on the Golden Rule? Look at these Biblical verses
to see if you can tell the difference: Matthew 7:12; Matthew 5:21-26, 43-48
(see the Webliographyfor an
online Bible). Is there one rule that you live by?

Week 5 Discussion Latest 2017 March

Prolegomenon-Things That Must be Said
Before (graded)

That Must be Said Before
This week we begin our study of the Western
Religions of Judaism and Christianity. For many members of this class, this
will involve an examination of your religious tradition. Before embarking on
this journey, it is good to look at what we are bringing with us. As noted in
week 1, religions are lived and dynamic realities. If you are part of any
religious tradition, you have inherited beliefs and values from it. Your
understanding of its origins and practices have been molded by it. You see the
divine through the lenses it has created. Understanding your “lenses” is
essential when studying a religious tradition. You will read and interpret
scared texts through these lenses and your experience of the divine will be
shaped by them.
A prolegomenon, or prefatory remarks, is one
way to understand how you are approaching the study of your religious
tradition. These remarks are “Things That Must be Said Before”, a critical
introduction to your study. They will identify the “presuppositions” underlying
the study. Presuppositions are things assumed beforehand or taken for granted.
For your first post, I would like you to write
your “Prolegomenon”. What are your underlying presuppositions guiding your
study of Judaism and Christianity? Here are some presuppositions you can
1.Revelation-Has God
been revealed to humankind in the Jewish and Christian Traditions? Is this
revelation confined to the historical periods of the Bible or is it continuing?
Is there a revelation of God outside of the Jewish and Christian traditions?
Scripture-Is the Bible an authoritative record of the revelation of God?
3. Divine
Nature-What is God like?
4.Salvation-What is
the way of salvation?
5. The
People of God-Who are the people of God?
6. Religious
Experience-How is God experienced?
7. Human
Nature-Is human nature good or evil?
8. Creation-How was
the world created? Does it have an end?
9. Life-How is
humankind to live?
10. Death-What
happens after death?
You do not have to address all presuppositions
in one post! I look forward to your insights!

Week 6 Discussion Latest 2017 March

Faith Seeking Understanding (graded)

This past week several members of class
mentioned how their study of the world’s religions has caused them to reflect
upon the uniqueness of their faith and the understandings (beliefs) on which it
is built and they have been taught. After all, our journey through the world
religions has confronted us with profound similarities in origins, rituals,
ethics, communities, scriptures, and belief systems. These similarities
challenge the exclusivity often found in a religious tradition, and passed down
from generation to generation without critical examination. For those of the
Christian Faith, this week provides an opportunity to examine Christianity, and
integrate knowledge received during this course into your faith.
“Cognitive dissonance” happens when our existing
beliefs do not align with our current knowledge. This dissonance motivates us
to change. Think of your belief system as a beautiful symphony you enjoy and
appreciate. Suddenly, during the symphony, you hear a chord that is not in
harmony. It is not in its place. It has never been there before. Its presence
is disturbing. It must be resolved.
You have several options:
1) Ignore the chord. Although you know it is
there, the rest of the symphony is still beautiful. Ignoring the chord allows
you to continue to enjoy your symphony.
2) Find a new symphony. You can search and
find another symphony with harmony. As a new symphony, you will not know if any
of the chords are out of harmony, at least not for a while.
3) Change your symphony. This involves seeking
the source of the errant chord, understanding it, and creating a new chord to
replace it.
Applying this analogy to religion is done at
our own peril. It is very simplistic, but it can be heuristic and guide us to
new understandings.
Our study of the world’s religions has shown
us that dynamic religious experience is the fountain head of new religions.
They come into existence as beautiful symphonies answering the eternal
questions asked by humankind, teaching the way of salvation, and facilitating
an encounter with the divine. However, overtime, the religious experiences of
the founders are forgotten or reinterpreted. Orthodoxy arises which seeks to
teach religious truth which was once experienced. Cultures change and new
questions arise that are difficult if not impossible for the religious
tradition to answer. The once beautiful symphony of belief now has
disharmonious chords that create cognitive dissonance in the faithful.
The faithful have 3 options:
1) They can ignore the lack of harmony and
continue in their faith. It is familiar and change is difficult.
2) They can find a new symphony. The faithful
can change denominations, religions, create new religions, or abandon religion
3) They can change their belief system. New
knowledge is incorporated into the faith without changing its substance. They
embrace the reality of their faith and seek new understandings.
The third option is what happened during
Vatican Council II. In 1962 Pope John XXIII convened the council to “update”
the church’s faith, to give it a new expression in the modern world. After 3
years of deliberations the Catholic Church had a “new face”. There was a
dramatic shift from condemning other religions, to an understanding that all
religions shared a common belief in God (Pope, 2012, para. 13).
Throughout this week, I hope everyone
reaffirms their faith while seeking understanding. I will be posting several
times on “Faith Seeking Understanding”. I look forward to our discussion!
Pope,John. 2012. Vatican II changed the Catholic
Church and the world. Retrieved from:

Week 7 Discussion Latest 2017 March

Final Exam Preparation and Class
Reflections (graded)


Welcome to the week 7 discussion board! This week we will be preparing for the
Final Exam and reflecting on the Comparative Religion class experience.

Remember to make all 6 of your discussion posts to earn full credit.

Also, write your class reflection in Word, save it, and post it to your course

This class has been an awesome experience for your Professor. I enjoyed sharing
a journey through the World’s Religions with you, sharing experiences, and
learning about your beliefs and traditions. I hope you have enjoyed this course
and trust it will benefit you personally and professionally.
RELI448 Week 2 Reflection Essay Latest 2017 March
Homework: Expository Essay
This assignment is due in Week 2 of the
conclude that what we ordinarily call religion manifests to some degree the
following eight elements: 1) a belief system; 2) community; 3) central myths;
4) rituals; 5) an ethical system; 6) emotional experiences; 7) material
expressions of religion; and 8) sacredness.
1. Examine
to what extent your religious beliefs fall into this pattern. Do some elements
have more weight than others? If you do not have a belief system, interview
someone who does and examine their belief system. Provide enough details to
support your answer.
2. Then
examine one of the “new religions” or alternative paths that are seen
in today’s world and apply the same analysis to their beliefs. Do some elements
have more weight than others? Are some totally absent? Provide enough details
to support your answer. Please limit your analysis to no more than three
elements for each section.
3. New
Religious Movements: Scientology, Falun Gong, Cao Dai, Wicca and Druidism, the
Yoruba Tradition (Santería, Voodoo, and Candomblé), Rastafarianism, etc. Feel
free to choose among one of these alternatives or another approved by your
This essay should be 3 pages in length (1050 words). [Note the
addition of word count to clarify how long the paper should be if formatted
properly in APA.]

RELI448 Week 6 Virtual Field Trip Latest 2017 March
Field Trip Report
For this class you are required to visit a religious site not
your own. This could be a synagogue, a Christian church, a mosque, or a temple.
The purpose of this trip is to report on what you saw -normally a religious
service—and how it compares to your own religious upbringing and/or current
The report should give a description of the site and a detailed
summary of thereligious service.Describe what you observed. What were
the material expressions of the service (statues, paintings, music, etc). Was
there anything special going on that day (e.g., baptisms)? If there was asermon,
analyze it. In brief, make it “up close and personal.” Conclude with
your personal reaction to this experience.
This paper should be at least three (3) pages in length (1050
words) with proper APA formatting. This includes proper documentation. This is
a formal academic paper so pay careful attention to the basics of writing a
good English composition.

Week 2 Quiz Latest 2017 March
1. Question :
(TCO 1) Among many reasons, religions exist to
help people:
deal with the certainty of death.
find ways to express themselves in art.
select careers that are socially redeeming.
have valuable texts to study.
Question 2. Question :
(TCO 1) The Way of Action is characterized by:
a strong emphasis on faith.
an intense personal relationship to the deity.
a practical approach that emphasizes
traditional prayers and rituals.
some form of meditation practice.
Question 3. Question :
(TCO 2) This author believed that religion
arises from psychological needs:
: Ludwig Feuerbach
William James
Blaise Pascal
Rudolf Otto
Question 4. Question :
(TCO 4) The early anthropologist who saw
religion as rooted in a belief in spirits and worship of them was:
E. B. Taylor.
James Frazer.
Sigmund Freud.
Carl G. Jung.
Question 5. Question :
(TCO 8) The word “maya” means:
the moral law of cause and effect.
Question 6. Question :
(TCO 9) The Upanishads are:
about 100 written works that discus