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2023 Spring

REL 110 Nature of Religion

This introductory course considers what is distinctively religious about religions. Using a combination of in-depth case study and cross-cultural comparison, it introduces the student to recurrent themes, forms and structures of religion, considering such topics as: the nature of myth and ritual; sacred time and sacred space; gods, spirits and ancestors; as well as the roles of shaman, prophet, and priest.

01 Tu, Th, 4:00-5:15 PM,  Long (W206)

02 M, W  4:00-5:15 PM, Raver (W205)

03 T, Fr, 10:00-11:15 AM, Grass (W206)

04 M, Th 1:00-2:15 PM, Fleming W(205)

REL 111 Approaches to Religion

A modern critical study of religion using a variety of methods to further understanding of the role of religion in personal and social life. Approaches include those of philosophy, psychology, the arts, history, sociology, and anthropology. Readings are from a variety of differing religious traditions.

01 M, W 5:30-6:45 PM. Raver (W205)

02 Tu, F 8:30-9:45 AM, Grass (W206)

03 M Th 8:30-9:45 AM Long (W206)

04 M W  7-8:15 PM Raver (W205)


REL 204 Religious Experience

This course is intended to provide some insight into the meaning of a particular dimension of human experience, the "religious experience."  While anyone who is religious could be said to be having a religious experience at each moment, we will not be concerned with this broad perspective but focus instead on the narrower view of the religious "breakthrough," that event through which a person becomes religious.  This will mean that the course will concern itself very much with non-religious persons, following them as closely as possible up to and through the point of their religious breakthrough.

01 Tu, F 11:30- 12:30 PM, Kramer (W205)

REL 205 Faith and Disbelief

An examination of questions raised in religious faith and in disbelief, concentrating particularly on the challenge to religion made by existentialism. Among the authors to be read are both critics and defenders of religion: Camus, Buber, Kierkegaard, Teilhard de Chardin, Sartre, Nietzsche, Tillich, and Bonhoffer.

01 Tu, F 11:30-12:45 PM, Grass (W206)

 REL 207 Religious Sources for Morality

Ethics has been defined as the tension between that which "is" and that which "ought" to be. This course will focus on the origin of the "ought": How do we decide what is good and evil? What are the sources of our understanding of what ought to be? Are these sources religious? Have they to do with belief in God? (What do we mean by "religion" and by God"?) 

-01 Tu, Th 7:00-8:15 PM, Walker (W206)

REL 208 Religion and Social Justice

The question of social justice is at the heart of many public debates of our time, and religions make important contributions to assumptions, questions and policy discussions. Each religion has a variety of resources with which to address issues of socially just societies, and people within the same and across the religions have different views. This course explores religious resources and views about justice in the areas of ecology, race, sex and gender, economics and war and peace. While the focus will be on the major religions in the U.S., other traditions are included and welcome in discussion.

01 M, W, 7:00-8:15 PM, Staff (W206)

REL 209 Religion and Human Rights

Religion and human rights intersect in a variety of ways. The struggle for religious tolerance played a key role in the evolution of human rights. Yet the quest for freedom of thought, conscience and belief remains unresolved in various parts of the world. It has been contended that religious beliefs about natural and moral order are the foundation of human rights. And as the movement for universal human rights swept the globe in the later part of the 20th century, scholars and religious thinkers have examined the contributions, compatibilities (and incompatibilities) of the worlds' major systems of thought, conscience and belief to the norms and standards of the human rights project. This course will examine these various intersections between religion and human rights.

01 Tu, Th,4:00-5:15  PM, Bruinius (W205)


Rel 212 Religion and Healing

Various cultures hold different attitudes in their approaches to healing.  What are the shared characteristics of people who have been considered healers?  How does one's own suffering shape his/her idea of God?  What is the role of the Earth?  Is there a difference between curing and healing?  How have the scientific revolution and the development of Western Medicine shaped the way we understand healing today?  Through the use of religious texts, fiction, guest speakers and art we will examine approaches to the body, suffering, death and healing.

01 W 11:30-2:20PM, Picayo, (W206)

REL 251 Asian Religions

Religions proclaim attitudes towards each aspect of reality--personal, social, universal and absolute--and then use these attitudes to build structures of value and meaning which ultimately form the basis of the adherents' general outlook on life. In this course we are going to be studying the fundamental texts of Eastern Religions--Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Taoism--examining the basic attitudes of each faith and considering their implications for the lives of their followers. Although each of these religions is unique, certain common themes run through them and we will explore these as they concern ideas of "God", man, nature, society, and time. In doing this, we shall also be investigating the nature of religion itself, seeing what it is, how it develops and functions and what it means to various people.

01 M, Th 11:30-12:45PM, Fleming (W206)

REL 254 Tribal Religions

An examination of the traditional religions of Australia, the Pacific Islands, and North America. Study of the theological implications of myths and rituals (ideas of God, good and evil, humanity and the world), consideration of social values and the role of the individual in relation to the group, discussion of the meaning found in life and in death in traditional cultures.

01 10:00-11:15AM, Kramer (W205)

REL 256 Afro-Carribbean Religions

This course is a survey of some of the most salient forms of African-based religions in the Caribbean and South America, and in New York City. The course will include some consideration of the transformations that have occurred in the journey of the belief systems from Africa to the New World, but the focus of the course will be on the integrity of the Afro-Caribbean forms of religion. The course will include not only attention to beliefs, but to art and ritual forms in which these religions have expressed themselves. In addition, the course will raise the question of the ongoing appeal of these religions.

01 4:00-6:50PM, Picayo (W206)


REL 258 Religions of Ancient Europe

Both Greek and Roman classical authors described the peoples north of the Danube Riveras “barbarians,” tribes uncultured and illiterate, warlike and unmatched in their banality. We know from what they left behind, however, that this was far from true. We know very little about the tribes of ancient Europe, and even less about their religious systems. This course, therefore, is a course in guesswork. We examine these early religious systems found in Europe, long before the classical Greeks, the Romans, and the Christian world redefined their existence, and attempt to consider them for what they actually were.

01 Tu, F 1:00-2:15PM, Raver (W206)


REL 270 Religion and Psychology

"Every statement about God is a statement about the human person, and every statement about the human is a statement about God." This course will examine the complementarity between religion and psychology in many aspects of the human person through the media of selected text, film, and story.

01, M, Th 10:00-11:15 AM, Wise (W205)

REL 307 Religious Ideas in Literature

Storytelling has been a nurturing and necessary activity of the human species, and a primary medium for conveying religious inquiry and insight. Through careful reading, discussion, and student essays, this class will consider the inquiry into key religious issues--e.g., the human condition and possibilities of transformation, divine justice, the sacred and society, alienation and meaning--in novels, short stories, and plays by authors

01 M, Th 2:30-3:45PM, Moeini Meybodi (W206)

REL 313 Ecospirituality, Religion and Nature

An exploration of world religions’ most foundational ideas about spirit, sentience and the natural world—human and non-human—investigating how they shape our self-understandings, our ethics and even our scientific inquiries. Consideration of some of the most recent scientific findings concerning consciousness in plants and animals, their implications for new understandings of ‘spirit and nature’ and their effect on our whole way of being in the world.

01 Tu, F 1:00-2:15PM, Kramer (W205)


REL 315 Problem of evil

Is it possible to say that we are living in an "age of evil," that the events of our time reveal the presence of a "spirit of evil" in our midst? What does religion have to say about such a phenomenon? How does religion think about and define evil? Who or what is responsible? Can anything be done about it? These are the questions this course will address by way of Eastern and Western religious materials.

01 Tu, Th 5:30-6:45 PM, Bruinius (W205)


REL 320 Hinduism

A study of the nature of Hinduism and its development, literature, philosophy, and religious practices. Readings in such traditional texts as the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita, as well as in modern texts, will explore Hinduism's understanding of God, human beings, the feminine principle, society and community, time and history, and we shall study how these understandings develop from 2000 BCE to the 21st century.

01 M,Th 2:30-3:45 PM, Fleming (W205)

REL 321 Buddhism

Study of Buddhism, its development, literature, and religious practices. We will begin with the life story of the Buddha and explore his teachings as they developed from their beginnings in Theravada and expanded as Mahayana, Vajrayana, Zen, and various other contemporary expressions.

01 Tu, Th, 5:30-6:45 PM, Matsubara (W206)

REL 322 Islam

An introduction to the major concepts, practices, and texts of Islam, as well as an examination of the life and faith of the prophet Mohammed. A study of Islam's origin in its own sociocultural framework, its ideologies, ethos, and ethics, as well as its adaptive changes and reinterpretations in the course of history, including its status in the modern world as one of the most populous and wide-spread religions.

01 M, Th 11:30-12:45 PM, Breiner (W206)


REL 326 Religious Meanings of the Qur'an

For Muslims, the Qur'ān is the very Word of God.  As such, it is the basis of all aspects of the religion of Islam.  It is the primary source of law and ethics.  It is the primary source of the articles of faith and the basis of Islamic ethics.  It permeates every aspect of a Muslim's life.  This course examines the structure and contents of the Qur'ān, including the structure of its language as it applies to questions of interpretation and translation.  The course introduces students to a range of sources and methodologies for studying the Qur'ānic text.  The historical context for the compilation of the Qur'ān into its canonical form is sketched. Issues of coherence, textual relations and variant readings are discussed from the various viewpoints.  Questions about the dating, integrity, and authenticity of the text, as well as the relationship between Islamic and pre-Islamic scriptures are also addressed.  The interpretation of the Qur'ān is discussed in its various forms: legal (fiqh), exegetical (tafsīr – both classical and modern), mystical (Sūfī), as well as its various genres: ḥadīth-based, grammatical, philosophical, modernist. Various particular matters such as scriptural abrogation, multi-valence, occasions of revelation, etc. are examined in their appropriate contexts.

01 M, Th 10:00-11:15 PM, Breiner, (W206)


REL 336 Zen

An inquiry into the complex nature of Zen--thought by some as the essence of Buddhism, by others as a Buddhist-Daoist hybrid-- this course focuses on the intellectual difficulties in understanding a teaching which represents itself as "beyond words and phrases."

Tu, Th 7:00-8:15 PM, Matsubara (W205)

 REL 36169 Religions and Music

01 Tu, Th 7:00-8:15PM, Wise(W205)

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