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2024 Fall

Tentative course offerings for 2024 Fall, all offerings listed are subject to change

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.

Section 01.  Tu,Th 5:30-6:45 PM, Kramer

Section 02. Tu,F 1-2:15PM, Grass

Section 03. M,Th 1-2:15PM, Kellogg

Section 04, Tu,F 8:30-9:45AM, Fleming

Rel 111 Approached 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.

Section 01. M,W 4-5:15PM, Burby

Section 02. Tu,F 10-11:15AM, Grass

Section 03. 11:30-12:45PM, Herrera

Section 04, M,W 5:30-6:45PM, Penizzotto

Religion 270 Psychology and Religion

"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 

Section 1. M,Th 10-11:15AM, Wise

Section 02. W 8:30AM-11:20AM, Foote

Rel 208 Religion and Social Justice 

While all religions agree that securing a socially just world is a 'constant occupation,' they disagree as to the concrete nature of that vocation. This course is designed to examine contemporary religious reflection on four social issues: war, race, the economy, and gender relations. The issues will be approached from as many sides as possible, examining them in light of the attitudes they reveal about God, society, and justice. The course will focus primarily on readings from a range of different traditions, in large part to illustrate the plurality of perspectives that exist.

Section 01, M,Th 11:30-12:45PM, Kellogg

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 the 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.

Section 01. M,Th 2:30-3:45PM, Herrera

Rel 210 Atheism

We are used to thinking of atheism as the antithesis of all that religion is. But atheism as it appears in our modern world has many important roots that lie in different religious traditions. This course will explore some of these origins and challenge students to rethink and refine their concepts of what is involved in "not believing in God"

Section 01. M,W 7:00-8:15PM, Bruinius

Rel 251 Asian Religions

In an age of increasing encounter between very different cultures, it is critical that we attempt to understand religious traditions that are not historically our own. In this course we will encounter primarily the religious traditions of India (Hinduism and Buddhism) and China (Confucianism and Taoism). Readings are in sacred texts and secondary sources.

Section 01, Tu,F 11:30-12:45PM, Matsubara

Rel 253 Abrahamic Religions

Introduction to fundamental religious ideas in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, focusing on the essential sacred texts in the Bible and the Qur'an. Attention is given to the influence of dualistic thought from Zoroastrianism and Gnostic systems, and to some mystical and contemporary interpretations.

Section 01, M,Th 2:30-3:45PM, Raver

Rel 255 Religions of Two Gods

This course explores religious traditions which conceive of the world as constituted by mutually exclusive, and indeed antagonistic, realities. Gnosticism and Manichaeanism were once historically potent movements, but are no longer practiced. Others, like Zoroastrianism and Jainism, are not only of historical importance, but still claim adherents. Dualistic currents of thought also manifest themselves in non-dualistic contexts. This course examines the major historical dualistic religions--and some of theological dualism's historical and contemporary step-children--to understand what accounts for the appeal of dualistic understanding and to appreciate the motivations behind the lifestyles to which they have characteristically given rise.

Section 01. Tu,Th 4-5:15PM, TBA

Rel 257 Religions of Ancient Central and South America

This class will explore a sample of the numerous pre-Columbian religious traditions of Mesoamerica, Central and South America. Using primary and secondary sources, we will examine how the inhabitants of these regions constructed and expressed their worldviews. One of the main questions to consider will be whether these religious traditions are products of cross-cultural or particular processes. We will also briefly address the contemporary manifestations of these traditions and their implications for modern populations.

Section 01. M,Th 1-2:15PM, Herrera

Rel 258 Religions of Early 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.

Secton 01. M,Th 8:30-9:45AM, Raver

Rel 26161 Religion and Law

Section 01. M,Th 10-11:15AM, Kellogg

Rel 26162 Religion and Capitialism 

Section 01. F 4-6:50PM, Burby

Religion 26163 African American Theology

Section 01. M,W 7-8:15PM, Walker

Rel 309 Religious Meaning of Love and Sex

Sex remains one of the great powers in human life to which religion has not been indifferent. This cross-cultural and interdisciplinary course asks about the relation between the religious and the erotic, inquiring into such issues as: what lies behind speaking of the gods as sexual and/or loving; what lies behind speaking of faith as a matter of 'loving' God; what rationales underlie the various religious codes of sexual ethics? In short, what are the connections among the love of God, the love for God, and sexual love between human beings--in both historical and contemporary religion?

Section 01. Tu,F 11:30-12:45PM, Grass

Rel 310 Religious Meaning of Death

The fact of death is at the center of the study of religion. The meaning one gives to death often determines the direction of one's life. This course will explore the various meanings which different cultures in different historical periods have discovered in the reality of death. Attention will also be given to contemporary formulations. Material studied will be cross-cultural and interdisciplinary. Discussion will center on the assigned readings.

Section 01. 4-5:15PM, Penizzotto

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.

Section 01. Tu,F 2:30-3:45PM, Kramer

Rel 315 The 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.

Section 01. M,W 5:30-6:45PM, TBA

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.

Section 01. Tu,F 10-11:15AM, Matsubara

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.

Section 01. W 11:30-2:20PM, Matsubara

Rel 335 Myth and Ritual

What does a ritual do for its practitioners? How does it do it? What does the recitation of a myth do for people? Does a ritual or myth bring or express the infinite to its participants? What is the relationship of ritual or mythical events to people’s ordinary lives? The course, which assumes a working knowledge of more than one religious tradition, will look at rituals and myths from a variety of traditions including our own “secular” life. Focusing on the motifs of “heroes” and “goddesses,” we will identify and explore patterns of ritual/mythical life, and ask of their philosophical, social, psychological and theological significance.

Section 01. Tu,TH 4-5:15PM, Kramer

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."

Section 01, Tu,F 1-2:15PM Matsubara

Rel 36164 Ideas of the Monstrous

Section 01. W 11:30-2:20PM, Penizzotto

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