LIBERAL STUDIES 131: EASTERN AND COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS


North Island College Winter 2019

Meeting Time: M, W: 2:30 - 3:50 pm

Meeting PlaceDIS 205, CWG 211, CEN 210

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office: Village G6

Office Hours:  Thurs. 11:30 am - 12:50 pm; 2:30 - 3:50 pm

Office Phone:  334-5000, Extension 4024

Home Phone250-336-0238 

Web- Site for Course:  http://www.misterdann.com/contentsreligioneastern.htm

E-Mail: dan.hinmansmith@nic.bc.ca


Course Description

This course combines an introduction to the religions of Asia with comparative analysis of some key organizing themes for the study of all world religions. It examines and origins and historical development, the sacred texts, the central tenets, the institutions and rituals of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Shinto.  It also explores selected core concepts such as sacred space, sacred time, sacred rituals and sacred symbols in a comparative context that uses not only these seven eastern religions but also the Abrahamic tradition and other world religions as reference points.  Instruction will combine intensive reading, seminar discussion and lecture presentations.


Texts

Gavin Flood and Charles Martin, trans., Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation  (New York: W.W. Norton, 2012).

William Dalrymple, Nine Lives: In Search Of The Sacred In Modern India (London: Bloomsbury, 2009).

Glenn Wallis, trans., Dhammapada: Verses On The Way (New York: Modern Library, 2007).

Haroon Khalid, Walking With Nanak: Travels In His Footsteps (New Delhi: Tranquebar, 2016).  [Click on the link to the left to order an e-book edition of Walking With Nanak]


Tentative Class Schedule

Week 1

Monday, January 7

a)  Introduction

Wednesday, January 9

a)  Lecture: Sacred Varanasi

Complete Reflections Upon Entering The Course: Who are you? Where are you from? What are your interests? Why are you taking this course? How would you begin to make sense of your own thoughts about religion and religious studies? Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions as we start the course? Write two or three informal paragraphs for the second class of the semester to introduce yourself to me.

Listening Assignment:

  Listen to "Varanasi: A Living History," Encounter, ABC, November 2, 2013.  Give the program a couple of minutes to download.  The Varanasi documentary is also available on Soundcloud here.


Week 2

Monday, January 14

a)  Discussion:  Swastika As Sacred Symbol

b)  Video:  "Faith Connections" (2013) [117 mins.]

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in  Swastika As Sacred Symbol  Discussion Topic.

Wednesday, January 16

a)  Discussion: Kumbh Mela

b)  Finish Video: "Faith Connections"

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in  Kumbh Mela  Discussion Topic.


Week 3

Monday, January 21:  On-Line Text Hinduism

a)  Lecture:  Essence Of Hinduism: "Truth Is One; Sages Call It By Different Names" (I)

Outline:  The Essence Of Hinduism

Wednesday, January 23

a)  Introduce Sacred Signs Assignment

b)  Student Insights:  Hinduism From The Inside

c)  Discussion:  Of Elephant Gods, Monkey Kings And Sacred Cows

d)  Discussion:  Hinduism In The News

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in  Of Elephant Gods, Monkey Kings And Sacred Cows  Discussion Topic.

Browse extensively in Hinduism In The News.

Listening Assignment:

Listen to at least one audio file and/or view at least one video file at Hinduism: Audio Links and Hinduism: Video Links


Week 4

Monday, January 28

a)  Lecture: The Essence Of Hinduism  -- "Truth Is One; Sages Call It By Different Names" (II)

Optional Listening Assignment:

  "The Upanishads," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, November 8, 2012.

Wednesday, January 30

a)  Discussion: Bhagavad-Gita

b)  Video: "The Bhagavad Gita," Invitation To World Literature (30 mins.)

c)  [If Time] Possible Mini-Lecture:  The Bhagavad-Gita -- A Biography

Reading Assignment:

Graham M. Scweig, trans., Bhagavad-Gita: The Beloved Lord's Secret Love Song

Listening Assignment:

  "The Bhagavad Gita," Heart And Soul, BBC World Service, July 18, 2011.


Week 5

Monday, February 4

a)  ***Hinduism Mini-Quiz (All questions for the quiz will be taken from the following web-site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/  ).  See the Hinduism Study Guide for a basic list of questions designed to help you prepare for this small quiz.

b)  Video:  "The Buddha -- The Story Of Siddhartha"  (2010) [120 minutes]

Wednesday, February 6

a)  Finish Video:  "The Buddha -- The Story Of Siddhartha"


Week 6

Monday, February 11

a)  Discussion: Sacred Symbols

***Sacred Symbols Guidebook Due***

Wednesday, February 13

a)  Lecture:  The Essence Of Buddhism -- The Nature Of Suffering Must Be Understood (I)


***Family Day And Reading Break, February 18-22


Week 7

Monday, February 25:  On-Line Text Buddhism

a)  Course Check-In

b)  Discussion:  Nine Lives

c)  Introduce Other Asian Religions Mini-Project

Reading Assignment:

William Dalrymple, Nine Lives: In Search Of The Sacred In Modern India

Wednesday, February 27

a)  Lecture:  The Essence Of Buddhism -- The Nature Of Suffering Must Be Understood (II)


Week 8

Monday, March 4

a)  ***Buddhism Mini-Quiz (All questions for the quiz will be taken from the following web-site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/  ).  See the Buddhism Study Guide for a basic list of questions designed to help you prepare for this small quiz.

b)  Lecture: The Diamond Vehicle -- Tibetan Buddhism

Optional Listening Assignment:

  "Zen," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, December 4, 2014.

Wednesday, March 6

a)  Discussion:  Burma And Buddhism

b)  Discussion: Buddhism In The News

c)  Discussion:  Tibetan Buddhism In The News

d)  Possible Mini-Lecture: Japanese Buddhism

e)  Other Asian Religions Workshop

Reading Assignment:

Browse in  Burma And Buddhism  Discussion Topic.

Browse in  Buddhism In The News; Buddha In The News; Buddhism Audio Links; Buddhism Video Links

Browse extensively in  Tibetan Buddhism In The News, Dalai Lama In The News, Tibetan Buddhism Video Links, Tibetan Buddhism Audio Links, Tibetan Buddhism On-Line Articles, and Tibetan Buddhism Useful Links.


Week 9

Monday, March 11

a)  Discussion:  Dhammapada -- Verses On The Way

b)  Introduce Comparative Religions Grid Assignment

Reading Assignment:

Glenn Wallis, trans., Dhammapada -- Verses On The Way

Wednesday, March 13

a)  Video:  "Seven Wonders Of The Buddhist World" (2012)  [74 minutes]


Week 10

Monday, March 18:  On-Line Text: Sikhism, Jainism, Taoism, Shinto

a)  Guest Lecture

***Journal Due*** 

Wednesday, March 20

a)  Lecture:  Essence Of Sikhism -- The Way Of The Disciples (I)

b)  Other Asian Religions Workshop


Week 11

Monday, March 25

a)  Discussion: Walking With Nanak

b)  Lecture:  Essence Of Sikhism -- The Way Of The Disciples (II)

Reading Assignment:

Haroon Khalid, Walking With Nanak: Travels In His Footsteps

Wednesday, March 27

a)  Student Mini-Presentation #1:  Sikhism From The Inside

b)  Discussion: Sikhism In The News

Reading Assignments:

Browse in Sikhism In The News; Sikhism Audio Links; Sikhism Video Links; and/or Sikhism Articles.  I also recommend using Sikhism as a search term in the Canadian Newsstand Section of the NIC Library Database. 


Week 12: 

Monday, April 1

a)  Student Mini-Presentation #2:  Jainism -- The Way Of The Conqueror

b)  Student Mini-Presentation #3:  Confucianism: The Philosophy Of Master Kung

c)  Comparative Religions Grid Workshop

Wednesday, April 3

a)  Student Mini-Presentation #4:  Taoism -- The Way And Its Power

b)  Discussion: Other Religions In The News

Reading Assignments:

Browse in Jainism In The News; Confucianism In The News; Taoism In The News; Shinto In The News; Bahai In The News; Rastafari In The News; and Zoroastrianism In The News.


Week 13

Monday, April 8

a)  ***Other Asian Religions Mini-Quiz (All questions for the quiz will be taken from the following web-site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/sikhism/ ; http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/jainism/ ; http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/taoism/ ; http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/shinto/  ).  See the Other Asian Religions Study Guide for a basic list of questions designed to help you prepare for this small quiz.

b)  Lecture: The Yezidis or Sacred Space In Comparative Perspective -- Synagogue, Mosque, Temple, And Stupa

Wednesday, April 10

a)  Discussion:  Comparative Religions Grid

***Comparative Religions Grid Due


Evaluation

Sacred Signs Assignment

11%

Journal

40%

Comparative Religions Grid

25%

Mini-Quizzes

 9%

Class Participation

15%

a)  Reflections On Entering The Course

Who are you? Where are you from? What are your interests? Why are you taking this course? How would you begin to make sense of your own thoughts about religion and religious studies? Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions as we start the course? Write two or three informal paragraphs for the second class of the semester to introduce yourself to me.


b)  Sacred Signs Guidebook (11%)

You will engage in a comparative examination of at least three significant religious symbols.


c)  The Journal (40%)

The student Journal is the main assignment in this class.  The purpose of the Journal is to provide you the opportunity for frequent thoughtful, analytical, and personal commentary upon course-related material.  The advantages of the Journal, to my mind, are that it breaks work down into regular and manageable chunks, and that it enables you to seize hold of the curriculum in a way which reflects your own interests and style.  The entries will, no doubt, vary in format, length, and quality. Although it's fine if some entries read more like summary than analysis, a major purpose of the Journal is to engage you with the curriculum as an active interpreter and critical analyst.  In order to give you a basic structure and to clearly communicate my expectations, I will provide certain mandated entries and also provide you with a list of recommended entries.  But I do challenge you to ask yourself throughout the semester how you best can use the Journal requirement as a way of fostering your own learning.  The Journal is premised on the expectation that you will be working on it regularly throughout the semester.  You will have considerable opportunity to decide which topics are of more interest to you.  I recommend that you average at least one Journal entry per week.  I will collect Journals at the mid-point of the semester to make sure that you are making adequate progress.  The Journals will not receive a grade at that time, however, but only after being handed in at the 11-week mark.  This is an assignment that demands not only self-discipline but also a certain self-awareness.  It is not a one size fits all assignment so some solid Journals may look quite different than others.  But I recommend that you think in terms of an approximate length of 20+ double-spaced pages of your original analysis unless you plan to avail yourself of the Notes Appendix option.


c)  Comparative Religions Grid (25%)

This exercise will ask you to engage in an in-depth comparative analysis of a select few world religions.


d)  Mini-Quizzes (9%)

There will be three short in-class quizzes interspersed throughout the semester.


e)  Class Participation (15%)

The class participation grade will be based upon attendance; pre-class preparation; and the willingness to contribute thoughtfully to full-class and small-group discussion.  Although attendance is not required, I will take roll, and those who are not in class regularly will receive a poor grade for this component of the course.  I would like to encourage a classroom environment in which all are eager to share their ideas and in which lectures are accompanied by thoughtful dialogue.

Assigning class participation grades can be quite arbitrary.  When I assign participation grades at the end of the semester, I place each student in one of three following categories:

1)  Regular class attendance and excellent class participation.

2)  Regular class attendance and  fully satisfactory class participation.

3)  Irregular class attendance and preparation.

Those in Category 1 receive top participation grades.  Those in Category 3 receive poor participation grades.  Those in Category 2 are most likely to receive no specific participation grade but rather have the 85% total for their written work pro-rated to a 100% scale (in some cases the participation component may help a Category 2 student's final grade but in no instance will it lower the final grade).  Thus, shy students are not penalized for class participation so long that they attend faithfully and I need only to distinguish between strong, satisfactory and weak participation rather than attempt to make fine distinctions.


WELCOME TO THE COURSE

 

 

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