LIBERAL STUDIES 130: INTRODUCTION TO WORLD RELIGION


North Island College, Fall 2015

Meeting Times T, Th 2:30 -3:50 pm

Meeting Place:   DIS 205, CWG 211, CEN 210

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office:  Village G6

Office Hours:  Tues. 10:00 am - 11:20 am, and Thurs. 1:00 - 2:20 pm (or by appointment)

Office Phone: 250-334-5000, Extension 4024

Home Phone:   250-336-0238

Web-Site: http://www.misterdann.com/

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


Course Description

This course is designed as an introduction to the world's major religions, with an emphasis upon those of the Abrahamic tradition: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  It combines an in-depth focus upon these three individual living faiths with study of the different scholarly approaches to understanding religion.  Instruction will combine intensive reading, seminar discussion and lecture presentation.


Books

Crumb, Robert.  Book of Genesis.  New York: W.W. Norton, 2009.

Feiler, Bruce.  Walking The Bible: A Journey by Land Through The Five Books Of Moses.  New York: Oxford, 2003.

DK Publishing.  Illustrated Bible Story By Story.  New York: 2012.

Haleem, M.A.S. Abdel, trans.  Qur'an.  New York: Oxford, 2008.


Tentative Class Schedule

WEEK1

Thursday, September 10

a)  Course Introduction


WEEK 2

Tuesday, September 15

a)  Discussion:  Of God And Abraham

b)  Slide Show:  Of God And Abraham

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in  Of God And Abraham  Discussion Topic.

Listening Assignment:

Bruce Feiler, "Children Of Abraham," On Being, APR, February 8, 2007.  To listen to the broadcast click on the Radio Show/Podcast link in the upper left margin and then click on the play icon in the pop-up window.

Thursday, September 17

a)  Discussion:  Entering Sacred Space -- Jerusalem

b)  Video Clips: "Jerusalem -- Center Of The World"

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in  Entering Sacred Space -- Jerusalem  Discussion Topic.


WEEK 3

Tuesday, September 22

a)  Video: "A History of God" (100 mins.) [2001]

Thursday, September 24

a)  Discussion:  Book Of Genesis

b)  [If Time] Finish Video: "A History of God"

Reading Assignment:

Robert Crumb, Book Of Genesis

Optional Listening Assignment:

"The Faces Of Eve," Ideas, CBC, February 28, 2013.


WEEK 4:  On-Line TextJudaism

Tuesday, September 29

a)  Discussion:  Why Study Religion?

b)  Lecture: The Essence of Judaism (1)

Reading Assignment:

Read the materials on the introductory web-site of the American Academy of Religion:  Why Study Religion?

Thursday, October 1

a)  Introduce Comparing Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad Assignment

b)  Discussion: The Mourner's Kaddish

c)  Continue Lecture: The Essence of Judaism (2)

Listening Assignment:

"The Mourner's Kaddish," Heart And Soul, BBC World Service, March 14, 2010.


WEEK 5

Tuesday, October 6

a)  Discussion: Judaism In The News

b)  Video: "Story Of The Jews" (60 mins.) [2013]

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in Judaism In The News.

Listening Assignment:

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

Thursday, October 8

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

b)  Discussion: Simon Schama's Story Of The Jews

c) Continue Lecture: The Essence Of Judaism (3)

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in Simon Schama's Story Of The Jews.


WEEK 6

Tuesday, October 13

a) Finish Lecture: The Essence Of Judaism (4)

Thursday, October 15

a)  Discussion:  Walking The Bible

b)  Discussion: Exodus

Reading Assignment:

Bruce Feiler, Walking The Bible: A Journey By Land Through The Five Books Of Moses

Listening AssignmentThese three audio documentaries each focus in on interpretations of the Exodus story.  Jewish scholar Avivah Zornberg offers an example of midrash interpretation of Biblical text.  The CBC Ideas episode explores how Exodus has meant different things to different groups of people throughout the centuries.  Please listen to at least one hour in total from these three hours of audio documentary.

Avivah Zornberg, "Exodus, Cargo Of Hidden Stories," On Being, April 14, 2011.

"The Book Of Exodus, Part 1," Ideas, CBC, April 20, 2011.

"The Book Of Exodus, Part 2," Ideas, CBC, April 21, 2011.


WEEK 7

Tuesday, October 20

a)  Video:  "From Jesus To Christ: The First Christians" (60 mins.)

Thursday, October 22

a)  Discussion: Comparing Buddha, Jesus And Muhammad

a)  Start Lecture: Essence Of Christianity (1) [ Outline ]

***First Half Journal Due***


WEEK 8

Tuesday, October 27:  On-Line TextChristianity

a)  Continue Lecture: Essence Of Christianity (2)

Listening Assignment:

"If Jesus Never Called Himself God, How Did He Become One?," Fresh Air, NPR, April 7, 2014.

Thursday, October 29

a)  Video: "Reformation -- The Individual Before God," Episode 4 of Diarmaid MacCulloch's History Of Christianity Series (60 mins.) [2010]


WEEK 9

Tuesday, November 3

a)  Discussion:  Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, And James, The Brother Of Jesus

b)  Lecture:  Essence Of Christianity (3)

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in  Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, And James, The Brother Of Jesus  Discussion Topic.

Thursday, November 5

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

b)  Lecture: Essence Of Christianity (4)


WEEK 10

Tuesday, November 10

a)  Discussion:  "The New Testament," in Illustrated Bible Story By Story

b)  Discussion:  The Lost Gospels

Reading Assignment:

DK Publishing, Illustrated Bible Story By Story (Read Part 3: "The New Testament," pp. 272-467).

Viewing Assignment:

Watch Pete Owen Jones's BBC documentary "The Lost Gospels" :  Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9 .

Thursday, November 12

a)  Discussion: Christianity Audio Links And Christianity In The News

b)  Start Video: "Muhammad: Legacy of A Prophet" (116 minutes)

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in Christianity In The News.

Listening Assignment:

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


WEEK 11:  On-Line TextIslam

Tuesday, November 17

a)  Finish Video: "Muhammad: Legacy of A Prophet" (116 minutes) [2002]

b)  Introduce Burqa Debate

Thursday, November 19

a)  Discussion: The Black Cube

b)  Lecture: "Recite In The Name Of Your Lord" -- The Essence Of Islam (1)

Listening Assignment:

  Listen to "The Black Cube," Heart And Soul, BBC World Service (December 25, 2009).


WEEK 12: 

Tuesday, November 24

a)  Lecture: "Recite In The Name Of Your Lord" -- The Essence Of Islam (2)

Listening Assignment:

"Revealing Ramadan: 14 Muslims In Their Own Words," On Being, APR, August 12, 2010.

Thursday, November 26

a)  Debate : Banning The Burqa

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in  Banning The Burqa  Discussion Topic.


WEEK 13

Tuesday, December 1

a)  Video: "Inside Mecca" (60 mins.)

Thursday, December 3

a)  Lecture: "Every Day Is Ashura And Every Place Is Karbala" -- Sunni And Shiite


 

WEEK 14

Tuesday, December 8

a)  Discussion: The Qur'an

b)  Possible Mini-Lecture: The Qur'an In Context

Reading Assignment:

M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, trans., Qur'an

Thursday, December 10

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

b)  Discussion: Islam In The News

c)  Discussion:  Of Cartoons And Muhammad

d)  Wrapping Up And Looking Ahead

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in  Islam In The News and Sacred Festivals In The News -- Islam.

Listening Assignment:

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

Optional Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in  Of Cartoons And Muhammad  Discussion Topic.

Optional Listening Assignment:

  "The Face Of The Prophet: Cartoons And Chasm," On Being, American Public Media, February 16, 2006.


  **Second Half Journal Due Monday, December 14 (I will happily accept journals through Friday, December 18, but may not have time to write comments upon these late submissions)


Evaluation

Reflections On Entering The Course  

1%

Mini-Quizzes

6% (2% x 3)

First-Half Journal

25%

Second-Half  Journal

25%

Overall Journal (Not an extra assignment and typically just the average of the First-Half and Second-Half Journals)

23%

Class Participation 

20%

a)  Reflections On Entering The Course (1%)

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)  Mini-Quizzes (6%)

There will be three miniature short-answer ten-minute quizzes spaced throughout the semester.


c)  The Journal (73%)

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 journal will be graded in two installments.  It will be due at the mid-point of the semester.  This installment will count for 25% of the course grade.  The journal will then again be due at the end of the semester.  This installment will include both a 25% grade for the second installment and a 23% grade for the journal in its entirety (most likely an average of the first and second installment grades).

The journal is premised upon the assumption that you will not just be regularly reflecting upon the course material but regularly writing about it as well as part of that reflective practice.  I recommend that you write at least one journal entry per week.  Each journal installment thus might include 7+ entries.  The individual entries can vary in style, format, and length.

In order to give you a basic structure and to clearly communicate my expectations, I will specify certain mandated entries and suggest a format for reading responses.  However, while it is required that all work in the journal be your own original writing, you are encouraged to be imaginative in your own investigation and analysis of World Religion.  I myself will be learning much about religion as the course proceeds and part of the logic of the Journal is that it provides you with some space to pursue topics of particular interest.

The excellent journal will:

The above list of entries is meant as a firm guide rather than as an absolutely-everything-here must be completed.  The embedded tension within the assignment between structure and flexibility is deliberate.  It is possible to excel in the course either by closely following my guidelines or by diverging from these significantly.  Do not hesitate to take risks and to express your own opinions.  It's fine if some entries read more like summary than analysis; it can be useful to put what you have learned from an article or a video into your own words.  Try, however, not to succumb to the temptation to write in an easy, stream—of—consciousness style.   There is no inherent tension between analytical rigour and personal insight.  This is an assignment designed to encourage and to reward extensive student effort and learning.  The work-load is heavy but my expectation is that a good-faith approach to the course will lead to strong success.  You can include print-outs from the internet in the journal or quote passages but are expected to identify that which is not your own original work.  Formal footnoting is not required but plagiarized/cut-and-pasted material will likely lead to a failing grade for the course.  Likewise, you should not recycle any writings from other classes.


d)  Class Participation (20%)

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.  Particularly shy students will not be penalized for class participation so long that they attend faithfully.


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