Northern Seminary ME Intro to World Religions Spring Quarter, Thursday: 4:00 6:40pm

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1 Rev. Dr. Chakravarthy Zadda-Ravindra Northern Seminary ME Intro to World Religions Spring Quarter, Thursday: 4:00 6:40pm Course Rationale: Twenty-first century Christian leaders will carry out their ministries in communities marked in various degrees by a plurality of religious belief. They will be called upon to lead their congregations (and other gatherings) in the development of respectful and community-edifying relationships with neighboring religious groups and institutions. To justify this kind of engagement from the fundamental sources of Christian faith, and to articulate and bear witness to Christian faith in multi-religious context is the need of the hour. Course Description: This course is designed to provide a broader overview of selected religions with a focus on the religions from Abrahamic origins, origins in India, religions of Asia along with Indigenous religions in North America. The course takes a missiological approach, as how these religions are practiced in North America rather than a theoretical study of World religions. This approach gives the students basic familiarity with major religious traditions and their praxis so as to relate with them in an informed way. It also provides tools for understanding major world religions that will help to engage people of other faiths, while familiarizing the participants with the contemporary missiological trends around Inter-faith relations. Objectives: An overall aim for the course is to provide a comprehensive understanding of different world religions to gain the ability to use missiological resources critically and responsibly to articulate a constructive and coherent interpretation of Christian faith pertinent to a missional church and divergent social contexts. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to: 1. Identify the influence that major world religions have on society and illustrate the importance of studying religion today. 2. Describe and evaluate the key beliefs and characteristics of each major world religion and show how they are reflected in political and social structures and attitudes. 3. Examine and summarize the universal and unique forms of religious expression found in the major world religions (eg., sacred places, symbols, ethics and rituals). 4. Distinguish the basic concepts that make up a religious world view (eg., creation of the world, good and evil, salvation, suffering). 5. Articulate, in an elementary way (but reasonably accurate, respectful, and open to correction by adherents), the fundamental beliefs and practices of some religious traditions other than their own.

2 6. Be good and respectful guests of religious communities other their own visiting, observing, engaging in conversation, learning, and reporting back to the class. 7. Reflect with missiological acuity and pastoral sensitivity on issues that arise in North American settings as people of different religious traditions encounter one another in shared communities. Course Requirements: Satisfactory completion of all course assignments is required to insure a passing grade in this course. The following are required for all participants: 1. Attendance and Active Class Participation (10%): Consistent class attendance and participation are required of all persons taking the course for credit. Each participant is expected to engage in discussions, pose questions, and make comments in class. Participants will be graded on the quality and quantity of their class participation. 2. Personal Inter-faith encounter (10%): Two-page reflection of personal experience about an Inter-faith encounter (a real incident with a person from different religious tradition). 3. Reading Respondent (20%): All participants will have one opportunity to lead the class in a discussion of the reading materials. The presenter is expected to outline the salient features of the selected religion, reflecting on selected texts and engage the conversation about the convergence and divergence of their common experiences with the Christian tradition. Two critical questions generated by these readings in understanding the faith tradition will also be required to engage the discussion. 4. Third site visit (20%): Two site visits will be led by the instructor; the third site visit is the responsibility of each individual student, who will give a two page written report to the class during the study of the respective religion. It is advised to plan the visit with at least one other fellow student. 5. Final Research Paper (40%): Each student will be responsible to submit a research paper. Choose a relevant topic that provides an opportunity to use the knowledge and skills being gained to enhance your capacity to interact with a particular religious tradition. Students are to write on one of the contemporary faiths being examined in the course which has particular relevance to the student s ministry context. Students should explore how the religious tradition being studied shapes the culture of its adherents. It is particularity important that students engage the following questions: i. What is the religions ultimate concern (this means the final goal adherents are seeking.) 2

3 ii. What is this religion s view of reality? a. God or gods (are they real? What are they like? Can they help us?) b. The human self (What is human nature? For example, is it bad, good, created, divine?) c. The physical world (Is it real, eternal or created, bad or good?) iii. What is the basic human problem? iv. How is the basic human problem resolved? The paper should be pages. Your topic must be selected and approved by the course professor. The paper should include: Summary of central beliefs of the faith Reflections on personal interactions with persons who embrace the faith Proposals for interactions with the religion and its followers Analysis of the potential contributions the other faith might make to our lives Papers should be submitted in hard copy form or electronically on or before 9pm of June 8, Grading Scale: A = A- = B+ = B = B- = C+ = C = C- = D+ = D = D- = F = 59 and below Required Reading: edition. New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN pgs. $73.22 Contemporary Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN pgs. $64.95 Recommended Readings: Anderson, Norman Sir. Christianity and World Religions: The Challenge of Pluralism. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, Ariarajah, Wesley S. The Bible and People of Other Faiths. Geneva: WCC, The Risk Book Series,

4 Chryssides, George D. Exploring New Religions. New York: Cassell, Corduan, Winfried. Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, Fisher, Mary Pat and Lee W. Bailey. An Anthology of Living Religions. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, Ghiloni, Aaron J ed. World Religions and Their Missions. New York: Peter Lang, Johnson, Todd M. And Brain J. Grim eds. The World s Religions in figures: An Introduction to International Religious Demography. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013 Juergensmeyer, Mark ed. Global Religions: An Introduction. New York: Oxford Press, Knitter Paul F, Introducing Theologies of Religions. Maryknoll New York: Orbis Books, Largen, Kristin Johnson. Finding God Among Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Systematic Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, Neusner, Jacob ed. Introduction to World Religions: Communities and Cultures. Nashville: Abingdon Press, Novak, Phillip. The World s Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World s Religions. San Francisco: Harper, Van Voorst, Robert E. Anthology of World Scriptures. Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, Vos, Johannes G. A Christian Introduction to Religions of the World. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, Typical Flow of Events in Class Sessions: 4:00pm 6:40pm 4:00pm 4:10pm 4:10pm 4:50pm 4:50pm 5:50pm 5:50pm 6:05pm 6:05pm 6:30pm 6:30pm 6:40pm Opening prayer, Announcements, First session: Site visit and Reading Respondent Site visit -15 minutes Readings Respondent = 30 minutes Second session Break Small group work Rap-up 4

5 Typical Flow of Events during site visits: 4:00pm 6:40pm 4:00pm 4:15pm 4:15pm - 6:30pm 6:30pm 6:40pm Meeting at the defined location, Opening prayer, Debriefing about the site & Announcements. Taking a guided tour, Q&A with the resource person, Individual time to meet people. Group debriefing and departure. Class Outline with Assignments: Week 1: April 6, 2017: Learning Objectives: Assignments; Students Agenda and Discerning the comprehensive Impact of Religion on Today s World Understanding Hinduism, Orientation about the site visit Readings for Hinduism: edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp pp Week 2: April 13, 2017: Hindu Temple site visit: (4:00pm 6:40pm) The Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago Lemont Rd, Lemont, IL Phone: (Geeta) Readings for Jainism & Sikhism: edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp pp ; Week 3: April 20, 2017 : Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Hinduism, Jainism & Sikhism: Reflections from the readings, Questions for critical engagement. Presentation on Judaism Readings for Judaism: edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp

6 pp Paper due on Personal Inter-faith encounter. Week 4: April 27, 2017 : Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Judaism: Reflections from the readings, Questions for critical engagement. Presentation on Buddhism Readings for Buddhism: edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp pp Week 5: May 4, 2017: Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Buddhism: Reflections from the readings, Questions for critical engagement. Presentation on Daoism and Confucianism Readings for Daoism & Confucianism: edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp pp ; Week 6: May 11, 2017: Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Daoism & Confucianism: Reflections from the readings, Questions for critical engagement. Presentation on Shinto Readings for Shinto: edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp pp

7 Week 7: May 18, 2017: Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Shinto: Reflections from the readings, Questions for critical engagement. Presentation on Islam (guest lecture by Ayse Arslan PhD student) Readings for Islam: edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp pp (Class does not meet on Thursday May 25 th rather on Friday May 26 th afternoon) Week 8: May 26, 2017 Site Visit to a Mosque (1:00pm 3:40pm) Islamic Society of Midwest 501 Midway Drive, Mount Prospect, IL *free lunch served after 1:30pm prayer Readings for New Religious Movements: edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp pp Week 9: June 1, 2017 Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Islam & New Religious Movements: Reflections from the readings, Questions for critical engagement. Presentation on Indigenous Religions of North America Readings for the Indigenous Religions of North America: edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp pp

8 Week 10: June 8, 2017 Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Indigenous Religions of North America: Reflections from the readings, Questions for critical engagement. Final reflections Course evaluation Research Paper 9:00pm POLICIES FOR ALL MASTERS CLASSES NOTE: All communications from the seminary will go to your seminary account. Contact All Covered at (877) if you need help forwarding your seminary address to your personal address. As a seminary community we hold integrity/hospitality as core values. Individuals are able to do their best work and thinking when their peers are fully present and engaged. We expect each person to both participate in class and carefully listen to others with the belief that everyone s contribution is equally important. Therefore, the following policies have been established in order to provide clarity in regard to attendance expectations and relationships in the classroom. Diploma/Certificate Student Course Requirements The amount of work required of Diploma/Certificate students will be at the discretion of the professor. Students will be responsible for contacting the professor about what assignments are required. Class Attendance Policy It is expected that students will attend and participate in all class sessions. Failure to attend at least 80% of class sessions is grounds for automatic failure. A professor may set other more strict attendance expectations for a given course. Students are always expected to communicate with a professor in advance if they will be absent. Attendance expectations are higher for online, intensive courses, and integrative seminar (see syllabus for specific requirements). Class Tardiness Policy The third time a student is late to the start of class, it will be counted as a class absence. It is also expected that students will return from a break by the time specified by the professor. Late Work Policy If a student cannot complete the work for a course by the due date listed on the syllabus, they must submit a Request for a Grade of Incomplete form to the Registrar by 4:30 of the last day of the term. The form must be signed by the instructor and Dean of Students. The professor may set stipulations and grade reductions. In the absence of a formal request form, the student will receive a grade based upon work completed by the last day of the term. 8

9 Turabian Format All papers, including footnotes and bibliography, must be submitted in the correct format according to Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8 th ed., Plagiarism Plagiarism is the act of passing off as one s own the words or ideas of someone else without providing proper acknowledgement or documentation. See the Academic Honesty Policy in the Seminary Catalog for more information on plagiarism and how to avoid it. Electronic Format Unless otherwise specified by the professor, all work submitted electronically must be in a Word document format (.doc,.docx). Technology Use in the Classroom Unless it is directly tied to note-taking or research for the class, students are expected to refrain from using cell phones, laptops, or other electronic devices during class. Course Evaluation in Moodle Students must complete an online course evaluation using the seminary Moodle system at The evaluation will be open at the end of the course. If you need assistance connecting to Moodle or accessing the evaluation, please send an to 9

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