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REL 290

Topics in Religion

Topics such as religious phenomena, e.g., Millenialism, religious ethics and historical religious figures and movements. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Fall Semester information

Leslie James

290A: Tps: Religion, Death, and Mourning

This course is a cross-cultural exploration of the intersections between religion, death, and mourning in religious traditions and cultures. In the face of living in a death-denying culture that treats the subject as taboo, the course demonstrates the value and benefits to be derived from conversation on death and mourning. It provides a discursive space that foregrounds the relationship between death and the meaning of life, individual and collective growth and development, healing, conflict resolution, space, and the work and of mourning. Through class discussions, reflections, and other practices based on reading materials related to the world's religious traditions, philosophy, literature, film, and print media, amongst others, the course amplifies themes such as friendship, loss, absence, conflict resolution, memory, literary genres, language and modes of discourse, monuments, rituals, and mourning practices that deal with life and death in various cultures. In the process, it seeks to raise students' awareness to the uniqueness of relationships, issues of fidelity, aesthetics, and the ethical responsibility and significance of memorializing, mourning, and the risks involved in bearing witness and speaking to the phenomenon of death and its place in the human condition.

Justin Glessner

290B: Tps: The Bible Now

This course offers a critical examination of what the Bible says or does not say about a wide range of controversial issues and some of the ways that biblical texts have been employed as an authoritative resource for discussing and regulating ethics and identity from antiquity to now. We will be especially interested in the ways the Bible is used in contemporary discussions of some contentious issues in American society, the nature of such contemporary interpretations and the degree to which a person can or should be held responsible for the implications or applications of her or his interpretations.

Spring Semester information

Justin Glessner

290A: Tps:Religion and Ecology

What is the relevance of religion to the perception and resolution of environmental problems? Answering this question requires some wrestling with the terms that constitute the course's title--religion and ecology--given their diverse and contested meanings. This course will provide habitat for all reasoned scholarly debate surrounding these terms and the relationships between them. It will examine the development of the field of "religion and ecology" and the so-called religious-environmental movement, assess various religious communities' responses to today's environmental issues, and consider historical, cultural, ecological, and scriptural/theological bases for beliefs and practices related to the environment across various traditions. We will entertain interesting hypotheses about people and their environments rather than resolve disagreements about the precise meaning, analytical value, or boundaries of phenomena that would be understood as 'religion' or 'religious' by some, but not all, observers. We will critically examine all the major religious traditions, plus such contemporary movements as ecofeminism and deep ecology, to aid you in developing a critical understanding of the power of religion to foster and impede ecologically responsible lifestyles. Guest speakers from different traditions and student research workshops will form a significant part of the class.