The Protestant theologian Sallie McFague has written that humans have no direct access to reality. She argues that as "highly relative and limited beings," humans have access to ultimate reality only through metaphors. McFague makes this claim as a universal theological claim. It can also be interpreted as a methodological claim for the comparative study of religion.
You can address McFague's argument in one of two ways:
- If it is valid as a universal theological and philosophical claim concerning the limits of human perception and understanding, McFague's argument should be applicable to all religious traditions. Can it be applied to the following three traditions: the contemporary Christian theological and/or ethical tradition(s), the Hebrew Biblical tradition(s), and the Hindu tradition(s)?
- As a methodology, does McFague's metaphorical model apply equally well to an adequate understanding of the contemporary Christian theological and/or ethical tradition(s), the Hebrew Biblical tradition(s), and the Hindu tradition(s)?
Each of these questions applies primarily to Religion 201, "The Reality of God," Religion 215, "Hinduism," and Religion 211, "Introduction to the Bible." You will need to bring each of these adequately into your essay. You will also want to bring into your essay material from Religion 224, "Christian Ethics," as it helps advance your essay.Question #2
Karl Barth was one of the most influential theologians in the twentieth century. He wrote the following lines which now are often quoted by more recent scholars.
God always takes His (sic) stand unconditionally and passionately on this side and this side alone: against the lofty and on behalf of the lowly; against those who already enjoy every right and privilege and on behalf of those who are denied and deprived of it.
Drawing upon all four of the core courses, write an essay either affirming or critiquing--or both--that claim. You will want to explore it as a theology claim, as something that has ethical consequences, as with or without biblical support, and as continuous or distinct from other religious traditions.Question #3
Among the values of many religious traditions is human conformation with "Divine Will", but there may not always be agreement on how the Divine communicates his/her/its will. Drawing from contemporary Christianity, the Hebrew Bible, and Hindu tradition(s), write an essay that considers 3 perspectives on the authority of scripture with respect to the authority of both experience and reflection at both the community and personal levels.
In your essay you will need to reflect on material from all four of the core courses.Question #4
On February 24, 2004, President George W. Bush, in a press conference held in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, called for an amendment to the United States Constitution "defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife." As evidence supporting his proposal for this constitutional amendment, President Bush stated: "The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution . . . honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith" (emphasis mine).
As intelligent and sophisticated religion majors and minors, you know that there is wide-ranging debate within and across religious traditions about sexuality and gender as social constructs or natural law. Your task is to write an essay that evaluates how at least four different perspective assess the morality of same sex unions and the justice (or injustice) of laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. Carefully explain the line of reasoning in each perspective, paying particular attention to the social location of the author, the audience the author is addressing, and the sources of authority (and the weight given to different sources) employed by the authors of the texts you use.
You must include perspectives from at least three different courses: two from "Christian Ethics" and one each from two of the other three core courses ("Introduction to the Bible," "The Reality of God," and "Hinduism"). Your essay will be most interesting if you choose at least one perspective with which you disagree, presenting it compassionately (even if you vehemently disagree with its logic, use of sources, and/or conclusion). After you summarize and evaluate each of the perspectives you are presenting, argue for the one perspective you find most helpful. If your own position is not related to one of the four core courses, then you will need to explain at least five perspectives. Be sure to support your own conclusions with convincing reasons (i.e., do not simply assert a conclusion without developing reasons in support of it).