Religion Core Courses
REL-201, The Reality of God
The essential premise of the course is that the images and metaphors we use for God are profoundly consequential. The naming of God is more than labeling. The ways we imagine God play back on our understanding of ourselves and the various dimensions of our communal existence. They define our relationships and responsibilities; the conduct of our lives and our sense of reality is at risk with the language we use for the divine. Feminist theologians, for example, have helped us see that picturing God as Father has implications for the ways in which women see themselves and their position in social relations. The words of Mary Daly are to the point: "If God is male then male is God."
REL-204, Religious Pluralism and American Identity
What does it mean to be “American” in the twenty-first century?
Since the nation’s founding, civic leaders have worried that religious freedom might threaten the health of the new republic. If the state does not actively support religion, how will citizens acquire the virtues necessary for democracy to thrive? Most founders, reassured by the nation’s Protestant moral consensus, accepted or urged disestablishment. But even the most prescient among them failed to foresee just how religiously diverse the United States would eventually become. Two centuries later, citizens now must negotiate competing loyalties to religion, community, and nation. Is it even possible for a religiously diverse people to affirm a common identity of any substance? Is there a political philosophy or theology which can affirm that diversity itself as a democratic value? In this course, we will examine this uniquely American dilemma. Students will gain a general knowledge of how religious diversity developed in the United States, an appreciation for how religion affects citizenship, and an understanding of how very local conflicts illuminate and inform much broader national issues.
REL-211, Introduction to the Bible
In this course we focus on the Hebrew Scripture's legacy of a certain kind of community—a community living in praise of and dependence upon a righteous and compassionate God and itself committed to justice and compassion. The History and Literature of Ancient Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures is more than just a history of (or a systematic discussion of) this notion of community or of its God. It reflects a centuries old debate within Israel over what in fact these convictions mean and how they are to be realized in a messy world. Given this heritage shared by Jews, Christians and Muslims, it is well to explore the way these convictions about the religious community were conceived and debated over time and what might be their continued relevance for our day.
This course is an exploration into some of the many ways in which those people of the Indian subcontinent whom we can on historical, cultural and social grounds label as "Hindu" have theorized, experienced, acted, written, and sung of their understandings of God. This course is not an historical introduction to the totality of the Hindu traditions. Instead, by following one thread through a variety of materials, the goal of the course is to develop a greater understanding of and appreciation for Hindu theistic traditions. This should also allow the students to develop new questions in their study of religion as a universal human phenomenon. We will aim both to come to a fuller understanding of the religious experiences of India, and to come to new understandings of some of the ways in which religion is understood and experienced in our own culture and our own life.
REL-224, Christian Social Ethics
Ethics, by all means, is the question of How to Live. In this class, students will explore the questions of how to critically interpret the scripture, human experiences, Christian traditions, and secular teachings; how to make a good life for all living beings, how to become responsible social beings without destroying God’s creation, and how to live peacefully and harmoniously with others in culturally, and religiously pluralistic society.
“Love your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” Many Christian social ethicists have considered the “double love commandments” the center of Christian teachings. Our contemporary society consistently asks Christians to define neighbors and to make peaceful and just relations with them. This course is designed to help students critically analyze social structures, to contemplate the lives of our neighbors, and to embody our love for our neighbors.
We will extensively deal with Christian communities’ social teachings and contemplate the relationship between Christianity and society. Our main questions revolve around Christian love, justice, and peace for society, God’s all creation, and suffering human beings.