REL-101 Introduction to Theology
Theology is an attempt to understand ourselves and our world in relation to transcendent reality. It is simultaneously an attempt to state persuasively the claims of faith in relation to the controlling experiences of an era. The course will focus upon theological responses to issues like environmental deterioration, race and gender, violence and the death penalty. Cross-listed with QS 281.
REL-102 Ethics, Society and the Moral Self
This course primarily focuses on religious ethics in our contemporary society. Students will explore diverse theories of justice and examine these theories in social realities at both domestic and global levels. Questioning how to become responsible citizens and discerning moral agents, students will contemplate possibilities to build community for peace and justice crossing religious differences. Topics include theories of justice, global economy, food, environmental ethics, race, gender, and sexuality.
REL-103 World Religions
An introduction to the comparative study of religion, involving case study surveys of several of the major religious traditions of the contemporary world. Guiding questions include: What does it mean to live within each tradition? What does one do? How does one view the world? To what extent is religion a matter of personal experience and to what extent a matter of social and cultural experience? How have people in these traditions balanced the pursuit of wisdom and the practice of compassion in their lives? How do we begin to study the world's religious traditions?
REL-104 Religions in India
"Religions in India" is an introductory survey of the religious life of the South Asian subcontinent. The course provides an introduction to five religious traditions in South Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.
A historical and thematic survey of the Buddhist tradition from the time of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, until the present. Emphasis upon the ways in which Buddhist teachings and practices have interacted with and been changed by various cultures in Asia, and more recently in North America. Cross-listed with EAST 105.
REL-106 Special Topics in Religion
REL-108 Bible, Gender and Sexuality
This course introduces students to the many conflicted attitudes and images around men, women, and sexuality found in the Bible, from the very different creations of Adam and Eve to Revelation's representation of the Roman Empire as the "whore" of Babylon; from the assertive and sexually suspicious female figures of Ruth and Rahab to Jesus' uncertain masculinity in accounts of his death. We will ask: does the Bible support heterosexuality and decry homosexuality? In addition to close, historically-oriented study of select biblical texts, students will be acquainted with core readings in contemporary gender theory. Cross-Listed with WGST 108/QS 280
REL-109 Introduction to American Religions
This course examines American religions from the pre-colonial period to the present. Why has religion in the United States always been energetic and diverse? What forms has this religious vitality taken? How does religion fit within the larger trajectory of American history? What is specifically American about the American religious experience? Exploring these questions will inevitably concern such important themes as race, immigration, gender, pluralism, and religious freedom.
REL-199 Introductory Topics in Religion
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
REL-201 The Reality of God
The premise of the course is that the metaphors we use for God are profoundly consequential. The ways we imagine God affect our understanding of ourselves and our society. We will explore how particular metaphors impact economic justice, the ecological crisis, history and human oppression as well as our personal lives.
The course is an inquiry into the nature of Judaism. The emphasis will be on the development of Rabbinic Judaism: Theology, History, and Rabbinic Literature.
REL-203 Asian Religions in the U.S.
Who are Asians and Asian-Americans in the 21st century's United States? What religions have they brought? How have they changed the ecology of our contemporary U.S. society? What issues are they facing? Particular attention goes to Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and urban immigrant Christianities. Mandatory site-visits to immigrant religious organizations in Greater Columbus are required.
REL-204 Religious Pluralism and American Identity
What does it mean to be "American" in the twenty-first century? Is it even possible for such a religiously diverse people to affirm a common identity of any substance? Today, citizens must negotiate among the often competing demands of religion, community, and nation. This course will examine how Americans have historically viewed religious diversity, consider theoretical approaches to religious pluralism, and explore how contemporary local conflicts illuminate just how religious does (not) and should (not) affect engaged, democratic citizenship.
REL-205 Religion and Nature
An investigation of the religious value of nature in Christianity and Buddhism, particularly in America and Japan. We look at how people in these cultures have viewed the place of humanity within the world of nature, and the relationships among humanity, God and nature.
REL-206 Religion in American Politics and Law
This course explores the interplay between religion and American culture through the lenses of politics and law. Is there an American view of religion? Is there a religious view of America? Is there an inherent tension between religion and constitutional democracy? Among the topics to be treated are the following: religion in education; science and religion; "civil religion"; war and religion, sects, cults and Native American practices; religious values in the making of public policy.
REL-207 Religion and Art
This course explores the relationship between artistic expression and religious experience. At the heart of the course is the question, "What is the relationship between religion and art?" To explore this question, we will undertake a comparative study of the use and critique of sacred images in Hinduism and Christianity.
REL-210 The Nature of Religion
This course explores some of the ways different scholars have asked and attempted to answer the basic questions, What is religion? What is religious experience? Scholarly approaches include those of history, philosophy, theology, anthropology and psychology.
REL-211 Introduction to the Bible
The Bible is a book -- or rather, a collection of books -- produced and assembled over long stretches of time, worked and re-worked by various groups within the relatively small and usually crisis-ridden community of Israel. In other words, it is a history of revisions, as Israel attempted to make sense of itself amidst changing times and new empires. This course introduces students not only to the historical contexts, literary variety, and major narrative traditions of the Bible, but the social forces guiding its eventual composition as a book. Thus the New Testament will be engaged not as the founding documents of Christianity, but as one of many ongoing Jewish interpretations of Israelite traditions in the context of the Roman Empire.
REL-212 Introduction to the New Testament
What we now have as the "New Testament" first appeared not as Christian nor even as "scripture," but as texts interpreting Israelite traditions in the wake of Israel's tenuous, subjected, or even annihilated status under the Roman empire. How did the New Testament become what it is now, the foundational documents of a dominant tradition? How does reading with deep historical attention to Israel's history under Rome change what we think New Testament texts say? We will also be reading some "early Christian" texts that did not make it into the New Testament (The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Thomas, The Acts of Paul and Thecla), and asking how the New Testament came to be a collection that rendered the very Hebrew traditions composing it an "old" testament.
REL-213 History of Christian Thought
A study in the development of Christian teachings to the early Middle Ages. Changing concepts of Church Doctrine and the nature of the church, with its approach to human problems are studied.
REL-214 The Christian Right in American Culture
This course will examine the history, theology, practices, and politics of the so-called "Christian Right" in America. In coming to appreciate the complexities of pentecostalism, fundamentalism, and evangelicalism, we'll look at megachurches, speaking in tongues, the feminism of submissive wives, creation science, and the commercialization of contemporary conservative Christianity.
One of the oldest surviving religions on the planet, what we call "Hinduism" is actually a complex of loosely related religious traditions that have been woven together by a shared geography and by historical circumstance. By reading primary texts--from the ancient Vedas and Puranas to the work of medieval poets and contemporary film makers--students will be invited into an encounter with the religious traditions and the world views that sprouted up in South Asia so long ago, and that continue to evolve even today.
REL-216 Religions of China and Japan
This course explores the basic teachings and historical development of the most influential religious traditions and schools of thought in East Asia, including Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Shinto. Attention is given to classical texts, popular practice and the recent impact of Western culture on East Asian religion.
REL-217 Sects and Cults
A study of new religious movements, cults, and sects in modern America, this course will investigate the sociological and religious dimensions of such fascinating phenomena as Satanism, occultism, polygamy, witchcraft, new age religion, and UFO worship. Special attention will be given to the social-structural origins of cults and sects, to the church-sect continuum, and to the variety of social relationships that exist between religious groups and the larger society. The Unification Church, popularly known as the Moonies, Jimmy Jones' Peoples' Temple, the Hare Krishna Movement, the Branch Davidians and Heaven's Gate are among the many religious groups to be examined.
REL-218 Islam Traditions
A historical and thematic survey of the beliefs and practices of the Muslim tradition from the time of the Prophet Muhammad to the present. Emphasis upon the ways that Islamic teachings and practices have interacted with, changed, and been changed by various cultures in Asia, Africa, Europe, and more recently North America.
REL-220 Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, Environmental Rights
This course explores two on-going global debates among academics, activists and policy-makers within the concept of human rights: (1) To what extent should human rights be limited to a narrow range of clearly defined individual rights, and to what extent should they be expanded to cover a larger range of individual and collective rights? (2) Are indigenous communities necessarily better environmental stewards, and so does the extension of rights to these communities lead to better environmental protection? Counts for W, INTL 250/ENVS 265
REL-224 Christian Social Ethics
What is the Christian Church's responsibility to society? What proper roles can the Church play in politics? How can Christians be responsible citizens in secular state and in the kin-dom of God at the same time? What does it mean to live God's love and justice? This course explores the various and contesting theories in Christian social ethics and examines structural justice and injustice. Topics include Christianity and politics, feminist ethics, war and peace, economic ethics, healthcare ethics, and global ethics.
REL-225 Ethics and Institutional Morality
A critical analysis of the prospects of morality functioning within organizations and affecting their interactions with other groups. Attention will be given to comparing the moral possibilities of individuals with those of institutions and collectives, and to exploring how institutional and group loyalties tend to shape the behavior of the individuals devoted to them. The course will include an in-depth examination of some of the significant moral dilemmas faced by those in a selected occupations involving institutional commitments (for example, hospital administrators, advertisers, business managers, etc.). Different occupations will be chosen in different semesters.
REL-227 Women's Spiritual Activism
What is women's spiritual activism in our contemporary society? What can we learn from those who have struggled to bring gender equality and peace in human society? Is religion anti-feminist or feminism anti-religious? In spite of cultural, racial and religious diversity among women across the globe, women often share the similar stories of physical and psychological suffering caused by their institutionalized religions and societies. Many of these women also testify that their religions enabled them to resist injustice and to build up solidarity with others including men. This course invites the students to explore the spiritual journeys of the feminist activists---their struggles for justice for all humanity. Cross-listed with WGST 227.
REL-228 Rebellion, Resistance and Black Religion
This course examines the cultural continuities between African traditional religions and Black religion in the United States. It also explores the connection between politics and religion among Black Americans and the role religion plays in the African-American quest for liberation. The course examines theological and ethical issues, such as the color of God and the moral justifiability of violent revolution. Students will be given an opportunity to study contemporary religious movements, such as Rastafarianism and the Nation of Islam, along with more traditional African sectarian practices such as voodoo and Santeria.
REL-229 Women and Western Religion
An introductory course analyzing the historical experiences of women within Western religion and contemporary trends in feminist theological thought. Although emphasis will vary, students will be asked to evaluate critical topics such as: how the Bible presents women, feminist reconstructions of Biblical texts, arguments that Christianity and Judaism are essentially sexist, feminist Christian and Jewish theological reconstructions and contemporary Western Goddess spirituality.
REL-230 Creation Narratives and Power Relations
Writing and re-writing the story of the creation of the world was a common ancient practice, especially as people experienced new or increasingly difficult political and social circumstances. In fact, ancient people regularly used descriptions of the creation of the world to express their dissatisfaction with the world in which they lived, to reimagine it, or to justify or critique the powers-that-be. This course reads a breadth of ancient literature describing the creation of the cosmos for not only their literary beauty and philosophical influences/distinctions, but their social and political implications. How do ideas of what is "human" support forms of ideal citizenship? How do these texts imagine and naturalize gender differences, the differences and affiliations between animals and humans, and the reason for pain and suffering in the world? How do they understand the world's beauty alongside the ugliness of war? How do they try to transform the chaotic realities of the world into an ordered whole? Cross-listed with Classics 301.
REL-240 Special Topics
Religion in America has always been vital and diverse. Why? How have Americans practiced their faiths? What is specifically American about religions in the United States? What happens when the obligations of citizenship clash with the diverse claims of religious belief? We'll explore these questions through a range of materials, from Puritan sermons and slave poetry to Mormon scripture and contemporary film. As we gain a working knowledge of American religious traditions, we'll keep our eyes on such important issues as revivalism, race, immigration, gender, and religious freedom.
REL-299 Intermediate Topics in Religion
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
REL-300 Major/Minor Seminar
REL-301 Empire: Is America the New Rome?
The premise of the course is that America functions in the world and in our lives as an empire. While some would argue that we are "the indispensable nation," others contend that America uses its power in its own interests, even the interests of an elite segment of the country. Consideration is given to the role of capitalism as a distributor of goods and services and the ways in which it forges identity and addresses issues of equity. While there is a discreet focus on class, race, and gender, those issues emerge in other contexts. Attention is given to the biblical tradition as a model for responding to empire, and the ways in which it is exploitive.
REL-308 New Testament Studies
This seminar will examine in depth either a text or group of texts or a theme that is important in the New Testament.
REL-309 Old Testament Studies
This seminar will concentrate on either a text or a group of texts or a theme that is important in the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament).
REL-317 Religion and Society
This course investigates the relationships between religion and society and the social dimension of religious truth-claims. The central theme entails a cross-cultural study of religious influences on both social stability and change or revolution. In exploring this tension between religion and existing socioeconomic and political orders, we will consider such examples as religious movements, civil religion, and liberation theology.
REL-319 The Human Condition: Economic Factors and Theological Perspectives
Exploration of the interfaces between theological claims and economic policies. The focus will be on the impact of theology upon societal values and of societal values upon economic institutions. Of special concern will be the ways in which outmoded societal values are sustained in the form of economic institutions which may oppress a minority or even a majority in a society. The context of the study will include both the Third World and the United States.
REL-327 Women and Social Ethics: In the Global Context
"The personal is internationally political!" Whether we are aware or not, we live in the globalized world and our actions here and now affect the lives of millions of people whom we may never meet face to face. Through the religious concept of "interdependence" with the secular understanding of "women's rights as human rights," this course will analyze and explore globalized issues of poverty, war, sex-trafficking, migration, reproductive rights, and religious conflict as well as ethically consider how diverse social groups are interconnected to each other beyond national and religious boundaries; and how we study, analyze, and practice transnational feminist activism for all humanity. Cross-listed with WGST 327.
REL-331 Individualism in U.S. Society
This is a course in the analysis and critique of individualism. It will "deconstruct" its basic assumptions in both theory and practice, as well as "construct" alternative social models that may be more fulfilling for both individuals and our society.
REL-340 Seminar: Special Topics
REL-363 Independent Study
REL-364 Independent Study
REL-399 Advanced Topics in Religion
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.