Religion and Human Experience

Religion and Human Experience

Dis 2

Joe is very faithful and forthright in his beliefs. He holds that all things come from the volcano he has named “Ed.” Every so often Ed erupts and changes things. Joe feels that these eruptions are normal and bring balance to the world. He believes that balance is lost when people expect Ed to erupt more often or less often than Ed desires. Joe believes that we can become one with Ed after our lives end by tossing our bodies into the lava. This will help keep things in balance. Joe is the only believer.

Choose ONE of the following options for definitions of religion and determine whether or not Joe follows a religion. In addition, point out, from the definition you chose, what is missing if Joe does NOT follow a religion. Finally, what would it take for Joe’s beliefs to be a World Religion?

  1. Option A: “Religion is human transformation in response to perceived ultimacy.” (Young, The World’s Religions eText, Fourth Edition)
  2. Option B: “Religion is 1: the service and worship of God or the supernatural; and 2: commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.” (Religion as defined by Merriam-Webster.com)
  3. Option C: “Religion literally means: “to link back.” The word is related to ligaments, the connective tissue of the body. So, by definition, religions need to “link” to something…a founder, usually, or a form of religious writing but something that links them “back” to something else.” (John, Lecture Materials)

Dis 3

After reviewing the topics on Jedism: Star Wars religion, Satanism, and Trang Nguyen’s discussion of Cao Dai in the textbook, pick one and explain whether or not it is a religion. Please use all three definitions from Discussion 2 last week to defend your answer.

Dis 4

The basic four methods of religious instruction are:

  • Tell a story
  • Show a picture
  • Ask questions
  • Learn (memorize) a prayer, song, or statement

These four methods seem to be the same throughout humankind. Two questions for this topic:

  1. In your life, where have you encountered these four methods? (Don’t hesitate to add military, athletic or artistic experiences)
  2. Do you have any experiences of watching another religion or culture practice these methods?

Dis 5

Based on your experiences, do you agree that there is a “law of karma” that explains the course your life takes? In addition, after reading the materials on “Why do bad things happen to good people?” what are some of the key points made regarding suffering? Also, speculate how a monotheist might explain why bad things happen to good people.

Dis 6

Can you think of any beneficial aspects of the traditional Hindu class/caste system? Explain. Have you experienced a “Class System” in your life? If so, please share examples (including movies and television shows, as appropriate).

Dis 7

“The Middle Way.” Moderation seems to be a hard thing for many people to understand. Two great authors had radically different insights on moderation: “Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation,” (Saint Augustine) and “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess” (Oscar Wilde).

We live in an age of abusive social media, so it seems even more difficult to “find the middle” now. What lessons can you apply to your life by addressing each of the items in the Eightfold Path of the Noble Way?

Dis 8

In the 1980s, Bill Moyers interviewed the famous mythologist, Joseph Campbell, over a series of shows for PBS. Campbell mentioned this phrase for success: “Follow your Bliss.” Later, Campbell joked that one should “Follow their blisters.” The phrase became very popular.

As we study this chapter, answer this question: What is “bliss” to you? Is bliss successfully completing a task? Is it love, happiness or joy? Compare your understanding with the “bliss” of the Buddhist nirvana.

Dis 9

As you experience the natural world and the behavior and personalities of people, and as you contemplate your own life, do you observe yin (“passive”) and yang (“assertive”) forces at work, balancing each other?

What do you think accounts for the appeal of the teachings of philosophical Daoism to many people in Europe and the United States?

Dis 10

What is meant by the Daoist principle of “simple living”? Is it possible in the fast-paced modern world? Do you agree with the Daodejing that death should be accepted as part of the process of life? Why or why not?

Dis 11

What is the essential key to understanding Judaism? It seems that the Jews have a lot of rules. Why? How does the Exile experience impact this?

Dis 12

Have you ever felt as though others were responding to you on the basis of a stereotype? Have you ever experienced or witnessed the stereotyping of Jews (or members of other religions)? How serious is the problem? Please explain your answers.

Dis 13

The teacher asked the class: ‘What does it mean to be a Christian?” The class, made up entirely of Christians, raised their hands. The first student answered: “To be nice.” In addition, the other students added “help each other” and “love one another” to the answer, “nice.” The teacher responded, “So, according to your definitions, a nice Muslim or a nice Hindu would be Christian?”

First, are “nice Hindus” Christian? What is missing from the students’ answers? Second, why would a classroom of Christians focus on “nice?” How important, in Christian theology, is treating one another?

Dis 14

What seem to be the most significant differences among the historic movements within Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism? Do you agree that the division between “traditionalists/conservatives” and “modernists/liberals” in Christianity is more important than the differences among the historic movements and denominations? Explain. What do you think of the Emergent Church movement?

Dis 15

Compare and contrast the Muslim narrative of the life of Muhammad with the stories of the lives of Jesus (see Chapter 11), and Siddhartha Gautama (see Chapter 4). What significant similarities and differences do you note? Then, compare and contrast Muslim beliefs about Muhammad with Christian beliefs about Jesus, and Buddhist beliefs about Siddhartha Gautama.

Dis 16

As our course comes to an end, we now can look at some of the parallels and differences between the major world religions.

List some of the parallels between the major world religions. Consider geography, history, period of history, or any other factors that you can think of for this topic in your post.

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