T,Th 10:00-11:20 a.m.
in 111 Hall of Languages
Professor James B. Wiggins Phone: 443-2241
Office: 501 HL e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Hours: T: 1:30-2:30-1 W:2-3 Fax: 443-3958
Teaching Assistant: Steve Benko Phone: 443-3861
Office: 514 HL e-mail: email@example.com
Students will be encouraged to think about
religion through the resources of Christianity that arose as a reform
movement within Judaism and over the course of centuries became an
independent religious tradition spread among cultures and across
geographies encircling the planet. Never from its beginning was
Christianity a single religion: it has always incorporated
significantly differing interpretations under its singular name.
There have always been "christianities" within CHRISTIANITY. Gaining
familiarity with some of the stories of some significant persons who
helped shape some of the differing interpretations of Christianity;
getting some acquaintance with some of the widely practiced rituals
and their interpretations; learning the place of the Bible and other
texts in interpreting and asserting meanings of Christianity; and
learning some dimensions of the thinking that has constituted
theology and ethics within the christianities -- these will provide
the content of the course.
In the process of thinking with, through and about some of these
materials of and from Christianity, students will also be learning
some perspectives and approaches that are applicable in studying
other religions, as well.
Given this stated purpose for this course, what do
want to learn and know from taking
this course? Here are some of the things that are to be presented and
some others that are not in the course:
- It will not presuppose that you are
familiar with "Christianity" nor committed to being a
- it will not confirm any particular form
or expression of Christianity as the only correct or true version;
thus, it will privilege no particular form of Christianity;
- It will satisfy a humanities
distribution requirement for the Liberal Arts Core;
- It will attempt to offer you the
opportunity to explore whatever human experiential base underlies
the selected expressions of Christianity that we examine in this
course. In so doing it will enable you to encounter yourself, your
values, your prejudices and your presuppositions, whatever those
may be. In doing these things students will be stimulated to
engage in comparative religion thinking.
- The Holy
- H. Richard Niebuhr,
Christ and Culture
- Ninian Smart,
Explorations of Human Beliefs
- Paul Tillich,
The Dynamics of Faith
- Alan Watts,
Myth and Ritual in
In-class presentations and discussions will supplement and
compliment the assigned readings. Tests and examinations will
include in-class materials as well as reading assignments.
Participation in class discussions will be factored into the final
evaluations for the course.
The classroom is the laboratory of humanities course. Exchanging
ideas, arguing, expressing differences-these are some of the marks
of thinking clearly and engaging people who think differently.
Therefore, class attendance and participation will be taken for
granted in this course. Absences will have a negative effect upon
our evaluation of your performance for the simple reason that
learning is enhanced by the stimulation provided by participation
in discussions and by learning the views of others on the subjects
we will consider in the course.
There will be two examinations required of everyone and a choice
between a third examination and a paper. The third (of four)
component of the final grade will come from your opting either to
do a research project and write a brief paper or to take the third
examination. The three grades will be averaged and estimates of
your class participation will be factored in to reach the grade to
be assigned to you for the course. If you choose to write a
research report, you must submit a topic proposal not later than
28. Each test and examination
will include some short answer questions and some essay
Since thinking is enhanced by both reading intelligently,
sensitively and critically and writing/speaking with the same
qualities, writing is as important to success in this course as is
reading. Speaking will occur when you complete the final
assignment. You will work in teams of four to do a visit to a
church after collaborating on research to help you prepare for the
visit. The report you generate will be presented to the class
within the times indicated below in the schedule and a written
version of the report will be submitted. Each person on the team
will receive the same grade for the project, so it is prudent for
all of you to make the commitment of time and participation to
enable your group to perform at an optimum level. A more detailed
assignment sheet will be provided in the second week of class.
- Unit 1: PRELIMINARIES AND
- September 2:
Smart, pp. 1-36 "Introduction"
& "Exploring Religion & Analyzing Worldviews"
- Tillich, pp. 41-54 "Religious
Smart, pp. 37-61 "Worldviews: An Inventory"
The Idea of Scripture and Textual Diversity
- The Bible: Genesis, Chapters 1-11;
- The Gospel According to John, Chapter 1, "Beginnings"
- Gospels of Matthew & Mark, Chapters 1 and Luke, Chapters 1
CHRIST AND CULTURE, MYTH AND
- For the Unit, read Niebuhr, "The Enduring Problem", pp. 1-44;
Smart, pp. 62-78; Watts, "Prologue", pp. 5-26
- September 14: Looking at Approaches to Religion
- 16: Looking at Approaches to Religion (2)
- 21: The Five Types, 1
- 23: The Five Types, 2
- 28: EXAMINATION #1 (Paper Proposals Due)
- Unit III- MYTH AND RITUAL
- Read Watts, pp. 27-236, and Smart, pp. 79-95; pp. 130-143
September 30: Worship, Creation, Birth, Baptism: The
Beginnings (A God Story)
- October 5: The Christian Year: Advent to Kingdomtide (A
- 7: The Cycle of Sacraments (A Christian's Story)
- 12: Story and Religion
- Unit IV. CHRISTIANITY IN HISTORY
- Read New Testament: Gospels of Mark, Luke, John and the Acts
of the Apostles
- October 14: Citizenship: Martyrs and Monks
- Re-read Smart, pp. 144-158
- 19: Chaos: Theodicy and Prelacy
- 21: Unity: Mystics and Theologians
- 26: Allegiance: Moralists and Pietists
- 28: EXAMINATION #2
- Unit V. BELIEF: THEOLOGY AND ETHICS
- Read Tillich,The Dynamics of Faith (entirety)
- Smart, "The Doctrinal Dimension", pp. 96-113; "The Ethical
Dimension," pp. 114-129.
- November 2: The Role of Thinking in Religion
- 4: Theology--What is It?
- 9: Ethics--What & Why?
- 11: Metaphors, Symbols, Images, Narratives and
Concepts, Beliefs, Creeds
- Unit VI. A FUTURE FOR CHRISTIANITY
- Read Smart, pp 159-176.
- November 16: Christianity Among the Religions (Papers
- 18: Diversity of Religions and Fundamentalisms
- 23:NO CLASS
- 25: Thanksgiving
- Unit VII. Deepening Understanding Through Research,
Observation and Conversation
- November 30: Visitation Team Reports
- December 2: Visitation Team Reports
- 7: Visitation Team Reports
- 9: Examination #3
- The class will meet on Friday, December 17 at 10:15 during the
finals period. Papers and other work will be returned at that time
and final grade information will be available.