Introduction to the Assignment
In order to have you look at the various elements of religion that we are learning about in the Stein text and to give the class more information on world religions, this assignment is to be built and used throughout the course…as you become a specialist in TWO world religions.
I have posted a VERY general introduction to some of the major world religions. The three Abrahamic religions- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; two of the religions of India- Hinduism and Buddhism; and two of the religions of China- Confucianism and Taoism (or Daoism).
You are being asked to choose one of the Abrahamic religions (please not your own) and one of the religions of India or China (again, please not your own). If there is another religion you would like to do, please contact me about it first. Some people today call atheism a religion. There is no doubt about the rise of atheism and agnosticism. Either of them would be much more difficult to use for this assignment; however, There will be an opportunity to look at them in the course.
You will be working with these religions through the course to build toward a discussion (50 points) in week six and an essay (100 points) due the last day of the class.
You will be approaching the discussion and essay in an anthropological way.
1.Use a holistic approach
Look at the social and cultural contexts in which each religion arose. How did each religion relate to ongoing events? How did they function in their cultures? How did they relate to other aspects of the culture (e.g., family, technology, economics, politics, education)? You will also look at it in today’s context. especially in the last part of the course where we deal with religion and conflict.
2.Use cultural relativism. Avoid ethnocentrism.
By looking at aspects of each religion in its own cultural and social context, you are taking a cultural relativist’s approach. You will make no judgments about the beliefs or practices of the religions (ethnocentrism not allowed); the purpose is to understand them.
3.This is a comparative essay. Like other anthropologists, you will be interested in identifying the factors that shaped each of your religions. Did the differences have an impact early in the development of the religions? What factors have a major impact today? Were there similarities?
ELEMENTS OF THE ASSIGNMENT
1.In week 2, you will submit a short statement identifying the two
religions you have chosen. On Abrahamic (not your own) and one from either India or China (not your own). (10 Points)
2.Throughout the course, you will use the knowledge you are
gaining to contribute to assignments and other discussions. You are a specialist! Build your essay as we go through the chapters in Stein, always relating them to your religions.
3.In week 6, there will be a world religions discussion. In this discussion, what you have learned will be most important. You will build your discussion on the knowledge and will relate it to ongoing events in the world and in the religions. (50 Points)
4.In week 7, you will submit your essay. (100 Points)
5.The essay should be 4-5 pages and will be built on at least 5 solid outside sources which you will cite correctly in either MLA or APA style.
You might think of it in three major sections:
B.The religions and their elements: include major beliefs (myths) and practices (rituals), key symbols and their meanings, use the Stein text as a guide.
C.The religions today. Look at ways the religions are involved in conflicts or peace efforts.
D.Summarize your findings. Look for similarities and differences in the factors shaping the religions in the past and today.