Understanding Religion 101

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This page is going to be reserved for my make-shift  lesson plans if I were to teach a specific topic.  They will include a name of the class, a schedule (either 8, 10 or 12 or full school year week plan since I want college or private school and these are the typical schedules.) All you “teachers” out there are welcome to provide input, suggestions, ideas and who knows…maybe one day i’ll actually get to teach these things. 

First up!??? — Coming soon 🙂

For a long time I have wanted to teach a class on “basic” religion.  I feel disappointed that the first interaction kids have with religion is typically in college and by then they have already begun to form their opinions without even attempting to under what religion is, how it works in society (both anthropologically, sociologically and personally.) A part of me wants to think that with an understanding knowledge of religions and how they operate, it may be possible to teach people to respect and interact with different religions even if they are different from their own.  [hint hint, he’s my objective]  Of course this class would probably never make it to the public sector (i will keep fantasizing)… but I can see it being a part of a private curriculum or part of a home-school program.  I want to emphasis some else up front : This class would NOT be an understanding of a particular faith.  It would incorporate religious material only if was important for understanding the canonicity or basic structure of the faith.  It would NOT, i repeat NOT be a direct means of missionary work or evangelism.

So, here is goes:

Week 1: Introduction to religion
   What is religion? What is its place in society? Discuss religions of people in class, what they know about other religions.  Review what religions will be discussed in class.
  Read introduction to at least 2 different texts (one on an anthropological/sociological level and another on a “world religions” textbook type level.)

Week 2: Pre-History Religion
  review of early civilization religions, such as mesopatamia, africa, egypt, dip into greek & roman (trying to stay chronological but its hard when its easier to relate religions than go in order of appearance.) DEFINITELY read Gilgamesh, the Creation Story from Mesopatamia, an African and Egyptian story.  Possible book review on a Greek/Roman god (there are thousands of these to choose from.)

Week 3: Major world religions-week1
Looking at basic beliefs, difference within the faith (orthodox, conservation, reformed & messianic)
Discussion groups or group presentations on one of these groups.
Readings–biblical readings discussing the nature of the nation of Israel, possible rabbinical readings

Week 4: major world religions- week 2
all “major world religions” will have a similar set up. Looking at basic beliefs, divisions within the faith,  locale of the religion and have discussion groups or presentations on subjects discussed.  Right now off the top of my head I admittedly do not know much about this group but I know where to find my resources if I had to teach.
readings: (dang it cannot remember names) but the major readings used in everyday prayer time.  Also, individual project is to locate a modern book review of a Hindui believer (there is some of this in Eat, Pray, Love but I would be looking for something more directly related to religious academia.

Week 5: major world religions – week 3
  Christianity–similar set up as previous.  readings may include biblical but most likely early christian writers such as the Nicene Creed, Tertullian, early church fathers.  Also, possibly a modern reader.  no project for this depending on the studen population because if taught in America, many people already have exposure to this religion.  However, would be willing to change if, per se, I was teaching in a setting where children were more exposed to Jewish teachings, then I would remove the project there.

Week 6: major world religions-week 4
review of beliefs, locale & history & sects.  Readings include parts of Quran & any other “belief” documentation as well as a modern writer discussing Isalmic beliefs.

Week 7: major world religions – week 5
Buddhism and other Asian religions
  review of belief, locale, history & sects. Readings include Tao de Ching, a basic history of the Budha & some sort of arts project mostly because this religion can have multiple interpretations artistically speaking.

Week 8: Religion in modern times
  review of modern religions such as Mormonism, Scientology, “New Age.” Review of similarities, discussion of what constitutes a religious structure.  Readings: Book of Mormon, Scientology belief book.

Week 9: Religion in Society
  Discussion of what religion looks like in society, discussion about how wars are started over beliefs, look at the middle east conflict, the asian conflict.  Read such things as “weathered by miracles” or review people like Ghandi.  Possible room for biography, 1-2 pages on figure that has made an impact but has religious ties (possible Mitt Romney, Ghandi, Mother Teresa and even Bin Laden as all religious impact is not positive.)

Week 10: Group Presentations:
  I honestly think there should be some way to incorporate what was discussed & have groups put together some review of religion.  Or look at a unique religion that no one in the group practices & present it to the class.  Or maybe even create a religion, based on the definition discussed on the first week of class (spaghetti monster-type reference here appropriate) and have them present it to the class.

Any final? the final project would be to take the created religion and discuss it intellectually.  Possibly write a paper on the religion with the group presentation as a supplement.  Or have the last week be review & discussion so that a final can incorporate multiple choice, short answer and essay questions
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Geez… i would want to take this class but that’s a lot of work.  I guess it always is better to have all your ideas together in one basket so you can pick the best ones for the time.  And variety for a class I think is important because it helps reduce cheating as well as promote curiosity.  Just sayin’

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