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RELI448N:Understanding Religion Essay

RELI448N Comparative Religions

Week 1 Assignment

Understanding Religion Essay

Required Resources

Read/review the following resources for this activity:

Textbook: Chapter 1


Minimum of 2 scholarly sources (in addition to the textbook/lesson)


Choose only one (1) of the following two options:

Option 1: Eight Characteristics of Religion

In an essay, address the following:

Identify and briefly describe the eight key characteristics of religion developed in your reading.

Choose 2 for further explanation and include an example for each of your chosen characteristics as demonstrated in a given religion. (You may use different religions for each characteristic or stay with one throughout.)

Why did you choose these 2 reasons? How do they relate to your own religious worldview or your clinical practice?

Option 2: Etic and Emic Views

In an essay, address the following:

Explain how the etic and emic perspectives describe your own religion or a religion with which you are familiar.

In etic, explain how an objective researcher would describe the religion including specific elements. In emic, explain how a practicing member would see the same reality.

Quote an “authoritative religious leader” from this religion as part of your emic paragraph, in addition to your scholarly source. (E.g., Buddhism-Dali Lama; Catholicism-Pope)

How does understanding this add to your understanding of your chosen religion?

What does it add to your approach to patient care?

Click on the following link to view an example for Option 2 (Shinto):

Link: Shinto Example

Hopefully you can see the difference between the etic approach using facts and objective information devoid of emotion or attachment whereas the believer (emic) approach showed devotion, faith, appealed to the senses and emotion. The quotes showed personal faith. Your emic view does not have to use quotes, except for the religious leader requirement, but it needs to show a personal view.

In addition to outside sources, make sure to reference your textbook and/or lesson.

RELI448N Comparative Religions

Week 2 Assignment

Hinduism Essay/Chart

Required Resources

Read/review the following resources for this activity:

Textbook: Chapter 3


Minimum of 1 scholarly source (in addition to the textbook/lesson)


Choose only one (1) of the following two options:

Option 1: Chart & Analysis

Imagine you serve in a hospital with many Hindu patients. Prepare a presentation chart for your colleagues to help them better familiarize themselves with this religion using the following:

Create a chart addressing the following six (6) elements:

Origins (including founding)

Geographic locations where Hinduism lives

Placement within major religions

Historical timeline,

Primary beliefs (briefly described)

Religious practices, esp. those pertinent to life, health, death

Add an additional paragraph that does the following:

Identifies which theory of the origin of religion describes Hinduism and defend your choice.

Explains why your colleagues need to be aware of this religion’s beliefs and practices and how it relates to professional standards of care.

Option 2

Hinduism challenges Western notions of the oneness of God. Review these three aspects of Hinduism before writing your essay:

In Hinduism, there are “One God and Many Gods.”

The gods are “Immanent and Transcendent,” that is, each god is above and beyond all; but also, each god is represented in all kinds of concrete, tangible forms—statues, pictures, stories, movies, etc.

There are different paths to god. Each path is considered a legitimate way to god.

For this option, write an essay that addresses the following:

Describe in detail one (1) of the three aspects (above) of Hinduism.

Explain why this aspect of Hinduism appeals to you (or not).

Explain how your chosen aspect gives people from all sectors of Indian life a chance to be fully involved in religion.

Determine which theory of the origins of religion best relates to Hinduism. Offer at least one clear example demonstrating why it may be so.

In addition an outside source, make sure to reference your textbook and/or lesson.

RELI448N Comparative Religions

Week 3 Assignment

Buddhist and Hindu Beliefs Comparison Essay

Required Resources

Read/review the following resources for this activity:

Textbook: Chapter 4


Minimum of 4 scholarly sources – at least 2 for Hinduism & 2 for Buddhism (in addition to the textbook/lesson)


Select one (1) of the following pairs and compare each of the terms (in that pair) as it is understood and practice in the religious traditions of both Hinduism and Buddhism:




Include the following in your paper:

Introduction that clearly states your central goal (brief)

Thoughtful examples and analysis in your body paragraphs, giving 2 scholarly sources for each religion and use your text and/or lesson

Conclusion to summarize your thoughts and how what you learned relates to your own personal world or religious views.

RELI448N Comparative Religions

Week 5 Assignment

Interview Essay

Required Resources

Read/review the following resources for this activity:

Textbook: Review chapters as needed


Link (library article): Talking About Religion – How to Do It Right (Links to an external site.)

Minimum of 1 scholarly source (in addition to the textbook/lesson)


For this assignment you are required to sit down for a conversation with someone whose religious identity differs from your own (this means that if you identify as Christian, for example, you should find a conversation partner who does not identify as such). The purpose of this exercise is for you to engage with someone else in a conversation about religion. That means that you will not only ask questions, but you will hopefully answer questions about your own beliefs, as well. Please note atheist and agnostic are not acceptable choices for your assignment as neither is recognized as a religion.

Before meeting with your partner, review the above article for this activity, “Talking About Religion – How to Do It Right” (link in Required Resources), for some guidance on how to engage in conversations about religion. You may also wish to share this information with your partner, if needed.

In this assignment, you will listen to the ideas of someone whom you identify as religiously “other.” You will share your own ideas (though to a lesser extent) and report on what you learned about this other religion, including your partner’s beliefs and how those beliefs compare to your own religious upbringing and/or current practice.

The report should describe the major topics of discussion (below) and a detailed summary of what you learned. Your final essay should include all of the following:

Introduction: Provide some cultural and historical context for the religious tradition of your conversation partner. Include why you chose this religion and person. (It is important that you do some research before you have your conversation so that you ask informed questions that come from genuine interest.) This should not be a long section of the essay.

Describe your conversation partner’s beliefs. Include the following 8 elements of religion from Week 1:

Belief system. Several beliefs fit together into a complete and systematic interpretation of the universe and the place of humans in it; it explains a religion’s worldview. Highlight the most important.

Community. How are the belief system and its ideals practiced as a group of believers who come together? How do they come together?

Central myths. Stories that express the religious beliefs and history of a religion and give it meaning through retelling and/or re-enacting (e.g., major events in the life of Krishna, the enlightenment of Buddha, death and resurrection of Jesus, Mohammed’s escape from Mecca, Israelite’s escape through the Red Sea, and so on).

Ritual. Ceremonies and/or Rites that enrich beliefs.

Ethics. Rules about human behavior which are often believed to be given by a supernatural realm (God) or socially generated guidelines.

Characteristic emotional experiences. Some emotions associated with religion are dread, guilt, awe, mystery, devotion, conversion, “rebirth,” liberation, ecstasy bliss, inner peace.

Material expressions. Physical elements like statues, paintings, musical compositions, instruments, objects like incense, flowers, clothing, architecture or sacred places.

Sacredness/Holiness. A distinction is made between what is ordinary and what is sacred through use of a different language or ceremony or clothing or acts of reverence. Certain objects, actions, people and places may share or express sacredness/holiness (e.g., receiving communion, Mecca, an altar, a shrine, the Dali Lama, menorah).

Identify any conflicts between the stated beliefs of their tradition and their personal beliefs.

After hearing your partner’s description, explain whose theory of the origin of religions (Week 1) you think offers the best explanation for his/her religion?

What challenges can your partner identify that their religious tradition faces in the modern world? Do they feel that their tradition is responding positively? Explain.

Examine if the tradition is focused on belief (orthodoxy) or behavior (orthopraxis).

Compare your partner’s beliefs and practices to your own religious upbringing and/or current practice. This is to be done in the report not as a debate with your partner.

Conclusion: Conclude with your personal reaction to this experience and any additional questions that came up after your conversation.

This is a formal academic paper, so pay careful attention to the basics of writing a good English composition, to essay structure, and complete APA.

In addition to outside sources, make sure to reference your textbook and/or lesson.

RELI448N Comparative Religions

Week 6 Assignment

Comparative Religion Grid

Required Resources

Read/review the following resources for this activity:

Textbook: Chapter 9


File (Word doc): Week 6 Assignment Template: Comparative Religion GridPreview the document

Minimum of 3 scholarly sources – 1 for each tradition (in addition to the textbook/lesson)


Within Christianity there are three major traditions: Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestantism. Your assignment for this week is to complete a Comparative Religions Grid (Week 6 Assignment Template above) comparing these three traditions. The grid is divided into five segments, each segment has varying numbers of categories. Each category is to be compared across all of the three religions. They will not always agree; sometimes they will.

Using the assignment template (in Required Resources), do the following:

Use your text, lesson, the Internet and at least 3 scholarly sources (one per religion) to engage in comparative research. If using the Internet, our goal is an official source for that religion. Examples:

Catholic: (Links to an external site.) (the official Bishops conference of the catholic church in the United States)

Eastern Orthodox: (Links to an external site.)

Protestant: There are many different denominations, so one website will not speak for each group. Perhaps an encyclopedia will be helpful.

Fill in all boxes on the Comparative Religions Grid.

Do not leave blanks

Be as focused and analytical as possible. Using one or two sentence answers will often work; or phrases or short paragraphs may be needed. The box size will increase as you write in it, but long paragraphs are discouraged.

Include short descriptions for each term or individual introduced, not just a word. E.G. Moses, Jew to whom God gave the 10 commandments. Be as simple and as concise as possible; yet, give as much detail as is needed.

If you use a quote, cite your source. E.G. Gen.1:26; Molloy, 2019, p. 32; Chamberlain, 2020, Week 6, 4; etc.

Complete a reference list for all cited sources.

Complete the 300-500-word reflection at the end, assessing what you learned through this exercise and how it impacts your own religious views or your professional experience.

RELI448N Comparative Religions

Week 7 Assignment

Analytical Essay

Required Resources

Read/review the following resources for this activity:

Textbook: Chapter 10 (Review Chapter 8, 9)


Minimum of 6 scholarly sources – at least 2 for Judaism, 2 for Christianity, & 2 for Islam (in addition to textbook/lesson)


In a well-composed essay, complete the following:

Introduction: Clarify briefly what this essay will accomplish.

Develop a timeline showing the historical relationship among Judaism, Christianity and Islam’s beginnings. Indicate their geographical connections, founders, and any divisions within each religion.

Choose one element from the following list: the nature of god, the nature of Jesus, holy books, or salvation. Analyze your chosen element by demonstrating the similarities or differences among the three religions regarding your chosen element, using specific examples.

Examine at least two challenges that affect how all three religions currently relate to each other. Give an example of each challenge to support your observation. Further, define globalization and discuss how globalization helps or hinders this current relationship. (You can find a very good video on globalization in Week 8).

Conclusion: Bring your essay together by reflecting on what you learned and how it might help you in your profession going forward.

Your paper should include headings for each segment, including the introduction and conclusion, and thoughtful examples and analysis in your body paragraphs.

In addition to outside sources, make sure to reference your textbook and/or lesson.

RELI448N Comparative Religions

Week 8 Assignment

Reflection on Learning Essay

Required Resources

Read/review the following resources for this activity:

Textbook: all chapters

Lesson: all weeks

Feedback from peers and instructor


Complete the following as either a written essay or video reflection. If video is chosen, you should include all these same requirements.

Reflect on your learning experiences over these 8 weeks. Choose a word, phrase, or quote that you would use to describe it overall and explain why you chose it and what this experience has added to your life.

Select and describe 3 of your most significant learning and how you will apply what you learned from each to your personal worldview or professional practice.

Describe 3 challenges you had to overcome during these weeks and what you learned in overcoming them that can be applied in your professional practice.

How has this course impacted your life, thinking, or spirituality? Which origin of religion theory or theories do you believe to be the description of your own views on religion? Explain your answer including an example.

Cite sources if used.

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