Midterm Thought Experiment Guidelines (REL 1003)

August 1, 2009

August 1, 2009

Midterm Thought Experiments


Please answer two of the following questions. Each question has multiple parts, so be sure to address all aspects of the question thoroughly. When answering the questions please use as much terminology and interpretive analysis (provided by The Sacred Quest, Introducing Religion, God Is Not One and in-class lectures / discussions) as possible. It will likely require a minimum of three pages to adequately respond to each question. Please type out your responses and return them, in class, on the due date in question. No late assignments will be accepted. Each question is worth a possible 10 points, with a possible 20 total points for this Midterm Thought Experiment.

1)  Look up the word “religion” in a sampling of commonly used dictionaries. Do the definitions adequately account for the complexity of religion as you understand it thus far? Explain. Given what you have learned in class thus far, how would you define “religion”? Why have you chosen the language that you are employing in this definition?

2)  Are there places (spaces) or times that are most important for you? Does that importance have anything to do with your sense of the sacred? If not, explain. If so, how do you define the “sacred”? Where would you go or at what time do you think you would most likely have some experience of a hierophany?

3)  Follow the story of a character in the Bible, the Dhammapada, or the Rig-Veda and identify various appearances of the sacred in his or her life. What media serve as vehicles of sacred reality? Are there implications of prophetic, sacramental, or mystical patterns in the appearances you identify? Explain.

4)  Pick out a piece of religious art (or an architectural monument) and try to describe its religious language. What is the monument or artwork “saying”? How does the art or architecture accomplish this?

5)  How would you like your own wedding to be conducted? Analyze the ritual “language” (gestures, symbols, setting, etc.) that you wish to employ. Why have you made your choices? Instead you may consider how you would like your own funeral to be conducted. What would you want the ceremony to “say” about you, your family, and your friends not only in words but in gestures?

6)  From your own personal experience, can you appreciate or understand the severe tensions that sometimes arise when people disagree about the “correct” manner of expressing belief or conducting worship? Explain.

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