Religious Studies | Religions of the West
R152 | 3733 | Jaques
The purpose of the course is for students to develop ways of understanding the religions of the West (Christianity, Judaism, and
Islam) in the context of Western (American) society and culture. To do this, the course will focus on three aspects of Western
religion: notions of God, scripture, and ritual. We will approach these phenomena from a comparative perspective, meaning that we
will be interested in looking at both the similarities between the religions of the West as well as those differences that mark each
as distinctive. A major component of our approach to religion will be examining how each tradition is treated in popular American
culture, media, and literature. We will use various animated series, such as The Simpsons, Futurama, and King of the Hill as our
guide to each of the topics covered in the course. We will also read three novels that will exemplify the aspects of Western
religion discussed in class. Fiction is particularly important in helping us gain appreciations for religious meaning since it
allows us to "walk in the shoes" of other people-to see the world through eyes different than our own. Requirements: Attendance is
required. There will be weekly reaction papers to assigned readings, three exams, and a comparative final using the novels as a way
to bring together the different themes of the course.
Required Texts: Theodore M. Ludwig, The Sacred Paths of the West; Masha Hamilton, Staircase of a Thousand Steps; Chaim Potok, The
Chosen; and, Bill Bright and Ted Dekker, Blessed Child.