Critical survey of various religious groups and phenomena in the United States. This course will examine the traditional religions whose adherents played significant r oles in founding the United States, while also paying attention to the religious traditions of the historically enslaved, colonized, and marginalized. Special attention will be paid to alternative religious movements and to those religious groups whose members seek greater visibility, freedom, or influence upon the religious character of the United States today.
REL 209Topics in Religion: Religion and Money
Different spiritual traditions profess a wide range of beliefs and practices concerning wealth and the material world. Sometimes wealth is perceived as good: gods and goddesses of prosperity are popular around the world. But sometimes wealth is perceived as unimportant. The Buddha freely chose to leave his wealthy family to become a homeless spiritual wanderer, and, like Jesus of Nazareth, he owned almost nothing. Confucius was known for his frugality. Daoists claim that hoarding and wealth lead to loss and disaster. Examining case studies from many different spiritual traditions from ancient and modern times, this course explores beliefs about the perceived benefits and dangers of the material world. We will explore such topics as wealth, prosperity, hoarding, accumulation, fasting, frugality, and generosity.
REL 244Introduction to Buddhism
Introduction to the beliefs and practices of Buddhism, from ancient to modern times. We begin with the teachings of early Buddhism from the fifth century BC in India and survey scriptures, commentaries, and autobiographies from China, Vietnam, and North America up through modern times. Special attention is given to the Meditation School of Buddhism, which is known as Zen in the modern West. The course explores such topics as cosmology, conceptualizations of the human body and its relationship to the cosmos, meditation, ethics, and religious experience.