World Religions


REL 1220-011 - Summer 2008

REL 1220-011 (download syllabus doc)

MTWR 3:20 pm - 5:00 pm Rocket Hall 1549 May 12 - Jun 20, 2008
Nita de Oliveira, Ph.D. - Office: Scott Hall 3012
Phone: 419-530-4517 - Office Hours: MF 8:30-11:00

Email: [email protected]


Course Website:


Personal Website:

Register for this course at UT


Course Description:




[3 hours] A study of the major religions of the world, with an emphasis on non-Western religions. We shall particularly explore the response of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions to the challenges posed by contemporary fundamentalism and secularism. In this course we will be exploring classical, modern, and postmodern conceptions and receptions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, in light of the complex phenomenon of globalization.


Required Text:


John L. Esposito, Darrell J. Fasching and Todd Lewis, Religion and Globalization: World Religions in Historical Perspective. Oxford University Press, 2007. Paperback. ISBN13: 9780195176957. ISBN10: 0195176952.



African-American Philosophy

Grading Policy:

Grades are based on point accumulation throughout the semester. There are 2 Homeworks worth 15 points each and 1 Midterm worth 30 points. One of the Homeworks might be replaced by a Class Presentation. NO LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED, unless they are accompanied by evidence of a medical emergency (e.g., signed doctor's note) or death in the family (e.g., funeral program). Make-up exams will be given only to those students who inform me of their emergency by email on the day of the exam. The cumulative final exam is worth 40 points, so as to make up 100 points:


30 points = Homework

30 points = Midterm

40 points = Final Exam

100 total points


Final grades for the course are based on the following scale:


93-100 pts. = A 77-79 pts. = C+

90-92 pts. = A- 73-76 pts. = C

87-89 pts. = B+ 70-72 pts. = C-

83-86 pts. = B 60-69 pts. = D

80-82 pts. = B- 59 and below = F


Academic Honesty:

Neither plagiarism (i.e., presenting the written work of another as one's own) nor cheating (i.e., providing answers to exam questions or receiving exam answers from another) will be tolerated. Any academic dishonesty will be disciplined according to the guidelines in the University of Toledo student handbook.



If you need special accommodations to attend my class, please notify me immediately. Your need for special accommodations, including special testing requests, will need to be documented by the Office of Accessibility, located at 1400 Snyder Memorial.


Reading Assignments & Class Structure:

Make sure to prepare all the readings before the date given. The reading assignments are usually short and hopefully pleasant. Homework is turned in at the beginning of class on the day it is due. There will be audiovisual presentations (DVD, online videos) and oral presentations.


Class Participation

Class participation is essential. That includes class attendance (75%) as well as active involvement in all phases of the class.


Class Schedule:

YouTube: Global Technology Facts
Chomsky on Globalization
May 13 - Chap. 1: Religion and Globalization
You Tube: Oneness in World Religions
Toni Blair: Faith & Globalisation
May 14 - Chap. 1: The Judeo-Christian Worldview / PostModernity
YouTube on Po-Mo: David Lynch
YouTube: REM, Losing my Religion
YouTube: Francis Schaeffer on the Judeo-Christian Worldview
Wiki on "Clash of Civilizations"
May 15 - Chap. 1: Universalism and Secularization
YouTube: Chomsky on the Clash of Civilizations
YouTube: An Alternative Arabic view of the Clash of Civilizations
Islam and Secularization
Peace Now / Shalom Achshav
YouTube: Stop the Clash of Civilizations

Week 2: May 19 - Chap. 2: Christianity and the Road to Globalization
Davos Forum - Can Globalization Be Ethical?
Global Ethics and Sustainable Capitalism
CNN Anderson Cooper: What is a Christian? (1/6)
May 20 - Chap. 2: Christianity, Modernity, Postmodernity
YouTube: Schubert's "Ave Maria" by Bono (U2) and Pavarotti
Amazing Grace Movie
May 21 - Review / Class Discussion
YouTube: Evangelicals and Postmodernism
YouTube: A Conservative Look at Black Liberation Theology
YouTube: Cornel West on Being a Leftist
May 22 - Homework/Quiz # 1 (15 points)

For the Homework # 1, due on May 22, you are asked to either write a 1-2 page essay trying to address 1 question from each reading assignment (one of the Discussion Questions listed on pages 34 and 106 of the Textbook), or you may take the in-class multiple-choice exam (True-or-False quiz), based on the Key Terms from Chapters 1 and 2. For the essay, you can use the texts you read and the material available on the internet, but make sure you cite your sources properly.

Week 3: May 26 - No Class (Memorial Day)
May 27 - Chap. 3: The Many Faces of Judaism/Traditional Judaism
YouTube: What is a Jew ?
YouTube: Jerusalem of Gold
YouTube: History of Judaism
YouTube: Imperial History of The Middle East
YouTube: Rabbis and Zionism
May 28 - Chap. 3: Modern and Postmodern Judaism
PoMo: Derrida on Love
PoMo: Derrida on Ghosts
PoMo: Derrida on Deconstruction
May 29 - Review/Homework/Quiz # 2 (15 points)
Key Terms:
Bar Mitzvah
Bat Mitzvah

Week 4: June 2 - Chap. 4: Islam
Wiki entry on Islam
You Tube: Islam the fastest-growing world religion
You Tube: Islam as major world religion
You Tube: Islam today
You Tube: Islam and Christianity
June 3 - Chap. 4: Islam and Modernity
You Tube: Islam and Modernity
You Tube: Islam and the Modern Enlightenment
BBC Islamic History of Europe
June 4 - Review / Class Discussion
You Tube: Islam, Post-Modernity and the Coming of Eurabia
Lecture on Islamic Law by Prof. Mashhad Al-Allaf
June 5 - Homework/Quiz # 3 (15 points)
Key Terms:

Week 5: June 9 - Chap. 6: Ways to Nirvana
Wiki on Buddhism
M.D. Eckel, DVD Lectures, 1: "Buddhism as a World Religion"
R. Gere Discovering Buddhism
You Tube: Buddha Amitabha
You Tube: Zen Buddhist Monastery
June 10 - Chap. 6: Traditional Buddhism
YouTube: Bodhi Zendo
YouTube: Zen Mind in Japan
Spring Summer Fall Winter and Spring
M.D. Eckel, DVD Lectures, 3: "All is Suffering"
June 11 - Chap. 6: Zen Buddhism and Postmodernity
CNN on Chinese-Tibetan crisis
CNN: Richard Gere on Tibet crisis
M.D. Eckel, DVD Lectures, 4: "The Path to Nirvana"
You Tube: Zen Buddhism and Western Society
You Tube: Buddhism in America
You Tube: Zen Buddhism in Japan
Buddhist female deity: Kuan Yin
June 12 - Homework/Quiz # 4 (15 points)

Wikipedia Glossary of Key Terms in Buddhism:
Three Refuges / Jewels :
Buddha: Awakened; a Buddha; also, the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama.
Dharma: Often refers to the doctrines and teachings of the faith, but it may have broader uses.
Sangha: "association," "assembly," "company" or "community" of Buddhist monks and nuns, teachers and practitioners.

Four Noble Truths:
1. The Truth of Suffering
2. The Truth of the Origin of Suffering / Attachment (desire)
3. The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering (Nirvana)
4. The Truth of the Path to the Cessation of Suffering

Karma: lit. "action." The law of cause and effect in Buddhism.

Mahayana: "Great Vehicle." A major branch of Buddhism practiced in China, Tibet, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Main goal is to achieve buddhahood.
Theravada: lit. "words of the elders", The most orthodox branch of Buddhism, practiced in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand).
Zen (Chinese, Chan): a school of Mahayana Buddhism notable for its emphasis on practice and experiential wisdom - particularly as realized in the form of meditation known as zazen - in the attainment of awakening. As such, it de-emphasizes both theoretical knowledge and the study of religious texts in favor of direct individual experience of one's own true nature.

Bodhisattva: one with the intention to become a Buddha in order to liberate all other sentient beings from suffering.

Nirvana (Pali, Nibbana): Extinction or extinguishing; the cessation of suffering; ultimate enlightenment in the Buddhist tradition.

Arhat: lit. "the Worthy One", A living person who has reached Enlightenment. The pursuit of nirvana for one's own sake, in contrast with the bodhisattva ideal.

Koan: A story, question, problem or statement generally inaccessible to rational understanding, yet may be accessible to Intuition.

Prajna (Sanskrit) or panna (Pali): usually translated as "wisdom," "understanding," "discernment," "cognitive acuity," or "know-how." In Buddhism, it especially refers to the wisdom that is based on the direct realization of the Four Noble Truths, impermanence, dependent origination, not-self, emptiness, etc.

Pure Land: is a broad branch of Mahayana Buddhism and currently one of the most popular schools of Buddhism in East Asia, along with Zen. It is a devotional or "faith"-oriented branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha Buddha.

Vajrayana: lit. "diamond vehicle", The third major branch, alongside Theravada (or Hinayana) and Mahayana.

UT Course on Buddhism

Week 6: June 16 - Chap. 8: Globalization
Wiki on New Age
Wiki on New Religions
Wiki on Native Americans
Wiki on Candomble
Michael Jackson & Olodum (African-Brazilian)
Enya: New Age pop music
Environmentalist New Age Religion
June 17 - Class Presentations / Final Review
Wiki on East Asian Religions
YouTube on China
YouTube on Taoism
June 18 - Final Exam (40 points)
June 19 - Make-ups


About the Textbook:
The twenty-first century is witnessing a resurgence and globalization of religion. Around the world, religion has become an increasingly more vital and pervasive force in both personal and public life. Revealing the significance of religion in the contemporary world, Religion and Globalization: World Religions in Historical Perspective explores seven major religious traditions as dynamic, ongoing forces in the lives of individuals and in the collective experience of modern societies.
Written by three highly respected scholars --the authors of World Religions Today, Second Edition --this text covers Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, East Asian Religions, and new religious movements. Taking a fresh approach, it uses historical coverage of the religious traditions as a framework to help students understand how faiths have evolved to the present day and continue to have an impact on belief, politics, and society. The book connects today's religions to their classical beliefs and practices but also shows how they have been transformed by globalization and by their contact with one another. The authors examine how the global changes that began with the Scientific Revolution influence the ways that religions are practiced today. They reflect not only on how ancient traditions have been modified in order to accommodate current realities but also on how the global synergy of these traditions is changing current social and political realities. To help students grasp what might be "new" about the emerging era of religious life in the twenty-first century, each discussion opens with a contemporary scenario of religious experience that illustrates the tension between pre-modern views and modernity.
Ideal for courses on religion and globalization, religion and politics, and comparative religion, Religion and Globalization features sixteen custom maps, key terms at the end of each chapter, a glossary, and timelines of major events in each tradition.


In-Class Discussions on World Religions, Fundamentalism and Globalization

Key Terms (see Glossary on page 555 of Textbook and/or check the Wikipedia entries below)

Chapter 1:
via analogia
via negativa

Chapter 2:
justification by faith
Kingdom of God
Original Sin
Second Coming
Son of God

G-d : Reformed, Catholic, Jew

Wiki entry on Judaism

Wiki entry on Christianity

Wiki entry on Islam

Wiki entry on Hinduism

Wiki entry on Buddhism

Wiki entry on Religion

UT Course: Philosophy of Religion

UT Course: Zen-Buddhism

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