WHAT IS MYSTICISM?

1REL 101 Research EssayStatistic: If the world consisted of 100 people, only 7 would have college degrees. Having towrite this essay might seem like a pain in the neck, but those other 93 people would be gratefulfor the opportunity. Having to write this essay is a great privilege!?How to Get Help When You Write Your Essay: Some of you are older students who have notwritten an essay in a long time and need some extra help. There are resources on D2L. If, forexample, you need to learn how to do a “Works Cited” page, go to D2L and click on the“Library” tab. You may also go to The Writing Centeron campus where staff will help you.TheWriting Center is in the Learning Center in building 920, room 211, Main campus. Before you goto the writing center,do your research and write the essay to the best of your ability. Then takeyour essay to the Learning Center.They will help you to organize it properly, add the citations,do the Works Cited page, and ensure that nothing is plagiarized. If you live too far from theTrident library, call or email the library and ask for help through the use of the “Library” tab.Explain that you are an online student and that you need to know where to find the online helpfor writing an essay.Assignment: Select a topic from the list below that has been provided by your instructor. If thetopic that you wish to write about is not on the list, please email me to get it approved. If it is onthe list, there is no need to email me. NOTE: You are not allowed to use any essay that you usedin any previous course and have slighted altered for Religious Studies.Note: Please scroll down to page seven of this document to see theguidelines/formatfor the essay.Purpose of Assignment:1. To learn more about a specific topic in Religious Studies2. To improve research and writing skills3. To improve critical thinkingWhat is Critical Thinking?Perhaps you have written your essay on the Peace Churches thatbelieve that Jesus taught pacifism and that it is always wrong to go to war. You have written a lotof information about the Peace Churches and why they believe what they do, based on theirinterpretations of the Bible and their experiences of wars and religious persecution in Europe.The reader of your essay is thinking: “So what? It’s just a lot of information. Who cares?” Youhave to answer those questions. You do that by evaluating the information. What do the2teachings of the Peace Churches and their very existence mean to you, to your community, andto the world? Why is their teaching significant? The Peace Churches have affected history. Evenif you disagree with the teachings (which you will point out in your conclusion), the teachingsare still significant to the churches and to the entire world. That is the process of criticalthinking. What do you agree with concerning the pacifism of the Peach Churches? What do youdisagree with concerning their teachings? Overall, what do you conclude about the value of theteachings of the Peace Churches? You are allowed to give your opinion and write in the firstperson for the closing paragraphonly, using “I think that…” or “from my perspective….”LIST OF TOPICSDaoism –What is wu wei? Why is it central to the teachings of Daoism?How the Architecture of the European Cathedrals of the Middle-Ages Reflects Christian BeliefsHow the Architecture of the Mosques Reflects Muslim BeliefsSufism (the mystical branch of Islam)Mysticism – All religions have mystics. What is mysticism?The Arts in Religion (material expression)– music, visual arts, poetry, sacred dance, etc.The Candles of Hanukkah:Why is lighting the candles of Hanukkah such an important Jewishritual?Peace Churches(Mennonite, Quaker, Amish) These churches believe that there is never a justreason to go to war because they believe that Jesus taught pacifism. What scriptures do theyuse as the foundation for that belief? What reasons do they present other than scripture fortheir belief in pacifism?Advaita Vedanta/Monism in HinduismHow Fundamentalist/Conservative Christians Differ from Liberal/Progressive ChristiansShamanism –many consider shamanism to be the first religionJust War Theory– These are the reasons that a religion gives in order to justify going to war. For example, usually the country has to be attacked first. Just War Theory also includes suchthings as how prisoners of war should be treated, and how civilians should be treated. Forexample, most Christians (and people of other religions) believe that when the U.S. enteredWWII, it was a Just War because the U.S. was attacked first at Pearl Harbor.3Compare and Contrast any two religions that interest you.Cover the similarities and thedifferences, and do not try to prove that one is better than the other.Compare and Contrast Buddhism and Christianity.Cover the similarities and the differences,and do not try to prove that one is better than the other.Dietrich Bonheoffer -Dietrich Bonheoffer was a German Lutheran pastor who came to theconclusion that the Lutheran church (the largest Protestant church in Germany) andmost of theother German churches were being more loyal to Hitler than to God during WWII. The LutheranChurch had joined an official alliance comprising most of the Protestant Churches in Germany.This alliance was formed specifically to support Hitler. Hitler could not have risen to powerwithout the help of most of the people in Germany – and most people in Germany at the timewere active churchgoers. Bonheoffer and a few other pastors founded the Confessing Church toprotest the active support of Hitler by this alliance of churches in Germany. Bonheoffer wasexecuted in a concentration camp just a few weeks before the end of WWII. What is theimportance of his life and teachings for Christianity regarding such things as the churches’involvement in politics and Separation of Church and State?Women in Religion:Choose an important female religious person. You could choose an examplefrom history (not from a sacred text or holy book) or you could choose a contemporary exampleof a woman who is having an important impact on the world. Write about her work and howher beliefs have influenced the work that she does. How did her religious beliefs motivate herto change her part of the world? Here is a list of women to consider for your essay:?Shirin Ebadi – Islam – She is the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace prize. She isa lawyer, and works to improve the rights of women and children.?Sharon Saltzberg – Buddhist teacher?Rev. Sally G. Bingham – Episcopalian church – Environmental issues?Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsu Khandro Rinpoche – Tibetan Buddhist teacher – She isone of the very few fully trained rinpoches (“precious masters”) in the Tibetan Buddhisttradition.?Anurdha Koirali – Hinduism – She works to end human trafficking in Napal, and to helpits survivors. She was “CNN’s 2010 Hero of the Year.”?Bishop Vashti McKenzuie – African Methodist Episcopal Church – She is the first womanbishop in that church.?Malala Yousafi – Islam – She works for the rights of girls to get an education inAfghanistan.?Bishop Minerva Carcano – United Methodist Church – She is the first Hispanic womanbishop in that church. She works on immigration issues.?Dr. Sakena Yacoobi – Islam – She works for women’s right to an education in Afghanistan.4?Anat Hoffman – Judaism – “Women of the Wall” – She works for the equal right of Jewishwomen to read the Torah at the Western Wall of the second Temple in Jerusalem. Thewomen also want the right to practice certain Jewish rituals there.?Margot Adler – Wiccan priestess – (neo-paganism) – Paganism is one of the earliestreligions, and shares many similarities with indigenous religions. But the pagan religionsdied out or were persecuted out of existence. Today some people are trying to revivethem. One type of the new form of paganism (neo-paganism) is Wicca. “Pagan” means“country dweller.” Pagans worshipped nature and nature gods. There were thousands ofpagan groups in many countries (especially Britain and Europe) and there was a greatdiversity of pagan beliefs.?Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum – Judaism – She works for LGBT rights.?The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers – They pray, educate,and heal. Page 68 of your textbook describes some of the work that the indigenousgrandmothers do. You can also go to their website to learn about each one of thegrandmothers. They are from Nepal, Mexico, the U.S.A., South America, and Africa. Youcould research an individual grandmother, or you could write about the thirteen and thework that they do together for healing and education around the world.www.grandmotherscouncil.comThe Crusades – Examineall the causes. There were many reasons for the Crusades. People whoembraced the Crusades had different motivations. Include all the motivations: religious,financial, and political. Why do some Jewish historians refer to the Crusades as the “firstholocaust”? What are the lasting effects of the Crusades on Christianity, Judaism, and Islam?The Five Pillars of IslamThe Importance of the Rise and Spread of Western MonasticismAtheism: Atheism is not a religion, but it is the worldview of many.You can go online to see thepercentages of atheists in each country. Australia has about 20%. Japan has about 31%. Chinahas 49% (due to decades of Chinese Communist rule when religion was illegal). Many Europeancountries have a large percentage of atheists. Atheism in the U.S. is growing rapidly. Show thatyou understand the reasons why people become atheists.Sometimes an atheist can be yourbest friend if you believe in God, because an atheist will challenge you to examine your beliefsmore carefully, instead of just accepting (without really thinking about) what you have beentaught by your religious tradition/family/culture. The Jewish Teachings about the Messiah -Please make sure that you read the Study Guide forJudaism before you write your paper.5How does the Jewish concept of the Messiah different from the Christian concept of theMessiah? Compare and contrast the reasons why Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiahand Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Note: If you are a Christian, you need to beable to present the Jewish view with objectivity and fairness. A Jewish person must be able toread your essay and think: “Yes, she represented what I believe accurately.” You do not have toagree with the either the Jewish view or the Christian view, but you must present both viewswith accuracy and fairness. If you cannot do that because of your own strong beliefs about thesubject, it would be better to choose another topic.Note: Do not use the views of “MessianicJews” or “Jews for Jesus” who have accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Use only examples fromtraditional, mainstream Judaism.The Psychology of Religion:You could use the examples of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, or WilliamJames.The Religious Wars of the 16th and 17th Century in EuropeThe Role of State Shinto prior to WWII in Japan, and its Influence on WWIIThe Spanish InquisitionThe Stolen Generations – This refers to the Indigenous children in Australia and other countries,(such as Canada), who were stolen from their parents by government agents, and then placed inboarding schools. (See Chapter Two.) If you would like to research this topic, there is a filmcalled the Rabbit-Proof Fence.This 2002 Australian film wasbased on the bookFollow theRabbit-ProofFenceby Doris Pilkington Garimara. It is a true story about three young Aboriginalgirls who try to run away from a boarding school by following a fence. One of the girls was takenat the age of three or four in 1931. She did not see her mother again until she was 25. Officialshad told her that her mother had given her away, and that indigenous culture was evil. Whenshe finally saw her mother again, the girl could not speak her native language. You may use thefilm or the book as one of your sources.Note:Native American children also were stolen in thiscountry, and sometimes the parents who protested were imprisoned. For example, thirty Hopifathers were imprisoned for many years in the notorious island prison of Alcatraz (offCalifornia); they were imprisoned for hiding their children and refusing to hand them over tothe government agents.Since this is a Religious Studies paper, please include the effects thatstealing generations of indigenous children had on the survival of their indigenous religions.Theodor Herzl and the Zionist MovementMartin Luther and the Protestant Reformation -Note: Martin Luther is usually treated as ahero among Protestant Christians because he drew attention to the corruption in the WesternChurch (led by the Pope). Luther’s actions eventually led to the Protestant Reformation and theWestern Church splitting into two (Catholic and Protestant). He is known among Protestant6Christians as the courageous “Father of the Protestant Reformation” because he stood up to thepope regarding some corrupt practices of the Church. But Luther was also a very flawed humanbeing. An “A” paper will include not only his important theological insights, but also someaspects of his flawed character and his flawed teachings. For example, he recommended thatrabbis in Germany who taught should be executed, that all Jewish synagogues should be burnedto the ground, and that the Jewish people should become slave labor. Read his booklet:On theJews and their Lies. (It is available online.) Hitler sold this book at his rallies to convince theGermans that the founder of the Lutheran Church (the largest Church in Germany) was anti-Semitic, and that, had Luther been alive during the 1930’s, he would have approved of Hitler’spolicies toward the Jews. The Lutheran church in Germany issued an official apology to the Jewsafter the Holocaust. Overall, what is Luther’s lasting legacy for Christianity?Zen BuddhismZen Buddhism and the Arts in Japan– How has Zen Buddhism influenced art, architecture, andeven cuisine in Japan?Religion and Ethics: Ethics are called “social justice” issues in the Abrahamic religions ofJudaism, Christianity, and Islam. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. often quoted the Biblical prophetsduring the Civil Rights marches and rallies. If you are not clear about what social justice means,read the Study Guides for Judaism and Christianity. The chapters/Power Points on Buddhismand Daoism, discuss the religious/philosophical basis for their activism/ethics. Note: You musttie these issues to a religious perspective. For example, do not write about animal rights andPETA. Tell me what religions have to say about animal rights or the treatment of animals.Make sure that you present both points of view. Why do some religions/churches supportequal rights and gay marriage, and why do some religions/churches reject them? After you havecarefully written aboutboth sides of the social justice issue,evaluate the information and giveyour perspective in your conclusion.Here is a list of topics that you could write about if you choose the topic of ethics/social justice. Choose only one of the following:?Capital Punishment: Present both sides of the issue. What do religions teach aboutcapital punishment? Use one religion, e.g. Buddhism, or several religions.?Medical/Hospital ethics – end of life issues, hospice care, euthanasia, new medicaldiscoveries, use of medical marijuana for prevention of pain, etc. These raise ethicalissues for nurses, doctors, families, hospitals, and religions. What do religions teachabout medical ethics??Religion and Environmental Issues – What do religions have to say about how we treatthis planet?7?Religion and Equal Rights/Gay Marriage for homosexuals, lesbians, bisexual, transgender(LGBT)?Animal Rights: What do religions (Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc.)have to say about animal rights? You could list some famous vegetarians/vegans(historical and contemporary) and give theirreligious/spiritual reasons for beingvegetarian/vegan. Religious/spiritual reasons could be compassion for the animals (allGod’s creatures) or a belief that in order to save the planet from destruction, humansneed to switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet.?The Dalai Lama and the Movement to Gain Freedom of Religion for Tibetan Buddhists inChina?The Role of the Hebrew Prophets and Social Justice (See the Study Guides on Judaismand Christianity in order to understand what social justice means.)?Hindu Ethics Regarding Non-violence (ahimsa)?The Growth of Buddhist Activism or “engaged Buddhism” ?How the Hebrew Prophets influenced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (and other Christians)during the Civil Rights marches in the 1960’s.?Religion and Human Rights: What does a particular religion or religions have to sayabout human rights? ?Separation of Church and State: Make sure that you understand fully what PresidentJefferson and President Madison said about this topic. The PowerPoint on Shinto helpsto explain the meaning and purpose of Separation of Church and State.If you do not see a topic that interests you, please email me to have your topic approved.Guidelines for the Essay:The top of the first page should have the following information:Your name:Instructor: Brian BenedictDate:Name of Course: REL 101 – W0?Title of Your Essay: State Shinto (or whatever topic you have chosen)MLA format (typed, double-spaced, 12 pt. font, Times New Roman, one inch margins)8To Find Instructions for the MLA Format:GooglePurdue OWL MLA Formatting andStyle Guide.Marks will be deducted for not following the MLA format forWorks Citedand forCitations.Length: 1,300 words-Note: Any essay that is less than 1,300 words will be an automaticfailure (no more than 64%). You may write more than 1,300 words, but please do not write abook.?Eighty percentof the essay must be written in your own words.(Do not use very longquotations.) Check your percentage on “How to Check for Plagiarism” (found under Essays). Ifthe result says more than 20%, you need to reduce it to 20% or less.?NOTE: Please be careful not to preach a sermon. A sermon is not a research essay.Sermons will be graded as zero for not following the instructions.?Objectivity: When you write your essay, please pay particular attention to point three ofthe objectives for the course in the syllabus. Point three says that you must demonstratethat you can study religion in an objective manner. That means thatyou do not start youressay with an agenda to prove that your religion is better than another religion.?Do not usepersonal anecdotes(information that you have heard concerning someone’spersonal experience with Buddhist activism or whatever your topic is.) Personalanecdotes do not belong in research papers. At least ten percent will be deducted.?Quotations: Use no more than two quotations.Five percent will be deducted for morethan two. Ten to forty percent will be deducted, if your quotations are very long.?Plagiarism: Check your essay for plagiarism after you upload it. Read theHow to Checkfor Plagiarismdocument that is found underEssays.If you plagiarize your essay, you willbe given a zero and an academic misconduct. If you are not sure what plagiarism is,please read p. 2 of the syllabus. It is the responsibility of the student to understandwhat constitutes plagiarism.Plagiarized essays will receive a zero and an AcademicMisconduct1. Opening paragraph -10 %2. Content -50 %3.Citations – 5% -Citations differ from the Works Cited list. You must have citations at the endof sentences or paragraphs to show where you found the information. If the citations aremissing, that is plagiarism, even if you have put the information into your own words.4. Works Cited – 5% – at least twoacademicsources -At the end of your essay, there must be aWorks Cited list with aminimum of two solid sources. You may use books, websites, film, andyour textbook. Do not use a general encyclopedia or an on-line CD encyclopedia such as Grolier,

 

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