assignment2

Week 2: Exploring the Three Pillars of Analysis: Part 1—Beliefs
They totally differ from us in religion, as we believe nothing in which they believe, and vice versa. On the whole, there is very little disputing about theological topics among themselves; at the utmost, they fight with words, but they will never stake their soul or body or their property on religious controversy.
—R.C. Zaehner

For many people, the idea of “religion” is synonymous with the idea of “beliefs.” Adherents of a given religious tradition tend to share the same or similar explanations about the world, how it was created, why we are here, and what happens when we die. For people raised within a culture that does not consider “religious” concepts, it may not even occur to an individual to ponder the answers to these questions. But to the outside observer, the way people within a given sacred canopy answer these questions can shed light on how the religious tradition informs and shapes social structure, government, or other aspects of society. For traditions within more pluralistic societies, contradictory belief systems may cause individuals to come into conflict with one another.
Learning Objectives
Students will:

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Compare ancient religions’ burial rituals, views on death, and views on the afterlife
Analyze how ancient religions’ burial rituals, views on death, and views on the afterlife are reflected in culture
Evaluate how religious spaces shape and are shaped by religious belief systems
Select a religious tradition for analysis in the context of a globalized culture

Photo Credit: [Dave and Les Jacobs]/[Blend Images]/Getty Images 
Learning Resources
Required Readings
Kurtz, L. R. (2016). Gods in the global village: The world’s religions in sociological perspective (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Chapter 1, “Religious Life in the Global Village”“Three Pillars of Analysis: Beliefs, Rituals, and Institutions” (pp. 23–30)
Chapter 2, “A Sociological Tour: Turning East”“Hinduism, or Sanatana Dharma” (pp. 53–62)
“Buddhism” (pp. 69–74)
“Taoism” (pp. 80–83)
Chapter 3, “The Tour: Western Religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam”“Judaism” (pp. 93–99)
“Christianity” (pp. 101–106)
“Islam” (pp. 110–116)
Chapter 4, “Indigenous Religions”“The Veneration of Ancestors” (pp. 140–141)
BBC. (2014). Mormonism. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/mormon/
BBC. (2014). Santeria. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/santeria/
Church of Scientology International. (2015). Scientology: Washington DC. Retrieved from http://www.scientology-washingtondc.org/
Light Planet. (2015). Mormon temples virtual tour. Retrieved from http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/temples/tour.html
Mahrashi Foundation USA. (2015). Transcendental meditation. Retrieved from http://www.tm.org/meditation-washington-dc/
The Theosophical Society in America. (n.d.). Retrieved January 4, 2016, from https://www.theosophical.org/
Document: Final Project Worksheet (Word document)
Discussion: Comparing Key Beliefs of Religious Traditions
As you have read in the course text, the foundational beliefs of all religious traditions include cosmogonies (the answers to the questions of how we came to be, why we are here, and what happens to us after we die) as well as theodicies (the reasons for why humans experience suffering).
What similarities do you see between this week’s highlighted religious traditions? How do the cosmogonies surrounding death and the afterlife differ? How a culture or religion prepares for and ritualizes death can give you a lot of insight into their beliefs about life and the afterlife. In this Discussion, you will consider the culture of the living practitioners of various civilizations based on their burial rituals and views on death.
To prepare for this Discussion:

Review this week’s assigned readings from the course text.
Explore the BBC Religions and Ethics resources from this week’s Resources.
Consider the similarities and differences between two religious traditions, specifically looking at their views on death, burial rituals, and the afterlife.
Reflect on what you can infer about the cultures that practice those religions based on your answers to the previous questions.

By Day 3
Post a paragraph comparing the two religions you selected, focusing on the tradition’s burial rituals, views on death, and views on the afterlife. In a second paragraph, explain how each religion’s views about burial, death, and the afterlife are reflected in their culture. Support your assertions by making at least 2 references, in proper APA format, to your course readings.
Be sure to support your ideas by connecting them to the week’s Learning Resources or something you have read, heard, seen, or experienced.
Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.
By Day 5
Respond to at least one of your colleagues’ postings in one or more of the following ways:

Ask a probing question.
Share an insight from having read your colleague’s posting.
Offer and support an opinion.
Validate an idea with your own experience.
Make a suggestion.
Expand on your colleague’s posting.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you have learned and/or any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.
Submission and Grading Information
Grading Criteria
To access your rubric:
Discussion Rubric
Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 5
To participate in this Discussion:
Week 2 Discussion

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