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During her Senior year, my dd would like to complete a "Religious Studies" class. I have no idea where to locate a curriculum for this. I have general knowledge about many different religions, but would find it much easier to use something as at least a general guide rather than creating something myself. Any advice?




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I just got this book this Fall, for the Spring for a similar course for my dd:


Religions of the World, The Ilustrated Guide to Origins, Beliefs, Traditions & Festivals


By Elizabeth Breuilly, et al, isbn:0816062587.



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They have so many wonderful courses on religion. I know there is one on comparative religion as well. Keep in mind that I think that one is really about the study of religion, not so much an intro to all of them.


As a senior she might really enjoy those types of lectures. The only ones we actually get through are the audio ones. The DVDs are definitely best for courses with lots of maps and images but otherwise the CD or Audio download is easiest to actually "do." www.teach12.com



Have fun!

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An overview of various religions (what they believe, general history) and some reading of the text. So really more of a comparative. I may need to look at some analyses to guide discussions.


Ooh, a favorite topic might bring about swirling thoughts that make no sense to anyone else! But I want to try :)


1. For a simple intro and some discussion material, from a secular viewpoint:

- The Usborne Book of World Religions. I liked this better than some of the books that are a little bit longer. Admittedly, sometimes brief means unclear, but depth requires more than an Usborne-type coverage. For example, under Hinduism this book says the caste system "is illegal in present-day India." That's awfully brief; however, more Usborne-type description wouldn't help, because it warrants getting into politics vs. culture and so on. So, this concise book would just be a way to begin keeping the different religions and their unique features straight, and noticing areas of interest to look into later.



2. Secular viewpoint, with extensive coverage of various religions:

There are lots of books, TV series, videos, audios. You can find them at The Teaching Company, on YouTube, etc. I hesitate to recommend ANY of the ones I have seen or listened to, since they ALL give me an underlying feeling that they do not believe in any ultimate truth (despite what they might say). They leave me with the feeling that I'm stuck in an episode of Twilight Zone where the some dubious scientist keeps asking me the same questions that don't really matter :tongue_smilie: Usually there's a tidbit here or there that's good, but I worry that young people would need help withstanding these types of lengthy courses. In fact, the speaker on the Teaching Company series on Comparative Religion recalls in a delighted way when one of his students walked out of class expressing how nothing she had previously believed was true... or something like that. That's not neutral.



3. For a simple and concise resource from a Christian viewpoint, MFW uses a good booklet from Rose Pub.:

- Christianity, Cults & Religions. It's a long, pull-out chart with major current religions across the top and topics down the side (founder, key writings, who is God, what happens after death, etc.).



4. For more extensive coverage from a Christian base:

- Handbook of Today's Religions. This has sections on cults, occult, and "secular religions," but there is also a section on non-Christian religions that is probably more what your dd is looking for. I find their descriptions to be pretty factual as far as any religions that I have experience with. Most of the opinion is saved for the conclusion. To use the same example I mentioned regarding the Usborne book above, this book says, "Today the caste system is still an integral part of the social order of India, even though it has been outlawed by the Indian government." It also adds the story of the origin of the system, and quotes a rationale for the system from a Swami.



5. I've also read about The Compact Guide to World Religions, which is from a Christian viewpoint, but haven't read it myself.



6. Further study on specific religions to me might involve reading some of the original material. It can be hard to know what to read, though. But if you find an interesting topic in books like those I mentioned previously, then online materials are helpful because you can search for specific words. Some of the original material might be found by google or Wikipedia. Here are a couple sites:

- Jewish & Muslim religious texts http://www.cmje.org/ I think for me, reading the Adam & Eve account really highlights the difference between Islam and JudeoChristian beliefs. I also think the parts about heaven stand out (although that might be biased because I'm a woman).

- A site where you can read Hindu & other texts: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/



7. If she also wants to look at branches of Christianity, some good history of their developments and branches can be found in a book we're using with MFW. It's lengthy, but gives a good amount of context, like explaining that the separation of Church and State really wasn't a concept until the late Middle Ages, because the countries really hadn't sifted themselves out yet:

- Church History in Plain Language.



8. Not sure if this is getting too far outside her interests, but the perspectives inherent within world religions are often compared under the umbrella of "worldviews" from authors such as:

- Francis Schaefer, lots of stuff including his videos which are on YouTube

- Susan Schaefer-Macaulay, How to be your Own Selfish Pig

- Jeff Baldwin, also a prolific author on worldview, such as The Deadliest Monster.

- Baldwon also has study guides on some of the world religions specifically, e.g. Hindu: http://www.thegreatbooks.com/books/details.php?ISBN=0674069250&return=www.thegreatbooks.com/courses/ancient.php

Buddhism (not technically a religion, but a doctrine nevertheless): http://www.thegreatbooks.com/books/details.php?ISBN=0802130313&return=www.thegreatbooks.com/courses/ancient.php



9. There are even more extensive worldview courses, that again group world religions together according to specific points in their theology, such as pantheism vs. polytheism:

- Seven Men Who Rule From the Grave

- The Universe Next Door

- Thinking Like a Christian

- Understanding the Times (Noebel)

- Focus on the Family's Truth Project



10. Biographies of former members of groups also can highlight a religion from the perspective of someone who knew it well and made a different choice.

- I Dared To Call Him Father, etc.

- VOM also has a lot of Muslim coverage these days, that might highlight what pieces are important.

- And the Word came with Power by Joanne Shetler, Bible translator in the Philippines, a Christian missionary gives a good glimpse into the potential power of some of the little-thought of religions



11. Operation World might give some food for thought from the viewpoint of things to pray for, such as those who live in fear. Similarly, we liked the video Mission: God at Work, Faith In Action (hosted by Steve Saint and Dianne Becker) for highlighting needs in different areas. Lots of other materials along those lines



12. One more topic I can think of might be our modern "religion of pleuralism." A short starter book might be:

- But Don't All Religions Lead to God?

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Thank you all for the feedback, and I welcome more. I have a good starting point now...


In fact, the speaker on the Teaching Company series on Comparative Religion recalls in a delighted way when one of his students walked out of class expressing how nothing she had previously believed was true... or something like that. That's not neutral.



So you would not recommend that course? That was one I was looking at.

We're also looking at the book The Ways of Religion: Introduction to Major Traditions.

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I was considering using this for ds14 next year.


http://new.hippocampus.org/ World Religions


I was looking for something that wouldn't require a lot of work for me to put together.


If anyone has tried this, I would love to have your opinion :D.


I will also be looking at the suggestions made by others in this thread.


Thank you, OP, for asking about this. I've been meaning to do this myself, but never seem to get around to it. :001_smile:

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So you would not recommend that course? That was one I was looking at.

We're also looking at the book The Ways of Religion: Introduction to Major Traditions.


Well, I'm not saying that series has no merit whatsoever. I am just saying that (1) it's not really designed to teach you about each religion but instead to compare different facets and functions of different ones, and (2) I would want to watch it beside my teen because the lecturer is going to bring his own worldview strongly into the mix, and he does that without saying it out loud, and without covering some essential topics (IMO) such as religion as a quest for truth.



Edited by Julie in MN
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I've seen the book "How To Be A Perfect Stranger" recommended before. I haven't read it, just looked at it on Amazon. It gives a brief overview of the history and beliefs of a number of religious traditions, as well as brief descriptions of worship services and so forth with advice about what to expect if one visits. Having skimmed through a few pages about my own faith in there (because it's the one I know most about) I'd say it appears to aim for an unbiased approach and is pretty well researched. Although there were a couple of points I felt were just slightly off target, it was a much more accurate rendition of our history and beliefs than I often see, especially in "counter cult" type materials, which are notoriously inaccurate (to say it nicely). One idea might be to have a student read through a book like this and then choose several of the listed religions to visit or contact a clergy member to ask additional questions.

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