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Farrar

World/Comparative Religions

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This is our latest topic. I've found plenty of books, that's for sure. But I'm curious if anyone else has done this as a topic or unit or has resources they like for it. Like I said, there are plenty of books, but if there's any you thought were superb - especially any that went beyond just "here's this religion, here's this other religion..." And any documentaries. And any assignments or projects.

 

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DD's historybook covers also World Religions and dd had to write about each religion a compare / contrast essay.

We found that very valuable.

I always cringe my toes when young adults say: they all believe the same.

I don't think you do justice to the religions if you say that.

It helped dd also to get clear what she believes.

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We have been using this Teaching Company/Great Course audio book this year along with our studies of the Ancients: Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know. It's been a great series for us. Also, as odd as it sounds, this one has been pretty good too: Food: A Culinary History. The lecturer incorporates so much of the religious history into the cultural culinary history.

 

Both have worked fine for us as audio books; we got them with Audible credits.

 

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DD's historybook covers also World Religions and dd had to write about each religion a compare / contrast essay.

We found that very valuable.

I always cringe my toes when young adults say: they all believe the same.

I don't think you do justice to the religions if you say that.

It helped dd also to get clear what she believes.

 

This is the assignment we're going to do as well. One ds is going to compare Christianity and Wicca (which, after a documentary we watched, he referred to as, "that one where they got naked and danced around the fire") and the other... this is cracking me up... is going to compare Buddhism and Jediism.

 

Totally agreed that "they're all the same" is really the most trite thing anyone could take out of a look at world religions.

 

I'd love some other project or assignment ideas too if anyone else has any.

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A project I find useful is to find a major faith that just does not make sense to one, or seems fundamentally flawed somehow, or a "fundamentally flawed" major tenet of a faith, and then research in order to present a defense or an apologia from the perspective of an erudite, ethical believer of good will.  Perhaps find 2 or 3 such issues or faiths and pick one. 

 

I don't think you'll need this, Farrar, but for thread-browsers: Galore Park publishes a book on comparative religions that might make a good spine, though I've not seen it yet. 

 

I've also found Asimov's Guide to the Bible to be helpful for Jewish Bible and New Testament work. 

 

ETA: I just watched a Veritas Forum (hosts debates btw. Christians and non-Christians) on "What Gods Do We Believe In Now?" that was a beautiful example of empathic dialogue between academics on two sides of an issue.   It's long, though, and may not be of interest -- the target audience is college students/academics.  

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I'm interested in this as well.

Right now, we have several books from Pauline Books (a Catholic publisher that we like) that compare other major religions to the Catholic faith... and I have to say, they do an amazing job of not putting down the other religion - like, at ALL. There is nothing in the books like "while it's wrong, the person of the other faith believes x, y, z".

They are hardcover short books, that honestly look like a young child's picture book, but the suggested ages are 10 or 11+.

Right now we have "My Jewish Friend" and "My Muslim Friend". I'd like to find something a bit more in depth, but I really like that these compare other faiths to our own - it gives a good point of reference that it refers frequently to what we believe as Catholics, so it isn't difficult for her to understand (in other words, the books point out the similarities to make it easier for a middle school aged kiddo to understand).

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Besides the World Religions workbook from Teacher Created Resources, we have read lots of excerpts from holy books, learned about (and eaten the foods of) various holidays, and watched videos such as "God in America" (Frontline) and "East meets West" (about Islam), "The Mormons" ( American experience) and some others I can't remember... I also organized with a Jewish, a Unitarian, a Roman Catholic and a fundamentalist Christian (mega-church) friend to go with them to a religious service. My daughter found those interesting and a bit socially awkward, but I think it's cool to see other religious services and compare traditions. We don't live in a particularly diverse area, but we did what we could.

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We did a year of Jewish festivals,stories, crafts and food, when dd was experiencing a strong identification with Judaism. Wish I could remember the name of the book we used ( it's packed away ).

 

It wasn't this. but it was similar.

 

 

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Good ideas, thanks.

 

I feel like one of the books I'd like to exist doesn't really. Most of the resources I've found - and some are excellent, mind you - really explore religion in terms of different religions - here's Judaism, here's Hinduism, here's Confucianism, etc. etc. I'd love to find something that has more of an integrated approach just to have a different lens. Like, here's the purpose of seasonal rituals or growing up rites of passage and here's how a bunch of different religions approach that. Here's the purpose of prayer and meditation and here's how religions are the same or different in how they approach it. Here's how religions encourage morality. Here's how religions encourage strife. Here's how religions involve themselves in politics. And so on and so forth. I've been trying to bring out those sorts of questions, but nothing we've found has really explicitly done that.

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Besides the World Religions workbook from Teacher Created Resources, we have read lots of excerpts from holy books, learned about (and eaten the foods of) various holidays, and watched videos such as "God in America" (Frontline) and "East meets West" (about Islam), "The Mormons" ( American experience) and some others I can't remember... I also organized with a Jewish, a Unitarian, a Roman Catholic and a fundamentalist Christian (mega-church) friend to go with them to a religious service. My daughter found those interesting and a bit socially awkward, but I think it's cool to see other religious services and compare traditions. We don't live in a particularly diverse area, but we did what we could.

 

Good video suggestions. We have been watching parts of one from the BBC from a few years ago called Around the World in 80 Faiths. It's... interesting. But I feel like it keeps tending toward the extremes of religious practice, which is too bad...

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Good ideas, thanks.

 

I feel like one of the books I'd like to exist doesn't really. Most of the resources I've found - and some are excellent, mind you - really explore religion in terms of different religions - here's Judaism, here's Hinduism, here's Confucianism, etc. etc. I'd love to find something that has more of an integrated approach just to have a different lens. Like, here's the purpose of seasonal rituals or growing up rites of passage and here's how a bunch of different religions approach that. Here's the purpose of prayer and meditation and here's how religions are the same or different in how they approach it. Here's how religions encourage morality. Here's how religions encourage strife. Here's how religions involve themselves in politics. And so on and so forth. I've been trying to bring out those sorts of questions, but nothing we've found has really explicitly done that.

 

When I taught a comparative religion class doing my student teaching, this was the ongoing project I did with my 11th and 12th graders. We had a big chart on the wall with different categories for them to answer based on the religion we were studying. We would read and study the faith then fill in the answers on our chart. By the end of the semester, we could see at a glance what all major religions believed concerning an afterlife, entry into adulthood, morality, major figures in the religion, etc. By the end I think all of us (especially since 99% of the class was Christian) noticed how much the religions all had in common with their views of morality, right and wrong, etc. My supervising teacher loved the project and used it when she taught the class the next year. I plan on doing something similar with my own children in high school as well.

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When I was a young adult, I did a class (done through my parents' church, who had partnered with a local Jewish congregation) where we visited about 12 different types of Christian and Jewish services (different denominations). It was very interesting and something I wish I had gotten myself together to do with my kids, and tried to expand beyond those two religions.

 

We read a book called "How to be a Perfect Stranger" which was helpful.

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