Theologian Miroslav Volk argues that one of the prevailing sins of our contemporary world is exclusion, distancing oneself and creating otherness. It is the precondition of violence and war. No less perverted are the identities forced on people which marginalize them. Exclusion forges boundaries not to be transgressed. At the heart of that exclusion is "taking oneself out of the pattern of interdependence." The other then emerges as the enemy." Overcoming exclusion involves not only an assault on "dividing walls of hostility" but the creation of space for mutual embrace. Volk writes, "we must make space for others in ourselves and invite them in - even our enemies." This involves new social arrangements but it begins, according to Volk, by creating social agents who shape a reconciling cultural climate.
Human history can be read as the clash between the narratives of exclusion and the narratives of inclusion. Religion can either endorse or critique both narratives and thus influence which narrative prevails.
Write an essay on the phenomena of exclusion and inclusion being attentive to the following:
- What role do metaphors for God play in the polarity of exclusion and inclusion?
- What moral theory responds most compellingly to the polarity?
- What textual support exists for identifying and resolving the polarity?
- How might the polarity be experienced in Hinduism?
The historian of religion William R. LaFleur recently wrote, "The fact that 'body' has become a critical term for religious studies can itself signify significant change in how we study religion."
This shift recognizes the basic "fact" that human beings are embodied. These studies also deal with issues such as the role of the senses; whether or not bodies are given or malleable; the intersection of religion and medicine; connections among embodiedness, gender, and sexuality; permanence and transcience; and attitudes toward physical matter itself.
We see in religious traditions a range of responses to, and attitudes and practices based upon, these basic biological facts. Using material from all four common courses, explain the range of attitudes and practices related to human embodiedness within the three religious traditions of Biblical Judaism, Hinduism, and twentieth century Protestant ethical and theological thought. What different attitudes and practices do we see in each tradition? Which are unique to one tradition, and which are found in two or three? What do these attitudes and practices tell us about the religious traditions themselves?Question #3
Religious persons are ever mindful of the passage of time and so seek to orient their personal lives and community histories through rituals and myths (stories of God[s], of the beginning [s] and ending[s] of time and history). That is, they bring order to the otherwise random events of their lives by framing a story for themselves, their communities, and the cosmos. They then give expression to that story (or stories) through ritual, art, doctrine, social organization, personal piety, and other means.
Write an essay in which you analyze and compare the different, paradigmatic approaches to time and history in ancient religion as well as in modern society, in Eastern and Western religious traditions, in contemporary theology and even in ethical thinking. Illustrate your arguments with attention not only to abstract conceptions of time but also to rituals, stories, and other phenomena that address the human need for temporal orientation.Question #4
John Calvin (1509-1564) is often considered the most important leader of the French speaking Protestant Reformation. Highly educated in both theology and law, Calvin helped "reform" Geneva, and, in the process, made it the headquarters of Reformed Christendom. This question asks you to analyze a section from Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion (his famous and widely distributed systematic presentation of classical Protestantism) and to compare it with a more contemporary work, "Feminist Spirituality, Christian Identity, and Catholic Vision," an early theological work by Elisbeth Schussler Fiorenza. Professor Schussler Fiorenza, a highly respected American Biblical Scholar who holds a named chair at the Harvard Divinity School, is one of the most creative theorists in contemporary Christian feminist theological thought and she has now moved beyond the position she adopted in this 1978 article, this earlier work.
Your analysis and comparison of these two works should show the critical analytical skills you have learned at Denison in general and in your Religion courses in particular. Think about the central concepts and methodologies you have learned in the four core courses. Use whatever concepts and methodologies from these four courses that will help you compare these two particular articles in an interesting and insightful manner.