Thursday, April 2, 2015

Religion Classes at Illinois College (Fall 2015)

Since one of our faculty members - Caryn Riswold - is on sabbatical next year, we will only have six courses per semester offered next year in our little department at Illinois College.  If you are a current or future student and have stumbled upon this blog, keep these courses in mind!  If you are an academic and have questions about a particular course, let me know.

For those students who have been interested in RE 216 - Religion and Film - please note I will be offering it again next Spring (2016).  

My Courses:
RE 104: Questions of Christianity
Who is God? How is Jesus the Christ? What is sin? Where did we come from? This course examines questions like these to introduce students to foundational concepts of Christian faith and their development in the life of the Church. 

I am inheriting this course from Caryn Riswold for the year, and will be developing this course in a different way than it has been previously taught, focusing on how these questions can be used to discuss the different forms of Christianity that have emerged around the world in Asia, Africa, N. and S. America, Europe, Pacific Islands, etc. - basically, Global Christianity!  

RE 111: Introduction to Hebrew Bible
My personal description differs a little bit from the official description (in letter, but not necessarily in spirit): here's my take.

The Bible has been one of the most influential collections of literature on religion, other literature, politics, society, and culture.  The stories of Abraham and Moses and the words of Jeremiah and Isaiah have had a profound impact on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim cultures from popular films to politics.  Despite this apparent familiarity, the Hebrew Bible (a.k.a., the Old Testament) can often be very strange and disorienting for modern readers.  In this class we will recover Hebrew Bible’s strangeness by reading it anew in its ancient Near Eastern context.  To do this we will critically examine the biblical books’ transmission, development, historical contexts, and literary aspects. 

RE 197: Religion and Sports
This is a new course I am developing!  

The relationship between athletic competition and religious worship is as old as the Olympics in ancient Greece.  Why do some religions encourage athletic competition, while others see playing or even watching sports as incompatible with religious life?  How do specific religious commitments conflict with athletic competition?  How and why do some religions borrow athletic imagery to describe the religious life?  How do sports borrow religious imagery?  In this class, we will look at the role of sports in several religions from antiquity to the present, from ancient Greece to contemporary America.  We will look at Jews, Christians, Muslims, among others, examining the relationship between their religious commitments and athletics.  Finally, we will think of how athletics and religion often take on each other’s qualities to the point that sports can be analyzed as a form of religion.

Paul Spalding's Offerings:
RE 101: Introduction to Biblical Studies
A study of the contents, historical contexts, themes, development, and transmission of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and New Testament. 

RE 188: Religious Traditions of South and East Asia
A survey of globally important religious traditions that have emerged from South and East Asia, including those commonly called Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Shinto. 

RE 322 / HI 322: China: History and Religion
A historical study of Chinese religions in their classical and modern forms. This course offers an introduction to Chinese history and culture. 

So please come and join us in the Religion Department next fall!  

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